Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Happy Bloomsday

June 16, 1956 -
Gene Vincent and the Bluecaps' Be-Bop-A-Lula, was released on this date.

The song became a hit and launched Vincent as a rock 'n' roll star.

June 16, 1963 -
Valentina Tereshkova, piloting the Vostok 6, became the first woman to travel in space.

With her single flight, she logged more flight time than the combined times of all American astronauts who had flown before that date.

Today in History -
Jun 16 1750 BC -
King Hammurabi dies in Babylon, and is succeeded by his son Samsu-iluna.

I know you're saying to yourself, "Who cares?". Well, now that you know, you can feel morally superior to the schlub sitting next to you on the subway going home tonight.

June 16, 1904 -
Today is the date on which all the events depicted in James Joyce's famous novel Ulysses take place, even though the book itself was published in 1922 and therefore cannot celebrate a real centennial until my daughters have graduated college. There is probably also a lot of excitement in the sorts of intellectual circles.

And now, you can truly impress your friends by telling them the plot -

Leopold Bloom, the main character of Ulysses, does not have much work to do, so he spends most of his day wandering around Dublin doing some errands. He leaves his house on Eccles Street, walks south across the River Liffey, picks up a letter, buys a bar of soap, and goes to the funeral of a man he didn't know very well. In the afternoon, he has a cheese sandwich, he feeds the gulls in the river, helps a blind man cross the street, and visits a couple of pubs. He thinks about his job, his wife, his daughter, his stillborn son. He muses about life and death and reincarnation. He knows that his wife is going to cheat on him that afternoon at his house. In the evening, he wanders around the red light district of Dublin and meets up with a young writer named Stephen Dedalus, who is drunk. Leopold Bloom takes him home with him and offers to let him spend the night. And they stand outside, looking at the stars for a while. And then Bloom goes inside and climbs into bed with his wife.

Happy Bloomsday! the straight-A English majors will greet one another joyously. Yes - yes - yes! they'll titter. It will all be terrific fun.

They'll feel smart and proud and better than the rest of us (and you again can feel morally superior for knowing it), and now you know why.

June 16, 1948 -
In the first skyjacking of a commercial plane, three armed men storm the cockpit of the Miss Macao, a passenger seaplane operated by Cathay Pacific airline.

When the pilot refuses to turn over the controls, he is shot dead and the plane crashes into the ocean. The only survivor among the 27 people on board is the leader of the terrorists.


June 16, 1958 -
Imre Nagy, once prime minister of Hungary for all of ten days, is executed by the Soviet Union for attempting to withdraw his country from the Warsaw Pact.

It is said that Nikita Khrushchev had Nagy executed, "as a lesson to all other leaders in socialist countries."

That'll learn em.

June 16, 1959 -
While entertaining friends at his home, George Reeves (Ben Affleck), who played the title character in the original Superman TV series, goes upstairs to his bedroom and commits suicide with a 9mm German Luger.

This has been hotly debated and it is now believe that the irate husband of a B movie actress Reeves was sleeping with, shot the actor in his home.

June 16, 1960 -
Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho opens in New York on this date.

One of the reasons Alfred Hitchcock shot the movie in black and white was he thought it would be too gory in color.

June 16, 1976 -
15,000 schoolchildren take to the streets of Soweto to protest South Africa's adoption of bilingual instruction in the Afrikaans language.

The nonviolent march ends abruptly when police and soldiers open fire on the crowd, killing 600 and igniting days of rioting throughout the region.

June 16, 1999 -
The founder of the United Kingdom's Monster Raving Loony Party, one Screaming Lord Sutch (real name David Edward Sutch, 3rd Earl of Harrow), is found hanged at his late mother's residence. Sutch was the longest lasting party leader in the UK at the time of his death, ruled a suicide.

One of the Loony Party planks was to ask rhetorically, "Why is there only one Monopolies Commission?"

And so it goes.

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