Sunday, August 1, 2010

It's August,

Which means it's National Catfish Month. It's also National Golf Month, National Eye Exam Month, National Water Quality Month, Romance Awareness Month, Peach Month, and Foot Health Month.

How did a single month become so important? Like almost everything else that's difficult to understand, the history of August begins in Ancient Rome.

The Roman calendar was a mess. Not just because there were VII days in a week and XXVIII days in a month, but also because the calendar was being managed by a high priest. In 46 BC, for example, autumn began in January. This irritated Julius Caesar, who demanded that the calendar be reformed to make sense—and that the priests assigned to manage it stop getting high.

Caesar's new calendar went into effect on January 1, 45 BC. The fifth month of the year, Quintilis, which was actually been the seventh month of the year, was renamed July—short for Julius—in honor of his work on the calendar. (Calendar professionals still refer to July as
the "Caesarian section.")

Years later, after Caesar's grand-nephew defeated Mark Anthony and Cleopatra and became emperor of Rome, the Senate decided to name a month after him. They chose the month of Sextillus, the sixth month (and therefore eighth), and renamed it Gaius Octavianus. Fortunately the Emperor renamed himself Augustus before any calendars had been printed.

The Emperor was not entirely pleased. His month had only 30 days, whereas his grand-uncle's had 31. The Senate immediately added another day to August, removing it from February in the hope of losing one day of winter to gain one of summer.

August 1, 1952 -
Jo Stafford, pop star singer during the 1940s and 1950s, entered the Billboard charts with the song “You Belong To Me.”

It was her greatest hit, topping the charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom (the first song by a female singer to top the UK chart) and remained on the chart for 24 weeks.

Today in History:
August 1 1589 -
King Henri III of France is assassinated by a crazy Jacobin monk.

Among his crimes are opposing the Catholic League, and his love of...handsome young men.

August 1, 1769 -
Spain sent an exploratory expedition from San Diego to Monterey to survey the area and identify places worth sending more people. The expedition was led by Gaspar de Portola, nephew of the celebrated Spanish comedian Uncle Porky, and included a number of religious missionaries assigned to impose afternoon naps upon the heathens.

Camping on some fertile ground beside a river on August 2, Father Juan Crespi suggested they name the river El Rio de Padre Juan Crespi. As the laughter subsided, he suggested El Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula, "The River of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Uncle Porky." It was agreed, and the merry band continued on their way.

Twelve years later Mexico's Spanish Governor, Felipe de Neve, began dispatching settlers to establish pueblos in the name of the Spanish King. These settlers were called "Los Pobladores" on account of their penchant for Poblas. One such group, led by Captain Rivera y Moncada, settled in the area by the previously mentioned river. They named their new community "Our Pueblo by the River of Our Lady of the Angels of Uncle Porky."

The settlement grew, and came to be known as "The City by the Pueblo by the River of Our Lady of the Angels of Uncle Porky."

In 1822, Mexico took California from Spain. In 1846, following two years of hostilities, the United States took it from Mexico. Many Americans were injured attempting to pronounce the name of El Ciudad del Pueblo del Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula, which they therefore renamed Los Angeles in 1850.

California was admitted to the Union later that year.

Los Angeles retained that name until the middle of the last century, when even that became too difficult for most American tongues, at which point it finally became L.A.

August 1, 1793 -
The kilogram first appeared in France. Developed by priests and scientists, the kilogram flourished as soon as it was released into the wild and can now be found thriving throughout the world.

The kilogram can be found in parts of the United States, but has encountered too many indigineous predators to establish dominance.

August 1, 1931 -
F.W. Murnau's last film (he died in a car accident a few days after starting work on the music for the film), Tabu, was released on this date.

Floyd Crosby (yes, David Crosby's Dad) won an Oscar for Best Cinematography.

August 1, 1936 -
Adolf Hitler presides over the opening ceremony of the Olympics. The Chancellor of Germany announces: "I proclaim the games of Berlin, celebrating the eleventh Olympiad of the modern era, to be open."

The whole thing makes for a great film by Leni Riefenstahl and the torch relay was introduced by Joseph Geobbel’s Propaganda Ministry.

August 1, 1971 -
The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour debuts on CBS television as a summer replacement show.

And the beat goes on

August 1, 1981 -
Cable music network MTV launches, by airing Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles,

followed by Pat Benatar's You Better Run.

That's right, kids: once upon a time, MTV actually played music videos.

And so it goes.

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