Wednesday, January 19, 2011

And remember, Mud spelled backwards is Dum.

January 19, 1949 -
Robert Palmer, blue-eyed soul singer, was born on this date.

January 19, 1952 -
In the first match-up between Wile E. Coyote and Bugs Bunny, Operation: Rabbit, premiered on this date.

Wile E. Coyote speaks for the first time (he describes himself as a "genius").

January 19, 1957 -
Ernie Kovacs burst into the public consciousness with the comedy special, The Silent Show.

It was filmed for broadcast first, in color, on the NBC network in 1957. A second version of the show was created on videotape and broadcast November 10, 1961, on the ABC network.

Though both were broadcast in color, only B&W kinescopes of these shows survive, although an excerpt of the color show was aired as part of the NBC 50th Anniversary Special in 1976.

Today in History: January 19, 1809 -
It's the birthday of the poet and short-story writer Edgar Allan Poe, born in Boston. He was the son of two actors, but since he was Edgar Allan Poe, both his parents died of tuberculosis when he was just a boy. He was taken in by a wealthy Scotch merchant named John Allan, who gave Edgar Poe his middle name.

His foster father sent him to the prestigious University of Virginia, where he was surrounded by the sons of wealthy slave-owning families. He developed a habit of drinking and gambling with the other students, but his foster father didn't approve. He and John Allan had a series of arguments about his behavior and his career choices, and he was finally disowned and thrown out of the house. Sometimes, we all make bad choices.

He spent the next several years living in poverty, depending on his aunt for a home, supporting himself by writing anything he could, including a how-to guide for seashell collecting and picking the pockets of the dead at funerals. Eventually, he began to contribute poems, journalism and helpful cleaning tips to magazines. At the time, magazines were a new literary medium in the United States, and Poe was one of the first writers to make a living writing for magazines. He called himself a "magazinist."

He first made his name writing some of the most brutal book reviews ever published at the time. He was called the "tomahawk man from the South." He described one poem as "an illimitable gilded swill trough," and he said, "[Most] of those who hold high places in our poetical literature are absolute nincompoops." He particularly disliked the work of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and John Greenleaf Whittier.

Poe also began to publish fiction, and he specialized in humorous and satirical stories because that was the style of fiction most in demand. Once again, remember this is Edgar Allan Poe - so, soon after he married his 14-year-old cousin, Virginia, he learned that she had tuberculosis, just like his parents, and he began to write darker stories. One of his editors complained that his work was growing too grotesque, but Poe replied that the grotesque would sell magazines. And he was right. His work helped launch magazines as the major new venue for literary fiction.

But even though his stories sold magazines, he still didn't make much money. He made about $4 per article and $15 per story, and the magazines were notoriously late with their paychecks. There was no international copyright law at the time, and so his stories were printed without his permission throughout Europe. There were periods when he and his wife lived on bread, molasses, and dustbunnies and sold most of their belongings to the pawn shop.

It was under these conditions, suffering from alcoholism, and watching his wife grow slowly worse in health, that he wrote some of the greatest gothic horror stories in English literature, including The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher. Near the end of his wife's illness, he published the poem that begins,

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore. While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door....

On October 7, 1849, Edgar Allen Poe was found in a delirious state (Maryland) outside a Baltimore voting place (saloon). Mr. Poe was often found delirious, especially outside voting places, but this time his delirium was serious and he died.

January 19, 1937 –
Bisexual, future germaphobe and aviator Howard Hughes designed and flew the plane Silver Bullet setting a landplane speed record and a transcontinental record of 7 hours, 28 minutes and 25 seconds,

flying from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey on this date.

January 19,1953 -
68% of all television sets in the United States are tuned in to I Love Lucy to watch Lucy give birth to a baby boy - the same day Ball gave birth to her son, Desi Arnaz Junior.

All the while they couldn't say pregnant on TV or be seen sleeping in the same bed - it appears to be the second virgin birth. The audience for the program was larger than that watching the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower the following day.

January 19, 1992 -
In Florida, the 64-year-old award-winning playwright Edward Albee was arrested on a Key Biscayne beach for indecent exposure. Charges were later dropped when it was determined that Albee had removed his swimming trunks only to rinse out the sand that was in them, and had not done anything vulgar or immoral.

Thank goodness he didn’t try to touch his Tiny Alice.

And so it goes.

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