Sunday, March 27, 2011

Oops, I nearly forgot

I thought I had already set up a post for the day.

March 27, 1998 -
The US Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Viagra (Sildenafil citrate), made by Pfizer, saying it helped about two-thirds of impotent men improve their sexual function. Viagra’s effects were shown to last 8-12 hours (but remember if your erection last more than 4 hours, after calling your friends, please seek medical assistance.)

Pfizer had originally tested the compound UK 92,480 as a drug for angina and found that male volunteers were getting frequent erections (don't ask why all the volenteers were sitting around naked.) They renamed it Viagra and sought sales approval.

March 27, 1952 -
Singin' in the Rain, the apex of movie musicals, premiered in New York on this date.

The rain consisted of a mixture of water and milk so it would show up better on film but it caused Gene Kelly's wool suit to shrink.

Today in History -
March 27, 30 -

A small time official in a backwater province of the Roman empire gains immortality for practicing good hygiene. Pontius Pilate washes his hands and seals the fate of Jesus.

March 27, 1866 -
Patent for a urinal is granted to Andrew Rankin.

Men everywhere stand up and cheer.

March 27, 1945 -
Argentina declares war on Nazi Germany, a tad late in the game. Of course, this was just a silly charade for the benefit of the world community. Argentina would be a quiet ally of Germany for the duration of the war, even welcoming many Nazi and SS leaders to emigrate there in the aftermath.

"It's no longer a blue world Max. Where could we go?"


March 27, 1957 -
Nikita Khrushchev assumed control of the Soviet Union when he took over as premier (Evil Bastard, new style) of the country, five years after the death of Joseph Stalin. Unlike most of the early Soviet leaders, who were all members of the Russian middle class, Khrushchev actually came from the working class (a very polite way of saying, he was as dumb as dirt). His father was a coal miner, and his grandfather had been a serf. Khrushchev worked his way up through the ranks of the party until he became a close ally of Joseph Stalin, and during the mass executions of 1930s, when Stalin purged the party of all his suspected political enemies, Khrushchev was one of only three provincial secretaries to survive.

So upon Stalin's death in 1953, when Khrushchev began to work behind the scenes to take control of the party, there was no reason to believe he wouldn't just continue Stalin's reign of terror. But instead, in 1956, Khrushchev gave a four-hour speech to the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, viciously attacking Stalin's legacy and abuses of power, detailing all the innocent people Stalin had imprisoned, tortured, and murdered during his reign. The night Khrushchev gave the speech, no one knew exactly what he was planning to say. Witnesses said later that some members of the audience fainted from the shock of hearing Stalin criticized. Several audience members committed suicide a few days later. Many went insane having to endure a four hour speech by a semi literate politburo member.

The speech was never officially announced to the public( for fear of the mass suicides - think Monty Python's WWII 'funny' joke), and Khrushchev never admitted to having made it, but word of the speech immediately began to leak out to intellectual circles and the foreign press. It was a bombshell, and it helped bolster Khrushchev's power at home and abroad. He became the premier two years later, on this day in 1958.

March 27, 1963 -
It's the birthday of the noted filmmaker, crack addict and foot fetisher Quentin Tarantino, born in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was diagnosed as hyperactive as a kid, and didn't get along with his classmates or his teachers. His parents had to tie a pork chop around his neck to get the dog to play with him. The only things that calmed him down were comic books, movies and continually swallowing wristwatches. From the time when he was a toddler, his mother let him watch whatever movies he wanted. He watched everything from kung fu movies to French art house films (perhaps a little too much kung fu movies, some might argue).

He started taking acting classes (obviously failing those courses), and in his spare time he rewrote screenplays of movies he'd already seen from memory. Instead of going to film school, he got a job at video rental store that had one of the largest video collections in Southern California. Several other aspiring filmmakers worked there, and they would watch movies all day at work, discussing camera angles and dialogue. He spent five years working at the video store, writing screenplays, but he wasn't getting anywhere in his career.

He finally got a break when he met an actor who knew another actor who knew Harvey Keitel, and Keitel agreed to look at one of Tarantino's scripts. Keitel was impressed enough to volunteer to help Tarantino produce the film, and to act in it himself. The result was Reservoir Dogs (1992), which made Tarantino internationally famous. His next film, Pulp Fiction, won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1994, and it went on to win an Academy Award for best screenplay.

These days, in addition to making movies, Tarantino organizes the semi-annual Quentin Tarantino Film Festival, which is devoted to B movies of various genres, including kung fu movies, horror movies, biker movies, cheerleader movies, and women-in-prison movies.

So by all means, please slap his mother or father if you come across them today and blame them for the state of today's cinema.

March 27, 1964 -
On Good Friday at 5:36 pm, Valdez, Alaska, in Prince William Sound was rocked by an 9.2 earthquake, the largest ever recorded in North America. It lasted 4 minutes and was followed by tsunamis and fires and 131 people were killed.

Much of Crescent City, Ca., was demolished and 12 people were killed by a resulting tsunami..

And so it goes.

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