Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ah, the smell of seared meat

Hope you're getting ready to enjoy a BBQ or picnic with your family this holiday weekend. I'm running around like a monkey getting ready for several family events with mine so I have an Abbreviated posting today:

May 28, 1989 -
Marvin Young (Young MC) an economics major at University of Southern California releases his Grammy Award winning album on this date.

The song is now old enough to go to the clubs but at my age it would be criminal to have anything to do with it.

Today in History
May 28, 1503 -
The Treaty of Everlasting Peace between Scotland and England is signed culminating in the marriage of James IV of Scotland and Margaret Tudor (sister of Henry VIII).

Once again the European sense of time prevails and the treaty would actually last only 10 years.

On May 28, 1743, Joseph Ignace Guillotine was born in France. Later he became a doctor. As a politically active humanitarian, he was understandably disturbed by the grisly executions of the French Revolution. He was sure people could be killed more efficiently, and he invented a device to do just that.

His machine sliced the victim's head off by means of a heavy, suspended blade rushing down a pair of siderails onto (or more accurately through) the victim's neck. Not only was it quick and painless: in those dull years before cable, it was also great entertainment. Dr Guillotine enjoyed watching the youngsters scampering playfully about the machine, fighting for the severed head.

During the rough weather that followed the French Revolution (known to meteorologists as "The Rain of Terror") it became necessary to purge the Republic of all obstacles to the welfare of its people. Sadly, most of those obstacles were people themselves, and there were a damned lot of them.

Drunk with power (a lingering effect of the Bourbon era) and armed with Dr Guillotine's new invention, the government succeeded in eliminating thousands of such obstacles quickly and effectively, in a way that made the children laugh and sing right up to the moment that their own heads were sliced off.

Dr Guillotine himself was eventually guillotined, suggesting the possible existence of a moral to his story. (Readers seeking morals, however, are advised as always to conduct their searches elsewhere.)

May 28, 1930 -
The Chrysler Building, the premier Art Deco skyscraper in New York City, opens on this date. Standing 1,047 feet (319 meters) high, it was briefly the world's tallest building before it was overtaken by the Empire State Building in 1931. After the destruction of the World Trade Center, it is again the second tallest building in New York City.

The skyscraper, designed by architect William Van Alen, was originally built to house the Chrysler Corporation. The groundbreaking occurred on September 19, 1928. At the time, the builders of New York were engaged in an intense competition to build the world's tallest skyscraper. The Chrysler Building was erected at an average rate of four floors per week and no workers were killed during construction. Just prior to its completion, the building stood about even with the rival project 40 Wall Street, designed by H. Craig Severance. Severance quickly increased the height of his project by two feet and claimed the title of the world's tallest building (this distinction excluded structures that were not fully habitable, such as the Eiffel Tower).

Van Alen secretly obtained permission to build a spire that was hidden inside the building during construction. The spire, measuring 125 feet (58.4 meters) long and composed of Nirosta stainless steel, was hoisted to the top of the building on October 23, 1929. The added height allowed the Chrysler Building to surpass both 40 Wall Street and the Eiffel Tower as the tallest building and the tallest structure in the world. It was also the first man-made structure to stand taller than 1,000 feet (305 meters). The steel chosen to cap the building was Krupp KA2 "Enduro" Steel (in case you needed to know that fact).

In less than a year, the Chrysler Building was surpassed in height by the Empire State Building. Van Alen's satisfaction was further muted by Walter Chrysler's refusal to pay his fee.

May 28, 1944 -
The thrice married, former prosecutor, businessman, and Republican politician from the state of New York Sir Rudolph William Louis Giuliani III was born on this date.

Please, there is nothing wrong with transvestism. My favorite comic, Eddie Izzard is a Male Executrix. But remember that this idiot 'forgot' that his first wife was his second cousin then next time you see him on TV, discussing the possibility of his running for president again.

May 28, 1959 -
America launches a Jupiter rocket containing a rhesus monkey named Able and a squirrel monkey named Miss Baker. After experiencing nine minutes of microgravity, the capsule successfully returns to Earth with both monkeys intact.

However, Able dies during surgery to remove his electrodes. Able was then stuffed and mounted, and is now on display at the Smithsonian Institute of Air and Space Museum.

Wally Schirra's family is quite happy this practice has not continued.

May 28, 1972 -
The virtually exiled King Edward VIII, styled the Duke of Windsor by his brother King George VI in 1936, died on this day in 1972 in Paris. He was buried at Windsor Castle. It was the first time that the Duchess was a royal guest of the Queen.

According to Sarah Bradford, the royal biographer, the Queen Mother, who had for 36 years resented the fact that the Duke's undying love for the horse faced, possible transvestite Mrs. Simpson had put her husband on the throne right at the threshold of war and had condemned him to an early death (She conveniently forgot that her husband was a very heavy smoker from early adulthood and that his family was prone to cancer), was very solicitous about the senile Duchess and took care of her during the funeral. The Queen did not weep for her uncle, but, strangely enough, when the Duchess followed him in death 14 years later, the Queen did weep at her funeral.

May 28, 1987 -
German teenager Matthias Rust lands his Cessna in Moscow's Red Square, buzzing the Kremlin on the way in.

He serves 18 months in prison for this prank, which also costs the commander of the Soviet Air Command his job.


And so it goes.


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Hi, Kevin:

Another great post, thanks. There is some dispute over if Guillotin actually died via his own invention. Wikipedia contests it, saying he died of natural causes and cites the 11th edition of Encyclopedia Britannica as the source of their info. Might be worth double-checking.


Kevin said...

You are absolutely correct sir. This appears to be one of history's favorite apocryphal tales. More importantly, I thought you were going to call me out on the more salient fact - Guillotin did not invent the machine that bears his name. The 'good' doctor was one of the first boosters of this 'more humane' way of execution.

And yet, it's still funnier to think he was hoisted on his own petard, as it were.

Thanks for posting. Always welcome comments - it shows me that someone out there in the vast ephemera is reading this junk : )