Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ahh, but the strawberries ...

It's Milk Chocolate Day today. Eat as much milk chocolate as you like. If you don't the terrorist have won.

(Yes, it is a conspiracy organized by a large Eastern Syndicate of dentists.)

July 28, 1948 -
Bud and Lou's biggest box-office success, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, opened on this date.

This film was such a hit that it was reportedly Universal-International's second highest grossing film of the year.

July 28, 1951 -
RKO Pictures released the Walt Disney production of Alice In Wonderland on this date.

Though the film was a box-office flop when first released, several years later it became the Disney studio's most requested 16mm film rental title for colleges and private individuals.

July 28, 1954 -
An early Brando classic, On the Waterfront, premiered in New York on this date

From a budget of just under $1 million, the film went on to gross ten times its production costs in its initial release.

July 28, 1954 -
One of Bogart's best late work, The Caine Mutiny, premiered in New York on this date. A bizarre irony is that this film directed by Edward Dmytryk and On the Waterfront directed by Elia Kazan premiered on the same date. Both men testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee with vastly different personal results.

Humphrey Bogart's tour de force performance in the climactic courtroom scene was so powerful that it completely captivated the onlooking film technicians and crewmen. After the scene's completion, the company gave Bogart a round of thunderous applause.

Today in History:
July 28, 1540 -
King Henry VIII married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard on this date.

To celebrate his nuptials, Henry had his chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, executed.

It must have been some reception.

July 28, 1794 -
Maximilien "The Incorruptible" Robespierre who had dominated the Committee of Public Safety during the 'Reign of Terror,' was having an extremely bad day. The day before, lobsters throughout France grew tired of his dictatorial ways and staged the Coup of Thermidor, relieving him of his power.

Maximilien Robespierre was relieved of his head and guillotined for having ravaged the French meteorological cycle with his nefarious Rain of Terror on this date.

July 28, 1835 -
King Louis Philippe of France survived an assassination attempt by Giuseppe Maria Fieschi, who rigged 25 guns together and fired them all with the pull of a single trigger, killing approximately 18 people but not his intended target

Perhaps Mr. Fieschi needed a little more target practice.

July 28, 1841 -
James Boulard and Henry Mallin pull the decomposed body of a young woman from the Hudson River near Hoboken, New Jersey. Mary Cecilia Rogers, who worked at a popular cigar store, is initially thought to have been killed in the course of a brutal gang rape, but ultimately it seems more likely that she died from a botched abortion.

Years later, novelist Edgar Allen Poe adapts the sensational news story about "The Beautiful Cigar Girl" into the short story The Mystery of Marie Roget.

For those of you still seeking your Masters in European History -

July 28, 1914 -
It was a sweltering July in most of Europe and the world as most people knew it was about to end. That was the day on which, still reeling from the recent assassination of their Archduck Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

Because Russia was a Slavic nation, like Serbia, Czar Nicholas II sent a few troops toward Vienna the very next day, hoping either that Austria-Hungary would become nervous and back off or that the Russian troops would loot someone else for a change.

But it was hot, people were angry, and Austria wasn't in any mood to back off. If anything, they were feeling a little pissy: a day later, they sent some troops of their own toward Russia.

The Russian Czar was unaccustomed to this kind of confrontational behavior. His self-esteem in tatters, he mobilized the entire Imperial Army against Austria and began calling himself Tsar.

Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany observed the Russian mobilization with unease. The Slavs of Russia considered the Slavs of Serbia their blood cousins, but the Germans and Austrians were closer still. Like brothers. Like twin brothers. (Fraternal, not identical). The Emperor dashed off a note to his friend (and cousin) the Tsar (formerly the Czar), asking if maybe Russia wouldn't mind calling her troops back within, say, the next twenty-four hours or else. He sent another little note to France, asking if they wouldn't mind promising to keep their noses out of certain other peoples' business, if certain other people should happen to go to war within the next, say, eighteen hours.

Neither Russia nor France offered any reply to the Emperor's little notes (possibly because he wrote it in German - not his first language - now if he wrote it in French, that might have been different - they all spoke French at home), and his feelings were understandably hurt. He mobilized his own army, declared war against Russia on August 1, against France on August 3, and started calling himself Kaiser.

To reach France, the Germans had to cross through Belgium. Belgium expressed its sincere desire not to be crossed. This was unreasonable and forced the Germans to start killing Belgians on the night of August 3.

Britain, meanwhile, didn't care about Serbia. Britain didn't care about Russia. And Britain certainly didn't care who attacked France — it had been their own national sport for centuries. But they had foolishly pledged their support to unreasonable little Belgium, and had no choice but to declare war on Germany on August 4. This was extremely vexing to the British monarchy, as they themselves were mostly German and Kaiser Willie was King Georgie cousin (and remember, as well as the Czar, Tzar/ Tsar.)

On the same day, the United States declared its reluctance to become involved in the European conflict until it had a better idea who'd win.

Austria, meanwhile, had been touched by the fervor with which Germany had come to her defense—and by the rapidity with which Russian troops were advancing toward both of them. Emperor Franz Josef (somehow not related to any of the other people involved in this war) declared war against Russia on August 5.

Serbia, already being pounded by Austria, declared war against Germany on August 6. Montenegro considered this bold and dashing, and wanted a piece of the action: she declared war against Austria on August 7, and, ebullient at finding herself intact a whole five days later, went so far as to declare war against Germany on Aug 12.

Already at war with Germany, an irritated France declared war against Austria on August 10. Caught up in the excitement, Britain declared war against Austria on August 12. By now it seemed like everyone was getting involved. There was a mad rush to war. Japan declared war against Germany on August 23.

Japan's hostilities toward Germany offended Austria, who declared war against Japan on August 25. Fastidiously egalitarian in their foreign policy, they declared war against Belgium three days later. Things were now spinning wildly out of control. On August 29, France declared war against Mongolia, Ireland declared war against Lichtenstein, and dogs declared war against cats.

World War One was underway. In just four years, it would claim 8.5 million lives and leave 21.2 million wounded, and lay the groundwork for an eventual rematch.

Sometimes family feuds just get out of hand.

July 28, 1945 -
A US Army B-25 bomber crashes into the Empire State Building between the 78th and 79th floors. An engine plunges down an elevator shaft, sparking a fire in the basement. Eleven people in the building are killed, in addition to the three man bomber crew. Elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver survived a plunge of 75 stories inside an elevator, which still stands as the Guinness World Record for the longest survived elevator fall recorded.

And as of this morning, it's still standing.

(And folks - Please, this clip doesn't prove or disprove any 9/11 Conspiracies.)

July 28, 1957 -
A C-124 transport plane carrying three nuclear weapons jettisons its precious cargo into the Atlantic, somewhere east of Delaware and New Jersey. The bombs are never recovered.

Remember every time you go to a beach off the Jersey Shore, a 200 foot radioactive mutant Blue Crab is lurking. Either that or Governor Christie is skinny-dipping again.

And so it goes.

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