Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It must be close to the end of summer.

It's National Toasted Marshmallow Day. Last year, a reader pointed out to me that July 31st was International Marshmallow Day. Far be it from me to cause an international incident.

I say, have your Marshmallow raw at the end of July. And if you have any left by the end of August, eat 'em cooked.

August 30, 1959 -
Bobby Darin's jazzy interpretation of Mack The Knife began its 26-week stay on the pop-singles charts.

Darin took a chance when he recorded this. His previous hits like "Splish Splash" and "Dream Lover" were aimed at a teenage audience, and this song had very dark subject matter. Darin's management didn't want him to record this, but he ignored their advice and it paid off: it introduced him to a wide audience of adult listeners. He became a regular on various TV shows, played a lot of high-end resorts and became the youngest headliner at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, where he was once a busboy.

August 30, 1967 -
John Boorman's crime drama thriller, Point Blank, premiered on this date.

Lee Marvin faked the recoil from the .44 Magnum when he shoots in Lynne's bed. These were in fact blanks, but afterward when shooting in Alcatraz they tried with real bullets and there was no recoil at all. Marvin said to director John Boorman, "Fiction overtakes reality".

August 30, 1968 -
Apple Records released its first single, Hey Jude by The Beatles on this date.

This was the Beatles longest single, running 7:11, and at the time was the longest song ever released as a single. It was the first long song to get a lot of airplay, as radio stations still preferred short ones so they could play more of them. Disc jockeys were the real winners here, as they could finally take a reasonable bathroom break.

Today in History:
Dilligent readers will realize that this is the second time that I have mentioned the death of Cleopatra - the dates came from different sources. (Folks, as I mentioned yesterday, the Romans were much too busy giving themselves lead poisoning with their wine goblets, engaging in enormous orgies and changing their calendars to appease the newest head of the Julio-Claudian clan to take accurate notes.)

On August 30, in the year 30 BC, Egypt's Queen Cleopatra VI clutched a snake to her breast and died. History has judged this a suicide, but there is room for doubt: she had previously clutched Julius Caesar and Marc Antony to her breast without dying, and may have therefore considered herself immunized.

August 30, 1780 -
General "Eggs" Benedict Arnold secretly promised to surrender the West Point fort to the British army during the American Revolution. The measure of Arnold's treachery was made worse by the fact that he was considered by many to be the best general and most accomplished leader in the Continental Army.

In fact, without Arnold's earlier contributions to the American cause, the American Revolution might well have been lost; notwithstanding, his name, like those of several other prominent traitors throughout history, has become a byword for treason and a brunch staple.

August 30, 1859 -
At the University of Göttingen, PhD candidate Albert Niemann isolates the alkaloid C17H21NO4 from leaves of the plant Erythroxylum coca.

Niemann names his white, powdery discovery cocaine and observes firsthand its peculiarly strong anesthetic effect: "it benumbs the nerves of the tongue, depriving it of feeling and taste."

Oh, that's what cocaine does. Now I know.

August 30, 1918 -
Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin should have been having a great day. Six weeks earlier, Lenin had the previous tenant of Kremlin, Tsar Nicholas II, permanently taken off the lease. After speaking at a factory in Moscow, Lenin was shot twice by Fanya Kaplan, a member of the Social Revolutionary party. Lenin narrowly survived an assassination attempt, but was severely wounded.

As Lenin was a 'godless' communist, he did not turn the other cheek. The assassination attempt set off a wave of reprisals by the Bolsheviks against the Social Revolutionaries and other political opponents. Thousands were executed as Russia fell deeper into civil war.

August 30, 1930 -
Warren Edward Buffett often called the "Sage of Omaha", "Oracle of Omaha", or "Omaha Steak", American investor, businessperson and philanthropist is born on this date. Buffett has amassed an enormous fortune from astute investments managed through the holding company Berkshire Hathaway, of which he is the largest shareholder and CEO.

With an estimated current net worth of around $50 billion, he was ranked by Forbes as the third-richest person in the world as of March 2011, behind Bill Gates and Mexican businessman Carlos Slim HelĂș.

I, on the other hand, did not make a blip on the list.

August 30, 1993 -
The Late Show with David Letterman premiered on this date, on CBS-TV.

Billy Murray was his first guest and Billy Joel was the first musical guest.

And so it goes.

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