Saturday, April 30, 2011

This is on a major repeat cycle on my kids MP3 player

It's cute and all



but hearing it hour upon hour is beginning to wear me out.


April 30,1950 -
The film-noir classic, DOA, starring Edmond O'Brien, was released on this date. (Stick around for the whole movie.)



Watch for the scene in which Bigelow runs in panic through the streets after learning he has been poisoned was a stolen shot. The pedestrians had no idea a movie was being made and no warning that Edmond O'Brien would be plowing through them.


April 30, 1952 -
Mr. Potato Head® became the first toy to be advertised on television.



Over one million kits were sold in the first year. Mr. Okra or Mr. Sunchoke didn't sell so well.


Today in History:
April 30, 1789 -
George Washington was inaugurated and took office in New York as the first president of the United States. He took his oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street and spoke the words “So help me God,” which all future US presidents have repeated.

Christian conservatives, please note: The oath as prescribed by the Constitution makes no mention of God, of the Bible.


April 30, 1900 -



John Luther "Casey" Jones was born March 14, 1863 in southeast Missouri. While he was still a small child, his family moved to Cayce, Kentucky, which is how he got his nickname. As a boy, he liked trains - HE really liked trains. In 1878, at the age of 15, he went to work for the Mobile and Ohio Railroad as an apprentice telegrapher. By 1890, "Casey" had reached the pinnacle of the railroad profession as a crack locomotive engineer on the Illinois Central Railroad.



In 1899, Jones was given a regular passenger run on the Cannonball route which ran between Chicago and New Orleans. On April 29, 1900, Jones was in Memphis, Tennessee, from the northbound Cannonball when he agreed to take the southbound Cannonball because the scheduled engineer called in sick. He left Memphis at 12:50 am, 95 minutes behind schedule, but made up almost an hour between Memphis and Grenada, Mississippi, nearly 100 miles away. By Durant, 55 miles farther down, they were almost on time.



At Durant, Jones received orders to "saw by" two freights that had taken the siding in Vaughan. The two freights were too large to fit into the siding, leaving one end on the main line. If the "sawing" maneuver had been done correctly, the freights would have allowed the approaching train to pass the first switch, and then the trains on the siding would move past the other switch. However, an air hose on one of the freight trains burst, applying the brakes on the freight cars behind the break, and left them immobile on the main line. Meanwhile, Jones was traveling excessively fast, possibly up to 70 miles per hour, and did not have enough time to brake. When collision seemed imminent, Casey told his fireman, Sim Webb, to jump for it, but Jones rode the engine into the cars and was killed. It is believed that because Jones stayed to slow the train, he saved the passengers from injury and possible death (Casey himself was the only fatality of the collision).

Popular legend holds that when Jones' body was pulled from the wreckage of his train his hands were still firmly latched onto the whistle cord and the brake.


April 30, 1938 -
Bugs Bunny first appeared, so to speak, in the cartoon short Porky's Hare Hunt, released on this date. This short was co-directed by Cal Dalton and Ben Hardaway.



The cartoon had an almost identical theme to a 1937 cartoon, Porky's Duck Hunt, directed by Tex Avery and introducing Daffy Duck. Following the general plot of this earlier film, the short cast Porky Pig as a hunter against an equally nutty prey more interested in driving his hunter insane than running away. But instead of a black duck, his current prey was a tiny, white rabbit. Bugs Bunny introduces himself with the expression "Jiggers, fellers," and Mel Blanc gave the rabbit a voice and laugh that he would later use to voice Woody Woodpecker. In this cartoon, he also quoted Groucho Marx for the first time (from the movie Duck Soup): "Of course, you know, this means war!"


April 30, 1939 -
On a very hot New York Sunday, The 1939 World's Fair had its grand opening, with 200,000 people in attendance. The April 30 date coincided with the anniversary of George Washington's inauguration as President in New York City. Although many of the pavilions and other facilities were not quite ready for this opening, it was put on with pomp and great celebration.



President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the opening day address, and as a reflection of the wide range of technological innovation on parade at the fair, his speech was not only broadcast over the various radio networks but also was televised. NBC used the event to inaugurate regularly scheduled television broadcasts in New York City over their station W2XBS (now WNBC). An estimated 1,000 people viewed the Roosevelt telecast from about 200 television sets scattered throughout the New York area.



Little remembered but equally important, the View-Master was introduced at the World's Fair that day.

Don't worry about those storm clouds overhead (it's just World War II).


April 30, 1943 -
The British submarine HMS Seraph dropped ‘the man who never was,' a dead man the British planted with false invasion plans (which indicated the Allies would not invade Sicily,) into the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain on this date.



German agents discovered the body of a non-existent RAF major, bought the ruse and were unprepared for the actual attack on that island.


April 30, 1945 -
Holed up in a bunker under the Reich Chancellery headquarters in Berlin(conveniently called the Fuehrerbunker), blushing bride Eva Braun has a hankering for Almond Roca. Finding none available, she decide to chew a cyanide capsule and commit suicide (she was impulsive.) Distraught honeymooner Adolf Hitler, never one to go it alone, decides to commit suicide himself by swallowing a cyanide capsule and (to gilt the lily) shooting himself in the head (he was having a very bad day for an Evil Bastard.)



Soon after, Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allied forces, ending Hitler's dreams of a "1,000-year" Reich.



Guess that didn't work out for him.


April 30, 1975 -
Fall of Saigon: Communist forces gains control of Saigon. The fall of the city was preceded by the evacuation of almost all the American civilian and military personnel in Saigon, along with tens of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians. The evacuation culminated in Operation Frequent Wind, the largest helicopter evacuation in history.



The Vietnam War formally ends with the unconditional surrender of South Vietnamese president Duong Van Minh.

This is a really big Oops for America.


April 30, 1997 -
Ellen DeGeneres' character comes out of the closet on the sitcom Ellen.



Sorry fellas, she only likes the ladies.



And so it goes

Friday, April 29, 2011

I know Lent is over

But today is National Shrimp Scampi Day

Don't forget a few Red Pepper Flakes


Today is also International Dance Day - among the goals of the Dance Day are to increase the awareness of the importance of dance among the general public, as well as to persuade governments all over the world to provide a proper place for dance in all systems of education.





Dance you sinners, dance.


His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, the once and future king of England and Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, former captain of the school hockey team get married today.

Good luck kids


April 29, 1852 -
The first edition of Roget’s Thesaurus was published (produced, made, created) on this date.



Dr. Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869) was a London physician of French-Swiss ancestry who began to collect and organize English words to improve his public speaking.


Today in History -
April 29, 1901 -
Train robber and one of the last of the Old West outlaws, Thomas "Black Jack" Ketchum was unsuccessfully hanged in Clayton, New Mexico.

The executioner's poor choice of rope and Ketchum's recent increase in weight combine to produce a gruesome decapitation in the gallows.

Thomas "Black Jack" Ketchum was the only person ever hanged in Clayton, New Mexico. He was also the only man ever hanged for train robbery in the entire state, a law that was later found to be unconstitutional. But, a little too late for poor Black Jack.


April 29, 1939 -
The Bronx-Whitestone Bridge connecting Bronx and Queens opened for traffic on this date.

The opening of the bridge was timed to be completed before the opening of the 1939 World's Fair.


April 29, 1945 -
Adolf Hitler married Eva Braun on this date. The very next day she killed herself. So did he. This demonstrates the importance of not rushing into marriage. You've got to take your time, get to know the other person, and really think it through. Especially if the other person happens to be an Evil Bastard at the head of a hellish genocidal war machine on the brink of defeat.

But it's not enough just making sure your intended isn't a war-criminal-in-training. The sad truth is that if you plan to marry a human being you're in for a pretty bumpy road no matter what—which isn't to say it would be all roses if you married something other than a human.



So maybe Adolf and Eva were doomed anyway. Who knows? I'm only saying they should have given it a little more thought. Bunker marriages have a notorious failure rate.

Actually, in the United States today, all marriages have a notorious failure rate. So maybe the best advice comes from Homer Simpson: "Never try anything."

Say what you will about that bald, yellow tinged, four-fingered man—he's still married.


April 29, 1968 -
Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, the rock musical opened on this date. Hair tells the story of the "Tribe", a group of politically active, long-haired "Hippies of the Age of Aquarius" fighting against conscription to the Vietnam War and living a bohemian life together in New York City. They struggle to balance their young lives, loves and the sexual revolution with their pacifist rebellion against the war and the conservative impulses of their parents and society.



It was also a way for middle class America to see nudity on the stage without going to a strip club or porno house.


April 29, 1992 -
Rioting erupts in Los Angeles after Rodney King's assailants are acquitted by a jury. The looting and destruction begins in South Central L.A. and quickly radiates outward. By the time things are under control, 51 are dead , 1093 buildings were damaged or destroyed (764 retail stores were owned by Koreans) and the city has sustained $1.5 billion in property damage.



Civil disorder manages to spread to other U.S. cities, through the influence of live TV coverage.


April 29, 1999 -
In India, Jessica Lall, a young New Delhi bartender, was shot and killed by Manu Sharma, after she refused him a drink at closing time. On February 21, 2006, Sharma the son of a powerful and wealthy politician with interests in sugar mills, and 8 friends were acquitted.



Protesters took to the streets, holding candlelight vigils and waving signs calling for justice; officials from the president to the capital's police chief called for a review of the investigation. Courts convicted Sharma in 2006 and sentenced him to life in prison.

In 2011 the Hindi film, No One Killed Jessica was based on this story.



And so it goes.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What Poem are you thinking of today?

As I'm you all remember, April is Poetry Month and today is the Great Poetry Reading Day, honoring some really great verse in all of the world’s languages.



Please celebrate Poetry Reading Day safely today, don't drink and read unless you're in the safety of your home.


April 28, 1939 -
Cecil B. DeMille contribution to 'Hollywood's Golden Year - 1939', Union Pacific, premiered in Omaha Nebraska on this date.



In order to operate the number of trains required by the production, Paramount had to get a regulation railroad operating license from the Interstate Commerce Commission.


April 28, 1941 -
Ann-Margret Olsson, actress, singer and dancer, was born on this date.







Instead of the phrase, "Dance like no one is watching you," it should be, "Dance like you're Ann Margaret."


Acme presents today's PSA - One Minute Galactica: Be A Good Sport



I bet their outfits make you feel kind of 'funny'.


Today in History -
April 28, 1789 -
In the middle of the South Pacific, the crew of the HMS Bounty, led by either Clark Gable, Marlon Brando or Mel Gibson mutinies, setting Charles Laughton, Trevor Howard or Anthony Hopkins and 18 other crewmen adrift in an open boat, so they can hang out with topless Tahitian teens.







Sometimes history is very confusing.


April 28, 1881 -
Billy the Kid escapes from a New Mexico jail, killing jailer Bob Ollinger and a fellow prisoner in the process. Billy will survive for another three months before Pat Garrett finally kills him.



Somehow Bob Dylan, Dracula and Jane Russell's braless bodaeous ta-tas are involved in this story


April 28, 1945 -
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci are captured by partisan fighters and executed (castrated and hung upside down on a meat hook).



Just because you can get the trains to run on time does not mean that the voters love you.


April 28, 1947 -
Sailing from Peru on the balsa-raft Kon Tiki, Thor Heyerdahl began his six-man, 101-day expedition across the Pacific Ocean to Polynesia.



Heyerdahl's expeditions were spectacular and caught the public imagination. Although much of his work remains unaccepted within the scientific community, Heyerdahl increased public interest in ancient history and anthropology.



And so it goes

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You're banned from Chicken Cutlet Night

If you're like me and I'm sure that you are (because why else would you be reading this,) you've often wondered what The Jersey Shore would sound like if Oscar Wilde had written it. Ponder this question no longer:



See more of these amazing videos at Playbill Videos at You Tube.com


This could be from the greatest party of all time -

If we call the Mesquite Wal-Mart, perhaps they know who's the customer?


Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War hero and 18th President of the United States, would have been 189 today.
And if the rumors are true, he is still buried in Grant's Tomb, which was dedicated on this date in 1897.


April 27, 1922 -
Fritz Lang's Dr Mabuse, der Spieler premiered in Berlin, Germany on this date.



It has been said that Dr Mabuse is the first film noir, and one of the finest films of the German silent period


April 27, 1930 -
One of the greatest anti-war films, based on the Erich Maria Remarque novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, premiered in NYC on this date.



With the loss of limbs and gory deaths shown rather explicitly, this is undoubtedly the most violent American film of its time. This is because the Production Code was not strictly enforced until 1934, and also because Universal Pictures deemed the subject matter important enough to allow the violence to be seen.


Today in History:
April 27, 4977 BC -
Today should have been Earth Day,

God creates the universe on this day, according to calculations by mystic and part-time astronomer Johannes Kepler.


April 27, 1509 -
The entire state of Venice is excommunicated by Pope Julius II for an entirely secular reason:



the refusal to place parts of Romagna under the Pope's control.

Oh, those wacky Pre-counterreformation Popes.


April 27, 1521 -
In an hour long battle with Philippine islanders, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his men are repeatedly jabbed with sharpened bamboo spears. After Magellan finally succumbs to his wounds, the natives hack him to pieces with their swords, barbecued and consumed him.



They were surprised that they were not hungry an hour after eating him as they had been after eating some Asian explorers previously.


April 27, 1861 -
In a blatantly unconstitutional act, President Abraham Lincoln suspends habeas corpus inside a zone between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The government may now detain citizens indefinitely without ever filing charges. A year and a half later, Lincoln expands the scope of his order to the entire nation.

I'm still greatly relieved that the previous resident of the White House didn't read much history.


April 27, 1865 -
The worst steamship disaster in the history of the United States occurs on this date. The Sultana, carrying over 2,000 passengers, the majority being freed Union POWs from the notorious Andersonville and Cahaba Prisons, exploded in Mississippi River, while en route to Cairo, Illinois.



Neither the cause of the explosion nor the final count of the dead (estimated at between 1,450 and 2,000) was ever determined. Today, the Sultana disaster remains the worst of its kind .

Talk about bad luck.


April 27, 1871 -
The American Museum of Natural History opened to the public in New York City, on this date. With a series of exhibits, the Museum’s collection went on view for the first time in the Central Park Arsenal, the Museum’s original home, on the eastern side of Central Park.

The museum began from the efforts of Albert Smith Bickmore, one-time student of Harvard zoologist Louis Agassiz, who was successful in his proposal to create a natural history museum in New York City, New York, with the support of William E. Dodge, Junior, Theodore Roosevelt, Senior, Joseph Choate and J. Pierpont Morgan. The Governor of New York, John Thompson Hoffman, signs a bill officially creating the American Museum of Natural History on April 6, 1869.


April 27,1963 -
Comedian Lenny Bruce is arrested in Miami for illegal possession of hypodermic needles.



They were, however, for legally-prescribed prescription drugs.


April 27, 1986 -
Someone interrupts the HBO satellite feed during the movie The Falcon and The Snowman. For five minutes, two-thirds of their customer base receives the message: Good evening HBO from Captain Midnight. $12.95 a month?



(Showtime-Movie Channel Beware.) Captain Midnight turned out to be John R. MacDougall of Florida, who was fined and placed on probation.


April 27, 1987 -
After determining that Kurt Waldheim had "assisted or otherwise participated in the persecution of persons" during his Nazi years, the Department of Justice places him on a watch list of undesirable aliens. As such, the sitting President of Austria is disallowed entry into the U.S. It is the first time that a foreign head of state is legally forbidden from visiting America.

I suppose that he suffered from Waldheimer's Disease - it's when you have difficulty recalling that you're a Nazi


And so it goes


If this day wasn't special enough, here's the new Misery Bear video from the BBC:



Just in time for the royal wedding.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

For God's Sake, Don't blow out the candles!

April 26, 1956 -

Godzilla debuted in American (Gojira premiered in Japan on November 3, 1954) :



With the ashes of World War II only recently cooled, Japan is plagued by a sudden wave of maritime disasters: Without warning, ships are exploding into flame and sinking beneath the waves. The few survivors are able to shed little light on the situation, as they quickly die from radiation and strange burns. (Hmmm, sound familiar) A group of investigators, including prominent paleontologist Dr. Yamane and American reporter Steve Martin, are sent to Odo Island to investigate. The natives warn that the ships are being destroyed by Gojira (Godzilla), a legendary monster. These claims are verified when a gigantic, dinosaur-like creature comes ashore and demolishes the native village. Dr. Yamane concludes that Godzilla is a prehistoric creature that has been awakened and mutated by atomic bomb tests. It's just the same conclusion you'd come to having just seen the ruins of a Japanese fishing village.



The military decides to use depth charges on the monster. However, the attack is unsuccessful, and Godzilla follows the ships back to Tokyo Bay. (Again, probably just what you would do - annoy a giant radioactive monster.) Coming ashore at night, Godzilla razes Tokyo. The destruction left in his wake is comparable to an atomic bomb. Military firepower proves useless against the monster. It is feared that Godzilla will continue to lay waste to the cities of Japan, and perhaps the entire world.

It is up to Emiko Yamane (Dr. Yamane’s daughter) to convince her former fiancĂ©, Dr. Serizawa, to use his Oxygen Destroyer against Godzilla. Serizawa is skeptical; he fears that this terrible device might be more dangerous than the monster. However, he finally decides to make the ultimate sacrifice to rid the world of Godzilla.

So here in a nutshell, you have the greatest fever dream movie ever re-edited - a very good Sci-Fi film intercut with Raymond Burr, the undisputed king of deadpan delivery and nipple rouge entrepreneur.



Remember -- don't panic, be deadpan! (We take Godzilla very seriously in our home.).


April 26, 1452 -
Leonardo da Vinci was born on this date. Mr. da Vinci was one of the great minds of the Renaissance. Sadly, he is best known for having painted the Mona Lisa (in Italian, La Joconde,), in which he accurately and exquisitely captured the unmistakable smile of a dignified woman who's just farted.



For some reason, many lonely computer geeks celebrate this day by releasing computer virii in hopes that female FBI agents will break down their doors.


Today in History:
On April 26, 1923 (almost 88 years previously to the date of his great-grandson's upcoming nuptials,) the Duke of York married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in Westminster Abbey.

This wedding might have slipped into the ephemera of time had the Duke's brother not wanted to marry a woman reported so ugly, many thought her a man in drag. And calling a woman ugly in England is really saying something, as many of the British upper crush often marry their horses out of confusion.

That's British royalty.

Count Basie died on April 26, 1984; Duke Ellington was born on April 29, 1899; Ella Fitzgerald, the "First Lady of Song," was born on April 25, 1918.

That's American royalty.


April 26, 1865 -
Discovered hiding in a farmer's tobacco shed, John Wilkes Booth is shot in the neck by a complete lunatic. Dying and paralyzed from the neck down, he whispers: Tell my mother I did it for my country.



As his hands are held up to his face, Booth mutters "useless...useless..."

They are his last words.


April 26, 1933 -
Hermann Goering founded the Geheime Staatspolizei, otherwise known as the Gestapo on this date.



The original purpose of this "Secret State Police" is to disrupt and harass opponents of National Socialism, but it will later come to adopt many additional responsibilities.


April 26, 1937 -
It was a beautiful Monday afternoon in Guernica, Spain. At about 3:30 pm the day took a tragic turn. For over three hours, twenty-five or more of Germany's best-equipped bombers, accompanied by at least twenty more Messerschmitt and Fiat Fighters, dumped one hundred thousand pounds of high-explosive and incendiary bombs on the village, slowly and systematically pounding it to rubble.



Guernica had served as the testing ground for a new Nazi military tactic - blanket-bombing a civilian population to demoralize the enemy. It was wanton, man-made holocaust.

The bombing was the subject of a famous anti-war painting by Pablo Picasso.


April 26, 1986 -
44 seconds into a late-night experiment at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, reactor number four sustains two large explosions. The exploded at Chernobyl burned for 10 days. About 70% of the fallout fell in Belarus. Damage was estimated to be up to $130 billion. The Soviet news agency TASS holds off reporting the incident for almost 48 hours.



A 300-hundred-square-mile area was evacuated and 31 people died as unknown thousands were exposed to radioactive material that spread in the atmosphere throughout the world. By 1998 10,000 Russian liquidators involved in the cleanup had died and thousands more became invalids. It was later estimated that the released radioactivity was 200 times the combined bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was later found that Soviet scientists were authorized to carry out experiments that required the reactor to be pushed to or beyond its limits, with safety features disabled.

Oops.



And so it goes


P.S. if you have about 13 minute to kill, watch this - a great compilation video of the use of the The Wilhelm Scream in film -



The Wilhelm Scream is a popular stock scream used in countless films, tv shows, and video games. It was recorded in 1951 for the film, Distant Drums.

Enjoy

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mmm Dooby Doo, Dum Dim Dum Doo Dum

April 25, 1959 -
The Fleetwoods hit no. 1 with their recording of Come Softly to Me on this date.



The the group's original name, Two Girls And A Guy, was changed by a Seattle record distributor Bob Reisdorff, who became their manager and founded Dolphin Records (later called Dolton) which released the single.

Remember kids, don't dance so close. Leave room for the Holy Ghost, it's Easter Monday.


Malaria Awareness Day was designated to be April 25 by President George W. Bush in 2007. President Bush described Malaria Awareness Day to be a day when "we focus our attention on all who suffer from this terrible disease -- especially the millions on the continent of Africa."



So I encourage all Americans to begin heavily drinking Gin and Tonics to honor the day (I am not affiliated in anyway with Bombay Sapphire - not that I wouldn't consider any offers.)


April 25, 1917
Ella Jane Fitzgerald, the First Lady of Song, considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century, was born on this date.







Ella Fitzgerald’s life was the quintessential American success story. Through fifty-eight years of performing, 13 Grammys and more than forty million records sold, she elevated swing, bebop, and ballads to their highest potential.


Today in History:
April 25, 1792 -
French highwayman Nicolas Jacques Pelletier is beheaded by the guillotine, after extensive testing during its development with corpses and sheep, making him its first victim. The speed that the guillotine worked as quick as lightening and in the twinkling of an eye - it was over.

The outcome was not well received by the crowd who called for the return of the gallows.


April 25, 1926 -
The premiere of Giacomo Puccini's opera, Turandot was at La Scala, Milan, on this date, one year and five months after Puccini's death. It was conducted by Arturo Toscanini.



Turandot was unfinished at the time of Puccini's death and was later completed by Franco Alfano.


April 25, 1972 -
... And if you covered him with garbage,
George Sanders would still have style...."




George Sanders actor and husband of not one but two Gabor sisters, killed himself leaving this great suicide note, "Dear World, I am leaving you because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool - good luck," on this date.

Short and to the point.


April 25, 1980 -
In Iran, a commando mission to rescue hostages was aborted after mechanical problems disabled three of the eight helicopters involved. During the evacuation, a helicopter and a transport plan collided and exploded. Eight U.S. servicemen were killed.



The mission was aimed at freeing American hostages that had been taken at the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979.


And on a personal note - still as lovely as ever, Andrea once again celebrating her 39th birthday.



And so it goes

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christos Anesti!

You may now resume everything you gave up for Lent with barely any new-found spiritual insights







I'm not even going to attempt to explain how chocolate eggs, the Easter bunny and the resurrection of Jesus Christ converge.





Hopefully you'll find all those Easter eggs or you'll be sorry. Year old hard boiled eggs left behind grandma's couch really, really stink - enough said.


Today's Word: Dionysiac ( die-uh-NIS-ee-ak ), (Latin Dionysiacus, from Greek Dionusiakos, from Dionusios.), adjective 1. Of or relating to Dionysus, the god of wine and of an orgiastic religion celebrating the power and fertility of nature. Of or relating to Dionysia, ancient Greek festivals held seasonally, chiefly at Athens, in honor of Dionysus. 2. Often dionysiac. Ecstatic or wild; Dionysian.

Keep it in mind (we'll come back to it.)





Today in History:
April 24, 1479 BC (this is an approximated date.)
Most of the people who could have verified this date were too busy smearing olive oil on each other and inventing Greco-Roman wrestling in the nude, so the creation of an accurate calendar wasn't a high priority.

Think Dionysiac

... Is this the face that launched a thousand ships? ....

Ok kids, here's your quick Lit Hum course.

Once upon a time, a pretty naked Greek girl was lolling around a limpid pool (lots of pretty naked Greek girls were doing that back then) and she saw a beautiful swan.

Before you could said By Zeus, Leda lays an egg and out pops Helen - another pretty naked Greek girl. But Helen wasn't just any pretty naked Greek girl, she was the MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN THE WORLD.



So when it was time for Helen to marry (at about 12), literally everyone who was anyone wanted to marry her, including Odysseus(who doesn't marry her but Penelope but that's another story), Menestheus, Ajax the Great, Patroclus and Idomeneus, Agamemnon (who doesn't marry her but her sister, Clytemnestra and lives (or dies) to regret it, but that again is another story). It doesn't hurt to mention at this point that her 'father' was the King of Sparta or the fact that he never noticed that she was hatched from a egg.

Yadda, yadda yadda, Helen marries Menelaus. Yadda, yadda, yadda, three more naked Greek goddesses, handsome naked Greek youth named Paris (how the French got into this story even I can't explain) and a golden apple.



Also, I bet you never realized how much nudity plays into this story.

Yadda, yadda yadda, an abduction and a promise extracted - bang zoom, you have the Trojan war. I have just saved you from reading Edith Hamilton's Mythology and most of the Iliad.

The Greek siege of Troy had lasted for ten years with no end in sight. The Greeks devised a new ruse: a giant hollow wooden horse. It was built by Epeius and filled with Greek warriors led by Odysseus. Meanwhile, a Greek spy, Sinon, convinced the Trojans that the horse was a gift despite the warnings of Laocoon (who gets to utter the line, "Beware Greeks bearing gifts" moments before being strangled by sea-serpents with his two sons - but that's another story)

and Cassandra (who has the gift of prophecy because of the God Apollo as a token of his love has snakes lick her ears clean but that again is another story) ;

Helen and Deiphobus (who won Helen in a game with his brother after the death of Paris but let's stay on course here) even investigated the horse; in the end, the Trojans accepted the gift on this date. In ancient times it was customary for a defeated general to surrender his horse to the victorious general in a sign of respect.

It should be noted here that the horse was the sacred animal of Poseidon; during the contest with Athena over the patronage of Athens, Poseidon gave men the horse, and Athena gave the olive tree. It should also be noted that after living ten years under a siege, one's reasoning seems to go out the window.

The Trojans have a huge orgy, I mean, party (think sodomy but on a grand scale - think dionysiac) to celebrate the end of the siege, so that, when the Greeks emerged from the horse, on this date, the city was in a drunken stupor. The Greek warriors opened the city gates to allow the rest of the army to enter, and the city was pillaged ruthlessly, all the men were killed, and all the women and children were taken into slavery.

And so ends the Iliad. Oh yeah, Brad Pitt ends up dead but Orlando Bloom is alive.

Discuss amongst yourselves.


April 24, 1913 -
The Cathedral of Commerce built one nickel at a time, the Woolworth building opened on this date.

The Five and Dimes are long gone but the skyscraper remains.


April 24, 1916 -
Some 1,600 Irish nationalist, the Irish Volunteers, launched the Easter Rising by seizing several key sites in Dublin, including the General Post Office. Eemon de Valera was one of the commandants in the uprising. It was provoked by impatience with the lack of home rule and was put down by British forces several days later. Michael Collins, a member of Sinn Fein, led the guerrilla warfare.



... All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born. - W. B. Yeats


April 24, 1986 -
'Her Royal Highness' The Duchess of Windsor, Bessie Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson Windsor former maitresse en titre (official mistress), horse-faced, twice-divorced American, possible transvestite and Nazi sympathizer died on this date.

And the House of Windsor breathes a sigh of relief -

until Princess Diana.



And so it goes

Saturday, April 23, 2011

In dreams, I walk with you

April 23, 1936 -
Allow yourselves to wallow in the voluptuousness of despair!









Roy Orbison, the coolest singer in sunglasses,was born on this date.


April 23, 1958 -
Orson Welles' noir thriller Touch of Evil, starring Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh, was released on this date.



When Orson Welles discovered that his film was recut, he wrote a letter to the production house with specifics on how he would have wanted the film to be released. This memo, thought to be lost, was found to be in the possession of star Charlton Heston and was the basis for the re-edited 1998 re-release.


Today in History -

Today is believed to be the birthday of William Shakespeare, born in Stratford-on-Avon, England (1564). He was a playwright and poet, and is considered to be the most influential and perhaps the greatest writer in the English language. His tragedies have been celebrated for centuries. For example, there’s the Tragedy of Julius Caesar, in which a Roman general thinks he’d like to be emperor, other people disagree, and everyone dies in the end. There is the Tragedy of Macbeth, in which a Scottish Thane thinks he’d like to be king, other people disagree, and everyone dies in the end. There is the Tragedy of Richard III, in which a hunch-backed noble thinks he'd like to be king, other people disagree, and everyone dies in the end. There is even the Tragedy of Hamlet, in which a young prince thinks and everyone dies in the end.



(That last is naturally set in Denmark, where the relationship between thinking and dying has been most famously chronicled by Soren Kierkegaard, who called life itself the sickness unto death. He was a very happy fella.)

He gave us many beloved plays, including Romeo and Juliet (1594), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595), Gay Boys in Bondage (1601), Othello (1604), and King Lear (1605). Only a few scattered facts are known about his life. He was born and raised in the picturesque market town of Stratford-on-Avon, surrounded by woodlands. His father was a glover and a leather merchant; he and his wife had eight children including William, but three of them died in childbirth. William probably left grammar school when he was thirteen years old, but continued to study on his own.



He went to London around 1588 to pursue his career in drama (or to sleep with actresses or men who dresses like women) and by 1592 he was a well-known actor. He joined an acting troupe in 1594 and wrote many plays for the group while continuing to act. Scholars believe that he usually played the part of the first character that came on stage, but that in Hamlet he played the ghost.



Some scholars have suggested that Shakespeare couldn't have written the plays attributed to him because he had no formal education. A group of scientists recently plugged all his plays into a computer and tried to compare his work to other writers of his day, such as Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, and the Earl of Oxford. The only writer they found who frequently used words and phrases similar to Shakespeare's was Queen Elizabeth I, and although Shakespeare had been seen in women's clothing several times, the Queen was eventually ruled out as well.



Shakespeare used one of the largest vocabularies of any English writer, almost 30,000 words, and he was the first writer to invent or record many of our most common turns of phrase, including foul play, as luck would have it, your own flesh and blood, too much of a good thing, good riddance, in one fell swoop, so is your mother, play fast and loose, up your nose with a rubber hose, dyn-o-mite, I know you are but what am I and in the twinkling of an eye.

Shakespeare wrote a lot of other plays and died in the end—on April 23, 1616. His accomplishments are all the more remarkable when you consider that he died on the same day he’d been born.


April 23, 1616 -
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra died the very same day as Shakespeare. Mr. Cervantes was a brilliant Spanish humorist, best known for his novel Don Quixote, in which an old man suffering from acute mental illness rides around the Spanish countryside hallucinating, then dies.



Sometimes that's all there is.


April 23, 1967 -
The USSR launched Soyuz One on this date.



The next day, forced to return to earth, cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov became the first casualty of space flight when his capsule's parachute opened improperly.

Oops.


April 23, 1988 -
... There is no dark side in the Moon really... matter of fact it's all dark ...



Pink Floyd's album Dark Side Of The Moon, after spending the record total of 741 consecutive weeks (over 14 years) on the Billboard 200, left the charts for its first time ever.

How did they ever make ends meet?



And so it goes

Friday, April 22, 2011

Always look on the bright side of life

It's Earth Day today, everybody goes out and hug a tree. If you don't want to be that familiar with nature, give a warm but firm shake hands to your house plants.



Here's a little poem you can remember to help on this Earth Day -

If it's yellow, let it mellow,
If it's brown, flush it down,
And if it's blue - seek medical attention.


Today is also Good Friday (also known as, Great Friday, Holy Friday or Long Friday)



(In China, the ever literal minded Chinese refer to the day as Jesus' Crucifixion Day)




April 22, 1935 -
Universal Studios released the sequel to the original Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, starring Boris Karloff, Colin Clive and Elsa Lanchester was release on this date.



When filming the scene where the monster emerges from the burnt windmill, Boris Karloff slipped and fell into the water-filled well. Upon being helped out, he realized he had broken a leg in the fall. The metal struts used to stiffen his legs (for the famous "monster lurch") helped keep the bones in place until they could be properly set. Not long before filming began, Colin Clive broke a leg in a horse riding accident. Consequently, most of Dr. Frankenstein's scenes were shot with him sitting.


April 22, 1939 -
One of Bette Davis' favorite performances in the film Dark Victory, opened on this date.



Bette Davis pestered Warner Brothers to buy the rights to the story, thinking it a great vehicle for her. WB studio chief Jack L. Warner fought against it, arguing that no one wanted to see someone go blind. Of course, the film went on to become one of the studio's biggest successes of that year.


April 22, 1942 -
One of Hitchcock's brilliant World War II efforts, Saboteur, premiered in Washington DC on this date.



Alfred Hitchcock's original director's cameo was cut by order of the censors. He and his secretary played deaf-mute pedestrians. When Hitch's character made an apparently indecent proposal to her in sign language, she slapped his face. A more conventional cameo in front of a drugstore was substituted.


April 22, 1950 -
Peter Frampton, musician, singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, was born on this date.



If you were a teenager in the mid 70's, you were issued your standard copy of Frampton Comes Alive to face your 'awkward' years.


Today in History:
April 22, 1451 -
Isabella I, Queen of Castille, was born. She also became Queen of Aragon in 1479.

She was Christopher Columbus' patron, and must therefore share some of the responsibility for the many thousands of casinos across America.


April 22, 1870 -
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov was born on this date He later became Lenin, invented the Communist Party in Russia, and made himself first Head Bastard of the Soviet Union.

It's interesting that Alexander Kerensky, the leader of Russia's provisional revolutionary government in 1917 until overthrown by Lenin, was born on the same day as Lenin, only eleven years later.

Well, it's interesting to some people.


April 22, 1904 -
Robert Oppenheimer was born on this date. Mr. Oppenheimer is known as the father of the atomic bomb.



The bomb's mother has never been identified to anyone's satisfaction, which only underscores the lax security at Los Alamos.


April 22, 1923 -
Kinky center fold model Bettie Mae Page born in Nashville, Tennessee.



As she describes herself, "I was never the girl next door."


April 22, 1946 -
John Waters, famed indie film director, was born on this date.



John Waters should appear more frequently on SNL.


April 22, 1964 -
President Johnson opened the New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadow, Corona Park, New York, on this date.



The Fair also is remembered as the vehicle Walt Disney utilized to design and perfect the system of "audio-animatronics," in which a combination of sound and computers control the movement of life-like robots to act out scenes. In the It's a Small World attraction at the Pepsi pavilion, animated dolls and animals frolicked in a spirit of international unity on a boat-ride around the world.



Once the fair was over, Walt feverishly pushed his Imagineers to build him an 'actual' President. Historians argue that this was the beginning of Ronald Reagan campaign for the Presidency.


April 22, 1994 -
Richard M. Nixon suffers a fatal stroke. His body is laid to rest in the unhallowed grounds of his Presidential Library.

His head was severed from his body and wooden stakes were driven through his heart to make sure he is dead.



And so it goes

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Yes kids, it is a holy day of obligation

It's Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday, today (remember to wash your feet or the feet of someone else, if you are so inclined.)

Amongst the other things going on (remember: don't go to a dinner party with 12 other people) -

It a big confessional day - so in honor of that, as has been my wont, I will repost, Confessions of a Fallen Altar boy - tales from my misspent youth as an Altar boy at St. John's. Hear the wanton tales of Catholic youth gone wrong, of the beatings by drunken priest, the secret drinking of the sacramental wine, the willful intent to force others to puke up the Eucharist.

Those uninterested in this, need not read the posting.


April 21, 1951 -
Les Paul and Mary Ford topped the charts with their hit of the classic How High the Moon on this date.



The recording by Les Paul and Mary Ford is noteworthy for Paul's pioneering use of overdubbing - i.e., layering guitar parts one atop another, a technique also referred to as multitracking or "sound on sound" recording.


April 21, 1990 -
Sinead O'Connor topped the charts with a cover of Prince's Nothing Compares 2U on this date.



The video shot for this song was the first time most people saw what Sinead O'Connor looked like and were surprised that she was bald. She shaved her head when she first started recording because she wanted to make a statement and not be known for her beauty.


Make of this what you will - the following people were born on this day:
Alexandra Mary Windsor II (1926),



Iggy Pop (James Newell Osterberg) (1947) ,



Patti LuPone (1949),



Tony Danza (1951)



& Robert Smith (1959)




Today in History -
April 21, 753 BC -
Traditional date of the foundation of Rome by Romulus and his brother, Remus, as a refuge for runaway slaves and murderers who captured the neighboring Sabine women for wives (they are hoping to finish building it any day now.)



But since the Gregorian Calendar was just a gleam in Pope Julius eye - who knows.


April 21, 1836 -
With the battle cry, 'Remember the Alamo!' Texan forces under Sam Houston defeated the army of Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, assuring Texas independence .



According to legend, Santa Ana was astride a mulatto, or "yellow" prostitute, Emily Morgan, who came to be celebrated in song as The Yellow Rose of Texas.

Now you know.


April 21,1792 -
Jose da Silva Xavier, Tiradentes, considered by many to be Brazil's George Washington, was having an extremely bad day. The Portuguese rulers of Brazil were not happy with his seditious talk of independence. Tiradentes was hung in Rio de Janeiro on this date. His body was broken into pieces.

With his blood, a document was written declaring his memory infamous. His head was exposed in Vila Rica. Pieces of his body were exposed in the cities between Vila Rica and Rio, in an attempt to scare the people who had listened to the independence ideas of Tiradentes.

He began to be considered a national hero by the republicans in the late 19th century, and after the republic was proclaimed in Brazil in 1889 the anniversary of his death (April 21) became a national holiday.


April 21, 1910 -
Halley's comet reappeared, last seen in 1835 on this date.



The Earth passes safely through the comet's tail with no perceptible effect, of course, not counting the death of Mark Twain on this date.

This time, the reports were not exaggerated.


April 21, 1918 -
German fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, known as The Red Baron, is shot down and killed over Vaux sur Somme in France on this date.



There is no truth to the rumor that Snoopy fired the fatal shot.


April 21, 1997 -
Ashes of Timothy Leary and Gene Roddenberry launched into orbit (This marked the beginning of the space funeral industry.)

I guess this is the highest Dr. Leary will ever get.


April 21, 2003 -
Nina Simone, dubbed the high priestess of soul, died in France on this date.



Kids go out and buy one of her CD's, your life will be better for it.



And so it goes.