Sunday, July 31, 2011

Laugh and grow strong

It's the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of Society of Jesus (the Jesuits).

I owe any intellectual curiosity I have to the fact many of my early teachers were Jesuit Brothers.


Today in History:
July 31, 1945 -
Wearing a stolen army uniform, prisoner John Giles attempts to escape from Alcatraz island by boarding an outbound cargo boat. But instead of San Francisco, the vessel heads for Angel Island, where Giles is promptly captured.

When attempting your escape from prison, confirm that you did not by a return ticket before boarding your escape craft.


It was on this day in 1954 that human feet first stood upon the summit of Pakistan's K2 mountain, the second-tallest mountain in the world.

K2 was known to the Chinese as "Great Mountain" and to Indian and Pakistani locals as "That Big Thing Over There." It was not until 1856, when T.G. Montgomerie of Britain's Survey of India was logging the mountains of the Karakorum range, that it was dubbed K2. This helped distinguish it from K1, to its left, and K3, to its right.

(K1 was later named Mount Masherbrum. K3 moved to New Mexico, where it is believed to be running a New Age bookstore under an assumed name.)

It was an Italian expedition led by Ardito Desio that first succeeded in ascending to the peak of K2. Team members Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni achieved that distinction on July 31, 1954.

The summit wasn't reached again until 1977, when a Japanese team with more than 1500 porters found their way to the top.



The first American expedition reached the top in 1978 without the aid of any stinking porters.


July 31, 1948 –
At Idlewild Field in New York, New York International Airport was dedicated by President Harry Truman on this date.

A 30 year old Congressman John F. Kennedy suddenly has a blinding headache that day and doesn't know why.


July 31, 1966 -
Beatles records are burned in Birmingham, Alabama -- only because John Lennon innocently declared that the band happens to be "more popular than Jesus."



The record burning of course has the opposite effect, as sales of Beatles records dramatically increase (in part to burn them.)


July 31, 1966 -
Charles Whitman, as a student at the University of Texas at Austin, wounds 30 and kills 16, before being killed by police.



Two years later, Peter Bogdanovich directs his first film, Targets, based of the the Whitman slayings.



The film, starring Boris Karloff, is hailed as one of the most promising debuts of a director since Orson Welles.


July 31, 1971 -
One of the most expensive car rides occurred on this date, when James B. Irwin and David R. Scott took the Lunar Roving Vehicle or "Moon Buggy" on it's premiere jaunt on the surface of the moon.



I bet there was a lovely Earth out that evening.


July 31, 1980 (I'm now going with 1980 and not getting involved in the 1979 controversy)-
Harry Potter, an orphan who discovers that he is a wizard was born on this dates. J K Rowlings, the Harry Potter brand author, shares a birthday with her creation, who has made her a billionaire.



Who knew an orphaned kid with a facial birthmark could make someone so much money?



And so it goes.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Holy Bat Irony

July 30, 1966 -
The Dynamic Duo make the jump from the TV scene to the movie scene - Batman, The Movie, premiered in Austin, Texas on this date.



Originally planned as the pilot film for the Batman TV series, the movie was instead produced between the show's first and second seasons. The producers took advantage of the larger budget to have a number of new Bat-gadgets constructed, such as the BatBoat.

Louis CK was very funny on Letterman the other night




July 30, 1982 -
One of Ron Howard's early movie directorial efforts Night Shift, premiered on this date.



Both Kevin Costner and Shannen Doherty make their screen debuts: Costner as a frat boy in the morgue party scene (a non-speaking bit part); Doherty plays a "Blue Bell" (liken to a "Girl Scout") in an elevator scene (with one line).


Today in History:
Prague has always been a tough town for elected officials.



On July 30, 1419, Jan Zelivsky, a Hussite priest at the church of the Virgin Mary of the Snows, led his congregation on a procession through the streets of Prague to the Town Hall. The town council members had refused to exchange their Hussite prisoners, and an anti-Hussite threw a rock at one of the protesters. Enraged, the crowd stormed the town hall and threw seven of the council members from the windows onto the spears of the armed congregation below. Thus, the First Defenestration of Prague occurred.



Less you think that was the only defenestration in that tough old town, at Prague Castle on May 23, 1618, an assembly of Protestants tried two Imperial governors, Wilhelm Grav Slavata (1572 - 1652) and Jaroslav Borzita Graf Von Martinicz (1582 - 1649), for violating the Letter of Majesty (Right of Freedom of Religion), found them guilty, and threw them, together with their scribe Philip Fabricius, out of the high windows of the Bohemian Chancellery. They landed on a large pile of manure and all survived unharmed. Philip Fabricius was later ennobled by the emperor and granted the title "von Hohenfall" (lit. translating to "of Highfall").

Apparently, the streets of Prague were literally full of crap.

But what there were more, a defenestration (chronologically the Second Defenestration of Prague) happened on September 24, 1483, when a violent overthrow of the municipal governments of the Old and New Towns ended with throwing the Old-Town portreeve and the bodies of seven killed aldermen out of the windows of the respective townhalls.

Sometimes, the name the Third Defenestration of Prague is used, although it has no standard meaning. For example, it has been used to describe the death of Jan Masaryk, who was found under the bathroom window of the building of the Czechoslovakian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on March 10, 1948, allegedly murdered by Communists, though the official Communist line claimed this to be a suicide.

It's tough to be an elected official in Prague.



So, here are some quick rules for avoiding defenestration:

7. Don't throw stones at angry mobs.
6. Watch out for Catholics.
5. Watch out for Protestants.
4. Don't piss off really powerful people.
3. Surround tall buildings with piles of manure.
2. Never go to Prague.

And, of course,

1. Never go indoors.

Again, it's a tough town for politicians but it's the gravy train for glazers.


It's Emily Bronte's birthday.

The Brontes were three hideous sisters who dwelt in a cave and had to share a single eyeball between them. They were eventually outwitted and slain by wily Odysseus. (Unless that was the Gorgons, in which case the Emily Brontes were three Englishwomen who wrote poetry and novels in the middle nineteenth century.)

Women were not allowed to write books at the time because novels were still being written in the formal style, and it was feared that women would corrupt that classic form with their penchant for multiple climaxes. The Brontes therefore wrote under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Charlotte got to be Currer and this made the other girls jealous: Currer was the handsome and swarthy sailor, while Ellis was the stuttering librarian and Acton was the simpleminded shepherd.

As authors, the Emily Brontes were heavily influenced by the Romantics (That's What I Like About You), but most scholars contend that Emily's Wuthering Heights owes more to the Meteorologists.



She is perhaps best known for her invention of Heathcliff, most recently popularized by American cartoonist George Gately.




July 30, 1729 -
Happy Birthday Crab Cake Capital of the World



The city of Baltimore was founded on this date and is named after Lord Baltimore (Cecilius Calvert).


Flowers and Trees is a 1932 Silly Symphonies cartoon produced by Walt Disney, directed by Burt Gillett, and released to theatres by United Artists on July 30, 1932. It was the first commercially released film to be produced in the full-color three-strip Technicolor process, after several years of two-color Technicolor films.



Flowers and Trees was a commercial and critical success, winning the first Academy Award for Best Short Subjects: Cartoons.


July 30, 1938 -
In his Dearborn, Michigan office Henry Ford proudly accepts a Nazi medal on his 75th birthday. The Grand Cross of the Order of the German Eagle is the highest award the Reich can bestow on foreigners. The medal arrives with a note of personal greetings from Adolf Hitler.

A rabid anti-semite, Ford paid for copies of the racist hoax Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion to be deposited in major U.S. libraries.

Hopefully, there isn't a Ford in your future.


July 30, 1947 -
The last shot at the German dream of the perfect Aryan nation - Arnold Schwarzenegger was spawned on this date.

I'm not quite sure that an overly greased muscle man in a speedo (who would become the governor of a bankrupt US state and fathered children out of wed-lock ) was what Hitler had in mind but who knows.


July 30, 1975 -
Where have you gone Jimmy Hoffa, the nature turns it jaundice eyes to you?

Jimmy Hoffa was or wasn't killed on this date.



Jimmy is or isn't buried somewhere in the Meadowlands or a horse farm or was made into ground meat and consumed at some very unfortunate barbecue.



And so it goes.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I could use some right now.

July 29, 1987
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream introduces their Cherry Garcia flavor, named after the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, on this date.



Will we all scream for Ben & Jerry's in unison or one at a time?


July 29, 1950 -
RKO pictures released Walt Disney's production of Treasure Island on this date.



There are no women in the entire movie. Remember: Rum, the lash and sodomy, brought to you by Walt Disney!


July 29, 1958 -
President Eisenhower stopped playing golf long enough to signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which created NASA on this date.



Richard Nixon immediately gave Ike a rum toddy and let him take his afternoon nap.


July 29, 1959 -
... Ladies and gentlemen, please do not panic! But SCREAM! Scream for your lives!



Another campy cult classic William Castle flick, The Tingler opens on this date.


Today in History:
July 29, 1588 -
Phillip II of Spain sent his armadillo to invade England. This Spanish armadillo was defeated by the belly-buttons of Lord Howard and Sir Francis Drake in one of the greatest navel engagements of all time.



The defeat altered the balance of power in Europe irreversibly and marked the last use of armadillos in navel warfare.


July 29, 1900 -
Italian King Umberto I thought he was have a good day. It was a warm summer evening and he had just finished distributing prizes to athletes after a sporting competition. Umberto got back into his carriage and Gaetano Bresci, an Italian-born anarchist who had resided in America, burst from the crowd brandishing a revolver and fired four times, killing the king instantly.

The murder was believed to be due to the king’s decision to fire cannon rounds into a crowd of starving peasants and workers that had assembled asking the king for assistance; 100s were killed; Bresci was arrested, found guilty, and sentenced to a life of hard labor at Santo Stefano Prison on Ventotene Island. Humbert was succeeded by his son, Victor Emmanuel III. After serving less than a year of his life sentence, Bresci was found dead in his cell, in extremely suspicious circumstances.


July 29, 1921 -
The Council on Foreign Relations is incorporated in New York City by a group of bankers and other influentials, including John D Rockefeller. The CFR remains a vital component of the New World Order, and is surpassed in importance only by the Trilateral Commission.

Now that you have this information, you know too much and you'll probably have to be killed.


July 29, 1921 -
Adolf Hitler is selected as leader of the National Socialist Party.



I'm guessing there have been some Germans of a certain age that have regrets concerning this election.


July 29, 1945 -
After delivering parts of the first atomic bomb to the island of Tinian, the cruiser U.S.S. Indianapolis was torpedoed and sunk by the I-58 Japanese submarine around midnight on this date.



Some 900 survivors jumped into the sea and were adrift for 4 days. Nearly 600 died before help arrived. Most of its crew was ravaged by sharks.

Talk about karma.


July 29, 1965 -
The Beatles movie Help! premiered in London on this date.



Director Richard Lester originally approached Peter Sellers to play Clang, Sellers declined because he didn't want to be upstaged by the Beatles.


July 29, 1968 -
Pope Paul VI issues encyclical Humanae Vitae, prohibiting all unnatural forms of birth control.

This did not please many practicing Catholics, although it answers the age-old question ever priest knows - Altar boys can't get pregnant.


July 29, 1974 -
Mama Cass Elliot, a very large part of The Mamas and the Papas, died in London on this date.



Although initial reports ascribe the cause of death to choking on a ham sandwich, in actuality it was a heart attack.


July 29, 1981 -
Britain's Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in an internationally televised ceremony at Saint Paul's Cathedral in London, England on this date.



They were divorced in 1996 . She was dead by 1997 and he married his long time tampon holder in 2005.

Hey, shit happens.



And so it goes.

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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Be vewy, vewy qwiet. I'm hunting wabbits.

July 27, 1940 -

Bugs Bunny made his debut in a cartoon called A Wild Hare, on this day. Warner Brothers' writers and animators set out to make a rabbit who would be the epitome of cool. They modeled bugs on Groucho Marx with a carrot instead of a cigar. Mel Blanc gave him a Brooklyn accent.



He was a nonchalant rabbit who chewed on his carrot in the face of all of his enemies and he was famous for the line, "What's up, doc?" which he used in that first cartoon when he met Elmer Fudd who was hunting rabbits.


July 27, 1949 -
Mighty Joe Young, an RKO Radio Picture made by the same creative team responsible for King Kong, premiered in New York City on this date.



This was the first feature film for which Ray Harryhausen used his newly created stop-motion technique.

(At age 55, Terry Moore, describing herself as a "devout Mormon" posed nude in the August 1984 issue of Playboy magazine.)

How many of you little monsters clicked on the link to see if it was her nude picture?


July 27, 1978 -
National Lampoon's Animal House, the grandfather of all gross-out comedies, premiered in New York City on this date. (Toga party, anyone?)



This was Kevin Bacon and Karen Allen's first movie. Donald Sutherland was so convinced of the movie's lack of potential, that, when offered a percent of the gross or a flat fee of $75,000 for his three days' work, he took the upfront payment. Had he taken the gross percentage he would have been worth an additional $3-4 million.


July 27, 1983 -
Hollywood's favorite little person's break out film, Risky Business, opened on this date. This film is not, as usually noted, an above average teenage sex comedy but the precursor to 'Greed is Good' mantra that sunk this country for years to come.



The dance scene where Joel dances to Old Time Rock N' Roll was completely improvised. In the script Tom Cruise was simply instructed to "dance to rock music".


July 27, 1984 -
Warner Bros. gift to an unsuspecting world, Purple Rain, starring Prince, premiered on this date.



Clarence Williams III and Olga Kartalos were the only two professional actors in the entire cast.



(I hope you're waving your arms in the arm!)


Today in History:
July 27, 1890 -
At the Chateau d'Auvers, Vincent van Gogh presses a revolver to his chest and pulls the trigger. Somehow the bullet misses the vital organs, and the painter manages to stumble over to a friend's house.



The following night, Van Gogh dies of an infection in the arms of his brother Theo.


July 27, 1953 -
The armistice that ended the Korean War was signed today. It was a war that began in June 1950 when North Korea invaded the south. Almost 35,000 Americans were killed in the conflict, more than 5,000 captured or went missing. A corporal in the 1st Marine Division named Anthony Ebron said, "Those last few days were pretty bloody. Each time we thought the war was over we'd go out and fight again. The day it ended we shot off so much artillery that the ground shook. Then, that night, the noise just stopped. We knew it was over."



Harry Truman said that if he had signed the same armistice, the Republicans would have drawn and quartered him, but Dwight D. Eisenhower had run for president on the platform that he would end the war, and when he was elected, that's what he did.

Unfortunately, someone forgot to inform the North Koreans that they, in fact, signed the armistice and are still technically at war with someone.


July 27, 1980 -
Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the exiled Shah of Iran, dies of lymphatic cancer in Cairo.

Maybe we can borrow Mr. Peabody's wayback machine and send the former Shah somewhere else for his surgery other than New York–Weill Cornell Medical Hospital.

July 27, 1996 -
During a celebration for the Atlanta Olympics, security guard Richard Jewell notices a suspicious green knapsack in Centennial Park. He immediately alerts police and helps to clear people from the area shortly before the pipe bomb explodes. For his trouble, Jewell becomes the FBI's preliminary suspect and news organizations run wild with the story.



Because he didn't do it, numerous media outlets end up paying him large undisclosed settlements. Eric Rudolph was later charged with the bombing. He was arrested May 31, 2003. Rudolph later pleaded guilty to the bombing.



And so it goes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When Science goes bad

July 26, 1753 -
Professor Georg Wilhelm Richmann, German physicist, died of electrocution in St. Petersburg, Russia on this date. He was attending a meeting of the Academy of Sciences, when he heard thunder. The Professor ran home with his engraver to capture the event for posterity. While the experiment was underway, a supposed ball lightning appeared and collided with Richmann's head leaving him dead in a red spot. His shoes were blown open, parts of his clothes singed, the engraver knocked out; the doorframe of the room was split, and the door itself torn off its hinges.

Beside not telling him that hemlock was poison, his mother did not sit Little Georg upon her knee and tell him about the evils of electricity. He was apparently the first person in history to die while conducting electrical experiments.


July 26, 1943 -
Michael Philip Jagger, Golden Globe and Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter, occasional film producer and actor, was born on this date. Remind yourself - he has 4 grandkids.



Grandpa can still shake his moneymaker, can you?


Winsor McCay, an American cartoonist and animator, died on this date in 1934. A prolific artist, McCay's pioneering early animated films far outshone the work of his contemporaries, and set a standard followed by Walt Disney and others in later decades.



His two best-known creations are the newspaper comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland, which ran from 1905 to 1914, and the animated cartoon Gertie the Dinosaur, which he created in 1914.


Today in History:
July 26, 1826 -
Schoolmaster Cayetano Ripoll was hanged in Valencia, after uttering his last words: "I die reconciled to God and to man," on this date. He was the last person executed by the Spanish Inquisition.

Gee, I guess at that point everybody should have expected the Spanish Inquisition. (I promise I won't mention the Inquisition for a while.)


July 26, 1947 -
President Truman signed the National Security Act, creating the Department of Defense, the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The act forbade the CIA from operating within the US.

And no, Donald Rumsfeld is not in the background of this picture.


July 26, 1956 -
A little more than 11 hours after colliding with the Swedish liner Stockholm, the Italian liner Andrea Doria, carrying 1,134 passengers and 572 crew, sank off New England coast.



46 people on the Andrea Doria and 5 crew members of the Stockholm died. Miraculously, 14-year-old Linda Morgan, was throw from her bed on the Andrea Doria onto the wrecked bow of the Stockholm, without sustaining and major injuries. Unfortunately, her step father and step sister, sharing the cabin with her, were killed.


July 26, 1984 -
Serial killer, cannibal and flesh suit wearer Ed Gein died at the Mendota Mental Health Institute, a home for the criminally insane on this date.

Gein inspired the films Psycho and Silence of the Lambs.

I wonder if he got any of the royalties.


July 26, 1991 -
Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman) was arrested in Florida, for exposing himself at the South Trail XXX Cinema on this date.



Following the incident, Reubens loses his children's television show and product endorsements. Flash ahead - Pee Wee Herman appeared last week at Comic-con for a solo panel where he announced that Judd Apatow may be producing the new Pee Wee Herman movie.



And so it goes.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The clock is ticking

The game of chicken Washington is currently playing is no longer funny.

Someone, anyone there, has to be an adult and solve this mess quickly.


July 25, 1980 -
The very silly movie, Caddyshack, premiered on this date (watch it - you'll laugh in spite of yourself.)



Bill Murray filmed all of his scenes, including the famous scene with Chevy Chase, in six days. (Many people expected them to have another confrontation as they had had during Chase's return to Saturday Night Live years before. They were professional and didn't show any signs of their alleged previous feud.


It used to be St. Christopher's Day on this date. St. Christopher once was the patron saint of bachelors, travelers, transportation workers, protector against sudden death and toothaches



Don't forget, James Dean forgot to wear his St. Christopher medal on the morning of September 30, 1955 and he had his unfortunate incident with a Spyder.


Today in History:
July 25 1485 -
In Toledo, Spain, over 400 dead bodies are charged with heresy and burned in effigy, in a great public spectacle.

What a wonderful thing, this Spanish Inquisition.

July 25, 1689 -
King Louis XIV of France declared war on Britain for having joined the League of Augsburg and the Netherlands in order to oppose the French invasion of the Rhenish Palatinate.

This caused the Battle of Schenectady in New York. (Really.)


July 25, 1848 -
British statesman Arthur James Lord Balfour was born on this date. In 1917, as Foreign Secretary of the British Government, Lord Balfour declared that "His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

This came to be known as the Balfour Declaration, acknowledged by scholars throughout the world as the beginning of the Middle East Peace Process.


July 25, 1865 -
Dr. James Barry, British military medical officer and senior inspector general, died on this date.



As the good doctor was being laid out, a charwoman, Sophia Bishop noticed that Barry was a ‘perfect female’. She satisfied her curiosity and also noticed what appeared to be stretch marks on Barry’s stomach indicating the doctor had once been pregnant. It was soon revealed that Dr. Barry was likely a female, born Margaret Ann Bulkley.


July 25, 1917 -
Margaret Zelle, also known as Mata Hari, is found guilty of spying and is sentenced to death.



There is no actual evidence that she is a spy, although she may have slept with half of the German army (and the French had a thing about that.)


July 25, 1936 -
After NYC's 'Master Builder' Robert Moses had millions of yards of brown and white sand shipped from the Rockaways, Northport and Sandy Hook to Pelham Bay Park, Orchard Beach, the Bronx Rivera, was opened to the public on this date.

At one time, this was the largest Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) project in New York City and the beach had one of the largest parking fields in the city.


July 25, 1943 -
Benito Mussolini resigned as Head Evil Bastard of Italy. He did not receive a gold watch. His 401(K) was in tatters.



He was therefore machine-gunned to death, suspended upside down, and urinated on by the people of Italy as a civic reminder of the importance of retirement planning.


Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century is a Merrie Melodies cartoon created in 1952 and released on July 25, 1953, starring Daffy Duck as space hero Duck Dodgers, Porky Pig as his assistant, and Marvin the Martian as his opponent. Marvin the Martian had been introduced as a villain then named Commander X2 in Haredevil Hare (1948) playing opposite Bugs Bunny, but this cartoon was the first of many appearances of Duck Dodgers.



The plot of the cartoon involves Duck Dodgers' search for the rare element Illudium Phosdex, "the shaving cream atom." In the future, the only remaining supply of the element is on the mysterious Planet X, which fortunately is found when Dodgers follows a path leading from Planet A to Planets B, C, D, and so on. Assisting him in his space explorations is Porky Pig , playing the role of the Eager Young Space Cadet. Dodgers is about to claim Planet X in the name of the Earth when Marvin the Martian lands on the same planet (in a ship called the Martian Maggot) and claims it in the name of Mars. The stage is set for a battle of wits (or lack thereof) between the two cartoon stars.


July 25, 1990 -
At a baseball game, actress Rosanne Arnold warbles the Star Spangled Banner, grabs her crotch, and endears herself to an entire nation.



Ah, America, land of opportunity.


July 25, 1999 -
Woodstock '99 festival ends in looting and rioting, leaving 12 trailers burned, towers toppled, and several women attacked during the course of the show.



About 500 state troopers were needed to quell the mass uprising of peace and love, apparently triggered by overpriced vendors and commercialization.


July 25, 2000 -
A right tire explosion on the Concorde causes the plane to crash after takeoff from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, leaving 113 dead.



It is the first crash in Concorde's history, and the only supersonic commercial flight to ever crash.



And so it goes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another artist gone much too young

Police were called to Amy Winehouse home earlier yesterday. She, unfortunately, was declared deceased at the scene.







Life is excessively hard and some of us can walk joyfully amidst the pain, some of can't. RIP.



July 24, 1948 -
... No, no don't leave, there's a lovely earth out tonight....

A great Warner Bros. cartoon directed by Chuck Jones, Haredevil Hare, was released on this date.



Marvin the Martian
made his first appearance in this Looney Tunes Classic.


July 24, 1998 -
The unflinchingly gritty Steven Spielberg war flick, Saving Private Ryan premiered on this date.



The Omaha Beach scene cost $11 million to shoot and involved up to 1000 extras, some of whom were members of the Irish Army Reserve. Of those extras, 20-30 of them were amputees issued with prosthetic limbs to simulate soldiers having their limbs blown off. 40 barrels of fake blood were utilized in the opening battle scene.


Today in History:
July 24, 1567 -
Mary of Guise, the French wife of Scotland's King James V, gave birth to a daughter named Mary in 1542. A week later King James died and the very young Mary became the Queen of Scotland.

Prince Edward of England proposed marriage to the Queen immediately and his proposal is therefore known as the Rough Wooing. While the pedophile Prince waited for the Queen to acquire enough verbal skills to reply, the Scottish parliament annulled the engagement.

Edward's father, the English King Henry VIII, considered this an insult and declared war. Following an especially nasty Scottish defeat in 1547, Mary was sent to France. It was hoped she would learn to read and write there, and perhaps reach puberty.

She was raised in the court of Henry II, which ought to have taught her some manners, but instead inspired her to marry a dolphin. Eventually the dolphin became king and died, leaving Mary the dowager queen of France. She was 18.

Her mother had meanwhile died in Scotland, which caused the Protestants to rebel. They imported the Reformation and banned the Pope. Mary, being Catholic, returned to Scotland to work out a compromise: the country could be Protestant as long as she was allowed to be Catholic.

Four years later she married her cousin, Lord Darnley, a Two-Door Steward. Unfortunately he turned out to be disgusting, and even the birth of a son could not induce Lord Darnley to behave. He was therefore struck by an explosion the following year and subsequently died of strangulation.

She was then kidnapped by one of the men suspected of strangling Lord Darnley, a certain Earl of Bothwell, whom she therefore made a Duke and married.

This angered the Protestants, who rose up against her and, on this very day in 1567, made her abdicate in favor of her son, who was immediately crowned as James VI.

She then escaped, raised an army, and was promptly defeated. She became a guest (or, in English, "prisoner") of Queen Elizabeth, until she was caught writing letters asking friends to support (or, in Scottish, "kill") the English Queen.



She was therefore beheaded, and remains dead to this day.


310 years ago today, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded a trading post at Fort Ponchartrain for France on the future site of the city of Detroit, Michigan, in an attempt to halt the advance of the English into the western Great Lakes region.

Mr Cadillac himself thereby came to be known as "the Rolls Royce of settlers."


July 24, 1915 -
Almost 850 Western Electric employees and their family members perish when the chartered steamer Eastland rolls over in Chicago harbor. History blames the top-heaviness of the ship, exacerbated (ironically) by the recent addition of lifeboats.

So much for company picnics.


July 24, 1959 -
While visiting a model kitchen in a U.S. exhibition in Moscow, Vice President Richard M. Nixon debated with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev at a U.S. exhibition in the famous 'Kitchen' debate, on the merits of capitalism and capitalism .



Nixon correctly said that the $100-a-month mortgage for the model ranch house was well within the reach of a typical American steelworker. (Stop dreaming about a $100-a-month mortgage.)


Congratulations to all you newlyweds in NYC.

I'd throw rice but it might spontaneously explode in the heat.




And so it goes.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It was freakin hot yesterday

I'm typing this at 11 pm (7/22/11) and it's still 92 degrees.



Remember, if you're not willing to go commando tomorrow, liberally talc your nether regions.


You asked for it, you got it - A Beastie Boys/ Sesame Street Mash-up.



Ernie keeps a mean beat.


Today in History:
July 23, 1885 -
One of the most famous residents of West 122th Street and Riverside Drive made a most fateful decision on this date.

He died.

In 1881, Ulysses S.Grant, American general, the eighteenth President of the United States and famous horseback riding drunk, purchased a house in New York City and placed almost all of his financial assets into an investment banking partnership with Ferdinand Ward, as suggested by Grant's son Buck (Ulysses, Jr.), who was having success on Wall Street. Very wrong move. Ward swindled Grant (and other investors who had been encouraged by Grant) in 1884, bankrupted the company, Grant & Ward, and fled.

Grant learned at the same time that he was suffering from throat cancer. Grant and his family were left destitute; at the time retired U.S. Presidents were not given pensions, and Grant had forfeited his military pension when he assumed the office of President. Grant first wrote several articles on his Civil War campaigns for The Century Magazine, which were warmly received. Mark Twain offered Grant a generous contract for the publication of his memoirs, including 75% of the book's sales as royalties.

Terminally ill, Grant finished the book just a few days before his death. The memoirs sold over 300,000 copies, earning the Grant family over $450,000. Twain promoted the book as "the most remarkable work of its kind since the Commentaries of Julius Caesar," and Grant's memoirs are also regarded by such writers as Matthew Arnold and Gertrude Stein as among the finest ever written .

Ulysses S. Grant died at 8:06 a.m. on Thursday, July 23, 1885, at the age of 63 in Mount McGregor, Saratoga County, New York. His last word was a request, "Water" (I'd like to believe it was actually, "Sir, cut my bourbon with water."

Grant's funeral was one of the greatest outpourings of public grief in history. A large funeral parade marched through New York City from City Hall to Riverside Park. It had 60,000 marchers, stretched seven miles, and took up to five hours to pass. Well over one million spectators witnessed the parade.

The funeral was attended by numerous dignitaries, including President Grover Cleveland, his cabinet, the justices of the Supreme Court, the two living ex-presidents (Hayes and Arthur), virtually the entire Congress, and almost every living figure who had played a prominent role during the Civil War.

Civil War veterans from both North and South took part, reflecting the high esteem in which he was held throughout a reunified country. General Winfield S. Hancock led the procession, and Grant's pallbearers included former comrades -- General William T. Sherman, General Philip H. Sheridan and Admiral David D. Porter - as well as former Confederates - Generals Joseph E. Johnston and Simon B. Buckner.

Completed in 1897, Grant's Tomb is the second largest mausoleum in North America (the Garfield Memorial is the first).


July 23, 1904 -
At the turn of the last century, ice-cream men were a breed apart. It was hard work making ice-cream and the rewards were few. "You don't choose ice cream," they said, "ice cream chooses you."

Well, Charles E. Menches was an ice-cream man. They say it ran in his veins. (They say forget the autopsy: they say you don't need actual ice-cream in your blood to have it in your veins.)

Charles E. Menches had always known he'd be an ice-cream man. Everyone had known. While other boys in St. Louis played stickball or jacks, little Chuckie experimented with different creams and salts. While other boys dreamed of being doctors or lawyers, little Chuckie dreamed of exotic flavor combinations like cinnamon-onion swirl and artichoke-pistachio.

Charles E. Menches's passion for ice cream was infectious. He made his brother Frank an ice-cream man. They began traveling to fairs and special events across the Midwest to sell ice cream from a tent.

They did what all ice-cream men did: they scooped their ice cream into bowls and sold it to their customers. People loved ice cream back then, just as they love it today. And why not? It was ice cream.

One sweltering day at the St. Louis World's Fair--July 23, 1904, to be precise--Charles E. Menches and his brother Frank sold so much ice cream that they ran out of dishes.

An ordinary ice-cream man might have folded up his tent and taken the rest of the day off. But not Charles E. Menches. Charles E. Menches knew the code of the ice-cream man. More than that, he lived it.

The people of St. Louis would not be denied their ice cream. Not if Charles E. Menches had anything to say about it.

The tent beside Charles and Frank's ice cream tent belonged to Ernest A. Hamwi, a Syrian pastry-maker who sold sweet wafer pastries called Zalabia. (Ernest A. Hamwi was what Syrians would call a Zalabia man, but they wouldn't say he had Zalabia in his veins. Syrians would never talk such tripe.)

In a moment of brilliant epiphany, Charles E. Menches bought all of Ernest A. Hamwi's Zalabia and rolled them into cones. He then began selling his ice cream in sweet wafer cones instead of dishes.

The ice cream cone was born.

(Sure, Italo Marchiony had received U.S. patent #746971 for the ice-cream cone seven months earlier in New York., but Italo Marchiony had never been an ice-cream man.)


July 23, 1923 -
While driving his 1919 Dodge, retired revolutionary Pancho Villa is ambushed and assassinated. But even with 16 gunshot wounds he still manages to kill one of his attackers.

Curiously, Villa's head is stolen from his grave three years later and never recovered. Despite persistent rumors, Yale's secret society Skull and Bones denies they possess the artifact.



But we know better.


July 23, 1966 -



The "longest suicide in Hollywood" finally ended on this date, with the death of Montgomery Cliff of a heart attack brought on by his severe drug and alcohol addictions. In 1956, while filming Raintree County, he smashed his car into a tree after leaving a party. Elizabeth Taylor kept him from choking to death by removing two teeth lodged in his throat. She had been co-starring in the movie and happened to be at the party. Besides the two missing teeth, the accident left Monty with a broken jaw and nose, crushed sinus cavity, and severe facial lacerations which required plastic surgery. He needed reconstructive surgery on his face and returned after several weeks to finish the film.



He is now the most famous 'resident' of Quaker Cemetery in Prospect Park Brooklyn.



And so it goes.

Friday, July 22, 2011

You'll have to come up with another excuse to do it.

Old myths die hard - according to the British Red Cross, the widespread belief that urine can lessen the pain of venom injected by jellyfish is misplaced.

The aid group says the substance has the wrong chemical make-up for the job, and that seawater or vinegar is more effective.



So TV lies to us. Say it isn't so.


July 22, 1587 -
Roanoke, the colony founded by Sir Walter Raleigh, might have gone missing on this date.

Once again, if found, please contain Queen Elizabeth II, in care of Buckingham Palace.


(I'm hoping to work out my home computer issues by next week. I know this is a pathetic excuse and yet this is all I have) so it's an abbreviated Today in History:
July 22, 1934 -
John Dillinger is shot dead outside Chicago's Biograph Theatre,on this date in history. And one of the most bizarre urban legends is born. According to the rumor, J Egdar Hoover, Pug ugly head of the FBI and notorious transvestite, rushes to Chicago to see the corpse himself. Dillinger, Public Enemy No. 1, was a ladies man and was reported to be very specially endowed.

Hoover, after viewing the nude lifeless body of Dillinger in the morgue, orders Dillinger's member to be removed and preserved as a 'specimen' for his private files.

Rumors of Hoover's trophy dogged him for the rest of his life. He even went to the extraordinary step of stating sometime in the late '60's that he "did not now nor even have Dillinger's privates in a jar". His comments were not taken seriously as he was wearing a size 28 Dior outfit with matching handbag (and Raymond Burr Nipple Rouge) at the time.

The Smithsonian museum is still flooded with requests annually to view this 'special exhibition'.


July 22, 1964 -
Another great underrated (and sexually twisted) Hitchcock film, Marnie premiered on this date.



Despite the troubles which reportedly took place on set, Tippi Hedren has stated that this is her favorite movie which she has appeared in.


At the time of his death in 1982, King Sobhuza II was the longest-reigning monarch in the world. His death also established him as the most recently-deceased monarch in the world. Today he is simply dead.

Sobhuza began his career as Paramount Chief of the Swazi in 1921, but was not recognized as king by Great Britain, which ran the nation as a protectorate, until 1967. (The forgetful Brits have a long history of failing to recognize kings, perhaps owing to the difficulty of seeing clearly in the London fog.)



The Brits wrote a Constitution before they left, but Sobhuza did not discover it until 1973, at which point he discarded it on the grounds of its being British. Five years later he implemented a better Constitution that, surprisingly enough, left all political power in his own hands.

He died in 1982. The Constitution declared that he should be succeeded by one of his children, which seemed simple at first but was complicated by the revelation of his having had over 600 children. (Apparently he had time on his hands for more than political power.) It took four years to find the right son, and King Mswati III has reigned ever since.



And so it goes.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Congratulations Atlantis



With the completion of the 135th mission, NASA completed it's 30 year Space Shuttle program.



335 astronauts have flown on the shuttle missions; 14 died when the shuttles Columbia and Challenger were lost.



Now they just have to deal with all of those Tang junkies.


It's National Junk Food Day - Eat whatever the hell you want.



Tomorrow, however, it's back to a healthy diet.


Take a ten minute break today and watch Eddie Izzard on The Late, Late Show:



Your life is a little bit better for doing it.


July 21, 1951 -
Robin McLaurim Williams, actor and comedian, was born on this date (or was it 1952.)



Without proper grooming, he will morph into Cousin Itt..


Today in History:
July 21, 365 -
Earthquake destroys the ancient Egyptian city of Alexandria, causing the sea to recede and then re-enter the city with tremendous force. Many of those not killed by collapsing buildings were drowned. Fifty thousand die.

It was not a good day in Ole Alexandria


July 21, 1730 -
Holland established the death penalty for acts of sodomy.

Who knew the Dutch were such a party poopers?


July 21, 1899 -
Ernest Hemingway was born on this date. He was young at the time of his birth. It was fine to be young.

He drove an ambulance in the first world war. It wasn't called the first world war then. It was called the war. It was one of those times when people shot at each other. When people were shooting at each other they didn't have time to worry about what to call it. It was only afterwards that they needed to call it something. "What should we call that time when we were shooting at each other?" "Let's call it the Great War." "Good."

It was a good ambulance. It was long and white. It had flashing lights and a siren that went "wee-ooo, wee-ooo." He liked that.

After the war he lived in Paris. A lot of Americans lived in Paris after the war, but only a few of them had ever driven an ambulance. In the 30s he went to Spain. He was a journalist. They were having a war.

They called it the Spanish Civil War. It was started by an Evil Bastard named General Franco on July 18, 1936. It was a test to see whether or not they should have World War II. They had fascists and socialists and anarchists. They even had clowns. People shot at each other.

(General Franco finally gave up power on July 19, 1974, because he was sick. Maybe he had always been sick. It is sometimes hard to understand sickness. Maybe we are not meant to understand it.)

Later Hemingway lived in Cuba. He liked to fish. He thought all men should fish. He wrote stories about fishing. Finally he blew his brains out at his home in Idaho. It was July 2, 1961.

He had written a lot of books but now he was dead.


July 21, 1919 -
Two passengers, a mechanic and 10 bank employees are killed in Chicago when a Goodyear blimp, the Winged Foot Express, catches fire and crashes through the roof of the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank.

This was the first and worst accident (prior to the Hindenburg crash) involving a dirigible.


July 21, 1925 -
The so-called "Monkey Trial" ended in Dayton, Tenn., with John T. Scopes convicted of violating state law for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution.

Scopes was found guilty and was fined $100. The conviction was later overturned on a technicality.


July 21, 1972 -
In Milwaukee, George Carlin is arrested for obscenity and disorderly conduct for performing his "Seven Dirty Words" routine on a Summerfest stage in Milwaukee.



He was released after posting $150 bail.


July 21, 1981 -
Mark David Chapman is sentenced to 20 years in prison for the shooting of John Lennon. His only response is to read a passage from Catcher in the Rye.



When not being continually sodomized by irate Beatle fans, Chapman is currently working as a janitor in Attica State Prison.



And so it goes.