Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irish rock stars need love too!

Sinead O'Connor has recently posted on her blog that she is very horny and looking for love (in all the wrong places.)

Do not ask her about the 'the difficult brown'.


August 31, 1945 -
Let's all wish Mr. Cranky pants, George Ivan Morrison, singer and songwriter, happy birthday. Luckily he probably doesn't read this blog, so I don't need to worry about being sued.



Van the Man, is still the greatest living blue-eyed soul singer.


August 31, 1946-
Howard Hawks' version of Raymond Chandlers classic Marlowe yarn (William Faulkner was one of the screen writers), The Big Sleep, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, was put into general release on this date.



Eager to repeat the success of To Have and Have Not, Warner Bros. studio chief Jack L. Warner gave Howard Hawks $50,000 to purchase the rights for "The Big Sleep." Hawks bought the rights for $5,000 and pocketed the rest.


August 31, 1946 -
Los Angeles police arrested actor Robert Mitchum, for years the coolest cat in Hollywood, for marijuana possession on this date.

He later received a 60-day sentence (Jack Nicholson had nothing on him.)


August 31, 1957 -
This second Looney Tunes with Rocky and Mugsy, Bugsy and Mugsy, was released on this date.



I dunno how ya's done it, BUT I KNOW YA'S DONE IT!!!!!!!!


August 31, 1958 -
Glenn Tilbrook, singer, guitarist and with his writing partner Chris Difford, formed the pop group, Squeeze, was born on this date.








In for bingo, all the nines, A panda for sweet little niece.


August 31, 1987 -
Epic/CBS Records released the Michael Jackson album, BAD on this date.



An 18 minute video of the title song, written by novelist and screenwriter Richard Price and directed by Martin Scorsese, debuted on CBS TV on this same day, as well.


Today in History -
Gaius Caesar Caligula was born on August 31 in the year 12 AD. Caligula succeeded Tiberius in the year 37, and his reign was most notable for its policy of Sex with the Emperor.

(Please note - this guy not only slept with the unwilling wives of senators and his sisters, he married his horse and tried to have him made a god.) This turned out to have been a weak Political Philosophy, because the Romans all had classical educations and saw right through him.



So they killed him.


August 31, 1422 -
Henry V of England, one of the great warrior kings of the Middle Ages, dies suddenly of dysentery on this date. He was 34 at the time.

At the time of his death, Henry had not only consolidated power as the King of England but had also effectively accomplished what generations of his ancestors had failed to achieve through decades of war: unification of the crowns of England and France in a single person.



In 2002 he was ranked 72nd in the 100 Greatest Britons poll. And yet, lack of proper sanitary conditions carried him away. Let this be a lesson to us all - wash your hands after visiting the rest room.


August 31, 1919 -
Workers of the world unite!

In Chicago, journalist John Reed established the American Communist Labor Party, on this date,

providing entertainment for Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover for decades.


August 31, 1879 -
Alma Maria Schindler, noted in her native Vienna for her beauty and intelligence, was born on this date.

In her youth she was an aspiring composer. But that not why I bring her up. She was the wife, successively, of the composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius, and novelist Franz Werfel, and lover to the painter Oskar Kokoschka. Rather than try to encapsulate the story of this very busy woman,



Listen to Tom Lehrer's song Alma, which nicely gives you the gist of her life.


August 31, 1976 -
George Harrison was found guilty of unintentionally plagiarizing My Sweet Lord .





Those damn Beatles could never come up with an original tune.


August 31, 1977 -
Ian Smith, espousing racial segregation, won the Rhodesian general election with 80% of overwhelmingly white electorate's vote.



Oops.


August 31, 1997 -
On August 28, 1997, My wife and I were coming out of the revolving doors at the Ritz Hotel in Paris and a very famous couple were coming in. A few days later on this date, a charming, slightly addled, beautiful divorcee with two children decides to take a car ride with her very rich Middle Eastern boyfriend and his very drunk driver. She makes the fatal mistake of not buckling her seat belt and paid a very heavy toll.



So ended the glamorous and controversial life of Diana Spencer Mountbatten-Windsor.

Kids, if you don't want to end up dying in the backseat of a black 1994 Mercedes-Benz W140 in a road tunnel in Paris - BUCKLE UP.



And so it goes .

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It must be close to the end of summer.

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



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


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



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


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



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


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



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


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



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


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



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


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

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



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


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



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


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



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

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


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



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



And so it goes.

Monday, August 29, 2011

It tasted like Coca-Cola (and not Cherry Cola)

August 29, 1970 -
The Kinks released their tongue-in-cheek hit, Lola on this date.



This revived the career of The Kinks, at least in America where their popularity was fading. Their previous Top-40 in The States was Sunny Afternoon in 1966.


August 29, 1915 -
... Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get ...



Ingrid Bergman, the Swedish three-time Academy Award, two-time Emmy Award, and Tony Award- winner (what a slouch) and "a horrible example of womanhood and a powerful influence for evil" was born (and died in 1982) on this date.


August 29, 1920 -
Charles Christopher "Bird" Parker, jazz saxophonist and composer was born on this date.




August 29, 1953 -
Warner Brothers introduced Speedy Gonzalez in the cartoon Cat-Tails for Two on this date.



While this is the first cartoon featuring the character Speedy Gonzales, his depiction here is vastly different from the character he would later become. It wasn't until his second appearance, Speedy Gonzales (two years later,) that he was re-designed as the character we know him as today.


August 29, 1964 -
Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins opened on this date. This is first movie I ever saw (but not on this date.)


Robert Wise and Ernest Lehman visited the set to view rushes of Julie Andrews' performance. She was cast immediately in the lead for The Sound of Music on the strength of that visit.


August 29, 1967 -
ABC's television ratings soared through the roof as David Janssen and Barry Morse starred in the final episode of The Fugitive on this date.



Some sources incorrectly state that an alternate ending for the series was planned in which Kimble would be seen removing a false arm, revealing him as the true killer. In the book The Fugitive Recaptured, Barry Morse reveals that this rumor may have started with a never-realized plan that he and David Janssen had for pulling a "false arm" gag at public appearances.


Today in History:
August 29, 29/30AD (Once again, Romans were too busy with their orgies and draining lead-lined wine goblets to accurately document events of the day.)
John the Baptist (cousin of the itinerant carpenter of Nazareth) received a severe haircut from King Herod, because his teenage step-daughter, Salome,couldn't keep her shorts on while dancing.



Children are always such a handful.


More on Political Philosophy...
John Locke was born on August 29, 1632. Mr. Locke was a political philosopher, and many of his ideas found their way into the American Constitution.

He is best known for his essay concerning human understanding, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which remains famous to this day as the shortest essay ever written.


Another important political philosopher was born this week: Jean Baptiste Colbert was born on August 29, 1619.

Colbert was the finance minister to King Louis XIV of France. His own Political Philosophy consisted of a big pile of money. This was a very effective politics, and therefore deemed insufficiently philosophical, which is why you tend to hear more about Locke and Hegel.


August 29, 1896 -
The Chinese-American dish Chop Suey was invented in New York City by the chef to visiting Chinese Ambassador Li Hung-chang.



Here is one of those bright dividing lines: if you know what chop suey is - you're old. If you've tasted chop suey - you're really old.


August 29, 1958 -
Michael Joseph Jackson, the self-crowned King of Pop was born on this date.







Given that we've experienced an earthquake and a hurricane within a week, I'm expected Michael and his legion of zombie dancers to swarm out of the cemetery any day now.


August 29, 1966 -
The Beatles perform their last concert before paying fans at in San Francisco.



The performance marked the end of a four-year period dominated by touring and concerts including nearly sixty U.S. appearances and over one thousand four hundred internationally.


August 29, 2005
Hurricane Katrina devastates much of the U.S. Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle. The death toll eventually reached at least 1,600. An estimated 300 Louisiana residents died out of state; some 230 people perished in Mississippi. Property damage estimates were in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Parts of the affected area has still not fully recovered. Please remember the victims of Hurricane Katrina.



And so it goes.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Goodnight Irene

Hopefully you've made it through the very soggy night last night.





August 28, 1837 -
Pharmacists John Lea and William Perrins began commercially manufacturing Worcestershire Sauce, based on an Indian recipe brought to them by Lord Marcus Sandys -- an ex-governor of Bengal.



If they told you the recipe (it contains anchovies), they'd have to kill you.


August 28, 1930 -
... You left out a Hoongadoonga. The most important one, too ...

The Marx Brothers second outing at Paramount, Animal Crackers, opened on this date.



In 1957, Paramount forgot to renew the soundtrack rights which reverted back to the authors of the play (the studio did renew the picture rights, though). As a result the film could not legally be seen in the USA until 1974, when Universal, which had since purchased Paramount's film library, was persuaded by fan requests to re-release it.





August 28, 1946 -
Universal's film-noir classic version of Ernest Hemingway's story, The Killers, premiered in NYC on this date.



After leaving Warner Brothers for Universal with The Killers, producer Mark Hellinger initially wanted to borrow Warner director Don Siegel, but the loanout fee proved prohibitively high for a director of his limited reputation at that time, so Hellinger used Universal's Robert Siodmak. Ironically, almost 20 years later Siegel did go on to direct the remake, The Killers.


August 28, 1951 -
Paramount's second film version based on Theodore Dreiser's novel, An American Tragedy, A Place in the Sun, opened in NYC on this date.



Paramount was reluctant to make the film, as it had already put Theodore Dreiser's novel on the screen in 1931 under its original title, An American Tragedy. The studio's lack of commitment ultimately changed when director George Stevens sued them for preventing him from working and therefore breaching his contract.


Today in History:
Today is believed to be the date in 476 A.D. when the Western Roman Empire, which had lasted for almost 500 years, came to an end as Emperor Romulus Augustulus was deposed by a barbarian.

Historians have been theorizing about the causes of the fall of Rome ever since. Edward Gibbon's book The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776) put forward the idea that the Christian Church was to blame. After Christianity became the official religion of the empire, the best and the brightest leaders became leaders of the church rather than leaders of the government or the military. Another theory is that the aqueducts, which carried the water supply, were lined with lead, and so the Romans slowly went crazy. Some geologists believe that the eruption of Mount Vesuvius released so much ash into the air that it ruined Roman agriculture and weakened the empire. One of the more recent theories is that the Roman army had been infiltrated by the barbarians themselves.



But whatever the cause, the fall of Rome actually wasn't the catastrophic event most people think it was. So-called barbarian rulers kept most of the basic laws in place, Latin remained the official language of government, everyone remained Christian and orgies continued but in private.





August 28, 1907 -
United Parcel Service begins service, in Seattle on this date.

Hopefully you have those tracking numbers available, some of those packages will arrive soon.


August 28, 1922 -
The first radio commercial aired on WEAF in New York City (WEAF stood for Water, Earth, Air and Fire.)

It was a 10-minute advertisement for the Queensboro Realty Co., which had paid $100.

Programming must have really stunk if people listened to a 10 minute commercial.




August 28, 1963 -
During a 200,000-person civil rights rally in at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his famous "I have a dream speech".



If the Capital hasn't been washed away, the President will dedicate the new MLK Memorial on the National Mall today.



August 28, 1982 -
Two crazy kids got married on this date.

Some of the people who were at that wedding are still alive. Some of them are unfortunately not. Some of them have gotten married (even to each other.) Others are not. Some of them had children. Some did not.

Those two crazy kids are still alive, married and have children.

Happy Anniversary Mary.


August 28, 1996 -
Unfortunately for others, the fairy tale has a very unhappy ending,

Britons Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales, were divorced on this date.



One year later, almost to the day, Diana, would have a very nasty accident in an Paris underpass.



And so it goes


And before I forget,
Happy Birthday Claudia and Romolo.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Keep calm and carry on.

Lugging those gallon sized bottles of liquor into the house took longer than I anticipated. People are getting a little crazy - while I was waiting on line to pay for my groceries, some woman ran into the store screaming, "It's starting to rain."



One of the store managers, had to come and calm her down before she freaked the rest of the store out.


Lets honor the patron saint of all Jewish mothers and those with disappointing children.

It's the feast day of St. Monica of Hippo. Monica, who was originally from Wart Hog and moved to the better neighborhood of Hippo, was known as a virtuous woman. Much to her disappointment, she was also the mother of St. Augustine. She continually encouraged (nagged) her son (the lazty bum) about his debauched ways until she successfully convinced him to convert to Christianity.


August 27, 1882,
Schmuel Gelbfisz, (Samuel Goldwyn), glove maker, sales man and pioneer filmmaker was born in Warsaw, Poland on this date.




August 27, 1916 -
... I didn't have to work till I was three. But after that, I never stopped....



Martha Raye, singer, actor, denture wearer was born in Butte, Montana.



August 27, 1947 -
20th Century Fox's classic film-noir, crime-drama, Kiss of Death, premiered on this date.



Because this was filmed on actual locations, a toilet is visible in Mature's jail cell. They were generally banned in films until Alfred Hitchcock managed to break the taboo with Psycho.


August 27, 1952 -
... I know you are but what am I....



Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman) American actor, writer, comedian and public onanist was born on this date.


August 27, 1961 -
Francis the Talking Mule is mystery guest on 'What's My Line' on this date.



And you thought the Jersey Shore was the lowest point in TV history.


Today in History:
August 27, 410 -
In case you were keeping score, the Sack of Rome still continued unabated. The orgies were winding down as everything that moved had been used. The Visigoths were forced to engage in unnatural acts with staturary.

For those of you with a more genteel nature, I'll say no more.


Political Philosophy has caused more human death and suffering than any other disease. No inoculations exist. Outbreaks are sudden and almost always fatal. Political Philosophy strikes young and old alike, healthy and sickly, nimble and clumsy, lefty and righty. By the time its symptoms are visible, you have very little time to protect yourself. Popular referendums will only exacerbate the problem.

Emigrate at once.

Case studies:

On August 27, 1793, the Committee of Public Safety in Paris, France, accepted its newest member, Maximilien Robespierre.

Robespierre soon rose to prominence on the basis of his Political Philosophy, the Guillotine, which was quicker than Inalienable Rights and more readily understood than Separation of Powers.


On August 27, 1770, Georg William Hegel was born on this date. Georg's family was so poor that they couldn't afford the second 'e' in his first name. Hegel was also a kind of political philosopher.

He believed in theses and antitheses and that sooner or later everyone ended up in Synthetics. Unfortunately there was no way to test his theory, as this was well before the invention of polyester.


August 27, 1967 -
Brian Epstein, the man who discovered the Beatles and guided them to mega-stardom, died at his London residence, from an overdose of sleeping pills.



Many critics believe this traumatic event ultimately lead to the Beatles breakup.


An important PSA from your friends at ACME:
Most people have learned to watch their cholesterol and blood pressure, but how many Americans really know how to protect themselves against assassination? Not many. And yet, each year, millions of people are killed by assassins.

It’s tragic because these are needless deaths, almost all of which could have been prevented. I have found on the internet, a few simple precautions can help ensure that no assassin’s bullet will ever have your name on it:

a) First, get plenty of exercise, eat plenty of vegetables, and avoid being born into royalty.
b) Don’t be president, prime minister, or other Top Person.
c) Don’t create a military junta or mastermind a coup.
d) Don’t say or write anything that might be considered disparaging by anyone with their own military junta.
e) Do not found a religion.
f) Do not oppose a religion.
g) If your parents are gods, dismember them.
h) If your children are gods, devour them.
i) Excel at nothing.
j) Stay indoors.
k) Always call shotgun when driving with suicide car-bombers.



And so it goes.

Friday, August 26, 2011

National Toilet Paper Day

While Charmin is sponsoring National Toilet Paper Day, it is actually based on a real event.



The Chinese took a break from inventing everything else and found time to create TP on this date in 580 AD. Don't even ask what was used in the test projects.


Today is the Feast of The Transverberation of St. Teresa of Avila (again, find an old lady saying her rosary in church to explain it to you.)

If you find yourself in Rome, run, do not walk, to see the Santa Maria della Vittoria Church. It houses one of the most amazing statues - The Ecstasy of St. Teresa by Bernini.



The statues depict a moment described by Saint Teresa of Avila in her autobiography, where she had the vivid vision of an angel piercing her heart with a golden shaft, over and over again, causing her both immense joy and pain. The flowing robes and contorted posture abandon classical restraint and repose to depict a more passionate, almost voluptuous trance.

Give me that old time religion!!!


August 26, 1953 -
Considered to be one of the great science fiction films of the 1950s, George Pal's The War of the Worlds was released on this date.



The film had a budget of $2,000,000. Of that sum, $600,000 was spent on the live action scenes while $1,400,000 was spent on the extensive and elaborate special effects.


Today in History:
August 26, 1743 -
Antoine Laurent Lavoisier was born on this date. Dr. Lavoisier discovered oxygen.



The discovery was a great boon to science, as it enabled Breathing, without which many subsequent scientific advances would have been impossible.


August 26, 1883-



Krakatoa erupted, between Java and Sumatra. The two-day eruption and related tidal waves killed 36,000 people and destroyed two thirds of the island. (Yeah, yeah, I know, Krakatoa is West of Java.)



On a lighter note, "Krakatoa" sounds like "cracked a toe, huh?" and can be used in many humorous puns.


August 26, 1920 -
US Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.



American women win the right to vote as the 19th Amendment to the U-S Constitution takes effect on this date .



Most women opposed the amendment, on the grounds that they had suffered enough already, but it passed anyway since only men could vote.


August 26, 1982 -
The Argentine government ended its ban on political parties. This resulted in more festive politicians, and the great National Hangover of 1983.


Make sure you stock up on supply for the impending storm - buy your alcohol in convenient gallon sized jugs. Also, flood waters may contain raw sewage. DO NOT use in your cocktails. Drink everything neat.



And so it goes.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What better way to start the day

OK Go and the Muppets:



Your day is just a little brighter because you watched it.


It's the birthday of Declan Patrick MacManus, one of the most prolific musicians of the late 20th Century.



Not too bad a description for an old punk rocker.


Today in History:
The Council of Nicaea ended on August 25, 325, resulting in the Nicene Creed. This established the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which proved that the Father and Son were not two, but three and therefore one. This controversial creed alienated many math teachers from the church.

Its repercussions eventually caused a Schism, which caused in Infidels, which caused considerable bloodshed and ultimately resulted in more Political Philosophy.


August 25, 1718 -
French colonists, led by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur De Bienville, established the Louisiana settlement and fortress of Nouvelle Orleans.



In honor of the Big Easy, flash a cop on horseback.


August 25, 1830 -
The 'Tom Thumb' steam locomotive, designed by Peter Cooper, ran the famous first race between a locomotive and a horse-drawn vehicle, over a nine mile stretch, between Relay and Baltimore, Maryland.

The locomotive was off to a promising start, but broke down, and the horse won .


August 25, 1835 -
The New York Sun publishes stunning revelations that Sir John Hershel has observed little men living on the surface of the moon.

The stories, now generally believed to be false, brings the paper record circulation.


August 25, 1900 -



No, Nietzsche is dead, on this date.

God finds this very amusing.


August 25, 1925 -
The Sleeping Car Porters' Union was established by A. Phillip Randolph,



a political malcontent who'd been agitating for reform ever since his ejection from the Wide Awake Car Porters' Union.


August 25, 1967
George Lincoln Rockwell, the leader of the American Nazi Party, was relieved of his duties by means of the usual Nazi method:

he was shot to bloody hell on this date.



And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake (in Sensurround)

Hopefully most of you didn't even notice the earthquake yesterday.



Unfortunately, ancient pagan gods tried to circumcise the Washington Monument and National Park Service says engineers have found a crack near the top of the massive structure. The monument will be closed indefinitely


August 24, 1937 -
William Wyler's crime-drama film, Dead End, premiered in NYC on this date.



This was the first appearance of the Dead End Kids who later evolved into the East Side Kids and later the Bowery Boys. Producer Samuel Goldwyn brought the boys - who had appeared in the original Broadway production of the play - to Hollywood to appear in the movie.


August 24, 1966 -
One of the quintessential films of the 60's, Alfie, opened in the US on this date.



On its original release, the film had an all instrumental soundtrack, by Sonny Rollins. The Oscar nominated song, by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, was added for the American release, and to a British re-release. For the UK release, the song was sung by Cilla Black over the end credits, which went to #9 on the British charts. For the US release, the song was originally to be sung by Dionne Warwick over the end credits, but was replaced at the last minute by the version sung by Cher. Ironically, Warwick's version outperformed Cher's on the Billboard charts.


August 24, 1966 -
The (still surprising good) sci-fi film, Fantastic Voyage, premiered on this date.



During filming, one of the two 3 inch "Proteus" models used in the miniaturization sequence was left by an open window and was subsequently carried off by a crow.


It is believed that the original potato chip recipe was created by chef George Crum, at Moon's Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York, on August 24, 1853.



He was fed up with a customer (the popular myth wrongly identifies him as Cornelius Vanderbilt) who continued to send his fried potatoes back, claiming that they were too thick and soggy. Crum decided to slice the potatoes so thin that they couldn't be eaten with a fork, nor fried normally in a pan, so he decided to stir-fry the potato slices. Against Crum's expectation, the guest was ecstatic about the new chips. They became a regular item on the lodge's menu under the name Saratoga Chips. They soon became popular throughout New York and New England.

You don't want to know how Crum got the vinegar flavor for that damn chip.


Today in History:
August 24, 79
The cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were fired by Mount Vesuvius. Vesuvius, ever the vengeful volcano god buried those happening Roman vacation spots, apparently to punish the debauchery that made the towns famous. Tens of thousands of people perished only to have plaster casts made centuries later of the hollows their bodies once occupied.



Once again, People, this is what happens when a city goes on the cheap and starts scarifying any old whore rather than a proper virgin.


August 24, 410
In what was possibly the largest layoff in history, all of Rome was sacked (again).



The event symbolized the fall of the Western Roman Empire.


August 24, 1572 -
Troops loyal to the French crown alongside Catholic civilians massacre the Protestant Huguenots of Paris, estimates range between 20,000 and 100,000 deaths. At news of this carnage of this St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, a gleeful Pope Gregory XIII ordered celebrations and a medal to be struck.



Sometimes, you just have to be embarrassed to be a Catholic.


August 24, 1680 -
Colonel Thomas Blood, Irish adventurer who stole the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London in 1671, died on this date.

Captured after the theft, he insisted on seeing King Charles II, who had a reputation for liking bold scoundrels. Charles not only pardoned him, but granted Blood Irish lands worth £500 a year! .


August 24, 1814 -
The White House and other public buildings in the District of Columbia are torched by the British.



The President's wife, Dolley Madison and Paul Jennings, her husband's enslaved manservant, are torn away from Mrs. Madison's ice cream and candy making duties to save a couple of chairs

and an unfinished portrait of some dead Virginian Slave holder, Masonite and dope smoker.


August 24, 1932 -
Amelia Earhart flew from Los Angeles to Newark, becoming the first woman to complete a non-stop, transcontinental flight.



Setting a women's record, she completed the journey in 19 hours and five minutes.


August 24, 1958 -
Red China commences the shelling of the islands of Quemoy and Matsu, which hold one-third of Chiang Kai Shek's troops. The United States threatens nuclear retaliation for this, but the American people do not support the stance. A very strange compromise is worked out, permitting China to shell the islands on odd dates and Chiang Kai Shek's troops to resupply the islands on even dates.


August 24, 1968
France explodes its first hydrogen bomb, thus becoming the world's fifth nuclear power.



The Germans break out in an ever slight sweat. (The 1998 film Godzilla uses this particular test as the basis for the monster Godzilla, an infant green iguana mutated by the fallout from the blast.)

Another reason to hate the French.


August 24, 1989 -
Pete Rose is suspended from baseball for life for gambling



Remember, Pete just gambled, he didn't get shot in the ass with any damn steroids.



And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm back, baby

We had a very good time on the beach this weekend. We stayed a little bit later than expected, so here's a delayed somewhat abbreviated posting (given all that's going on.)


August 23, 1940 -
Preston Sturges' Oscar winning satire on political corruption, The Great McGinty, premiered on this date.



Brian Donlevy and Akim Tamiroff reprised their roles as Governor McGinty and The Boss in Preston Sturges's The Miracle of Morgan's Creek.


August 23, 1957 -
20th Century Fox released its film adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway novel, The Sun Also Rises, on this date.



Fans of Tyrone Power were shocked by his tired and aged appearance in the movie, since he was only 42 at the time of filming. Years of chain smoking cigarettes and drinking heavily had taken a toll on his looks. In addition he was reportedly taking pills so he could survive with only three hours sleep every night.


August 23, 1969 -
The Rolling Stones hit, Honky Tonk Women reached number one on the pop-singles charts, on this date.



Mini quiz for all you kids, What was the b-side of the single? You Can't Always Get What You Want


August 23, 1996 -
One of the most bizarre films ever made (starring Marlon Brando) The Island of Dr. Moreau, was released on this date.



Rent it just to see the scene where Marlon and his mini-me play piano, I'll say no more.


It's Gene Kelly's birthday.



Everybody run outside and dance!


Today in History: August 23, 1305 -
Scottish patriot William Wallace (Mel Gibson) was persuaded to take an early retirement.



According to one eyewitness: "He was hung in a noose, and afterwards let down half-living; next his genitals were cut off and his bowels torn out and burned in a fire; then and not till then his head was cut off and his trunk cut into four pieces. At this point he was given a gold watch, and a humorous card that we had all signed."


August 23, 1914 -
Japan declared war on Germany. Much confusion and embarrassment ensues about 25 years later when this point is brought up at a meeting of the Axis powers.


August 23, 1926 -
Rudolph Valentino died and caused a worldwide frenzy among his fans, on this date. Sales of the Sheik condoms soar.



There's a very dirty joke I could insert here but recent FCC rulings prevent me.


August 23, 1927 -
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, convicted of murder in 1921, were executed in Boston in spite of worldwide protests, on this date.



Their guilt is still disputed.


August 23, 1939-
Joachim von Ribbentrop and Josef Stalin signed a non-aggression pact, allowing Germany to attack Poland and the USSR to invade Finland without fears of reprisal. Three years later, the Battle of Stalingrad began. (The battle of Stalingrad was fought by Germans and Russians, in case the irony was lost on you.)

Moral: secret wartime pacts with evil conquering bastards aren't any more reliable in the real world than they are in a game of Risk.

August 23, 1944 -
Romanian Prime Minister Ion Antonescu was dismissed by King Michael (another cousin of Elizabeth and her itinerant sailor husband Philip Mountbatten), paving the way for Romania to abandon the Axis in favor of the Allies.

King Michael organized a coup against the pro-Nazi dictator, Marshal Ion Antonescu, but was double-crossed by Joseph Stalin and betrayed by the Allies who ceded the country to the Russians at the Yalta summit in 1945.


August 23, 1968 -
The Youth International Party designates Pigasus as their choice of candidate for U.S. President. The boar hog is introduced at a press conference outside the Chicago Civic Center, with the slogan "They nominate a President and he eats the people. We nominate a President and the people eat him."

The gathering is broken up shortly thereafter when the Chicago PD takes into custody the Yippie organizers and their pig.



And so it goes.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Still on the beach

I'm on my way back from the beach. Mr. Teeny has run out of gin and he's not very nice when he have a hangover. Monkey poo everywhere!


The movie with which Monty Python introduced its seminal brand of comedy to American audiences, And Now for Something Completely Different, premiered on this date.



The movie was intended to introduce American audiences to Python's comedy, but not surprisingly, it did far better business in Britain, where viewers had already seen the movie's sketches on "Monty Python's Flying Circus."


August 22, 1920 -
Ray Bradbury, science fiction writer whose works include The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, was born on this date.



Some people really like him


August 22, 1946 -
The last of Alfred Hitchcock's wartime thrillers, Notorious, premiered on this date.



The legendary on-again, off-again kiss between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman was designed to skirt the Hayes Code that restricted kisses to no more than three seconds each.


Today in History:
August 22, 1485 -
At the Battle of Bosworth, England's King Richard III was terminated for having made a fiscally irresponsible bid on a horse.



For evermore, kingdoms went for a great deal more than small pieces of hardware.


August 22, 1776 -
George Washington asks the Continental Congress for permission to burn New York City, to stop the city from being used to quarter troops arriving via the British fleet. It is declined, but his soldiers set 1/4th of the town ablaze on September 21.

There are still many in the government that would like to enact Washington's plan right now.


August 22, 1864 -
12 nations sign the first Geneva Convention specifically calling for the protection of the wounded during times of active warfare on this date. This leads directly to formation of the Red Cross.

In 1882, U.S. President Chester Arthur signed the treaty, making the U.S. the 32nd nation to do so.


August 22, 1893 -
Dorothy Parker was born in New York City, to Henry and Eliza Rothschild (... My God, no, dear! We'd never even heard of those Rothschilds ....) on this date.



Her birth was two months premature, allowing her to say that it was the last time she was early for anything; her early writing was a following in the exquisite footsteps of Edna St. Vincent Millay, unhappily in my own horrible sneakers.



While she was a successful writer, she was just plain lousy at committing suicide. Dorothy Parker attempted suicide four times herself before succumbing to a heart attack in 1967.



... I don't care what anybody says about me as long as it isn't true....


August 22, 1902 -
President Theodore Roosevelt became the first U.S. chief executive to ride in an automobile in Hartford, Ct.

As did (does) Bubba, Teddy really loved being President.


August 22, 1942 -
The Battle of Stalingrad began on this date, which many historians think of as the turning point of World War II. Hitler had already conquered all of Europe except for England, Switzerland and Monaco and he began the invasion of Russia in the summer of 1941 with an army of four million men. The Germans reached Stalingrad on this day in 1942 and flew more than 2,000 bombing raids in just the first day of the battle. They hit oil storage tanks that flowed into the river and caught fire and laid siege to the city. It went on for months.



It's been called the most terrible battle the world has ever known, and in the end the Russians won, thanks to the approach of winter. The German troops were not prepared for fighting in below zero weather.

By February of 1943, all the German soldiers had surrendered or been killed, the first defeat of Hitler's army.



And so it goes.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Does anybody care about time?

Here's part two of the video essay on clocks in NYC.




I'm lazying on the beach right about now (except, of course, if it's raining. Hopefully nothing earth shattering has happened.) It's a good time to review my entry on beach cooking here. If you're not so inclined, here's a semi rerun of Today in History:

August 21, 1912 -
Arthur R. Eldred was the first person to have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest in the Boy Scouts of America.

There is no record of how long it took him to achieve the Sodomized Scout badge.


August 21, 1941 -
The movie version of Lillian Hellman's drama, The Little Foxes, was released on this date.



Herbert Marshall had lost a leg in WWI. The scene where Horace crawls up the stairs is done by a stunt man. Marshall takes the role until he walks towards the stairs, but is hidden by a curtain for a moment. That was where the switch was made.


August 21, 1962 -
Matthew Broderick, actor and New Yorker was born on this date.




Today in History:
August 21, 1614 -
Erzsebet Bathory, ruler of Transylvania, dies at 54. She had sought immortality by killing young virgins and bathing in their blood. It didn't work.



I wonder if Elizabeth Arden is still offering this service and where are they finding enough virgins.


What did Vicenzo Perruggia steal on August 21, 1911?

a. The Shroud of Turin
b. Home plate
c. The Mona Lisa
d. The Sistine Chapel
e. The Hope Diamond

Bonus: what was his day job?

Pablo Picasso was having a very bad day.

His so called friend, French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had once called for the Louvre to be "burnt down," came under suspicion when the Mona Lisa was stolen from on Lourve on this day; he was arrested and put in jail. Apollinaire, as all bad French dadaist poets would do, ratted out his friend Pablo Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning, but both were later exonerated.

Very nice guy.



At the time, the painting was believed to be lost forever, and it would be two years before the real thief was discovered. Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia stole it by entering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet and walking out with it hidden under his coat after the museum had closed. Peruggia was an Italian patriot who believed da Vinci's painting should be returned to Italy for display in an Italian museum. Peruggia may have also been motivated by a friend who sold copies of the painting, which would skyrocket in value after the theft of the original. After having kept the painting in his apartment for two years, Peruggia grew impatient and was finally caught when he attempted to sell it to the directors of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence; it was exhibited all over Italy and returned to the Louvre in 1913. Peruggia was hailed for his patriotism in Italy and only served a few months in jail for the crime.


August 21, 1952 -
The classic John Ford film, The Quiet Man was released on this date.



The last line of the wedding toast was censored by Republic Pictures. It should have said, "May their days be long and full of happiness. May their children be many and full of health. And may they live in peace and national freedom". After the film was completed, Republic Pictures decided "national freedom" in Ireland was too controversial a concept.


August 21, 1986 -
1,700 people are killed in Cameroon when Lake Nyos emits a huge cloud of fast-moving fog, quickly enveloping the villages of Nyos, Kam, Cha, and Subum. The lethal mist, consisting mainly of carbon dioxide and water vapor, displaces the oxygen in the low-lying zones, killing thousands of cattle and even more birds and wild animals. One eyewitness later describes the landscape as being "littered with human remains and animal carcasses."



That would have ruined a vacation.



And so it goes.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Does anybody really know what time it is?

A very nice video essay about public clock in NYC



I'll post Part 2 tomorrow.


I'm out at the beach, celebrating a good friends' 50th Birthday. I've left Mr. Teeny in charge - look out, he's a mean drunk.

So here's an abbreviated Today in History:
August 20, 1865 -
In the great tradition of the American presidency, President Andrew Johnson rouses himself from an alcoholic stupor

and formally declared the Civil War over (months after Lee's surrender at Appomattox.)


Soviet Professional Leon Trotsky liked his job, but the strain was wearing on him—dictatorial burnout. In the summer of 1940 he finally used some of the vacation time he'd accumulated to head down to Mexico and think through his options.



On August 20, in Mexico City, Trotsky met with one of Stalin's human resources representatives, who suggested he take an early retirement.



The suggestion was accompanied by several persuasive blows to the head with an axe, which seriously impeded Trotsky's growth potential. Sadly, he died before he could sue for damages.


August 20, 1948 -
... My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon, I will return again ...



Robert Anthony Plant CBE, button phobia rock singer and songwriter, was born on this date.


August 20, 1977 -
NASA bizarrely decides to go into the record business. Scientists, not quite understanding the record industry, press only one record but make it out of gold, believing that the unaffordable price will boost profit. The record is nearly unlistenable except for the recoding of the Chuck Berry song, "Johnny B Good". NASA decides to hide this costly blunder by including the recoding in the payload of the space probe Voyager 1, launched on this date, on a mission to Mars..



The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University. Dr. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind, and thunder, and animal sounds, including the songs of birds and whales. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earthlings in fifty-five languages, and printed messages from President Jimmy Carter and U.N. Secretary-General (and ex-Nazi) Kurt Waldheim. Remember these facts when the aliens come to invade the planet. It reached Mars in the summer of 1976.



In a memorable Saturday Night Live segment, it was announced by Steve Martin that the first message from extraterrestrials was being received. Once decoded, the message stated, "Send more Chuck Berry."


On August 20, 1991, the Estonian parliament declared independence from the Soviet Union.



The next day, Latvia declared its independence from the Soviet Union and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev declared he was back in full control after a 60-hour coup by old-school Communists finally crumbled.

Full control of what?



And so it goes.