Thursday, January 5, 2012

Yes Virginia, Christmas is nearly over

It the eve of the Epiphany - you may begin to put your decorations away.

The final gift tally: you would have received 12 drummers drumming, 22 flutist, 30 members from the house of Lords, hopping and bopping to the Crocodile Rock, 36 Fan dancers, 40 angry dairy workers, on permanent coffee break, 42 Swans, trying to mate in your dining room (avert the childrens eyes) , 42 geese a' laying, 40 golden rings, 36 calling birds, 30 French hens, 22 turtledoves and 12 partridges in their respective pear trees.

Take the rings, set fire to the house and start a new life.

Link January 5, 1944 -
Another great movie from Preston Sturges, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, premiered on this date.

Once you understand the internal logic of the movie, you can't believe he snuck it past the censors.

January 5, 1961 -
Mr. Ed, the talking horse (with a daily diet was twenty pounds of hay, washed down with a gallon of sweet tea.,) debuted on CBS-TV on this date.

The show starred Alan Young as Ed's owner, Wilbur Post. Wilbur's wife, Carol, was played by Connie Hines. The voice of Mr. Ed was Allan 'Rocky' Lane.

January 5, 1969 -
Brian Hugh Warner was born on this date.

He's such a nice boy.

Today in History -
Sometimes, it's not so good to King (or his potential assassin either.) Louis the XV wasn't the most incompetent or profligate spending monarch.

The spending at the court of Louis XV was not any higher than under previous French kings, and certainly much lower than in some other European courts, such as in Russia, where Peter the Great and Empress Elizabeth spent enormous amounts of money to build palaces in and around Saint Petersburg. Court spending also helped to carry French arts to their zenith under Louis XV, and supported thousands of families of artists and craftsmen. Yet at the time the French public (the great unwashed), influenced as it was by a violent campaign of libels against the king and the Marquise de Pompadour starting in the mid-1740s, could only see royal incompetence and spending sprees. This was what may have inspired the assassination attempt on the king by Robert Damiens.

On January 5, 1757, would-be assassin Damiens entered the Palace of Versailles, as did thousands of people every day to petition the king. As the king was walking in the Marble Courtyard between two lines of guards lighting the way with torches, headed toward his carriage, which was waiting at the edge of the Marble Courtyard, Damiens suddenly emerged from the dark, passed through the guards, and stabbed the king in the side with a penknife. The 3.2 inch blade entered the king's body between the fourth and fifth ribs. The king, who was bleeding, remained calm and called for a confessor as he thought he would die. Thoughts of poison came to his mind. At the sight of the queen, who had come in a hurry, he asked for forgiveness for his misbehavior (Louis, as was the habit of most kings of his time, slept with anything that had an orifice). However, the king survived. He was probably saved by the thick layers of clothes he wore on that cold day, which cushioned the blade, protecting the internal organs. Allegedly, the blade penetrated only 0.4 inch into the king's body, leading Voltaire to mock what he called a "pinprick".

Damiens, who was mentally unstable, had been a servant of members of the Parliament of Paris where he had heard much criticism of the king. This, combined with the violent pamphlets and general discontent with the king, convinced him that he had to commit regicide in order to save France. In any case, it was the first attempt at regicide in France since the murder of King Henry IV by Ravaillac in 1610. The king, bent on forgiving Damiens, could not avoid a trial for regicide.

Tried by the Parlement of Paris, Damiens was executed on the Place de Greve on March 28, 1757, following the horrible procedure applied to regicides: after numerous tortures, Damiens was carried to the Place de Greve in the cold afternoon of that day. There, he was first tortured with red-hot pincers; his hand, holding the knife used in the attempted murder, was burnt using sulphur; molten wax, lead, and boiling oil were poured into his wounds. Horses were then harnessed to his arms and legs for his dismemberment. Damiens's joints would not break; after some hours, representatives of the Parliament ordered the executioner and his aides to cut Damiens's joints. Damiens was then dismembered, to the applause of the crowd. His trunk, apparently still living, was then burnt at the stake. There was an immense crowd to watch this gruesome spectacle, which nobody had witnessed in 147 years. Balconies in buildings above the Place de Greve were rented to women of the aristocracy for the exorbitant price of 100 livres per balcony (approx. $700 in 2007 US dollars).

As I always say, give the people what they want and they will come.

January 5, 1919 -
The Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei was founded by Anton Drexler and others at the Furstenfelder Hof tavern in Munich on this date.

Why does so much of early Nazi history seems to center around beer halls? It must have been something in those Bavarian Beer Purity laws.

January 5, 1933 -
Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge begins on the Marin County side, which spans the deep channel at the entrance to San Francisco Bay .

People have to line up for more than four years before suicides can begin (The Golden Gate Bridge is the most prevalent place in the USA to commit suicide.)

January 5, 1941 -
Amy Johnson CBE, pioneering English aviatrix, drowned after bailing out into the Thames Estuary on this date. Although she was seen alive in the water, a rescue attempt failed and her body was never recovered.

In 1999, it was reported that she was accidentally shot down by British forces when she twice failed to give the correct identification code during the flight.


January 5, 1995 -
On Eye to Eye, Connie Chung's interview with House Speaker Newt Gingrich's mother, Kathleen, aired on CBS, complete with the whispered comment from Kathleen that Newt thought first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton was a 'bitch' .

Once again we have the example of the pot calling the kettle black.

January 5, 1998 -
Congressman Sonny Bono finally meets something that ends his bizarrely successful career - a pine tree at Heavenly Valley Ski Area.

I guess the beat doesn't go on for him.

And so it goes.

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