Sunday, February 5, 2012

Enjoy the game

Today is Liberation Day in San Marino. Americans remain woefully misinformed about San Marino.

(American remain woefully misinformed about most countries that aren't located between Canada and Mexico, but today is only Liberation Day in San Marino, so let's not get off-topic.)

About seventeen-hundred years ago, during an epic game of hide and seek, Marinus the Stonemason ran up Mount Titano in Italy to hide from the Roman Emperor Diocletian. It was a good hiding spot and he was never found. He started his own country to pass the time, and the Republic of San Marino survives to this day, an island of foreign nationals in the middle of Italy.

Citizens of San Marino are not San Mariners. They are Sammarinese.

The population of San Marino is about 25,000. The population of San Marino, California, is about 13,000.

The California town was named in 1878 by James de Barth Shorb, who had built his home there and didn't think people would go for Shorbtown. Instead, he named it after the Maryland town in which he'd been born.

That was reportedly San Marino, Maryland, which the California town's website claims to have been named "for the tiny European republic."

There is no Maryland town named San Marino. (If there is, they haven't yet made their presence felt on Google.) Foul play is obviously afoot.

Proceed with caution.

February 5, 1914 -
William Seward Burroughs II, junkie, novelist, murderer, painter, professional sodomist and performer was born on this date.

Except for a couple of things on his CV, he is my hero (well him and Julia Child.)

February 5, 1940 -
Hans Ruedi Giger, Swiss painter, sculptor, and set designer best known for his design work on the film Alien, was spawned on this date.

He had a very happy childhood.

Today in History:
February 5, 1783 -
A large earthquake in Calabria Italy leaves 50,000 dead.

Luckily none of my wife's or a good friend of mine forebearers were involved or they wouldn't be here.

February 5, 1816 -
Rossini's opera Barber of Seville premieres in Rome on this date.

It was one of the earliest Italian operas to be performed in America and premiered at the Park Theater in New York City on November 25 1825.

February 5, 1919 -
Four of the leading figures in early Hollywood: Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and D. W. Griffith, incorporated to form their own company to better control their own work as well as their futures. The company was United Artist.

Tom Cruise (and his group’s) purchase of UA in 2006 has done little to help the prospects of the company and it’s future six years later is still very much in doubt.

February 5, 1927 -
Buster Keaton's movie The General premiered on this date. Keaton's picture received both poor reviews by critics and weak box-office results when it first opened.

In the scenes with the opposing armies marching, Keaton had the extras (which included Oregon National Guard troops) wear the uniforms of the Confederacy and march in one direction past the camera, then he had them change uniforms to the Union blue and had them march past the camera in the other direction.

February 5, 1936 -
Charlie Chaplin Little Tramp makes his final silent-film appearance, Modern Times, was released on this date.

Charles Chaplin allows the Tramp to speak on camera for the first time during the restaurant scene, but insisted that what the Tramp says be universal. Therefore, the song the Tramp sings is in gibberish, but it is possible to follow the story he tells by watching his hand gestures.

February 5, 1941 -
The SS Politician wrecked off the coast of the Isle of Eriskay in the Hebrides. It carried some 20,000 cases of whisky, which the natives hid from customs agents.

The story was told in the 1947 book Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie. The book was made into a film in 1949. According to official files recently released by the British Home Office, there was nearly 290,000 ten shilling notes on board as well (this would be the equivalent of several million pounds at today's prices), not all of which was ever recovered.

February 5, 1953 -
Walt Disney's Peter Pan, opens at Roxy Theater, on this date. This was the last Disney animated feature released through RKO, as Walt Disney established his own distribution company, Buena Vista Distribution, by the end of 1953.

Though the film was extremely successful, Walt Disney himself was dissatisfied with the finished product. He felt that the character of Peter Pan was cold and unlikable. This would be the

Remember, it's the second to the right (and straight on till morning.)

February 5, 1956 -
Don Siegel subversive take on 50's Communist paranoia, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, premiered on this date.

The film originally ended with Miles J. Binnell on the highway shouting to the people driving by, "You're next, you're next!" However, the studio wanted a happier ending that would assure the audience that the hero's efforts were not in vain, so scenes were added to the opening to show Miles in a hospital recounting his story to two other doctors and to the end when the other doctors find out about the pods and one of them contacts the FBI.

February 5, 1967 -
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour premiered on CBS, on this date.

Mom actually liked both of them equally.

And so it goes.

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