Tuesday, May 8, 2012

You f*ck your way, I f*ck my way.

(Look up the quote, Dimitri Tiomkin supposedly said it, you'll find it)

May 8, 1926 -
... The old days were the old days. And they were great days. But now is now.

Donald Jay "Don" Rickles, Mr. Warmth - comedian and actor was born on this date.

May 8, 1943 -
Another Tex Avery masterpiece, Red Hot Riding Hood, was released on this date.

The original ending had the Wolf married to Grandma and him and his wolf sons cheering Red at the nightclub. Censors disapproved of the suggestion of bestiality in this ending, and so it was changed. The earlier ending exists only in stills.

May 8, 1946 -
David O. Selznick's very silly but highly entertaining, Duel in the Sun, premiered in New York on this date. (Even if you hate this film, you must watch the ending.)

The British writing-directing team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger were shown a pre-release screening of the film by producer David O. Selznick. Both were thoroughly unimpressed with the movie, but didn't want to offend Selznick by saying so. At the end of the film, when Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones are crawling towards each other on a mountain and when they get near each other they both open fire, Pressburger turned to Powell and whispered, "What a pity they didn't shoot the screenwriter".

May 8, 1958 -
Hammer Studios had its turn at the classics when Horror of Dracula premiered in the US on this date.  For some very perverse reason, when I went to CYO day camp in 1972, we were shown most of the Hammer oeuvre (it was a very rainy summer.  It's very understandable that I was never the same.)

Apart from assorted snarls and hisses, Christopher Lee has only thirteen lines in this film.

Today in History:
On May 6, 1758, Maximilien-Francois-Marie-Isidore de Robespierre was born (this is not a Today in History fact but follow along, we'll get to it). Even in the revolutionary context of his age, Mr. Robespierre stands out as one of the most revolting figures in history.

M. Robespierre fought valiantly to help revolutionary France achieve liberty, fraternity, and equality but inadvertently caused an unfortunate turn of weather known as the "rain of terror."

At first this rain caused only French loyalists to lose their heads, but M. Robespierre's egalitarian convictions led him to conclude that citoyens from all walks of life should lose theirs as well. The celebrated chemist Atoine-Laurent Lavoisier, for example, was beheaded on May 8, 1794 for having identified oxygen, which people mistakenly thought to be one of the noble gases.

M. Robespierre ended up losing his own head on the guillotine; this was called poetic justice by some Frenchmen and irony by others. This disagreement eventually produced the Napoleonic Age, in which soldiers had to crawl on their stomachs until Napoleon was disabled by the sight of Elba.

May 8, 1886 -
John Stith Pemberton was druggist and drug addict in North Carolina, plagued by his morphine addiction. Pemberton began work on a coca and cola (kola) nut beverage. It was intended to stop headaches and calm nervousness, but others insist he was attempting to create beverage to help control his addiction, also afflicting other wounded Confederate veterans (he was shot once and slashed with a saber). At that time, beverages containing coca leaf, which in turn contains cocaine were believed to be helpful in combating dependence on opiates. He began this process at his Columbus laboratory, but soon after the war, moved his entire operation to Atlanta.

He created the formula in a brass kettle in his backyard on May 8th 1886. He instructed his assistant, Venable, to mix it with ice water and chill it. They drank it, and both loved it (of course they did - who wouldn't love a drink with cocaine in it). But then Venable accidentally mixed it with carbonated water. They decided to sell it as a fountain drink, as an alternative for root beer and ginger ale.

Pemberton's bookkeeper, Frank Mason Robertson suggested that they name it Coca Cola for the Coca leaves and Kola (cola) nuts in it. Indeed, Coca-Cola was originally advertised (in part) as a cure for morphine addiction.

Oh, for the original formula.

May 8, 1945 -
Let's face it, Harry S. Truman was a shlub for most of his adult life. He was a failed businessman. He was a minor cog in a a political machine when he was picked to be Senator for his home state, Missouri. Roosevelt picked him to be his Vice President to spite his former Vice President, Henry Wallace, who was thought too liberal. Truman's vice-presidency was relatively uneventful, and contact with the White House was minimal; he was not asked for advice nor informed of major decisions. Truman might have slipped into historical obscurity had Roosevelt not to have a massive stroke and die on April 12, 1945.

Truman's birthday was coming up and Germany, well, the part of it that didn't commit suicide in the bunker or fled to Argentina wanted to give the new President a special gift. So on May 7th, the Chief-of-Staff of the German Armed Forces High Command, General Alfred Jodl, one of the only German's left standing, signed the unconditional surrender documents for all German forces to the Allies. All active operations were to cease at 23:01 Central European Time on May 8 1945, Truman's 61st birthday.

And what did Jodl get for this special gift - a necktie party at the end of his trial at Nuremberg. It was later learned that Jodl was neither guilty of crimes of war punishable by death under international law, nor of other crimes which would have made him a criminal or abuser of military power.

Oops, that what you get for trying to be nice!

May 8, 1963 -
The first James Bond film, Dr No, starring Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent 007, premiered in US on this date.

Author Ian Fleming wanted his cousin Christopher Lee to play Dr. No. Fleming also asked Noel Coward to play the part of Dr. No. Coward turned down the part by replying with a telegram that read, "Dr. No? No! No! No!Max von Sydow turned down the part in order to play Jesus Christ in The Greatest Story Ever Told, and would finally play a Bond villain in Never Say Never Again. The role went to Joseph Wiseman, the only early Bond villain not to have his voice dubbed by another actor.

May 8, 1984 -
Joanie (Erin Moran) and Chachi (Scott Baio) tied the knot (finally) on Happy Days, on this date.

The comedy series, starring Henry Winkler, Tom Bosley and Marion Ross (Ron Howard and Anson Williams had already left the show), was winding down in its final season on ABC-TV.

Before I let you go - Here's the most bizarrely beautiful tribute to the Beastie Boys

once again, RIP MCA

And so it goes

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