Monday, July 2, 2012

Can your heart stand the shocking facts?

July 2, 1959 -
Ed Wood's greatest opus (not counting Glen or Glenda), Plan 9 from Outer Space, opened on this date.

The company was able to get police cars and uniforms through Tor Johnson's son, Karl Johnson, an officer in the San Fernando Police Department, who also makes an uncredited appearance in the film.

July 2, 1971 -
Gordon Parks' classic crime-drama Shaft, starring Richard Roundtree, premiered on this date.

The women backing vocalists in the film's theme song are Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson from Tony Orlando & Dawn.

Today in History -
One day in the second half of the ninth century, a poor young woman on her way to the market dropped her basket of eggs, breaking all of them.

The young woman knelt on the ground beside the fallen basket and began to weep.

The local bishop had been out for his morning stroll and happened to see the entire episode. He attempted to console the woman, but she was having none of it. Without the eggs, she had nothing to sell at market. Nothing to sell meant no money to sustain her family. Being unable to sustain her family meant, well, what it usually means: degradation, illness, and eventually death. Soothing words from a bishop weren't much help.

The bishop then prayed for her pain to be eased. When he was done praying, the woman looked into her basket and saw that all of the eggs had been made whole.

"Wot's all that about, then?" she asked.

"Tis a sign of God's grace and compassion," the bishop said. "I am but his -"

"God fixed me eggs, what?"

"All things are possible with God," the bishop began, but the poor young woman interrupted again.

"All-powerful God? All-knowing God? I work meself to death eight days to the week, and when he finally comes through with a miracle - it's fixin' me eggs? What about a floor for me hut? What about clothes for me young-uns? What about -"

It is probably not necessary to record the full text of the woman's stirring solecism.

That great religious leader was St. Swithun, who died on this date, in 862 . He was the Bishop of Winchester and royal counselor to kings Egbert and Aethelwulf.

(Yes - the skull cap of the good bishop)

History tells us very little about St Swithun, besides the fact that he died when he did, which is why I bring him up: someone ought to invent a life for the guy. Maybe he was raised by honey badgers. Maybe he was kidnapped by cross-dressing pirates. Maybe he met three witches in the forest and they hailed him as the Thane of Cawdor. Or maybe he fell in love with the beautiful red-headed daughter of a rival landowner and they had a tempestuous love affair before tragedy struck her down and Swithun turned to religion for consolation. Who knows? Nobody.

So make up a St Swithun you can live with.

(Remember, if it rains on July 15th, St. Swithun's day, the Olympics will be all watersports.)

131 years ago today, Charles J. Guiteau stood up in the lobby of the B&O Railroad Depot in Washington, DC, and yelled, "I am a stalwart and Arthur is President now!" (Maybe it would have sounded less crazy if he said it in Latin - Ego sum a stalwart quod Arthur est Praesieo iam! All future Presidential assassins should take up Latin. ) The event might have passed without notice had Guiteau not been shooting President James Garfield at the time.

A wounded President Garfield lingered for 11 weeks, during which time surgeons attempted to find the bullet which had lodged in his back. The state-of-the-art technology for removing foreign objects from the body was at that time the hand. Dozens of physicians, nurses, and curious hangers-on probed Garfield's wound with their fingers in search of the bullet that had struck him. The inevitable infection of his wound killed him.

Charles Guiteau was hanged on June 30, 1882.

July 2, 1900 -
Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin airship LZ-1, takes the first zeppelin flight over Lake Constance near Friedrichshafen, Germany.

Unfortunately Zeppelin travel never really took off; he did not offer beverage cart service at the time.

Well, that and the whole Hindenburg thing.

July 2, 1937 -
Attempting to become the first female pilot to circumnavigate the globe in an airplane, Amelia Earhart disappears over the Pacific with her drunken navigator, Fred Noonan.

She still holds the record for a spouse going out for a carton of milk and not returning.

51 years ago today Ernest Hemingway blew his brains out at his home in Ketchum, Idaho. Hemingway was a writer. He was also a man. He knew things about being a man. He also knew things about trying to be a man.

He wrote about them, those things. He wrote love stories and stories about fishermen and soldiers. He liked to write. And in the end he blew his brains out. Maybe that means something. Maybe it doesn't. Either way, don't bother asking for whom the bell tolled.

It wasn't for you.

On this date in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, prohibiting racial discrimination.

Barack Obama is proof that America has remained a paragon of racial harmony to this very day.

And so it goes.

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