Monday, April 30, 2012

Wait for it.

At some point today, One World Trade Center will become NYC's tallest construction site.

At some point, it will become the tallest building in NYC but the work is taking so long that I'm hoping I'll still be around when it opens

April 30,1950 -
The film-noir classic, DOA, starring Edmond O'Brien, was released on this date. (Stick around for the whole movie.)

Film debut of Neville Brand and Beverly Garland.

April 30, 1952 -
Mr. Potato Head® became the first toy to be advertised on television.

Over one million kits were sold in the first year. Mr. Okra or Mr. Sunchoke didn't sell so well.

Today in History:
April 30, 1789 -
George Washington was inaugurated and took office in New York as the first president of the United States. He took his oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street and spoke the words “So help me God,” which all future US presidents have repeated.

Christian conservatives, please note: The oath as prescribed by the Constitution makes no mention of God, of the Bible.

April 30, 1900 -

John Luther "Casey" Jones was born March 14, 1863 in southeast Missouri. While he was still a small child, his family moved to Cayce, Kentucky, which is how he got his nickname. As a boy, he liked trains - HE really liked trains. In 1878, at the age of 15, he went to work for the Mobile and Ohio Railroad as an apprentice telegrapher. By 1890, "Casey" had reached the pinnacle of the railroad profession as a crack locomotive engineer on the Illinois Central Railroad.

In 1899, Jones was given a regular passenger run on the Cannonball route which ran between Chicago and New Orleans. On April 29, 1900, Jones was in Memphis, Tennessee, from the northbound Cannonball when he agreed to take the southbound Cannonball because the scheduled engineer called in sick. He left Memphis at 12:50 am, 95 minutes behind schedule, but made up almost an hour between Memphis and Grenada, Mississippi, nearly 100 miles away. By Durant, 55 miles farther down, they were almost on time.

At Durant, Jones received orders to "saw by" two freights that had taken the siding in Vaughan. The two freights were too large to fit into the siding, leaving one end on the main line. If the "sawing" maneuver had been done correctly, the freights would have allowed the approaching train to pass the first switch, and then the trains on the siding would move past the other switch. However, an air hose on one of the freight trains burst, applying the brakes on the freight cars behind the break, and left them immobile on the main line. Meanwhile, Jones was traveling excessively fast, possibly up to 70 miles per hour, and did not have enough time to brake. When collision seemed imminent, Casey told his fireman, Sim Webb, to jump for it, but Jones rode the engine into the cars and was killed. It is believed that because Jones stayed to slow the train, he saved the passengers from injury and possible death (Casey himself was the only fatality of the collision).

Popular legend holds that when Jones' body was pulled from the wreckage of his train his hands were still firmly latched onto the whistle cord and the brake.

April 30, 1938 -
Bugs Bunny first appeared, so to speak, in the cartoon short Porky's Hare Hunt, released on this date. This short was co-directed by Cal Dalton and Ben Hardaway.

The cartoon had an almost identical theme to a 1937 cartoon, Porky's Duck Hunt, directed by Tex Avery and introducing Daffy Duck. Following the general plot of this earlier film, the short cast Porky Pig as a hunter against an equally nutty prey more interested in driving his hunter insane than running away. But instead of a black duck, his current prey was a tiny, white rabbit. Bugs Bunny introduces himself with the expression "Jiggers, fellers," and Mel Blanc gave the rabbit a voice and laugh that he would later use to voice Woody Woodpecker. In this cartoon, he also quoted Groucho Marx for the first time (from the movie Duck Soup): "Of course, you know, this means war!"

April 30, 1939 -
On a very hot New York Sunday, The 1939 World's Fair had its grand opening, with 200,000 people in attendance. The April 30 date coincided with the anniversary of George Washington's inauguration as President in New York City. Although many of the pavilions and other facilities were not quite ready for this opening, it was put on with pomp and great celebration.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the opening day address, and as a reflection of the wide range of technological innovation on parade at the fair, his speech was not only broadcast over the various radio networks but also was televised. NBC used the event to inaugurate regularly scheduled television broadcasts in New York City over their station W2XBS (now WNBC). An estimated 1,000 people viewed the Roosevelt telecast from about 200 television sets scattered throughout the New York area.

Little remembered but equally important, the View-Master was introduced at the World's Fair that day.

Don't worry about those storm clouds overhead (it's just World War II).

April 30, 1943 -
The British submarine HMS Seraph dropped ‘the man who never was,' a dead man the British planted with false invasion plans (which indicated the Allies would not invade Sicily,) into the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain on this date.

German agents discovered the body of a non-existent RAF major, bought the ruse and were unprepared for the actual attack on that island.

April 30, 1945 -
Holed up in a bunker under the Reich Chancellery headquarters in Berlin(conveniently called the Fuehrerbunker), blushing bride Eva Braun has a hankering for Almond Roca. Finding none available, she decide to chew a cyanide capsule and commit suicide (she was impulsive.) Distraught honeymooner Adolf Hitler, never one to go it alone, decides to commit suicide himself by swallowing a cyanide capsule and (to gilt the lily) shooting himself in the head (he was having a very bad day for an Evil Bastard.)

Soon after, Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allied forces, ending Hitler's dreams of a "1,000-year" Reich.

Guess that didn't work out for him.

April 30, 1975 -
The capital of South Vietnam - Saigon, fell on this date.  Communist forces gains control of Saigon. The fall of the city was preceded by the evacuation of almost all the American civilian and military personnel in Saigon, along with tens of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians. The evacuation culminated in Operation Frequent Wind, the largest helicopter evacuation in history.

The Vietnam War formally ends with the unconditional surrender of South Vietnamese president Duong Van Minh.

This is a really big Oops for America.

April 30, 1997 -
Ellen DeGeneres' character comes out of the closet on the sitcom Ellen.

Sorry fellas, she only likes the ladies.

And so it goes

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Don't Wake Up in a Roadside Ditch

I never knew that my choice in cable providers had such dire consequences

I may have to rethink FIOS

Today is International Dance Day - among the goals of Dance Day are to increase the awareness of the importance of dance among the general public, as well as to persuade governments all over the world to provide a proper place for dance in all systems of education.

Dance you sinners, dance.

Today is also the feast of  St. Catherine of Sienna, the co-patron saint of Italy.  The Renaissance were tough on women, Catherine's older sister and younger sisters died in 1463 (she had 22 other siblings, although , at that point, who could tell who was alive or died or the neighbor's cat.)  Catherine's father did what any other father would do - tried to make the teenage Catherine marry her sister's widow.

It didn't matter to anyone, save Catherine, that her brother-in-law was a filthy, lascivious old man.  Catherine fasted until her father relented and let her enter a nunnery.  While fasting, she, like our old pal Teresa of Avila, was pierced by God Shaft of 'pure love'.

Though, supposedly illiterate, Catherine famously corresponded with the leading church figures (both men and women) of her day. In fact, Catherine is one of the few women Saints who are thought of, as holding doctorates. She is one of the church most famous bulimics, disgorging everything she ate for the next 17 years, except the Eucharist she received every day.

She, of course, is the patron saint of bulimics and anorexics, the sick (in general), nurses, firemen and sexual temptation (there is a connection between the two, but I'm not going there.)

As is always the case, when saints die, people clamor after their body parts. She is scattered over most of Italy; her head and one of her fingers are resting in Sienna and a major part of her is beneath the main altar at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church in Rome.

It's the first anniversary for His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, the once and future king of England and Catherine, (nee Katherine Middleton), Duchess of Cambridge.

Remember, paper is the gift for the first year.

April 29, 1852 -
The first edition of Roget’s Thesaurus was published (produced, made, created) on this date.

Dr. Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869) was a London physician of French-Swiss ancestry who began to collect and organize English words to improve his public speaking.

Today in History:
April 29, 1901 -
Train robber and one of the last of the Old West outlaws, Thomas "Black Jack" Ketchum was unsuccessfully hanged in Clayton, New Mexico.

The executioner's poor choice of rope and Ketchum's recent increase in weight combine to produce a gruesome decapitation in the gallows.

Thomas "Black Jack" Ketchum was the only person ever hanged in Clayton, New Mexico. He was also the only man ever hanged for train robbery in the entire state, a law that was later found to be unconstitutional. But, a little too late for poor Black Jack.

April 29, 1939 -
The Bronx-Whitestone Bridge connecting Bronx and Queens opened for traffic on this date.

The primary reason for its construction was to provide access to the 1939-40 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows.

April 29, 1945 -
Adolf Hitler married Eva Braun on this date. The very next day she killed herself. So did he. This demonstrates the importance of not rushing into marriage. You've got to take your time, get to know the other person, and really think it through. Especially if the other person happens to be an Evil Bastard at the head of a hellish genocidal war machine on the brink of defeat.

But it's not enough just making sure your intended isn't a war-criminal-in-training. The sad truth is that if you plan to marry a human being you're in for a pretty bumpy road no matter what—which isn't to say it would be all roses if you married something other than a human.

So maybe Adolf and Eva were doomed anyway. Who knows? I'm only saying they should have given it a little more thought. Bunker marriages have a notorious failure rate.

Actually, in the United States today, all marriages have a notorious failure rate. So maybe the best advice comes from Homer Simpson: "Never try anything."

Say what you will about that bald, yellow tinged, four-fingered man—he's still married.

April 29, 1961 -
ABC's "Wide World of Sports, debuted on this date. Rather than focus on one sport, it presented a variety of athletic events in one show. Each week, Wide World of Sports transported the viewer across the United States and around the world.

In addition to presenting races, bouts, and meets (often live via satellite), Wide World of Sports revolutionized sports coverage by including "up close and personal" features on athletes. The show's rallying cry, "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat," not only became one of the most familiar catchphrases on TV but captured the essence of athletic competition.

April 29, 1968 -
Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, the rock musical opened on this date. Hair tells the story of the "Tribe", a group of politically active, long-haired "Hippies of the Age of Aquarius" fighting against conscription to the Vietnam War and living a bohemian life together in New York City. They struggle to balance their young lives, loves and the sexual revolution with their pacifist rebellion against the war and the conservative impulses of their parents and society.

It was also a way for middle class America to see nudity on the stage without going to a strip club or porno house.

April 29, 1992 -
Rioting erupts in Los Angeles after Rodney King's assailants are acquitted by a jury. The looting and destruction begins in South Central L.A. and quickly radiates outward.

By the time things are under control, 51 are dead , 1093 buildings were damaged or destroyed (764 retail stores were owned by Koreans) and the city has sustained $1.5 billion in property damage.

April 29, 1999 -
In India, Jessica Lall, a young New Delhi bartender, was shot and killed by Manu Sharma, after she refused him a drink at closing time. On February 21, 2006, Sharma the son of a powerful and wealthy politician with interests in sugar mills, and 8 friends were acquitted.

Protesters took to the streets, holding candlelight vigils and waving signs calling for justice; officials from the president to the capital's police chief called for a review of the investigation. Courts convicted Sharma in 2006 and sentenced him to life in prison.

In 2011 the Hindi film, No One Killed Jessica was based on this story.

One last thing, Today is National Shrimp Scampi Day

Don't forget a few Red Pepper Flakes

And so it goes.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I almost forgot

Yesterday was Arbor Day

Happy Arbor Day everyone, remember plant a tree (especially evil talking trees.)

Make every young person you know watch this:
Henry Rollins' Letters to a Young American

... Just because you come from nothing, you must not let that be something that holds you back....

April 28, 1939 -
Cecil B. DeMille brought the Western into a new realm when Union Pacific, premiered in Omaha Nebraska on this date.

Interesting fact: The gold spike used at the ceremony to mark the end of the construction was the same spike actually used in the May 10, 1869 event, on loan from Stanford University.

April 28, 1941 -
...The critics had an image of me, and they wouldn't accept any other . . . I was a cartoon character. A joke.

Ann-Margret Olsson, actress, singer and dancer, was born on this date.

Today in History:
April 28, 1789 -
In the middle of the South Pacific, the crew of the HMS Bounty, led by either Clark Gable, Marlon Brando or Mel Gibson mutinied, setting Charles Laughton, Trevor Howard or Anthony Hopkins and 18 other crewmen adrift in an open boat, so they can hang out with topless Tahitian teens.

Sometimes history is very confusing.

April 28, 1881 -
Billy the Kid escapes from a New Mexico jail, killing jailer Bob Ollinger and a fellow prisoner in the process. Billy survived for another three months before Pat Garrett finally killed him.

Somehow Bob Dylan, Paul Newman, Dracula and Jane Russell's braless bodaeous ta-tas are involved in this story

Once again, history is exceedingly confusing.

April 28, 1945 -
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were captured by partisan fighters and executed (castrated and hung upside down on a meat hook).

Just because you can get the trains to run on time does not mean that the voters love you.

April 28, 1947 -
Sailing from Peru on the balsa-raft Kon Tiki, Thor Heyerdahl began his six-man, 101-day expedition across the Pacific Ocean to Polynesia.

Heyerdahl's expeditions were spectacular and caught the public imagination. Although much of his work remains unaccepted within the scientific community, Heyerdahl increased public interest in ancient history and anthropology.

Here's part 2 -
... live heroically, for our own sake and for that of humanity as a whole....

It's not quite Life in the Woods but it's sage advice none the less.
Thanks Henry

And so it goes

Friday, April 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Mr. President

Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War hero and 18th President of the United States, would have been 190 today.

And if the rumors are true, he is still buried in Grant's Tomb, which was dedicated on this date in 1897.

April 27, 1922 -
Fritz Lang's Dr Mabuse, der Spieler (some have called it the first film-noir,) premiered in Berlin, Germany on this date.

Fritz Lang originally wanted the actress portraying Venus to be completely nude. When the first take was completed, he didn't like how the woman's pubic hair looked, and ordered her to shave it off. The actress indignantly refused, sending Lang into a tantrum. Eventually, a compromise was reached when a small strip of cloth was draped over the offending hair.

April 27, 1930 -
One of the greatest anti-war films, based on the Erich Maria Remarque novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, premiered in NYC on this date.

Lewis Milestone's attention to detail - and desire to be as authentic as possible - was such that the chief sanitary inspector of Orange County, California, insisted that production be halted while he check on the sanitary conditions of the trenches built for the film.

Today in History:
April 27, 4977 BC -
Today should have been Earth Day,

God creates the universe on this day, according to calculations by mystic and part-time astronomer Johannes Kepler.

April 27, 1509 -
The entire state of Venice is excommunicated by Pope Julius II for an entirely secular reason:

the refusal to place parts of Romagna under the Pope's control.

Oh, those wacky Pre-counterreformation Popes.

April 27, 1521 -
In an hour long battle with Philippine islanders, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his men are repeatedly jabbed with sharpened bamboo spears. After Magellan finally succumbs to his wounds, the natives hack him to pieces with their swords, barbecued and consumed him.

They were surprised that they were not hungry an hour after eating him as they had been after eating some Asian explorers previously.

April 27, 1861 -
In a blatantly unconstitutional act, President Abraham Lincoln suspends habeas corpus inside a zone between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The government may now detain citizens indefinitely without ever filing charges. A year and a half later, Lincoln expands the scope of his order to the entire nation.

I'm still greatly relieved that the previous resident of the White House didn't read much history.

April 27, 1865 -
The worst steamship disaster in the history of the United States occurs on this date. The SS Sultana, carrying over 2,000 passengers, the majority being freed Union POWs from the notorious Andersonville and Cahaba Prisons, exploded in Mississippi River, while en route to Cairo, Illinois.

Neither the cause of the explosion nor the final count of the dead (estimated at between 1,450 and 2,000) was ever determined. Today, the Sultana disaster remains the worst of its kind .

Talk about bad luck.

April 27, 1871 -
The American Museum of Natural History opened to the public in New York City, on this date. With a series of exhibits, the Museum’s collection went on view for the first time in the Central Park Arsenal, the Museum’s original home, on the eastern side of Central Park.

The museum began from the efforts of Albert Smith Bickmore, one-time student of Harvard zoologist Louis Agassiz, who was successful in his proposal to create a natural history museum in New York City, New York, with the support of William E. Dodge, Junior, Theodore Roosevelt, Senior, Joseph Choate and J. Pierpont Morgan. The Governor of New York, John Thompson Hoffman, signs a bill officially creating the American Museum of Natural History on April 6, 1869.

April 27, 1932 -
Writer Hart Crane was racked with self-doubt about his ability to write good poetry and agonizing over his binges in homosexuality, had been mentally unstable for some time. Crane stood on the railing of the ship Orizaba in his pajamas (en route to the United States from Mexico,) shouted, "Goodbye Everyone," to the other stunned passengers and jumped over the side of the ship on this date.

Life preservers were thrown to him, but he makes no effort to reach them and drowned. The ship halted in the water, ten miles off the Florida coast, but never recovers his body.

April 27,1963 -
Comedian Lenny Bruce is arrested in Miami for illegal possession of hypodermic needles.

They were, however, for legally-prescribed prescription drugs.

April 27, 1986 -
Someone interrupts the HBO satellite feed during the movie The Falcon and The Snowman. For five minutes, two-thirds of their customer base receives the message: Good evening HBO from Captain Midnight. $12.95 a month?

(Showtime-Movie Channel Beware.) Captain Midnight turned out to be John R. MacDougall of Florida, who was fined and placed on probation.

April 27, 1987 -
After determining that Kurt Waldheim had "assisted or otherwise participated in the persecution of persons" during his Nazi years, the Department of Justice places him on a watch list of undesirable aliens. As such, the sitting President of Austria is disallowed entry into the U.S. It is the first time that a foreign head of state is legally forbidden from visiting America.

I suppose that he suffered from Waldheimer's Disease - it's when you have difficulty recalling that you're a Nazi

And so it goes

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Today is Poem In Your Pocket day

New York City is hosting the 10th Anniversary Poem in Your Pocket day today (April 26th) to commemorate National Poetry Month.

So what poem is in your pocket today?

April 26, 1956 -
Godzilla debuted in American (Gojira premiered in Japan on November 3, 1954) :

a very good Sci-Fi film intercut with Raymond Burr, the undisputed king of deadpan delivery and nipple rouge entrepreneur.

April 26, 1452 -
Leonardo da Vinci was born on this date. Mr. da Vinci was one of the great minds of the Renaissance. Sadly, he is best known for having painted the Mona Lisa (in Italian, La Joconde,), in which he accurately and exquisitely captured the unmistakable smile of a dignified woman who's just farted.

For some reason, many lonely computer geeks celebrate this day by releasing computer virii in hopes that female FBI agents will break down their doors.

Today in History:
On April 26, 1923 (almost 88 years previously to the date of his great-grandson's nuptials,) the Duke of York married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in Westminster Abbey.

This wedding might have slipped into the ephemera of time had the Duke's brother not wanted to marry a woman reported so ugly, many thought her a man in drag. And calling a woman ugly in England is really saying something, as many of the British upper crush often marry their horses out of confusion.

That's British royalty.

Count Basie died on April 26, 1984; Duke Ellington was born on April 29, 1899; Ella Fitzgerald, the "First Lady of Song," was born on April 25, 1918.

That's American royalty.

April 26, 1865 -
Discovered hiding in a farmer's tobacco shed, John Wilkes Booth is shot in the neck by a complete lunatic. Dying and paralyzed from the neck down, he whispers: Tell my mother I did it for my country.

As his hands are held up to his face, Booth mutters "useless...useless..."

They are his last words.

April 26, 1933 -
Hermann Goering founded the Geheime Staatspolizei, otherwise known as the Gestapo on this date.

The original purpose of this "Secret State Police" is to disrupt and harass opponents of National Socialism, but it will later come to adopt many additional responsibilities.

April 26, 1937 -
It was a beautiful Monday afternoon in Guernica, Spain. At about 3:30 pm the day took a tragic turn. For over three hours, twenty-five or more of Germany's best-equipped bombers, accompanied by at least twenty more Messerschmitt and Fiat Fighters, dumped one hundred thousand pounds of high-explosive and incendiary bombs on the village, slowly and systematically pounding it to rubble.

Guernica had served as the testing ground for a new Nazi military tactic - blanket-bombing a civilian population to demoralize the enemy. It was wanton, man-made holocaust.

The bombing was the subject of a famous anti-war painting by Pablo Picasso.

April 26, 1986 -
44 seconds into a late-night experiment at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, reactor number four sustains two large explosions. The exploded at Chernobyl burned for 10 days. About 70% of the fallout fell in Belarus. Damage was estimated to be up to $130 billion. The Soviet news agency TASS holds off reporting the incident for almost 48 hours.

A 300-hundred-square-mile area was evacuated and 31 people died as unknown thousands were exposed to radioactive material that spread in the atmosphere throughout the world. By 1998 10,000 Russian liquidators involved in the cleanup had died and thousands more became invalids. It was later estimated that the released radioactivity was 200 times the combined bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was later found that Soviet scientists were authorized to carry out experiments that required the reactor to be pushed to or beyond its limits, with safety features disabled.


And so it goes

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Winged Scourge

It's Malaria Awareness Day

Malaria Awareness Day, designated on this date by President George W. Bush in 2007, to remind people that Malaria kills 3,000 children a day. He asked the world to join the fight to wipe out malaria on the African continent.

So I encourage all Americans to begin heavily drinking Gin and Tonics to honor the day (While I am a Bombay Sapphire man, I am not affiliated in anyway with that fine brand - not that I wouldn't consider any offers, I'd suggest using Tanqueray.  I believe it goes better with the Tonic.)

April 25, 1917
Ella Jane Fitzgerald, the First Lady of Song, considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century, was born on this date.

Ella Fitzgerald’s life was the quintessential American success story. Through fifty-eight years of performing, 13 Grammys and more than forty million records sold, she elevated swing, bebop, and ballads to their highest potential.

April 25, 1959 -
The Fleetwoods hit no. 1 with their recording of Come Softly to Me on this date.

The original title of this song Come Softly, was changed because Dolphin (later Dolton) Records owner Bob Reisdorff feared that AM radio DJs would think it to be too suggestive. He was being extra-cautious, Dolphin Records was formed by the Seattle DJ for the sole purpose of distributing Fleetwoods records.

Remember kids, don't dance so close. Leave room for the Holy Spirit.

Today in History:
April 25, 1792 -
French highwayman Nicolas Jacques Pelletier was beheaded by the guillotine, after extensive testing during its development with corpses and sheep, making him its first victim on this date. The speed that the guillotine worked as quick as lightening and in the twinkling of an eye - it was over.

The outcome was not well received by the crowd who called for the return of the gallows.

April 25, 1926 -
The premiere of Giacomo Puccini's opera, Turandot was at La Scala, Milan, on this date, one year and five months after Puccini's death. It was conducted by Arturo Toscanini.

Turandot was unfinished at the time of Puccini's death and was later completed by Franco Alfano.

April 25, 1963 -
The bronze statue of The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue) is Denmark's most visited tourist attraction. The statue was unveiled on August 23, 1913 at it's current location in Copenhagen Harbor. It gives hope to the Danes when they are not pining foe the Fjords.

So imagine the horror, when Denmark woke up on this date to find that the unimaginable had happened, someone had sawn off the head of The Little Mermaid, the night before. The head was never recovered and a new head was made from the original cast.

April 25, 1972 -
... And if you covered him with garbage, George Sanders would still have style....

George Sanders actor and husband of not one but two Gabor sisters, killed himself, leaving this great suicide note: "Dear World, I am leaving you because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool - good luck," on this date.

Short and to the point.

April 25, 1980 -
In Iran, a commando mission to rescue hostages was aborted after mechanical problems disabled three of the eight helicopters involved. During the evacuation, a helicopter and a transport plan collided and exploded. Eight U.S. servicemen were killed.

The mission was aimed at freeing American hostages that had been taken at the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979.

And on a personal note - still as lovely as ever, Andrea once again is celebrating her 39th birthday.

And so it goes

Before I let you go, here's a very funny parody from Yahoo -

My only concern - if they are no longer young at 40 - I must be near death after 50.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Today's Sponsor

(I'm running around all day today, so here's an abbreviated) Today in History:
April 24, 1184 BC (this is an approximated date.)
It is traditionally held that city of Troy fell on this date after a ten year siege by the armies of Greece.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

April 24, 1913 -
The Cathedral of Commerce built one nickel at a time, the Woolworth building opened on this date.

The Five and Dimes are long gone but the skyscraper remains.

April 24, 1916 -
... All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born. - W. B. Yeats

Some 1,600 Irish nationalist, the Irish Volunteers, launched the Easter Rising by seizing several key sites in Dublin, including the General Post Office. Eemon de Valera was one of the commandants in the uprising. It was provoked by impatience with the lack of home rule and was put down by British forces several days later. Michael Collins, a member of Sinn Fein, led the guerrilla warfare.

April 24, 1986 -
'Her Royal Highness' The Duchess of Windsor, Bessie Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson Windsor former maitresse en titre (official mistress), horse-faced, twice-divorced American, possible transvestite and Nazi sympathizer died on this date.

And the House of Windsor breathes a sigh of relief -

until Princess Diana.

And so it goes

Monday, April 23, 2012

Allow yourselves to wallow in the voluptuousness of despair!

April 23, 1936 -
... Roy Orbison singing for the lonely...

Roy Orbison, the coolest singer in sunglasses,was born on this date.

April 23, 1958 -
Orson Welles' noir thriller Touch of Evil, starring Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh, was released on this date.

Orson Welles was originally hired only to act in the film, but due to a misunderstanding, Charlton Heston understood that Welles was to be the director. To keep Heston happy, producer Albert Zugsmith allowed Welles to direct. Welles made major changes to the already-completed script, including changing Heston's character from a white district attorney to a Mexican narcotics agent, changing Janet Leigh's character from Mexican to American, and changing the setting of the movie from a small California town to a Mexican-American border town.

Today in History -
William Shakespeare was born on this date in 1564 and wrote a lot of plays then died in the end—on April 23, 1616.

His accomplishments are all the more remarkable when you consider that he died on the same day he’d been born.

April 23, 1616 -
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra died the very same day as Shakespeare. Mr. Cervantes was a brilliant Spanish humorist, best known for his novel Don Quixote, in which an old man suffering from acute mental illness rides around the Spanish countryside hallucinating, then dies.

Sometimes that's all there is.

April 23, 1867 -
The Zoetrope was patented (#64,117) by William E. Lincoln of Providence, Rhode Island on this date. The device was the first animated picture machine.

It provided an animation sequence of pictures lining the inside wall of a shallow cylinder, with vertical slits between the images. By spinning the cylinder and looking through the slits, a repeating loop of a moving image could be viewed .

April 23, 1899  -
I think it is all a matter of love; the more you love a memory the stronger and stranger it becomes

(This is some kind of trifecta for writers.) Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, writer and avid butterfly collector, was born in Saint Petersburg on this date. His work included Lolita, Pnin and Pale Fire.

April 23, 1967 -
The USSR launched Soyuz One on this date.

The next day, forced to return to earth, cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov became the first casualty of space flight when his capsule's parachute opened improperly.


April 23, 1988 -
... There is no dark side in the Moon really... matter of fact it's all dark ...

Pink Floyd's album Dark Side Of The Moon, after spending the record total of 741 consecutive weeks (over 14 years) on the Billboard 200, left the charts for its first time ever.

How did they ever make ends meet?

And so it goes

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Remember, it's our little blue marble

It's Earth Day today, be nice to this planet - it's the only one you're ever going to have.

So go outside and hug a tree. If you don't want to be this familiar with nature, give a warm but firm shake hands to your house plants.

Here's a little poem you can remember to help on this Earth Day -

If it's yellow, let it mellow,
If it's brown, flush it down,
And if it's blue - seek medical attention.

April 22, 1935 -
Universal Studios released the sequel to the original Frankenstein movie, Bride of Frankenstein, starring Boris Karloff, Colin Clive and Elsa Lanchester on this date.

Director James Whale originally did not want to do a sequel to Frankenstein. However, after many years of badgering by Universal, Whale agreed to do the film. One of James Whale's conditions for directing the film was that he would have complete artistic freedom. This was easily achieved, as Universal's studio head Carl Laemmle Jr. was vacationing in Europe at the time.

April 22, 1939 -
Warner Bros. released the film, Dark Victory, starring Bette Davis (in one of her favorite roles) on this date.

This film was the second of Bette Davis collaborations with director Edmund Goulding. They had previously worked together on That Certain Woman and would do so again on The Old Maid and The Great Lie.

April 22, 1942 -
One of Hitchcock's brilliant World War II efforts, Saboteur, premiered in Washington DC on this date.

The shot of the ship on its side toward the end of the film was an actual shot of the ocean liner SS Normandie, which had caught fire on February 9, 1942 and capsized at its pier in New York. The fire was an accident, not sabotage, though there were rumors of sabotage at the time.

April 22, 1950 -
Peter Frampton, musician, singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, was born on this date.

If you were a teenager in the mid 70's, you were issued your standard copy of Frampton Comes Alive to face your 'awkward' years.

Today in History:
April 22, 1451 -
Isabella I, Queen of Castille, was born on this date. She also became Queen of Aragon in 1479.

She was Christopher Columbus' patron, and must therefore share some of the responsibility for the many thousands of casinos across America.

April 22, 1870 -
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov was born on this date He later became Lenin, invented the Communist Party in Russia and made himself first Head Bastard of the Soviet Union.

It's interesting to note that Alexander Kerensky, the leader of Russia's provisional revolutionary government in 1917 until overthrown by Lenin, was born on the same day as Lenin, only eleven years later.

Well, it's interesting to some people.

April 22, 1904 -
Robert Oppenheimer was born on this date. Mr. Oppenheimer is known as the father of the atomic bomb.

The bomb's mother has never been identified to anyone's satisfaction, which only underscores the lax security at Los Alamos.

April 22, 1923 -
I was just myself. I didn't know any other way to be, or any other way to live.

Bettie Mae Page was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on this date.

April 22, 1946 -
If you go home with somebody, and they don't have books, don't f*ck 'em!

John Waters, film director, actor and raconteur, was born on this date.

April 22, 1964 -
President Johnson opened the New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadow, Corona Park, New York, on this date.  (I've just read that Johnson was also banging everything that moved.  No wonder Kennedy named him as his VP.)

The Fair also is remembered as the vehicle Walt Disney utilized to design and perfect the system of "audio-animatronics," in which a combination of sound and computers control the movement of life-like robots to act out scenes. In the It's a Small World attraction at the Pepsi pavilion, animated dolls and animals frolicked in a spirit of international unity on a boat-ride around the world.

Once the fair was over, Walt feverishly pushed his Imagineers to build him an 'actual' President. Historians argue that this was the beginning of Ronald Reagan campaign for the Presidency.

April 22, 1994 -
Richard M. Nixon suffered a fatal stroke on this date. His body is laid to rest in the unhallowed grounds of his Presidential Library.

His head was severed from his body and wooden stakes were driven through his heart to make sure he was dead.

And so it goes

Saturday, April 21, 2012

For the moment, the greatest video ever recorded

Now kids, there will be some naughty words sung by Prince during this video.  Ask you mom if you should watch:

This is what Raffaele Esposito had in mind when he created the modern take on pizza at Pizzeria di Pietro e Basta Cosi in Naples back in 1889.

Hey, today is Record Store Day.  Kids, once upon a time, people had to leave their homes to buy music.  And they enjoyed themselves at the store, sharing music with the other people in the store. (We did have to walk, up hill, through hip high snow drifts, both ways.  But we didn't care.  We smoke a hugh amount of ... but that's another story.)

Once again, do yourself a favor and go to your local record shop (Yes kids, music sometimes is sold on vinyl) and buy something - your ears will thank you for it.

April 21, 1951 -
Les Paul and Mary Ford topped the charts with their hit of the classic How High the Moon on this date.

The recording by Les Paul and Mary Ford is noteworthy for Paul's pioneering use of overdubbing - i.e., layering guitar parts one atop another, a technique also referred to as multitracking or "sound on sound" recording.

April 21, 1990 -
Sinead O'Connor topped the charts with a cover of Prince's Nothing Compares 2U on this date.

Prince originally wrote this for The Family, a band that was signed to his Paisley Park record label. The song was inspired by a member who had just broken up with his girlfriend. The Family was made up of former members of The Time, and they released only one album.

Make of this what you will - the following people were born on this day:
Alexandra Mary Windsor II (1926),

Iggy Pop (James Newell Osterberg) (1947) ,

Patti LuPone (1949),

Tony Danza (1951)

& Robert Smith (1959)

Today in History:
April 21, 753 BC -
Today is the traditional date of the foundation of Rome by Romulus and his brother, Remus, as a refuge for runaway slaves and murderers who captured the neighboring Sabine women for wives (they are hoping to finish building it any day now.)

But since the Gregorian Calendar was just a gleam in Pope Julius eye - who knows.

April 21,1792 -
Jose da Silva Xavier, Tiradentes, considered by many to be Brazil's George Washington, was having an extremely bad day. The Portuguese rulers of Brazil were not happy with his seditious talk of independence. Tiradentes was hung in Rio de Janeiro on this date. His body was broken into pieces.

With his blood, a document was written declaring his memory infamous. His head was exposed in Vila Rica. Pieces of his body were exposed in the cities between Vila Rica and Rio, in an attempt to scare the people who had listened to the independence ideas of Tiradentes.

He began to be considered a national hero by the republicans in the late 19th century, and after the republic was proclaimed in Brazil in 1889 the anniversary of his death (April 21) became a national holiday.

April 21, 1836 -
With the battle cry, 'Remember the Alamo!' Texan forces under Sam Houston defeated the army of Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, assuring Texas independence .

According to legend, Santa Ana was astride a mulatto, or "yellow" prostitute, Emily Morgan, who came to be celebrated in song as The Yellow Rose of Texas.

Now you know.

April 21, 1910 -
Halley's comet reappeared on this date. It had been last seen in 1835, the year Samuel Clemens was born.

The Earth passes safely through the comet's tail with no perceptible effect, of course, not counting the death of Mark Twain on this date.

This time, the reports were not exaggerated.

April 21, 1918 -
German fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, known as The Red Baron, was shot down and killed over Vaux sur Somme in France on this date.

There is no truth to the rumor that Snoopy fired the fatal shot.

April 21, 1921 -
President John F. Kennedy took time out of his busy schedule, of banging starlets and interns, to push a button in Palm Beach, Florida and officially open, the Top of the Needle (the first revolving restaurant in the United States,) atop the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington.

The President was so high on drugs that he did not realize that he wasn't in Seattle at the time.

April 21, 1997 -
Ashes of Timothy Leary and Gene Roddenberry launched into orbit (This marked the beginning of the space funeral industry.)

I guess this is the highest Dr. Leary will ever get.

April 21, 2003 -
Nina Simone, dubbed the high priestess of soul, died in France on this date.

Kids go out and buy one of her CD's, your life will be better for it.

And so it goes.

Friday, April 20, 2012

It's seems like the rule of threes might be in effect

Drums just always sounded like the most fun part of that good music for me.

Mark Lavon "Levon" Helm, musician and actor, lost his battle with throat cancer yesterday. He was 71.

If you or your kid cuts work or school today, lock up the snacks. They may come home with a case of the munchies.

If they were out celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Klara Hitler's bouncing baby little evil bastard named Adolf on this date in 1889, smack them hard across the back of the head.

If they were celebrating the anniversary of the Columbine attack, have them talk to Brian,

That's all we're gonna say.

April 20, 1977 -
Annie Hall, at 93 minutes, the shortest color film to ever win the Best Picture Oscar, premiered on this date (Marty, in glorious B & W was 91 minutes.)

The first rough cut ran 2 hours and 20 minutes. One scene cut from the film is a fantasy sequence of Annie and Alvy visiting hell. This scene was rewritten 20 years later for Woody Allen's film Deconstructing Harry.

Today in History:
April 20, 1233 -
Pope Gregory IX places the Inquisition, in existence since 1227, under the aegis of the Dominican Order on this date. Torture is apparently sometimes necessary to save souls, and the office continues to exist today as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

And until a few years ago, the congregation was headed by Prefect Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

April 20, 1979 -
President Jimmy Carter is attacked by a Killer Swamp Rabbit, while on vacation in Plains GA. The rabbit swam menacingly towards him, and he had to repel the ferocious creature with a paddle. There were no injuries.

Press Secretary Jody Powell leaked the story to the press, and the White House had a lot of explaining to do.

April 20, 1992 -
Alone in his apartment watching TV, British comedic legend Benny Hill suffered a fatal heart attack on this date.

His bloated toupee-less body with his underwear around his ankles were found four days later

April 20, 2010 -
While drilling at the Macondo Prospect, an explosion on the rig, Deepwater Horizon, caused by a blowout killed 11 crewmen and ignited a fireball visible from 35 miles away. The resulting fire could not be extinguished and, on this date, Deepwater Horizon sank, leaving the well gushing at the sea floor and causing the largest offshore oil spill in United States history.

BP announced on April 18, 2012 that it has reached a class-action settlement with attorneys representing thousands of businesses and individuals who made claims after the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Still to be approved by the Federal judge presiding over the case, BP estimates that it will total about $7.8 billion, including associated costs and expenses. The case is far from over and the final cost to BP will probably be higher.

And so it goes

One Last Thing - Here another video from my favorite poster on Youtube - C.G.P. Grey:

But we could spend all day going over the lies your teacher told you.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

New Year's Eve will certainly be different

If you want to stay young looking, pick your parents very carefully.

America's Oldest Teenager, Dick Clark suffered a fatal heart attack yesterday. He was 82.

April 19, 1961 -
Frederico Fellini's iconic, La Dolce Vita, premiered in the United States on this date.

The famous scene in the Trevi Fountain was shot in March, when nights were still cold. Federico Fellini said in an interview that Anita Ekberg stood in the cold water in her dress for hours without any trouble. Marcello Mastroianni, on the other hand, had to wear a wetsuit beneath his clothes, and even that wasn't enough. Still freezing, he downed an entire bottle of vodka, so that he was completely drunk while shooting the scene.

April 19, 1978 -
The Patti Smith Group released the song Because the Night on this date.

Smith was hesitant to use a song written by someone else, but changed her mind when she heard Bruce Springsteen's demo.

Today in History:
April 19, 1775 -
Alerted by Paul Revere the American Revolutionary War began at Lexington Common with the Battle of Lexington-Concord. on this date. Eight Minutemen were killed and 10 wounded in an exchange of musket fire with British Redcoats.

In New York, Lexington seems to have won as there is no Concord Avenue.

April 19, 1824 -
Notorious drug user, buggerer, sister sleeping, club footed man about Europe, oh yeah, and poet, Lord George Gordon Byron, died from malaria fever in Greece on this date.

His body is set back to England for burial (his heart, literally remains in his beloved Greece, buried under a tree in Messolonghi) but he is so infamous that neither the deans of Westminster and St Paul's will accept his body for proper burial. His family at last buries him in a small fault vault in Northern England.

April 19, 1906 -
It was a rainy day in Paris. One of those days that song writers write about. Nobel-winning chemist Pierre Curie was in a hurry and preoccupied. He tried to run across the street and did not look both ways. He slipped, and then was hit and run over by a horse drawn vehicle. His skull was badly fractured.

Kids' once again - Your mother is always right. Just because you're a Nobel winning - look both ways before crossing.

April 19, 1927 -
Mae West, suspected transvestite, was jailed, on this date, for her performance in Sex, the Broadway play she wrote, directed, and starred in. She was sentenced to ten days in prison. While incarcerated on Roosevelt Island, she was allowed to wear her silk panties instead of the scratchy prison issue and the warden reportedly took her to dinner every night.

She served eight days with two days off for good behavior. Media attention to the case enhanced her career - it didn't make her change her act, but it did bring her national notoriety—and helped make her one of Hollywood's most memorable, and quotable, stars.

She said: "I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it."

April 19, 1927 -
Cecil B. Demille's silent-film version of The King of Kings premiered on this date.

This film features author Ayn Rand as one of the hundreds of people in a crowd. At a time when Rand was a struggling immigrant, Cecil B. DeMille gave her the job to help get her on her feet.

April 19, 1946 -
Raymond Chandler's film-noir classic The Blue Dahlia premiered on this date.

Shortly after this film released, a young woman named Elizabeth Short was murdered in Los Angeles. The local newspapers dubbed the case the Black Dahlia as a morbid twist on this film's title. Unlike the movie, the Short murder case is still unsolved.

April 19, 1987 -
The Simpsons make their television debut in the short Good Night a segment for The Tracey Ullman Show.

I wonder whatever happened to The Simpsons.

(Once again, I had to hang around the murky world of the internet underground to get this blurry copy of the clip. I'd like to show you a better version of the clip but the goons, I mean lawyers from Fox would break my legs and I've just about gotten used to walking.)

April 19, 1993 -
More than 80 Branch Davidians burn to death in Waco, Texas as the FBI stages a disastrous final assault on their compound. This brings a sudden end to the 51-day siege.

Janet Reno really learned 'em good.

April 19, 1995 -
At 9:02 am Oklahoma City, USA, a large car bomb exploded at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building killing 168 people, and injuring 500 including many children in the building’s day care center.

Authorities charged Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, with the crime.

Both were convicted.

April 19, 2005 -
Darth Sidious was elected the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church on this date.

At this point, I bet the Pope would be happy if you just thought about his Hitler youth group past (remember try to remember not to mention the whole kids molestation thing at his party.)

And so it goes

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I never think of the future. It comes soon enough

Harvard's most successful 'failure' Conan O'Brien was born on this date

Happy Birthday Coco

Today in History -
It was a tense April in Boston in 1775. The colonists were simmering with resentment toward the motherland, on account of King George III having strewn the colonies with excessive tacks, painful to step on and bothersome to the horses. Furthermore, British cabbies had refused to unionize, and the colonists were adamantly opposed to taxis without representation.

King George III tried to assuage the riled colonists by sending them boatloads of tea. (King George III was insane.) The colonists dressed up like Indians and poured all the king’s tea into Boston harbor, proving they could be perfectly insane without any help from the king.

Meanwhile, a network of colonists had been secretly meeting for some time. They reasoned that since they preferred coffee to tea, liked salad before rather than after the entree, and couldn’t make any sense whatever of cricket, they were obviously no longer British. Perhaps they had become French, or Portuguese. Finally they took a vote, which proved they were American.

The king’s colonial representatives overheard some of these discussions, and decided to arrest as many of these patriots as possible, unless they could kill them first.

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere, (William Dawes and Samuel Prescott) got wind of the British officers’ plan to arrest John Hancock and Sam Adams in Lexington that very night--arrests that would have been calamitous to the colony’s fledgling insurance and beer industries.

Anticipating colonial unrest, British officers had deployed Regulars on all the key roads between Boston and Lexington. (The Regulars had previously proved effective even where the Irregulars and Extra Longs had failed.)

Revere told some friends to hang two lanterns in Boston’s Old North Church, in order to signal his wife that he’d be late for dinner, and immediately set out for Charlestown. Once there, he mounted a horse and began the ride to Lexington.

He found himself almost immediately pursued by Regulars, whom he eluded by means of wily Boston riding tactics: he took a series of lefts from the right lane and a series of rights from the left, utterly confounding his pursuers, who were anyway accustomed to riding on the other side of the street and still weren’t sure what to do at a blinking red light. One of the Regulars rode straight into a fruit stand and ended up covered in produce. Another rode through a big plate glass window that two workmen were carrying across the road. It was pretty funny.

Just before midnight, Revere finally arrived at Jonas Clarke’s Lexington home, where he breathlessly informed Adams and Hancock that the British were coming. This confounded Adams and Hancock, who, like Revere, were themselves British.

Once the confusion was cleared up, Adams and Hancock fled for safety while Revere and two others rushed on to Concord. Many memorable and important historical events ensued, such as the American Revolution, but by then it was April 19th, and therefore no longer appropriate to this date's entry.

Although Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem immortalized Paul Revere alone. Revere was the least heroic, he was captured by British patrols and held for awhile before he was released without his horse.

Please indulge your local tea party members today (they think it's the Fourth of July.)

April 18, 1906 -
A devastating earthquake struck San Francisco at 5:13 a.m., followed by a major aftershock three hours later. More than 3,000 people are killed from either collapsing structures or any of the 59 separate fires which burn over the next three days.

In the downtown area, the U.S. Army is forced to dynamite whole city blocks in order to contain the flames, due to the lack of water pressure.

April 18, 1955 -
Nobel Prize recipient Albert Einstein died in his hospital bed from a ruptured aortic aneurysm on this date.

Seven hours later, Dr. Thomas Harvey, chief pathologist at Princeton Hospital, performed Albert Einstein’s autopsy. He removed the brain and took it home. Thus began a 40 year journey of "They Stole Einstein's Brain".

April 18, 1983 -
62 people are killed and more than 100 injured in a suicide bombing against the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. The attacker used a van packed with one ton of high explosives.. Included among the dead is the CIA's entire Middle East bureau.

The group Islamic Jihad claims responsibility, although the intelligence community believes it was actually the work of Hezbollah.

April 18, 1988 -
American auto worker John Demjanjuk is convicted of crimes against humanity by an Israeli court. They determined that he was Treblinka's notorious Ivan the Terrible. The court sentences him to hang one week later, but the conviction is later overturned when it appears to have been a case of mistaken identity.

In 2002, a U..S. federal court later strips Demjanjuk of his citizenship after it rules that he did in fact work as a Nazi prison guard, although at Sobibor, Majdanek, and Flossenburg. On May 11 2009, Demjanjuk left his Cleveland home by ambulance, and was taken to the airport, where he was deported by plane to Germany. Starting in late 2009, his trial began in Munich on charges he helped kill 29,000 Jews as a Nazi prison guard at the Sobibor death camp in 1943. on May 12, 2011, Ivan Mykolaiovych Demianiuk was convicted as an accessory to the murder of 27,900 Jews and sentenced to five years in prison.

Mr. Demjanjuk died on March 17, 2012, still attempting to appeal his case. Since his appeal was not heard at the time of his death, his conviction was invalidated and he died without a criminal record.

And so it goes