Friday, August 31, 2012

Now I'm no longer alone

Tonight there will be the second full month this month,



therefore, that means it’s a Blue Moon month.


Now we know who speaks for the Wall Street Tycoots - The Conservative Lorax



The more you know, the more you'll have sympathy for the one percenters.


August 31, 1929 -
RKO released the musical film-short St. Louis Blues, starring singer Bessie Smith, on this date.



This short film starring Bessie Smith was built around the blues singer's song of the same title. It is the only footage of her in existence.


August 31, 1945 -
Let's all wish the intensely  litigious and curmudgeonly, George Ivan Morrison, singer and songwriter, happy birthday.





Van the Man, is still the greatest living blue-eyed soul singer.


August 31, 1946 -
Howard Hawks' version of Raymond Chandlers classic Marlowe yarn (William Faulkner was one of the screen writers), The Big Sleep, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, was put into general release on this date.



Due to Humphrey Bogart's affair with co-star Lauren Bacall, his marital problems escalated during filming, and his drinking often resulted in his being unable to work. Three months after the film was finished, Bacall and Bogart were married.


August 31, 1948 -
Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands celebrated her Golden Jubilee on this date.


Los Angeles police arrested actor Robert Mitchum, for years the coolest cat in Hollywood, for marijuana possession on this date, as well. He later received a 60-day sentence (You figure out the connection.)


August 31, 1957 -
Why, those dirty crooks! Someone oughta teach 'em that crime doesn't pay, and it looks like that someone's gonna be me.



This second Looney Tunes with Rocky and Mugsy, Bugsy and Mugsy, was released on this date.


August 31, 1957 -
Life's an adolescence from time to time








Glenn Tilbrook, singer, guitarist and with his writing partner Chris Difford, formed the pop group, Squeeze, was born on this date.


August 31, 1987 -
Epic/CBS Records released the Michael Jackson album, BAD on this date.



An 18 minute video of the title song, written by novelist and screenwriter Richard Price and directed by Martin Scorsese, debuted on CBS TV on this same day, as well.


Today in History -
Gaius Caesar Caligula was born on August 31 in the year 12 AD. Caligula succeeded Tiberius in the year 37, and his reign was most notable for its policy of Sex with the Emperor.



(Please note - this guy not only slept with the unwilling wives of senators and his sisters, he married his horse and tried to have him made a god.) This turned out to have been a weak Political Philosophy, because the Romans all had classical educations and saw right through him.



So they killed him.


August 31, 1422 -
Henry V of England, one of the great warrior kings of the Middle Ages, died suddenly of dysentery on this date. He was 34 at the time.


At the time of his death, Henry had not only consolidated power as the King of England but had also effectively accomplished what generations of his ancestors had failed to achieve through decades of war: unification of the crowns of England and France in a single person.




In 2002 he was ranked 72nd in the 100 Greatest Britons poll. And yet, lack of proper sanitary conditions carried him away. Let this be a lesson to us all - wash your hands after visiting the rest room.


August 31, 1879 -
Alma Maria Schindler, noted in her native Vienna for her beauty and intelligence, was born on this date.



In her youth she was an aspiring composer. But that not why I bring her up. She was the wife, successively, of the composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius, and novelist Franz Werfel, and lover to the painter Oskar Kokoschka. Rather than try to encapsulate the story of this very busy woman,



Listen to Tom Lehrer's song Alma, which nicely gives you the gist of her life.


August 31, 1919 -
Workers of the world unite!

In Chicago, journalist John Reed established the American Communist Labor Party, on this date,



providing entertainment for Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover for decades.


August 31, 1976 -
George Harrison was found guilty of unintentionally plagiarizing My Sweet Lord .





Those damn Beatles could never come up with an original tune.


August 31, 1977 -
Ian Smith, espousing racial segregation, won the Rhodesian general election with 80% of overwhelmingly white electorate's vote.



Oops.


August 31, 1997 -
On August 28, 1997, My wife and I were coming out of the revolving doors at the Ritz Hotel in Paris and a very famous couple were coming in. A few days later on this date, a charming, slightly addled, beautiful divorcee with two children decides to take a car ride with her very rich Middle Eastern boyfriend and his very drunk driver. She makes the fatal mistake of not buckling her seat belt and paid a very heavy toll.



So ended the glamorous and controversial life of Diana Spencer Mountbatten-Windsor.

Kids, if you don't want to end up dying in the backseat of a black 1994 Mercedes-Benz W140 in a road tunnel in Paris - BUCKLE UP.



And so it goes .

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Yes, that line forms on the right, babe

August 30, 1959 -
Bobby Darin's jazzy interpretation of Mack The Knife began its 26-week stay on the pop-singles charts.



This won Record Of The Year at the 2nd Grammy Awards in 1959. This was the first time the Grammys were televised, and back then the ceremonies took place in November or December instead of February, so when Darin performed this song on the November 30th show and took the award, the song was still at #1 in America. Darin also won for Best New Artist at the ceremonies.


August 30, 1967 -
John Boorman's crime drama thriller, Point Blank, premiered on this date.



This was the first major picture to film on location at Alcatraz Island after the closure of the federal prison in 1963.


August 30, 1968 -
Apple Records released its first single, Hey Jude by The Beatles on this date.



This was the first song released on Apple Records, The record label owned by The Beatles. It was recorded at the Trident Studios, London, on July 31 and August 1, 1968 with a 36 piece orchestra. Orchestra members clapped and sang on the fadeout. They earned double their normal rate for their efforts.


Today in History:
On August 30, in the year 30 BC, Egypt's Queen Cleopatra VI clutched a snake to her breast and died. History has judged this a suicide, but there is room for doubt: she had previously clutched Julius Caesar and Marc Antony to her breast without dying, and may have therefore considered herself immunized.



Dilligent readers will realize that this is the second time in recent months that I have mentioned the death of Cleopatra - the dates came from different sources. (Folks, as I mentioned in the past, the Romans, excellent at empire building and aqueduct making (except for the whole lining the aqueduct with lead), not so great at accurate note taking.  Oh, they can remember that it's dies Iovis, so the orgy is at Marc Antony's villa, remember to bring the olive oil. But remember when the queen of the Egypt killed herself, it's always ... was it in Sextilis or Augustus?)


August 30, 1780 -
General "Eggs" Benedict Arnold secretly promised to surrender the West Point fort to the British army during the American Revolution. The measure of Arnold's treachery was made worse by the fact that he was considered by many to be the best general and most accomplished leader in the Continental Army.



In fact, without Arnold's earlier contributions to the American cause, the American Revolution might well have been lost; notwithstanding, his name, like those of several other prominent traitors throughout history, has become a byword for treason and a brunch staple.


August 30, 1859 -
At the University of Göttingen, PhD candidate Albert Niemann isolates the alkaloid C17H21NO4 from leaves of the plant Erythroxylum coca.


Niemann names his white, powdery discovery cocaine and observes firsthand its peculiarly strong anesthetic effect: "it benumbs the nerves of the tongue, depriving it of feeling and taste."



Oh, that's what cocaine does. Now I know.


August 30, 1918 -
Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin should have been having a great day. Six weeks earlier, Lenin had the previous tenant of Kremlin, Tsar Nicholas II, permanently taken off the lease. After speaking at a factory in Moscow, Lenin was shot twice by Fanya Kaplan, a member of the Social Revolutionary party. Lenin narrowly survived an assassination attempt, but was severely wounded.



As Lenin was a 'godless' communist, he did not turn the other cheek. The assassination attempt set off a wave of reprisals by the Bolsheviks against the Social Revolutionaries and other political opponents. Thousands were executed as Russia fell deeper into civil war.


August 30, 1930 -
Warren Edward Buffett often called the "Sage of Omaha", "Oracle of Omaha", or "Omaha Steak", American investor, businessperson and philanthropist is born on this date. Buffett has amassed an enormous fortune from astute investments managed through the holding company Berkshire Hathaway, of which he is the largest shareholder and CEO.



With an estimated current net worth of around $44 billion, he was ranked by Forbes as the third-richest person in the world as of March 2012, behind Bill Gates and Mexican businessman Carlos Slim Helú.

I, on the other hand, did not make a blip on the list.


August 30, 1993 -
The Late Show with David Letterman premiered on this date, on CBS-TV.



Bill Murray was his first guest and Billy Joel was the first musical guest.



And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Synchronicity at work

Today is both Whisky Sour Day and Lemon Day!



Isn't it wonderful when you can see the cosmic plan at work?


August 29, 1915 -
Ingrid Bergman, the Swedish three-time Academy Award, two-time Emmy Award, and Tony Award - winner was born (and died in 1982) on this date.



Attempts were made by Hollywood producers to change her name in 1939, with possibilities discussed such as Ingrid Berriman and Ingrid Lindstrom (actually her legal married name). Bergman refused, in part because she felt she had worked too hard to establish herself as an actress in Europe under her real name.


August 29, 1920 -
Charles Christopher "Bird" Parker, jazz saxophonist and composer was born on this date.



Literary critic Harold Bloom once wrote, "If God appeared in 19th Century America, it was as Ralph Waldo Emerson. In the 20th Century it would have been as Charlie Parker."


August 29, 1953 -
Warner Brothers introduced Speedy Gonzalez in the cartoon Cat-Tails for Two on this date.



While this is the first cartoon featuring the character Speedy Gonzales, his depiction here is vastly different from the character he would later become. It wasn't until his second appearance, Speedy Gonzales (two years later,) that he was re-designed as the character we know him as today.


August 29, 1964 -
Roy Orbison’s single, (Oh,) Pretty Woman, was released on this date.



In 1964 the song sold more records in its first ten days in release than any other 45rpm single in history.


August 29, 1964 -
Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins opened on this date. This is first movie I ever saw (but not on this date.)



Walt Disney first attempted to purchase the film rights from P.L. Travers as early as 1938. Travers rejected his advances as she didn't believe a film version would do justice to her creation. Another reason for her initial rejection would have been that at that time the Disney studios had not yet produced a live action film. P.L. Travers finally relented and sold the film rights to Walt Disney in 1961, although she retained script approval rights.


August 29, 1967 -
ABC's television ratings soared through the roof as David Janssen and Barry Morse starred in the final episode of The Fugitive on this date.



David Janssen and Barry Morse for fun plotted out a spoof ending for the show - in the epilogue the camera focuses on a house at night, pans to the upper bedroom, where a man suddenly bolts awake, and it is Richard Kimble. Kimble shakes awake his companion - his wife Helen - and tells her, "Oh honey, I just had the worst nightmare." This plot device would later be used on the television series Dallas and also Newhart.


Today in History:
August 29, 29/30AD (Once again, Romans were too busy with their orgies and draining lead-lined wine goblets to accurately document events of the day.)
John the Baptist (cousin of the itinerant carpenter of Nazareth) received a severe haircut from King Herod, because his teenage step-daughter, Salome, couldn't keep her shorts on while dancing.



Children are always such a handful.


August 29, 1533 -
Atahualpa, the last Incan Emperor, discovered on this date, that the European exploration of the new world was not going to go well for the indigenous people. Francisco Pizarro, one in a long line of Spanish conquistadors arrived in the Andes, with a bible in one hand and a sword in the other.  Atahualpa was quickly captured by the Spanish and held for ransom.  After paying an immense ransom for his release (a room, 22 ft by 17 ft by 8 ft high, once filled with gold and twice with silver within two months), Pizarro decided it was better to kill his hostage and keep the random.



Atahualpa was condemned to be burnt at the stake - which was anathematic since the Inca believed that the soul would not be able to go on to the afterlife if the body were burned.  Atahualpa offered and paid an additional random to be ritualistically garroted after a proper Christian baptism, which occured on this date in 1533.

And in keeping with the true spirit of diplomacy, Pizarro had Atahualpa corpse burned afterwards. 


More on Political Philosophy ...
John Locke was born on August 29, 1632. Mr. Locke was a political philosopher, and many of his ideas found their way into the American Constitution.



He is best known for his essay concerning human understanding, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which remains famous to this day as the shortest essay ever written.

Another important political philosopher was born this week: Jean Baptiste Colbert was born on August 29, 1619.


Colbert was the finance minister to King Louis XIV of France. His own Political Philosophy consisted of a big pile of money. This was a very effective politics, and therefore deemed insufficiently philosophical, which is why you tend to hear more about Locke and Hegel.


August 29, 1896 -
The Chinese-American dish Chop Suey was invented in New York City by the chef to visiting Chinese Ambassador Li Hung-chang on this date.



Here is one of those bright dividing lines: if you know what chop suey is - you're old. If you've tasted chop suey - you're really old.


August 29, 1958 -
Michael Joseph Jackson, the self-crowned King of Pop was born on this date.





He has achieved the dubious distinction of being in the number one position on Forbes magazine's list of "Top-Earning Dead Celebrities", two years in a row. Last year, Jackson's posthumous earnings were $170 million dollars.


August 29, 1966 -
The Beatles perform their last concert before paying fans at in San Francisco on this date.



The performance marked the end of a four-year period dominated by touring and concerts including nearly sixty U.S. appearances and over one thousand four hundred internationally.


August 29, 2005
Hurricane Katrina devastates much of the U.S. Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle. The death toll eventually reached at least 1,600. An estimated 300 Louisiana residents died out of state; some 230 people perished in Mississippi. Property damage estimates were in the hundreds of billions of dollars.


The name Katrina was officially retired on April 6, 2006 by the World Meteorological Organization at the request of the U.S. government. The name will never again be used for another North Atlantic hurricane.

It's still strange that Isaac is hitting Louisiana today.



And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It all goes by, one frame at a time

Off Book, PBS' web series about art has another episode.  This week's is an overview of Animation



If you have some time, why not check out some of the other episodes here.


August 28, 1930 -
... Hooray for Captain Spaulding, the African explorer! ...

The Marx Brothers second outing at Paramount, Animal Crackers, opened on this date.



After this film, the Brothers always thought of Margaret Dumont as "Mrs. Rittenhouse".


August 28, 1946 -
Universal's film-noir classic version of Ernest Hemingway's story, The Killers, premiered in NYC on this date.



This was Burt Lancaster's first important movie role. He was the third choice for the part of The Swede, and was signed only after actors Wayne Morris and Sonny Tufts proved unavailable. Lancaster was an ex-circus acrobat from Union City, New Jersey. When producer Mark Hellinger saw the first rushes of Lancaster's performance in a private screening room, he was so pleased that he yelled "So help me, may all my actors be acrobats!"


August 28, 1951 -
Paramount's second film version based on Theodore Dreiser's novel, An American Tragedy, A Place in the Sun, opened in NYC on this date.



George Stevens often referred to Technicolor as having an "Oh what a beautiful morning" quality to it, something completely inappropriate to the tone of this film, hence it was made in black and white.


Today in History:
Today is believed to be the date in 476 A.D. when the Western Roman Empire, which had lasted for almost 500 years, came to an end as Emperor Romulus Augustulus was deposed by a barbarian. (Well, his father, Orestes, the real power behind the throne, was executed on this date - he, Augustulus, relinquished the throne on September 4, 476 and disappeared into obscurity.)


Historians have been theorizing about the causes of the fall of Rome ever since. Edward Gibbon's book The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776) put forward the idea that the Christian Church was to blame. After Christianity became the official religion of the empire, the best and the brightest leaders became leaders of the church rather than leaders of the government or the military. Another theory is that the aqueducts, which carried the water supply, were lined with lead, and so the Romans slowly went crazy. Some geologists believe that the eruption of Mount Vesuvius released so much ash into the air that it ruined Roman agriculture and weakened the empire. One of the more recent theories is that the Roman army had been infiltrated by the barbarians themselves.



But whatever the cause, the fall of Rome actually wasn't the catastrophic event most people think it was. So-called barbarian rulers kept most of the basic laws in place, Latin remained the official language of government, everyone remained Christian and orgies continued but in private.


August 28, 1837 -
Pharmacists John Lea and William Perrins began commercially manufacturing Worcestershire Sauce on this date, based on an Indian recipe brought to them by Lord Marcus Sandys -- an ex-governor of Bengal.



If they told you the recipe (it contains anchovies), they'd have to kill you.


August 28, 1898 -
Pharmacist Caleb Davis Bradham created a beverage, he believed would aid in digestion and boost energy, calling it "Brad's Drink," on this date in .



He later renamed it Pepsi-Cola, after "pepsin" and the kola nut used to flavor the drink.

And still made with no cocaine.


August 28, 1907 -
Two teenagers, Jim Casey and Claude Ryan decide to start the American Messenger Company in Seattle, on this date. The company's name was later changed to the United Parcel Service.


Hopefully you have those tracking numbers available, some of those packages will arrive soon.


August 28, 1922 -
The first radio commercial aired on WEAF in New York City (WEAF stood for Water, Earth, Air and Fire.)


It was a 10-minute advertisement for the Queensboro Realty Co., which had paid $100.  Programming must have really stunk if people listened to a 10 minute commercial.


August 28, 1938 -
Charlie McCarthy (Edgar Bergen’s wooden partner ) received the first degree given to a ventriloquist’s dummy on this date.


The honorary degree, “Master of Innuendo and Snappy Comeback,” was presented on radio by Ralph Dennis, the dean of the School of Speech at Northwestern University.

I wrote my dissertation on. "Oh, that's what for dinner." And I earned my degree without someone's hand up my back.


August 28, 1963 -
During a 200,000-person civil rights rally in at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his famous "I have a dream speech".



The speech, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement.


August 28, 1982 -
Two crazy kids got married on this date.


Some of the people who were at that wedding are still alive. Some of them are unfortunately not. Some of them have gotten married (even to each other.) Others are not. Some of them had children. Some did not.

Thirty years later, those two crazy kids are still alive, married and have children.

Happy Anniversary Mary.


August 28, 1996 -
Unfortunately for others, the fairy tale has a very unhappy ending,


Britons Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales, were divorced on this date.



One year later, almost to the day, Diana, would have a very nasty accident in an Paris underpass.



And so it goes

Monday, August 27, 2012

An important PSA from your friends at ACME:

Most people have learned to watch their cholesterol and blood pressure, but how many Americans really know how to protect themselves against assassination? Not many. And yet, each year, millions of people are killed by assassins.

It’s tragic because these are needless deaths, almost all of which could have been prevented. I have found on the internet, a few simple precautions can help ensure that no assassin’s bullet will ever have your name on it:

a) First, get plenty of exercise, eat plenty of vegetables, and avoid being born into royalty.
b) Don’t be president, prime minister, or other Top Person.
c) Don’t create a military junta or mastermind a coup.
d) Don’t say or write anything that might be considered disparaging by anyone with their own military junta.
e) Do not found a religion.
f) Do not oppose a religion.
g) If your parents are gods, dismember them.
h) If your children are gods, devour them.
i) Excel at nothing.
j) Stay indoors.
k) Always call shotgun when driving with suicide car-bombers.


Today is the feast day honoring the patron saint of all Jewish mothers and those with disappointing children.


It's the feast day of St. Monica of Hippo. Monica, who was originally from Wart Hog and moved to the better neighborhood of Hippo, was known as a virtuous woman. Much to her disappointment, she was also the mother of St. Augustine. She continually encouraged (nagged) her son (the lazy bum) about his debauched ways until she successfully convinced him to convert to Christianity.


August 27, 1882 -
Schmuel Gelbfisz, (Samuel Goldwyn), glove maker, sales man and pioneer filmmaker was born in Warsaw, Poland on this date.



His sayings, sometimes known as "Goldwynisms," were famous for their unintentional wit, which was partially as a result of his somewhat limited understanding of the English language that surfaced when he tried to comment on certain situations. There are many examples of this, such as "Include me out" or "a verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on.".


August 27, 1916 -
Martha Raye, singer, actor, denture wearer was born in Butte, Montana, on this date.



Martha left the bulk of her estate to Mark Harris, but left some money to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Harris spent a portion of his money designing a line of furs.


August 27, 1947 -
20th Century Fox's classic film-noir, crime-drama, Kiss of Death, premiered on this date.



Originally, Patricia Morison played Victor Mature's wife, who is attacked and raped by a gangster who is supposed to be watching out for her while Mature is in prison, and afterwards commits suicide by sticking her head in the kitchen oven and turning on the gas. Both scenes were cut from the original print at the insistence of the censors, who wanted no depiction of either a rape or a suicide, so although Morison's name appears in the credits, she does not appear in the film at all.


August 27, 1961 -
Francis the Talking Mule was mystery guest on 'What's My Line' on this date.



I'd forgotten about this episode when I mentioned that I thought Alana Thompson (the Honey Boo Boo  nightmare) was the nadir of television.



Today in History:
August 27, 410 -
In case you were keeping score, the Sack of Rome still continued unabated. The orgies were winding down as everything that moved had been used. The Visigoths were forced to engage in unnatural acts with staturary.


For those of you with a more genteel nature, I'll won't tell you where his fist actual went.


Political Philosophy has caused more human death and suffering than any other disease. No inoculations exist. Outbreaks are sudden and almost always fatal. Political Philosophy strikes young and old alike, healthy and sickly, nimble and clumsy, lefty and righty. By the time its symptoms are visible, you have very little time to protect yourself. Popular referendums will only exacerbate the problem.

Emigrate at once.

Case studies:

On August 27, 1793, the Committee of Public Safety in Paris, France, accepted its newest member, Maximilien Robespierre.


Robespierre soon rose to prominence on the basis of his Political Philosophy, the Guillotine, which was quicker than Inalienable Rights and more readily understood than Separation of Powers.

On August 27, 1770, Georg William Hegel was born on this date. Georg's family was so poor that they couldn't afford the second 'e' in his first name. Hegel was also a kind of political philosopher.


He believed in theses and antitheses and that sooner or later everyone ended up in Synthetics. Unfortunately there was no way to test his theory, as this was well before the invention of polyester.


August 27, 1952 -
Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman) American actor, writer, comedian and public onanist was born on this date.



Reubens credits pioneer TV children's show host Pinky Lee as a partial inspiration for his "Pee-Wee Herman" character. Like Reubens, Lee also wore a tight checked suit and hat as part of his characterization.


August 27, 1967 -
Brian Epstein, the man who discovered the Beatles and guided them to mega-stardom, died at his London residence, from an overdose of sleeping pills.



Many critics believe this traumatic event ultimately lead to the Beatles breakup.



And so it goes.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's National Dog Day (not Hot Dog Day, mind you.)

I have no problem with a holiday celebrating pets. National Dog Day reminds potential dog owners to adopt their dogs from shelters, rather than buying from pet stores.



But why isn't it celebrated during the dog days of summer?


Neil Armstrong, 82, the first man to walk on the moon, died from complications of recent heart surgery, yesterday.



The family also left the world with this advice:

    For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.


Charmin is sponsoring National Toilet Paper Day today:

According to the online Toilet Paper Encyclopedia:

*   69 % of people name toilet paper as the 20th Century "convenience" most taken for granted.
*   49 % choose toilet paper as their "necessity" if stranded on a deserted island.
*   72 % of people hang the roll with sheets going 'over' not under.
*   Wiping your nose is the second most common use for toilet paper. The first is obvious.
*   In public restrooms, it takes an average of 71 people to use one entire roll.

The day is actually based on a real event.



The Chinese took a break from inventing everything else and found time to create TP on this date in 580 AD. They were far too serious to be messing around with any old orgies not to note the correct date.


Today is the Feast of The Transverberation of St. Teresa of Avila (again, find an old lady saying her rosary in church to explain it to you.)



If you find yourself in Rome, run, do not walk, to see the Santa Maria della Vittoria Church. It houses one of the most amazing statues - The Ecstasy of St. Teresa by Bernini.



The statues depict a moment described by Saint Teresa of Avila in her autobiography, where she had the vivid vision of an angel piercing her heart with a golden shaft, over and over again, causing her both immense joy and pain. The flowing robes and contorted posture abandon classical restraint and repose to depict a more passionate, almost voluptuous trance.

Such is my obsession with religion.


August 26, 1953 -
Considered to be one of the great science fiction films of the 1950s, George Pal's The War of the Worlds was released on this date.



Cecil B. DeMille was due to direct the film when the rights were originally purchased in 1925 and Alfred Hitchcock was to direct a proposed version in the 1930s. Cecil B. DeMille's personal choice to produce the film after Alfred Hitchcock declined to direct the film was George Pal, who was renowned for his Puppetoon animation technique and two earlier live-action sci-fi films: Destination Moon and When Worlds Collide.


Today in History:
August 21, 1498 -
A statue was commissioned for the tomb in St. Peters of the French cardinal Jean de Billheres (who was a representative in Rome), on this date.



Michelangelo (23 at the time) won the commission to make the Pieta.


August 26, 1743 -
Antoine Laurent Lavoisier was born on this date. Dr. Lavoisier discovered oxygen but not on this date; he was usually too busy celebrating his birthday.



The discovery was a great boon to science, as it enabled Breathing, without which many subsequent scientific advances would have been impossible.


August 26, 1883 -



Krakatoa erupted, between Java and Sumatra. The two-day eruption and related tidal waves killed 36,000 people and destroyed two thirds of the island. (Yeah, yeah, I know, Krakatoa is West of Java.)



On a lighter note, "Krakatoa" sounds like "cracked a toe, huh?" and can be used in many humorous puns.


August 26, 1920 -
US Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.


American women win the right to vote as the 19th Amendment to the U-S Constitution takes effect on this date .



Most women opposed the amendment, on the grounds that they had suffered enough already, but it passed anyway since only men could vote.


August 26, 1957 -
The first Edsel, named Edsel for Henry Ford's son, Edsel Bryant Ford, made by the Ford Motor Company rolls off the assembly line on this date.



110,847 of the cars are built before Ford pulls the plug due to lack of sales.


A message for those readers down in Florida - make sure you stock up on supply for the impending storm, Hurricane Isaac - buy your alcohol in convenient gallon sized jugs. Also, flood waters may contain raw sewage. DO NOT use in your cocktails. Drink everything neat.


If you're interested - I've gotten around to posting another Desert Island Disc conversation with one of my friends (sorry for the delay.)



And so it goes.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Another clear voice of reason heard from

Bill Nye, Science Guy



Unfortunately, those who need to hear Mr'.s Nye's words - will not.


It's the birthday of Declan Patrick MacManus, one of the most prolific musicians of the late 20th Century.



In addition to recordings as "Elvis Costello" (often backed by The Attractions), has recorded music as "Declan MacManus", "Napoleon Dynamite & The Royal Guard", "The Coward Brothers" (with T-Bone Burnett), "Nick Lowe & His Sound", "The Emotional Toothpaste" and "The Imposter".


August 25, 1962 -
Little Eva record The Loco-Motion topped the charts on this date.



The husband and wife songwriting team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin wrote this song. Eva Boyd was 16 at the time and was the babysitter for their daughter Louise. Her salary was $35 dollars a week. Her earnings from The Locomotion were reported to be around $30,000.00.


August 25, 1975 -
Bruce Springsteen's third album Born to Run was released on this date.



This album was Springsteen's breakthrough and came at the crossroads of his career. His first two albums sold poorly and Columbia Records might have dropped him if he did not produce a hit.

   
August 25, 1986 -
WEA Records released Paul Simon's award-winning Graceland album on this date.



This was Simon's most successful album, selling over 15 million copies and winning a Grammy for Album of the Year. It also caused a firestorm of controversy over his recording with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and other South African musicians, which was a violation of a UN-approved cultural boycott, which had been in effect since December 1980.


Today in History:
The Council of Nicaea ended on August 25, 325, resulting in the Nicene Creed. This established the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which proved that the Father and Son were not two, but three and therefore one. This controversial creed alienated many math teachers from the church.


Its repercussions eventually caused a Schism, which caused Infidels, which caused considerable bloodshed and ultimately resulted in more Political Philosophy.


August 25, 1718 -
French colonists, led by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur De Bienville, established the Louisiana settlement and fortress of Nouvelle Orleans.




In honor of the Big Easy, flash a cop on horseback.


August 25, 1830 -
The 'Tom Thumb' steam locomotive, designed by Peter Cooper, ran the famous first race between a locomotive and a horse-drawn vehicle, over a nine mile stretch, between Relay and Baltimore, Maryland.



The locomotive was off to a promising start, but broke down, and the horse won .


August 25, 1835 -
The New York Sun publishes stunning revelations that Sir John Hershel, having built a new superpowerful telescope, had observed little men living on the surface of the moon.



The stories, now generally believed to be false, brought the paper record circulation.


August 25, 1900 -



No, Nietzsche is dead, on this date.



God finds this very amusing.


August 25, 1901 -
Clara Maass, a 25 year old army nurse, volunteered for an experiment to prove that the mosquito carries yellow fever.


Unfortunately for her, the experiment proved successful and Maass died. Her death roused public sentiment and put an end to yellow fever experiments on humans.


August 25, 1925 -
The Sleeping Car Porters' Union was established by A. Phillip Randolph,



a political malcontent who'd been agitating for reform ever since his ejection from the Wide Awake Car Porters' Union.


August  25, 1944 -
Paris, occupied since June 1940, was liberated from German occupation by Free French Forces under General Jacques LeClerc and his 2nd Tank division on this date.



Although ordered by Adolf Hitler to leave Paris a smoldering ruin, Paris' military governor Major General Dietrich von Cholitz lied to his superiors and left the city's landmarks intact.  I bet Hitler wasn't a happy camper today.



August 25, 1967
George Lincoln Rockwell, the leader of the American Nazi Party, was relieved of his duties by means of the usual Nazi method: he was shot to bloody hell on this date.


Former party member John Patler was later convicted of the killing.



And so it goes.

Friday, August 24, 2012

This could mean trouble

Secret video has been smuggled out of a Russian military camp -



Yes, Putin is having his troops train in the deadly art of pillow to pillow combat.


August 24, 1937 -
William Wyler's crime-drama film, Dead End, premiered in NYC on this date.



Although she only appears for one scene that lasts a little under five minutes, Claire Trevor won an Oscar nomination for her performance as Francie, the prostitute. In order to get past the censors, all references to Francie's "profession" were veiled (although it was mentioned in the original play on which the film was based), even the fact that she was suffering from the late stages of syphilis, which was never mentioned by name.


August 24, 1966 -
One of the quintessential films of the 60's, Alfie, opened in the US on this date.



Several well-known actors (including Richard Harris, Laurence Harvey and Anthony Newley) turned down the title role due to the then taboo subject matter of abortion. Despite having played "Alfie" on Broadway, Terence Stamp categorically declined to reprise the role on film, thus giving his good friend and then roommate Michael Caine the breakthrough role of his career.


August 24, 1966 -
The (still surprising good) sci-fi film, Fantastic Voyage, premiered on this date.



Medical schools, at least as late as the 1980s, would show clips from this film to illustrate various concepts in human anatomy, physiology, and especially immunology.


It is believed that the original potato chip recipe was created by chef George Crum, at Moon's Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York, on August 24, 1853.



He was fed up with a customer (the popular myth wrongly identifies him as Cornelius Vanderbilt) who continued to send his fried potatoes back, claiming that they were too thick and soggy. Crum decided to slice the potatoes so thin that they couldn't be eaten with a fork, nor fried normally in a pan, so he decided to stir-fry the potato slices. Against Crum's expectation, the guest was ecstatic about the new chips. They became a regular item on the lodge's menu under the name Saratoga Chips. They soon became popular throughout New York and New England.

You don't want to know how Crum got the vinegar flavor for that damn chip.


August 24, 1968 -
The Rascals song People Got to Be Free topped the charts on this date.



Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records briefly blocked the single's release as he thought the Rascals' career would be hurt by a political record.


August 24, 79 –
The cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were fired by Mount Vesuvius. Vesuvius, ever the vengeful volcano god buried those happening Roman vacation spots, apparently to punish the debauchery that made the towns famous. Tens of thousands of people perished only to have plaster casts made centuries later of the hollows their bodies once occupied.



Once again, People, this is what happens when a city goes on the cheap and starts scarifying any old whore rather than a proper virgin.


August 24, 410
In what was possibly the largest layoff in history, all of Rome was sacked again, (I accidentially had Alaric I pillaging about 10 days earlier.)



The event symbolized the fall of the Western Roman Empire.


August 24, 1572 -
Troops loyal to the French crown alongside Catholic civilians massacre the Protestant Huguenots of Paris, estimates range between 20,000 and 100,000 deaths. At news of this carnage of this St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, a gleeful Pope Gregory XIII ordered celebrations and a medal to be struck.



Sometimes, you just have to be embarrassed to be a Catholic.


August 24, 1680 -
Colonel Thomas Blood, Irish adventurer who stole the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London in 1671, died on this date.



Captured after the theft, he insisted on seeing King Charles II, who had a reputation for liking bold scoundrels. Charles not only pardoned him, but granted Blood Irish lands worth £500 a year!


August 24, 1814 -
The White House and other public buildings in the District of Columbia are torched by the British on this date.



The President's wife, Dolley Madison and Paul Jennings, her husband's enslaved manservant, are torn away from Mrs. Madison's ice cream and candy making duties to save a couple of chairs,


and an unfinished portrait of some dead Virginian Slave holder, Masonite and dope smoker.


August 24, 1932 -
Amelia Earhart flew from Los Angeles to Newark, becoming the first woman to complete a non-stop, transcontinental flight.


Setting a women's record, she completed the journey in 19 hours and five minutes.


August 24, 1958 -
Red China commenced the shelling of the islands of Quemoy and Matsu, which hold one-third of Chiang Kai Shek's troops, on this date. The United States threatens nuclear retaliation for this, but the American people do not support the stance.



A very strange compromise is worked out, permitting China to shell the islands on odd dates and Chiang Kai Shek's troops to resupply the islands on even dates.


August 24, 1968
France exploded its first hydrogen bomb, thus becoming the world's fifth nuclear power.



The Germans break out in an ever slight sweat. (The 1998 film Godzilla uses this particular test as the basis for the monster Godzilla, an infant green iguana mutated by the fallout from the blast.)

Another reason to hate the French.


August 24, 1989 -
Pete Rose was suspended from baseball for life for gambling on this date.



Remember, Pete just gambled, he didn't get shot in the ass with any damn steroids.


August 24, 2006 -
The planet Pluto was reclassified as a "dwarf planet" by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) on this date. Pluto's status was changed due to the IAU's new rules for an object qualifying as a planet.



The other planets have been picking on Pluto ever since.



And so it goes.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

We asked 20 people

When was the last time you had a really good temper tantrum?:



Now that you've gotten that out of your system, move along.


August 23, 1940 -
Preston Sturges' Oscar winning satire on political corruption, The Great McGinty, premiered on this date.



On August 19, 1939, Paramount issued a check to contract writer Preston Sturges to buy the story and screenplay of this movie, in the amount of $10. Sturges promised to sell the script for that amount if he could direct. The studio took him up on it and the film was a hit and won an Academy Award for the screenplay, probably making it the cheapest Oscar-winning script in history.


August 23, 1957 -
20th Century Fox released its film adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway novel, The Sun Also Rises, on this date.



Ernest Hemingway, Tyrone Power and Ava Gardner all attempted to have Robert Evans fired during production of the film. Producer Darryl F. Zanuck refused, saying, "The kid stays in the picture," thus leading to both Evans' long career as a producer and the title of his book.


August 23, 1969 -
The Rolling Stones hit, Honky Tonk Women reached number one on the pop-singles charts, on this date.



The single was given away to all the fans who helped clean up after The Stones free concert in Hyde Park on July 5, 1969. This was the first concert Mick Taylor played with the band. A life-size cutout of Brian Jones, who died 3 days earlier, was kept on stage and the show was dedicated to him.


August 23, 1996 -
One of the most bizarre films ever made (starring Marlon Brando) The Island of Dr. Moreau, was released on this date.



After being fired by the studio, original director Richard Stanley was rumored to have prevailed upon the makeup crew to turn him into one of the background mutants, so that he could at least keep tabs on the making of his dream project. He supposedly did not unmask himself until the wrap party.


Gotta dance, gotta dance, gotta dance!



It's Gene Kelly's birthday today.


Today in History:
August 23, 1305 -
Scottish patriot William Wallace (Mel Gibson) was persuaded to take an early retirement on this date.



According to one eyewitness: "He was hung in a noose, and afterwards let down half-living; next his genitals were cut off and his bowels torn out and burned in a fire; then and not till then his head was cut off and his trunk cut into four pieces. At this point he was given a gold watch, and a humorous card that we had all signed."


August 23, 1914 -
Japan declared war on Germany on this date.


Much confusion and embarrassment ensues about 25 years later when this point is brought up at a meeting of the Axis powers.


August 23, 1926 -
Rudolph Valentino died from peritonitis and severe pleurisy,  on this date,following an emergency appendectomy. His death caused a worldwide frenzy among his fans, sales of the Sheik condoms soared.



Thing is, he probably would have survived if the surgeons weren’t so freaked out by the fact that "Valentino" was their patient. They were so terrified of operating on such a world famous person, that they procrastinated for several hours, dramatically worsening his condition.

Sometime it sucked to be Valentino.


August 23, 1927 -
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, convicted of murder in 1921, were executed in Boston in spite of worldwide protests, on this date.



Their guilt is still disputed.


August 23, 1939-
Joachim von Ribbentrop and Josef Stalin signed a non-aggression pact, allowing Germany to attack Poland and the USSR to invade Finland without fears of reprisal on this date. Three years later, the Battle of Stalingrad began. (The Battle of Stalingrad was fought by Germans and Russians, in case the irony was lost on you.)


Moral: secret wartime pacts with evil conquering bastards aren't any more reliable in the real world than they are in a game of Risk.


August 23, 1944 -
Romanian Prime Minister Ion Antonescu was dismissed by King Michael (another cousin of Elizabeth and her itinerant sailor husband Philip Mountbatten), paving the way for Romania to abandon the Axis in favor of the Allies.


King Michael organized a coup against the pro-Nazi dictator, Marshal Ion Antonescu, but was double-crossed by Joseph Stalin and betrayed by the Allies who ceded the country to the Russians at the Yalta summit in 1945.


August 23, 1968 -
The Youth International Party designates Pigasus as their choice of candidate for U.S. President. The boar hog is introduced at a press conference outside the Chicago Civic Center, with the slogan "They nominate a President and he eats the people. We nominate a President and the people eat him."



The gathering is broken up shortly thereafter when the Chicago PD takes into custody the Yippie organizers and their pig.



And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture ...

... Just get people to stop reading them.


August 22, 1920 -
The late great Ray Bradbury, science fiction writer whose works include The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, was born on this date.



Though considered by many to be the greatest science-fiction writer of the of the 20th century, he suffers from a fear of flying and driving. He has never learned to drive, and did not fly in an airplane until October, 1982.


August 22, 1930 -
W.C. Fields' classic short, The Golf Specialist, premiered on this date.



The picture of Bellweather on the wanted poster shows Fields in costume for his "Fatal Glass of Beer" sketch. It obviously is taken from a stage presentation of the well-tried routine as the comedian would not film it until 1933.


August 22, 1946 -
The last of Alfred Hitchcock's wartime thrillers, Notorious, premiered on this date.



Alfred Hitchcock and Ben Hecht consulted Nobel Prize winner Dr. Robert Millikan on how to make an atomic bomb. He refused to answer, but confirmed that the principal ingredient, uranium, could fit in a wine bottle.


August 22, 1972 -
The movie with which Monty Python introduced its seminal brand of comedy to American audiences, And Now for Something Completely Different, premiered on this date.



Shot between the first and second seasons of Monty Python's Flying Circus, this film contains several sketches that had been written for the second season but not yet performed, including the "Hungarian Phrasebook" sketch.


Today in History:
August 22, 1485 -
At the Battle of Bosworth, England's King Richard III was terminated for having made a fiscally irresponsible bid on a horse.



For evermore, kingdoms went for a great deal more than small pieces of hardware.


August 22, 1770 -
Captain James Cook claimed Australia for the British crown when he landed on a small island off the coast of Queensland.

This must have come as a great shock to the indigenous inhabitants there.  But then again, they didn't have a flag.


August 22, 1776 -
George Washington asked the Continental Congress for permission to burn New York City, to stop the city from being used to quarter troops arriving via the British fleet. It is declined, but his soldiers set 1/4th of the town ablaze on September 21.


There are still many in the government that would like to enact Washington's plan right now.


August 22, 1864 -
12 nations sign the first Geneva Convention specifically calling for the protection of the wounded during times of active warfare on this date. This leads directly to formation of the Red Cross.


In 1882, U.S. President Chester Arthur signed the treaty, making the U.S. the 32nd nation to do so.


August 22, 1893 -
Dorothy Parker was born in New York City, to Henry and Eliza Rothschild (... My God, no, dear! We'd never even heard of those Rothschilds ....) on this date.



Her birth was two months premature, allowing her to say that it was the last time she was early for anything; her early writing was a following in the exquisite footsteps of Edna St. Vincent Millay, unhappily in my own horrible sneakers.



While she was a successful writer, she was just plain lousy at committing suicide. Dorothy Parker attempted suicide four times herself before succumbing to a heart attack in 1967.



... The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity...


August 22, 1902 -
President Theodore Roosevelt became the first U.S. chief executive to ride in an automobile (a purple-lined Columbia Electric Victoria) in Hartford, Ct. on this date. The police detail covering the event rode bicycles.


I'm sure he had a bully time, but the truth is a year earlier William McKinley rode in a car, although it was the electric ambulance that took him to the hospital after he was shot.


August 22, 1942 -
The Battle of Stalingrad began on this date, which many historians think of as the turning point of World War II. Hitler had already conquered all of Europe except for England, Switzerland and Monaco and he began the invasion of Russia in the summer of 1941 with an army of four million men. The Germans reached Stalingrad on this day in 1942 and flew more than 2,000 bombing raids in just the first day of the battle. They hit oil storage tanks that flowed into the river and caught fire and laid siege to the city. It went on for months.



It's been called the most terrible battle the world has ever known, and in the end the Russians won, thanks to the approach of winter. The German troops were not prepared for fighting in below zero weather.

By February of 1943, all the German soldiers had surrendered or been killed, the first defeat of Hitler's army.


August 22, 1973 -
Henry Kissinger, German-born American bureaucrat, succeeded William Rogers as Secretary of State under President Nixon, on this date.



Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in the same year, (he's also considered a war criminal by others.) He continued in office until 1977. (I really don't care about this but it gave me an excuse to play the Python song.)



And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

While landing, please remain seated

We've caught up with time, so we are going to return Mr. Peabody's wayback machine



Please try not to make too much noise, Sherman is still sleeping.


August 21, 1906 (or 1905?) -
Happy Birthday Friz



Isadore 'Friz' Freleng, one of the original tennants of Warner Bros. Termite Terrace, was born on this date.


August 21, 1912 -
Arthur R. Eldred was the first person to have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest in the Boy Scouts of America.


Eldred later helped to save another Scout from drowning and was awarded the Bronze Honor Medal for his actions. (I wonder if he would have turned in his badge.)


Today's quiz:
What did Vicenzo Perruggia steal on August 21, 1911?


a. The Shroud of Turin
b. Home plate
c. The Mona Lisa
d. The Sistine Chapel
e. The Hope Diamond

Bonus: what was his day job?


August 21, 1938 -
Fats Waller recorded one of his most famous hits, Ain’t Misbehavin', on this date. (The song was originally written in 1929.)



A few years earlier, Waller had attended a party given by George Gershwin, where he delighted the crowd with his piano playing and singing. An executive of Victor Records, who was at the party was so impressed that he arranged for Fats to record with the company.


August 21, 1962 -
It's hard to imagine that Ferris is 50!



Matthew Broderick, actor and Native New Yorker was born on this date.


Today in History:
August 21, 1614 -
Erzsebet Bathory, ruler of Transylvania, died at 54, on this date. She had sought immortality by killing young virgins and bathing in their blood. It apparently didn't work.



I wonder if Elizabeth Arden is still offering this service and where are they finding enough virgins.


August 21, 1911 -
Pablo Picasso was having a very bad day.


His so called friend, French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had once called for the Louvre to be "burnt down," came under suspicion when the Mona Lisa was stolen from on Lourve on this day; he was arrested and put in jail. Apollinaire, as all bad French dadaist poets would do, ratted out his friend Pablo Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning, but both were later exonerated.

Very nice guy.



At the time, the painting was believed to be lost forever, and it would be two years before the real thief was discovered. Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia stole it by entering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet and walking out with it hidden under his coat after the museum had closed. Peruggia was an Italian patriot who believed da Vinci's painting should be returned to Italy for display in an Italian museum.



Peruggia may have also been motivated by a friend who sold copies of the painting, which would skyrocket in value after the theft of the original. After having kept the painting in his apartment for two years, Peruggia grew impatient and was finally caught when he attempted to sell it to the directors of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence; it was exhibited all over Italy and returned to the Louvre in 1913. Peruggia was hailed for his patriotism in Italy and only served a few months in jail for the crime.


August 21, 1952 -
The classic John Ford film, The Quiet Man was released on this date.



This was a significant departure for Republic Pictures, which specialized in low-budget westerns, comedies and war pictures. It was the company's first and only film to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.


August 21, 1986 -
1,700 people are killed in Cameroon when Lake Nyos emits a huge cloud of fast-moving fog, quickly enveloping the villages of Nyos, Kam, Cha, and Subum.



The lethal mist, consisting mainly of carbon dioxide and water vapor, displaces the oxygen in the low-lying zones, killing thousands of cattle and even more birds and wild animals. One eyewitness later describes the landscape as being "littered with human remains and animal carcasses."

That would have ruined a vacation.



And so it goes.