Sunday, August 10, 2014

Everybody's a comedian

Today is the Feast of San Lorenzo.  St. Lawrence was said to have been martyred on an iron outdoor stove on this date in 258 AD. During his torture, Lawrence cried out "I' m already done on this side and it is time to turn me over."

He is, of course, the patron saint of comedians and chefs.

Interesting aside: the Perseid Meteor Shower has been known for years as the Tears of Saint Lawrence because they usually occur every year in mid-August, on or near Saint Lawrence's feast day. This year the event peaks the morning of August 13 around 1 a.m.

Don't forget to catch the Supermoon tonight!

August 10, 1950 -
Billy Wilder's
caustic, black-hearted masterpiece, Sunset Boulevard premiered in New York City, on this date.

Upon seeing the film at a star-studded preview screening at Paramount, MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer screamed at director Billy Wilder that he should be tarred, feathered and horse-whipped for bringing his profession into such disrepute. Wilder's response was a terse, "Fuck you."

August 10, 1960 -
The Rat Pack's summer vacation home movie, Ocean's Eleven, premiered on this date.

As Peter Lawford, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra attempt to disguise themselves by blackening their faces in the garbage truck near the end of the movie, Sammy Davis Jr. says, "I knew this color would come in handy some day." Martin and Sinatra teased Davis about that scene for as long as they knew each other thereafter.

August 10, 1962 -
While not the worst film ever made - it is the sickest. The Brain That Wouldn't Die, premiered on this date. (Watch it now.)

At least a few of Virginia Leith's lines were dubbed by Doris Brent, who played a nurse in this film. Reportedly Leith hated the film so much she refused to return for post-production.

August 10, 1968 -
The Doors
topped the charts with Hello, I Love You on this date.

Many fans considered this a sellout to Top 40 music. It was very radio-friendly, and not as deep or offensive as previous Doors songs.  There is a vague rumor on the internet that the Kinks successfully sued the Doors for copyright infringement over their song All Day and All of the Night.

As far as I can actually tell, while discussions concerning a possible lawsuit occurred, nothing came of them.

Today in History:
August 10, 1628
The 228-foot Swedish warship Vasa, built by Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus to assist in his war with Poland, capsized and sank in Stockholm harbor on her maiden voyage because the ballast was insufficient to counterweight the 64 guns. Vasa was the most expensive and richly ornamented warship of its time in Sweden. Twenty-five men and women drowned when the ship sank.

The ship remains submerged until it is raised in 1961 to become a tourist attraction.

If you think I'm going to make a joke about the Polish Navy here, the joke's on you.

August 10, 1921 -
Franklin D. Roosevelt
was stricken with polio at his summer home on the Canadian island of Campobello, New Brunswick on this date. Mrs. Roosevelt acted as her partially paralyzed husband’s eyes and ears by traveling, observing and reporting her observations to him.

As First Lady, an author and newspaper columnist and, later, a delegate to the United Nations, Eleanor Roosevelt labored tirelessly for the poor and disadvantaged. In the words of historian John Kenneth Galbraith, she showed "more than any other person of her time, that an American could truly be a world citizen."

August 10, 1966 -
Last words of James French, sent to the Electric Chair by the state of Oklahoma: "How about this for a headline for tomorrow's paper? FRENCH FRIES."

There is nothing quite like a dying man who gives good copy.

August 10, 1969 -
and Rosemary LaBianca were brutally murdered in their Los Feliz, California home by followers of Charles Manson.

Some of the victims' blood was used to smear the words 'HELTER SKELTER' on the refrigerator door.

August 10, 1977 -
Postal employee and avid dog listener David Berkowitz was arrested in Yonkers, N.Y. on this date, accused of being the "Son of Sam" gunman responsible for six random slayings and seven woundings. Berkowitz is serving six consecutive terms of 25 years to life in state prison.

So much for the rantings of the neighbor's dog.

August 10, 1996 -
Heated by the sun, power lines begin to sag in Oregon. Somehow this triggers a series of failures which cascades throughout the Western states. Four million people lost electrical service in Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Montana and Texas.

It was probably the worst power outage in US history.

And so it goes.

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