Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Reality: What a concept!

Rip Robin Williams (1951 - 2014)

August 12, 1927
The only silent film to win an Oscar for best picture, Wings, opened in NYC on this date.

Was considered lost for many years until it was discovered languishing in the Cinematheque Francaise film archive in Paris. (Bonus trivia: The film contains the first screen kiss between two men.)

August 12, 1939 -
The Bugs Bunny everyone knows takes another step forward when Hare-um Scare-um premiered on this date.

It was during production of this cartoon that Bugs Bunny's name originated. Designer Charles Thorson redesigned the rabbit character and labeled the model sheet "Bug's Bunny," after co-director Ben Hardaway's nickname, Bugs.

August 12, 1939 -
Considered one of the highlights of the Golden Age of Hollywood, The Wizard of Oz premiered on this date in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

While filming the scene where Dorothy slaps the Cowardly Lion, Judy Garland got the giggles so badly that they had to take a break in shooting. The director, Victor Fleming, took her aside, gave her a quick lecture, and then slapped her. She returned to the set and filmed the scene in one take. Fleming was afraid that this would damage his relationship with Garland and even told a co-worker he wished that someone would hit him because of how bad he felt, but Garland overheard the conversation and gave him a kiss on the nose to show that she bore no hard feelings. In the film she can still be seen to be stifling a smile between the lines "Well, of course not" and "My, what a fuss you're making".

August 12, 1941 -
premiered their version of Robert Louis Stevenson's famous novel, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring Spencer Tracy, in NYC on this date.

The film was a notorious critical failure when released, although it eventually made a profit of $2 million around the world. Spencer Tracy later said it was by far the least favorite of the films he had starred in, and that his performance was "awful". The New York Times famously described it as "not so much evil incarnate as ham rampant ... more ludicrous than dreadful."

August 12, 1988 -
Universal Pictures
released Martin Scorsese's controversial film The Last Temptation of Christ, starting Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel and Barbara Hershey on this date.

Director Martin Scorsese first read Nikos Kazantzakis's novel "The Last Temptation of Christ" after being given a copy by actress Barbara Hershey while he was directing her in Boxcar Bertha, his second feature film, in 1972. When she read in a trade paper many years later that Scorsese was finally getting the opportunity to direct a film adaptation, she begged him to let her play the role of Mary Magdalene. To make sure she didn't feel that he was giving her the part as a favor for having recommended the book, he made her audition.

Today in History:
August 12, 30 BC
(Given how the Romans were keeping track of time at this point and were drinking a huge amount of wine from lead cups - this date is fluid at best.)-

O, break! O, break!

Cleopatra VII, Queen of Egypt, former wife of Julius Caesar and mistress of Marc Anthony, committed suicide by means of the unusual practice of nursing a venomous snakebite.

August 12, 3 AD -
A planetary conjunction (possibly Venus-Jupiter) was visible from the Earth with the naked eye on this date.

Many astronomers will later speculate that this may have been the mentioned Star of Bethlehem in the New Testament of the Bible.

August 12, 1676 -
chieftain Metacom (or Philip) was killed in a swamp near Mount Hope, PA on this date. Thus ends King Philip's War, the first war between Indians and European settlers.

Unfortunately, the Indians (or Native American, for the PC of you in the crowd) have been on the losing side, for the most part, ever since.

August 12, 1813 -
declared war against Napoleon on this date.

An outraged England rushed to France's defense by declaring war against Austria

exactly 101 years later when England official entered World War I on August 12, 1914.

August 12, 1865 -
After studying Louis Pasteur’s germ theory of disease which suggests that infections are caused by bacteria, Dr. Joseph Lister becomes the first surgeon to use  during an operation.

Lister introduces Phenol (carbolic acid) as a form of disinfectant into his surgery. His heightened standards of hygiene will reduce his surgical death rate from 45% to 15%.

August 12, 1869 -
In San Francisco on this date, Emperor Norton I issued a stern edict outlawing both the Republican and Democratic political parties.

Violators face a prison term of five-to-ten years. Oh, for that wise man today!

Not familiar with Norton I ? Read the amazing tale of Emperor Joshua Norton.  (Also, please check out the online petition to rename the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge after our beloved majesty, Emperor Norton.)

August 12, 1898 -
The Spanish-American war ended on this date. Spain released Cuba and gave Puerto Rico to the United States. Americans rushed to Puerto Rico in gleeful droves, only to discover that everyone spoke Spanish and there were no luaus or volcanoes.

Their disappointment was profound.

They took Hawaii as a consolation prize (Hawaii was formally annexed by the U.S. - officially stolen) later that same day.

August 12, 1948 -
Russian schoolteacher Oksana Kasenkina was injured when she jumps out the window of the Soviet Consulate in New York City on this date.

Soviet officials claim they had rescued her from "White Russian" kidnappers, but Kosenkina says she was trying to escape from the Soviets. The US later expels the consul general and the Soviets closed their consulate.

August 12, 1953 -
In Siberia, the Soviet Union successfully tests its first thermonuclear device, based on Andrei Sakharov's fission-fusion "Layer Cake" design: alternating layers of uranium and hydrogen fuel sandwiched together and wrapped around a conventional Atomic Bomb. The fission explosion compresses the hydrogen, causing a fusion reaction.

Hopefully this is no longer a state secret or boy am I in deep trouble.

And so it goes.

And on a personal note:
I'd like to wish my mom a very Happy Birthday only if she could tear herself away, long enough for her to answer her cellphone. 

I'd have to tear her hands from the slot machines of Empire City Casino.

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