Sunday, August 17, 2014

This evening is Cat Night.

(Remember the dog days are over.) The term Cat Night harks back to a rather obscure old Irish legend concerning witches and the belief that a witch could turn herself into a cat eight times, but on the ninth time (August 17), she couldn’t regain her human form.

This bit of folklore also gives us the saying, “A cat has nine lives.” Because August is a yowly time for cats, this may have prompted the speculation about witches on the prowl in the first place.

August 17, 1908 -
, film historian site as the first fully animated film in history, was exhibited for the first time ever at the Théâtre du Gymnase in Paris, on this date.

To make this film, the director, Émile Cohl placed each drawing on an illuminated glass plate and then traced the next drawing-with variations-on top of it until he had some 700 drawings.

August 17, 1934 -
released its version of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, starring Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper and Lionel Barrymore, on this date in NYC.

Wallace Beery was going to appear in a 1920 silent production of Treasure Island for Paramount but was replaced at the last minute by another actor.

August 17, 1959 -
Kind of Blue, Miles Davis'
brilliant and influential jazz album, was released on this date by Columbia Records.

It has been regarded by many critics as the greatest jazz album of all time.

August 17, 1960 -
A great George Pal sci-fi classic, The Time Machine was released on this date.

Director George Pal was a close friend of fellow animator Walter Lantz, ever since Lantz did some cut-rate Woody Woodpecker work for Pal's Destination Moon. As a tribute in the film, when all the people rush into the shelter a little girl crossing the street stops to pick something up that she dropped. When she does, you can quickly see she picks up a small Woody Woodpecker figure

August 17, 1986 -
Pixar Animation Studios
released its first film, Luxo Jr., directed by John Lasseter.

The film sent shock waves throughout the industry. At the time most animators were fearful of the computer; Luxo Jr. made them appreciate that it was just another tool.

Today in History:
August 17, 1807 -
Robert Fulton's "North River Steam Boat"
began heading up New York's Hudson River on its successful round-trip to Albany. It was the first vessel to demonstrate the commercial use of a steam engine for river transportation.

For some unknown reason, a friend and biographer of Fulton incorrectly referred to the steamboat as 'The Clermont' and the wrong name has stuck ever since.

August 17, 1892 -
Save a boyfriend for a rainy day - and another, in case it doesn't rain.

Brooklyn's own, Mae West, actress in burlesque, vaudeville, Broadway, and movies, was born on this date.

August 17, 1896 -
Bridget Driscoll
, a 44-year-old mother of two, becomes the world's first automobile fatality when she steps in front of a car outside the Crystal Palace in London. At the coroner's inquest, Arthur Edsall states he had been driving at only 4 mph.

The motorist also claims that when he saw the pedestrian, he rang his bell and shouted "Stand back!" For whatever reason, the coroner accepts Edsall's preposterous story.

August 17, 1929 -
James Horace Alderman
, convicted of murdering two Coast Guardsmen and a Secret Service agent in 1927, was hanged at 5:00 a.m. at Coast Guard Base 6 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on this date. It was reported in the media that Alderman's neck was broken and he died a painless death.

Unfortunately, Alderman kicked and strangled for a full twelve minutes before being pronounced dead by a local doctor. He was the only person ever executed on Coast Guard property.

And I always thought seamen knew how to tie knots.

August 17, 1945 -
... All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others....

Animal Farm by George Orwell, the most famous satirical allegory of Soviet totalitarianism, was first published, on this date.

August 17, 1948 -
Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard was arrested for passing bad checks in San Luis Obispo, California, on this date.. In court a fortnight later, Hubbard pays the $25 fine.

If I say anymore, I might be forced to give John Travolta a full body massage.

August 17, 1980 -
Dingos snatch baby Azaria from a campground near Ayers Rock, Australia, on this date. Her mother, Lindy Chamberlain (Meryl Streep - A dingo ate my baby), is later convicted of murder and spends three years in prison, but the conviction is ultimately overturned.

Apparently there have been a number of baby/dingo incidents over the years; dingos cannot differentiate animals from humans. Finally, Ms. Chamberlain was cleared of any wrong doing in regards to the death of her daughter a few years ago.

August 17, 1987 -
Rudolf Hess
was found hanged by an electrical cord at Spandau prison,aged 93. He was incarcerated there for 40 years, 21 of those years as the solitary inmate.

In 1941 Hess flew to Scotland with ideas of peace in his head, making Hitler very very upset.

August 17, 1998 -
President Bill Clinton became the first sitting president in American history forced to testify in a criminal case investigation of which he was the focus (having sex with Monica), on this date. Other presidents before Clinton had testified before grand juries in the past, but they had always done so to give evidence against others.

Thomas Jefferson testified against former Vice President Aaron Burr. Gerald Ford testified in a trial of a man who had tried to assassinate him. Jimmy Carter testified in the bribery trial of a financier named Robert Vesco. But Clinton was the first sitting president ever to be served a subpoena to testify in his own indictment.

Perhaps the President was celebrating the anniversary (August 17, 1992) of Woody Allen admitted to being romantically involved with Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, (his longtime companion.)

And so it goes.

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