Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It starts tonight but you're probably a little busy

Tonight is the start of Hanukkah.

Once again, my first Hanukkah gift to you is to remind you to add Pfizer stock to your portfolio (Pfizer is the maker of LIPITOR®.)

Today's holiday special:  The first night of Hanukkah.

December 16, 1938
MGM released its film version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, on this date.

Lionel Barrymore was originally set to play Scrooge, but had to back out due to illness. Barrymore instead suggested his friend Reginald Owen take over the role.

December 16, 1959 -
20th Century Fox
releases the Jules Verne science fiction classic, Journey to the Center of the Earth, starring Pat Boone, James Mason and Arlene Dahl,on this date.

James Mason reportedly had very little patience with the "movie star" preening of Arlene Dahl and the relationship between the two off set was very much like what you see on screen.

December 16, 1965
One of the classic cold war thrillers, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, starring Richard Burton, premiered in the US on this date.

First ever filmed adaptation of a John le Carré story, and the only ever cinema film adaptation of a le Carré story that has been filmed in black-and-white.

December 16, 1971 -
Don McLean's
eight-minute-plus version of American Pie was released and became one of the longest songs to ever hit the pop charts.

If you prefer the clip with Don singing in it, here you go.

Kids, use the song as the Cliff notes for what happened during the 60s (do they still print cliff notes?)

December 16, 1977 -
Saturday Night Fever
, starring John Travolta, went into general release on this date.

Oh John, it’s been a long strange trip since that polyester shirt.

The film was rated R when it was released in late 1977. The studio was so eager to attract more young people to the film because they were buying the soundtrack album, that the film was cut by a few minutes and the shorter version was given a PG rating. The PG version was released in 1978.

Norman Wexler's screenplay was adapted from the "non-fiction" magazine article written by Nik Cohn. Years later, Cohn admitted that the story, supposedly a fact-based account detailing the lives of Brooklyn teenagers in the early days of the disco craze, was a complete fabrication.

Today in History:
December 16, 1773
The Boston Tea Party took place 241 years ago today.

A group of young colonists, dressed as Native Americans, stormed a few British ships in Boston Harbor and tossed their tea cargo overboard in protest of the British insistence that Americans ride their horses on the left-hand side of the street. While this is often remembered as a defining historical moment in the development of our proud nation, it should not be forgotten that Boston Harbor was for a long time one of our most polluted waterways.

I equally deplores the ecologically disastrous precedent set by these hotheaded young good-for-nothings, and their demeaning depiction of native Americans as savage, tea-hating polluters. Also please do not confuse the Tea Party with Tea Bagging - two very different things although men wearing short skirts figure prominently in both of them.

December 16, 1950
President Harry S. Truman declares a state of emergency, after Chinese troops enter the fight with communist North Korea in the Korean War.

With all the business going on in the world in the intervening 64 years, the order is still in effect, one of four current states of national emergency granting extraordinary powers to the President.

What the hell were we thinking?

December 16, 1965 -
NASA was in a piss-proud mood. Days before, Gemini 6 (Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra, space cowboys aboard) and Gemini 7 (Frank Borman and Jim Lovell, rocket men aboard) had successfully  rendezvoused in space. Just before Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra were about to re-enter Earth's atmosphere, on this date, they radioed Mission Control with their startling sighting:

"We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, probably in polar orbit.... Looks like he might be going to re-enter soon.... You just might let me pick up that thing.... I see a command module and eight smaller modules in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit."

Wally and Tom do something even more startling; they break out in a chorus of Jingle Bells, accompanying themselves with a small harmonica and tiny small bells. The pair become the first men to perform Christmas carols from space.  NASA, of course, was not amused having to pay the ASCAP fees.

December 16, 1985 -
What were you doing 29 years ago - I left work, cut through a parking garage in the middle of the block and walked passed the limos in front of Sparks Steak House on the next block on this date.

John Gotti was looking to improve his position with IBM (the Gambino crime syndicate.) He had his boss Paul Castellano ventilated outside Spark's Steak House in Manhattan.

John and Paul are long gone but I, occasionally, get to visit my old office.

And so it goes.

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