Saturday, December 20, 2014

Now, near the Winter Solstice, it is good to light candles ...

It's the Fifth night of Hanukkah -

Move on to the donuts.

December 20, 1946 -
The Frank Capra film It's A Wonderful Life had a preview showing for charity at New York City's Globe Theatre, a day before its official premiere.

For the scene that required Donna Reed to throw a rock into the window of the Granville House, Frank Capra hired a marksman to shoot it out for her on cue. To everyone's amazement, Donna Reed broke the window with true aim and heft without the assistance of the hired marksman. Reed had played baseball in high school and had a strong throwing arm.

Next time you get a chance to watch the film, notice what a truly strange little film it really is.

Today's Holiday Special:  You'll see a lot of strange things from now on.

December 20, 1961 -
Columbia Pictures
releases the science fiction film Mysterious Island, directed by Cy Endfield and featuring the stop-motion animation of  Ray Harryhausen, on this date.

A real Brown crab was disemboweled, dismembered, cleaned and fitted with an internal armature for Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion animation of the giant crab. Additional live crabs were used for some of the "facial" close-ups, then later cooked for a crew dinner. (See the movie, eat the cast!)

December 20, 1967 -
Mike Nichols'
seminal '60s film, The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, premiered on this date.

When Dustin Hoffman showed up at Joseph E. Levine's office for a casting interview, the producer mistook him for a window cleaner, so Hoffman, in character, cleaned a window.

Today in History
December 20, 1803 -
The United States
finalized the Louisiana Purchase from France as a Christmas gift for Thomas Jefferson on this date.

The wisdom of this purchase was not fully appreciated at first but after Mardi Gras it was warmly embraced.

(It was not for nothing that Thomas Jefferson collected beads.)

December 20, 1879 -
Thomas Edison
privately demonstrated light bulb to a rapt audience on this date at Menlo Park, N.J.

Unfortunately, it took 27 of his assistants to lift the entire shed and turn it around to screw in the bulb and many believe the light would never take off.

December 20, 1892 -
According to Jules Verne, on October 2nd, Phileas Fogg stepped out of the Explorers Club in London, England and decides to take a little trip.

Due to the incompetence and laziness of most of the transit workers around the world, finally completed his trip on this date.

Adolf Hitler was released from prison on December 20, 1924, after serving less than a year against a five-year treason sentence. Hitler became a prolific author while in prison, where he penned the infamous political autobiography Mein Kampf. (How I Intend to Enslave or Kill Millions of People Immediately Upon My Release.)

He also outlined a series of children’s books which have sadly been lost to history as a result of his having chosen upon his release to pursue a path of demonic world conquest instead of pedagogical literature. One can only wonder what sort of success Hitler would have experienced with titles such as:

The Little Engine That Was Betrayed by Jewish Usurers,

Where the Wild Things Are and How to Eliminate Them ,

Every Little Aryan Child’s Bedtime Book of Insidious Evil and Global Domination.

December 20, 1957 -
receives orders from the draft board to serve in the United States Army, which to his credit he does without complaint.

I should have prepared you for the sight of the bare chest of Elvis.

December 20, 1997
Sotheby's auctions off the loincloth worn by Kirk Douglas in the 1960 film Spartacus for $2,990 on this date.

You can't get those at Robert Hall, aisle five.

December 20, 2007 -
Elizabeth II
turned 81 years and 243 days old on this date and surpassed Queen Victoria as the oldest UK monarch.

Buckingham palace had the time calculated down to the hour, though no major celebrations were held to mark the occasion.  Prince Charles has been officially pissed since this date.

And so it goes

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