Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hopefully you survived the Snow Apocalypse

While most people didn't quite get the massive amount of snow that forecasters were predicting -

you still should be safe out there.

I hang my head in shame - while I did point out that yesterday was Australia Day, I didn't post Puddles the Sad Clown singing the unofficial national anthem.

Please accept my sincere apology Australia

Today is Punch the Clock Day.  I have no idea why anyone would want to celebrate the soul-numbing activity of having to punch into work. So instead, let's celebrate a great cut from the Elvis Costello album Punch the Clock, TKO (Boxing Day).

We could also note that it's Thomas Crapper day (more about Mr. Crapper later.)

On January 21, 1901, the great maestro Joe Green (Giuseppe Verdi was merely his stage name) suffered a stroke while staying at the Grand Hotel et de Milan, in Milan. So revered was the composer that horses hooves were wrapped in blankets to muffle their noise as they passed the hotel where he rested.

Verdi gradually grew more feeble and died six days later, on this date. To date, his funeral remains the largest public assembly of any event in the history of Italy.

January 27, 1918 -
Tarzan of the Apes
, the first Tarzan film, premiered at the Broadway Theater in NYC on this date.

Production began with Stellan Windrow playing Tarzan. After five weeks of shooting, Windrow quit to enlist in the First World War. Footage of him swinging from vines remains in the final film. According to Edgar Rice Burroughs' biographer Robert Fenton, Windrow was using "Winslow Wilson" as a stage name at the time.

January 27, 1976 -
Laverne and Shirley
, a spinoff from Happy Days, starring Penny Marshall as Laverne De Fazio and Cindy Williams as Shirley Feeney, premiered on ABC-TV on this date .

Frustrated at TV shows constantly repeating who the characters are and what they do, Penny Marshall came up with the idea of Laverne having L's on all her clothes, figuring that would solve the problem. To her chagrin, they still had to say on a regular basis who was who and where the girls worked; she got tired of all the times Cindy Williams would say 'Laverne' in an episode.

Today in History:
January 27, 1756
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian musical genius, composer and fart joke lover, whose works included The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute, was born on this date.

When Mozart died in 1791, probably of heart disease, he was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave.

January 27, 1832
... If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, Anglican deacon, children's author, mathematician, and photographer (child pornographer?) was born on this date.

January 27, 1859 -
Kaiser Wilhelm II, (Queen Victoria's first grandchild and first cousin to both King George V and Tsar Nicholas II) emperor who ruled Germany during World War I but was forced to abdicate in 1918, was born on this date.

Oh, those wacky royals.

January 27, 1900 -
Hyman Rickover
, American admiral who is considered the "Father of the Atomic Submarine", was born on this date.

Creating a detail-focused pursuit of excellence to a degree previously unknown, Rickover redirected the United States Navy’s ship propulsion, quality control, personnel selection, and training and education, and has had far reaching effects on the defense establishment and the civilian nuclear energy field.

Hooray, it's Thomas Crapper Day

Thomas Crapper died on January 27, 1910. In popular American folklore, the British Mr. Crapper was the man who invented and gave his name to the flush toilet. Unfortunately, there is little historical evidence to support Mr. Crapper as anything but a friendly British plumber.

I say unfortunately because the world is ambiguous enough as it is, and the toilet is one of a very few things that can be counted on to acquit itself without any ambiguity. Having a toilet in the home improves our quality of life enormously; the contributions of most other appliances pale by comparison. Like other vital but widely available amenities, however, a toilet’s importance is most strongly felt in its absence. Most of us have had at least one experience where we’ve made a hefty contribution to a toilet only to discover afterwards that it won’t flush.

Can you not remember the horror as you stared down into the bowl and wondered what to do? Can you not remember the icy panic that gripped you as you noticed that not only wouldn’t the toilet flush, but that the water was rising?

(The Germans have a word for that bone-chilling dread, and it reflects poorly upon us as a nation that we do not. The Germans also have a word for the feeling you get when you notice just as you’re locking your car door that the keys are still in the ignition. Clearly, they have more to offer the world than beer, pretzels, and maniacal plans for world conquest.)

The importance of toilets cannot be overstated, and anything that important deserves a good legend. Thomas Crapper may not have invented the toilet, and his name may not have been the source of our "crap" or "crapper," but that doesn’t mean we have to tolerate the truth. We can choose to embrace the legend of Thomas Crapper:

Thomas Crapper was born in 1839. He became a plumber. He invented the flush toilet, which is why people called it the "crapper," which eventually led to people calling the stuff they put into the toilet "crap."

It’s concise. It’s easy. It’s elegant. Reject the truth, and give thanks this day for Thomas Crapper.

January 27, 1967 -
A launchpad flash fire in the Apollo I capsule killed the astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward H White and Roger B Chaffee at Cape Canaveral on this date.

An investigation indicated that a faulty electrical wire inside the Apollo I command module was the probable cause of the fire .

January 27, 1973 -
North and South Vietnam, the Viet Cong, and the United States signed the Paris Peace Accord on this day, ending one of the longest and most unpopular wars in American history.

Despite a ceasefire that had been put into effect a few days earlier, the last American troop to die in Vietnam was killed just 11 hours before the treaty was signed.

January 27, 1992 -
Candidate Bill Clinton and Gennifer Flowers mutually accuse each other of lying about whether or not they had a 12 year affair on this date.

Oh, that wacky Bubba

January 27, 2010
Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and whose books, such as A People's History of the United States, inspired young and old to rethink the way textbooks present the American experience, died on this date.

Go out and buy his book, if not for a kid you know, buy it for yourself.

And so it goes.

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