Thursday, February 5, 2015

Everyone should support their local weatherman

National Weatherman’s Day is observed on February 5 to commemorate the birthday of John Jeffries, one of the first people in America to begin observing the weather in a scientific way.

The day was created to celebrate meteorologists, the men and women who predict those snow apocalypse that strike the northeast every now and then.

February 5, 1927 -
Buster Keaton's
movie The General premiered on this date. Keaton's picture received both poor reviews by critics and weak box-office results when it first opened.

The General was Keaton’s favorite film and is now considered a late great of the silent era though was poorly received at its release. The cold reception the film received meant it was the last film in which Keaton had such artistic control over his content.

February 5, 1936 -
Charlie Chaplin Little Tramp
makes his final silent-film appearance, Modern Times, was released on this date.

This was always intended to be Charles Chaplin's first talkie. He even went as far as writing a dialogue script and experimenting with sound. However, because Chaplin intended the film to feature his Little Tramp character, sound seemed inappropriate.

February 5, 1953 -
Walt Disney's 14th
animated feature, Peter Pan, opens at Roxy Theater, on this date. This was the last Disney film released through RKO, as Walt Disney established his own distribution company, Buena Vista Distribution, by the end of 1953.

The Darling children may not have been so sleepy as their parents were leaving merely because it was their bed time. The "tonic" given to the children by Nana may have been morphine. It was quite common in the Edwardian era to give children "soothing syrups" and "tonics" to control their behavior that turned out to mainly consist of several different narcotics. (Bring back that old time patent medicine.)

February 5, 1956 -
Don Siegel
subversive take on 50's Communist paranoia, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, premiered on this date.

Screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring had brushes with Hollywood witch-hunts, which lends credence to the theory that the film is an unconscious metaphor against McCarthyism. Something Dana Wynter agreed with, although she didn't recall the mention of any political statements on-set. Kevin McCarthy believed the film to be an attack on "Madison Avenue" attitudes. Siegel joked that the pods represented the front office.

February 5, 1967 -
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour premiered on CBS-TV, on this date.

Mom actually liked both of them equally.

Today in History:
Today is Liberation Day in San Marino. Americans remain woefully misinformed about San Marino.

(American remain woefully misinformed about most countries that aren't located between Canada and Mexico, but today is only Liberation Day in San Marino, so let's not get off-topic. But, it's also the feast day of St. Agatha -

patron saint of breast cancer survivors, but again, I digress ...)

About seventeen-hundred years ago, during an epic game of hide and seek, Marinus the Stonemason ran up Mount Titano in Italy to hide from the Roman Emperor Diocletian. It was a good hiding spot and he was never found. He started his own country to pass the time, and the Republic of San Marino survives to this day, an island of foreign nationals in the middle of Italy.

Citizens of San Marino are not San Mariners. They are Sammarinese.

The population of San Marino is about 25,000. The population of San Marino, California, is about 13,000.

The California town was named in 1878 by James de Barth Shorb, who had built his home there and didn't think people would go for Shorbtown. Instead, he named it after the Maryland town in which he'd been born.

That was reportedly San Marino, Maryland, which the California town's website claims to have been named "for the tiny European republic."

There is no Maryland town named San Marino. (If there is, they haven't yet made their presence felt on Google.) Foul play is obviously afoot.

Proceed with caution.

February 5, 1783
A large earthquake in Calabria, Italy leaves 50,000 dead on this date.

Luckily none of my wife's or a good friend of mine forebearers were involved or they wouldn't be here.

February 5, 1816 -
Rossini's opera Barber of Seville premieres in Rome on this date.

It was one of the earliest Italian operas to be performed in America and premiered at the Park Theater in New York City on November 25 1825.

February 5, 1914 -
William Seward Burroughs II
, junkie, novelist, murderer, painter, professional sodomist and performer was born on this date.

Except for a couple of blots on his CV, he is my hero (well him and Julia Child.)

February 5, 1919 -
Four of the leading figures in early Hollywood: Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and D. W. Griffith, incorporated to form their own company to better control their own work as well as their futures. The company was United Artist.

MGM reacquired its 100% stake in United Artists in 2011.

February 5, 1940 -
Hans Ruedi Giger
, Swiss painter, sculptor, and set designer best known for his design work on the film Alien, was spawned on this date.

He had a very happy childhood.

February 5, 1941 -
The SS Politician wrecked off the coast of the Isle of Eriskay in the Hebrides on this date. It carried some 20,000 cases of whisky, which the natives hid from customs agents.

The story was told in the 1947 book Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie. The book was made into a film in 1949. According to official files recently released by the British Home Office, there was nearly 290,000 ten shilling notes on board as well (this would be the equivalent of several million pounds at today's prices), not all of which was ever recovered.

February 5, 1958 -
A B-47 returning from a simulated combat mission suffered a midair collision with an F-86, on this date. A Mark 15 Mod 0 hydrogen bomb known as the Tybee Bomb was purposely jettisoned by the crippled B-47 bomber off  the coast of Savannah, Georgia, and has yet to be recovered.

The bomb, whether or not it contains a plutonium detonator (the Air Force has been hazing on this fact), has not been found: to repeat - a large object with some enriched uranium surrounded by four hundred pounds of TNT has gone missing for 57 years. (This is essentially a dirty bomb - a dirty bomb resting just off the shore of a vibrant United States port.)

Recovering the bomb and the enriched uranium inside would be a coup for any nation looking to skip a few steps to becoming a nuclear power, so one could return the Tybee Bomb, definitely no questions asked.

And so it goes.

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