Thursday, March 5, 2015

Happy Purim everybody

Purim started last night:

The festival of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). It commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.

It's sometimes referred to as the Jewish Mardi Gras or Halloween.

(I still like the Poppy seed Hamentaschen more than the fruit filled ones - really, who but old people would put prunes in a dessert.)

Happy Purim to all, and to all a good...wait, wrong holiday.

Today is the Yuan Xiao festival, also called Lantern Festival. This is also the end of the New Year celebrations. Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief.

There is a story about the Lantern Festival. A beautiful heavenly bird flew down a village and was killed. The God of Heaven was very anger and wanted to burn down the entire village on the 15th lunar day. One wise guy advised every family hang candle lanterns around the house, carried lantern on the street, burn fire outside to explode the firecracker at the 15th lunar night. The soldiers of the God of Heaven saw the village was on fire from the heaven, and returned back to the heaven. The village survived and people keep the lantern activity on this day every year.

It's also National Cheez Doodle Day

They will know you by your neon yellow fingers.

March 5, 1922 -
F.W. Murnau's
version of the Dracula story, Nosferatu, premiered in Berlin, on this date.

The character of Nosferatu is only seen on screen for a bit less than nine minutes in total throughout the whole film.

March 5, 1954 -
The Classic B movie, Creature from the Black Lagoon, premiered on this date.

Ricou Browning, a professional diver and swimmer, was required to hold his breath for up to 4 minutes at a time for his underwater role as the "Gill Man." The director's logic was that the air would have to travel through the monster's gills and thus not reveal air bubbles from his mouth or nose. Thus, the costume was designed without an air tank.

March 5, 1970 -
Universal released the blockbuster film, Airport, starring just about everyone who was available in Hollywood, on this date.

Burt Lancaster, who headlined the film above the title with Dean Martin, made a great deal of money from the film, which was a huge hit. Lancaster's contract gave him a 10% profit participation once the movie hit $50 million, and the film grossed $45.3 million in North America alone. Despite the financial windfall, Lancaster said that the movie was "the worst piece of junk ever made."

March 5, 1978 -
Mae West's
final film, Sextette, was released on this date.

Timothy Dalton
later described the film as "a sort of carnival ... extremely special to do."  I just can't imagine how this film was ever made - It's just so wrong on so many levels.

March 5, 1985 -
, starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis, premiered on ABC-TV on this date.

Many episodes included a shot of Maddie's feet stepping off of the elevator and walking to her office. Glenn Gordon Caron admitted that the shots existed to give him time to complete the script. Scripts were constantly re-written, and shooting often began without a completed script. Caron would continue writing while shots of Maddie's feet were set up and filmed.

Today in History:
March 5, 1770
British soldiers who had been taunted by a crowd of colonists opened fire, killing five people, on this date, in what would become known as the Boston Massacre. Among the five killed was an African American sailor, Crispus Attucks.

Colonists were already resenting the Townsend Acts, a very early WHO album. Tensions caused by the heavy military presence in Boston, led to brawls between soldiers and civilians and eventually to troops shooting their muskets into a riotous crowd.

SO you can see, the tradition of killing innocent black men in American is older than the Republic.

March 5, 1933 -
Germany went on a 12 year drinking binge - the Nazi Party won 44 percent of the vote in German parliamentary elections, enabling it to join with the Nationalists to gain a slight majority in the Reichstag.

Adolf 'Evil Bastard' Hitler had become chairman of the Nazi party in 1921, and two years later he tried to topple the German republican government in the "beer-hall putsch." Nazi storm troopers surrounded government officials during a meeting at a beer hall in Munich. The troopers forced the officials to swear allegiance to the Nazi revolution. But the coup was defeated and Hitler fled, then he was captured and imprisoned. While in prison, Hitler dictated his autobiography Mein Kampf (or, in English, I'm Crazy and I'm Gonna Kill You or How I Intend to Enslave or Kill Millions of People Immediately Upon My Release) to a sympathetic scribe, and the book became important to Nazism.

The failed coup made Hitler famous ( he already began selling the cryptic t-shirt 'World Tour 1939 - 1945'), and the Nazi party capitalized on the economic depression of 1929, as well as the heavy reparations Germany was made to pay for World War I, and they became a powerful force in Germany. In 1932, Hitler ran for president of Germany, but lost. The next year, he became the chancellor. Just before the parliamentary elections in 1933, the Reichstag building was set on fire, which led to the Reichstag Fire Decree, which rescinded habeas corpus and other protective laws.

The following week, March 5, 1933, the Nazi Party won a slight majority in the elections. Within three weeks, the Nazi-dominated Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which gave Hitler dictatorial powers and ended the Weimar Republic in Germany.

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: beer, Bavarians and the ballot do not mix.

It was on this date in 1946, in a speech at Fulton, Missouri, that Winston Churchill made his famous observation that, "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the continent."

The speech was not well received at first, as the people of Fulton weren't sure which continent he was talking about and they didn't care what sort of drapes were fashionable in foreign parts.

Bizarre ironies of History -
On March 1, 1953, after an all-night dinner with interior minister Lavrenty Beria and future premiers Georgi Malenkov, Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev, Josif Stalin, truly Evil Bastard, did not emerge from his room the next day, having probably suffered a stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body.

Although his guards thought it odd that he did not rise at his usual time, the next day they were under orders not to disturb him and he was not discovered until that evening. He died four days later, on March 5, 1953, at the age of 74, and was buried on March 9. His daughter Svetlana recalls the scene as she stood by his death bed "He suddenly opened his eyes and cast a glance over everyone in the room. It was a terrible glance. Then something incomprehensible and awesome happened. He suddenly lifted his left hand as though he were pointing to something above and bringing down a curse upon all of us. The next moment after a final effort the spirit wrenched its self free of the flesh."

Officially, the cause of death was listed as a cerebral hemorrhage. Khrushchev wrote in his memoirs that Beria had, immediately after the stroke, gone about "spewing hatred against [Stalin] and mocking him", and then, when Stalin showed signs of consciousness, dropped to his knees and kissed his hand. When Stalin fell unconscious again, Beria immediately stood and spat.

His body was preserved in Lenin's Mausoleum until October 31, 1961, when his body was removed from the Mausoleum and buried next to the Kremlin walls as part of the process of de-Stalinization.

The famed Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev lived in dread fear of getting on the wrong side of Stalin. Always looking to appease the Evil Bastard, he died at the age of 61 from a cerebral hemorrhage on March 5, 1953 (the same day and even hour and cause that Communist Party leader Joseph Stalin died.)

Prokofiev had lived near the Red Square and for three days the throngs gathered to mourn Stalin made it impossible to carry Prokofiev's body out for the funeral service at the headquarters of the Soviet Composer's Union. Paper flowers and a taped recording of the funeral march from his Romeo and Juliet had to be used, as all real flowers and musicians were reserved for Stalin's funeral.

Herman J. Mankiewicz, producer and alcoholic screenwriter, best known for his collaboration with Orson Welles on the screenplay of Citizen Kane, for which they both won an Academy Award and famously clashed over credit, died of uremia poisoning in Hollywood, CA on March 5, 1953, the same day as Joseph Stalin and Sergei Prokofiev.

March 5, 1963 -
Virginia Patterson Hensley (Patsy Cline), country music singer has an unfortunate close encounter with an airplane on this date.

What was it with singers and small planes in the early 60's

March 5, 1977 -
Walter Cronkite and Jimmy Carter went on the air for a radio call-in program where ordinary citizens could call and ask the president anything they liked.

Over 9 million callers tried to get through, and the questions ranged from Carter's pardoning the draft dodgers to why he sent his daughter to public school.

March 5, 1982 -
John Belushi was found dead at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood from a cocaine and heroin overdose on this date. A sketchy woman, Cathy Smith, was later charged with administering the fatal injections.

Sorry but there was really nothing funny about that - it was just a waste.

March 5, 1989 -
Darwin Award nominee Michael Anderson Godwin, previously on death row for murder but with sentence commuted to life imprisonment, died in a toilet-related accident at the Central Correctional Institution in South Carolina on this date. Godwin, sitting on a stainless steel toilet, bit into headphone wires that were connected to his television. He was immediately electrocuted.

[Moral: use a porcelain toilet. And in keeping with Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: eat more fiber.]

And so it goes

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