Thursday, August 13, 2015

To be hated cordially, is only a left-handed compliment.

Today is International Lefthanders Day.

The U.S. has had eight left-handed presidents; James Garfield, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

August 13, 1942 -
Walt Disney's Bambi
premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York on this date.

No matter how skilled the animator, the Disney cartoonists simply could not draw Bambi's father's antlers accurately. This was because of the very complicated perspectives required. To get round the problem, a plaster cast was made of some real antlers which was then filmed at all angles. This footage was then rotoscoped onto animation cels.

August 13, 1947 -
The apex of technicolor film-making - Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's Black Narcissus, premiered in New York City on this date.

Jack Cardiff came up with the idea of starting the rainfall end scene by first having a few drops hit the rhubarb leaves before starting up a full-force rainstorm. He personally created the first drops with water from a cup when the scene was shot. Michael Powell was so pleased with the effect that he decided to make the scene, originally the penultimate one, the closing shot. Cardiff, however, was a great fan of the original scene (which had already been shot) that was supposed to follow this one and close the film. To this day Cardiff amusingly calls the opening drops of the rainfall "the worst idea I ever had".

August 13, 1967 -
One of the defining movies of the 1960s, Bonnie and Clyde, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, had its US premiere on this date.

Gene Hackman was on the set one day when he noticed a guy standing behind him and staring. The man said, "Hell, Buck would've never wore a hat like that." Hackman turned around and looked at him and said, "Maybe not." He looked like an old Texas farmer.  The man introduced himself and said, "Nice to meet you - I'm one of the Barrows."

August 13, 1976 -
released the sci-fi film Futureworld, starring Peter Fonda, Blythe Danner, Arthur Hill and Yul Brynner, on this date.

It was the sequel to 1973 film Westworld and it was Yul Brynner's final film.

Today in History:
August 13, 1521
After a 75 day siege, Hernando Cortes captured and destroyed the capital of the Aztec Empire, Tenochtitlan (Aztec for "Mexico City") on this date.

When the Spaniards fail to discover Montezuma's treasure, they tortured Cuauhtemoc (the current Aztec king) by pouring hot oil over his feet. The emperor responds by asking, "Am I on a bed of roses?" (Who knew the Aztecs were such comedians?)

It was important to defeat the Aztecs, because they were an Evil Empire that practiced Human Sacrifice and Difficult Spelling.

August 13, 1899 -
A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it.

Arguably, the most famous film director in the 20th Century, Alfred Hitchcock was born on this date.  Hitchcock, known as the master of suspense, is most renowned for his films Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho.

August 13, 1907 -
The first (gasoline powered) taxicabs, the New York Taxicab Company fleet, appeared on NYC streets on this date (the actual date seems to be mired in controversy.) The first 65 taxis were imported from France by businessman Harry N. Allen, who adapted the French word taxi-m├Ętre and coined the word "taxicab" to describe the vehicles he was importing.

In time, the shortened term "taxi" came into common usage. (The first gas powered cabs were red and green.  Allen was also the first person to paint his taxis yellow, after learning that yellow is the color most easily seen from a distance.)

August 13, 1918 -
Women were first allowed to enlist in the United States Marine Corps on this date.

Opha Mae Johnson was the first of 305 women to enlist in the US Marine Corps on this day.

August 13, 1926 -
Minor league Rat Bastard (depending on your point of view) Fidel Castro was born on his father's 23,000-acre sugar cane plantation near Biran, Cuba on this date.

Would life as we know it have been much different if Castro had gotten that chance to play ball in the Major Leagues?

August 13, 1961 -
The city of Berlin split itself right down the middle on this date.

The Cold War was running pretty hot back then. The Russians were just nasty. They were so evil they convinced East Germany to shut West Germany out. East Germany locked the Brandenburg gate and threw away the key. Then, just to be absolutely safe, they built the Great Wall of Berlin, and assigned evil socialist soldiers to shoot any West Germans who tried to sneak into East Germany.

Oddly enough, no West Germans tried to sneak in.

The soldiers, being evil socialist bastards with guns and therefore needing desperately to shoot at someone, therefore shot at East Germans.

About a year later, for example, on August 17, 1962, 18-year-old Peter Fechter was shot by East German guards as he tried to cross the Berlin Wall into West Germany. He bled to death in public view.

The guards (Rolf Friedrich and Erich Schreiber) who shot him were tracked down and convicted of manslaughter thirty-four years later.

Moral: you might think you can get away with shooting people just because you're a heavily-armed socialist bastard living in an evil socialist regime propped up by an evil socialist empire - You can run. But you can't hide. (It may seem like you can, but just wait.)

Eventually John F. Kennedy announced that he was a jelly-filled donut, Ronald Reagan asked Mr. Gorbachev to tear down this wall, Boris Yeltsin rode on a tank, and there didn't seem to be any real point in having a Wall any more.

So they tore it down. (Karma does appear to bite one in the ass.)

And so it goes.

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