Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Change the name of your town, it's hurting our picture.

November 17, 1933 -
...I got a good mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it.

Unbelievable, but, a box office flop (at the time), The Marx Brothers Duck Soup, opened on this date. (This film marks the last appearance of Zeppo Marx in a Marx Brothers film.)

When asked what the political significance of this film was, Groucho Marx reportedly said, "What significance? We were just four Jews trying to get a laugh." 

November 17, 1942 -
Martin Scorsese, Academy Award-winning American film director, writer, producer, actor, film historian, former drug addict and asthmatic was born on this date.

Go watch a movie (any movie) in his honor. He won't mind.

November 17, 1951 -
... There's going to be a sneak preview, and the sneaks ain't gonna like it. 

Another in the series of Daffy and Porky buddy flicks, Drip-Along Daffy, opened on this date.

November 17, 1978 -
The two-hour Star Wars Holiday Special aired for the first and only time on CBS on this date. (I must strongly warn readers not to attempt to watch the entire special in one seating - stronger men have been driven to drink and drugs for less.)

George Lucas famously tried (and failed) to buy up all master copies to make sure it was never broadcast again.

Today in History:
November 17, 1558
Elizabeth I of England ascended to the throne, on this date.

She is best known for her imperfect application of the cosmetic sciences, a flaw that is strikingly evident in all her portraits but that courtiers were apparently reluctant to address the issue.

November 17, 1796 -
Empress Catherine the Great died of a stroke while sitting on the commode and not while astride her steed (or something like that) on this date.

So dammit, stop making those jokes.

November 17, 1869 -
The Suez Canal was opened in Egypt, linking the Mediterranean and the Red Seas on this date. The 100 mile canal eliminated a 4000-mile trip around Africa.

Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, together with Ferdinand de Lesseps, chief architect of the canal, led the first file of ships from on board the French imperial yacht Aigle.

November 17, 1871 -
George Wood Wingate and William Conant Church established the National Rifle Association in New York on this date.

Today, the group has more than 4.5 million members (as of October 2014,) - how's that working out for us?

November 17, 1903 -
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin's stubbornness split his Russian Social Democratic Labor Party into two factions: the slim majority who sided with him, and the vast minority who opposed him, on this date.

The Russian terms for majority and minority are Bolshevik and Menshevik, respectively, and so these factions took their names. Later the Mensheviks became the majority party, meaning that the Mensheviks had become Bolsheviks and the Bolsheviks Mensheviks.

This was confusing. If you asked someone what they were and they said "Bolshevik," you'd have no way of knowing whether they meant Bolshevik (Menshevik) or Menshevik (Bolshevik.) This state of affairs quickly became intolerable. All sorts of remedies were suggested placards, ID bracelets, hats, tattoos but it was impossible to arrive at a consensus until Lenin clarified matters by having all the Mensheviks shot.

It was easy after that.

November 17, 1917 -
The world famous 77 year old French Sculptor Auguste Rodin froze to death in an unheated attic in Meudon, France on this date. He had applied to the government for quarters as warm as those wherein his statues were stored, but the government turned him down.

His case was so desperate that he asked to be permitted to have a room in the museum the Hotel Biron, formerly his own studio. The official in charge of the museum refused. Other officials and friends promised coal but never sent it, though his situation at Meudon (ill, and freezing to death,) was apparently well known to all of them.

November 17, 1941 -
U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Joseph C. Grew cabled the US State Department that he has heard that Japan has 'planned, in the event of trouble with the United States, to attempt a surprise mass attack at Pearl Harbor.' His warning was ignored by the Office of Naval Intelligence.

His diplomatic relations with Japan were cordial until the late 1930s, when Japanese expansionism became openly aggressive toward Asian neighbors like China. The US increased economic pressures on Japan until, in late 1939, Grew had been predicting that the situation will soon come to a head. He told Roosevelt in October 1939 that 'if we start sanctions against Japan we must see them through to the end, and the end may conceivably be 'war.'


November 17, 1968 -
NBC preempts the final 1:05 from a very close Jets-Raiders NFL football game with the TV movie Heidi. Two touchdowns were scored during this missing time.

Sports fans everywhere applaud and understand the network's decision.

November 17, 1973 -
People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I am not a crook.

President Nixon spoke to more than 400 editors from the Associated Press at a gathering in Orlando, Florida, at Walt Disney World on this date.

I guess that means Disney World isn't the happiest place on Earth for everybody.

And so it goes

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