Saturday, December 26, 2015

a finger, dipped in moonlight, writing a question across the morning sky

Today is Boxing Day (St. Stephen's Day) and citizens of the British Commonwealth celebrate by putting on trunks and gloves to beat each other bloody silly.

Another reason to appreciate the American Revolution - a peaceful December 26th.

If you are starting your Christmas shopping for next year, you're either way ahead of the curve or cheap.

Tonight's the first night of Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa means "first fruit" in Swahili.

If you're keeping score, you currently have two turtledoves and a pair of partridges in their respective pear trees (4 gifts - we're counting the partridge and a pear tree as a unit.)

Begin hoarding newspaper - you'll need it in a major way.

December 26, 1951 -
The film that introduced Akira Kurosawa to world audiences, Rashomon, starring Toshiro Mifune and Machiko Kyo, premiered in the US on this date.

In the downpour scenes showing the Rashomon Gate, Akira Kurosawa found that the rain in the background simply wouldn't show up against the light gray backdrop. To solve this problem, the crew ended up tinting the rain by pouring black ink into the tank of the rain machine. The ink is clearly visible on the Woodcutter's face just before the rain stops.

December 26, 1957 -
The Ingmar Bergman classic Wild Strawberries, starring Victor Sjostrom, opened in Sweden on this date.

Ingmar Bergman wrote the movie with Victor Sjöström in mind. He and the production company agreed that there would be no movie without Sjöström. Bergman didn't dare to call his idol Sjöström himself about the movie though, so the head of Swedish movie industry made the call.

December 26, 1967 -
The Beatles gave their fans a Christmas present - Magical Mystery Tour was shown on the BBC on this date.

One artist who was cast in this film but didn't appear was Jimi Hendrix. Paul McCartney wanted him in the film, but Hendrix was already committed to play at the Monterey Pop Festival, his breakthrough performance. Ironically, McCartney was the person who suggested that Hendrix should get invited to play the festival.

December 26, 1973 -
Here was a great way to celebrate the holidays, The Exorcist, premiered in the US on this date.

Mercedes McCambridge, who provided the voice of the demon, insisted on swallowing raw eggs and chain smoking to alter her vocalizations. Furthermore, the actress who was an alcoholic, wanted to drink whiskey as she knew alcohol would distort her voice even more, and create the crazed state of mind of the character.

Today in History:
December 26, 1776
American forces under Gen. George Washington, having crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night, defeated Hessian mercenary troops fighting for the British at the Battle of Trenton, N.J. on this date.

Apparently, Washington was trying to beat the toll.

On this day in 1913, the author of the short story, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and the satirical dictionary, The Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce disappeared into Mexico while traveling with the army of rebel Pancho Villa. In one of his final letters, the 71-year-old Bierce wrote to his niece, Lora,

Good-bye — if you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags please know that I think that a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs. To be a Gringo in Mexico—ah, that is euthanasia!

December 26, 1919 -
Red Sox owner and Broadway Producer, Harry Frazee believed he has solved one of his many headaches when he sold, an overweight, drunk, whoremongering baseball player to the New York Yankees on this date


December 26, 2004 -
A massive tsunami caused by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, devastated Southeast Asia, killing more than 250,000 people in a single day and more than half a million lost their homes. This was most devastating tsunami in modern times

The earthquake has been titled the Sumatra-Andaman Islands Earthquake and is the highest magnitude earthquake in the region in over 40 years. The event had the fourth largest death toll from an earthquake in recorded history. Ten years after the quake and tsunami events, the entire region is still trying to recover and to rebuild. Some areas will never recover.

And so it goes

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