Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A really long way to go

March 2, 1933 -
RKO Studios, on the brink of bankruptcy, gambled the studio on a filmed puppet show for kids, releasing the film King Kong on this date.

In the original film, the character's name is Kong -- a name given to him by the inhabitants of "Skull Island" in the Indian Ocean, where Kong lived along with other over-sized animals such as a plesiosaur, pterosaurs, and dinosaurs. 'King' is an appellation added by an American film crew led by Carl Denham, who captures Kong and takes him to New York City to be exhibited as the "Eighth Wonder of the World".

Kong escapes and climbs the Empire State Building (the World Trade Center in the 1976 remake) where he is shot and killed by aircraft. Nevertheless, "it was beauty who killed the beast", as he only climbed the building in the first place in an attempt to protect the lead female character Ann Darrow.

The film saved RKO Studios from bankruptcy.

March 2, 1939 -
The first of many collaborations between John Ford and John Wayne, Stagecoach, went into general release on this date.

Local Navajo Indians played the Apaches. The film's production was a huge economic boost to the local impoverished population, giving jobs to hundreds of locals as extras and handymen.

March 2, 1965 -
The movie version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical The Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, had its world premiere at New York’s Rivoli Theater on this date.

Julie Andrews sang "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" to the children in the cast to entertain them between shooting. Since Mary Poppins hadn't yet been released, they just thought she'd made up the song for them.

Today in History -
When he was a young man, no one knew for sure if Nicholas I of Russia, the son of Paul I, was Czar, Tsar, or Tzar. It was hard to know anything at all about someone whose last name was a vowel, especially when he lived in a hermitage. Nicholas was therefore as confused as he was powerful, which inevitably led to his becoming an Evil Bastard.

He didn't realize what an Evil Bastard he'd become until he lost the Crimean War, however, at which point he discovered that in addition to being Evil he was also an Incompetent Bastard. This made him Autocratic and he therefore died on March 2, 1855.

His first son Alexander, was left to ponder all of this when he became Alexander II on the same day.

March 2, 1900 -
... It seems to me that the American popular song, growing out of American folk music, is the basis of the American musical theater… it is quite legitimate to use the form of the popular song and gradually fill it out with new musical content.

Kurt Weill, composer, Brecht and Gershwin collaborator, was born in Dessau, Germany on this date.

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born more than 100 years ago today, on March 2, 1904. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984, and is one of only a few men in history to have written illustrated books in verse about a pedophiliac cat.

You can hardly blame the guy for changing his name. (Remember it's National Read Across America Day in honor of Dr. Seuss.)

On March 2, 1931, Mikhail Gorbachev was born with a big red splotch on his head, so he got right into politics. Mr. Gorbachev was the last Evil Bastard to reign over the Soviet Empire. Fortunately, he was also Bumbling Bastard, and his invention of glasnost and perestroika accidentally made walls fall down in Germany.

This caused Boris Yeltsin to ride on top of a tank and was therefore historical.

March 2, 1939 -
Howard Carter dies of King Tut's curse on this date.

But dammit remember there is no mummy's curse.

March 2, 1944 -
A train of mixed military/civilian passengers stalls inside a tunnel outside Salerno, Italy, asphyxiating 426 from fumes. Authorities question Mussolini on the necessities of have trains run on a timely basis to meet ones death in such an unpleasant manner.

But he was having his own problems at the time.

March 2, 1944 -
... Life is like Sanskrit read to a pony.

Lewis Allan Lou Reed singer, songwriter, poet and guitarist was born (on the wild side.)

March 2, 1968 -
Syd Barrett leaves Pink Floyd, after melting his mind with various extremely dangerous drugs on this date. He spends the following years mumbling about pork chops and refrigerators.

A very good biography about Syd Barrett, A Very Irregular Head, came a few years ago.

March 2, 1982 -
Science fiction author Philip K Dick died of a stroke in Santa Ana, California on this date. Since 1974 the author had been possessed by a superalien who arrived in his head via a beam of pink light.

It has been suggested that Mr Dick and Mr Barrett had been in regular communication via the pork chops in his refrigerator.

March 2, 1997 -
Don P. Wolf and a team of researchers at the Oregon National Primate Research Center announce that they had produced rhesus monkeys from cloned embryos, the first successful use of cloning-related technology in primates.

Isn't this how that whole the Planet of the Apes problem began.

And so it goes.

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