Sunday, May 22, 2016

Won't you be my neighbor?

May 22, 1947 -
David Lean's classic, Great Expectations, premiered in NYC on this date.

David Lean wanted his film to have a feeling of heightened realism. Working closely in conjunction with art director John Bryan and cinematographer Guy Green, he employed several tricks, such as forced perspective, to achieve this effect. The famous opening shot in the graveyard, for instance, features a brooding church in the background which in reality was only three meters high.

May 22, 1967 -
Today was the first day a soft spoken man slipped into your home and made himself more comfortable. But don't let his demeanor fool you, he was the power behind the throne of a kingdom where most of the royalty were mere "puppets".

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood premiered on WQED on this date.

May 22, 1980 -
Namco released the phenomenally popular arcade game, Pac-man (known as Puck-man), in Japan on this day.

An instantaneous hit, Pac-man is still considered a landmark in video gaming history.

May 22, 1992 -
The man, most of America went to bed with every night for 30 years finally got tired of having to try to satisfy so many people.

Johnny Carson's final appearance on the Tonight Show was broadcast on this date.

Today in History:
May 22, 337
Emperor Constantine died on this date. Although quite dead, his embalmed corpse continues to act as head of state, receiving state dignitaries and daily reports from ministers as if nothing had changed. Constantine's macabre leadership continues through winter.

Sometimes, it good to be the King, even after you're dead.

May 22, 1813 -
One of the most controversial personalities of the nineteenth century, Richard Wagner was born on this date. Wagner wrote some of its most controversial music. Hitler is said for most of his life to have kept only three books on his nightstand: Wagner's autobiography, Machiavelli's The Prince, and Young Aryan Youth, lederhosen around their ankles, sitting in a tub of Chocolate Pudding. (How Hitler ended up with Wagner's nightstand is a question best left alone.)

Wagner considered it his life's mission to create a new and purely German music, in German, about Germany, for Germans, and is therefore best known for having scored the helicopter scene in Apocalypse Now.

May 22, 1856 -
Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner was beaten unconscious with a cane on the Senate floor by South Carolina’s Preston Brooks on this date.

Brooks, a pro-slavery Democrat, attacked Senator Sumner, a Republican abolitionist from Mass., so badly that he was unable to resume his duties for three years. Brooks resigned from his seat but was re-elected.

And you thought, things were contentious in the Senate now-a-days.

May 22, 1906 -
The Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were granted a U.S. patent for their “new and useful improvements in Flying Machines.” (US No. 821,393)

It is the first airplane patent in the U.S.

May 22, 1907 -
Laurence Kerr Olivier, director, producer and one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century, was born on this date.

Interestingly, Olivier is buried alongside some of the people he has portrayed in theatre and film, for example King Henry V, General John Burgoyne and Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding.

May 22, 1939 - 
Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini signed their "Pact of Steel," committing their countries to a military alliance.

May 22, 1964 -
Lyndon B. Johnson
formally outlined his goal to create a "Great Society" through social reform during commencement exercises at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, on this day.

Two main goals of the Great Society social reforms were the elimination of poverty and of racial injustice. The most long-lasting programs of the Great Society include Medicaid and Medicare.

May 22, 1969 -
The lunar module of Apollo 10 (named Snoopy, with Thomas P. Stafford and Eugene A. Cernan aboard) separated from the command module, on this date, (named Charlie Brown piloted by John W. Young) and flew to within nine miles of the moon's surface in a dress rehearsal for the first lunar landing.

Later that day, a disaster was averted after the Lunar Module separated from the descent stage began to roll violently due to the crew accidentally duplicating commands into the flight computer. Quick action by the crew saved them from crashing into the moon (on live TV, no less.)

And so it goes. 

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