Thursday, December 14, 2017

There are no Donny and Marie Hanukkah Specials

It's the third night of Hanukkah -

Maybe you could slip in some steamed vegetables

For some, the holidays begin today

The Halcyon Days of yore, begin today, a week before the winter solstice and end a week after.

According to legend, this two-week period is associated with unusually calm seas; hence the common meanings of halcyon as “quiet” or “peaceful” and by extension, “prosperous.”

December 14, 1967 -
Richard Brooks'
adaptation of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, starring Robert Blake, Scott Wilson and John Forsythe,  premiered in New York City on this date.

The "Jenson"/"Narrator" characters are based on the author himself, Truman Capote. Capote went to Kansas soon after the murders to cover the manhunt and to interview those who knew the Clutter family.

December 14, 1969 -
Michael Jackson
and the rest of The Jackson 5 made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on this date.

The Jackson Five performed Sly and the Family Stone’s Stand, Smokey Robinson’s Who’s Loving You, and their first hit single I Want You Back.

December 14, 1970 -
Another holiday special from Rankin/Bass, Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town premiered on this date.

Mickey Rooney returned to voice Santa Claus in the 1974 Rankin/Bass special, The Year Without a Santa Claus. Shirley Booth voiced Mrs. Claus in the latter. .

December 14, 1984 -The David Lynch version of Frank Herbert’s Science Fiction classic, thought to be unfilmable; Dune, starring Kyle MacLachlan, José Ferrer, Francesca Annis and Sting, premiered on this date.

David Lynch has said he considers this film the only real failure of his career. To this day, he refuses to talk about the production in great detail, and has refused numerous offers to work on a special edition DVD.

Christmas Trivia
Brenda Lee
was just 13 years old when she recorded Rockin around the Christmas Tree back in 1958.

The record mostly flopped upon its initial release, selling just 5,000 copies.  The next year, they released the song a second time and it again flopped, selling just over what it did on its initial release. It finally started to gain some traction the next year as Brenda Lee’s fame began to skyrocket, managing to rise as high as number 14 on the Hot 100 Pop Singles list. Within five years of that, it went as high as number three on that same list.  By the song’s 50th anniversary in 2008, Brenda Lee’s original version of it had sold over 25 million copies, including about 700,000 digital copies, making it the fourth most digital downloads sold of any Christmas single.

Spending Hanukkah with IBM

Today in History:
December 14, 1503

Nostradamus, famous french huckster (forerunner of Miss Cleo, for those of you who remember Miss Cleo) was born on this date. He predicted correctly French king Henri II's manner of death. Nostradamus was the author of a book of prophecies that many still believe foretold the future. He wrote in rhyming quatrains, accurately predicting the Great London Fire in 1666, Spain's Civil War and that Hitler would lead Germany into war. He even correctly predicted his own death on July 2, 1566.

If you write vague enough prophecies, they will fool almost anyone.

December 14, 1656 -
Artificial pearls were first manufactured by M. Jacquin in Paris on this date.

They were made of gypsum pellets covered with fish scales.

December 14, 1702 -
A major part of Japanese history - the 47 Ronin were samurai until their master was ordered to commit suicide after killing an arrogant official. In revenge, the Ronin killed the official, and were then were ordered to commit suicide themselves.

The story of the 47 Ronin remains a popular Japanese legend, and the 47 Ronin are seen as examples of loyalty and faithfulness.

Try getting your staff to turn in reports on time.

December 14, 1807 -
A 'shooting star' fell in Weston, Connecticut at 6:30am on this date, making a hole five feet long and 4.5 feet wide.  A young Yale professor, Benjamin Silliman, who rushed to the scene of the phenomenon pronounced it a meteorite.

The meteorite is believed to be the first meteorite to have been seen falling in the New World since the arrival of European settlers. Silliman's study of the Weston meteorite led the foundation of modern scientific research and helped in the development of the field of meteoritics.

December 14, 1861 -
Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, of tobacco can fame and husband of Queen Victoria, died at Windsor Castle from typhoid fever on this date.

The death of the Prince Consort sent Queen Victoria into a deep depression, which effected the entire Empire and even after her recovery she would remain in mourning for the rest of her life.

December 14, 1900 -
Max Planck
published his theory of quantum mechanics, which is often considered one of the most radical scientific discoveries of the 20th Century, on this date. It's even more radical than the belief in the collection of Turkish union dues or Iraqi clerics

Max Planck was working in a laboratory in 1900, heating up various substances and examining the color of light they emitted when they reached certain temperatures. He also accidentally invented crack cocaine but that's another story. He wanted to describe his results in mathematical terms, but no matter how hard he tried, his mathematical calculations didn't make sense. The only way he could fix the problem was to assume that light travels in little packets, like bullets or balloon condoms filled with cocaine, lodged in the colon of drug mules, even though this seemed impossible.

But five years later, Albert Einstein took Planck's theory of light seriously, and wrote his first major paper exploring the idea of light traveling in packets, which he called photons. Even though he became better known for his theory of relativity, it was Einstein's work expanding on Planck's original ideas about light that won him a Nobel Prize. Einstein later said, "I use up more brain grease on quantum theory than on relativity."

With the discovery of quantum mechanics, physicists found that subatomic particles were by nature unpredictable. If you shot one across the room, you could guess where it might end up, but you could never be sure. This idea made Einstein miserable. He famously said, "I am at all events convinced God does not play dice."

Today quantum mechanics remains one of the most mysterious and difficult scientific theories ever. The Danish physicist Niels Bohr once said that a person who was not shocked by quantum theory did not understand it, and the physicist Richard Feynman once said that while only a modest number of people truly understand the theory of relativity, no one understands quantum mechanics.

Max Planck himself died in 1947 and he never came to fully accept the theory he discovered. But even if few people really understand it, quantum mechanics led to the development of modern electronics, including the transistor, the laser, and the computer.

December 14, 1911 -
Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his expedition successfully reached the South Pole on this date, beating out the rival expedition of British Robert Falcon Scott by almost a month.

Amundsen would later become the first explorer to ever fly over the North Pole in 1926.

December 14, 1944 -
Lupe Velez
, Hollywood's Mexican Spitfire of the 1940s, committed suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills on this date.

Contrary to her plans of being found laid out on the bed in a silk nightgown, she is instead discovered in the bathroom with her head in the toilet. (OK bunkies, this is just an urban legend but let it get in back of the list of others, like the death of Cass Elliot or Judy Garland. Don't even get me started about the death of Albert Dekker.)

What a way to go!!!

December 14, 1955 -
The Tappan Zee Bridge (Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee toll bridge) in New York opened to traffic on this date.

The bridge was decommissioned in 2016 and the first section of the new bridge opened in 2017.  The entire bridge is scheduled for completion in 2018.  Don't hold your breath.

December 14, 1963 -
Dinah Washington
, the "Queen of the Blues", juggled numerous prescription medications, primarily for dieting and insomnia, most of her life.

I Wanna Be Loved -

What a Diff'rence a Day Made -

September in the Rain -

An unintentional but lethal combination of alcohol and pills forever stilled her magnificent voice on this date. She was only 39 and was thankfully found in bed.

On this anniversary of the terrible act at Sandy Hook,

please honor the families of the victims by spreading kindness.

Before you go
  - I can't believe I didn't see this last week when I was preparing the Charlie Brown Christmas tribute - Puddles covered the Vince Guardino classic, Christmas Time is Here -

Everybody bathe in the melancholia.

And so it goes..


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

May I say it again - donuts

Pace yourself - tonight is only the second night of Hanukkah

When frying food, keep ALL children away from the hot oil. Safety First, especially during the holidays.

December 13, 303 -
It the feast of St. Lucy (Santa Lucia) today. (Early depictions show Lucy offering her eyes on a platter; she is now the patron saint of Sicily and of opticians.)

Because her extreme beauty attracted too many admirers, Lucy gouged her own eyes out (she had body issues). Miraculously they grew back. After refusing to marry, the Romans forced her to become a whore. She wasn't particularly thrilled with that choice, so she went for door number two and her Roman guards stabbed her to death but not before gouging out her eyes, again.

Oh those wacky early Christians.

December 13, 1975 -
Richard Pryor
hosted NBC-TV's Saturday Night Live on this date.  Fearing Pryor would say things that were too offensive for television at the time, the show was placed on seven-second delay for the very first time

As mentioned in the opening sketch, Pryor requested that Garrett Morris say "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" instead of Chevy Chase. Morris' was the only cast member besides Chase to say it during the entire first season.

December 13, 1985
The very silly comedy, base on the board game of the same name, Clue, starring Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, and Lesley Ann Warren premiered on this date.

Three endings were shot, and a different one shown at each theater. All three are included on video. The DVD, however, aside from all three endings, also offers the option to play the movie with one randomly selected ending. In some cities, the newspaper print ads indicated which version ("Ending A", "Ending B", or "Ending C") was being shown at each theater.

December 13, 1995 -
Ang Lee's superb adaptation of Jane Austen's 1811 novel, Sense and Sensibility, starring  Emma Thompson (who also wrote the screenplay,) Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman, opened in Canada on this date.

Whilst working on the script, Emma Thompson's computer developed a problem and she was unable to locate the file. She took the computer to Stephen Fry who, after seven hours, finally managed to retrieve the script.

December 13, 1996 -
Cameron Crowe's
romantic comedy, Jerry Maguire, starring  Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bonnie Hunt, and Renée Zellweger premiered on this date.

Renée Zellweger admitted that the day she was cast in this film, it had been so long since she had worked that when she went to an ATM, she did not have enough of a balance to make a withdrawal.

December 13, 2013 -
David O. Russell's
comic take on the ABSCAM sting of the late 70's, American Hustle, starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence opened in limited release in the US on this date.

Christian Bale was cast in the lead role, but due to scheduling conflicts, he dropped out and was replaced by Bradley Cooper, with Jeremy Renner taking over Cooper's old role. After Bale's schedule cleared up, he rejoined the project in the same role, while Cooper reverted to playing the F.B.I. Agent, and David O. Russell wrote the character of Carmine Polito for Renner.

While it is a marshmallow world in the winter, it is very poor form to toast yours with the menorah candles.

Today in History:
December 13, 1577
Sir Francis Drake set out on a three year (and not three hour) long journey around the world, on this date. He had started his career as a sailor in the slave trading business, but after some run-ins with the Spanish, he decided to devote his life to taking vengeance on the Spanish by disrupting their trade routes.

He became a semi-official pirate for Queen Elizabeth I, plundering Spanish ships, gathering intelligence about their naval activities and creating delicious little dessert cakes.

December 13, 1809 -
The first successful abdominal surgery procedure was performed in the US on this date.  Dr. Ephraim McDowell removed a 22 pound (about 10 kg) tumor from the ovary of Jane Todd Crawford. Crawford had previously been misdiagnosed as being pregnant with twins. The surgery was performed without anesthetic or antiseptics, but Crawford made a complete and quick recovery.

(Now that you've gotten up off the floor, clutching you belly,) McDowell was called the "father of the ovariotomy," after that and went on to perform similar surgeries, including a hernia repair for President James Polk.

December 13, 1928 -
The Clip-on tie was invented on this date. Productivity soars as time lost in tying knots is made up and accidental strangulation rates drop as fewer workers ties are caught in the gears.

Legend has it that it was a mortician who had too hard of a time tying ties onto his corpses.

Little know fact - the term, Dork, was also coined on this date.

December 13, 1962 -
NASA launches Relay I, the first active repeater communications satellite, aboard a Thor-Delta rocket from the Atlantic Missile Range in Cape Canaveral.

It would transmit its first test patterns on January 3, 1963, once its solar cells are fully charged. Once in service, it would transmit facsimile, telephone, television, and teleprinter signals.

December 13, 1972 -
Astronaut Gene Cernan climbed into his Lunar Module Challenger on the Moon and prepared to lift off on this date. He currently is the last man to set foot on the moon. Besides his footprints, the astronaut left his daughter's initials scrawled in the lunar dust.

The last official words on the moon, as Cernan climbed the ladder, were "God willing, we shall return," he said. What Cernan to his crew, as they prepared to launch from the lunar surface: "All right, let's get this mother out of here and go home."

December 13, 1973 -
Claude Vorilhon
, former French race car driver, began the Rael movement in France on this date.

While commuting to his job as a sportswriter, he decided to drive past the office and stop at a nearby volcano in Auvergne. During his stop, Vorilhon saw the flashing red light of a space ship, which opened its hatch to reveal a green alien with longish dark hair. Once aboard the spaceship, he said he was entertained by voluptuous female robots and learned that the first human beings were created by aliens called Elohim, who cloned themselves.

Vorilhon said that he was instructed to take the name Rael and spread the news that humans were placed on Earth by extraterrestrials who had engineered our DNA. In 1997 Rael founded Clonaid, a company dedicated to cloning people. In 2013 the Raelian movement numbered about 90,000 members world-wide.

The French, they are a funny race.

December 13, 2003 -
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s nine-month long run from the US military finally came to an end when he was discovered hiding in a hole just nine miles away from his hometown of Tikri, five months after his sons Uday and Kusay were killed in a raid in Mosul.

Following his capture, Saddam was put in Iraqi custody and charged with the deaths of nine villagers, the razing of farmlands, the wrongful arrest of almost 400 Dujail residents and the torture of women and children. He was sentenced to death.

Christmas Trivia -$img_size_380x380$
It's all the damn man in the can's fault.

Christmas trees are known to have been popular in Germany as far back as the sixteenth century. In England, they became popular after Queen Victoria's husband Albert, who came from Germany, made a tree part of the celebrations at Windsor Castle.

In the United States, the earliest known mention of a Christmas tree is in the diary of a German who settled in Pennsylvania.

Don't even ask about the legacy of Prince Albert and tight trousers.

And so it goes.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

It's the Jewish festival of rededication

Tonight is the start of Hanukkah.

Once again, my first Hanukkah gift to you is to remind you to add Pfizer stock to your portfolio (Pfizer is the maker of LIPITOR®.)

December 12, 1954 -
BBC Television
broadcasted the landmark adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighy-Four on this date. It is the most expensive drama produced to date.

When first screened by the BBC there were numerous public complaints and these led to questions being asked in the House of Commons. Although, following remarks by the Duke of Edinburgh that he and the Queen had "thoroughly enjoyed" the broadcast, the live repeat, four days later, attracted the largest television audience since the Coronation.

December 12, 1967 -
Stanley Kramer's
(for the time,) controversial film, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, starring Spencer Tracy (in his last role), Sidney Poitier, and Katharine Hepburn, was released on this date.

Like Katharine Hepburn, the film's producer and director Stanley Kramer also put his salary in escrow as backing in order to placate the studio who was nervous about having Spencer Tracy star due to his poor health.

December 12, 1972 -
Irwin Allen's
ocean disaster movie, The Poseidon Adventure, premiered in NYC on this date.

Shot in sequence, taking advantage of the fact that the principals became dirtier and more tattered and suffered injuries - some real and some artificial - as they progressed.

December 12, 1973 -
Columbia Picture
released the Hal Ashby film The Last Detail, starring Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid, Carol Kane and Michael Moriarty, on this date.

Nancy Allen was originally offered the part of the Young Whore. But she turned it down because she felt she would be too nervous to speak while being nude on-camera.

December 12, 1980 -
Well, whip it good!

Whip It earned Devo a gold record on this date. It is the first distinction of its kind for any song about masturbation to earn a gold record.

Even Sinatra's got to share a holiday, sometimes

Today in History:
December 12, 1531
It's the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, an indigenous peasant, had visions of the Virgin Mary. Legend held that the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego outside Mexico City and left an imprint on his cactus-fiber poncho. The poncho became an icon for the Virgin of Guadalupe.

So now you know.

December 12, 1899 -
Dentist George Grant was granted a patent (U.S. patent No. 638,920) for the modern golf tee on this date. The design, basically, lifts a golf ball slightly off the ground.

This additional height gives the golfer better control in his hit. Before the invention of the golf tee, golfers would often make a small mound of dirt or sand to serve as a tee. Groundskeepers everywhere rejoice.

December 12, 1915 -
It's the birthday of Francis Albert Sinatra today. I have been advised by legal council to stop making jokes about Mr. Sinatra's alleged organized crime connection, especially if I would like to make it home tonight (Please note - I did not use the word, Mafia.)

And once again, We here at ACME would to remind the various gentlemen from South Philly, we did not resort to any cheap gimmicks to slander the Chairman of the Board, greatest singer of the 20th century. (Now will you please return our DVR device - the children have too many episodes of The Originals taped on it.)

December 12, 1917 -
With a rent payment of $90 borrowed from a friend, Father Edward Flanagan founded Boys Town outside Omaha, NE in an old Victorian mansion on this date.

Flanagan's archbishop allowed Flanagan to focus on the boy's home and assigned nuns to help him.

December 12, 1937 -
Japanese aircraft shell and sink US gunboat Panay on the Yangtze River in China. Japan apologized, disciplining those involved and paying $2.2M reparations.

You think we might have seen something was brewing.

December 12, 1968 -
The only thing I regret about my past is the length of it. If I had to live my life again I'd make all the same mistakes - only sooner.

After a long and well enjoyed life, Tallulah Bankhead died in
St. Luke's Hospital in New York City of double pneumonia, complicated by emphysema and malnutrition, on this date.

Her last coherent words reportedly were "Codeine... bourbon." (I must remember that, except substitute gin for bourbon at the end.)

And so it goes.

Christmas is in 13 days


Monday, December 11, 2017

I've never heard of this

Today is apparently Green Monday - a totally fabricated holiday retailers denote as '... the last Monday with at least 10 days prior to Christmas.' It is similar in nature to Cyber Monday but with more desperation as on-line stores try to lure in into spending more cash.

But as more retailers embrace fast, free shipping, it's unclear how much longer people will think that they still need a lead time of at least 10 days to order presents for Christmas.

December 11, 1957 -
The movie Peyton Place, based on the novel by Grace Metalious, had its world premiere in Camden, Maine, on this date, where most of it had been filmed.

Some of the shots of the New England fall were actually shot for The Trouble with Harry.

December 11, 1961 -
Please, Mr. Postman
by the Marvelettes was released on this date

Part of this song was written by a postman who helped Georgia Dobbins (one of the Marvelettes) complete the lyrics. His name was Freddie Gorman and his mail route included Brewster public housing where members of The Supremes lived. Gorman also sang with Motown group The Originals.

December 11, 1980 -
Hawaiian shirts and outrageous mustaches came back in style when Magnum PI, starring Tom Selleck, premiered on CBS-TV on this date.

Magnum was a Vietnam War Veteran. At the time, Vietnam and its aftermath were still controversial. Magnum, T.C., and Rick have been cited as some of the first positive portrayals of Vietnam Veterans on a network TV series.

December 11, 1982 –
Toni Basil's
surprise hit Mickey reached No. 1 of the Billboard charts on this date.

This was originally recorded as "Kitty" by a group called Racey. In the original lyrics, Kitty was a girl. Toni Basil changed the lyrics from "Kitty" to "Mickey" and the gender from female to male. She decided on "Mickey" as she was fond of former Monkee Micky Dolenz, who she choreographed in the 1968 Monkees movie Head.

December 11, 1987 -
Greed is Good
20th Century Fox released Oliver Stone's drama, Wall Street, starring  Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen, and Daryl Hannah on this date.

Oliver Stone
gave Charlie Sheen the choice of having either Jack Lemmon or Martin Sheen play his father. Charlie chose his dad.

Christmas Trivia

The Word of the Day

Today in History:
December 11, 1688
King James II attempting to flee London as the "Glorious Revolution" replaced him with King William (of Orange) and Queen Mary, threw the Great Seal of the Realm into the River Thames.

He was, however, caught in Kent. Having no desire to make James a martyr, the Prince of Orange let him escape on December 23, 1688. James was received by Louis XIV, who offered him a palace and a generous pension.

December 11, 1882 -
Fiorello Enrico La Guardia
, Mayor of New York for three terms from 1934 to 1945, was born on this date.

With a boundless enthusiasm and energy to match that of Teddy Roosevelt, La Guardia could be the last Mayor of NYC who really loved his job.

December 11, 1919 -
The citizens of Enterprise, Alabama, erected a monument to the boll weevil. The only monument dedicated to an agricultural pest!!

The invasive insect devastated their fields but forced residents to end their dependence on cotton and to pursue mixed farming and manufacturing.

December 11, 1931 -
Rita Moreno
(Rosa Dolores Alverio,) winner of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony, was born on this date.

She is currently the only Puerto Rican EGOT winner.

December 11, 1936  -    
Britain's King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in order to marry American divorcee Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson. Edward VIII had been king of Great Britain and Ireland for less than a year when he abdicated the throne to marry "the woman I love."

After his abdication, Edward was awarded the title Duke of Windsor by his brother, King George VI. Edward and Mrs. Simpson married on June 3, 1937.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) was created by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 1946, to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II.

UNICEF provides many types of assistance and help to children and mothers. It receives money from different governments and private persons. It works in almost all countries of the world.

December 11, 1964 -
Sam Cooke
, popular singer, was shot to death by Bertha Franklin, manager of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, California. Franklin claimed that he had threatened her, and that she killed him in self-defense.

The shooting was ultimately ruled to be a justifiable homicide, though there have been arguments that crucial details did not come out in court, or were buried afterward.

December 11, 1967 -
The Beatles' Apple Music
signs its first group - Grapefruit, on this date.

With unwise business decisions like this, I'm sure the Beatles must have gone broke very shortly after this.

More Christmas Trivia

America’s official national Christmas tree (so designated by President Calvin Coolidge in 1926) is located in King’s Canyon National Park in California. The tree, a giant sequoia called the General Grant Tree, is almost 90 meters (300 feet) high is the second largest tree in the world (by volume, the first is General Sherman, his neighbor in Sequoia National Park.)  The idea was inspired by a little girl who had imagined the giant as a Christmas tree and shared the thought with Sanger, California resident, Charles E. Lee. From then on, Lee began organizing yearly Christmas programs around the tree, in the enchanted grove of sequoias, until the event became an annual ceremony.

And on a personal note:
Happy Birthday Julie

(hope you had a good birthday weekend)

And so it goes.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

In Naples, it's known as 'Caffè Sospeso'

Today is Suspended Coffee Day, a holiday I only recently heard about.  Coffee shops around the world are reviving an old Neapolitan custom, which involves paying it forward with coffee.

A customer orders one cup but pays the barista for two. This second cup - the "suspended coffee" - is served for free to someone who is down on their luck.

December 10, 1948
Another Preston Sturges Champagne cocktail laced with strychnine, Unfaithfully Yours, opened in the US on this date.

The orchestral conductor, Sir Alfred de Carter, is based loosely on the real life British conductor Sir Thomas Beecham. Beecham was the son of pharmacist Sir Joseph Beecham, the inventor of the laxative Beecham's Pills. Accordingly Harrison's character, Sir Alfred de Carter, is said to be named after Carter's Little Liver Pills, the American equivalent.

December 10, 1955
The Mighty Mouse Playhouse began a long-standing 'Saturday Morning Cartoon’ tradition on CBS-TV, on this date.

Terrytoons Studios produced 80 theatrical Mighty Mouse cartoons between 1942 to 1961, which were shown on this cartoon TV series on Saturday mornings. Each episode contained three Mighty Mouse theatrical cartoons and a one-shot one (especially with Heckle and Jeckle).

December 10, 1967 -
Julie Andrews!

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in their first starring comedy, Bedazzled, opened in the US on this date.

At the time of its release, blasphemy was considered a common-law offense in the UK, and the British Board of Film Censors were concerned that the film's premise would offend religious groups. Director Stanley Donen defended the film against such claims. To prove his point, Donen claimed that he pre-screened Bedazzled to a London rector and the Arch Deacon of Westminster Abbey, both of whom took no offense to the film. After that assurance, the case was dropped.

December 10, 1968 -
Carol Reed's musical adaptation of the Charles Dicken's classic, Oliver!, starring Ron Moody, Oliver Reed and Mark Lester, opened in the US on this date.

While filming the scene where Oliver gets a peek at Fagin's treasure, director Carol Reed was not satisfied with the reaction on Mark Lester's face. Later, while re-shooting the scene, he hid a small white rabbit in his pocket and stood behind the camera. As Ron Moody opened the box of treasures, Reed pulled the rabbit out of his pocket. Lester's reaction to the sight of the rabbit was then used in the final film.

December 10, 1974 -
Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else's dreams?

Ed Wood Jr., either the world's greatest visionary director or the worst filmmaker of all time, suffered a fatal heart attack on this date. At the time of his death, the industry newspaper, Variety, failed to run his obituary.

December 10, 1974
The classic disaster movie, Towering Inferno, opened in NYC on this date.

According to actor/stuntman Ernie F. Orsatti, Faye Dunaway was often late to the set or didn't appear at all. This made some scenes impossible to film and caused other actors such as William Holden and Jennifer Jones to become quite upset. Holden reportedly shoved Dunaway against the wall one day and threatened her. For the next month, she had a perfect attendance record.

December 10, 1982
A paean to B movies, It Came from Hollywood, opened in the US on this date. (Do yourself a favor;  find some time today to watch the whole film if you haven't seen it.)

Sadly this was never released on DVD. Paramount had planned to release the film on DVD in 2002. Due to copyright issues with several of the clips featured in the film, the release was ultimately canceled.

December 10, 1984
On a very cold night in NYC, 33 years ago, Francis Ford Coppola's Cotton Club opened in NYC. I can remember waiting on line to see the film on the opening day.

When Francis Ford Coppola called up Bob Hoskins to offer him a part, the actor didn't believe it was really him. Coppola introduced himself, to which Hoskins replied, "Yeah, and this is Henry the fucking Eighth", and hung up.

It been 33 years since Do They Know It's Christmas, the charity single by the all-star group Band Aid, was released.

As of the last check, The Band Aid/ Live Aid initiatives have raised over $200 million dollars. Not bad for basically a very crappy tune.

Another stop along the lost highway

Today in History:
December 10, 1520
The heretic Martin Luther burnt the papal bull (Exsurge Domine), on this date, issued by Leo X, demanding an end to his heresies. Luther had published 95 points against the practice of granting indulgences, and the Catholic Church only had 94 points in favor of them.

Although technically he was the winner, Luther was subsequently excommunicated.

went away mad and started his own religion.

December 10, 1830
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Poet Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts on this date.  Only about 10 of her poems were published in her lifetime, and those were submitted for publication without her permission. After her death in 1886, more than 1,800 of her poems, which she had bound together in bundles, were discovered and published.

December 10, 1848 -
Napoleon III
, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte), was elected president of France. By 1852, he dismantled the Republic and replaced it with the Second Empire of France, with himself as emperor.

This is what comes from being a Napoleon - give them an inch and they're declaring themselves emperor.

December 10, 1936 -
Edward VIII
, signed the letter of abdication to the English throne (which took effect on the next day,) to marry the twice divorced, horsey faced (and possibly transvestite)  - the woman he loved on this date.

Many in the government are secretly relieved, fearing they may have bet against Mrs. Simpson when she ran at the Royal Ascot.

December 10, 1958 -
Krishna Venta (born Francis Herman Pencovic) died in Chatsworth, California in a suicide bombing when two disgruntled former followers (Peter Duma Kamenoff and Ralph Muller) who, although never offering any documentary evidence to support their claims, charged that Venta had both mishandled cult funds and been intimate with their wives.

Venta's remains are only ever identified through dental records.

This is what comes from the laying on of hands with cult members' wives.

December 10, 1967 -
Soul singer Otis Redding plus four members of the Bar-Kays were killed when his airplane crashes into Lake Monona near Madison, Wisconsin on this date.

So, poor Otis was laid out all over the dock of the bay.

December 10, 1993 -
Adolf Hitler was baptized by proxy into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in their London temple on this date. Mormons also continued to vicariously baptism victims of the Holocaust over the strenuous objections of various Jewish groups such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center (even Simon Wiesenthal has had a baptism performed for himself after his death.)

There's nothing worse than finding out you've become a Mormon by proxy (especially if you're already dead and in heaven.)

Before you go - Puddles covered an old James Gang song, Walk Away.

I don't know what going on with all of these peppy tunes recently

And so it goes.

Miss Mabel Snodgrass wanted to ignore the holidays. Unfortunately she couldn't.


Saturday, December 9, 2017

It's Santacon today.

The amateur drinkers (in various shades of holiday undress) are once again back in Manhattan this year: supposedly, they will be in Midtown and Lower Manhattan, stating at 10 AM. I can take comfort that it may snow today and many of the revelers will catch cold.

I am past outrage that several websites are suggesting that if I don't want to be bothered by drunken 20 somethings in the middle of the day, I should just stay indoors. I will be in cranky old man mood this evening - be warned! 

(Changing gears)
The first Christmas card was created in England on December 9, 1843

Like most of us, Henry Cole, an Englishman, was too busy to write personal greetings for all of his Christmas greetings in 1843. Cole hired artist John Calcott Horsley to design a ready-to-be-sent card.

The hand-colored card Horsley designed was lithographed on stiff, dark cardboard and featured adults and children raising wine glasses in a toast. Some thought the card blasphemous with the family, surrounded with religious symbols, holding glasses of wine

Printed in an edition of 1,000, Horsley's card was sold in London stores. At the time, the greeting cards could be mailed for a penny each. Less than a dozen of those cards exists today. Printed cards soon became the rage in England; the controversy is thought to have helped promote Cole's idea.

December 9, 1947 -
An oft forgotten holiday classic, The Bishop's Wife, starring Cary Grant, David Nivens, and Loretta Young premiered in NYC on this date.

Originally Cary Grant played the Bishop and David Niven the Angel. When original director William A. Seiter left the film, Henry Koster replaced him and viewed what had been shot so far. He realized that the two were in the wrong roles. It took some convincing because Grant wanted the title role of the Bishop. He eventually accepted the change and his role as the Angel was one of the most widely praised of his career.

December 9, 1965 -
A pre-teen drama about the bi-polar kid and his wacky friends first experiences of the depressive nature of the holiday season premiered on this date -

The nearly 150,000 inmates in Texas prisons are barred from using Facebook, possessing cellphones and receiving snacks in the mail. They are also prohibited from reading the pop-up edition of A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Color Purple and the 1908 Sears, Roebuck catalog.

Now you know.

December 9, 1978 -
Nicolas Roeg's
iconic thriller Don't Look Now, starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, was released in New York City on this date.

Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie met for the first time on the set of this film. The first scene they had to shoot was the sex scene, as Nicolas Roeg wanted to "get it out of the way."

December 9, 1989 –
Billy Joel's
history lesson, We Didn’t Start the Fire hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts on this date.

Joel wrote the lyrics first, which he rarely does. He says that is why the song has no melody. Joel told Billboard magazine: "It's terrible musically. It's like a mosquito buzzing around your head."

December 9, 2005 -
The adaptation of C. S. Lewis's fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe premiered on this date.

The wolves that destroyed the Beavers' home were mostly real animals, with one or two CGI ones added in, although their tails had to be digitally removed and re-added. Their tails kept wagging while filming the scene, making them seem less vicious, showing instead, being happy with frolicking around.

December 9, 2005 -
Rob Marshall's
adaptation of critically acclaimed novel (of the same name) Memoirs of a Geisha, starring Zhang Ziyi, Ken Watanabe, Gong Li, Michelle Yeoh, Youki Kudoh, and Suzuka Ohgo premiered in the US on this date.

The three leading non-Japanese actresses, including Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li, and Michelle Yeoh, were put through a six-week crash course on geisha culture through a "geisha boot camp" before production commenced, during which they were trained in traditional geisha practices of musicianship, dance, and tea ceremony. 

(Today's Special - The holidays can really bring you down)

Today in History:
December 9, 1783
The site of London's executions (via the gallows) was moved from Tyburn to Newgate. The public spectacle of prisoners' executions drew large crowds.

Out with the old, in with the new.

December 9, 1902 -
A great deal of my mail comes from fans of the 'Oz' picture - fans of all ages. The scholarly, the curious, the disbelievers write and ask how? why? when? what for? did you fly? melt? scream? cackle? appear? disappear? produce? sky-write? deal with monkeys? etc., etc., etc.

Margaret Hamilton, celebrated character actress best known for her portrayal of The Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, was born on this date.

December 9, 1957 -
Donny Osmon
d was born on this date!

Still a little bit Rock and Roll.

December 9, 1968 -
The John Birch Society, is a political education and action organization founded by Robert W. Welch on this date.

The society supports associated with traditionally conservative causes such as anti-communism, support for individual rights and the ownership of private property.

If you think I'm going to make fun of them, given some of the things that the president has said, you've got another thing coming.

December 9, 1994 -
Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was dismissed after suggesting discussion of masturbation in school classes on sexuality.

This gives rise to the euphemistic term "firing the surgeon general."

Useless Christmas Trivia

The lighting of candles and decorating with candles has always been popular, but also one of biggest sources of danger during the Christmas holidays.

In 1895 a New England Telephone employee, Ralph Morris, while looking at the newly installed string of lights made for the telephone switchboard decided to take some home to decorate his tree with. And/or it may be attributed to Thomas Edison's partner, Edward Johnson for inventing the first string of lights around the same time Ralph, for safety reasons.

In 1923, after his daily scalp massage with Vaseline, President Calvin Coolidge started the annual tradition of the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on the White House lawn.

And so it goes

Before you go - another funny video from the people at Bon Appetit about popular pastries from the past 100 years -

I think I could get my kids to try all of these.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Ok. I can't explain this to you

I believe some of you are really going to need an old lady in church, saying the rosaries on a Thursday afternoon in the back row of your church to explain this one to you:

December 8, 1854 -
Pius IX promulgates the doctrine of Immaculate Conception (Ineffabilis Deus)  - the Virgin Mary is free from original sin (and not the other thing some of you think.)

Later, she achieves permanent fame when despite of her marriage, she finds herself in the family way by her acquaintance with a Supreme Being.

December 8, 1952 -
In some weird cosmic irony, the episode Lucy Is Enceinte first aired on CBS-TV ("enceinte" being French for "expecting" or "pregnant") on this date.

CBS would not allow I Love Lucy to use the word "pregnant", so "expecting" was used instead.

It's apparently National Brownie day today, as opposed to 'Send Kevin the loose bills in your pocket day.'  According to several sources, Brownies seem to have made their first appearance at the Parker House Hotel in Chicago in 1893 celebrating the Columbian Exposition World’s Fair in Chicago, (you may find their original recipe for the brownies on the hotel's website.)

My contribution to the days' festivities is my family's recipe (if you need to bring a dessert somewhere this holiday season; this is the one.)

The Canadian postal service has been giving Jolly Old St. Nicholas a helping hand. For more than 35 years, Canada Post has been helping Santa with his huge holiday volume of mail. Thanks to Canada Post's Santa Letter-writing Program, children can write to the jolly old fellow in virtually any language, including Braille, and receive a response in the same language.

Santa's correct address happens to be:

Santa Claus
North Pole H0H 0H0

(Please note the zip code)

Or you can get an e-mail from Santa at - Santa's corner. You better hurry though, Christmas is just around the corner (and if you are a kid - what the heck are you doing reading this blog, it's not appropriate for  you.  Although you could go into your parents room while they are sleeping and fill an envelope with those green pieces of paper in their wallets and send it to me at ...)

December 8, 1976 -
release the fifth studio album of the Eagles, Hotel California, on this date.

Hotel California would go on to sell 16 million copies in the U.S. and double that figure worldwide.

December 8, 1978 -
The EMI Film and Universal Pictures produced Michael Cimino film, The Deer Hunter, starring Robert De Niro, John Savage, Christopher Walken, John Cazale and Meryl Streep, premiered in Los Angeles on this date

Director Michael Cimino convinced Christopher Walken to spit in Robert De Niro's face. When Walken actually did it, De Niro was completely shocked, as evidenced by his reaction. In fact, De Niro was so furious about it he nearly left the set. Cimino later said of Walken, "He's got courage!"

Today's holiday special - Without any fear

Today in History:
Henry Laurens
, the Fifth President of the Continental Congress, became the first person to be formally cremated in the U.S. in 1792 on this date.

Things would have gone on in a more dignified manner if Mr Laurens was deceased at the time (just kidding - he was quite dead, especially after the cremation.)

December 8, 1793 -
Mme. du Barry
, mistress of Louis XV, did not go quietly to that good death. On the way to the guillotine she continually collapsed in the tumbrel and cried "You are going to hurt me! Why?!" She became quite hysterical during her execution: "She screamed, she begged mercy of the horrible crowd that stood around the scaffold, she aroused them to such a point that the executioner grew anxious and hastened to complete his task."

Her last words to the executioner: "Encore un moment, monsieur le bourreau, un petit moment," (One moment more, executioner, one little moment) were her most famous.

How insensitive of her to be such a pain.

December 8, 1961 -
Conservative columnist Ann Coulter, was spawned on this day (Think the movie, Splice).

Let us remember that this woman suggested that ... I don’t believe Hurricane Harvey is God’s punishment for Houston electing a lesbian mayor. But that is more credible than “climate change".

December 8, 1963 -
Frank Sinatra Jr.
was kidnapped at Harrah's Lake Tahoe, Nevada on this date. After Frank Sinatra paid the $240,000.00 random, Jr. was set free a few days later. It has always been speculated that Sinatra, Jr. cooperated with his abductors in their plot.

Frank Sr. was not happy. As punishment Frank Jr. was forced to become a fat, dumpy, bald headed guy who had to conduct the big band for Frank Sr. and all was well.

December 8, 1980 -
John Lennon
was shot by a lunatic, Mark David Chapman, outside Lennon's apartment in New York City mere hours after receiving the Beatle's autograph.

Chapman was carrying around his dog eared copy of Catcher in the Rye.

For those of you who remember the book, I leave it to you to draw any conclusions.

December 8, 1982 -
Norman Mayer barricaded himself inside the Washington Monument and threatens to blow it up unless all nuclear weapons are dismantled. He was shot by police after 10 hours.

That's what you get for sticking up the largest prick in DC.

And so it goes


Thursday, December 7, 2017

How lovely are thy branches

This evening, a huge Christmas tree will be lit by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, the British ambassador to Norway and the Mayor of Oslo, in Trafalgar Square.

The people of Oslo, Norway donate the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree every year in gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during WWII.  This historic tradition has happened every year since 1947.

December 7, 1945 -
Universal Pictures
released the horror film House of Dracula, directed by Erle C. Kenton and starring Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Martha O’Driscoll and Lionel Atwill, on this date.

House of Dracula actually features four different actors in the role of the Frankenstein Monster. In addition to Glenn Strange, Boris Karloff plays the Monster in footage lifted from Bride of Frankenstein and the climax uses scenes of both Lon Chaney Jr. and his stunt double, Eddie Parker, as the Monster from The Ghost of Frankenstein.

December 7, 1958
Tim Butler, bass player and co-founder of the Psychedelic Furs was born on this date.

We'll let him serenade Joan, the birthday girl. (It would be very rude to ask how old she is?)

December 7, 1960 -
MGM released the science fiction film Village of the Damned, directed by Wolf Rilla and starring George Sanders on this date.

Originally begun in 1957 as an American picture to star Ronald Colman, MGM shelved the project, when Colman passed away in 1958 and was replaced by George Sanders. Interesting fact George Sanders married Colman's widow Benita Hume in 1959.

December 7, 1969 -
Another Rankin/Bass production, Frosty the Snowman, premiered on CBS-TV on this date.

June Foray provided the voices of Karen, the Teacher and the other children. However, starting with the third airing of the special, most of her recordings as Karen and the other children were replaced with the voices of actual young children.

December 7, 1979 -
Paramount Pictures
released the science fiction film Star Trek: The Motion Picture, directed by Robert Wise and starring a bunch of TV actors on this date.

The cast hated the uniforms, which required assistance in order to be removed. In fact, one of the cast's conditions for returning in a sequel was to have new uniforms.

December 7, 2001 –
Steven Soderbergh's
remake of franks Sinatra's 1960 summer vacation movie, Ocean’s Eleven, starring George Clooney,  Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Andy García, and Julia Roberts opened in US theaters on this date.

The script was sent to Julia Roberts with a $20 bill attached. Included was a note from George Clooney that said "I hear you're getting 20 a picture now". This of course is a joke referencing Julia Roberts becoming the highest paid actress at $20 million per picture.

Today's holiday special: Can you think of a better thing to do with frozen water?

Today in History:
December 7, 43 BC
Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.

Marcus Tullius Cicero, famous Roman writer and orator, literally gets his head handed to him on this date, when soldier in Marc Antony's army chopped off his head and right hand then displayed them in the Roman Forum.

Now there's a holiday display you don't see that often.

December 7, 185 -
Emperor Lo-Yang of China took a stroll on in his imperial garden on this evening and saw a Supernova.

Who knew he was such a Frankie Goes To Hollywood fan?

December 7, 1907 -
Christmas Seals
first went on sale in the United States went to raise funds to treat tuberculosis, after Emily Bissell, a social worker and activist, read about the program in an article by Jacob Riis.

In 1903, Einar Holbøll, a Danish postal clerk developed the idea of adding an extra charitable stamp on mailed holiday greetings during Christmas. The money raised could be used to help children sick with tuberculosis.

It was on this day in 1941 that Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbor. The attack came after the United States had frozen Japanese assets and declared an embargo on shipments of petroleum to Japan.

On the morning of December 7, soldiers at Pearl Harbor were learning how to use a new device called radar, and they detected a large number of planes heading toward them. They telephoned an officer to ask him what to do. The officer said they must be American B-17s on their way to the base, and he told the soldiers not to worry about it.

A sailor named James Jones, who would go on to write the novel From Here to Eternity, was in the mess hall that morning.

There were ultimately 2,390 Americans killed at Pearl Harbor and 1,178 wounded. Two days after the attack, the Navy passed out postcards to the survivors and told them to write to their families, but not to describe what had happened. Some families did not get their postcards until this past February.

December 7, 1949 -
It's Tom Waits' birthday today.

Tom Traubert's Blues
  (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen) -

God's Away On Business  -

Downtown Train

Take One Last Look  -

And the Acme Corp. is always happy to sponsor that Christmas Classic, Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis -

As alwayss, let's stay up all night, get drunk and sing really sad songs in a raspy voice in his honor.

December 7, 1968 -
The Rolling Stones released their album Beggar’s Banquet in the US (one day after it was released in the UK,) on this date.

They soon filmed a television extravaganza entitled The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. After reviewing the program, the Stones felt that they were upstaged by the Who’s performance and the film was shelved until 1996, when it was finally released officially.

December 7, 1972
Apollo 17, the sixth and last Apollo moon mission, was launched from Cape Canaveral on this date.

It will land on the Moon December 11 and Flight Commander Eugene Cernan and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt, will be the last men to step on the Moon for decades to come..

And so it goes.

Before you go - I couldn't resist this mashup of I Melt With You and Frosty The Snowman by The Skivvies

I should have known what the costumes for The Skivvies were going to be.