Sunday, April 30, 2017

Europeans are different than we are

Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis Night or Beltane Eve) is celebrated in most of Northern Europe the night of April 30 to May 1.

Legend has it, this night was the last chance for witches and various demons to stir up trouble before Spring reawakened the land.

April 30, 1938 -
Bugs Bunny first appeared, so to speak, in the cartoon short Porky's Hare Hunt, released on this date. This short was co-directed by Cal Dalton and Ben Hardaway.

The cartoon had an almost identical theme to a 1937 cartoon, Porky's Duck Hunt, directed by Tex Avery and introducing Daffy Duck. Following the general plot of this earlier film, the short cast Porky Pig as a hunter against an equally nutty prey more interested in driving his hunter insane than running away. But instead of a black duck, his current prey was a tiny, white rabbit. Bugs Bunny introduces himself with the expression "Jiggers, fellers," and Mel Blanc gave the rabbit a voice and laugh that he would later use to voice Woody Woodpecker. In this cartoon, he also quoted Groucho Marx for the first time (from the movie Duck Soup): "Of course, you know, this means war!"

April 30,1950 -
The film-noir classic, DOA, starring Edmond O'Brien, was released on this date. (Stick around for the whole movie.)

The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.

April 30, 1952 -
Mr. Potato Head® became the first toy to be advertised on television on this date.

Over one million kits were sold in the first year.  Mrs.Celeriac or Mr. Romanesco didn't sell so well.

April 30, 1997 -
Ellen DeGeneres' character came out of the closet on the sitcom Ellen on this date.

The show was the highest rated episode the series ever aired, with over 42 million viewers and won an Emmy for writing.

Don't forget to check out Dr. Caligari's Cupboard

Today in History:
April 30, 1789 -
George Washington was inaugurated and took office in New York as the first president of the United States on this date. He took his oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street and spoke the words “So help me God,” which all future US presidents have repeated.

Please note: The oath as prescribed by the Constitution makes no mention of God, or of the Bible.

April 30, 1900 -
John Luther "Casey" Jones was born March 14, 1863 in southeast Missouri. While he was still a small child, his family moved to Cayce, Kentucky, which is how he got his nickname. As a boy, he liked trains - HE really liked trains. In 1878, at the age of 15, he went to work for the Mobile and Ohio Railroad as an apprentice telegrapher. By 1890, "Casey" had reached the pinnacle of the railroad profession as a crack locomotive engineer on the Illinois Central Railroad.

In 1899, Jones was given a regular passenger run on the Cannonball route which ran between Chicago and New Orleans. On April 29, 1900, Jones was in Memphis, Tennessee, from the northbound Cannonball when he agreed to take the southbound Cannonball because the scheduled engineer called in sick. He left Memphis at 12:50 am, 95 minutes behind schedule, but made up almost an hour between Memphis and Grenada, Mississippi, nearly 100 miles away. By Durant, 55 miles farther down, they were almost on time.

At Durant, Jones received orders to "saw by" two freights that had taken the siding in Vaughan. The two freights were too large to fit into the siding, leaving one end on the main line. If the "sawing" maneuver had been done correctly, the freights would have allowed the approaching train to pass the first switch, and then the trains on the siding would move past the other switch. However, an air hose on one of the freight trains burst, applying the brakes on the freight cars behind the break, and left them immobile on the main line. Meanwhile, Jones was traveling excessively fast, possibly up to 70 miles per hour, and did not have enough time to brake. When collision seemed imminent, Casey told his fireman, Sim Webb, to jump for it, but Jones rode the engine into the cars and was killed. It is believed that because Jones stayed to slow the train, he saved the passengers from injury and possible death (Casey himself was the only fatality of the collision).

Popular legend holds that when Jones' body was pulled from the wreckage of his train his hands were still firmly latched onto the whistle cord and the brake.

April 30, 1900 -
A group of American businessmen, led by Samuel Dole (of pineapple fame,) had overthrown the traditional monarchy of Hawaii several months earlier and operated the island themselves, occasionally clashing diplomatically with the US.

The provisional government finally allowed Hawaii to become a US territory after receiving a guarantee that they would not be punished for the coup.

And that bunkies is how the US stole Hawaii.

April 30, 1939 -
On a very hot New York Sunday, The 1939 World's Fair had its grand opening, with 200,000 people in attendance. The April 30 date coincided with the anniversary of George Washington's inauguration as President in New York City. Although many of the pavilions and other facilities were not quite ready for this opening, it was put on with pomp and great celebration.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the opening day address, and as a reflection of the wide range of technological innovation on parade at the fair, his speech was not only broadcast over the various radio networks but also was televised. NBC used the event to inaugurate regularly scheduled television broadcasts in New York City over their station W2XBS (now WNBC). An estimated 1,000 people viewed the Roosevelt telecast from about 200 television sets scattered throughout the New York area.

Little remembered but equally important, the View-Master was introduced at the World's Fair that day.

Don't worry about those storm clouds overhead (it's just World War II).

April 30, 1943 -
The British submarine HMS Seraph dropped ‘the man who never was,' a dead man the British planted with false invasion plans (which indicated the Allies would not invade Sicily,) into the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain on this date.

German agents discovered the body of a non-existent RAF major, bought the ruse and were unprepared for the actual attack on that island.

April 30, 1945 -
Holed up in a bunker under the Reich Chancellery headquarters in Berlin (conveniently called the Fuehrerbunker), blushing bride Eva Braun had a hankering for Almond Roca. Finding none available, she decide to chew a cyanide capsule and commit suicide instead (she was impulsive.) Distraught honeymooner Adolf Hitler, never one to go it alone, decides to commit suicide himself by swallowing a cyanide capsule and (to gilt the lily) shoot himself in the head (he was having a very bad day for an Evil Bastard.)

Soon after, Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allied forces, ending Hitler's dreams of a "1,000-year" Reich.

Guess that didn't work out for him.

April 30, 1975 -
The capital of South Vietnam - Saigon, fell on this date.  Communist forces gains control of Saigon. The fall of the city was preceded by the evacuation of almost all the American civilian and military personnel in Saigon, along with tens of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians. The evacuation culminated in Operation Frequent Wind, the largest helicopter evacuation in history.

The Vietnam War formally ends with the unconditional surrender of South Vietnamese president Duong Van Minh.

This was a really big Oops for America.

And so it goes


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