Thursday, November 9, 2017

In case you needed to know

Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour.

November 9, 1946 -
Another classic yet surprisingly controversial Bugs Bunny outing, Rhapsody Rabbit, premiered on this date (We'll talk about the controversy later.)

A long-standing controversy exists between the previous cartoon and the Tom and Jerry short, The Cat Concerto (1946).

Both sides (WB and MGM) claim that theirs was the original, and the other was a rip-off. Nobody knows for sure who is correct and it is, of course, entirely conceivable that the similarities are pure coincidence.

November 9, 1951 -
The zenith of Hollywood Musical film making (I'll let you argue about whether this or Singing in the Rain is better), An American in Paris, opened in California on this date.

Even though Vincente Minnelli is credited as the sole director, he was sometimes tied up with his divorce from Judy Garland and other directing projects, leaving Gene Kelly to take over the directing duties.

November 9, 1964 -
Another under-appreciated film that you should see, The Pumpkin Eater, opened in the US on this date.

The film never explains its title, which refers to a traditional child's rhyme: "Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater/Had a wife, but couldn't keep her;/So he put her in a shell/And there he kept her very well." This serves as the epigraph of Penelope Mortimer's original novel.

November 9, 1972 -
The adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, 1776, starring William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, John Cullum, Ken Howard and Blythe Danner, premiered in NYC on this date

The final shot required the camera to pull back to show the entire Congressional chamber. However, there was not enough room on the set for the camera truck to pull back far enough. Since the sound stages being used were slated to be demolished after production ended, and this was the final shot being done, a large hole was made in the wall - with the camera truck protruding outdoors after pulling all the way back. As it turned out, the sound stages were never demolished and the wall was rebuilt.

In honor of Dylan Thomas

Today in History:
November 9, 1906
Teddy Roosevelt went against more than a century of tradition and became the first American president ever to leave the country while in office, on this date. He went to view the construction site of the Panama Canal.

Before Roosevelt, it was assumed that a President of the United States couldn't oversee the country effectively if he traveled abroad. It would take too long for him to communicate with government officials back home. But with the invention of the telegraph and then the telephone, high speed communication had grown much more feasible.

So on this day in 1906, Roosevelt and his wife climbed aboard the U.S.S. Louisiana and sailed south. The journey to Panama made Roosevelt happier than he'd been in a long while. He strolled the decks with his wife, read a stack of books he'd brought with him, including Tacitus and Milton, and the captain even let him steer the ship at one point. When he got to Panama itself, he was so impressed by the jungle and the tropical wildlife that he didn't even mind the torrential rains.

The chief engineer had the incredibly difficult task of accompanying Roosevelt everywhere he went. He said, "I have blisters on both feet and am worn out - Scaling a hill with Roosevelt is like taking a fort by storm." They took a train to the construction site, but when Roosevelt saw the first 95-ton steam shovel, he ordered that the train be stopped so that he could hike through the mud to see the steam shovel up close. It was a new invention at the time, and Roosevelt spent a half an hour asking about its operation. He then took a turn at the controls.

Although, King Louis (Mel Brooks) said, "It's good to be the king", it must have been a blast to be Teddy.

Bully, bully.

November 9, 1938 -
Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass, literally, "Night of Crystal",) when waves of violent anti-Jewish pogroms took place throughout Germany and surrounding German territories. The incident was sparked after Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew, killed Ernst vom Rath, a Nazi diplomat, on November 7, 1938.

The Nazis began burning and vandalizing Jewish businesses, homes, synagogues and schools. More than 100 Jews were killed, and Nazi forces arrested more than 30,000 Jewish men over two days, sending most of them to concentration camps; many of the men were later released after promising to leave the country. The violence marks the unofficially beginning of the holocaust.

November 9, 1953

Dylan Thomas finally accomplished his goal of drinking himself to death (having had 18 straight whiskies at the White Horse Tavern, in Greenwich Village, several days previously) on this date.

Sometimes it is not good to be a drunken Welsh poet.

November 9, 1965 -
The Northeast Blackout of 1965 was a major power outage affecting parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, New Jersey  in the United States and portions of Canada on this date.

Around 25 million people and 80,000 square miles were left without electricity for up to twelve hours. Although human error was the official blame, there is another theory that UFO's visiting the Northeast were to blame.

That explains so much.

November 9, 1967 -
First issue of Rolling Stone Magazine was published on this date.

In the very first edition of the magazine, Jann Wenner wrote that Rolling Stone "is not just about the music, but about the things and attitudes that music embraces."

When a government statement that crossing of the border would be permitted was broadcast on November 9, 1989, masses of East Germans approached and then crossed the wall, and were joined by crowds of West Germans in a celebratory atmosphere.

The Berlin Wall was subsequently destroyed by a euphoric public over a period of several weeks, and its fall was the first step toward German reunification, which was formally concluded on October 3, 1990.

The French are still casting a leery eye at their reunified neighbor.

November 9, 2346 -
Romulans commit an atrocity now known as the Khitomer Massacre, slaughtering over 4,000 Klingons on an agricultural colony on this date.

Worf and Kahlest are the only two to survive.

One tree in central Pennsylvania is about to become a celebrity.  Rockefeller Center has chosen its Christmas Tree for 2017.

The tree is a 75-foot Norway Spruce from the home of Jason Perrin in State College. The 80 years old tree has a 50-foot diameter and weighs between 12 and 13 tons. It'll be cut down later today.

The tree will then make its way to New York City, arriving at Rockefeller Center on November 11. The tree lighting will be on November 29th - remember to avoid midtown at all cost on that date. After January 7th, the tree will come down and be donated to Habitat for Humanity for its lumber to be used to build homes.

And so it goes

Before you go
- Don't forget to tune into The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize November 20 on your local PBS station.

I can't think of a better way to start your holidays.


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