Friday, January 12, 2018

Completely useless facts

There are 1,792 steps

to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

January 12, 1934 -
George Cukor's
star-studded extravaganza Dinner at Eight, went into general release in the US on this date.

Jean Harlow was in awe of Marie Dressler's talents and praised the veteran actress for her generosity. "Being in the same cast with Marie was a break for me," said Harlow. "She's one trouper I'd never try to steal a scene from. It'd be like trying to carry Italy against Mussolini."

January 12, 1944 -
Probably Alfred Hitchcock's most underrated film, Lifeboat, opened in NYC on this date.

The harsh conditions of the shoot took its toll: actors were soaked with water and oil, which led to two cases of pneumonia for Tallulah Bankhead, an illness for actress Mary Anderson and two cracked ribs for actor Hume Cronyn, according to his autobiography. Production was temporarily halted twice to allow for recovery of the cast.

January 12, 1955 -
Kraft Television Theatre
presented the first drama written by Rod Serling, Patterns on this date.

The drama was so popular that it became the first live drama in television history to be broadcast twice due to popularity. Both broadcasts were done live, not on kinescope, videotape, or film.

January 12, 1960 -
Michael Todd, Jr
. released Scent of Mystery in "Smell-o-Vision", starring Denholm Elliott, Peter Lorre, Leo McKern, and Diana Dors into general release on this date.

The "Smell-O-Vision" gimmick did not work as intended. Moviegoers in the balcony said the aromas reached them too late to coincide with the onscreen action. Some said the scents were much too faint. Negative word-of-mouth and reviews doomed the movie and the gimmick.

January 12, 1966 -
Holy homoeroticism!!!

ABC-TV premiered the tightly colored underwear wearing, perfectly genitally arranged comedy Batman on this date.

I'm not sure if it's still on the same bat channel though.

January 12, 1971 -
Oh Geez, stifle yourself.

The first episode of All In The Family made television history by broadcasting the sound of a toilet flushing on this date.

This is not, however, the first time a toilet tank is seen on television. That honor goes to Leave It to Beaver premiere episode, Captain Jack back in 1957.

January 12, 1997 -
Fox-TV premiered the pilot episode of King of the Hill on this date.

In nearly every episode of the show, Hank, Dale, Bill and Boomhauer stand in the alley and drink beer. Creator Mike Judge has described the four of them as like "the Greek chorus of the show".

A word concerning it being 5PM somewhere in the world

Today in History -
If you were ever an altar boy or ever took Latin, I don't need to tell you what jacta alea est means. But if you're like most Americans, to whom Latin is about as familiar as Urdu, let me translate: it means the die is cast. At least that's how it's usually translated. Back in the early days of English, when the phrase was first translated, that's how they would have said "the dice are thrown."

This Latin snippet is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly because it demonstrates the popularity of gambling with dice in the ancient world, which is an important bit of trivia for keeping wayward adolescents interested in the classics; secondly because it's a short little Latin phrase you can drop into conversation to impress snobs; thirdly because the event of its utterance changed the course of western civilization for ever.

The line was uttered by Julius Caesar on this very date in 49 BC (There is some disagreement on this date - this is clearly one of those dates that most of historians, around at the time, were too busy at the local orgy to clearly denote when a short bald Italian soldier crossed a rivulet.) Caesar and his army had just crossed the Rubicon, a little stream in northern Italy. The Roman Senate had long ago established a rule that Roman citizens should be forbidden from crossing the the Rubicon with their armies, since they figured anyone coming south toward Rome with an entire army probably wasn't up to any good (this should be enacted immediately in the USA - no bald men in a short skirt on horse should ever cross the Potomac with their own army.)

(If the Roman Senate had really wanted to play it safe, maybe they should have designed the infrastructure of their empire so that all roads didn't lead to Rome - but that's beside the point.)

You may be wondering why Caesar would set out to break the law this way. He had, after all, been a popular and successful general and had been governor of Gaul for some time. But that's exactly why he decided to cross the Rubicon: he had become so popular and so powerful that the Roman Senate ordered him to disband his army and give up Gaul. Which has always made me wonder why the Roman Senate didn't say jacta alea est after issuing their demands. Maybe they were just too eager to get back to their dice.

Anyway, by crossing the Rubicon, Caesar had officially committed treason and launched the Roman Civil War. I've also saved you several hours of watching DVD's of the series Rome. Except for the naked parts.

The rest is history.

January 12, 1856  -
You can't do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh.

John Singer Sargent, American Gilded Age portrait painter, was born on this date.

January 12, 1928 -
Ruth Snyder became the first woman to die in the electric chair on this date.

She was electrocuted by “state electricianRobert G. Elliott at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York, along with Judd Gray, her lover and co-conspirator, for the murder of her husband, Albert on March 20, 1927. This was billed in the press as “The Dumb-Bell Murder.”

The case was the inspiration for the novel Double Indemnity by James M. Cain, which was later adapted for the screen by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler. Cain also mentioned that his book The Postman Always Rings Twice took inspiration from the crime.

January 12, 1967 -
Dr. James Bedford (a psychology professor at the University of California) became the first person to ever be cryogenically preserved with the intent of being resuscitated in the future.

Dr. Bedford  remains were switched to a different tank in 1991 and it would appear that everything has held up thus far. (Remember though, as much as you want it to be true - Disney is not a Popiscle inside Cinderella's castle.)

January 12, 1992
... My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you’d like to hear it I can sing it for you.”

The HAL (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic Computer) 9000 computer became operational in the HAL plant in Urbana, Illinois, on this date in the film, 2001, A Space Odyssey.

January 12, 2010 -
A powerful 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti and crushed thousands of structures, from schools and shacks to the National Palace on this date. Thousands of people were believed dead and untold numbers were trapped. An estimated three million people were in need of emergency aid.

The quake left over 200,000 people dead. Some 4,500 prison inmates escaped during the earthquake. By April they were terrorizing neighborhoods and fighting turf battles.

And so it goes.


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