Saturday, February 29, 2020

Sometimes all you need is a big leap of faith.

February 29, 1584 -
Due to the Gregorian Calendar adjustment of two years earlier, much of Europe's population lived through its first Leap Day on this date.

But let's take a step back - Roman Emperor Julius Caesar took a break from being the dictator of the known world and took a stab at fixing the calendar when dates were no longer in sync with the seasons. First, he created one extra-long year – 445 days – to get things back on track (heavy drinking, animal sacrifices and non-stop orgies were involved.) He followed that with a pattern of three 365-day years and one 366-day year – leap year.



Fifteen centuries later, though, the calendar was off-kilter again. It turns out that Caesar’s plan created three extra leap years every 400 years. So in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII came up with a way to fix the problem. That year, the calendar jumped from October 4 to October 15. Gregory also set up a new rule to get rid of those three extra leap years. Under the Gregorian calendar, only century years divisible by 400 are leap years. With the introduction.of LEAP SECOND adjustments on the final day of some years, calendar accuracy has become an almost-exact science.



Leap Year has been the traditional time that women can propose marriage. In many of today's cultures, it is okay for a woman to propose marriage to a man. Society doesn't look down on such women. It is believed this tradition was started in 5th century Ireland when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait for so long for a man to propose. A law once existed in Scotland forbidding a man to refuse a proposal made to him on February 29th. Punishment for such an offense was a large fine. And yet, there is a Greek superstition that claims couples have bad luck if they marry during a leap year. Apparently one in five engaged couples in Greece will avoid planning their wedding during a leap year.

A person who was born on February 29 may be called a "leapling". In non-leap years they may celebrate their birthday on February 28th or March 1st.



For legal purposes, their legal birthdays depend on how different laws count time intervals. In England and Wales the legal birthday of a leapling is February 28th in common years (see Leap Years, above). In Taiwan the legal birthday of a leapling is also February 28 in common years. In both cases, a person born on February 29, 1980 would have legally reached 18 years old on February 28, 1998.

There are many instances in children's literature where a person's claim to be only a quarter of their actual age turns out to be based on counting their leap-year birthdays.



A similar device is used in the plot of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance. Frederic, born on February 29, was apprenticed to a band of pirates until his 21st birthday, which would not arrive until he was 88 years old.


Some famous leaplings are:

- William "Wild Bill" A. Wellman, American film director, (Wings, The Public Enemy and Nothing Sacred) (1896)



- Jimmy Dorsey, American bandleader (1904)



- Balthus, French-Polish painter of young girls in an erotic context (1908)



- Dinah Shore, American singer and long-time supporter of women's professional golf. (1916)



- Superman (aka Kal-El), the Man of Steel.


Clark Kent’s birthday (June 18) is the day the Kents (the Earth couple who adopted him) found baby.



Don't forget to tune in to The ACME Eagle Hand Soap Radio Hour today


Today in History -
February 29, 1504 -
Christopher Columbus, stranded in Jamaica during his fourth voyage to the West, used a correctly predicted lunar eclipse to frighten hostile natives into providing food for his crew.



Things didn't go well for the native population after that.


February 29, 1692 -
The witch mania in Salem, Massachusetts,began on this date when Sarah Goode and Tituba, an Indian servant to a local preacher, were arrested and charged with witchcraft on this date.



Things didn't go well for them.


February 29, 1904 -
President Theodore Roosevelt appointed the Isthmian Canal Commission to detail requirements for construction of a canal across the Isthmus of .

In 1905, the seven-man commission decided on a canal with locks, not a sea-level waterway. Completed in the 1914, its final cost was $336-million.


February 29, 1940 -
Gone with the Wind wins eight Academy Awards, including best picture of 1939, on this date.



Victor Fleming was named best director, Vivien Leigh best actress and Hattie McDaniel best supporting actress, the first black performer to receive an Oscar.


February 29, 1968 -
At the Grammy Awards on this date, the Fifth Dimension's Up, Up and Away won record of the year for 1967,



while album of the year honors went to the Beatles for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.





And so it goes


326

Friday, February 28, 2020

A watched pot never goes empty

They say necessity is the mother of invention; here is a story about laziness. In 1991, the first webcam was created to watch a coffee pot.



It allowed researchers, Dr. Quentin Stafford-Fraser and Paul Jardetzky, at Cambridge to monitor the coffee situation without leaving their desks. Ironically, the “webcam” actually predated the “web” by a couple of years, but as soon as the World Wide Web went up, the service was connected to the internet.


February 28, 1936 -
Wife vs. Secretary starring, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, and Myrna Loy premiered on this date.



Please refer to the flowchart provided to follow along - This was the fifth of six films paring Gable and Harlow, and the fourth picture for Gable and Loy starring together. This was the first film Loy and Harlow appeared together. They would be together again for Libeled Lady in 1936.


February 28, 1970 -
Simon and Garfunkel's song Bridge over Troubled Water reached number one on this date and stayed there for the next six weeks.



Simon wrote this song with just two verses, considering the song "a little hymn." Garfunkel and producer Roy Halee heard it as more epic, and convinced him to write a third verse, which Paul did in the studio (the "Sail on, Silvergirl part"). This was very unusual for Simon, as he usually took a long time writing his lyrics. Simon's "little hymn" got a grand production, and after hearing it, Paul thought it was too long, too slow and too orchestral to be a hit. Clive Davis at Columbia Records is the one who heard the commercial appeal of the song, and insisted they market it like crazy and use it as the album title.


February 28, 1983 -
The 256th and final episode of M*A*S*H, Goodbye, Farewell and Amen, aired on CBS-TV on this date.



It's the second time the phrase "son-of-a-bitch" was said, uncensored, on the series. Both times it was said by Hawkeye. The first time was in Guerrilla My Dreams, which was also the first time the curse was ever uttered on network television. Hawkeye said it once before, in The Interview, but it was bleeped, as it would have been in a 1951 interview.


February 28, 1986 -
The Brat-Pack Classic, Pretty In Pink, starring Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy, Jon Cryer and James Spader premiered on this date.



The filmmakers wanted Blane, to be "a hunky, square-jawed jock," but Molly Ringwald wasn't attracted to that sort of guy. Ringwald had some say in the casting, and after Andrew McCarthy auditioned, she told John Hughes and Howard Deutch her thoughts on him. "That's the kind of guy I would fall in love with." They thought he was a "twerpy guy", and weren't interested, but Ringwald pushed for his casting.


February 28, 1989 -
America started following the goings on at with Minnesota State University Screaming Eagles football team when Coach, starring Craig T. Nelson, Shelley Fabares, Jerry Van Dyke, and Bill Fagerbakke premiered on ABC-TV on this date.



Creator Barry Kemp wrote the role of Hayden Fox originally for Dabney Coleman while the two of them were working on the miniseries Fresno. Coleman was unavailable, however, when Kemp pitched the idea to Universal and ABC as a series.


It's 5pm at Termite Terrace


Today in History:
February 28, 1574 -
Two impertinent heretics were burned at the stake in Mexico at a spectacular auto-da-fe comparable to those in Spain.

The two are the first victims of the Inquisition in the New World, dying for their heretical crimes of...Lutheranism.


February 28, 1844 -
Julia Gardiner met her future husband, President John Tyler, on this date.

The USS Princeton departed Alexandria, Virginia on a pleasure and trial trip down the Potomac with President John Tyler, his Cabinet and approximately two hundred guests on board. Upon the final firing of Captain Robert F. Stockton's Peacemaker (a newly designed cannon), the defective gun finally burst, instantly killing Secretary of State Abel Upshur; Secretary of the Navy Thomas Gilmer; Captain Beverly Kennon, Chief of the Bureau of Construction, Equipment and Repairs; Virgil Maxcy of Maryland, Charge d'Affaires to Belgium, 1837–42; David Gardiner of New York, the father of Julia Gardiner; and the President's valet, a black slave named Armistead.



It also injured about 20 people, including Captain Stockton (who received severe powder burns on his face, and all the hair on his head was burned off.) A Court of Inquiry exonerated Capt. Stockton due to his political influence (he supported Tyler’s campaign), blaming the explosion on John Ericsson, designer of the ships' engines (despite the fact Ericsson had nothing to do with the design of the Peacemaker gun. Capt. Stockton, in fact, stole the design plans from Ericsson, got a key element of the design wrong in the process, and passed them off as his own), and "bad luck". When Julia Gardiner, who was aboard, found out her father had died in the explosion she fainted into President Tyler's arms.

Isn't love grand.


February 28, 1905 -
Jane Lathrop Stanford, the wife of the late Leland Stanford, died of suspected arsenic poisoning at the Moana Hotel in Honolulu. A coroner’s jury confirmed the result.

Her body was returned to the mainland under the care of David Starr Jordan, the president of Stanford Univ. An examination by Stanford physicians claimed no trace of strychnine and set heart attack as cause of death.

A will signed 19 months earlier had left the bulk of her $30 million estate to Stanford University. After 100 years, the only thing certain about the case - Stanford did in fact died of strychnine poisoning and somebody got away with murder.


February 28, 1915
The freedom of any society varies proportionately with the volume of its laughter.







Samuel Joel Zero Mostel, (blacklisted by the HUAC in the '50s), larger than life actor and comedian, was born on this date.


February 28, 1939 -
On July 31, 1931, while working on the second edition of New International Dictionary for the G. and C. Merriam Company,  Austin M. Patterson, Merriam-Webster's chemistry editor, sent a slip of paper reading "D or d, cont./density."  it was meant as a note to say the the letters D or d could be used as the abbreviation for the word Density. The typo word got past proofreaders and appeared on page 771 of the dictionary around 1934.



The ghost word "dord" was not discovered to have made it into the dictionary until this date in the New International Dictionary. The word was a great source of embarrassment for the G. and C. Merriam Company, since it's not actually a word.  For some reason though, they never go around to kicking it out of the dictionary until 1947.

(But please feel free to use it in Scrabble, citing the above mentioned page as proof of it's existence.)


February 28, 1948 -
The first Broadway show I ever heard was the recording of Carousel, and it was a very vivid experience.





Bernadette Lazzara (Bernadette Peters), Actress/Singer was born on this date.


February 28, 1954 -
The first NTSC standard color television sets were sold on this date.  The first set was made by Westinghouse, and sold for $1295 (approximately one-half the cost of a new car.)

Only 30 of these sets were sold by April of that year and only 500 sets were ever be built. On March 25th, RCA began shipping its mass-produced all-electronic compatible color set, for $1,000, and later in the year, a still cheaper model that would secure the company’s dominance in the television market.


February 28, 1968 -
Singer and early 60s heartthrob Frankie Lymon was found dead from a heroin overdose next to his syringe, in his grandmother's New York City apartment, on this date. Years later, three women, Zola Taylor, Elizabeth Waters and Elmira Eagle, each claim to be Lymon's rightful widow and sue to stake out a piece of his estate.



SO, I'm hoping the answer to the question, Why do fools fall in love? - isn't so that they can O.D. and have three women pick over the bones of their rotting corpse.


February 28, 1986 -
Prime Minister of Sweden Olof Palme was assassinated as he left a movie theater in Stockholm on this date.

In 1996 South African former police officer Eugene de Kock said that Craig Williamson, a South African spy, was involved in the murder. In 1997 lawyer Pelle Svensson said that his client, Lars Tingstrom, wrote a statement on his deathbed in prison in 1993 that he committed the killing. The family of Christer Pettersson, a drug addict and alcoholic, was convinced that he was the killer. In 1999, Abdullah Ocalan in Turkey suggested that a rival PKK organization killed Olaf Palme.

It seems everybody wanted to get into the act.


February 28, 1993 -
Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco used armed force attempting to serve Branch Davidian leader David Koresh with a search warrant (one with no actual evidence of any illegal activity whatsoever), in what the BATF viewed as a publicity stunt to improve their image.

While the agents carefully coordinated the raid with eleven different media outlets, something apparently tipped off Koresh and as these things usual happen - things do not go well: six Davidians and four ATF agents were killed.



The warrant instead could have been served peacefully, while Koresh did his daily morning jog.


February 28, 2013 –
Pope Benedict XVI resigned as the pope of the Catholic Church, on this date.



Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger became the first pope to resign since 1415. At 93, the pope emeritus tenaciously clings to the buttocks of life.



And so it goes


Before you go, please note -



There are 20 days until Spring!


327

Thursday, February 27, 2020

It's National Kahlua day.

Kahlua, for those under 21 or Mormon, is a rich, creamy, coffee based alcoholic liqueur from Mexico.



this will be on the test (and Kahlua can send me my check for the advertising space I provided.)


February 27, 1920 -
A film that we're somewhat familiar with here, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, opened in Germany on this date.



The final look and feel of the film was based as much on low-budget practicalities as it was on creative inspiration and expressionism. Electricity was strictly rationed in post-WWI Germany at the time the film was being shot, so director Robert Wiene ended the film simply painting light beams on backdrops. Shooting on severely confined sets forced him to use unusual camera angles.


February 27, 1937 -
An early Porky Pig cartoon, drawn by Tex Avery, Picador Porky, premiered on this date.



This is the first Warner Bros. cartoon to feature Mel Blanc's voice.


February 27, 1968 -
CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite's commentary on the progress of the Vietnam War solidified President Lyndon B. Johnson's decision not to seek reelection in 1968. Cronkite, who had been at Hue in the midst of the Tet Offensive earlier in February, said: "Who won and who lost in the great Tet Offensive against the cities? I m not sure." He concluded: "It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out...will be to negotiate, not as victors but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could."



Johnson called the commentary a turning point, saying that if he had "lost Cronkite," he'd "lost Mr. Average Citizen." On March 31, President Johnson announced he would not seek reelection.


February 27, 1980 -
During a live telecast from Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, the only Grammy for Best Disco Recording ever, was awarded to Gloria Gaynor, Dino Fekaris and Freddie Perren (the producers of the song) for I Will Survive.



Gaynor told Billboard magazine that it doesn't bother her in the least that she will forever be tied to her signature ode. "From the beginning I recognized it was a timeless lyric that everyone could relate to," said Gaynor, "so I don't get tired of singing it. I'm always freshening it up; changing the beat, the lyrics, modernizing the arrangement - I've even stuck a hip-hop section in the middle of it. I become 295% grade A ham when I do this song because people still love it."


Throwback Thursday - another favorite song


Today in History:
On this date in 280 A.D. (or another date or year, again remember lead cups and constant orgies, do not good calendar keepers make), Emperor Constantine the Great was born.



Constantine took half the Roman Empire and moved it to Byzantium, a little village which he built up into such a magnificent city that it was eventually named after him: Istanbul.

And it's nobody's business but the Turks.


February 27, 1859 -
Censured Congressman Dan Sickles of New York (who escorting a known prostitute into State chambers) shot and killed Philip Barton Key, son of Francis Scott Key and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. The younger Key was having an affair with the congressman's wife at the time.



He was tried on a charge of murder, but was acquitted after a sensational trial involving the first use of the insanity defense in U.S. history.



An interesting aside: Sickle went on to become a Union general and was involved in some of the bloodiest fighting at Gettysburg and lost his own right leg in the battle. He had the leg preserved and sent to Washington D.C., where it was exhibited in a little wooden coffin at the Medical Museum of the Library of Congress. Sickles frequently visited it himself.


February 27, 1932 -
The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues.



Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, actress and serial bride was born on this date.


February 27, 1933 -
The Reichstag conveniently went up in flames on this date. A mad Dutchman who was arrested at the scene, Marinus van der Lubbe, may have been partially responsible but if this is so, he is likely someone's patsy. The Nazi Party benefit greatly from the subsequent crack down, and it's suspected that SA stormtroopers set things up for van der Lubbe.



Another important life lesson - bad Germans in leather shorts, beer halls and matches do not mix.


On February 27, 1939, Neville Chamberlain, everyone's favorite legume supporter, recognized General Franco's government on this date. The Fascist regime was on it's way to achieved victory in the Spanish Civil War.

Ernest Hemingway had been defeated.

The war had been so successful that Europe decided to have the Second World War, which was every bit as exciting as the Spanish Civil War but with more geography and submarines.

General Franco and Ernest Hemingway are still dead.


February 27, 1951 -
The 22nd Amendment to the American Constitution was ratified by Minnesota, the 36th state out of 48 to ratify, thereby making it the law of the land. The 22nd Amendment states that no person shall be president of the United States more than twice unless they're Harry Truman.



Really, look it up - it says that.

In the graphic novel Watchmen, a crushing U.S. victory in the Vietnam War leads to the repeal of the 22nd Amendment and the repeated reelection of President Richard M. Nixon, who still serves as of 1985, the year in which Watchmen is set.

Similarly, in the time-travel movie Back to the Future Part II, an alternate timeline newspaper headline, before changing to report Ronald Reagan considering a second term, reports Nixon considering a fifth term. In a Saturday Night Live sketch, Dan Aykroyd portrayed Richard Nixon writing to random congressmen, asking for repeal of the amendment.


February 27, 1992 -
Trying to get the lid off her McDonald's coffee to add cream and sugar, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck accidentally splashes the 180-degree liquid on herself, causing third-degree burns to the thighs, genitals, and buttocks.



After skin graft surgery and weeks of recuperation, Liebeck asks McDonald's to turn down the temperature of their coffee and pay $20,000 to defray her hospital bills. McDonald's told the old lady go suck an egg, as they had done for a decade of similar burn claims. Ultimately, a jury awards Liebeck $2.9 million in the resulting lawsuit, which immediately triggers a renewed call for legislative tort reform and makes that one expense cup of coffee.


February 27, 2003 -
All of our neighborhoods were a little less beautiful when our good neighbor, Fred McFeely Rogers died on this date.



But let's make the most of this beautiful day.



And so it goes.


328

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Never forget that you must die

Hominem te esse memento! Memento mori! -



Today is Ash Wednesday, you're not being helpful -  please don't try to wipe the the smudge mark off your friend's forehead.



(Anyway, did you find the coin in the King Cake? )



So begins forty days (remember that the six Sundays between today and Easter don't count as part of the 40 days) of prayer, fasting, contemplation and community service and not the Lentil season, which is marked by forty days of legume eating and gas passing (but that's another story.)


February 26, 1908 -
Let's make some funny pictures.








Frederick Bean (Tex) Avery, animator, cartoonist, and another member of the legendary Termite Terrace was born on this date.


February 26, 1916 -
If you have it and you know you have it, then you have it. If you have it and don't know you have it, you don't have it. If you don't have it but you think you have it, then you have it.




John Herbert Gleason, (The Great One) comedian, actor and musician was born on this day.


February 26, 1966 -
While Nancy Sinatra was on the same record label (Reprise) as her famous father, her record label was going to drop her because her first few singles flopped. Things changed when they teamed her with producer Lee Hazlewood. These Boots Are Made for Walkin' topped the charts on this date.



It was her first hit. In 1996, Nancy Sinatra gave a pair of white go-go boots she wore to promote this song to the Hard Rock Cafe in Beverly Hills.


February 26, 1967 –
Gene Kelly
starred in Jack and the Beanstalk on NBC (produced by Hanna-Barbara) on this date. It was the first TV special to combine live action and animation.



Dick Beals, who was 39 years old provided the singing voice for 8-year-old Bobby Riha's character, Jack.


February 26, 1988 -
John Water's
great, albeit more mainstream feature (Water's first PG-rated film), Hairspray, opened on this date.



Ricki Lake began rapidly losing weight due to the intense dance lessons she had to take for the film. She reportedly had to "eat like crazy" in order to stay plump.


February 26, 1988 -
The science fiction film Alien from L.A., directed by Albert Pyun and starring Kathy Ireland was released in US theaters, on this date.



And the only reason to note it is because the MST3K guys spoofed it.


February 26, 1994 -
Bill Hicks
, writer and comedian, died of pancreatic cancer on this date.



In the years after his death, Hicks' work has achieved significant admiration and acclaim.


Another failed ACME product


Today in History:
February 25, 1076 -
Godfrey III (the hunchback) was assassinated on this date. He was murdered while going to the latrine with a spear through his behind. This apparently happens more frequently than I thought.

Godfrey was the duke of Lower Lorraine. (His wife, Matilda of Canossa, countess of Tuscany , known as Os Vulvae by her friends - look it up - was probably having an affair with Pope Gregory VII.)

But what the hell do you care?


February 26, 1815
-
One of the Top 10 prison breaks of all time



Napoleon managed to sneak past his guards and somehow escape from Elba, slip past interception by a British ship, and start on his return to France.


February 26, 1829 -
Levi Strauss
, inventor and manufacturer of blue jeans was born, on this date.



He originally planned to make canvas tents for miners in the California gold rush, but soon found that durable pants sold better.


February 26, 1870 -
The Beach Pneumatic Transit, the first pneumatic-powered subway line in New York City was opened to the public on this date.

Propulsion was provided by a giant fan, nicknamed The Western Tornado, operated by a steam engine, drawing air in through a valve, and blowing it forcefully into the tunnel.



The tunnel was only a block long, and the line had only one car. Rush hour must have been a bitch.


February 26, 1918
-
The Grandstands at the Hong Kong Jockey Club collapsed and burnt, killing 604 spectators on this date. It was the worst disaster in sports history.



Even though mad dogs and Englishmen may go out in the midday sun - they apparently will not leave a burning stadium.


The good people at Volkswagen seem to overlook this anniversary every year.



On this date in 1936, Some junior officers in the Japanese Army mistook Japan for a foreign country and tried to conquered it.

This disrupted the Japanese automotive industry, giving Adolf Hitler the opportunity to preside over the official opening of the first Volkswagen factory on this date. (More about Hitler and cars in a moment.)


February 26, 1970 -
National Public Radio
(NPR) was created by Congressional mandate, along with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on this date.

Its programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered rank among the most popular radio programs in America.


February 26, 1974 -
A U.S. Senate report reveals Ford Motor's involvement in Nazi Germany's war efforts, for which CEO Henry Ford was awarded the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from Adolf Hitler himself.

After the war, the car company was paid nearly $1M reparation by the U.S. government to compensate for one of its plants that was bombed within the Reich.

And some people worry about buying a BMW.


February 26, 1993 -
27 years
ago on this date, a bomb explodes on level B2 of the World Trade Center, creating a five story crater and leaving six dead and over 1,042 injured.



Mohammed A. Salameh was later arrested in connection with the bombing as he tries to claim a refund on a rented van believed to have carried the explosion.

Genius, sheer genius.


February 26, 2012
Trayvon Martin, a teen walking home from a trip to a convenience store, was fatally shot in an altercation with George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer patrolling the townhouse community of the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Florida.

On August 13, 2013, George Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder charges.  Trayvon Martin would have been 25 years old on February 5.



And so it goes.


329

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Things that really make you go hmmm

Bon temps roulez, mes amis - It's Mardi Gras!









No one needs to disrobe, it's much too cold and we've got plenty of beads (unless you like to disrobe in public and then, it's between you and your maker.)

Today is also know as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day, which heralds the beginning of fasting in Lent. On this day (so the historians say) there were feasts of pancakes to use up the supplies of fat, butter and eggs... foods that were forbidden during austere Lent.



In England there are several celebrations on this day but perhaps the best known one is the Pancake Day Race at Olney in Buckinghamshire which has been held since 1445. The race came about when a woman cooking pancakes heard the shriving bell summoning her to confession. She ran to church wearing her apron and still holding her frying pan, and thus without knowing it, started a tradition that has lasted for over five hundred years.

Keep flipping them pancakes


Queen Elizabeth has met 12 US presidents during her reign. That is more that a quarter of all presidents that have served during the history of the United States.

There have been 25 UK prime ministers since the creation of the office. 14 of them have served during Queen Elizabeth's reign.


February 25, 1941 -
Another Preston Sturges' comic masterpiece, The Lady Eve, premiered in the US on this date.



Preston Sturges wrote the screenplay specifically for Barbara Stanwyck. He had promised her a great film while working on a previous movie.


February 25, 1946 -
Part of Roberto Rossellini Neo-realist classic war trilogy, Roma, città aperta (Rome Open City) opened in the US on this date.



Rossellini used real Nazi POWs as extras for added realistic effect.


February 25, 1950 -
The comedy-variety program Your Show of Shows, starring Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca and Carl Reiner, debuted on NBC-TV on this date.



Writers for the show included Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Larry Gelbart. A common misconception is that Woody Allen wrote for Your Show of Shows; he in fact wrote for its successor program, Caesar's Hour, which ran from 1954 to 1957.


February 25, 1956 -
Elvis Presley had his first national hit when I Forgot To Remember To Forget went to No.1 on the Billboard Country & Western chart, on this date and stayed there for two weeks. This is one of just 10 songs Elvis recorded for Sun Records, where he got his start.



The Beatles covered this song once for the BBC radio show, From Us To You, on May 1, 1964, with George Harrison on lead vocals.


February 25, 1970 -
Ernie sings his signature song, Rubber Duckie, on Sesame Street for the first time, on this date. It goes over so well that the song is released as a single, which in September reaches #16 on the Hot 100.



This song was written by Jeffrey Moss, who was the head writer on Sesame Street. He also had a role in the performance, squeezing the duck to produce the squeak (an oft-repeated story is that Moss used the same duck in every recording, as no other duck had that same sound). Moss died of cancer in 1998 at age 56.


Today's moment of Zen


Today in History:
February 25, 1570 -
Pope Pius V issued a Papal Bull on this day excommunicating Queen Elizabeth I, whom he called "the pretended Queen of England and the servant of crime."

As Elizabeth was already the head of her own religion, Church of England, this Papal Bull did not make her break stride. She did however, respond by hanging and burning Jesuit priests.


February 25, 1601 -
Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, was beheaded following a conviction of treason on this date. His plot to capture London and the Tower had failed.



He was the last person to be beheaded in the Tower of London. It was reported to have taken three strokes by the executioner to complete the beheading.

Ouch!

Let this be a lesson to all you playas - never try to steal you girlfriends' country.


February 25, 1836 -
Samuel Colt was granted his first patent for a multi-chamber gun on this date.

His pistol was different from others; its design allowed several shots to be fired in succession without reloading.

Please celebrate responsibly.


February 25, 1870 -
Hiram Rhodes Revels, a representative from Mississippi, became the first African-American congressman when he was sworn in to finish out Jefferson Davis' term.

The seat had been left vacant when Davis left to become the president of the Confederacy.


February 25, 1879 -
Charles Frederick Peace, infamous Victorian cat burglar and The Murderous Musician was executed by hanging on this date.

Peace's notoriety was such that he appeared as a character in short stories by both Arthur Conan Doyle and Mark Twain.


February 25, 1888 -

John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State to President Eisenhower, was born on this date.



Haven't we all made a fool of ourselves over John Foster Dulles.


February 25, 1899 -
The first test drive fatality occurs in Grove Hill Harrow, England on this date. The accident occurs while the car, a Daimler Wagonette, was being demonstrated for Major James Richer, Department Head of the Army & Navy Stores. The car apparently lost a wheel and both Mr E.R. Sewell, the driver, and Richer were thrown from the car onto the road.

Sewell was killed on the spot; he was fired by Daimler Motors five days later. The unfortunate Major Richer, died four days later, without regaining consciousness. The accident became a dubious double-first – the first death of a driver in Britain, followed by the first death of a passenger in a car


February 25, 1908 -
President Theodore Roosevelt, after a vigorous round of calisthenics, flipped a switch on his desk and signaled the start of service through the Hudson and Manhattan railway tunnels, (also known as The McAdoo Tunnel,) carrying passengers between Manhattan and Hoboken, New Jersey. If allowed, Roosevelt would have driven the first train though the tunnel himself.

The tunnel, completed on March 8, 1904, was the first railroad tunnel under a major river in the U.S.


February 25, 1922 -
Henri Landru, the notorious French serial killer known as "Bluebeard", was guillotined for murdering ten women, and one boy on this date. His motive was purely financial; by placing classified ads Landru lured selected women into his clutches, married them, and disposed of their bodies without a trace.

While denying guilt to the end, a drawing given to his attorney had written on the reverse, "I did it. I burned their bodies in my kitchen oven".



Charles Chaplin based his movie, Monsieur Verdoux on this case.


February 25, 1932 -
The German state government of Brunswick, in which the Nazi Party participated, appointed Adolph Hitler of Austria to a minor administrative post this month and on this day gave him German citizenship.

Hitler was thus able to stand against Hindenburg in the forthcoming Presidential election.

Oops


February 25, 1964 -
Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, became the heavyweight champion of the world for the first time on this day when he beat Sonny Liston.



Ali went on to become the first person to win the heavyweight champion title three times.


February 25, 1969 -
In Vietnam, a 25 year old Navy Lt., Bob Kerrey, took part in a SEAL raid in the Mekong Delta where over a dozen women, children and old men were killed in the village of Thanh Phong, on this date. Kerrey received a Bronze Star for the raid and later strongly regretted his actions.



Soon after the raid, Lt. Kerrey lost a leg at Hon Tam Island and was later awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor. In 2001, the former Governor and Senator from Nebraska, publicly discussed his participation in the raid of Thanh Phong, at length for the first time.  "We fired because we were fired upon," Kerrey said at a news conference, "We did not go out on a mission to kill innocent people. I feel guilty about what happened."  Governor Kerrey described the event in his 2002 memoir



Bui Thi Luom, 12 at the time of the incident, the only survivor from her hut of 16, disputed Kerrey claim. saying, "Only civilians, women and children" were killed.


February 25, 1983 -
Playwright Tennessee Williams was found dead on this date, in his New York hotel room after he choked on a bottle cap during the night.

Once again, another victim of not reading the pill bottle label correctly.



And so it goes.


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Monday, February 24, 2020

Margaritas and chips - celebrated within the same week!

Raise your Frozen Margaritas tonight., today is National Tortilla Chip day. Contrary to popular belief, Tortilla Chips are not from Mexico.



They were invented in Los Angeles in the late 1940s by Rebecca Webb Carranza.


February 24, 1969 -
Twentieth Century-Fox
adaptation of the novel and play, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, directed by Ronald Neame and starring Maggie Smith and Pamela Franklin, premiered in London on this date.



The original play was offered to Maggie Smith first. Because of movie commitments she declined and Vanessa Redgrave played Miss Brodie on stage. However, when this movie was being made, the role of Miss Brodie was offered to Redgrave first. This time, she had prior commitments and declined and Maggie Smith took the role, offered her originally, and won an Oscar for playing it. According to Director Ronald Neame, Redgrave phoned him saying that she refused to repeat that "proto-Fascist part". Neame claims he was relieved because he didn't want to use her anyway.


February 24, 1973 -
The song, Killing Me Softly with His Song by Roberta Flack topped the charts on this date.



Robert Flack heard Lori Lieberman original version of the song on an in-flight tape recorder while flying from Los Angeles to New York.  She loved the title and lyrics and decided to record it herself.



The song was written by the songwriting team of Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel, and recorded by Lori Lieberman in 1972. The story goes that the song was inspired by Don McLean, a singer/songwriter famous for his hit American Pie. After being mesmerized by one of his concerts at the Troubadour theater in Los Angeles - and in particular McLean's song Empty Chairs - Lieberman described what she saw of McLean's performance to Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox, who were writing songs for her new album, and they wrote the song for her.



The Fugees did a hip-hop version featuring the vocals of Lauryn Hill. It was a hit for the Fugees in the US and went to #1 in the UK in 1996. The Fugees wanted to change the lyrics and make it a song about poverty and drug abuse in the inner city with the title Killing Him Softly, but Gimbel and Fox refused.


February 24, 1975 –
Led Zeppelin
release their sixth album Physical Graffiti on this date. It’s a double album featuring eight new songs, and songs left over from their previous albums Led Zeppelin III, Led Zeppelin IV and Houses Of The Holy



Featuring an intricate die-cut cover of a New York City brownstone, the album goes on to sell over eight million copies in the U.S.


February 24, 2002 -
CBS-TV
aired the bio-pix Ride to Freedom: The Rosa Parks Story starring Angela Bassett, on this date.



Angela Bassett won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special for her performance.


Word of the Day


Today in History:
On February 24, 1582, Pope Gregory XIII issued a proclamation that made everyone change their calendars from the Julian calendar to his own new and improved Gregorian calendar. (Obviously he was in cahoots with the calendar printing people, or he would have done it in November or December.)



It was this shameless act of self-promotion that led to subsequent Vatican proclamations being called Papal Bull.


February 24, 1807 -
It was not a good day for a hanging - In a crush to witness the hanging of John Holloway, Owen Heggerty and Elizabeth Godfrey in England on this date, 17 people died and 15 were injured.

People, please, remember that you can see the executions perfectly well, if you stand back.


February 24, 1838 -
Thomas Benton Smith, brigadier general in the Confederate States Army, was born in Mechanicsville, Tennessee, on this date. He was wounded at Stone’s River/Murfreesboro and again at Chickamauga. He was captured at the Battle of Nashville (December 16, 1864) where he was beaten over the head with a sword by Col. William Linn McMillen of the 95th Ohio Infantry. His brain was exposed and it was believed he would die.

He recovered partially, ran for a seat in the U. S. Congress in 1870, but lost and spent the last 47 years of his life in the State Asylum in Nashville, Tennessee, where he died on May 21, 1923.

Now you know


February 24, 1868 -
President Andrew Johnson was impeached for High Crimes and Misdemeanors on this date, which is fancy talk for his attempt to remove Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton from his job.



The Senate later acquitted Johnson. This remains an honor not bestowed again until the blowjob years of the Clinton Administration and the non-witness trial of Cheeto.


On February 24, 1920, the spokesman of a radical political group in Germany announced that it would change its name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party. The group had previously been called the East Munich Crips. Rejected names had included The Genocidal Maniacs Party, The World Conquest Party and The Party of Smiley People Who'll Make Life a Happy Little Picnic for Everyone (but in German.)



This name change made all the difference in the world, and eventually led to Evil Nazi Bastards, who later teamed up with the Evil Fascist Bastards of Italy and became a Significant Problem. They did not kill quite as many people as the Evil Communist Bastards of the Soviet Union, however, and were therefore unable to scare posterity into producing apologists.



(The party spokesman who had announced the change was of course, Adolf Hitler, who did not change his own name and is therefore known to history as... you guessed it... Adolf Hitler.)


February 24, 1942 -
Just over three months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Unidentified Flying Objects were sighted over Los Angeles this evening.  The Plane / Blimp / Weather Balloon / UFO was fired on with a massive anti-aircraft artillery barrage but is not hit. Air raid sirens were sounded throughout Los Angeles County at 2:25 a.m. and a total blackout was ordered. The events became known as the Battle of Los Angeles by the contemporary press.



While the military eventually attributed the incident to "war nerves" and the sighting of an errant weather balloon, many skeptics have speculated for years that our guns were actually firing at extraterrestrial spaceships—a theory that provided inspiration for the 2011 film Battle: Los Angeles (Steven Spielberg's film 1941 was also loosely based on the event).


February 24, 1990 -
Businessman Malcolm Forbes died of a heart attack, at his home in Far Hills, New Jersey on this date.

As the years pass, there are even fewer and fewer aging Chelsea leather boys still around who remember and mourn his passing.



And so it goes.


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Sunday, February 23, 2020

What all the cool kids are doing

Today is Curling is Cool day. I'm not sure how many millions will be lost with the number of people are taking the day off from work.

Do not make a rookie mistake; just encourage all those involved, Celebrate Responsibly.


February 22, 1950 -
A nearly forgotten Alfred Hitchcock film, Stage Fright starring Marlene Dietrich, Jane Wyman, Richard Todd, and Michael Wilding, premiered in New York City on this date.



In an extraordinary move for the normally controlling director,  Alfred Hitchcock provided Marlene Dietrich an exceptional amount of creative control for this movie, particularly in how she chose to light her scenes. Hitchcock knew that Dietrich had learned a great deal of the art of cinematography from Josef von Sternberg and Günther Rittau, and allowed her to work with Cinematographer Wilkie Cooper to light and set her scenes the way that she wished.


February 23, 1964 -
The Beatles appear for the third consecutive appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on this date.  They performed Twist and Shout and Please Please Me and closed the show once again with I Want to Hold Your Hand.



The third broadcast, February 23, showed a performance taped earlier in the day of the original February 9th appearance.


February 23, 1980
The Queen's song Crazy Little Thing Called Love hit the No. #1 spot on the Billboard Charts on this date.



Freddie Mercury acknowledged that perhaps his limited talent on the guitar helped shape the song: "'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' took me five or ten minutes. I did that on the guitar, which I can't play for nuts, and in one way it was quite a good thing because I was restricted, knowing only a few chords. It's a good discipline because I simply had to write within a small framework. I couldn't work through too many chords and because of that restriction I wrote a good song, I think."


February 23, 1991 -
Oliver Stone's bio-pix about Jim Morrison and his group, The Doors, starring Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Kyle MacLachlan, Frank Whaley, Kevin Dillon, and Kathleen Quinlan premiered in Los Angeles on this date.



The surviving members of The Doors claim that Val Kilmer did such a good job playing and singing as Jim Morrison that they could not distinguish his voice from the real Jim Morrison.


Yes, I read this book


Today in History:
February 23, 303
-
Roman Emperor Diocletian issues an edict to suppress Christianity, "to tear down the churches to the foundations and to destroy the Sacred Scriptures by fire". Further edicts require that church officials engage in animal sacrifice to appease traditional Roman gods.



One can only weep that they did not have the lubricant concessions given the kind of orgies that when on that night.


February 23, 1821 -
English poet John Keats died in Rome on this date. Mr. Keats was Romantic and therefore wrote an Ode to a Nightingale, an Ode to Psyche, and even an Ode to a Grecian Urn.



None of them would have him, so the poor man died alone.


February 23, 1861 -
President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrived secretly in Washington D.C. to take office after an assassination plot was foiled in Baltimore on this date. Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, may have saved Lincoln’s life by uncovering the plot to assassinate the president-elect in Baltimore, Md.



At the detective’s suggestion, Lincoln avoided the threat by secretly slipping through the city at night.


February 23, 1836 -
The Siege of the Alamo began on this date. It was quite an adventure. For years afterward people would sigh, Remember the Alamo?



And they'd kind of nod and smile, but eventually they forgot.


February 23, 1885 -
The British hangman at Exeter Gaol tried three times on this date, to hang John Lee of Devonshire, for the murder of Emma Keyse. The trap refused to open.



His sentence was commuted to life, and he was eventually released.


February 23, 1896 -
The Tootsie Roll was introduced by Leo Hirshfield an Austrian immigrant, in his small candy shop located in New York City on this date.



He was America's first candy maker to individually wrap penny candy. Current production is over 49 million pieces a day. For many, this day should be a Federal holiday.


February 23, 1903 -
Tomás Estrada Palma, the first president of Cuba, leased Guantanamo Bay to the US in perpetuity on this date.  Guantanamo Bay was the only US military base in a country with which the US did not have diplomatic relations, until a few years ago.

Guantanamo Bay is also home to Cuba's first and only McDonald's restaurant.  I'm guessing it's McDonald's fault that we're still in Gitmo.


February 23, 1915 -
Nevada enacts a law reducing the quickie divorce residency requirements down to six months,



a figure further reduced in 1931 to six weeks.


February 23, 1945 -
U. S. Marines raised the flag on Mt. Suribachi (Battle of Iwo Jima) on this date.



The photograph of the event was extremely popular, being reprinted in thousands of publications. Later, it became the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its publication, and ultimately came to be regarded as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war, and possibly the most reproduced photograph of all time.


February 23, 1954 -
The students of Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania participated in the first mass vaccination of children against polio with the vaccine (using the dead virus to induce immunization) developed by Jonas Salk, on this date.



Poliomyelitis is a viral attack of the central nervous system and can cause paralysis and death by asphyxiation (I have nothing else to say.)


February 23, 1996 -
The Freeway Killer William G Bonin was executed at San Quentin on this date. He was the first person to be executed by lethal injection in the history of California.

For his last meal, Bonin requested two large pepperoni and sausage pizzas, three pints of coffee ice cream and three six-packs of regular Coca Cola.

That kind of diet will kill you.



And so it goes.


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