Wednesday, November 14, 2018

To those who wait

November 14, 1941 -
Alfred Hitchcock stylist thriller Suspicion, starring Cary Grant, and Joan Fontaine, premiered in the U.S. on this date.

This was Cary Grant's first role in an Alfred Hitchcock film.  Cary Grant was apparently so displeased with his experience with director Alfred Hitchcock during the making of this film that he publicly vowed never again to work with the director. The rift between actor and director was mended,and he would later star in three more: Notorious, To Catch a Thief, and North by Northwest.

November 14, 1964 -
The cult classic Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (the non-MST3K version), starring featuring the cult classic Pia Zadora, premiered on this date.

Most of the film was shot in an abandoned aircraft hangar on Long Island, New York.

November 14, 1966 -
François Truffaut's
foray into Science Fiction, Fahrenheit 451, opened in the US on this date.

Among the books burned by the firemen is the film journal Cahiers du Cinema for which director François Truffaut wrote. Pictured on the cover is a picture from Breathless, written by Truffaut. Also among the books burned are The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 itself, both written by Ray Bradbury.

November 14, 1975 -
Queen released its fourth album A Night at the Opera on this date (There actually were other songs on the album besides Bohemian Rhapsody you know.)

At the time of it's release, this was the most expensive album ever recorded.  The album went on to be a commercial success, debuting at No. 1 in the UK and topping the charts for four non-consecutive weeks.

November 14, 1980 -
One of the greatest films Martin Scorsese ever made, Raging Bull premiered in NYC on this date (I was actually at the premiere.)

In 1978, when Martin Scorsese was at an all-time low due to a near overdose resulting from an addiction to cocaine, Robert De Niro visited him at the hospital, and told him that he had to clean himself up and make this movie about a boxer. At first, Scorsese refused (he didn't like sports movies anyway), but due to De Niro's persistence, he eventually gave in.

November 14, 1988 -
The comedy series Murphy Brown, starring Candice Bergen premiered on CBS TV on this date.

The character Jim Dial was reportedly modeled after TV news reporter Jim Jensen of New York City's WCBS-TV.

November 14, 1998 -
Pixar Animation Studios
released the John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton funny animated film, A Bug's Life, featuring the voices  of Dave Foley, Kevin Spacey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, on this date.

The casting of Hopper proved problematic. John Lasseter's top choice was Robert De Niro, who repeatedly turned the part down, as did a succession of other actors. Kevin Spacey met John Lasseter at the 68th Academy Awards ceremony and Lasseter asked Spacey if he would be interested in doing the voice of Hopper. Spacey was delighted and signed on immediately.

November 14, 2014 -
Alejandro G. Iñárritu
surprise hit black comedy, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), starring Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts, went into general release in the U.S., on this date.

Given the unusual style of filming long takes, Edward Norton and Michael Keaton kept a running tally of flubs made by the actors and actresses. Emma Stone made the most mistakes. Zach Galifianakis made the fewest. He actually did mess up a few lines during the filming, but played his mistakes off well enough, that the shots were included in the film.

Another failed ACME product

Today in History:
November 14, 1851
Harper and Brothers published Herman Melville's most famous novel, on this date.

Called Moby Dick, the tale is teeming with seamen, spermaceti, and rigid harpoons. Scholars continue to debate its symbolism. The British publisher accidentally left out the ending of the book, the epilogue. This confused a lot of British readers, because without the epilogue there was no explanation of how Ishmael, the narrator, lived to tell the tale. It seemed like he died in the end with everyone else on the ship. The reviews from Britain were harsh, and costly to Melville.


In America, Moby-Dick sold for $1.50 but contained the epilog (the great savings were seen by leaving off the ue). At the time, Americans deferred to British critical opinion, and a lot of American newspaper editors reprinted reviews from Britain without actually reading the American version with the proper ending. One reviewer said the book wasn't worth more than 25 cents. It took only two weeks for the publisher to see that Moby-Dick would sell even fewer copies than Melville's previous books. In his lifetime, Melville's royalties added up to a total of about $10,000.

These days, college students buy 20,000 copies of Moby-Dick every year.

Melville said, "It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation."

November 14, 1889 -

Nellie Bly, the pen name of journalist Elizabeth Cochran, sailed from New York to begin her record-breaking 24,899-mile trip around the world - a journey that would end on January 25, 1890.

The around-the-world trip originated in an attempt to beat the Jules Verne's fictional hero Phineas Fogg's 80-day journey. Millions of people followed the adventures of the plucky reporter through stories posted back to the World at every stop. Tremendous celebrations greeted Nellie when she arrived in New York. Her trip lasted 72 days, six hours and 11 minutes - a record that would stand until the Graf Zeppelin circled the globe in 20 days, four hours and 14 minutes in 1929.

November 14, 1908 -
Albert Einstein
presented his quantum theory of light for the first time

while future Senator Joseph McCarthy was being born,

on this date, although not in the same room.

McCarthy's communist witch-hunts of the mid-twentieth century live in infamy despite the fact that they failed to uncover a single communist witch.

Einstein's quantum theory remains popular because people like the word quantum. In fact, Einstein's seldom-cited Law of Quantum Usage states that there is an inversely proportionate relationship between one's understanding of quantum theory and one's likelihood of discussing it.

November 14, 1910 -
An airplane, piloted by Eugene Burton Ely, took off from the warship, USS Birmingham, off the coast of Hampton Roads, Virginia, on this date. The plane was the first airplane takes off from a ship.

Ely pilots the plane, a Curtiss Pusher, to a nearby beach, where he lands after only just keeping the plane above sea level.

November 14, 1940 -

The Nazi Luftwaffe's two-day blitz of Coventry, England, began on this date, killing several hundred people.

The German raids, codenamed Moonlight Sonata, destroyed much of the historical, English city.

Bad Nazis.

November 14, 1948 -
Charles Philip Arthur George (Mountbatten-Windsor), Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland, Royal Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Extra Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Member of the Order of Merit, Knight of the Order of Australia, Companion of the Queen's Service Order, Royal Chief Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu, Member of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty and heir to the throne of England, was born on this date.

Charles, as of April 21, 2011, was the heir apparent longer that his great great grandfather, Edward VII. Edward VII was heir apparent for 59 years, 2 months and 14 days.  Prince Charles has been eligible to draw his state pension for four years now.

November 14, 1968 -
Today was National Turn In Your Draft Card Day - (the Vietnam death toll was fast approached 30,000 and US troop strength in Vietnam reached its peak of 550,000)

featuring burning your draft card hour.

And so it goes


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Life is moving too quickly

It is the third anniversary of the deadly Paris attacks, massacring 130 people in the bloodiest terror attack in years.

Please take a moment out of your day to remember the victims and their families.

November 13, 1940 -
Walt Disney's third
animated film Fantasia, opened in New York on this date.

Walt Disney had a chance meeting with Leopold Stokowski at Chasen's restaurant. They agreed to have dinner together. As they talked, Disney told of his plans to do The Sorcerer's Apprentice and other possible projects using classical music with animation. Disney said that he was stunned when Stokowski, then one of the two most famous conductors in the country (the other being Arturo Toscanini), responded by saying, "I would like to conduct that for you." It was an offer he couldn't pass up.

November 13, 1954 -
Looney Tunes
first 3D cartoon, Lumber Jack Rabbit, starring Bugs Bunny, premiered on this date.

This was the only Warner Bros. cartoon filmed in 3D. It was intended for release with House of Wax, which was also filmed in 3D.

November 13, 1965 -
Get Off My Cloud by The Rolling Stones topped the charts on this date.

There was some of controversy over this song. Some U.S. radio stations refused to play the song because of the supposed drug references.

November 13, 1971 -
Steven Spielberg's
first full- length film, Duel, starring Dennis Weaver, debuted on ABC-TV on this date.

Steven Spielberg wanted David Mann's car to be red so it would stand out in the wide shots of the desert highways.

November 13, 1975
Morris Albert's song Feelings went gold on this date.

In 1987, Morris Albert was found guilty of plagiarism, with a jury finding that this borrowed heavily from a French song from 1956 called "Pour Toi."

You can blame me later for this ear worm

November 13, 1991
The first animated film to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast premiered in Hollywood on this date.

All songs were the last complete works for a movie by Academy Award winner Howard Ashman. Ashman died eight months prior to the release of the film. The film is dedicated to Ashman; at the end of the final credits, you can read the dedication: "To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, we will be forever grateful."

Today's moment of Zen

(Very sorry about the delay in yesterday's posting)
Today in History:
While it is a particularly uneventful day in history, let us opine these words:

"The students are beyond control and their behavior is disgraceful. They come blustering into the lecture-rooms like a troop of maniacs and upset the orderly arrangements which the master has made in the interest of his pupils. Their recklessness is unbelievable and they often commit outrages which ought to be punishable by law, were it not that custom protects them."

People concerned about the pace of change in human affairs can find solace in knowing that these familiar sentiments were expressed about sixteen centuries ago by St. Augustine, who was born on November 13, 354 AD.

Like many other theological luminaries, Augustine began life as a debauched young man who sought his pleasures in wine, women, and song. Eventually he became old and cranky and declared his youth wasted.

All of the things that occurred during the drunken orgies of his youth recounted in his Confessions do not hold a candle to the crap going on in the Florida recount for the midterm election.

November 13, 1789 -
Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to a friend in which he said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death  and taxes."

I would include, "please return your seat in the upright position."

November 13, 1927 -

The New York Holland Tunnel officially opened  today, the first underwater tunnel built in the United States, providing access between New York City and New Jersey beneath the Hudson River, ushering in a massive wave of Dutch immigration (and more fools them - The tunnel was named after its chief engineer, Clifford Milburn Holland, who died of a heart attack on the operating table while undergoing a tonsillectomy, as a posthumous honor, starting the trend for the NY/NJ interstate crossings to have names with no relation to their geographic locations).

Although most of the Dutch returned to Holland after learning that New Amsterdam had become New York.

November 13, 1947 -
The AK-47 assault rifle development by Mikhail Kalashnikov in the Soviet Union was completed on this date.  The rifle was one of the first assault rifles to be created.

Today, it is the most widely-used assault rifle in the world — more AK-47 models have been made than all other assault rifle models put together.

November 13, 1955 -
Happy Birthday Caryn

Whoopi Goldberg (Caryn Elaine Johnson) actress, comedienne, and television host, was born on this day.

November 13, 1965 -
Appearing on a late night live satire program called BBC3, critic Kenneth Tynan becomes the first man to say “Fuck” on TV.

A national fit of apoplexy follows with one Tory MP suggesting that Tynan should hang!

November 13, 1971 -
The American space probe, Mariner 9, becomes the first space probe to orbit another planet when it enters into orbit around Mars on this date. The probe’s mission was to return photographs that would map seventy percent of the surface while conducting a study of the planet’s atmosphere.

Analysis of the data returned by the probe revealed that the planet is covered in dried river beds. Two Soviet probes achieved the same orbit about a month later.

November 13, 1974 -
Karen Silkwood,
a technician and union activist at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron plutonium plant near Crescent, Okla., was killed in a 'car crash' while on her way to meet a reporter on this date.

The Kerr-McGee nuclear fuel plants closed in 1975. The grounds of the Cimarron plant were still being decontaminated more than 40 years later.

November 13, 1982 -
Maya Lin's
simple yet elegant Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated on Veteran's Day to the veterans of the Vietnam War on this date (the memorial was opened to the public a few days earlier.) The memorial was built with polished granite, and it displays the names of over 60,000 veterans.

No federal funds were used to construct the wall. Private contributions from individuals, corporations, veterans and other organizations, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund raised almost $9 million.

Before you go - I still don't understand the concept of  holiday long-form commercials in England.  The English supermarket chain Sainsbury released their annual holiday advert.

It's a nice commercial but our English cousins seem to smell a controversy- this commercial is a tad too similar to an earlier commercial for John Lewis and Waitrose;  you compare them -

I just can't imagine Americans sitting for more than a minute for a commercial.

And so it goes.


Monday, November 12, 2018

I wish it could be no pineapple

It's National Pizza with the Works (Except Anchovies) Day. (I'm not joking, I've seen this exception on many sites.)

What's so wrong about anchovies?

(Well there is an old joke by George Carlin, but I'm not going to play it to you, you'll have to find it yourself, but I guess that would put me off anchovies.)

November 12, 1982 -
Robert Altman's low budget (and well received) adaptaion of Ed Graczyk's play, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, starring, Sandy Dennis, Cher, Karen Black, and Kathy Bates premiered in NYC on this date.

Three of the film's cast have won Academy Awards for acting - Cher, Kathy Bates and Sandy Dennis. Karen Black has also been nominated for Best Supporting Actress without winning.

November 12, 1993 -
Jane Campion's Oscar-winning film, The Piano starring Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel (and his penis), Sam Neill and Anna Paquin, was released in the US on this date.

Holly Hunter had to learn how to play the piano to prepare for her role as Ada, therefore she played most of the piano sequences herself.

November 12, 2008 -
Danny Boyle's international hit, Slumdog Millionaire, starring Dev Patel and Freida Pinto went into limited release in the US on this date.

Director Danny Boyle placed the money to be paid to the 3 lead child actors in a trust that is to be released to them upon their completion of grade school at 16 years of age. The production company has set up for an auto-rikshaw driver to take the kids to school everyday until they are 16 years old.

Word of the day

Today in History:
King Cnut of England, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden died on this date in 1035. (Cnut is better known to most Americans as King Canute, which offers fewer typographical hazards.)

Cnut was the son of Svein Forkbeard, son of Harald Bluetooth, son of Gorm (now you know.) In 1013 Cnut's father conquered all of England from the Saxon King Aethelred but died anyway. This allowed Aethelred to take England back, which made it necessary for Cnut himself to reconquer England in 1016. He enjoyed this so much that he went on to conquer Scotland, Denmark, Norway, and part of Sweden, all of which came to be known collectively as Cnutland, perhaps explaining the region's subsequent popularity among European dyslexics.

This will be on the test.

November 12, 1859 -
The first flying-trapeze circus act was performed by Jules Leotard at the Circus Napoleon (later renamed  Cirque d'Hiver) in Paris on this date.

His act caused a sensation in Paris, and soon other circus performers were trying out his technique. Leotard designed the garment that bears his name. Jules died at the age of 28 in Spain, leaving behind the famous Leotard and the art of flying trapeze.

November 12, 1912 -
The bodies of Captain Robert Scott and his men were found on the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica, frozen solid in one huge block of ice, on this date.

So he had literally become Scott of the Antarctic.

November 12, 1928 -
S. S. Vestris left New York November 10, 1928, with 129 passengers and 196 crew. The next day she ran into a severe storm and developed a starboard list, caused by a partially open coal port four feet above the water line

An SOS was sent out on November 12, some 200 miles off Hampton Roads, Virginia, and the ship was abandoned and after a few hours, the ship fell on her side and sank. Approximately 112 of the 325 onboard were lost (there was never a conclusive count - you know how it is during a disaster): all 13 children on board perished, as well as 28 of the 36 women.

November 12, 1933 -
Hugh Gray of the British Aluminum Company took five pictures of the Loch Ness Monster, the first known photos. Four the the five exposures were blank, and the remaining photo was later proven to be a hoax.

The brand of whiskey, Mr. Grey consumed has been lost in the ethers of time.

Early on the morning of November 12, 1942, Abe "Kid Twist" Reles, mob informer, then in protective custody, fell to his death from a hotel window. It is not known whether he was thrown or pushed out the window, or if he was trying to escape. The angle of trajectory suggests that he was, in fact, defenestrated (my favorite word.)

Because of his mob status as a stool pigeon and the circumstances surrounding his death, Reles gained another moniker after his passing. In addition to "Kid Twist," Reles became known as "the canary who sang, but couldn't fly."

November 12, 1945 -
As I get older, I get smaller. I see other parts of the world I didn't see before. Other points of view. I see outside myself more.

Happy Birthday Neil Percival Young !!!

It was on this date in 1948 that former Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo and seven others were sentenced to hang.

(This was back in the quaint old days, when the world considered it legal not only to have enemies, but to kill them after they tried to kill you.)

November 12, 1955 -
Today was one of the most event-filled dates in Hill Valley, CA history:

George McFly and Lorraine Baines kissed for the first time at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance on this date. One week earlier, George had been struck by a car driven by Lorraine's father, Sam Baines, and Lorraine looked after him during his recovery. Lorraine accepted George's invitation to go the dance. Marvin Berry and the Starlighters played popular music during the entire dance, such as Night Train and Earth Angel.

During the famous Hill Valley Thunderstorm, a bolt of lightning strikes the Clock Tower at precisely 10:04 p.m., and it hasn't rung since.

November 12, 1980
NASA's space probe Voyager 1 reached Saturn on this day and sent photos of the planet's rings back to Earth, nearly a billion miles (about 1.6 billion km) away.

This was the first photograph of Saturn's rings were transmitted to Earth. OK you can get the laugh out - the ring around Uranus were photographed in 1986.

And so it goes