Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Money, like vodka, turns a person into an eccentric.

Once again bunkies, it's National Vodka day. While it's not my first choice of drink - I'm not one to pass up the chilled neutral spirit.

Whatever brand you drink, it always taste better fresh out of the freezer. And if you feel the need to scream because you haven't had a drink, please seek professional help.

(Yes, they may quote me on that, I'd be willing to endorse the stuff.)

St Francis of Assisi, (nee Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone,) was born the son of a rich silk merchant in Italy during the late 12th and 13th centuries. He is remembered for his generosity to the poor, love of animals and his willingness to minister to the lepers. He was fond of kissing leper's sores which comes across today as somewhat of a fetish.

St. Francis, who at the time, was not a saint, or a priest for that matter, went on to found the Catholic Church’s Franciscan order as well as the women’s Order of St. Clare (remember the patron saint of Television.) St. Francis was reportedly the first person to receive a stigmata (please seek out the old ladies in the back pew of church to explain that one,) as well as developing the Christmas creche. Exhausted, St Francis decided to rest on his laurels and died in Portiuncula, Italy on October 3 or 4, 1226, (neither electric lights, clocks nor calendars were around his monks' cell, so the exact time could not be established.)

Usually in many churches around the United States, The Feast of St Francis is celebrated by offering animal blessing services (this year the blessings were held Sunday October 1st.) One of the largest services in the United States is held at St. John the Divine in NYC.

October 4, 1951 -
Vincente Minnelli's gorgeous technicolor valentine to the movie musical, An American in Paris, premiered in NYC on this date.

Leslie Caron didn't speak English when she landed her first major role. She had a vague understanding of the language due to having an American mother, but was not conversant. Luckily for her, the part didn't have many lines and was comprised of mostly dancing, a skill that Caron was very fluent in.

October 4, 1957 -
Leave It To Beaver premiered on CBS-TV on this date. Once again, another show from the 50s where the lead actor (Hugh Beaumont not Jerry Mathers) was a raging alcoholic.

Jerry Mathers wore his Cub Scout uniform to his audition. During the audition, he told the casting directors that he was anxious to leave for his den meeting. The producers were charmed with Mathers' innocent candor and cast him in the title role.

October 4, 1959 -
We all got to meet Mr. Wilson'a favorite neighbor when Dennis the Menace, based on the Hank Ketcham comic strip, starring Jay North, Herbert Anderson, Gloria Henry, Jeannie Russell, Joseph Kearns, and Sylvia Field, premiered on CBS-TV on this date.

Ironically, Jay North, who played a rascal and a mischievous child character in the series, has served in recent years as a correctional officer and administrator working in particular with troubled youths within Florida's juvenile justice system.

October 4, 1961 -
Dave got to yell at Alvin nationally when The Alvin Show premiered on CBS-TV on this date. While it only lasted one season in prime time, the show was first show to feature the singing chipmunks.

The Chipmunks' names were taken from the names of three executives at Liberty Records, where David Seville and the Chipmunks made most of their early recordings. Alvin was named for label president Alvin Bennett, Simon for label vice-president/record producer Si Waronker, and Theodore for recording engineer Ted Keep. One of the first cartoon shows, along with The Flintstones, to become a success in prime time.

October 4, 1964 -
Supermarionation was used once again to freak out unsuspecting children when Gerry Anderson's third series Stingray, premiered in the UK on this date. (It was the first British series to be filmed entirely in Colour: the extra U was particularly expensive.)

The original red used on the uniforms had to be changed as it was coming out as a very black Nazi style uniform on black and white TV sets, and also made some details indistinct.

October 4, 1976 -
Barbara Walters made her debut on ABC-TV as the first female nightly network news anchor on this date, and offered a then-unheard of million dollar a year salary to co-anchor with veteran Harry Reasoner.

But Reasoner was not pleased with having her there. In addition to their lack of chemistry, the network's ratings did not improve, and she was replaced in mid-1978. She joined another ABC show, 20/20, where she had much greater success.

October 4, 1980 -
Queen started a three week run at No.1 on the Billboard singles chart with Another One Bites The Dust, on this date.

Queen were originally reluctant to release this as a single, but backstage after a Queen gig at the Los Angeles forum, a visiting Michael Jackson convinced them it would be a hit. "Michael and all his brothers were all going, 'That's a fantastic track. You must release it,'" recalled Queen drummer Roger Taylor to Q magazine December 2009.

October 4. 1996 -
Tom Hanks' directorial debut, That Thing You Do!, starring Tom Everett Scott, Liv Tyler, Johnathon Schaech, Steve Zahn, Ethan Embry and Charlize Theron, premiered in US theatres, on this date.

The four actors playing The Wonders rehearsed as a band for eight weeks to get the feel of performing - but most of their performances in the film were dubbed by other musicians.

Another job posting from The ACME Job Agency

Today in History:
October 4, 1582 -
Today on this date, was the last day of the Julian Calendar in the Papal states, Spain and Portugal.

Pope Gregory XIII's adjustments to the calendar, would took effect the next day, which made it October 15th allowing for the 10-day error which the Julian system had accumulated.

Sucked for you, if your birthday was in that 10 day gap.

October 4, 1822 -
Rutherford Hayes was born on this date, in Delaware, Ohio.

That's not especially interesting in itself. Presidents, after all, must be born somewhere - and President Hayes was not the only one to have chosen Ohio. But consider: Jimmy Carter was born on October 1, 1924, in Plains, Georgia, and Chester Arthur was born on October 5, 1830, in Fairfield, Vermont (or Canada.) That's three presidential birthdays in a four-day period, a glut of presidential timber not to be found anywhere else on the calendar. Hayes came into office by one electoral vote, accomplished nothing, and did not run for a second term.

Chester Arthur came into office as James Garfield's vice-president and was promoted eight months later, upon Garfield's assassination. He accomplished nothing, and wasn't even nominated for a second term (although he does look a lot like Captain Kangaroo.)

Through no fault of his own, Jimmy Carter was elected president in 1976 (and must therefore bear his share of responsibility for my own difficult misspent youth). He sought but was denied a second term.

Significance? Zero.

October 4, 1883 -
After a number of false starts, financial troubles and difficulties negotiating with various national railway companies, Georges Nagelmackers' Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (French for "sleeper cars") established a route from Paris to Istanbul, making it first run to Giurgiu in Romania via Munich and Vienna, on this date.

The original Orient Express stopped serving Istanbul in 1977, and its new route ran from Paris to Vienna until 2007, when the train departed from Strasbourg instead of Paris. In 2009, after 126 years, the Orient Express ceased operation; aviation and high-speed trains had put an end to the classic Orient Express.

October 4, 1895
A comedian does funny things. A good comedian does things funny.

Buster Keaton, actor director, producer was born on this date.

October 4, 1957 -
Sputnik One (meaning "companion" or "fellow traveller"), the first man-made satellite, was launched on this date, beginning the "space race."

The satellite, built by Valentin Glushko, weighed 184 pounds and was launched by a converted Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Sputnik orbited the earth every 96 minutes at a maximum height of 584 miles.

In 1958, it reentered the earth's atmosphere and burned up.

Significance? A Little More Than Zero.

October 4, 1969 -
A despondent Diane Linkletter jumps out the kitchen window of her tenth-story apartment in West Hollywood, California on this date.

before an autopsy can be performed, television personality Art Linkletter blames his daughter's death on a bad LSD trip. Even though the toxicology report disputes Art's assertion, the LSD story persists.

October 4, 1970 -
If I hold back, I'm no good. I'm no good. I'd rather be good sometimes, than holding back all the time.

Janis Joplin accidentally overdoses on an unusually-pure dose of heroin, on this date, at the Landmark Motor Hotel in Los Angeles.

October 4, 1976 -
Earl Butz, President Ford's Secretary of Agriculture, was forced to resign after newspapers print a comment he made regarding race relations

(and I will paraphrase for those with weak constitutions) : "I'll tell you what the coloreds want. It's three things: first, a tight female reproductive organ; second, loose shoes; and third, a warm place to go to the bathroom."

October 4, 1986 -
Network news anchorman Dan Rather was mugged in New York City on this date. The attacker, one William Tager, shouted the question "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" during the beating.

While the "frequency" refers to the wavelength of the transmissions that CBS was beaming into Tager's head, history is still unclear on exactly who "Kenneth" is or why R.E.M. would record a song about it. It is rumored that the attack occurred because of Rather's uncanny resemblance to underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger.

October 4, 1989 -
Secretariat, 1973 triple crown winner and one of the greatest athletes of all time, was euthanized in Paris, Kentucky. He was 19.

Not surprisingly, viande de cheval appeared on the menu of several Parisian Bistros that night.

October 4, 1989 -
Health care does not worry me a great deal. I've been impressed by some wonderful old people.

Dr. Graham Chapman (though he never actually practiced medicine professionally) died from complications related to spinal and throat cancer on this date.

And so it goes

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

The stuff that dreams are made of

October 3, 1941 -
John Huston's first directorial effort, The Maltese Falcon, premiered in NYC on this date.

Three "Maltese Falcons" props were created for the film. Two were used because Humphrey Bogart accidentally dropped the original during shooting. It is on display in the movie museum at Warner Bros. studios; its tail feathers are visibly dented from when Bogart dropped it. The three statuettes still exist and are conservatively valued at over $1 million each. This makes them some of the most valuable film props ever made; indeed, each is now worth more than three times what the film cost to make.

October 3, 1950 -
The Beulah Show, jumped from CBS Radio to premiere on ABC-TV starring Ethel Waters, and Butterfly McQueen. The series was the first sitcom to star a black woman, albeit as a maid.

(This is not the first episode; the first episode is lost.)

The series recast the lead twice during it's two year run. Hattie McDaniel, who replaced Ethel Waters in season two, had to leave the show after starring in 6 episodes because she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Louise Beavers replaced her for the remainder of the series.

October 3, 1953 -
The final installment of the Looney Tunes "Hunting Trilogy", Duck! Rabbit, Duck!, premiered on this date.

Bugs Bunny stuck out four signs to lead Elmer Fudd to shoot Daffy Duck. In order they are:
4th and last, MONGOOSE SEASON.

October 3, 1954 -
Another in the series of alcoholic actors playing model Dads, Father Knows Best, starring Robert Young premiered on this date.

The setting is very possibly Springfield, Illinois, since there is mention of a wedding in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a new girl from Chicago, and in one episode, Bud's homing pigeon is released in Rockford, all relatively near Springfield, Illinois.

October 3, 1955 -
Hey kids, remember Captain Kangaroo. Well, his show premiered on this date.

Despite the show's iconic nature, and enduring popularity, the series has never been officially released to home video/DVD or any streaming service. Very little film footage of the series remains, and what does exist was owned by Bob Keshan, and subsequently his estate, who have maintained a tight grip on their film holdings.

October 3, 1955 -
If today wasn't special enough, The Mickey Mouse Club also premiered on this date.

Although the show was filmed and broadcast in black and white, all of the animated segments - the opening theme, Mickey's introductions and farewells, the Jiminy Cricket shorts, etc. - were filmed in color.

After the animated Mickey Mouse Club theme song was performed, Donald Duck approached a large musical gong with a mallet to start the show. He never hit the gong without something going wrong.

October 3, 1955 -
Considered one of his five 'lost films' (held up for years from re-release), Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry, premiered on this date. This was Shirley MacLaine's film debut.

This movie was Alfred Hitchcock's experiment to see how audiences would react to a non-star-driven movie. He was of the opinion that oftentimes having a big star attached actually hindered the narrative flow and style of the story. He also developed the movie to test how American audiences would react to a more subtle brand of humor than they were used to.

October 3, 1960 -
Tony Richardson’s biting commentary of the collapsing British Empire, The Entertainer, starring Laurence Olivier, Albert Finney, Alan Bates, and Joan Plowright, opened in NYC on the date.

When Phoebe (Brenda de Banzie) is listening to the radio, a request is read out for "Flight Sergeant Ossie Morris", of the Royal Air Force. This is a reference to Cinematographer Oswald "Ossie" Morris, who was a highly regarded and decorated pilot during World War II.

October 3, 1960 -
Let grab down our fishin' poles and head down to the fishin' hole, The Andy Griffith Show premiered on this date.

They never mention what happened to Opie's mother. Opie was said to be just "a speck of a boy" when she died. Her first name is never given, her picture is never shown in Andy's house, nor anywhere else, and her grave is never shown.

October 3, 1961 -
The Dick Van Dyke Show premiered on this date. The show wasn't an immediate success but became a hit.

Carl Reiner asked network censors for permission to show Laura and Rob sleeping in one large bed together, reasoning (quite sensibly) that he and his wife did so in real life. The permission was denied, and the Petries are always depicted sleeping in nearby twin beds (as was the custom of TV series of the era; Bewitched and The Munsters being the exceptions to the rule).

October 3, 1977 -
Elvis Presley's third and final television special, Elvis in Concert, was filmed by CBS in June 1977 and aired on this date, two months after Elvis' death. (This is the heavy, sweaty St. Elvis; the Elvis who died for our sins. Once again, those with afflictions, place one hand upon the afflicted area, be it yours or your neighbors, and the other on the screen. Soon, feel the soothing balm of his burning love wash over you.)

The telecast was mostly an edited version of two concert performances from Elvis' final tour. My Way was performed on a 3rd concert date on this tour. It became a best selling single following his death and was added as the last number before Can't Help Falling In Love.

October 3, 1986 -
The seventh collaboration between Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, Tough Guys was released on this date.

After the police fire at the train, Sgt. Deke Yablonski (Charles Durning) says, "What is this, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral?". Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas both starred in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral; Lancaster played Wyatt Earp, and Douglas played Doc Holliday in the classic western.

October 3, 2001 -
The french romantic comedy film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Amélie, starring Audrey Tautou, premiered in the US at the Aspen Film Festival on this date.

The traveling gnome was inspired by a rash of similar pranks played in England and France in the 1990s. In 1997, a French court convicted the leader of Front de Libération des Nains de Jardins (Garden Gnome Liberation Front) of stealing over 150 gnomes. The idea was later used in an advertising campaign for an Internet travel agency.

October 3, 2003 -
Richard Linklater very funny comedy, School of Rock, starring Jack Black Joan Cusack, Mike White, and Sarah Silverman, went into general release in the U.S. and Canada, on this date.

The idea for the movie came when writer Mike White moved into an apartment next to Jack Black. White would often find Jack Black running naked through the halls or blasting much of the music featured in the movie at full volume.

Today's moment of Zen

Today in History:
October 3, 1283 -
Dafydd ap Gruffydd was having a bad day. Besides having an unpronounceable name, he had gotten on the wrong side of King Edward I of England, for wanting to gain Welsh independence. On September 30th, Dafydd ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales, was condemned to death, the first person known to have been tried and executed for what from this time onwards would be described as high treason against the King. Edward ensured that Dafydd's death was to be slow and agonizing, and also historic; he became the first person in recorded history to have been hanged, drawn and quartered.

Dafydd was dragged through the streets of Shrewsbury at a horse's tail then hanged alive, revived, then disemboweled and his entrails burned before him for 'his sacrilege in committing his crimes in the week of Christ's passion,' and then his body cut into four quarters 'for plotting the king's death'.

Apparently, Edward was quite pissed off.

October 3, 1648 -
The greatest build out was finally completed on this day in history - the Taj Mahal.

Imagine what the contractor got to hide in his final bill with 20,000 laborers, master builders, masons, calligraphers, etc., working 22 years for the grieving Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to complete the great mausoleum for the shah's beloved wife. Imagine what Trump would do with the bill.

October 3, 1728 -
Charles G Chevalier d'Eon de Beaumont, French duelist, diplomat, spy, soldier, Freemason and transvestite, was born on this date.

His/ her story is far to complicated to synopsize here, read about the Chevalier for yourself.

October 3, 1896 -
Queen Victoria became the first British monarch to be captured on moving film on this date.

She was shown taking a pony-and-trap ride at Balmoral Castle during a visit by Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra, her granddaughter. The invitation to film this event went to John Downey, the son of the court photographer, William Downey, who had first photographed Queen Victoria in the 1860s.

October 3, 1863 -
Sarah J. Hale, editor and founder of the Ladies' Magazine, continually annoyed President Lincoln until he declared the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day on this date.

George Washington had previously declared a Day of Thanksgiving on November 26 on this date.

But we'll talk more about Thanksgiving in November.

October 3, 1899 -
Tired parlour maids everywhere rejoiced,

J S Thurman patented the motor-driven vacuum cleaner (US patent #634,042) on this date.

October 3, 1906 -
Anticipating ABBA, SOS was adopted as warning signal by first conference on wireless telegraphy on this date.

Previously, people had to stand on the deck of their sinking ships and scream their heads off in hopes that someone would hear them.

October 3, 1922 -
Rebecca L. Felton became the first female senator in the US when she is appointed to the US Senate by Governor Thomas Hardwick of Georgia, on this date.

The appointment takes place when Congress had already adjourned, so Felton has no opportunity to serve. When the new session starts, Senator-elect Walter George, who was to replace her, will gallantly agree to claim his seat a day late, to allow the eighty-seven years old Felton to actually serve one day. Her tenure was the shortest for any Senator in history. She was also the last former slaveowner to serve in the U.S. Senate.

October 3, 1942 -
An A4-rocket (a modified V-2) developed under the direction of Werner von Braun "Good Nazi", was successfully launched from the Test Stand VII in Peenemünde, Germany. The 13-ton, 46-foot long V2 rocket flies perfectly over the course of 118 miles to an altitude of 53 miles (85km).

While it is generally seen as a milestone in space exploration as it has been acknowledged that the launch was the first man-made object to reach space, it seems rude to mention that the rocket was actually launched at England.

October 3, 1952 -
Coincidentally, The United Kingdom successfully tests their first atomic bomb, Operation Hurricane, four hundred yards off the coast of the Monte Bello Islands off the Australian coast, becoming the world’s third nuclear power on this date. In order to test the potential threat of a bomb smuggled in a ship, the bomb was detonated inside the hull of the frigate HMS Plym.

Despite the explosion beginning in a ship and nine feet below the water line, the explosion created a crater twenty feet deep and a thousand feet across.

Oops, radiation still lingers around the test site like a bad chili and broccoli dinner farts.

October 3, 1962 -
Hey, Wally, are you a turtle? (Wally correctly answers the question)

Walter M. "Wally" Schirra, Jr. rode his one-man Mercury spacecraft atop an Atlas rocket into orbit on this date. Schirra completed six earth orbits lasting nine hours and 13 minutes.

The nine-hour mission on the Sigma 7 capsule was the longest to date for a U.S. flight and set the stage for the day-long final mission of the Mercury Program that followed.

October 3, 1964 -
According to noted food historian, Calvin Trilling, the first buffalo wings were served on this date. The wings were reported to have first been made in Buffalo, New York, by the Bellissimo family at the Anchor Bar.

They were served with blue cheese dressing and given away for free. The bar now sells the wings nationwide through its website.

October 3, 1990 -
East and West Germany were officially reunited on this date. The reunification of this once great nation was recognized as a clear sign that the Cold War was coming to an end, and was therefore celebrated not only in Germany, but throughout the world

- excepting certain corridors of France, Poland, and the Czech Republic, where the exuberance was strangely muted.

October 3, 1992 -
Barack Obama first met Michelle Robinson when he was employed as a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin. Assigned for three months as Obama's adviser at the firm, Robinson joined him at several group social functions.

The couple's first date was to the Spike Lee movie Do the Right Thing, They married on this date at Trinity United Church in Chicago. Happy Anniversary your crazy kids!

October 3, 1992 -
Sinead O'Connor was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. At the end of her a capella performance of the Bob Marley song War, Sinead produced a copy of a photograph of Pope John Paul II, which she ripped into pieces, to protest the simmering child sex abuse scandal within the Catholic Church.

Time has proven Sinead dead right about her protest.

October 3, 2021
Ruth Hamilton was asleep in her home in British Columbia when she awoke to the sound of her dog barking, followed by “an explosion.” 1 1/2 pound meteor had landed on her bed.

"I've never been so scared in my life," Hamilton, 66, told the Canadian Press about the incident that occurred about 11:35 p.m. "I wasn't sure what to do so I called 911 and, when I was speaking with the operator, I flipped over my pillow and saw that a rock had slipped between two pillows."

It turns out that the 2.8-pound space rock, about the size of a small cabbage, was part of a meteor shower identified by Alan Hildebrand, a planetary scientist in the Department of Geoscience at the University of Calgary, and his colleagues.

And so it goes

Monday, October 2, 2023

He who destroys a good book kills reason itself.

This year the first week of October has been designated as Banned Book Week!

If you are ever in need of something to read, banned book lists can be a great resource.

Since it is the first Monday in October, it's the start of the 2023-2024 Term -

I'm sure nothing much will be going on.

October 2, 1955 -
Revenge, the very first story on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents show premieres on this date.

The sponsors, who had great influence regarding the presentation of the show, insisted that for the episodes ending with the perpetrator "getting away with a crime," Alfred Hitchcock provide a statement in his closing monologue that would assure audiences that justice was served.

October 2, 1957 -
The World War II drama The Bridge on the River Kwai, directed by David Lean, and starring William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, and Sessue Hayakawa, premiered in Britain, on this date.

The elephants employed in helping build the bridge would take breaks every four hours and lie around in the water, whether the crew wanted them to or not.

October 2, 1959 -
...a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind....

The first episode of the anthology series The Twilight Zone, Where is Everybody?, premiered on this date

Rod Serling wanted Richard Egan to do the narration because of his rich, deep voice. However, due to strict studio contracts of the time, Egan was unable. Serling said, "It's Richard Egan or no one. It's Richard Egan, or I'll do the thing myself", which is exactly what happened.

October 2, 1961 -
The medical drama Ben Casey, starring Vince Edwards and Sam Jaffe, premiered on ABC-TV, on this date.

According to director Mark Rydell, Vince Edwards had a gambling problem. Edwards demanded to film all of his scenes first, so that he could leave the set and go to a racetrack. According to Harry Landers, Edwards also constantly asked the cast and crew for money with which to gamble and leave the set for hours at a time.

October 2, 1971 -
The first episode of the weekly series, Soul Train, premiered, on this date.

It featured Gladys Knight and the Pips, Eddie Kendricks, The Honeycone and Bobby Hutton.

October 2, 1971 -
Rod Stewart's single Maggie May/ Reason to Believe hits No. 1 on the Billboard singles charts on this date -

his album Every Picture Tells A Story goes No. 1 on the Album charts on this date as well -

Maggie May was the first big hit of the rock era to feature a mandolin, which was mostly heard in folk music. Stewart first used the instrument on Mandolin Wind, which was one of the first songs he recorded for the album. He liked the results, so he used it on Maggie as well.

October 2, 1976 -
I've got to leave before I start to scream ...

John Belushi came out on stage with Joe Cocker while he was performing on Saturday Night Live on this date.

October 2, 1982 -
John Cougar's (John Mellencamp) single Jack And Diane, a little ditty about two American kids growin' up in the heartland, becomes his first and only #1 hit in America, on this date.

Jack and Diane were a interracial couple in the first version of this song, inspired by the blended couples John Mellencamp saw during his live performances (Jack was black, Diane was white). He took the race part out of it and made Jack a football star after an executive from his record company heard what he was working on and asked him to do so in an effort to make the song more relatable and therefore boost its hit potential. With race removed from the equation, a broader swath of Mellencamp's audience identified with the song, especially in the Midwest. He says that lots of folks have told him that the characters are just like them.

October 2, 1985 -
... All the donuts around here have names that sound like prostitutes.

Island Records released Tom Waits' phenomenal eighth studio album (wherein he found his truest voice,) Raindogs, on this date (It's also been reported that it was release on September 30. Whichever day it was released, it's still a damn fine album.)

October 2, 1994 -
In response to new, stringent censorship laws that were being put in place at the time, The Simpsons episode Itchy and Scratchy Land, was released on the Fox network on this date.

Fox had tried to prevent the inclusion of Itchy and Scratchy cartoons in the show, prompting the writers to make the episode as violent as possible.

October 2, 2001 -
In the long line of medical series, Scrubs, starring Zach Braff, premiered on NBC-TV on this date.

It was Zach Braff who suggested using the song Superman by Lazlo Bane as the show's theme after listening to the lyrics and finding them in mood with the pilot.

Word of the day.

Today in History:
October 2, 1872 -
It's Phileas Fogg Wager Day. This unofficial holiday celebrates one of the most famous wagers that set out one of the world's most famous adventure in motion.

In the Jules Verne book, Around the World In 80 Days, Phileas Fogg, the main character of the 1873 novel, makes a wager of 20,000 pounds to circumnavigate the Earth in 80 days on this date.

Three of the past century's finest comedians were born on October 2:

Groucho Marx (1890),

Bud Abbott (1895),

and Mahatma Gandhi (1869).

Groucho and Abbott were funny enough, but they pale beside the towering comic greatness of Gandhi. "When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, " he once quipped: "but in the end they always fall. Think of it - always."

That a humorist capable of such scathing sarcastic wit should have sullied himself with politics is regrettable, but not much worse than Jesus having gotten into religion.

It should also be remembered that for most of Gandhi's life the Indian subcontinent was occupied by the British, and that for the first few formative decades of his existence the British were ruled by a queen who was famously unamused. Gandhi went to extraordinary lengths to amuse Queen Victoria. It was only decades after her death that his genius came to full flower, however, and one can only hope she was amused posthumously.

(Eventually the British realized they didn't get Gandhi's jokes and withdrew from India to develop Monty Python.)

October 2, 1925 -
Scottish inventor John Logie Baird successfully transmitted the first television picture with a greyscale image: the head of a ventriloquist's dummy nicknamed Stooky Bill on this date. (“Stooky” being slang for someone who moves woodenly and a colloquial term for the plaster cast used to immobilize bone fractures.)

Almost immediately, Logie Baird wanted to test his invention on a living, breathing human being. Baird went downstairs and grabbed an office bot, 20-year-old William Edward Taynton, to see what a human face would look like, and Taynton became the first person to be televised.

October 2, 1935 -
The Hayden Planetarium in New York, (the fourth planetarium in the U.S.,) opened on this date.

In the words of Charles Hayden, the planetarium’s mission is to give the public “a more lively and sincere appreciation of the magnitude of the universe… and for the wonderful things which are daily occurring in the universe.” Hayden believes that everyone should have the experience of feeling the “immensity of the sky and one’s own littleness.

October 2, 1950 -
The comic strip Peanuts, created by Charles Schulz, debuted in nine newspapers with the characters of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Patty and Sherman. It is still the most-read comic strip in the world.

And yet, Charlie still hasn't kicked that damn football.

October 2, 1968 -
10 days before the opening of the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, police officers and military troops opened fire on a peaceful student protest of the government occupation at the National Polytechnic Institute, on this date. Initially, the government tried to claim the students began shooting first, but this later was proved false.

Hundreds of protesters, many of whom were women and children, were killed, in what has became known as the Tlatelolco massacre. The Olympics, shamefully continued as planned, as the violence wasn't targeted at the games.

October 2, 1985 -
I am not happy that I am sick. I am not happy that I have AIDS. But if that is helping others, I can at least know that my own misfortune has had some positive worth.

Rock Hudson died at his home in Beverly Hills, California after a battle with AIDS on this date.

And so it goes