Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wrapping up Thanksgiving Weekend

Gentle readers of this 'Today in History' column hopefully find it a useful tool to help them count the blessing in their life. Those who remain cynical and ungrateful might find cause for gratitude for at least one of the following historical events.

On November 30, 1935, the German government proclaimed a failure to accept the tenets of Nazism as grounds for divorce. Be grateful you never married a Nazi.

Jonathan Swift was born on November 30, 1667, and Mark Twain was born exactly 170 years later, in 1835. Be grateful that not everyone is taking everything so goddam seriously.

Winston Churchill was also born on November 30, in 1874, in a coat closet of his family home (really). Be grateful that not everyone was so grateful for Peace In Our Time.

Christmas video countdown

(sometimes you have to ask, 'why did they bother?')

Otherwise, here are some other events that occurred on this date

November 30, 1900 -
Celebrated Irish author/sodomite Oscar Wilde, dies in Paris of meningitis. Wilde had been charged three times with indecency, specifically "the seduction and corruption of young men." Evidence admitted against him included testimony about fecal stains on his sheets. Be thankful that we obviously have better cleaning detergents than the French did in 1900. And remember, "I don't think that Wilde was a homosexual or bisexual, I think he just got carried away at those orgies".

November 30, 1929 -
Dick Clark, the American Bandstander, was born on this date. We heard a rumor about extensive facial plasticizing treatments in the early 1970's. While this rumor remains unverified, we must note that before his unfortunate stroke, the man seemed to no longer age and may not even be human. Be thankful the few of us are faced with bargaining with Satan for our careers.

November 30, 1954 -

At 1 pm, an 8.5 pound stone meteorite falls from the sky and strikes Ann Elizabeth Hodges from Sylacauga, Alabama. The housewife was seriously bruised but survived, although the meteorite destroyed her radio. Oh the humanity!

22 more shopping days until Hanukkah, 25 more shopping days until Christmas.

And so it goes.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Unavoidable delays - but here it is

(Some people have WAY TOO MUCH time on their hands)

Here is your very late Today in History

November 29, 1864 -

It's our Christmas video countdown

The Sand Creek Massacre occurs when Colorado volunteers led by Colonel John Chivington massacre at least 400 Cheyenne and Arapaho noncombatants (mostly children, women, physically- and mentally-challenged, and elders) inside Colorado Territory. The American Government has so much to be proud of with their dealings with the Native Americans.

November 29, 1961 -

The US sends the chimpanzee Enos into space, on the Mercury Atlas 5 capsule from Cape Canaveral. Enos returns to earth safely but dies less than a year later before he can sign with the William Morris Agency.

November 29, 1986 -
82 year old Archibald Leach, better known as Cary Grant, dies. While rumors of Grant's sexuality have been around for years, consider in perspective the words of US congressman Bob Dornan, spoken on the House floor: "I do not think Cary Grant was a homosexual or bisexual. He just got carried away at those orgies."

I love that quote.

November 29, 2001 -
The "quiet" Beatle George Harrison silenced by cancer.

Oh yeah, millions of years ago (or at least more than half a century ago) the earth cooled and formed a hard crust, huge dinosaurs ruled the land and John was there to see it all. Happy Birthday John.

About a decade later, vast plains with wildflowers sprung up and Mary skipped along them all. Happy Birthday Mary.

23 more shopping days until Hanukkah, 26 more shopping days until Christmas.

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's (apparently) National Listening Day

StoryCorps is declaring November 28, 2008 the first annual National Day of Listening.

This holiday season, ask the people around you about their lives — it could be your grandmother, a teacher, or someone from the neighborhood. By listening to their stories, you will be telling them that they matter and they won’t ever be forgotten. It may be the most meaningful time you spend this year.

Since Hallmark has not yet put out a card totally devaluing the holiday, it remains to be seen whether or not the event will catch on.

November 28, 1962 -
Jon Stewart, comedian, television host, and political satirist, was born on this date.

Such a nice boy.

It's our Christmas video countdown

Today in History -

Sorry boys and girls but it's not a pleasant day in history today -

November 28, 1942 -
A fire at the sleazy Cocoanut Grove nightclub, Boston, kills 491 people. Flammable artificial palm trees aided the spread of the fire. The numerous dead were crushed, burnt, and asphyxiated, all within minutes.

There's a lesson here boys and girl - sleazy nightclubs kill!!!

November 28, 1953 -
Frank Olson, government scientist, jumps to his death from the Statler Hotel in New York City. In 1975 it is revealed that Olson had been administered LSD by Dr. Sidney Gottlieb in a CIA experiment.

Bad CIA agents kill !!!

November 28, 1981 -
A drunk Natalie Wood topples off her yacht near Catalina Island and drowns. Her husband Robert Wagner, and melodramatic friend Christopher Walken, were onboard and unaware of her predicament, apparently having some sort of argument in the cabin -

possibly about whether or not a drunken Natalie Wood could float..

November 28, 1994 -
Jeffrey Dahmer is beaten to death with a broomstick by inmate Christopher Scarver while cleaning the prison bathroom. Dahmer's brain was to be preserved in formaldehyde at the request of Mom, but a court ordered its destruction in late 1995.

There's yet another lesson here boys and girls, dirty prison bathrooms kill!!!

24 more shopping days until Hanukkah, 27 more shopping days until Christmas.

And so it goes.

Also, here's a little Steely Dan to round out the day -

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving.

Enjoy the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. The first Macy's parade occured on this date back in 1924. For most of you your turkey should be in the oven and you should be well into your cups.

While you read this today on your computer, let us ruminate upon the life of Ada Lovelace, who died on this date in 1852. Ada would have seemed to have been born into a charmed life. She was the only child of a titled lord and a very wealthy mother. Unfortunately for her, her father was the notorious, womanizing homosexual (let your mind rattle that around for a second) and not half bad poet Lord Byron. She was named after Byron's half-sister, Augusta Leigh, by whom he was rumoured to have fathered a child (oh yeah, I forgot that - he slept with his half sister). It was Augusta who encouraged Byron to marry to avoid scandal, and he reluctantly chose Annabella Milbanke (very wealthy heiress and noted stick-in-the-mud). On January 16, 1816, Annabella left Byron, taking 1-month old Ada with her. On April 21, Byron signed the Deed of Separation and left England for good a few days later. He was never allowed to see either again.

Ada lived with her mother, as is apparent in her father's correspondence concerning her. Lady Byron was also highly interested in mathematics (Lord Byron once called her "the princess of parallelograms"), which dominated her life, even after marriage. Her obsession with rooting out any of the insanity of which she accused Lord Byron was one of the reasons why Annabella taught Ada mathematics at an early age. Ada was privately home schooled in mathematics and science by William Frend, William King and Mary Somerville. One of her later tutors was Augustus De Morgan. An active member of London society, she was a member of the Bluestockings in her youth.

In 1835 she married William King, 8th Baron King, later 1st Earl of Lovelace. Her full name and title for most of her married life was The Right Honourable Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace. She is widely known in modern times simply as Ada Lovelace, or by her birth name, Ada Byron.

She knew Mary Somerville, noted researcher and scientific author of the 19th century, who introduced her in turn to Charles Babbage on June 5, 1833. Other acquaintances were Sir David Brewster, Charles Wheatstone, Charles Dickens and Michael Faraday. She apparently ran in heady circles for her day.

During a nine-month period in 1842-1843, Ada translated Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea's memoir on Babbage's newest proposed machine, the Analytical Engine. With the article, she appended a set of notes which specified in complete detail a method for calculating Bernoulli numbers with the Engine, recognized by historians as the world's first computer program.

Lovelace's prose also acknowledged some possibilities of the machine which Babbage never published, such as speculating that "the Engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent."

Ada Lovelace was bled to death at the age of 36 by her physicians, who were trying to treat her uterine cancer, on this day. Thus, she perished, coincidentally, at the same age as her father and from the same cause - medicinal bloodletting. So while she considered the possible of the computer, doctors were still using leeches to cure their patients.

At her request, Lovelace was buried next to the father she never knew at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottingham.

Alfred Nobel signed his last will, which established the Nobel Prize on this date in 1895.

Mr Nobel is interesting because his fortune was founded in large part on the commercial success of something he invented in 1866: dynamite. Dynamite proved so lucrative for Mr Nobel that he was able to spend most of the rest of his life blowing things up in the interests of world peace. World peace was not achieved in his lifetime, however, and he therefore endowed a foundation with millions of dollars to give prizes to the men and women of future generations who helped bring the world closer to peace by blowing things up.

Sadly, in recent years the foundation appears to have forgotten its roots and has begun awarding prizes to men and women whose work for peace has resulted in things blowing up.

I encourage you all to write the Nobel Committee to take immediate corrective action, lest they continue to mislead people into thinking that Peace can be achieved by anything other than the blowing up of Evil Bastards.

Here is a brief history of the holiday you may wish to share with your loved ones:

In the winter of 1620-1621, a group of immigrants in Massachusetts experienced a devastating winter. The weather was fierce. Food was scarce. Many died. At last spring came, then summer, and by the time of the autumn harvest things were looking about as rosy as they ever look in Massachusetts.

At a fundraising dinner that fall, Governer Bradford stood up and gave a speech.

"Thank God we survived last winter," he said. "Thank God this harvest gives us a fighting chance to survive the coming winter. And thank you for your support in the last election, please make checks payable to the Committee to Re-Elect the Governor, God bless America, amen. Let's eat."

The ensuing winter didn't turn out too badly, so the superstitious immigrants concluded that Governor Bradford's magic spell of "Thanksgiving" had done the trick.

The holiday was intermittently celebrated for years, with an enthusiasm scaled to the previous winter's weather, until November 26, 1789, when President Washington issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide day of thanksgiving for the establishment of the Constitution.

Washington's proclamation wasn't much different from Bradford's.

"Thank God we survived last winter," he said. "Thank God we've got a fighting chance to survive the coming winter. Thank God we've got our own damn country now and don't have to put up with a bunch of meddling European bastards. And thank you for your support in the last election, please make checks payable to Federalists for Washington, God bless America, amen. Let's eat."

Washington, the Constitution, and many of the immigrants (who were now Americans) survived the winter, so this new spell was also deemed effective.

President Lincoln later proclaimed the last Thursday of November Thanksgiving Day in 1863, but President Roosevelt moved it back to the fourth Thursday of the month in 1939 to extend the time available for holiday shopping.

President Ford proposed making it the third Wednesday in September, in order to really extend the time available for holiday shopping, but he only made the proposal to his golden retriever, Liberty, so the suggestion never reached congress.

And so we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November every year, in honor of having survived last winter, having got rid of those meddling European bastards, having invented our own rules, having bitch-slapped the Confederacy, and having plenty of time to shop before the holidays.

28 more shopping days until Christmas, 25 more shopping days until Hanukkah. Shop til you drop. Remember, if you don't, we won't have an economy.

And so it goes

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A possible solution for your economic troubles.

In this time of great economical uncertainty, here is a gentle suggestion - declare yourself a bank holding a 'toxic mortgage' (possibly your own.) Then get on line for your bailout.

Hey, Turkey day is a day away. Begin thinking about all the creative ways to consume 3 or 4 types of pies. Here's today's tip for all cooks - continue drinking today but pace yourselves - you want to make it to Thursday without a trip to the emergency room.

Today in History:

November 26, 1789 -
The first national Thanksgiving Day is observed in the United States as recommended by President George Washington and approved by Congress. Thanks George.

As you know, the immigrant scum that settled this country discomfited the uncivilized savages that had lived here before them (having themselves discomfited still other savages). Landing on the east coast and gradually moving west, the wave of aliens pressed the wild savages further and further west until at last they reached the Pacific Ocean and there was nowhere left for them to go.
Or was there?

The Indians clearly continued their westward expansion, because it was just 59 years ago this very day that they finally approved their Constitution . On January 26, 1950, the Constitution took effect On January 26, 1979, "Le Freak" was on the top of the American charts.

It's nice to think there's a connection.

(India should not be confused with the East Indies, which is a consortium of independent film companies on the Lower East Side and which in turn should not be confused with the Yeast Undies, a disgusting concept.)

November 26, 1865 -

Oxford Don and nude child photographer Charles Dodgson, sends the manuscript for the psychedelic novel "Alice in Wonderland" to his 12 year old special friend Alice Liddell.

For some reason her parents did not notify the authorities.

November 26, 1976 -
Anarchy in the UK, (as a single) by theSex Pistols is released.

The song later appeared on Never Mind the Bollocks.

29 more shopping days until Christmas, 26 more shopping days until Hanukkah. Shop til you drop. Remember, if you don't, we won't have an economy.

And so it goes

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Turkey countdown begins

Turkey day is a mere two days away. Begin thawing your behemoths. Also here's a tip for all cooks - begin drinking today - by Thursday you will develop a wonderful drunken haze that will get you through any emergency.

11/25 -
According to Biblical scholars, a powerful rain storm began on this date in BC 2348. It rained an inch every ten seconds. Imagine that. An inch every ten seconds. The sheer volume and velocity of the deluge, comparable to rapid-fire artillery, ought to have been enough to kill every living thing on the planet in seconds, and yet it reportedly continued at this rate for a full 960 hours.

The only human survivors were a crotchety six-hundred-year-old man and his family. Fortunately, these sturdy souls had had the foresight to gather up two to seven specimens of every species on the planet (excepting, one assumes, the undaunted creatures of the sea) and load them onto a wooden boat before the storm began.

It may not sound like much, put like that, but considering the far-flung distribution of all the various creatures of the earth, and the difficulty of tracking down, say, all the varieties of paramecium without the benefit of a microscope, or sustaining desert flora on a water-logged ship, it was a considerable accomplishment.

I applaud the foresight, initiative, and ambition displayed by Noah and his family, but remain a little wary of the person or persons behind all that rain.

November 25, 1867 -
Patent granted to Alfred Nobel for dynamite. To quote Big Jim McBob and Billy Sol Hurok , " May the Lord take a liking to you and blow you up real good!!!"

I can forgive Alfred Nobel for having invented dynamite, but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize - George Bernard Shaw

On November 25, 1914, Joe DiMaggio was born. In addition to leading the New York Yankee to ten World Series championships, Joe DiMaggio also got to marry Marilyn Monroe. Be grateful for role models.

November 25, 1970 -

Japanese playwright, poet, novelist, nationalism and patron of transvestite bars Yukio Mishima commits seppuku (self disembowelment) after an aborted coup attempt in Japan. He had authored over 100 works and was deemed by Life magazine the "Japanese Hemmingway".

One has to ask themselves - what is it that requires "true manhood" to face one's own death willingly.

On November 25, 1977, Greece announced the discovery of the tomb of King Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great. On November 26, 1922, archeologists Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter opened the tomb of Egypt’s King Tutankhamen. Be grateful that the high point of your job isn’t digging up people who’ve been dead for thousands of years.

November 25, 1987 -
Fawn Hall, Oliver North's assistant, removes documents from sealed National Security Council offices inside the White House by hiding them inside her skirt, causing President Ronald Reagan to form a task force which eventually put both North and Hall on trial.

Another true American Patriot

30 more shopping days until Christmas, 27 more shopping days until Hanukkah. Shop til you drop. Remember, if you don't, we won't have an economy.

And so it goes

Monday, November 24, 2008

So that's the secret ingredient in Tang!!!

Astronauts Try To Work Out Kinks In Urine Machine
CBS News Interactive: About The Space Shuttles

HOUSTON (AP) ― Astronauts tinkered Sunday on a troublesome piece of equipment which can convert urine and sweat into drinkable water once it's functioning and allow the international space station to grow to six crew members.

Station commander Michael Fincke and Endeavour astronaut Donald Pettit changed how a centrifuge is mounted in the $154 million water recycling system. The centrifuge is on mounts and Mission Control asked Fincke to remove them and bolt it down without them.

The astronauts have been working for the past three days to get the system running so it can generate samples for testing back on Earth, but the urine processor only operates for two hours at a time before shutting down.

The water recycling system, delivered a week ago by the space shuttle Endeavour, is essential for allowing more astronauts to live on the space station next year.

Today in History:

November 24, 1740 -

William Duell was hanged for rape and murder. A few hours later, whilst being prepared for dissection by medical students, he awakens . The authorities took pity on him and commuted his sentence to one of transportation to Australia. Wow that's had to freak him out.

November 24, 1859 -

Charles Darwin publishes "On the Origin of Species". And depending on your point of view, either this is a seminal work in scientific literature and arguably the pivotal work in evolutionary biology or you're a monkey's uncle.

November 24, 1871 -

National Rifle Association is established (in New York City.)

Who knew?

November 24, 1963 -
Extra-terrestrials used mass-hypnosis to persuade the world that someone resembling Jack Ruby had fatally shot someone resembling the person alleged to have been Lee Harvey Oswald. This also becomes the first actual murder captured on live TV.

The next day, November 25, a coffin containing the purported remains of the man many Americans believed to have been John F. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. And on November 29, President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren the head of a commission to investigate the alleged assassination of the person believed to have been John F. Kennedy.

Be grateful the CIA, the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucians, extraterrestrials, and the Children’s Television Workshop don’t give a damn about you.

November 24, 1971 -
D.B. Cooper hijacks a Northwest Orient 727 and parachutes into the freezing rain over Washington state from the rear stairway of the plane with $200,000 in cash. Currency from the ransom is eventually located, but his body isn't.

31 more shopping days until Christmas, 28 more shopping days until Hanukkah.

And so it goes.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More Birthday Wishes

Today is the birthday of both Boris Karloff (1887)

and Harpo Marx (1888).

And that's a good thing.

Today in History:

November 23, 1910 -

English murderer Hawley Crippen an American physician is hanged in Pentonville Prison, London, England, after he was caught aboard the SS Montrose attempting to escape to Britain, on this date. It was the first use of wireless radio for the apprehension of a criminal.

November 23, 1963 -
The first episode of Doctor Who premieres on the BBC.

November 23, 1976 -
Jerry Lee Lewis has been a bad boy again. On this date, he was arrested in front of Graceland in Memphis for public drunkenness, and carrying a chrome plated .38.

Looking for Elvis, I bet.

32 more shopping days until Christmas, 29 more shopping days until Hanukkah.

And so it goes.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy Birthday John Clayton

November 22, 1888 -
Tarzan of the Apes (Lord Greystoke) was born on this date , according to Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel.

Today in History -
November 22, 1928 -
"Bolero" by Maurice Ravel, 1st performed publicly, in Paris. Forget about Bo Derek, sex itself, is never the same.

November 22, 1963 -

A covert CIA operation privately funded by a plutocratic cabal of multinational industrial interests acting in conjunction with extraterrestrial forces and the Knights Templar succeeded in making it appear that Lee Harvey Oswald had assassinated President John F. Kennedy, on this date. Or this this is too much for you, you can alway believe in the MAGIC BULLET.

November 22, 1975 -

Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias is proclaimed king of Spain after he confirms with advisers that Francisco Franco planned to be dead for a while. Juan Carlos is related to both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip (and as you know they are related to each other.) To confuse matters even more, his wife Queen Sofia, is related to all three of them.

November 22, 1995 -
Toy Story is released as the first feature-length film created completely using computer-generated imagery.

33 more shopping days until Christmas, 30 more shopping days until Hanukkah.

And so it goes

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy World Hello Day

Today is the 35th annual World Hello Day. Anyone can participate in World Hello Day simply by greeting ten people. This demonstrates the importance of personal communication for preserving peace. World Hello Day was begun in response to the conflict between Egypt and Israel in the Fall of 1973. Since then, World Hello Day has been observed by people in 180 countries. I'm still trying to transform this day into World Hello and give Kevin 10 bucks day.

Today in History -

November 21, 1694 -

Jean Francois Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet) was born on this date. Voltaire is best known for having said things. Here are some of the witty things he said:

"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh."

"To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered."

"Anything too stupid to be said is sung."

"God created sex. Priests created marriage."

"It is an infantile superstition of the human spirit that virginity would be thought a virtue and not the barrier that separates ignorance from knowledge."

"He was unhappy only when he thought: and that is true of the majority of mankind."

"People who believe in absurdities will eventually commit atrocities."

And most significantly:

"A witty saying proves nothing."

November 21, 1921 -

U.S. President Warren G. Harding signed the Wills Campbell Act, which prohibited the medical prescription of beer and liquor on this date.

He was killed - probably by his wife - two years later and nobody seemed to mind (remember, this was the clown who lost the White House China in a poker game.) Enough said.

November 21,1964 -

The upper deck of The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opens to traffic (at the time it was the world's longest suspension bridge). And it still takes forever to get to Jersey through Staten Island.

November 21, 1973 -

A gap of 18-1/2 minutes is revealed in one of the Watergate tapes, a conversation between Richard M. Nixon and Haldeman. The erasure is blamed on an accident by Nixon's private secretary Rose Mary Woods, but scientific analysis determines the erasures to be deliberate. Later, Chief of Staff Alexander Haig blames the erasure on "some sinister force".

November 21, 1980 -
The third deadliest hotel fire in history occurs at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, caused by faulty wiring; 84 people dead. Helicopters were used to rescue stranded guests from the top floors. No more pu-pu platters with charcoal grills in the suites.

November 21, 1993 -
Death of actor Bill Bixby, who played David Banner (The Incredible Hulk's mild mannered persona, before the gamma radiation) and also starred in The Courtship of Eddie's Father. Cancer at age 51.

November 21, 1997 -
Lead singer of INXS Michael Hutchence found hanged in his hotel room at the Ritz-Carlton in Sydney Australia. Police have denied that his death was due to Autoerotic Asphyxiation. The fact that his pants were around his ankles and copies of the magazines "Hot Chicks in Tubs of Pudding" were scattered around the room, did not enter into it.

34 more shopping days until Christmas, 31 more shopping days until Hanukkah.

And so it goes

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Godzilla tree terrorizes city

Run for your life! It's Godzilla! Oh no, wait, it's a tree
Be afraid. Be very afraid. Just when you thought it was safe to go into the garden...

If you have ever been scared of trees or a giant lizard monster, then this is not the story for you. This large bit of greenery bears more than a passing resemblance to one of cinema's greatest creations. It' s the tree that looks like Godzilla, and if you're not careful, it might flutter in the breeze at you.

Local TV stations in Japan have been getting rather excited about the tree, which is located in the Chiba Prefecture. The owner of the tree insists no alterations have been performed in order to make it more Godzilla-like. The Godzilla shape is only visible from a certain angle.

Today in History -

Forty years ago, the United States census reported that the nation's population had passed 200 million for the first time. Just about a year ago, the 300 millionth American was born.

That's a 50% increase.

If that trend continues—and, like all trends, it must—then there will be 419 million Americans in another 35 years. At this rate, in just 805 years—roughly the amount time elapsed since the signing of the Magna Carta, or just a little longer than the average dental visit—there will be one trillion Americans.

Unfortunately, trends also tell us that for every trillion Americans, 149 million would die each year in car accidents.

I remind you all to drive carefully.

November 20, 1917 -
T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) was held prisoner, whipped, and repeatedly raped by Turkish Army officers. He apparently thoroughly enjoys the experience.

Shades of Midnight Express.

In 1975, Generallismo Francisco Franco started his brave and courageous mission to remain dead. He is still working at it today.

November 20, 1985 -
Windows 1.0, a 16-bit graphical operating environment was released on this date. It was Microsoft's first attempt to implement a multi-tasking graphical user interface-based operating environment on the PC platform. Windows 1.0 was the very first version of Windows launched.

If you think I'm going to make fun of Bill Gates, you're mistaken. Hooray for Big Brother!!!

35 more shopping days until Christmas, 32 more shopping days until Hanukkah.

And so it goes

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Are we headed back to the 70's?

The local papers are starting their terror campaign to freak people out about the economic downturn. It will be so bad, according to them, that NYC will return to it's nadir period - the 70's - roving street gang, graffiti and a rise in homelessness.

Think of the more positive aspects that could come back - cheap cocaine and the return of Quaalude.

Today in History -

November 19, 1581 -
Russian Czar Ivan The Terrible kills his son, Ivan, The Merely Petulant. The younger Ivan interrupted the elder Ivan, who was beating Ivan Jr's pregnant wife because of her inappropriate garb. Still in a fit of range, dad smote his son with a staff, killing him.

This is what passed for family life amongst the Royals in the Middle Ages in Russia.

On November 19, 1620, a group of maniacal religious fanatics reached North America and stepped ashore on Plymouth Rock. Because America did not yet have a Puritan Government, they developed the Mayflower Compact while still at sea. (William Bradford had argued for a Sporty Coupe, but the more practical John Alden had carried the day.)

Eventually the descendants of these frugal and passionately religious people would invent the Internet and enable the transmission of pornography around the world at light speed.

November 19, 1703 -
The Man in the Iron Mask dies in the Bastille. He was a prisoner of Louis XIV, forced to wear a black velvet mask, and his identity has never been revealed.

Seven score and five years ago today (i.e., November 19, 1863), President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. The speech remains an important part of American history on account of its having been written on the back of an envelope despite stringent postal requirements that addresses be printed clearly on the front.

November 19, 1954 -
Driving to Los Angeles, Sammy Davis, Jr. is in a serious automobile accident in San Bernardino. He lost his left eye, but the resultant publicity greatly accelerated his career.

November 19, 1961 -
Michael Rockefeller, 23 year old son of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller (later Vice President), disappears while searching for Asmat wood carvings in the jungles near Atsj, Papua New Guinea. He was probably eaten by the Asmat. Hence the motto, " Eat the Rich".

36 more shopping days until Christmas, 33 more shopping days until Hanukkah. Shop til you drop. Remember, if you don't, the terrorists have won.

And so it goes

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where have you gone Brenda Vaccaro?

Where have you gone Brenda Vaccaro

Happy Birthday Brenda Vaccaro

Today in History

November 18, 1307 -
Local Child Services authorities in Uri, Switzerland report that a William Tell shoots apple off his son's head . Charges may be pending.

November 18, 1421 -
A seawall at the Zuiderzee dike breaks, in the Netherlands, flooding 72 villages and killing somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 people.

Let the joke commence about the killer dikes.

November 18, 1477 -
William Caxton published the first book printed in England, on this date. The book was a translation of The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, by Frenchman Guillaume de Tignoville. The translation to English was performed by Anthony Wodville, Earl Rivers, who had devoted a considerable portion of his life to the study of philosophers' dictes.

Wodville first formulated the theory that the length of a philosopher's dicte was less important than its thrust. He has also been credited with originating the theory that a philosopher's dicte was commensurate with his shoe size. Neither theory is given much credence by contemporary philosophers, most of whom appear to be dicteless anyway.

November 18, 1686 -

King of France Louis XIV's anal fistula is operated on by surgeon Charles Francois Felix, with great success, in front of the horrified yet fascinated court. To prepare for the operation Felix practiced his surgery on anuses of the peasantry, with some fatalities at first but improving his technique in time for the royal bung. You know what they say, "if at first you don't succeed..."

November 18, 1928 -
Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse (according to the Disney corporation and I wouldn't mess with them.)

Steamboat Willie, the first fully synchronized sound cartoon, directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, is released on this date (it's the third appearances of Mickey and Minnie Mouse).

November 18, 1970 -
Singer/polygamist Jerry Lee Lewis divorces his third wife Myra Gail, after 12 years of marriage. Not only was she jailbait when they got married (being 13 at the time), but Lewis was married to Jane Mitcham at the time. It's so hard to keep details like the number of wives you have straight in your mind.

November 18, 1978 -
Congressman Leo Ryan is slain at the People's Temple compound in Guyana, after which over 900 members of the cult led by the Reverend Jim Jones drank cyanide laced Flavor Aid (a Kool Aid knockoff), including over 270 children. It was probably not a pretty sight.

Also, The Kraft Foods Company would like you guys to stop making those damn 'drink the Kool Aid' jokes - it wasn't them. So go 'drink the damn Flavor Aid and drop dead'.

November 18, 1985 -
The comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, created by Bill Waterson, is first published.

(in my humble opinion, the world's greatest strip)

37 more shopping days until Christmas, 34 more shopping days until Hanukkah. Shop til you drop. Remember, if you don't, the terrorists have won.

And so it goes

Monday, November 17, 2008

Probably not a great idea

I don't know - maybe it's just me but it probably wasn't the best time or place for the very strident, very people hating former presidential candidate loser, Rudolph Giuliani to discuss his future plans. While at a paid speaking engagement in Dubai, Rudy mentioned that he is open to the possible of either another presidential run or a stab at the New York gubernatorial race.

Again there's something a tad off putting about discussing running for an elective office while pocketing money in an oil rich emirate.

November 17, 1942

Martin Scorsese, Academy Award-winning American film director, writer, producer, actor, film historian and asthmatic

Today in History -

November 17, 1558 -
Elizabeth I of England ascended to the throne, on this date. She is best known for her imperfect application of the cosmetic sciences, a flaw that is strikingly evident in all her portraits but that courtiers were apparently reluctant to address.

Nov 17 1796 -
Empress Catherine the Great dies of a stroke while sitting on the commode and not while astride her steed (or something like that) on this date.

So dammit, stop making those jokes.

November 17, 1903 -

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin's stubbornness split his Russian Social Democratic Labor Party into two factions: the slim majority who sided with him, and the vast minority who opposed him, on this date.

The Russian terms for majority and minority are bolshevik and menshevik, respectively, and so these factions took their names.

Later the Mensheviks became the majority party, meaning that the Mensheviks had become bolsheviks and the Bolsheviks mensheviks.

This was confusing. If you asked someone what they were and they said "bolshevik," you'd have no way of knowing whether they meant Bolshevik (menshevik) or bolshevik (Menshevik). This state of affairs quickly became intolerable. All sorts of remedies were suggested — placards, ID bracelets, hats, tattoos—but it was impossible to arrive at a consensus until Lenin clarified matters by having all the Mensheviks shot.

It was easy after that.

November 17, 1968 -
NBC preempts the final 1:05 from a very close Jets-Raiders NFL football game with "Heidi". Two touchdowns were scored during this missing time. Sports fans everywhere applaud and understand the network's decision.

November 17, 1973 -
"People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I am not a crook".

Thus spoke Richard M. Nixon on this date.

38 more shopping days until Christmas, 35 more shopping days until Hanukkah.

And so it goes

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My heart would be a Fireball ...

For some reason, this popped into my head this morning -

November 16, 42 BC -

Tiberius Claudius Nero was born on this date. He was the Emperor of Rome from 14 to 37 AD. He was not the Nero who fiddled while Rome burned (nor did he riddle while foam churned.)and nor was he the crippled, seemingly dimwitted Claudius (Derek Jacobi.) John the Baptist and Jesus were put to death during his reign, as well as many whose deaths didn't result in the creation of a religion.

November 16, 1906 -
Opera star Enrico Caruso is charged with an indecent act committed in the monkey house of New York's Central Park Zoo. He pinched the bottom of a woman described as "pretty and plump", causing outrage amongst New York high society. Caruso claimed a monkey pinched the lady's bottom. You know what I think - Caruso pinched the monkey's bottom and the fat lady was jealous. And you don't even want to know what the monkey was doing to hmself at the time.

November 16, 1952 -
Lucy first holds a football for Charlie Brown in the Peanuts cartoon strip. What was often left out of the cartoon strip by newspaper editors was the last panel were Charlie Brown beating the living daylights out of Lucy for pulling that stunt.

November 16, 1957 -
Serial killer Ed Gein kills his final victim, Bernice Worden, a storeclerk in her 50's. Her decapitated body is later found outdoors hanging from a block and tackle, gutted. Some parts were unaccounted for.

"Mother, no, no. So much blood!!!"

November 16, 1981 -
Actor William Holden dies after a fall, hitting his head on a table. He is too drunk to telephone for assistance; instead he dies alone, bleeding to death trying to treat his wound with kleenex. If it wasn't so sad, it would sound like the end of a classic film noir.

Years later, Suzanne Vega references his ignominious death in her song, "Tom's Diner".

39 more shopping days until Christmas, 36 more shopping days until Hanukkah.

And so it goes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's National Bladder Health Week

So please remember to pee freely.

Also it's America Recycles Day. Be a good American - eat leftovers tonight!!!

November 15, 1660 -
Asser Levy is the first kosher butcher licensed in NYC (New Amsterdam). Later that day, a Mrs. Yetta Abromowicz is the first customer to ask if the chicken was fresh.

Today in 1864, Union General William T. Sherman begins his March to the Sea and burns Atlanta.
Rhett rescues Scarlett and a very pregnant Melanie from Aunt Pittypat's Peachtree Street home before the conflagration begins.

Rhett declares his love for Scarlett but she rebuffs him.

But that's a another story.

November 15, 1887 -

American artist Georgia O'Keeffe was born on this date. Ms. O'Keeffe is best known for her colorful paintings of desert flowers that don't look like vaginas.

40 more shopping days until Christmas, 37 more shopping days until Hanukkah.

And so it goes

Friday, November 14, 2008

What a great mash - up

Whether you love or hate Keith Olbermann, this cut and paste of his rants from the past year of ranting about the Bush administration is very funny:

November 14, 1851 -
Harper & 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, 1908 -
Albert Einstein presented his quantum theory of light for the first time while future Senator Joseph McCarthy was being born, although not in the same room, on this date.

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, 1940 -

The Nazis bomb Coventry,England, destroying the cathedral and killing several hundred people.

Bad Nazis.

November 14, 1968 -
National Turn In Your Draft Card Day - featuring burning your draft card hour.

41 more shopping days until Christmas, 38 more shopping days until Hanukkah.

And so it goes

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Whoopie

November 13, 1955 -
Whoopi Goldberg (Caryn Elaine Johnson) actress, comedienne, and television host, born on this day.

Today in History -

November 13, 1927 -

New York's Holland Tunnel officially opened today, 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). Most of the Dutch returned to Holland after learning that New Amsterdam had become New York.

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. The drunken orgies of his youth are recounted in his Confessions, which have at last been optioned by HBO and are expected to begin production later this year.

As I can see no major holiday on the calendar for today - everybody back to work -

42 more shopping days until Christmas, 39 more shopping days until Hanukkah.

And so it goes

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Keep on Rockin' in the Free World

Happy Birthday Neil Percival Young !!!

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. 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.

November 12, 1912 -

The bodies of Captain Robert Scott and his men found on the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica, frozen solid in one huge block of ice. So he had literally become Scott of the Antartic.

November 12, 1933 -

Hugh Gray of the British Aluminium 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.

November 12, 1934 -
Charles Manson born in Cincinnati to a 16 year old heavy drinking prostitute and an unknown father. Manson's mother, allegedly once sold him for a pitcher of beer.

He grows up to do... interesting things.

Helter Skelter.

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."

It was on this date in 1948 that former Japanese Prime Minister Hikedi 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.)

And so it goes