Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring is the time of plans and projects

I know it doesn't seem possible given that it's going to snow later today but Winter appears to be officially over.

While you're balancing those eggs (and the new thing to balance is brooms) today remember that it's the Vernal Equinox at  6:45pm (EDT) today. Some people will have the chance to experience a solar eclipse, supermoon and spring equinox all in one day - but not us.

That means it’s spring. Take off your clothes.

And avoid opening up a 1,000 year old book while you're on a picnic (if you know what's good for you.)

March 20, 1992 -
Crossing one's legs would never be the same - Basic Instinct starring Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone, premiered on this date.

Sharon Stone was only offered the role of Catherine after 13 actresses had turned it down.

Poking around the interweb last night, I stumbled upon a treasure trove of videos mashups made by Garren Lazar of the kids from Peanuts 'singing' various classic rock songs -

This live version of Clapton's Layla is good but his version of Pink Floyd's Echoes is mind blowing (definitely smoke 'em if you got 'em while watching.)

Today in History:
March 20,  1413
During his lifetime it had been predicted that King Henry IV would die in Jerusalem. The king himself took this to mean that he would die on Crusade.  Rather wisely he kept away from entering the holy city – wouldn’t you?

As it happened on this date, Henry visited the Abbot of Westminster's house and has a massive coronary as he entered the Jerusalem Chamber in Westminster Abbey.

On March 20, 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte entered Paris and began his "Hundred Days" rule, which lasted 94 days.

Days were measures in the metric system back then.

March 20, 1828 -
It's the birthday of playwright Henrik Ibsen, born in Skien, Norway on this date. He was a small time cherry herring bootlegger and an assistant stage manager for a new theater, where it was his job to produce a new drama each year based on Norway's glorious past. He produced a number of plays, but none got any attention (owning much to the fact that while it was true that Norway did have a past - most of it was quite boring. None of it was glorious.) Overworked, under paid and very cold, he applied to the government for a stipend to study the fjords. The government decided to give him one to to travel abroad, and off he went. He spent the next 27 years living in Italy and Germany, pining for the fjords.

He found that by leaving his homeland, he could finally thaw out and see Norway clearly, and he began to work on creating a true Norwegian drama. At a time when most people were writing plays full of sword fights and murders, Ibsen started to write plays about relationships between ordinary people. The type of people that have terrible social diseases, suicidal tendencies, murderous intent in their heart, incestuous thoughts and old leches - the ordinary people of Norway.

He used dialogue rather than monologues to reveal his characters' emotions, and he stopped writing in verse. He said, "We are no longer living in the age of Shakespeare. ... What I desire to depict [are] human beings, and therefore I [will] not let them talk the language of the gods." Except he said that in Norwegian.

One of Ibsen's first important plays was A Doll's House (1879), about a woman named Nora who refuses to obey her husband and eventually leaves him, walking out of the house and slamming the door in the final scene. When it was first produced, European audiences were shocked, and it sparked debate about women's rights, divorce and home improvements across the continent. It also changed the style of acting. At the time, most actors were praised for their ability to deliver long poetic speeches and avoiding bumping into the furniture, but Ibsen emphasized small gestures, the inflection of certain words, and pauses, and he inspired a new generation of actors to begin embodying the characters they played.

A Doll's House made Ibsen a celebrity across Europe. His play Ghosts (1881) came out two years later. It's frank depiction of pottery making further scandalized the theatre going population.

Henrik Ibsen said, "You should never have your best trousers on when you go out to fight for freedom and truth. You should also never wear them when mucking out the toilets of the theatre. Have you seen what these actors eat?"

There is only one known picture in which Ibsen smiles. And yes, he was passing gas at the time.

March 20, 1899 -
Martha M. Place
, the first woman to be honored with a warm seat in the electric chair, for the bloody murder of her 17 year old stepdaughter Ida, died at Sing-Sing Prison on this date.

Having never executed a woman in the electric chair, those responsible for carrying out the death warrant devised a new way to place the electrodes upon her. They decided to slit her dress and place the electrode on her ankle. Edwin Davis was the executioner. According to the reports of witnesses, she died instantly (having a large amount of electric course through your body normally results in ones death).

The governor of the State of New York Theodore Roosevelt was asked to pardon Place, but he refused. "Bully!"

Martha Place was buried in the family cemetery plot in East Millstone, New Jersey without religious observances.

March 20, 1900 -
Nikola Tesla received a patent (US 645576 A) for the wireless transmission of electric power on this date.

Early radio antennas and telegraphy used the invention, but variations of the coil can also do things that are just plain cool - like shoot lightning bolts, send electric currents through the body and create electron winds.

March 20, 1917 -
Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn?

Dame Vera Lynn,  actress and singer, who was enormously popular during World War II, was born on this date. In 2009 she became the oldest living artist to make it to No. 1 on the British album chart, at the age of 92.

March 20, 1928 -
Remarkably, Fred Rogers was born today in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood,

and not some other place.

March 20, 1969 -
Small town musician (John Lennon) married small time conceptual artist (Yoko Ono) on this date.

I wonder what ever happened to them.

March 20, 1995 -
The last words of Thomas J. Grasso, executed in Oklahoma by lethal injection on this date: "I did not get my Spaghetti-O's, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this."

Duly noted Mr. Grasso.

And so it goes.

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