Monday, August 31, 2020

Words to live by

Other things to occupy your mind with other than COVID-19  - Louise-Marie-Thérèse de Saint Maurice, Comtesse de Vercellis farted while she was dying.

She said, “Good. A woman who can fart is not dead.

August 31, 1929 -
RKO released the musical film-short St. Louis Blues, starring singer Bessie Smith, on this date.

At W.C. Handy's suggestion, Bessie Smith was picked to be the star of the film. Bessie had scored a huge hit in 1925 with her recording of St. Louis Blues, which had featured Louis Armstrong on cornet. This is the only known footage of Bessie in existence.

August 31, 1946 -
Howard Hawks' version of Raymond Chandlers classic Philip Marlowe yarn (William Faulkner was one of the screen writers), The Big Sleep, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, was put into general release on this date.

On the first day of shooting, Humphrey Bogart allegedly had five or six drinks at lunch, which infuriated Howard Hawks, who berated Bogart for his unprofessionalism. After that he was limited to one beer.

August 31, 1946 -
Warner Bros. introduced Foghorn Leghorn and the Barnyard Dawg, when the Merrie Melodies cartoon Walky Talky Hawky, (directed by Robert McKimson,) premiered on this date.

Foghorn Leghorn was closely based on Sen. Claghorn, a blustery, windbag Southern politician on radio's The Fred Allen Show -played by Allen's announcer Kenny Delmar - whose trademark lines included, "Somebody, Ah say, somebody knocked," "That's a joke, son," and "Pay attention, boy!".

August 31, 1987 -
Epic/CBS Records
released the Michael Jackson album, BAD on this date.

A nearly 18 minute video of the title song, written by novelist and screenwriter Richard Price and directed by Martin Scorsese, debuted on CBS-TV on this same day, as well.

Word of the Day

Today in History -
Gaius Caesar Caligula
was born on August 31 in the year 12 AD. Caligula succeeded Tiberius in the year 37, and his reign was most notable for its policy of Sex with the Emperor.

(Please note - this guy not only slept with the unwilling wives of senators and his sisters, he married his horse and tried to have him made a god.) This turned out to have been a weak Political Philosophy, because the Romans all had classical educations and saw right through him.

So they killed him.

August 31, 1422 -
Henry V
of England, one of the great warrior kings of the Middle Ages, died suddenly of dysentery on this date. He was 34 at the time.

At the time of his death, Henry had not only consolidated power as the King of England but had also effectively accomplished what generations of his ancestors had failed to achieve through decades of war: the near unification of the crowns of England and France in a single person.

In 2002 he was ranked 72nd in the 100 Greatest Britons poll. And yet, lack of proper sanitary conditions carried him away.

Bunkies, listen to your ole pal, herr doktor - wash your hands after visiting the rest room.

August 31, 1879 -
Alma Maria Schindler
, noted in her native Vienna for her beauty and intelligence, was born on this date.

In her youth she was an aspiring composer. But that's not why I bring her up. She was the wife, successively, of the composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius, and novelist Franz Werfel, and lover to the painter Oskar Kokoschka. Rather than try to encapsulate the story of this very busy woman,

Listen to Tom Lehrer's song Alma, which nicely gives you the gist of her life.

August 31, 1887 -
The kinetoscope was  patented by Thomas Edison (U.S. patent #589,168) on this date.

When his assistant W.K.L. Dickson invented the motion picture viewer, Edison initially considered it an insignificant toy. However, it turned out to be an immediate success.

August 31, 1910 -
The first U.S. airplane flight over water is made by Glenn Hammond Curtiss in his biplane over Lake Erie from Euclid Beach Park in Cleveland, Ohio, to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.

A crowd of 18,000 flocked to Euclid Beach to see his plane take off , and all across Cleveland people left their workplaces and headed outdoors to catch a glimpse of the amazing sight. The next day, flying back to Cleveland, he beat both the Lake Shore Limited train and homing pigeons, although it took longer than the first flight because he had to face strong winds. His return to Euclid Beach was greeted by 20,000 people.

August 31, 1919 -
Workers of the world unite!

In Chicago, journalist John Reed established the American Communist Labor Party, on this date,

providing entertainment for Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover for decades.

August 31, 1920 -
John Lloyd Wright
, son of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, was issued a patent for "Toy-Cabin Construction," which are known as Lincoln Logs. (U.S. patent 1,351,086)

Wright sold his rights to Playskool for $800, to supplement his meager salary, at the time. It is estimated that over 100 million sets of Lincoln Logs have been sold worldwide.

August 31, 1945 -
Let's all wish the intensely litigious and curmudgeonly, George Ivan Morrison, singer and songwriter, happy birthday.

Van the Man, is still the greatest living blue-eyed soul singer.

August 31, 1948 -
Los Angeles
police arrested actor Robert Mitchum, the coolest cat in Hollywood, for marijuana possession on this date. He later received a 60-day sentence.

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands celebrated her Golden Jubilee on this date as well. (You figure out the connection.)

August 31, 1955 -
The first solar-powered car, the 15 inch Sunmobile (designed by William G. Cobb,) was publicly demonstrated by General Motors Corporation, on this date. Light energy falling on twelve tiny selenium photoelectric cells created electric current sufficient to power the electric motor that turns a driveshaft connected to the car’s rear axle by a pulley.

It was one of the 253 exhibits at the General Motors Powerama in Chicago, Illinois, which will be seen by over 2,500,000 visitors during the course of the twenty-eight day, seven million dollar event spread over one million square feet on the shore of Lake Michigan.

August 31, 1957 -
When I'm writing, I will always work, I'm so disciplined about what I do. It's one of the things I learned very early on. If I allowed it to be some craft where I'm working for inspiration, I think I probably would have written 30 songs by now. Instead I've written a couple thousand. Not all of them are good, but I learned - again, early on - that some songs would just come to you, and that would be great.

Glenn Tilbrook, singer, guitarist and with his writing partner Chris Difford, formed the pop group Squeeze, was born on this date.

August 31, 1976 -
George Harrison
was found guilty of unintentionally plagiarizing My Sweet Lord from the Chiffons song He's So Fine.

Those damn Beatles could never come up with an original tune.

August 31, 1977 -
Ian Smith
, espousing racial segregation, won the Rhodesian general election with 80% of overwhelmingly white electorate's vote.


August 31, 1997 -
On August 28, 1997, My wife and I were coming out of the revolving doors at the Ritz Hotel in Paris and a very famous couple were coming in. A few days later on this date, a charming, slightly addled, beautiful divorcee with two children decides to take a car ride with her very rich Egyptian boyfriend and his very drunk driver. She makes the fatal mistake of not buckling her seat belt and paid a very heavy toll.

So ended the glamorous and controversial life of Diana Spencer Mountbatten-Windsor.

Kids here a good piece of advice for anyone, if you don't want to end up dying in the backseat of a black 1994 Mercedes-Benz W140 in a road tunnel in Paris - BUCKLE UP.

And so it goes .


Sunday, August 30, 2020

A member of the Wrestling Hall of Fame

Other things to occupy your mind with other than COVID-19  - Abraham Lincoln was a wrestling champion.

Before becoming America’s 16th President, Abraham Lincoln was an avid wrestler. He only lost one fight out of 300.

Today is National Toasted Marshmallow Day

Why wasn't it celebrated on August 10th, National S'mores Day

August 30, 1935 (It could have been on the 29th, I don't know, I wasn't there.) -
RKO released the fourth Astaire and Rogers, Irving Berlin tune filled musical, Top Hat, in New York, on this date.

Mark Sandrich, who directed five of the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals, was a physicist before he got into filmmaking. He would devise blueprints for every scene so he would know exactly where to put the cameras and the actors.

August 30, 1959 -
Bobby Darin's
jazzy interpretation of Mack The Knife began its 26-week stay on the pop-singles charts.

Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht wrote this song in 1928 for the German play The Threepenny Opera. "Mack" is Macheath, the title character, portrayed as a criminal. The light melody can make this feel like an upbeat song, but it contrasts sharply with the lyrics, which are about a murderer.

August 30, 1967 -
John Boorman's
crime drama thriller, Point Blank, premiered on this date.

Lee Marvin didn't think John Vernon was good for the role, as the actor "wasn't strong enough to contend with him." It came to a head during filming when Marvin punched Vernon in the stomach during a fight scene, causing Vernon to cry and protest that he was an actor not a fighter. Vernon followed it, though, with a visibly increased energy and anger.

August 30, 1968 -
Apple Records released its first single, Hey Jude by The Beatles on this date.

Paul McCartney wrote this as "Hey Jules," a song meant to comfort John Lennon's 5-year-old son Julian as his parents were getting a divorce. The change to "Jude" was inspired by the character "Jud" in the musical Oklahoma! (McCartney loves show tunes)

August 30, 1993 -
Moving himself and his gang of cohorts from NBC-TV, The Late Show with David Letterman premiered on CBS-TV, on this date.

David Letterman originally wanted to call Paul Shaffer's musical ensemble "The NBC Orchestra," but that name was already taken by Doc Severinsen and company on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Letterman settled for the name "Paul Shaffer and the World's Most Dangerous Band," but he got his way in the end: when Letterman and Shaffer defected to CBS, they changed the name of Shaffer's ensemble to "The CBS Orchestra."

Another children's book for our times

Today in History:
August 30, 1780
General "Eggs" Benedict Arnold secretly promised to surrender the West Point fort to the British army during the American Revolution. The measure of Arnold's treachery was made worse by the fact that he was considered by many to be the best general and most accomplished leader in the Continental Army.

In fact, without Arnold's earlier contributions to the American cause, the American Revolution might well have been lost; notwithstanding, his name, like those of several other prominent traitors throughout history, has become a byword for treason and a brunch staple.

August 30, 1859 -
At the University of Göttingen, PhD candidate Albert Niemann isolates the alkaloid C17H21NO4 from leaves of the plant Erythroxylum coca.

Niemann names his white, powdery discovery Cocaine and observes firsthand its peculiarly strong anesthetic effect: "it benumbs the nerves of the tongue, depriving it of feeling and taste."

Oh, that's what cocaine does. Now I know.

August 30, 1918 -
Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin should have been having a great day on this date. Six weeks earlier, Lenin had the previous tenant of Kremlin, Tsar Nicholas II, permanently taken off the lease. After speaking at a factory in Moscow, Lenin was shot twice by Fanya Kaplan, a member of the Social Revolutionary party. Lenin narrowly survived an assassination attempt, but was severely wounded.

As Lenin was a 'godless' communist, he did not turn the other cheek. The assassination attempt set off a wave of reprisals by the Bolsheviks against the Social Revolutionaries and other political opponents. Thousands were executed as Russia fell deeper into civil war.

August 30, 1930 -
Warren Edward Buffett
often called the "Sage of Omaha", "Oracle of Omaha", or "Omaha Steak", American investor, businessperson and philanthropist is born on this date. Buffett has amassed an enormous fortune from astute investments managed through the holding company Berkshire Hathaway, of which he is the largest shareholder and CEO.

With an estimated current net worth of around $67.5 billion (please note, these numbers are all before the pandemic lockdown - which seems to have bolstered the wealth of all of these men,) he was ranked by Forbes as the fourth-richest person in the world as of this past March, falling behind Jeff Bezos (with a net worth of $113 billion),  Bill Gates (with a net worth of $98 billion), and Bernard Arnault (with a net worth of $76 billion.)

I, on the other hand, did not make a blip on the list.

August 30, 1963 -
Almost a year after the world barely averted World War III during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Hotline between the Pentagon and the Kremlin went live, on this date.

The system consists of two teletype machines, with a full-time communications link routed through London, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki.

August 30, 1967 -
Thurgood Marshall,
the lawyer who was best known for arguing the Brown v. Board of Education case before the Supreme Court, became the first black US Supreme Court Justice.

The US Senate voted 69 to 11 to appoint Marshall (20 senators did not vote.) He served on the Court from 1967 to 1991.

August 30, 1983 -
The first black astronaut, Guion S. Bluford Jr., a US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, flew on the third mission of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Bluford had entered the US Astronaut program in 1979; this was his first mission.  This was also the first mission to launch and land at night.

And so it goes.


Saturday, August 29, 2020

There is such a thing as free lunch

Other things to occupy your mind with other than COVID-19  - America’s National School Lunch Program of 1946 was due in no small part to WWII.

By mid 1945, America had just come out of a huge, resource-depleting war. So why on Earth would they be handing out free food for school kids? After all, it’s no secret that food rationing in Britain continued until nine years after the war. This is due to the fact that, the government realized by giving the children free meals, they would have a healthier draft pool if they ever needed it again.

August 29, 1953 -
Warner Brothers introduced Speedy Gonzalez in the cartoon Cat-Tails for Two on this date.

While this is the first cartoon featuring the character Speedy Gonzales, his depiction here is vastly different from the character he would later become. It wasn't until his second appearance, Speedy Gonzales (two years later,) that he was re-designed as the character we know him as today.

August 29, 1962 -
The United Artists remake of the 1937 boxing film Kid Galahad - King Creole, starring Elvis and co-starring Lola Albright, Gig Young, Charles Bronson, and Ed Asner (in his first screen appearance,) went into general release on this date.

James Dean was at one point in the running for the role that, several years later, would be played by Elvis Presley. At this stage, the film was to be a gritty urban drama. Following Dean's death and the casting of Elvis, it was retooled to suit the King.

August 29, 1964 -
Roy Orbison’s
single, (Oh,) Pretty Woman, was released on this date.

Orbison and his wife Claudette had recently reconciled after some tough times, but as this song was climbing the charts, Roy found out she had been cheating on him and filed for divorce. In 1966, they remarried, but two months later Claudette was killed when the motorcycle she was riding was hit by a truck. Orbison faced tragedy again when his two oldest sons died in a fire at his home in 1968. He was on tour at the time.

August 29, 1964 -
Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins
opened in general release on this date. This is first movie I ever saw (but not on this date.)

Author P.L. Travers was adamant that in this movie there should be no suggestions of any kind of romance between Mary Poppins and Bert. This is explicitly referenced in the song Jolly Holiday.

August 29, 1967 -
television ratings soared through the roof as David Janssen and Barry Morse starred in the final episode of The Fugitive on this date.

Some sources incorrectly state that an alternate ending for the series was planned in which Kimble would be seen removing a false arm, revealing him as the true killer. In the book The Fugitive Recaptured (and its later audio adaptation) Barry Morse reveals that this rumor may have started with a never-realized plan that he and David Janssen had for pulling a "false arm" gag at public appearances.

August 29, 1986 -
George Harrison's
production company, HandMade Films' romantic comedy, Shanghai Surprise, starring newlyweds Madonna and Sean Penn, was released on this date.

Apparently, after principal photography wrapped, executive producer George Harrison allegedly said of lead stars Madonna and Sean Penn: "Penn is a pain the ass . . . [whilst] she doesn't have a sense of humor, which is unfortunate, because it was a comedy."

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

Today in History:
August 29, 29/30AD
(The date is a best guess, and the subject of much debate. Once again, Romans were too busy with their orgies and draining lead-lined wine goblets to accurately document events of the day.)

John the Baptist (cousin of the itinerant carpenter of Nazareth) received a severe haircut from King Herod, because his teenage step-daughter, Salome (the Miley Cyrus of her day,) couldn't keep her shorts on while dancing.

Children are always such a handful.

August 29, 1533 -
Atahualpa, the last Incan Emperor, discovered on this date, that the European exploration of the new world was not going to go well for the indigenous people. Francisco Pizarro, one in a long line of Spanish conquistadors arrived in the Andes, with a bible in one hand and a sword in the other.  Atahualpa was quickly captured by the Spanish and held for ransom.  After paying an immense ransom for his release (a room, 22 ft by 17 ft by 8 ft high, once filled with gold and twice with silver within two months), Pizarro decided it was better to kill his hostage and keep the random.

Atahualpa was condemned to be burnt at the stake - which was anathematic since the Inca believed that the soul would not be able to go on to the afterlife if the body were burned.  Atahualpa offered and paid an additional random to be ritualistically garroted after a proper Christian baptism, which occurred on this date in 1533, (several sites place his death on July 26, 1533 and his burial was on this date, but dead is dead.)

More on Political Philosophy ...
Jean Baptiste Colbert was born on August 29, 1619.

Colbert was the finance minister to King Louis XIV of France. His own Political Philosophy consisted of a big pile of money. This was a very effective politics, and therefore deemed insufficiently philosophical, which is why you tend to hear more about Locke and Hegel.

Another important political philosopher was born this week: John Locke was born on August 29, 1632. Mr. Locke was a political philosopher, and many of his ideas found their way into the American Constitution.

He is best known for his essay concerning human understanding, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which remains famous to this day as the shortest essay ever written.

August 29, 1896 -
Here is one of those bright dividing lines: if you know what Chop Suey is - you're old. If you've tasted Chop Suey - you're really old.

The Chinese-American dish Chop Suey was invented in New York City by the chef to visiting Chinese Ambassador Li Hung-chang on this date.

August 29, 1915 -
Ingrid Bergman, the Swedish three-time Academy Award, two-time Emmy Award, and Tony Award - winner was born (and died in 1982) on this date.

Many of her shorter male co-stars, such as Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains, had to wear lifts to avoid looking small next to her 5' 10" stature.

August 29, 1920 -
Charles Christopher "Bird" Parker
, jazz saxophonist and composer was born on this date.

Along with trumpet legend Dizzy Gillespie, he created the sporadic rhythms known as "be bop" in the 1950s.

August 29, 1949 -
The Soviet Union
joined the nuclear club on this date when they detonated a nuclear weapon, code-named First Lightning (Pervaya Molniya) at a test site in Kazakhstan. American experts were shocked and dismayed because they had thought the Soviets were still years away from having a workable bomb.

The resultant fear helped trigger an arms race that would see the Americans and Soviets stockpile approximately 32,000 and 45,000 nuclear devices.

August 29, 1958 -
Michael Joseph Jackson
, the self-crowned King of Pop was born on this date.

He has achieved the dubious distinction of being in the number one position on Forbes magazine's list of "Top-Earning Dead Celebrities", six years in a row.

Last year, Jackson's posthumous earnings were $60 million dollars (Jackson beat out his former dead father-in-law Elvis, who earned over $39 million dollars.)

August 29, 1966 -
The Beatles
performed their last concert before paying fans at in San Francisco's Candlestick Park on this date.

The performance marked the end of a four-year period dominated by touring and concerts including nearly 60 U.S. appearances and over 1400 internationally.

August 29, 1991 -
After a vote in the Soviet Union's parliament, the Supreme Soviet dissolved the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on this date.

The move brought an end to one of the world's largest communist governments.

August 29, 2005 -
Hurricane Katrina devastated much of the U.S. Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle. The death toll eventually reached at least 1,600. An estimated 300 Louisiana residents died out of state; some 230 people perished in Mississippi. Property damage estimates were in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

The name Katrina was officially retired on April 6, 2006 by the World Meteorological Organization at the request of the U.S. government. The name will never again be used for another North Atlantic hurricane.

And so it goes.


Friday, August 28, 2020

Dr Feel Good, indeed

Other things to occupy your mind with other than COVID-19 - Winston Churchill had the greatest doctor’s note during the 1930s.

Besides defiant hand gestures, iconic speeches, cigars and dapper hats, Winston Churchill is also renowned for his love of alcohol. Whiskey in particular. In 1931, Churchill was involved in a car accident which left him with chest pain, as well as having bouts of depression to contend with. Because of this, he was granted a Doctor’s note in 1932, by Otto C. Pickhardt (clearly an associate of  Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush,) for his time in the United States This allowed him drink an “indefinite” amount of alcohol for his duration of time in the Prohibition-era United States.

August 28, 1930 -
...  I'm sick of these conventional marriages. One woman and one man was good enough for your grandmother, but who wants to marry your grandmother? Nobody, not even your grandfather. Think! Think of the honeymoon! Strictly private. I wouldn't let another woman in on this. Well, maybe one or two. But, no men! I may not go myself....

The Marx Brothers second outing at Paramount, Animal Crackers, opened on this date.

The film parodies several contemporary plays, most notably when Groucho Marx's character Captain Spaulding has an interior dialogue concerning his marriage proposals to two different women. The scene was meant to lampoon Eugene O'Neill's play "Strange Interlude." Indeed, besides directly referencing Eugene O'Neill, Groucho at one point breaks the fourth wall and tells the audience, "Pardon me while I have a strange interlude."

August 28, 1946 -
Universal's film-noir classic version of Ernest Hemingway's story, The Killers, premiered in NYC on this date.

Burt Lancaster was the third choice for the part of The Swede, and was signed only after actors Wayne Morris and Sonny Tufts proved unavailable. Lancaster was an ex-circus acrobat from Union City, NJ. When producer Mark Hellinger saw the first rushes of Lancaster's performance in a private screening room, he was so pleased that he yelled "So help me, may all my actors be acrobats!"

August 28, 1951 -
second film version based on Theodore Dreiser's novel, An American Tragedy, A Place in the Sun, opened in NYC on this date.

The box-office failure of An American Tragedy prompted the filmmakers to seek an alternative title. One such title was The Prize. There was a one hundred dollar reward for whoever came up with the best new title, and producer and director George Stevens' associate Ivan Moffat successfully pitched for A Place in the Sun. He never received his one hundred dollar reward.

August 28, 1998 -
Pearl Jam's
video for the song Do The Evolution, premiered on MTV on this date.

The video, which is animated by Todd McFarlane, was the first video Pearl Jam released since their Jeremy clip in 1992. The band felt that videos detracted from the music, but also hated the process of making them. Since they didn't appear in this video, it was much easier for them

August 28, 1998
The Warner Bros. Frankie Lymon biopic Why Do Fools Fall In Love starring Larenz Tate, Halle Berry and Vivica A. Fox premiered on this date in US theatres.

When Tina Andrews wrote the original script, the part of Frankie Lymon was first offered to Michael Jackson.

August 28, 2001 -
Weezer released Island in the Sun, the second single from Weezer (aka The Green Album) on this date.

This is the most-licensed track in the Weezer catalog. Frontman Rivers Cuomo told Billboard magazine: "The funny thing is, the song wasn't a real radio hit. I can only speculate that it's because the song has a cleaner guitar sound, which makes it easier for a more mainstream audience."

Something to watch during your 5 pm today

Today in History:
August 28, 476 A.D.
Today is believed to be the date when the Western Roman Empire, which had lasted for almost 500 years, came to an end as Emperor Romulus Augustulus was deposed by a barbarian. (Well, his father, Orestes, the real power behind the throne, was executed on this date - he, Augustulus, relinquished the throne on September 4, 476 and disappeared into obscurity.)

Historians have been theorizing about the causes of the fall of Rome ever since. Edward Gibbon's book The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776) put forward the idea that the Christian Church was to blame. After Christianity became the official religion of the empire, the best and the brightest leaders became leaders of the church rather than leaders of the government or the military. Another theory is that the aqueducts, which carried the water supply, were lined with lead, and so the Romans slowly went crazy. Some geologists believe that the eruption of Mount Vesuvius released so much ash into the air that it ruined Roman agriculture and weakened the empire. One of the more recent theories is that the Roman army had been infiltrated by the barbarians themselves.

But whatever the cause, the fall of Rome actually wasn't the catastrophic event most people think it was. So-called barbarian rulers kept most of the basic laws in place, Latin remained the official language of government, everyone remained Christian and orgies continued but in private.

August 28, 1837 -
Pharmacists John Lea and William Perrins began commercially manufacturing Worcestershire Sauce on this date, based on an Indian recipe brought to them by Lord Marcus Sandys -- an ex-governor of Bengal.

If they told you the recipe (it contains anchovies), they'd have to kill you.

August 28, 1845 -
Scientific American
, founded by Rufus M. Porter, was published for the first time as a four-page weekly newspaper, on this date.

It is the oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the United States.

August 28, 1883
The first controlled flight in a "Gull" glider was made by John J. Montgomery at Wheeler Hill, California.

The craft weight 38 pounds and sailed a distance of 603 feet at an altitude of about fifteen feet at Otay Mesa near San Diego, Ca.

August 28, 1898 -
Pharmacist Caleb Davis Bradham created a beverage, he believed would aid in digestion and boost energy, calling it "Brad's Drink," on this date.

He later renamed it Pepsi-Cola, after "pepsin" and the kola nut used to flavor the drink.

And still, made with no cocaine.

August 28, 1907 -
Two teenagers, Jim Casey and Claude Ryan decide to start the American Messenger Company in Seattle, on this date. The company's name was later changed to the United Parcel Service.

Hopefully you have those tracking numbers available, some of those packages will arrive soon.

August 28, 1922 -
The first radio commercial aired on WEAF in New York City (WEAF stood for Water, Earth, Air and Fire.)

It was a 10-minute advertisement for the Queensboro Realty Co., which had paid $100.  Programming must have really stunk if people listened to a 10 minute commercial.

August 28, 1938 -
Charlie McCarthy
(Edgar Bergen’s wooden partner ) received the first degree given to a ventriloquist’s dummy on this date.

The honorary degree, “Master of Innuendo and Snappy Comeback,” was presented on radio by Ralph Dennis, the dean of the School of Speech at Northwestern University. I wrote my dissertation on, "The illusionary construct of time - it really is 5pm somewhere in the world." And I earned my degree without someone's hand up my ass.

August 28, 1955
A 14-year-old  black teenager from Chicago, Emmett Till was brutally murdered in Mississippi, for ‘flirting’ with a white woman, Carolyn Bryant. Eyewitnesses linked Carolyn’s husband Roy Bryant and half-brother J.W. Milam to the murder. Bryant and Milam were indicted soon thereafter. Both were acquitted by an all-white jury. Bryant and Milan later confessed to the killing in a magazine interview.

Recently, Carolyn Bryant, now in her 80s, has admitted she lied when she testified in 1955 that Emmett Till touched her.

August 28, 1963 -
During a 200,000-person civil rights rally in at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I have a dream" speech," 57 years ago today.

The speech, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement.

Marian Anderson, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul & Mary and other performer lent their voices to the proceeding that day as well.

August 28, 1982
Two crazy kids got married on this date.

Some of the people who were at that wedding are still alive.
More and more of them are unfortunately not.
Some of them have gotten married (even to each other.)
Others are not.
Some of them had children.
Some do not.
Thirty eight years later, those two crazy kids are still alive, married, have two children in college and are trying to make their way through 2020.

Happy Anniversary Mary.

August 28, 1996
Unfortunately for others, the fairy tale has a very unhappy ending,

Britons Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales, were divorced on this date.

One year later, almost to the day, Diana would have a very nasty accident in a Paris underpass.

And so it goes


Thursday, August 27, 2020

The more you know

Other things to occupy your mind with other than COVID-19 - Most people have learned to wear their mask while venturing outdoors and properly washing their hands when they return home, but how many Americans really know how to protect themselves against political assassination? Not many. And yet, each year, millions of people are killed by assassins.

It’s tragic because these are needless deaths, almost all of which could have been prevented. ACME would like to mention a few simple precautions can help ensure that no assassin’s bullet will ever have your name on it:

A) First, get plenty of exercise, eat plenty of vegetables, and avoid being born into royalty.
B) Don’t be president, prime minister, or other Top Person.
C) Don’t create a military junta or mastermind a coup.
D) Don’t say or write anything that might be considered disparaging by anyone with their own military junta.
E) Do not found a religion.
F) Do not oppose a religion.
G) If your parents are gods, dismember them.
H) If your children are gods, devour them.
I) Excel at nothing.
J) Stay indoors.
K) Always call shotgun when driving with suicide car-bombers.

The more you know

It's the feast day of St. Monica of Hippo.

Monica, who was originally from Honey Bagder and moved to the better neighborhood of Hippo, was known as a virtuous woman. Much to her disappointment, she was also the mother of St. Augustine. She continually encouraged (nagged) her son (the lazy bum) about his debauched ways until she successfully convinced him to convert.

She is the patron saint of all mothers with disappointing children.

August 27, 1943 -
(An almost forgotten film) Warner Bros. released the Lillian Hellman anti-fascist drama, Watch On The Rhine, starring Bette Davis, Paul Lukas, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Beulah Bondi, on this date.

Bette Davis repeatedly clashed with director Herman Shumlin throughout production. A novice film director, he had no real experience on a film set and certainly none in dealing with a prima donna actress like Davis. Producer Hal B. Wallis was forced to lean hard on Shumlin when he saw how over the top Davis was in her performance.

August 27, 1947 -
20th Century Fox's
classic film-noir, crime-drama, Kiss of Death, premiered on this date.

Henry Hathaway wasn't happy with the choice of Richard Widmark as the villain and wanted him removed from the picture. When Darryl F. Zanuck overruled him, he tried to make the shoot as uncomfortable for Widmark as possible. Widmark decided this wasn't for him and decided to quit one lunchtime. Hathaway persuaded him to stay and they completed the movie with a new respect for each other. They would go on to make another five movies together and Widmark was pallbearer at Hathaway's funeral.

August 27,  1966 -  
The Beach Boys' single, God Only Knows peaked at No.2 on the UK singles chart. Surprisingly, it only managed to scrape the Top 40 in the United States. That's because it was released as a B-side, partly because of fear that radio stations would refuse to play a song with "God" in the title.

The song broke new ground in many ways. It was one of the first commercial songs to use the word 'God' in its title and Brian Wilson used many unorthodox instruments, including the French horns that are heard in the song's famous introduction.

August 27, 1970 -
The sci-fi musical (no one has ever seen,) Toomorrow, directed by Val Guest, starring newcomer Olivia Newton-John as a pop singer whose band gets abducted by aliens, premiered on this date.

Producers Don Kirshner and Harry Saltzman butted heads, so Kirshner resigned before the film was completed and later remarked that if he had his way, the film would never be seen again during his lifetime. The movie made it's home video debut on DVD in the UK two months after Kirshner's death. Writer-director Val Guest was never paid, so he filed an injunction against the production company, which resulted in the film receiving a very brief theatrical run. Guest won the lawsuit but never received a dime.

August 27, 1991 -
Epic Records
released Pearl Jam' s debut studio album, Ten, on this date.

Up until they were recording the album, Pearl Jam was known as Mookie Blaylock, as in the professional basketball player. Since calling themselves Mookie Blaylock would have possibly led to legal problems, they decided to just pay tribute to the point guard by calling their debut album Ten, his jersey number.

Another court-ordered ACME PSA

Today in History:
August 27, 413 BC
A lunar eclipse interrupted a lovely evening of sodomy among the sailors of the Athens fleet on this evening, affecting the outcome of a battle in the Peloponnesian War. The Athenians were ready to move their forces from Syracuse when the Moon was eclipsed. The soldiers and sailors were startled by this celestial omen and tenaciously clung to their nude and well-oiled ship mates.

The fleet’s commander, Nicias, gutted a sheep and postpones the fleet’s departure for 27 days. The delay gave an advantage to their enemies, the Syracusans, who went on to defeat the entire Athenian fleet and army, killing Nicias in the process.

August 27, 410 -
In case you were keeping score, the Sack of Rome still continued unabated. The orgies were winding down: lubricants were in short supply and everything that moved had been used. The Visigoths were forced to engage in unnatural acts with statuary.

For those of you with a more genteel nature, I won't tell you how the statuary was used.

Political Philosophy has caused more human death and suffering than any other disease. No inoculations exist. Outbreaks are sudden and almost always fatal. Political Philosophy strikes young and old alike, healthy and sickly, nimble and clumsy, lefty and righty. By the time its symptoms are visible, you have very little time to protect yourself. Popular referendums will only exacerbate the problem.

Emigrate at once.

Case studies: On August 27, 1793, the Committee of Public Safety in Paris, France, accepted its newest member, Maximilien Robespierre.

Robespierre soon rose to prominence on the basis of his Political Philosophy, the Guillotine, which was quicker than Inalienable Rights and more readily understood than Separation of Powers.

On August 27, 1770, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was born on this date. Georg's family was so poor that they couldn't afford the second 'e' in his first name. Hegel was also a kind of political philosopher.

He believed in theses and antitheses and that sooner or later everyone ended up in Synthetics. Unfortunately there was no way to test his theory, as this was well before the invention of polyester.

August 27, 1882 -
Schmuel Gelbfisz, (Samuel Goldwyn), glove maker, sales man and pioneer filmmaker was born in Warsaw, Poland on this date.

His sayings, sometimes known as "Goldwynisms," were famous for their unintentional wit, which was partially as a result of his somewhat limited understanding of the English language that surfaced when he tried to comment on certain situations. There are many examples of this, such as "Include me out" or "a verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on."

August 27, 1896
The Shortest War in recorded history was the Anglo-Zanzibar War. The conflict lasted between 38 and 45 minutes.

Spoiler alert: Zanzibar lost.

August 27, 1916 -
Martha Raye, singer, actor, denture wearer was born in Butte, Montana, on this date.

Martha Raye had a lifelong fear of flying, but because of her profession was required to make numerous air trips, which she could muster only after drinking herself into a near alcoholic stupor. Her drinking and conduct during these periods ended up with a number of airlines refusing her service, particularly on her many trips into the Miami, Florida, area, which was a favored vacation spot.

August 27,  1928
60 nations agree to sign the Kellogg-Briand Pact on this date. Its signatories renounce aggressive war, and war as an instrument of national policy, but no sanctions are provided for violations.

Most of the diplomats were too embarrassed to admit they thought they thought they were there to taste-test a new breakfast cereal.

August 27, 1952 -
Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman) actor, writer, comedian and public onanist was born on this date.

Reubens credits pioneer TV children's show host Pinky Lee as a partial inspiration for his "Pee-Wee Herman" character. Like Reubens, Lee also wore a tight checked suit and hat as part of his characterization.

August 27, 1955 -
In 1954, two brothers, Norris and Ross McWhirter, who ran a London fact-finding agency were tapped by Sir Hugh Beaver, the managing director of the Guinness Brewery, to create a book to settle bar bets (generate great buzz for the brewery.) Their work - The Guinness Book of World Records was first published on this date.

Guinness World Records has the distinction of being “The best-selling annual publication” in history, with “132,002,542 copies sold from 1955 until October 2013.

August 27, 1967 -
Brian Epstein, the man who discovered the Beatles and guided them to mega-stardom, died at his London residence, from an overdose of sleeping pills, on this date.

Many critics believe this traumatic event ultimately lead to the Beatles breakup.

August  27, 1979  -
Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India (and matchmaker of his second cousin, the Queen of England to his nephew, our favorite itinerant Greek sailor, Philip Mountbatten,) was killed, along with his grandson, off the coast of Ireland in his 29-foot sail boat in Sligo, Ireland; the Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility.

Thomas McMahon was the bombmaker and was jailed at Dublin’s Mountjoy prison. He was released in 1998 as part of the Northern Ireland peace agreement.

And so it goes


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

It spins and it spins

Other things to occupy your mind with other than COVID-19 - In 18th century England, pineapples were a status symbol

Although pineapples weren't introduced in England until the 1600s, by the 1700s owning pineapples had become a huge craze. Those rich enough to own a pineapple would carry them around to signify their personal wealth and high-class status. And for those who weren’t rich enough to buy their own pineapples and become a part of this fad, they could rent a pineapple for the day, (prices for renting the fruit overnight would reach an equivalent amount of $8,000.)

Today is the Feast of The Transverberation of St. Teresa of Avila (this time, I'm not sure even an old lady saying her rosary in church can explain it to you.)

If you find yourself in Rome, run, do not walk, to see the Santa Maria della Vittoria Church. It houses one of the most amazing pieces of art - The Ecstasy of St. Teresa by Bernini.

Look for the light switch to illuminate the statue.  Just think, God had to turn St. Teresa on with his shafts of pure light - you can do it with a flick of a switch.)

The statues depict a moment described by Saint Teresa of Avila in her autobiography, where she had the vivid vision of an angel piercing her heart with a golden shaft, over and over again, causing her both immense joy and pain. The flowing robes and contorted posture abandon classical restraint and repose to depict a more passionate, almost voluptuous trance.

Such is my obsession with religion.

La Tomatina tomato fight in Buñol near Valencia happens every year on the last Wednesday in August though the partying starts earlier in the week. The highlight of the festival is the tomato fight which takes place between 11am and 1pm on that day. Thousands upon thousands of people make their way from all corners of the world to fight in this World's Biggest Food Fight.

There is no political or religious significance to La Tomatina, it's just good, messy fun. The tradition’s beginning remains a mystery but this event is estimated to have begun in 1945. The event has become one of the highlights on Spain’s summer festivals calendar with thousands of people flocking to this little Valencian town for this chaotic event. Unfortunately, the event this year was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain.

Seth Wheeler
patents rolled and perforated toilet paper (U.S. patent No. 117355) on July 25, 1871. The first time toilet paper was ever sold on a roll was on August 26, 1871 (Joseph Gayetty, often created as 'the father of modern TP' sold his product in packets of flat sheets.) August 26 was later officially dubbed National Toilet Paper Day.

The Chinese took a break from inventing everything else and were thought to have create TP on this date in 580 AD.  They were far too serious to be messing around with any old orgies not to note the correct date.

Today is also National Dog Day, reminding potential dog owners to adopt their dogs from shelters, rather than buying from pet stores.

But why isn't it celebrated during the dog days of summer?

August 26, 1953 -
Considered to be one of the great science fiction films of the 1950s, George Pal's The War of the Worlds was released on this date.

George Pal initially planned to portray the Martians and their fighting machines similarly to how they appear in the original novel. However, after being informed by a United States Army technical adviser that the Tripods, as they are portrayed in the 1897 novel, would pose no real threat to a 1950s era human military, he opted to change the fighting machines. Namely, Pal chose to introduce the atom bomb-resistant deflector shields.

August 26,  1983
The David Bowie film Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, co-starring Tom Conti, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Takeshi Kitano opened on this date

Laurens van der Post, the author of this film's source novel The Seed and The Sower, once said of this filmed adaptation of his novel: "This is a great and deeply moving film. The only war film I have ever seen that does not exploit the surface drama and horrifics of war, but penetrates into the origins and meaning of war in the human spirit. Moreover, it is honest and brave, and looks with the same unevasive and unblinking eyes into the character of Japanese and Europeans alike."

Another failed ACME product

Today in History:
August 26, 1498
A statue was commissioned for the tomb in St. Peters of the French cardinal Jean de Billheres (who was a representative in Rome), on this date.

Michelangelo (23 at the time) won the commission to make the Pieta.

August 26, 1743 -
Antoine Laurent Lavoisier was born on this date. Dr. Lavoisier discovered Oxygen (Joseph Priestley may beg to differ) but not on this date; he was usually too busy celebrating his birthday.

The discovery was a great boon to science, as it enabled Breathing, without which many subsequent scientific advances would have been impossible.

August 26, 1883 -

Krakatoa erupted, between Java and Sumatra on this date. The two-day eruption and related tidal waves killed 36,000 people and destroyed two thirds of the island. (Yeah, yeah, I know, Krakatoa is West of Java.)

On a lighter note, "Krakatoa" sounds like "cracked a toe, huh?" and can be used in many humorous puns.

August 26, 1957 -
Henry Ford was a very plain man; he wasn't interested in anything fancy. Ford left the design stylings of the Model A (during the late 20s, early 30s) to his son Edsel. The Model A pretty much saved the company, at the time.

Henry never gave his son the proper credit for his help until the Ford Motor Company rolled the first Edsel, named after Edsel Bryant Ford, off the assembly line on this date. (Well, Ford did give his son one million dollars on his 21st birthday, which in my book is not too shabby a gift.)

110,847 of the cars are built before Ford pulls the plug due to lack of sales.

And so it goes.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

They've been to London to look at the Queen

Other things to occupy your mind with other than COVID-19 - In 1710, a delegation of four Native American leaders - three Mohawk from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) alliance and one Mohican from the Algonquin nations  - traveled to the Court of Queen Anne in London.

Almost 100 years before the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the four Mohawk Kings, as they were know at the time, traveled to London with British military leaders seeking to court support against competing French and their allied Native interests in North America. While the entourage were not the first Native visitors to Britain, their presence at Court and their interactions with Londoners, who treated them as celebrities, ignited the British imagination. Poems, ballads, and music were written about them.While in England, they also visited the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral. There is no record if they purchased "I Love London" t-shirts during their visit.

Today is National Banana Split Day, observed annually on this date

A 23-year-old apprentice pharmacist at Tassel’s Pharmacy in Latrobe, Pennsylvania created the first banana split in 1904David Evans Strickler enjoyed inventing sundaes at the store’s soda fountain.  His first “banana-based triple ice cream sundae” sold for 10 cents, double the cost of all the other sundaes.

Walgreens had a hand in spreading the word – the early drug stores, operated by Charles Rudolph Walgreens in the Chicago area, is often credited with spreading the banana split’s popularity to a national level. The store had promoted the banana split as their signature dessert, which attracted customers who might have otherwise been simply satisfied with having their prescriptions filled at other drug stores in the neighborhood.

August 25, 1949 -
Vincente Minnelli
adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's novel, Madame Bovary, starring Jennifer Jones, James Mason, Van Heflin, and Louis Jourdan, opened in New York City on this date.

After the expensive box-office failure of The Pirate, director Vincente Minnelli worked hard to cut corners on this film, fearing he might be otherwise be accused of extravagance. However, he devoted a great deal of time to the ball sequence, which he regarded as the most important scene in the film; he even had composer Miklos Rozsa compose the waltz theme used in it well in advance of the start of filming.

August 25, 1962 -
Little Eva's
record The Loco-Motion topped the charts on this date.

When the demo of this song was completed, Artie Kaplan, a session musician and song plugger, took it to Cameo-Parkway, but Cameo producer Bernie Lowe listened to the opening for all of sixty seconds before squeaking the needle off the record and saying "I didn't hear the hook," turning it down cold. Kaplan just shrugged and took it back to Aldon. Lowe's exact facial expression, upon hearing this song come out of the radio later as a #1 hit by July of '62, is forever lost to history but we're pretty sure it must have been memorable. And that's how this song became the first single put out by the newly-formed Dimension Records, spawned from Aldon Music.

August 25, 1972 -
American International Pictures
released another film in the blaxploitation vein, Blacula, on this date.

While the film was in its production stages, William Marshall worked with the producers to make sure his character had some dignity. His character's name was changed from Andrew Brown to Mamuwalde and received a background story about his being an African prince who had been turned into a vampire.

August 25, 1975 -
Bruce Springsteen's
third album Born to Run was released on this date.

This was the first song Springsteen wrote for a studio production, rather than a live performance. After recording four versions (one with a female chorus) at the low-budget studio where he recorded his first two albums, he moved to a higher end studio to finish it, refusing to release it until it was just right.

August 25, 1986 -
WEA Records
released Paul Simon's award-winning Graceland album on this date.

This is the title track of Simon's most successful album, selling over 15 million copies and winning a Grammy for Album of the Year. It is an album focusing mostly on African music, but it also explores other forms of non-mainstream music, like Zydeco. Simon considers this song to be less African-sounding than most of the other African-based tracks. The single also won Simon his third Record of the Year award - he previously won for Mrs. Robinson and Bridge Over Troubled Water.

August 25, 1988
One of the best documentary films ever produced, Miramax released The Thin Blue Line, directed by Errol Morris, on this date.

When Errol Morris first attempted to film Randall Adams, he was suspicious and nervous and stopped talking several times. Morris urged him to continue, saying, "Look, I really believe you're innocent; this is your only chance." According to Morris' account, "So then the cameraman take me aside and tells me I'm debased, and that this is the most disgusting thing he's ever seen in his entire life, and that he will not be a party to it anymore. That I make him sick. And I tell him if I want a moral philosopher, I would hire Emmanuel Kant."

Today's moment of Zen

Today in History:
It's the birthday of Declan Patrick MacManus, one of the most prolific musicians of the late 20th Century. (Hooray - he's on tour and in good health.)

In addition to recordings as "Elvis Costello" (often backed by The Attractions), he has recorded music as "Declan MacManus", "Napoleon Dynamite and The Royal Guard", "The Coward Brothers" (with T-Bone Burnett), "Nick Lowe and His Sound", "The Emotional Toothpaste" and "The Imposter".

The Council of Nicaea ended on August 25, 325, resulting in the Nicene Creed. This established the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which proved that the Father and Son were not two, but three and therefore one. This controversial creed alienated many math teachers from the church.

Its repercussions eventually caused a Schism, which caused Infidels, which caused considerable bloodshed and ultimately resulted in more Political Philosophy.

August 25, 1718
French colonists, led by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur De Bienville, established the Louisiana settlement and fortress of Nouvelle Orleans.

In honor of the Big Easy, Laissez les bons temps rouler.

August 25, 1830 -
The 'Tom Thumb' steam locomotive, designed by Peter Cooper, ran the famous first race between a locomotive and a horse-drawn vehicle, over a nine mile stretch, between Relay and Baltimore, Maryland. The locomotive was off to a promising start, but broke down, and the horse won .

Strangely enough on this date in 1875, Captain Matthew Webb became the first person to swim across the English Channel,

traveling from Dover, England, to Calais, France, in less than 22 hours.

August 25, 1835 -
The New York Sun published stunning revelations that Sir John Hershel, having built a new super powerful telescope, had observed little men living on the surface of the moon.

The stories, now generally believed to be false, brought the paper record circulation.

August 25, 1900 -

No, Nietzsche is dead, on this date.

God finds this very amusing.

August 25, 1901 -
Clara Maass
, a 25 year old army nurse, volunteered for an experiment to prove that the mosquito carries yellow fever.

Unfortunately for her, the experiment proved successful and Maass died. Her death roused public sentiment and put an end to yellow fever experiments on humans.

August 25, 1916 -
It's the 104th anniversary of the creation of the US National Park Service today.

If you're in NYC, you don't have to leave the city; just take the ferry in lower Manhattan and visit Governors Island.

August 25, 1925 -
The Sleeping Car Porters' Union was established by A. Philip Randolph, a political malcontent who'd been agitating for reform ever since his ejection from the Wide Awake Car Porters' Union.

Mr. Randolph was the principle organizer for the March on Washington in 1963.

August  25, 1944 -
The City of Paris, occupied since June 1940, was liberated from German occupation by Free French Forces under General Jacques LeClerc and his 2nd Tank division on this date (Charles De Gaulle might beg to differ.)

Although ordered by Adolf Hitler to leave Paris a smoldering ruin, Paris' military governor Major General Dietrich von Cholitz lied to his superiors and left the city's landmarks intact.

I bet Hitler wasn't a happy camper today.

August 25, 1967 –
George Lincoln Rockwel
l, the leader of the American Nazi Party, was relieved of his duties by means of the usual Nazi method: he was shot to bloody hell on this date.

Former party member John Patler was later convicted of the killing.

August 25, 1970 -
Elton John
, a virtual unknown, started the first night of a six night engagement at the Troubadour Club in Los Angeles on this date, making his first American public appearance.

After the first night, Robert Hilburn, music critic for the Los Angeles Times, wrote: “Tuesday night at the Troubadour was just the beginning. He’s going to be one of rock’s biggest and most important stars.” And as Hilburn predicted, in 1990 Rolling Stone magazine declared these shows to be among the 20 most important concerts in the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

And so it goes.