Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Animals In Space

August 31, 1950 -
A mouse flew on a US V-2 rocket from New Mexico, USA on on this date, reaching an altitude of 137 km (85 miles).

It was the first mouse in space. Unfortunately the rocket disintegrated because the parachute system failed.

But what the hell do you care.

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.

In re-cutting the film, Howard Hawks removed the scene in which Marlowe explains the crimes. The film's success supported his growing conviction that audiences didn't care if a plot made sense as long as they had a good time.

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.

"So round, so firm, so fully packed" was the advertising slogan of Lucky Strike Cigarettes.

August 31, 1973 -
The Rolling Stones released their eleventh British (and thirteenth American) studio album Goats Head Soup, on this date.

The album was recorded in Jamaica, and Keith Richards commented on the ethnic mix of studio hands they had coming in, not just Jamaicans but Chinese and Guyanans as well. It made him appreciate the cultural diversity of the island country.

August 31, 1985 -
Dire Straits' album, Brothers In Arms, started a nine-week run at No.1 on the US album charts on this date. The album also topped the charts in 25 other countries and went on to sell over 20 million worldwide.

The title of the album came about from a conversation Mark Knopfler had with his father. In discussing the Falklands War, he described the Russians and Argentinians as "Brothers In Arms," meaning they had similar ideologies. That phrase ended up being used as the title for the album.

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.

Today's moment of Zen

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 (if slantedly) 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 -
The Lennon-McCartney comparison was frequently made and that was an image that critics could relate to. But it wasn't something people in the street could pick up on the way they'll pick up on someone who's really good-looking.

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, Mrs. Dr. Caligari 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

Monday, August 30, 2021

Everyone's favorite vegetable is the marshmallow

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.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers frequently denied any major rivalry between them. But because so much of the praise and attention for the quality of the pictures has been focused on him, she was quick to point out she had plenty of input into the dance routines and was known as the "button finder," a show biz term for the person who can come up with just the right last word or finishing touch on a scene or number.

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

Darin decided to perform this song when he saw a production of The Threepenny Opera in Greenwich Village in 1958. He thought up his own way of presenting the song, and started performing it in his nightclub act, where it was well received.

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

John Boorman
was called in for a meeting with MGM President Robert O'Brien in which the executive immediately began expressing concern, but partway into the meeting the phone rang. It was David Lean making requests in advance of his next film, Ryan's Daughter, and O'Brien was so excited to speak with him that when the call ended, he simply ushered Boorman out, saying only "make a good one". Boorman told Lean years later how he had saved him.

August 30, 1965 -
Bob Dylan's sixth studio album, Highway 61 Revisited was released on this date. It was his first album to feature other rock musicians backing him on the album.

The Highway 61 Revisited album marks not only a milestone in Dylan's career, but a turbulent time for the culture surrounding him. Before releasing this album, Dylan played the notorious Newport Folk Festival, which is famous for all the wrong reasons (the crowd there was upset because Dylan was only going to play for 15 minutes), and afterwards was the Forest Hills concert, which is less-well known but had a much more turbulent crowd doing a lot more booing for reasons that weren't clear to anyone.

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

In a 2018 interview with GQ, Paul McCartney talked about how he came up with the idea for this song: "John and his wife Cynthia had divorced, and I felt a bit sorry for their son, who was now a child of a divorce. I was driving out to see the son and Cynthia one day and I was thinking about the boy whose name was Julian - Julian Lennon, and I started this idea, 'Hey Jules, don't make it bad, it's gonna be OK.' It was like a reassurance song."

August 30, 1986 -
Steve Winwood single, Higher Love went to No. 1 on the Billboard Charts on this date.

This was Winwood's first US #1 single, either as a solo artist or with a group. He was 38 when it topped the chart on this date, but he had already been making music for more than two decades.

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.

The microphone on David Letterman's desk was an old RCA DX 77. It was a replacement for the original microphone given to him as a gift from the NBC crew when he left the network. A couple of years after making the move to CBS, the original microphone was stolen. The microphone on his desk was usually not plugged in. His primary microphone was the lapel clipped to his tie.

Word of the Day

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 $96 billion (please note, these numbers are all  from earlier this year - their wealth seem to have only continued to climb,) he was ranked by Forbes as the sixth-richest person in the world as of this past March, falling behind Jeff Bezos (with a net worth of $177 billion), Elon Musk (with a net worth of $151 billion), Bernard Arnault (with a net worth of $150 billion), Bill Gates (with a net worth of $124 billion), and Mark Zuckerberg (with a net worth of $97 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

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Back home again

(We had a bad car rental experience (#neverrentfromBudget) while taking the girls up to college last week, which necessitated us having to rent another car again this weekend. The experience really wasn't much better (#neverrentfromBudget). But it's all behind us now and we'll absolutely do something different when we have to pick them up again in May (we hope).

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, this time 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.

Dolores Fuller who wrote the song I Got Lucky for Elvis had been the girlfriend of Edward D. Wood Jr. a decade earlier and had acted in several of his productions. She wrote songs for several Elvis movies.

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.)

When founder and (now former) chief archivist at the Walt Disney Archives Dave Smith went on a search for the snowglobe from this movie, which featured birds flying around Saint Paul's Cathedral, he finally found it on a shelf in a janitor's office. The janitor explained that he saw the snowglobe sitting in a trash can, but found it too pretty to throw away and kept it himself.

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

This was the first series to feature a "final episode" in which all the plot lines were resolved, and all questions answered.

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.

Though this was their only movie together, Sean Penn and Madonna co-starred in an off-Broadway production of David Rabe's Goose and Tom-Tom the same year. It was her stage debut.

Another book from the back shelves of the ACME Library.

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 COVID cut into the King of Pop's income, Jackson's posthumous earnings were $48 million dollars (Jackson beat out his former dead father-in-law Elvis, who earned a paltry $23 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. Please keep the good people of Louisiana in your thoughts today as they are about to be hit with another hurricane today.

And so it goes

Saturday, August 28, 2021

I'm going to attempt it

(we're on the road and I have limited time, so here is an abbreviated posting for today. Please forgive the typos and misspelling - more than usual)

August 28, 1930 -
... Well, art is art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west, and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce, they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, uh... Now you tell me what you know.....

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."

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

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 young people got married on this date.

Some of the people who were at that wedding are still with us today.
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 nine years later, those two not so young people are still alive, married, have two children in college and are trying to make their way through the rest of 2021.

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

Friday, August 27, 2021

I know I'm promised to stop talking about saints.

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

Monica, who was originally from Slothvile 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 important PSA from ACME:

Given what has gone on in the world the past year, 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

Another unimportant moment in history

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, the late 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.

(We have to deal with some family issues over the next few days and may not be able to post tomorrow. We'll see.)

And so it goes.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Truth suffers, but never dies.

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.

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.)

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 once again due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain. It is currently scheduled to be held on August 31st 2022

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.

Filming was halted briefly, two days into filming, when Paramount discovered that its filming rights of the novel were only for a silent version. It was quickly resolved through the kind permission of H.G. Wells' estate.

August 26, 1955 -
Satyajit Ray burst onto the international film scene, when his directorial debut Pather Panchali, starring Subir Banerjee, Kanu Banerjee and Karuna Banerjee, premiered in India on this date.

Because of all the many delays in this film's nearly three-year production, director Satyajit Ray became increasingly apprehensive that some event might occur to prevent his finishing it. In fact, he attributed his success in that regard to three miraculous occurrences (or rather non-occurrences), referring to his cast by their character names: "One, Apu's voice did not break. Two, Durga did not grow up. Three, Indir Thakrun did not die."

August 26, 1972 -
Looking Glass' single Brandy (You're A Fine Girl) hit No. 1 on this date.

The band was signed by Clive Davis, a famous record executive who has nurtured the careers of many successful artists, including Santana, Billy Joel and Whitney Houston. Davis has a knack for knowing a hit song when he hears one, but he got this one wrong, releasing it as the B-side of their song Don't It Make You Feel Good. Harv Moore, a disc jockey in Washington DC, flipped the record and played Brandy instead. It became very popular in the DC area, and quickly spread nationwide.

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

Tom Conti does not speak a word of Japanese. He learned his Japanese dialog phonetically.

August 26, 1998 -
Lauryn Hill releases her solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill on this date.

The album was named after The Mis-Education Of The Negro, a book by Professor Carter G. Woodson, an American black history expert, and The Education of Sonny Carson, an autobiographical film about the title controversial activist. It went on to become the first hip-hop album to win the Grammy for Album of the Year.

Another moment of edifying culture

Today in History:
August 26, 1498 -
A statue was commissioned for the tomb in St. Peters for 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.