Saturday, June 25, 2022

The seasons come and go so quickly

Remember to wish everyone you meet a very Happy LEON day. LEON is NOEL spelled backwards. Christmas is but a mere six months away.

Kids, now that most of you are out of school and are once again allowed to freely roam in polite society, you had better take a quick check of the whole naughty/ nice thing and see how you haven been doing.

June 25, 1938 -
Another in the series of 'books come alive', Have You Got Any Castles? was released on this date.

Among the many entertainment personalities caricatured in relation to book titles are: Bill Robinson/The Thirty-Nine Steps, Greta Garbo/So Big, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, The Mills Brothers/The Green Pastures, William Powell/The Thin Man, Clark Gable/The House of the Seven Gables, Paul Muni/The Story of Louis Pasteur, Charles Laughton/Mutiny on the Bounty, and Victor McLaglen/The Informer.

June 25, 1949 -
That's the nice fat opera singer ...

One of Chuck Jones famous Bugs Bunny opera parodies, Long Haired Hare, premiered on this date.

Giovanni Jones' singing voice remained uncredited and unknown for many years. It was since revealed to have been provided by opera singer Nicolai Shutorov. Mel Blanc voices Jones when, after getting stuck in a tuba in the orchestra pit, he yells for someone to let him out.

June 25, 1963 -
One of Federico Fellini's greatest films, Otto e mezzo, (), opened in the US, on this date.

Federico Fellini attached a note to himself below the camera's eyepiece which read, "Remember, this is a comedy."

June 25, 1976 -
Richard Donner's supernatural horror film, The Omen, starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Martin Benson, and Leo McKern, premiered in the US on this date. The film opened to mixed reviews but went on to become one of the highest-grossing films of 1976.

Gregory Peck, apparently took this role at a huge cut in salary (at a mere $250,000) but was also guaranteed 10% of the film's box office gross. When it went on to gross more than $60 million in the U.S. alone, it became the highest-paid performance of Peck's career.

June 25, 1982 -
The greatest dystopian Sci-Fi film (at this point), Blade Runner, opened on this date.

The term "replicants" is used nowhere in Philip K. Dick's writing. The creatures in the source novel are called "androids" or "andies". The movie abandoned these terms, fearing they would sound comical spoken on-screen. "Replicants" came from screenwriter David Webb Peoples' daughter, Risa, who was studying microbiology and biochemistry. She introduced her father to the theory of replication - the process whereby cells are duplicated for cloning purposes.

On the same day, Universal Pictures releases the sci-fi horror film John Carpenter's The Thing directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell.

The film's budget ($15 million) was substantially larger than the average horror films of the time. Friday the 13th had cost a mere $700k while John Carpenter's original Halloween had been a paltry $375,000.

Besides the fact that both films opened on this date, the similarities don't end there: both movies met with unfavorable reactions at the premiere but became widely loved sci-fi classics in the years to come.

June 25, 1993 -
David Letterman's series Late Night with David Letterman aired for the last time on NBC-TV on this date. Letterman began hosting Late Show with David Letterman on CBS in August 30, 1993.

Letterman left Late Night in 1993 for Late Show with David Letterman on CBS when NBC give the Tonight Show to Jay Leno following the departure of Johnny Carson in 1992. However, NBC refused to allow Letterman to use elements that made the show famous such as "Larry 'Bud' Melman" or "The Top Ten List". NBC claimed those bits were their "intellectual property". "The Top Ten List" was renamed "Late Show Top Ten" and "Larry 'Bud' Melman" used his real name, Calvert DeForest.

June 25, 1993 -
Possibly the greatest Meg Ryan 'chick flick' (which may seem redundant to some,) Sleepless in Seattle, premiered on this date.

The role of Annie was originally offered to Julia Roberts, who turned it down. Kim Basinger was also offered the role in the early script process, but turned it down because she thought the premise was ridiculous. After Michelle Pfeiffer, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jodie Foster declined as well, Meg Ryan landed the role.

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

Today in History:
June 25, 841 -
The army of Charles the Bald and Louis the German met the troops of Lothar and of his nephew Pippin of Aquitaine on this date in 841.

Some say it was one of the most traumatic experiences of the ninth century, but what the hell do you care!

June 25, 1876 -
This is a little cautionary tale about pissing off the wrong people.

During the Battle of Little Bighorn, General George Armstrong Custer witnesses a large group of Indians fleeing their village, and decides to press his advantage. The cavalry officer shouts, "We've caught them napping, boys!" Then he splits his force of 210 men into three groups, in order to slaughter as many of the retreating noncombatants as possible. Which is right about the time Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse swept in and killed the white men. Two days later, Custer's body is found amidst a cluster of 42 other corpses, the general entirely naked except for one boot, one sock, and an arrow stuck in his penis.

This is the native way a sending a very serious message.

June 25, 1903 -
Eric Arthur Blair was born on this day in eastern India, the son of a British colonial civil servant. He burned to be a writer but had no success get people to look at his work, so he was forced him into a series of menial jobs.

Finally he became a Famous Author and even a Great Writer, but by then he was dead, whatever his name was.

June 25, 1906 -
A love triangle came to a violent end atop the original Madison Square Garden as architect Stanford White, the building's designer, was shot to death by Harry Thaw, for an alleged tryst White had with Thaw's wife, Florence Evelyn Nesbit.

Thaw, tried for murder, was acquitted by reason of insanity. At the time this was called "The Crime of the Century."

June 25, 1910 -
The Mann Act, sometimes known as the White Slave Traffic Act of 1910, makes it a federal crime to convey or assist in transporting women across state lines for prostitution, debauchery, or "any other immoral purpose." Men convicted of this heinous (if vague) statute face up to five years and a $5,000 fine for each count. Penalties are doubled if the female is underage, (but men and boys are apparently not covered.)

This is, by far, the biggest party pooper in legislative history.

Unless you're into guys - then it's smooth sailings.

June 25, 1967 -
The first live, international, satellite television production, Our World, was broadcast on this date. Among the featured performers were opera singer Maria Callas, artist Pablo Picasso and a small English skiffle group called The Beatles.

When the The Beatles' appearance on the program was announced, John Lennon wrote the song especially for the occasion. He was told by the BBC: it had to be simple so that viewers would tune in.

I guess he was right.

June 25, 1978 -
The rainbow flag, created by Gilbert Blake, was flown for the first time in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade, on this date.

Mr Blake, 65, passed away three years ago in his sleep at his home in New York.

June 25, 2009
Michael Jackson, resplendent in his celestial robes, has been singing in Heaven for more than a decade now. More importantly to his earth bound relatives, Michael continues to support the various members of the Jackson factions quite nicely. Death hasn't put a crimp in his record sales.

Farrah Fawcett also died 13 years ago today. I don't believe she's singing with any heavenly children's choir.

There is no connection between these two events but it's also the birthday of Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou:

George would have been 59 this year.

It's time to start scaring the children -

there are 183 days until Christmas.

And so it goes.

Friday, June 24, 2022

It's the start of those lazy, hazy days

It's Midsummer Day
throughout most of Europe.

It should not be confused with the Summer Solstice (or the Swedish horror film) except they're kind of celebrating the same thing,

(it's also the feast day of St. John the Baptist.)

Upon further thought, avoid all parties throw by Northern Europeans today

June 24, 1970 -
Mike Nichols' adaptation of Joseph Heller's Catch 22 was released on this date .

Austin Pendleton had worked on the film for two weeks; all of all of his scenes were with Orson Welles. Pendleton claimed that Welles had made working on the film, which was already difficult to begin with, even more difficult as Welles had previously tried to get the film rights to the book and would try to re-direct his scenes over director Mike Nichols in the way that Welles would want to direct them.

Since shooting took longer than planned, Art Garfunkel wasn't able to make it back to New York City in time to start creating harmonies for and recording the Simon & Garfunkel album Bridge Over Troubled Water. Angered by the delay, Paul Simon wrote the track The Only Living Boy in New York about the incident.

June 24, 1970 -
20th Century Fox for some unknown reason released Myra Breckinridge, starring Raquel Welch and Mae West (!?!), on this date. It's as bad as you think it might be but you must watch it.

It was not so much the box-office failure as the complete and utter critical savaging of this movie - a reception that could only be termed as "disastrous" - that wrecked the careers of Writer and Director Michael Sarne and Roger Herren. The critical and financial flop also seriously hurt Raquel Welch, who never achieved the true star status that had been predicted for her.

June 24, 1971 -
Robert Altman brilliant take of the Western, McCabe and Mrs Miller, starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie (featuring songs by Leonard Cohen) premiered in NYC on this date.

During post-production on this film, Robert Altman was having a difficult time finding a proper musical score, until he attended a party where the album Songs of Leonard Cohen was playing and noticed that several songs from the album seemed to fit in with the overall mood and themes of the movie. Cohen, who had been a fan of Altman's previous film, Brewster McCloud, allowed him to use three songs from the album - The Stranger Song, Sisters of Mercy and Winter Lady - although Altman was dismayed when Cohen later admitted that he didn't like the movie. A year later, Altman received a phone call from Cohen, who told him that he changed his mind after re-watching the movie with an audience and now loved it.

June 24, 1983 -
Warner Bros. releases the sci-fi film Twilight Zone: The Movie, directed by Joe Dante, John Landis, George Miller, and Steven Spielberg and starring Dan Aykroyd, Albert Brooks, Vic Morrow, Scatman Crothers, Kathleen Quinlan, John Lithgow, and Burgess Meredith in U.S. theaters on this date. The film remakes three classic episodes of the original Twilight Zone television series and includes one original story.

As Vic Morrow was waiting to film what would turn out to be the scene that killed him, he said to a production assistant, "I must be out of my mind to be doing this. I should've asked for a stunt double. What can they do but kill me, right?!" While he was filming Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, he insisted on having a $1 million life insurance policy before he would shoot any scenes involving the helicopter in which he was due to ride. He was very insistent, and when asked why, Morrow replied "I have always had a premonition I was going to die in a helicopter crash!".

June 24, 1994 -
Weezer release the song Undone - The Sweater Song, from their debut album, Weezer (aka The Blue Album) on this date.

Rivers Cuomo told Rolling Stone: "I was trying to write a Velvet Underground-type song because I was super into them, and I came up with that guitar riff. I just picked up that acoustic guitar and the first thing I played was that riff. And it just feels so classic to me, even now when the band starts to play it, it just takes over the energy in the room and you're just transported into the world of Weezer. It wasn't until years after I wrote it that I realized it's almost a complete rip-off of 'Sanitarium' by Metallica. It just perfectly encapsulates Weezer to me - you're trying to be cool like Velvet Underground but your metal roots just pump through unconsciously."

June 24, 2005
National Geographic Films produced the Academy Award winning documentary, March of the Penguins, which was released on this date.

It was noted that, by the time of the 2006 Academy Awards, this Best Documentary winner had out-grossed all 5 Best Picture nominees.

Another unimportant moment in history

Today In History:
June 24, 1374 -
Please titrate your ergot carefully, a little sexual frenzy is good and all, but ...

In a sudden outbreak of Dancing Mania (aka St. John's Dance), people in the streets of Aix-la-Chapelle, Prussia experience terrible hallucinations and begin to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapse from exhaustion.

Many of the sufferers are afflicted with frothing at the mouth, diabolical screaming, and sexual frenzy. The phenomenon lasts well into the month of July. Nowadays, ergot madness is suspected as being the ultimate cause of the disorder.

(Please refrain from mentioning raves.)

June 24, 1812 -
Napoleon, ever the French cuisine booster, wants to spread his enjoyment of meals with heavy cream sauces and decides to invade Russia (ultimately with mixed results.)

He has to wait 70 years before Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky decides to write an Overture about the entire incident.

June 24, 1947 -
Businessman pilot Kenneth Arnold encounters a formation of nine flying saucers near Mt. Ranier, Washington, exhibiting unusual movements and velocities of 1,700 mph.

No explanation is found for this first report of flying saucers in the recent era, but it does earn Mr. Arnold legions of skeptics and an eventual IRS tax audit.

June 24, 1948 -
Communist forces with 30 military divisions cut off all land and water routes between West Germany and West Berlin, prompting the United States to organize the massive Berlin Airlift. East Germany blockaded the city of West Berlin.

During the Berlin Airlift, American and British planes flew about 278,000 flights, delivering 2.3 million tons of food, coal and medical supplies. General Lucius Clay, the local American commander, ordered the air supply effort.

June 24, 1957 -
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, Roth v. United States, that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment, though a dissenting opinion included with the ruling notes the issue of prior restraint renders this a terrible decision.

By 1973, another case, Miller v. California, a five-person majority agreed for the first time since Roth as to a test for determining constitutionally unprotected obscenity, superseding the Roth test. By the time Miller was considered in 1973, Justice Brennan had abandoned the Roth test and argued that all obscenity was constitutionally protected, unless distributed to minors or unwilling third-parties.

(Aren't you happy when important legal issues can be boiled down to animated cartoon presentations.)

June 24, 1967 -
Pope Paul VI published his encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus (priestly celibacy) on this date.

I would bet this is when things really came to a head with that whole 'inappropriate' touching situation in the church.

June 24, 1975 -
113 people were killed when an Eastern Airlines Boeing 727 crashed while attempting to land during a thunderstorm at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, on this date.

The crash was later attributed to a microburst, not experienced at the control tower because of a sea breeze front.

And so it goes.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Maybe you should just let the kid be evil

Every June 23, men in the northern Spanish town of Castrillo de Murcia don devil outfits and hurtle down the streets vaulting over newborn babies.

The Catholic celebration of El Salto del Colacho, which translates as "The devil's jump," has been going on in Castrillo every year since 1620. The baby-jumper represents the devil who is removing evil from the babies, who are all under one year old.

Forgiveness means letting go of the past. - Gerald Jampolsky

Today is Let It Go Day - the day when you should put down all of the baggage that you have been carrying around from the past. Perhaps you can donate your old cares and woes to your favorite charity.

June 23, 1965 -
One of Frank Sinatra's best performances on film, Von Ryan's Express, premiered on this date.

After reading the novel, Frank Sinatra bid on the film rights, only to be beaten by Twentieth Century-Fox's bid of $125,000. He then contacted the studio and offered himself for the lead.

June 23, 1965 -
One of the classic Motown singles, Tracks of My Tears by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, was released on this date.

Miracles members Smokey Robinson, Warren Moore, and Marv Tarplin wrote this song. Robinson penned the lyrics; Tarplin, The Miracles' guitarist, came up with the riff. Robinson recalled: "Tracks of My Tears' was actually started by Marv Tarplin, who is a young cat who plays guitar for our act. So he had this musical thing [sings melody], you know, and we worked around with it, and worked around, and it became 'Tracks of My Tears.'"

June 23 1979 -
The rock group, the Knack released the ear worm, My Sharona on this date.

Sharona Alperin is on the cover of the single holding the Get The Knack album. She posed for the art even though she and Doug Fieger weren't yet dating.

June 23, 1984 -
Duran Duran started a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with The Reflex, the group's first US No.1, was taken from their third album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger.

Instead of staying on brand by shooting in an exotic locale, the music video was shot at a Duran Duran concert. Directed by Russell Mulcahy, it's a concert footage with a twist, using the giant screen above the stage to insert the kind of random images (silhouettes with chains) that were hallmarks of early MTV. There's also a digital effect to look like water coming out of the screen and dousing the audience. It looks crude today but was pretty advanced for 1984.

June 23, 1989 -
Tim Burton's dark and brooding retelling of Batman, was released on this date.

Jack Nicholson received a percentage of the gross on the film, and due to its massive box-office take, he took home around $60 million.

June 23, 1994 -
Life may or may not be a box of chocolate but Forrest Gump premiered in Los Angeles, on this date.

The line, "My name is Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump," was ad libbed by Tom Hanks while filming the scene, and director Robert Zemeckis liked it so much that he decided to keep it in.

June 23, 2000 -
Aardman Animations and DreamWorks Studios released the stop-motion film, Chicken Run, directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park (of Wallace and Grommit fame) and featuring the voices of Julia Sawalha, Mel Gibson, Timothy Spall, and Miranda Richardson, on this date.

Mel Gibson's
kids played a major part in convincing Gibson to take the part, because they were very impressed with the Wallace and Gromit shorts.

Another ACME Safety Film

Today in History:
June 23, 1611 -
The mutinous crew of Henry Hudson's fourth voyage sets Hudson, his son and seven loyal crew members adrift in an open boat in what is now Hudson Bay; they are never heard from again.

So much for loyalty.

June 23, 1868 -
Christopher Latham Sholes received a patent (US patent #79,265) for an invention he called a "Type-Writer" on this date.

His typewriter included the QWERTY keyboard format still used today. Others had invented typewriter machines, but Sholes invented the only one that became a commercial success.

June 23, 1894 -
Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, briefly Edward VIII, King of England and later to be known as the Duke of Windsor (making him both brother and uncle to successive monarchs), who abdicated his throne to marry American divorcee (and possible transvestite) Wallis Simpson, was born on this date.

Sometimes, it's very complicated to be the king.

June 23, 1931 -
Pilot Wiley Post (at the time in full possession of both his eyes) and navigator Harold Gatty took off from Roosevelt Field in New York, in the Winnie Mae, on this date, attempting to be the first to fly around the world in a single-engine plane.

The trip (which was 15,474 miles,) completed when the pair landed back at Roosevelt Field on July 1st, took a total of eight days, 15 hours and 51 minutes. Wiley later became the first pilot to fly around the world solo, beating the record he and Gatty originally set.

June 23, 1950 -
Northwest Airlines Flight 2501, a DC-4 propliner operating its daily transcontinental service between New York City and Seattle, crashed into Lake Michigan killing 58 people.

The wreckage has never been discovered and the accident was, at the time, the worst commercial airliner accident in American history.

June 23, 1953
Frank J. Zamboni was issued a patent (#2,642,679) for his ice resurfacer on this date. Mr Zamboni invented his Ice Resurfacing Machine in 1949.

The Olympic medal-winner Sonja Henie was one of his first customers.

June 23, 1972 -
(Mr. Nixon did not take his martinis bone dry and that led to his downfall)

President Richard Nixon and White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman discussed a plan to use the CIA to obstruct the FBI's Watergate investigation. Revelation of the tape recording of this conversation sparked Nixon's resignation in 1974.

In the “smoking gun" tape Pres. Nixon told H.R. Haldeman, to tell top CIA officials that “the president believes this (in reference to Watergate) is going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again." Nixon counseled Haldeman on how to use deception to thwart an FBI investigation on how Watergate was financed.

But then again, the president insisted that there are no tapes.

And on a personal note:

Happy Birthday David

And so it goes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

It's time for good times and tan lines

Today is the first full day of Summer

Hopefully you actually want to be a lifeguard; New York City is suffering from an actute shortage of qualified candidates and several programs are having to be cancelled because of the shortage.

Today is the anniversary of the Cleveland, Ohio’s Cuyahoga River catching fire in 1969.

If that is too disturbing a holiday to commemorate, it's also National Chocolate Eclair Day.

While the eclair is a delicious dessert, their charms escape me. Maybe it's the fake vanilla pudding most bakeries use rather than Bavarian cream.

June 22, 1946 -
Another of the classic 40s Daffy Duck cartoons, Hollywood Daffy, was released on this date.

The director of the cartoon was an uncredited effort by Friz Freleng.

June 22, 1955 -
Disney's first film about dog breeding, The Lady and the Tramp, was released on this date.

Peggy Lee later sued Disney for breach of contract claiming that she still retained rights to the transcripts. She was awarded $2.3 million, but not without a lengthy legal battle with the studio which was finally settled in 1991.

June 22, 1961 -
A great old-fashion thriller, The Guns of Navarone, was released on this date.

During shooting, Gregory Peck and David Niven became close friends, bonding initially over Peck's ability to consume vast quantities of brandy, which the actors used to "stay warm" while filming in a cold studio tank, without muffing a line. Their families visited each other frequently in later years, and Peck would deliver the eulogy at Niven's funeral.

June 22, 1965 -
The first screenplay of Woody Allen that was produced, What's New Pussycat?, starring Peter O'Toole, Peter Sellers (and co-starring Woody Allen) premiered in the US on this date.

Groucho Marx was to have played Dr. Fassbender when Warren Beatty was attached to the project.

June 22, 1966 -
Mike Nichol's first film, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, opened on this date.

This became the first movie in Academy Awards and cinema history to be nominated for every Academy Award category in which it was eligible, including Best Adapted Screenplay (Ernest Lehman ), Director (Mike Nichols ), all of the acting categories (Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, George Segal and Sandy Dennis ) and Picture of the Year (Ernest Lehman), since Cimarron in 1931.

June 22, 1971 -
Reprise Records released the fourth studio album by singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, Blue, on this date.

The album is considered Mitchell's most personal album, considering her situation and lifestyle choices at the time. She's always been an artist who allows her audience to live her life vicariously through her music, and in no case is that more evident than on this album.

June 22, 1968 -
This Guy's in Love with You by Herb Alpert topped the charts on this date.

Alpert sang this to his first wife in a 1968 TV special called The Beat of the Brass. The sequence was taped on the beach in Malibu. The song was not intended to be released, but after it was used in the TV special, thousands of telephone calls to CBS asking about it convinced label owner Alpert to release it as a single two days after the show aired.

June 22, 1984 -
Another underdog story directed by John G. Avildsen, The Karate Kid, starring Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, and Elisabeth Shue, was released by Columbia Pictures on this date.

The yellow classic automobile that Daniel polishes in the famous "wax-on/wax-off" training scene, then later offered by Mr. Miyagi as Daniel's birthday gift, was actually given to Ralph Macchio by the producer, and he still owns it. The car is a 1948 Ford Super De Luxe.

June 22, 1984 -
The atmospheric black-comedy, The Pope of Greenwich Village, starring Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Daryl Hannah, and Geraldine Page, premiered on this date.

Rickie Lee Jones had originally written and recorded an instrumental demo as a theme, but it was rejected in favor of Frank Sinatra's Summer Wind. The demo, which retained the title Theme for the Pope (because of the movie), wound up on her 1984 album The Magazine.

June 22, 1993 -
Liz Phair released her debut album, Exile In Guyville, on this date. The indie rocker approached the project as a track-by-track response to The Rolling Stones' 1972 album, Exile On Main St.

Her candid perspective on sex and relationships earns her favor with critics and a growing fanbase and Guyville is hailed as one of the best albums of the decade.

Another job posting from the ACME Employment Agency

Today in History:
June 22, 1342 -
Bilbo Baggins returns to his home at Bag End, Shire Reckoning, after his 13 month absence, on this date.

After his return to his home he never spoke of [the ring] again to anyone, save Gandalf and Frodo; and no one else in the Shire knew of its existence, or so he believed.

June 22, 1633 -
The Holy Office in Rome strong-armed Galileo Galilei into recanting his scientific view that the Sun, not the Earth, is the center of the Universe.

This was the second time he was forced to recant Earth orbits Sun by the Pope. Almost immediately, on October 31, 1992, the Vatican admitted it was wrong.

June 22, 1843 -

It's a great day in the morning at the Simpson house - Donuts, as we know them, were purported invented on this date.

One of the most popular credits American seafarer Hanson Crockett Gregory, of Rockport, Maine, with inventing the donut's hole in 1847 while aboard a spice ship. He was just 16 years old at the time. Supposedly, his mother's fry-cakes were not cooked in the center, so he cut the centers out so they would no longer have undercooked centers. His claim to be the creator of the sweet deep-fried, ring-shaped cake treat has been hotly disputed, despite its wide acceptance in Maine, which was early adopter of the doughnut in the 19th century and has since gone on to conquer the world.

June 22, 1906 -
Billy Wilder was born on this date. Not surprisingly, Mr. Wilder would go on to produce Some Like It Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, all of whom frolicked giddily on the beach in bikinis. Mr. Wilder, you see, was comfortable in his season.

Not like some people. Some people had to force it. Some people had to prove something. Some people were like Brian Wilson, who was born the day before Summer (June 20) in 1942, and subsequently became a "Beach Boy" and released an album called Endless Summer.

June 22, 1918 -
The worst circus train wreck in history occurred just outside Hammond, Indiana on this date. A seriously over-tired engineer, Alonzo Sargent, fell asleep at the throttle of a trainload of empty Pullman cars and slammed into the rear of the 26-car Hagenbeck-Wallace circus train.

I believe it is appropriate to quote Joan Crawford at this time

85 of the 400 performers and workers on board were killed. There were no reports on whether or not the crowd at the previous days performance was greater than the gawkers at the scene of the wreck.

June 22, 1940 -
Eight days after German forces overran Paris, France was forced to sign an armistice on this date; hilarity ensues.

Adolf Hitler forces the instrument of surrender to be signed in the very railcar in which the French inflicted the humiliating World War I Treaty of Versailles upon the Germans. (In a bizarre co-incidence, it was also the anniversary of Napoleon's second abdication in 1815.)

June 22, 1941 -
The German Army invaded Russia on this date, quickly destroying five Russian armies and one fourth of the Red air force. At completion of the war in 1945, nearly 27 million Soviets were dead.

Thus ended the German- Soviet "Peace and Friendship" Treaty.

(Let's not discuss Hitler for the rest of the week.)

June 22, 1949 -
According to a former president, one of the most over-rated actresses of her generation, Mary Louise Streep, was born on this date.

Her accumulation of 21 Oscar nominations (3 wins) was accomplished over a period of only 38 years. Bette Davis scored 10 nominations (2 wins) over 28 years (all leading roles). Katharine Hepburn garnered 12 nominations (4 wins) after a relatively lengthy 48 years (all leading roles).

Imagine if she applied herself, how far her career would go.

June 22, 1969 -
The patron saint of perpetual bachelors of a certain age, Judy Garland died of a barbiturate overdose in her London apartment, either by accident or suicide.

Folks, she did not do a header into the toilet and drown.

June 22, 1993 -
All lives have triumphs and tragedies, laughter and tears, and mine has been no different. What really matters is whether, after all of that, you remain strong and a comfort to your loved ones. I have tried to meet that test.

The patron saint of long suffering political wives and good Republican cloth coats, Thelma Catherine "Pat" Ryan Nixon died on this date.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

It's time to live and have some thrills

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. — Albert Camus

Today is the first day of Summer, also known as the Summer Solstice. It's the longest day of the year (and the shortest night). Everyone pat themselves on the back (now without gloves!) for having made it through the protracted lock down.

The actual moment of the solstice occurred at about 5:13 a.m. EDT, while the sun sat directly above the Pacific Ocean to the west of Hawaii. Don't brag about the good weather tomorrow; remember that it's the beginning of Winter in Australia. (Given most of the restrictions are being lifted in many places, the usual naked run may be mandatory - please celebrate responsibly.)

June 21,1955 -
The David Lean movie, Summertime starring Katharine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi premiered in New York on this date.

Katharine Hepburn was more than impressed with her experience working with director David Lean. She even asked to sit in on the editing sessions with him to watch him at work. In her autobiography, she wrote, "(Summertime) was told with great simplicity in the streets, in the Piazza San Marco. We would shoot in tiny streets only a few feet wide. The sun would come and go in a matter of minutes. It was a very emotional part, and I tell you I had to be on my toes to give David enough of what he wanted practically on call. But it was thrilling... He seemed to me to simply absorb Venice. It was his. He had a real photographic gift. He thought in a descriptive way. His shots tell the story. He was capable of a sort of super concentration. It made a very deep and definite impression on me, and he was one of the most interesting directors I ever worked with. Wasn't I lucky to work with him?"

June 21, 1961 -
Walt Disney Productions released the original The Parent Trap starring Hayley Mills, (and Hayley Mills), Maureen O'Hara, and Brian Keith, in the US theatres, on this date.

The screenplay originally called for only a few trick photography shots of Hayley Mills in scenes with herself. The bulk of the movie was to be shot using a body double. When producer Walt Disney saw how seamless the processed shots were, he ordered the script reconfigured to include more of the visual effect.

June 21, 1977 -
Martin Scorsese's homage to movie musicals - New York, New York, premiered on this date.

Robert De Niro learned to play the saxophone (in three months) in order to make his performance look more authentic. Unfortunately, his sax playing still had to be overdubbed and it is veteran jazz musician George Auld who does the playing and also plays a band leader.

June 21, 1977 -
Marvin Gaye's song Got To Give It Up, reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, replacing Dreams by Fleetwood Mac, on this date.

This song was the subject of a landmark court case filed by Marvin Gaye's estate in 2013 against the writers of Robin Thicke's hit Blurred Lines. Gaye's family argued that Blurred Lines sounded too similar to Got To Give It Up" and in 2015 a jury agreed, awarding a stunning $7.3 million in damages. Gaye, who died in 1984, left the copyrights to his songs to his children, so the beneficiaries in the case are his kids Marvin III, Frankie and Nona.

June 21, 1982 -
Paul McCartney released the single Take It Away from his album Tug of War, on this date.

The video looks like it's about the discovery of McCartney's group Wings, although they had broken up by then. The song is Paul McCartney's most successful as a solo artist in the early '80s.

June 21, 1985 -
Walt Disney released the only directorial effort by film editor Walter Murch, Return to Oz, starring Nicol Williamson, Jean Marsh, Piper Laurie, and Fairuza Balk, on this date.

In order to include the ruby slippers as part of this film, Disney had to pay royalties to MGM, the studio which had produced The Wizard of Oz. The ruby slippers did not appear in L. Frank Baum's original novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; they were invented for the 1939 film to better take advantage of the newly developed Technicolor process. Interestingly enough, in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy wore a pair of magical silver shoes which were lost when she used them to return to Kansas. In the subsequent novel Ozma of Oz, one of the books on which this film is based, Dorothy and her friends meet the Nome King who possesses a magical belt with properties similar to those of the silver shoes. Early drafts of the script for Return to Oz reflect this, with the Nome King cutting up the ruby slippers to make his magical ruby belt.

June 21, 1988 -
Robert Zemeckis' incredible advance in animation, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, opened in NYC on this date.

Since the movie was being made by Disney's Touchstone Pictures, Warner Bros. would only allow use of their biggest cartoon stars, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, if they got as much screen time as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. For that reason, they were always in pairs, such as the piano battle between Daffy and Donald and the parachute scene with Bugs and Mickey. This was continued with Porky Pig and Tinkerbell at the end of the movie.

June 21, 1991 -
Walt Disney Pictures and Touchstone Pictures released the superhero film, The Rocketeer, starring Bill Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, Timothy Dalton, Paul Sorvino, and Tiny Ron Taylor, in the US, on this date.

Dave Stevens, the writer/artist of the original graphic novel, gave the film's production designer Jim Bissell and his two art directors his entire reference library pertaining to the Rocketeer at that time period, including blueprints for hangars and bleachers, schematics for building the autogyro, photos and drawings of the Bulldog Cafe, the uniforms for the air circus staff, and contacts for locating the vintage aircraft that were to be used. Stevens remembers that they "literally just took the reference and built the sets".

Today's moment of Zen

Today in History:
June 21, 1854 -
The first Victoria Cross was awarded to Charles Davis Lucas, an Irishman and mate aboard the HMS Hecla for conspicuous gallantry at Bomarsrund in the Baltic. (The medal was made from metal from a cannon captured at Sebastopol.)

Lucas tossed a live Russian artillery shell overboard before it exploded. During his long naval career, he ultimately ascend to the rank of Rear Admiral before retiring in 1873. He died in 1914 at the age of 80.

June 21, 1877 -
The Molly Maguires, ten Irish immigrants who were labor activists, are hanged at Carbon County Prison in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

Author and Judge John P. Lavelle of Carbon County said of this, "The Molly Maguire trials were a surrender of state sovereignty...A private corporation initiated the investigation through a private detective agency. A private police force arrested the alleged defenders, and private attorneys for the coal companies prosecuted them. The state provided only the courtroom and the gallows."

June 21, 1893 -
The first Ferris Wheel debuted at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, on this date. The Ferris Wheel was designed by George W. Ferris, a bridge-builder from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The exposition commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus's landing in America. The Chicago Fair's organizers wanted something that would rival the Eiffel Tower. Gustave Eiffel had built the tower for the Paris World's Fair of 1889, which honored the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.

June 21, 1905 -
It would have been the 117th birthday of Jean-Paul Sartre today.

But what the hell does he care; he's dead and it doesn't mean anything anyway.

June 21, 1913 -
Georgia 'Tiny' Broadwick was the first woman to make a successful parachute jump from an aircraft on this date. Glenn L Martin flew her up to 2000 feet above Griffith Park in Los Angeles, CA.

In 1914, she demonstrated parachutes to the U.S. Army, which at the time had a small, hazard-prone fleet of aircraft. The Army, reluctant at first to adopt the parachute, watched as Tiny dropped from the sky. On one of her demonstration jumps, the static line became entangled in the tail assembly of the aircraft, so for her next jump she cut off the static line and deployed her chute manually, thus becoming the first person to jump free-fall.

June 21, 1982 -
Using an innovative Jodie Foster defense, John Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, on this date.

Nobody was impressed by this verdict.

June 21, 1985 -
Ettore ‘Hector’ Boiardi - that jovial, mustachioed Italian chef, better known as Chef Boyardee, died on this date. In Italy, Hector started as a chef’s apprentice at age 11. In America, he took jobs in Greenbrier, West Virginia and New York City, and by age 17 had become a chef at New York’s Plaza Hotel alongside his brother, Mario (his other brother, Paul, was a waiter). Hector eventually became the Plaza’s head chef.

Boiardi went on to open a restaurant, Il Giardino d’Italia in Cleveland. The restaurant became an instant success, with lines frequently stretching down the block. He and his brother Paul, helped popularity Italian products in America after a former customer, named John Hartford, who happened to be the president of A&P supermarkets, encouraged them to sell their family pasta sauce. Chef Boy-ar-dee (they hyphenated the name to help with pronunciation) was soon on shelves at A&P supermarkets across the country.

June 21, 1989 -
The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Texas v. Johnson that flag burning is indeed protected speech under the Constitution,

prompting Congress to put forth an endless series of amendments to ban the activity.

June 21, 1997 -
The first Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) game was played on this date, with the New York Liberty taking on the Los Angeles Sparks at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California.

A crowd of 14,284 watched as Sparks guard Penny Toler scored the first basket in WNBA history. The Liberty defeated the Sparks 67-57.

And so it goes.

Monday, June 20, 2022

It's National Vanilla Milkshake Day

While their charms are lost upon me (I'm a chocolate milkshake, preferable made using mint chocolate chip ice cream, but that's another story,) vanilla milkshakes are the most popular flavor in the world.

An important fact to know is that the first known printed reference to a “milkshake” dates back to 1885. It contained one part whiskey, ‘for medicinal purposes’. A prescription your old pal the doctor would be happy to fill for you. Milkshakes got their name from being served in bars. If the customer enjoyed the specialty drink, he shook hands with the bartender. If not, the bartender wouldn’t get a tip.

Refugees don't make our country less safe. But xenophobia, fear and hate do..

Today is World Refugee Day. Wars, droughts, and natural disasters drive people away from their homes and their lands. This is tragic, but the next step - where do they go next? - can compound the tragedy. This year is the 21st anniversary of World Refugee Day, sponsored by the United Nations Refugee Agency, which aims to raise global awareness of global responsibility for refugees.

It's difficult for a nation or other region that is struggling with unemployment or drought or other problems to take in large groups of people, no matter how great their need. It is a crime against humanity when a country criminalizes the struggle of those people and their search for a safer and better life.

June 20, 1941 -
Advertised as their farewell film (they went on to appear in two more,) The Big Store, starring the Marx Brothers and Margaret Dumont (in her final appearance in a Marx Bros. film) premiered on this date.

This film made MGM the modest profit of $33,000 according to studio records. But, it was the best-performing picture of the final three the Marx Brothers made at MGM.

June 20, 1942 -
It's Brian Wilson's birthday today, ushering in those lazy, hazy days of summer.

Let's all appreciate the fact that Brian Wilson is still around and kicking.

June 20, 1946 -
Rex Harrison's first American movie, Anna and the King Of Siam, with Irene Dunne, opened in theaters on this date.

While most of the Caucasian actors and actresses playing Asians in this movie wore dark make-up, Gale Sondergaard was allergic to the make-up being used. Instead, through several weeks of cautious sunbathing, she acquired a deep enough tan to compensate.

June 20, 1974 -
Forget about it Jake. It's Chinatown

The unforgettable film-noir classic, Chinatown, was released on this date.

At the time of filming, Jack Nicholson had just embarked on his longstanding relationship with Anjelica Huston. This made his scenes with her father, John Huston, rather uncomfortable, especially as the only time Anjelica was on set was the day they were filming the scene where Noah Cross interrogates Nicholson's character with "Mr. you sleep with my daughter?"

June 20, 1975 -
Steven Spielberg's thriller, Jaws, premiered on this date. Beach vacations were never the same again.

During the scene when Quint, Hooper, and Brody are loading up the Orca, a small gray shack with a red door can be seen to the left of Quint's place. It belonged to an actual resident who at first was ticked off with the production because mist from the spray paint used on Quint's facade wound up floating onto his boats. When he discovered what was really going on, and how naive the crew was about fishing and boating, he offered to assist them in their production. His equipment and expertise became so useful to them that without him the film might never have been completed. He even became the role model that Robert Shaw chose to use for his gruff fisherman character. And though he was well paid for his services, Lynn Murphy never received credit, on or off screen, for the essential part he played in the making of a classic.

June 20, 1981 -
The mash-up single by Stars on 45 (known as Starsounds in Europe,) Stars On 45 Medley reached No. 1 on the Billboard Charts on this date.

The title on the US single was the names of the songs that make up the medley: "Intro Venus/Sugar Sugar/No Reply/I'll Be Back/Drive My Car/Do You Want to Know a Secret/We Can Work It Out/I Should Have Known Better/You're Going to Lose That Girl/Stars on 45." At 41 words, it was the longest title of any single to make the Hot 100. The long title was the result of song publishers insisting upon the inclusion of the songs' titles on the label of the record.

June 20, 1997 -
The rom-com classic, My Best Friend's Wedding, starring Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Cameron Diaz and Rupert Everett premiered on this date.

Sarah Jessica Parker
was originally offered the role of Julianne Potter, but she was not able to take the role because she was committed to HBO in order to play Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City.

Word of the Day

Today in History:
June 20, 1756 -
In Calcutta, 146 British prisoners are placed in a 18 foot by 14 foot cell known as The Black Hole by a Bengali, Siraj-ud-daula, and held there until the following morning.

Of those imprisoned, only 23 survive. With things getting back to normal, a 250 sq ft apartment would start a huge bidding war in Manhattan.

June 20, 1793 -
Eli Whitney applied for a patent on his Cotton Gin on this date. More affordable than gin distilled from grain alcohol and juniper berries, Cotton Gin quickly became the drink of choice among America's rural poor.

This led to widespread outbreaks of Cotton Mouth and eventually caused the Civil War.

June 20, 1782 -

Congress adopts the Great Seal of the United States on this date.

Although several people on the committee were Masons, the Masonic institutions themselves deny that the Seal is Masonic; therefore, any resemblance is purely coincidental.

Of course.

June 20, 1791 -
King Louis XVI and his family attempted their escape from Paris to the royalist citadel of Montedy on this date.

They were captured the next day at Varennes-en-Argonne when they were recognized. It didn't go too well for them after this.

June 20, 1837 -
The 18-year old Princess Victoria ascended the British throne following the death of her uncle, King William IV, on this date.

Her reign as the Queen lasted 63 years and 7 months, which is the second longest of any British monarch, after her great-great-granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.

June 20, 1893 -
Lizzie Borden was found innocent of giving her stepmother and father 40 and 41 whacks, respectively.

Now that out of prison, he promised to get cracking on this case as well as finding the actual killer of his ex-wife.

June 20, 1947 -
Bugsy Siegel (Warren Beatty) was shot to death at Virginia Hill's (Annette Bennings) mansion, on orders purportedly from Meyer Lansky.

The drive-by shooting never was solved and remains an open case.

June 20, 1967 -
The late great Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) had refused to serve in the U.S. military, stating that it went against his religious beliefs and his opposition to the Vietnam War. This led to his conviction of violating Selective Service laws on this date.

The U.S. Supreme Court later overturned the conviction.

Before you go - I nearly forgot, the summer solstice begins tomorrow at 5:13 A.M. EDT.

I'll just be getting up at the time and we'll discuss this in further detail tomorrow.

And so it goes

Sunday, June 19, 2022

There's a lot to celebrate today - pace yourself

Today is Father's Day.

Remember, many people will say that the best gift you can give a Dad is your love (or a good nap) - I say, provide Dad (or at least me) a perfectly chilled martini before dinner.

Dads don't get too cocky, celebrating the day - While Mother’s Day has been a national holiday since 1914, people didn't get around to giving it the same legal status until more than half a century later, when President Richard Nixon, took time ot to distract the nation from the Watergate scandal, signed into law a measure declaring the third Sunday of June be observed as Father’s Day.

June 19, 1865 -
Marching his troops into Galvaston, Texas, Union General Gordon Granger announced the emancipation of slaves on this date.

The day has become known as Juneteenth or Emancipation Day.

Can you hear those glasses chilling?

We might never know how utterly charming, brilliant and entertaining we are were it not for martinis.

I’m not talking a cup of cheap gin splashed over an ice cube. I’m talking satin, fire and ice; Fred Astaire in a glass; surgical cleanliness, insight.. comfort; redemption and absolution. I’m talking MARTINI. Now that's what I'm taking about.

Today is National Martini Day! Once again, the world seems to have fallen in line and now celebrates our National Martini Day today as well. Well, why not celebrate now.

It's never too early for a martini, it just has to be GIN (preferably Bombay Sapphire) and bone dry (and for god sake, don't swallow the toothpick after eating the olive!)

June 19, 1954 -
... All the world loves a lover, but in this case, we'll make an exception.

The Tasmanian Devil, Taz, made his debut in the Looney Tunes cartoon, Devil May Hare, on this date.

June 19, 1957 -
The classic 50s teenage-horror film, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, starring Michael Landon, premiered on this date.

This was the film that came up with the popular title motif "I Was a *insert noun here*." Numerous films, songs, and books have paid homage to this film through their titles alone.

June 19, 1962 -
One of the great film-musicals from the 60s, The Music Man, premiered on this date.

Meredith Willson made more income off The Beatles' version of his song Till There Was You than he did off the play and the movie combined.

June 19, 1963 -
Columbia Pictures releases the Ray Harryhausen fantasy film Jason and the Argonauts, directed by Don Chaffey in the U.S. on this date.

John Cairney and Nigel Green didn't get along at all during filming. Green accused Cairney of being very effeminate. The last scene they filmed together was the scene in which Hercules and Hylas enter the treasure chamber, hidden in the plinth of the mighty Talos. The lighting used to give the treasure its sparkling effect was very bright, and the following day, the actors began losing their vision. Both became temporarily blind and were hospitalized in the same room for two weeks with their eyes bandaged. hey found they had a lot in common, and soon became fast friends. They remained so until Green died in the early '70s. Their sight returned after their hospital stay.

June 19, 1965 -
The Four Tops' song I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) goes to #1 on the Billboard Charts, knocking off another Motown song: Back in My Arms Again by The Supremes. Both songs were written and produced by the team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.

The song was written by the wildly successful Motown team of Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland and Eddie Holland, who wrote most of The Supremes hits. The melody of this song is very similar to Where Did Our Love Go, which Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote for The Supremes. According to Lamont Dozier, the title came about because he couldn't help himself from working with the same tune.

June 19, 1978 -
It was on this day that we got the first appearance of Garfield the Cat in the comics section.

In cat years, it would make that lasagna eating fur ball - gets out calculator and do some figuring, ….. Dead.

Another book from the back shelves of The ACME Library

Today in History:
June 19, 1312 -
Piers Gaveston, close personal friend of King Edward II of England, was beheaded after he attempted to return to Edward's side, having been banished for being too close a personal friend, on this date.

After succession to king, Edward appointed Gaveston as Earl of Cornwall for no other reason than being his close personal friend.

And for his troubles, Edward II ended his days developing rectalgia - a serious pain in his ass.

June 19, 1623 -
Blaise Pascal was born in France on this date (which worked out extremely well for him as he wanted to grow up to be French.)

At the age of 17 he wrote a paper entitled Essay on Conic Sections, which quickly became the best-selling paper on conic sections in European history and eventually inspired the classic French noir film, Death by Conic Section.

By the age of 18 Mr. Pascal had invented a calculator. Unfortunately he could not invent the battery, so he turned to religion.

And he meant to get around to it right away, but in 1647 he ended up proving the existence of a vacuum. The famous French philosopher Rene Descartes visited Pascal, inspected his vacuum, and bemoaned its lack of attachable hoses. This caused an epistemological split that has endured to the present day.

("The more I see of men," Pascal observed at about this time, "the better I like my dog." This was a famous quotation and can be found on many greeting cards.)

In 1653 he discovered Pascal's Law of Pressure. A year later he was involved in a carriage accident that reminded him he had turned to religion. He turned back to it.

He began work on his famous Pensées ("Blather") in 1656 and worked on it for three years. In the book, Pascal proved that if God didn't exist then believing in Him wouldn't hurt, whereas if He did exist, not believing would hurt like Hell.

It has been observed that if Pascal was wrong, not reading his book wouldn't hurt, and if he was right it wouldn't hurt either.

When he was 39, a malignant growth in his stomach spread to his brain and he died horribly, proving that unbearable pain is unbearable pain whatever you think of God or philosophy.

June 19, 1867 -
Emperor Maximilian of Mexico (Brian Aherne), unwitting stooge for Napoleon III (Claude Rains), was executed by firing squad on this date Although he bribed the seven riflemen to not shoot him in the head, one did anyway.

Bette Davis somehow figures into this as the Mad Empress Charlotta who just snapped when she returned to France to get help for her beleaguered husband. She lived in her private mad world for over 60 years, dying in the mid twenties of the next century.

So much for the privileges afforded royalty.

June 19, 1934 -
The Federal Communications Commission, perhaps the most wicked body of do-gooders ever to exist in the United States, was created.

These are the clowns that perfected the fine art of capricious and arbitrary.

June 19, 1945
People keep saying I've changed. I used to be confrontational. But I'm - I haven't changed. It was - it's just that circumstances have changed..

Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese politician and fallen from grace Nobel laureate was born on this date.

June 19, 1953 -
The day after the couple's 14th wedding anniversary, atomic spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were electrocuted at Sing-Sing Prison on this date, becoming the first civilians ever executed for espionage in American history. Five jolts of electricity were required to kill Ethel on this date. Ethel did not succumb immediately and was subjected to two more electrical charges before being pronounced dead. The chair was designed for a man of average size; and Ethel Rosenberg was a petite woman: this discrepancy resulted, it is claimed, in the electrodes fitting poorly and making poor electrical contact. Eyewitness testimony (as given by a newsreel report featured in The Atomic Cafe) describes smoke rising from her head.

That must have been a pretty sight.

While her husband Julius was on the Soviet payroll, according to recently released archives, is now clear that Ethel had no involvement in the espionage ring. For that matter, it is unclear how much Julius actually assisted the Soviet atomic bomb effort.

So much for American Justice.

June 19, 1982 -
Roberto Calvi, chairman of Banco Ambrosiano, was found hanging from Blackfriar's Bridge in London on this date. His death was initially ruled a suicide, though it was quite obviously murder; that assessment was later overturned. Calvi may have been killed because of his involvement in the laundering of drug money through the Vatican Bank.

This is part of the back story of Godfather III.

Roberto Calvi's life was insured for $10 million with Unione Italiana, and attempts by his family to obtain a payout resulted in litigation. Following the forensic report of 2002 which established that Calvi was murdered, the policy was finally paid out, although around half of the sum was paid to creditors of the Calvi family who had incurred considerable costs during their attempts to establish that Calvi had been murdered.

So much for Italian justice.

And so it goes.