Tuesday, December 20, 2022

In case this isn't on your Google Calendar

Tomorrow is the Winter's Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.

The winter solstice is the "shortest" day of the year and marks the start of the winter period. This is because the tilt of the Earth’s axis is least aligned with the Sun, providing us with the least daylight of the year. After December 21, the nights will begin to get shorter as our planet rotates towards the Sun.

Tonight is the third night of Hanukkah -

Another reason Hanukkah feels better than Christmas - No need to clean the chimney.

December 20, 1939 -
The Paramount Pictures animated version of Gulliver's Travels directed by Dave Fleischer, premiered in NYC on this date.

The film was the first American animated feature from a studio other than Disney. After viewing it, Walt Disney reportedly said, "We can do better than that with our second-string animators."

December 20, 1946 -
The Frank Capra film It's A Wonderful Life had a preview showing for charity at New York City's Globe Theatre, a day before its official premiere.

Due to a clerical error at NTA's copyright office, the copyright wasn't renewed when it expired in 1974. The film became public domain, meaning anyone who could obtain a print could broadcast it without paying royalties. Local stations aired it dozens of times between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. In the 1990's, after a series of court battles, NTA's successor, Republic Pictures, re-acquired the rights to the film because they owned the source material (The Greatest Gift) and the film's score, which were still copyrighted.

Next time you get a chance to watch the film, notice what a truly strange little film it really is.

December 20, 1950 -
Henry Koster's adaptation of Mary Chase's Broadway play, Harvey, starring Jimmy Stewart premiered in NYC on this date.

Though Jimmy Stewart's character, Elwood P. Dowd, may certainly be referred to as an alcoholic, only at one time in the entire picture is he seen taking a drink. This is because the Hollywood Production Code at the time would not allow him to be shown getting drunk on film.

December 20, 1961 -
Columbia Pictures releases the science fiction film Mysterious Island, directed by Cy Endfield and featuring the stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen, on this date.

Although produced by different studios, it is obvious that the exterior design of the "Nautilus" submarine as seen in the film was heavily influenced by Harper Goff's "half crocodile/half shark" Nautilus design in Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, especially with respect to the sub's top spar and rounded "eye" windows. In the original Jules Verne novels of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Mysterious Island, the Nautilus is described as being rather plain, basically a cigar-shaped steel tube with very little outside detailing.

December 20, 1967 -
Mike Nichols' seminal 60s film, The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, premiered on this date.

None of the older characters are called by their first name in the film. Only the younger characters of Benjamin, Elaine, and Carl are addressed by their first name, thus increasing the sense of a generation gap.

December 20, 1971 -
Hal Ashby's very dark comedy, Harold and Maude, starring Ruth Gordon and Burt Cort, premiered on this date. The film was not a commercial success when it opened but is now seen as one of the most influential films of the 1970s.

When Maude and Harold steal the police officer's motorcycle, Bud Cort accidentally hit himself in the head with the shovel, but just kept going for the sake of the shot.

December 20, 1974 -
Arguably the greatest sequal ever made, Godfather II, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, and Robert De Niro, premiered in the US on this date.

Francis Ford Coppola had a horrible time directing The Godfather and asked to pick a different director for the sequel, while taking the title of producer for himself. He chose Martin Scorsese, who the film executives rejected. Thus, Coppola agreed to direct the film, with a few conditions: the sequel be interconnected with the first film with the intention of later showing them together; that he be allowed to direct his own script of The Conversation; that he be allowed to direct a production for the San Francisco Opera; and that he be allowed to write the screenplay for The Great Gatsby, all prior to production of the sequel for a Christmas 1974 release.

December 20, 1979 -
Bob Fosse’s semi-autobiographical film All that Jazz, starring Roy Scheider, Ann Reinking, Jessica Lange and Ben Vereen, opened in the US on this date.

Richard Dreyfuss was originally cast in the role of Joe Gideon but left the production during the rehearsal stage, citing a lack of confidence in the production. He later admitted that he made a mistake in passing up the chance to work with Bob Fosse.

December 20, 1986
The Bangles' hit Walk Like An Egyptian went to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts on this date.

This was the biggest hit for the Bangles, but they considered it one of their least favorite songs, as their rock pedigree was compromised by a goofy song they had nothing to do with composing. The difficult recording process caused a lot of tension within the band. These tensions would eventually break them up.

December 20, 2002 -
Martin Scorsese take on the notorious Five Points district of Lower Manhattan during the mid 19th century, Gangs of New York, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis and Cameron Diaz, was released on this date.

To simulate Bill the Butcher's fake eye, Daniel Day-Lewis had his own eyeball covered in prosthetic glass. Day-Lewis learned to tap his fake eye with the tip of a knife without blinking.

I wonder if they celebrated Hanukkah in Bedford Falls

Today's' moment of Zen

Today in History
December 20, 1803 -
France finalized the Louisiana Purchase and transferred authority over the region to the United States, as a Christmas gift for Thomas Jefferson on this date.

The wisdom of this purchase was not fully appreciated at first but after Mardi Gras, it was warmly embraced.

(It was not for nothing that Thomas Jefferson collected beads.)

December 20, 1879 -
Thomas Edison privately demonstrated light bulb to a rapt audience on this date at Menlo Park, N.J. (He apparently showed off his light bulb so frequently that there is no general concensus on when he actually first show it to unsuspecting folks.)

Unfortunately, it took 27 of his assistants to lift the entire shed and turn it around to screw in the bulb and many believe the light would never take off.

December 20, 1892 -
According to Jules Verne, on October 2nd, Phileas Fogg stepped out of the Explorers Club in London, England and decides to take a little trip.

Due to the incompetence and laziness of most of the transit workers around the world, he finally completed his trip on this date.

Adolf Hitler was released from prison on December 20, 1924, after serving less than a year against a five-year treason sentence. Hitler became a prolific author while in prison, where he penned the infamous political autobiography Mein Kampf. (How I Intend to Enslave or Kill Millions of People Immediately Upon My Release.)

He also outlined a series of children’s books which have sadly been lost to history as a result of his having chosen upon his release to pursue a path of demonic world conquest instead of pedagogical literature. One can only wonder what sort of success Hitler would have experienced with titles such as:

Usurpers are looking to take over the Haberdashery Industry,

Straight to the Internment Camp with you, Little Monkey/i>,

Did you order this from Katz Del?.

December 20, 1938 -
Vladimir Zworykin receives a patent for the Iconoscope (U.S. patent No. 2,141,059), an early television camera tube, 15 years after filing his application.

The tube is part of the first electronic television system.

December 20, 1941 -
The Flying Tigers, American pilots in China, entered combat against the Japanese over Kunming on this date.

The group, formed 12 days after Pearl Harbor, was a great morale booster, as it posted numerous tactical victories when the news in the U.S. was filled with little more than stories of defeat at the hands of the Japanese forces.

December 20, 1957 -
A trigger warning - you are about to see Elvis in his skivvies.

Elvis receives orders from the draft board to serve in the United States Army, which to his credit he does without complaint.

December 20, 1997 -
Sotheby's auctioned off the loincloth worn by Kirk Douglas in the 1960 film Spartacus for $2,990 on this date.

You can't get those at Robert Hall, aisle five.

December 20, 2007 -
Elizabeth II surpassed Queen Victoria as the oldest UK monarch.

Buckingham palace had the time calculated down to the hour, though no major celebrations were held to mark the occasion. Until just recently, the Queen was the longest reigning sovereign and the former Prince, now King Charles was officially pissed.

And so it goes

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