Thursday, August 31, 2023

I hate to see the evening' sun go down

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

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

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

The initial cover for the all was to have a goat peering out from a simmering pot, nodding to the album's Jamaican origins. (It was mostly recorded in Jamaica, where the soup, known as "mannish water," is a delicacy.) Mick Jagger has been quotes in saying,"The goat's head was my idea and it didn't really work out, the record company didn't like it, so we went with the more user-friendly portraits of the band in the end."

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 was inspired by the Falklands War, which was going on when Dire Straits lead singer Mark Knopfler wrote the song. The Falklands War was a conflict between Argentina and the UK over islands off the coast of Argentina that each country claimed rights to. The islands are British territories, but in 1982 Argentina tried to reclaim one of the islands. Britain reclaimed their territories, but lost 258 soldiers in the conflict.

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.

Another Acme Safety Film

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


August 31, 1997 -
On August 28, 1997, 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

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

One massive food fight

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, is back on this year. 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. Prior to 2013 anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 (reported to be 50,000 in 2012) people crammed into this huge tomato fight, greatly expanding Bunol's normal 9,000 person population. Since 2013 official ticketing has been in place limiting the number of participants to just 20,000 lucky people.

Today is National Toasted Marshmallow Day

It doesn't make any sense why this isn't 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 supervised every other aspect of the development of a dance number from orchestration through final shooting and editing. He was particularly adamant about how a number should be filmed. He disliked interrupting the flow of the dance with unusual camera angles, cuts to the face or feet of the dancer, or reaction shots of people watching.

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

The original German version of this song is called Theme from The Threepenny Opera, or Moritat, which is the German word for Murder Ballad. The lyrics have been translated in various ways on different versions, but the most popular translation was by the lyricist Marc Blitzstein for the 1954 off-Broadway revival of The Threepenny Opera, which ran until 1961 and played in Greenwich Village, New York.

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

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

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

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

August 30, 1968 -
Columbia Records released the sixth studio album of The Byrds, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, on this date.

The first major album widely recognized as country rock, it represented a turning point for the 1970s country rock movement, which influenced the outlaw country and new traditionalist movements.

August 30, 1975 -
KC & The Sunshine Band's single Get Down Tonight reached No. 1 on the Billboard Charts (the first of five chart-toppers for the group,) on this date.

Written and produced by Harry Wayne (KC) Casey and his writing partner (and bass player) Richard Finch. Casey and Finch would sneak into nightclubs in the Miami area and get a taste of that culture, which influenced their sound. The song features a distinctive introduction, in which a recorded guitar solo is rendered at double speed over a normal-speed guitar line in the background. After observing someone else slowing down a tape machine, Richard Finch had the idea of using this technique to create the guitar riff, as a way of adding to the song something "that really keeps the buzz, that really keeps the excitement going all the way through without being too artificial sounding." Finch states that he was "always doing weird science" in those days, referring to his various experiments with sound.

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

Winwood played many of the instruments on Back In The High Life and wrote the music for the songs, but for this and many other songs on the album, Will Jennings wrote the lyrics. Jennings is a very successful songwriter who also collaborated with Winwood on the albums Arc Of A Diver and Talking Back To The Night, and went on to write My Heart Will Go On with James Horner for the movie Titanic.

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

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

August 30, 2018 -
Yorgos Lanthimos' black comedy The Favourite, starring Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone premieres at the Venice Film Festival on this date.

The historical Abigail entered Queen Anne's service in 1704. Anne's husband, Prince George of Denmark, is never seen or mentioned, even though he died in 1708. His death, as well as the deaths of their children, was among the reasons for Anne's depression.

Another job posting from The ACME Employment Agency

Today in History:
August 30, 1780 -
General "Eggs" Benedict Arnold secretly puts into motion a plot 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 $119.1 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 fifth-richest person in the world as of this past March, falling behind Elon Musk (with a net worth of $254 billion, even with his losses from X), Bernard Arnault (with a net worth of $215.8 billion, but this includes his familes wealth), Jeff Bezos (with a net worth of $157.3 billion), and Larry Ellison (with a net worth of $150.2 billion). Mark Zuckerberg has inched his way up to 9 (with a net worth of only $104.9 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.

August 30, 1984
Originally scheduled to lift off in June, Discovery (STS-41-D), the twelfth space shuttle mission, launched on this date. The Discovery carried six crew members to space: Commander Henry Hartsfield, Pilot Michael Coats, Mission Specialists Judith Resnick, Steven Hawley, Richard Mullane and Payload Specialist Charles Walker.

During the mission, three communications satellites were deployed. The shuttle safely completed it's mission on September 5, 1984.

And so it goes

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

¡Andale! ¡Andale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!

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.

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

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

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

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

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

August 29, 1967 -
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.

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

August 29, 1986 -
BBC1-TV aired a Paul McCartney special, McCartney for the first time, on this date.

Originally conceived as a long-form promotional piece for the Wings album, Press to Play, the BBC staffer (Richard Skinner) persuades Paul McCartney to talk about much more, including one of the more in-depth interviews about Wings.

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.

Sean Penn had a number of run-ins with the press while shooting in Asia. Executive producer George Harrison flew to Macau to handle the media frenzy between reporters, Penn, and Madonna. Filming moved to London as soon as possible.

Today's moment of Zen

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 was not bad for the King of Pop's income, Jackson's posthumous earnings were $75 million dollars, tied with his 2021's $75 million dollars (Jackson was best this year by his former dead father-in-law Elvis, who who zoomed ahead with a whopping $110 million dollars.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so it goes

Monday, August 28, 2023

Well, you go Uruguay and I'll go mine.

August 28, 1930 -
... That's a fine letter, Jamison, that's an epic. That's dandy. Now, I want you to make two carbon copies of that letter and throw the original away. And when you get through with that, throw the carbon copies away. Just send a stamp, airmail, that's all. You may go, Jamison. I may go too. ...

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 -
Paramount's 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, 1978 -
Released by Warner Bros. and produced by Brian Eno, Devo's debut album , Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo was released, on this date.

The album was met with mixed reviews at the time, but today is viewed as one of the most significant albums of the Post-Punk and New Wave genres. In fact, a number of musical luminaries were interested in producing the band's debut, including Iggy Pop and even David Bowie (who at the time described them as "the band of the future").

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."

Word of the Day

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.

And finally they are going to put air conditioning in their trucks.

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.

Before her death in 2017, Carolyn Bryant 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, 1964 -
The Beatles met Bob Dylan for the first time at The Delmonico Hotel, following their show at New York’s Forest Hills Stadium, on this date.

After being introduced by a mutual friend, writer Al Aronowitz, the band offered their guests drinks, but Dylan and Aronowitz expressed interest in smoking weed instead. This marked the Fab Four’s first taste of marijuana – an experience that would prove to be transformative in their career.

August 28, 1982 -
Two young people got married on this date.

Some of the people who were at that wedding are still alive.
More and more of them are unfortunately not.
Some of them have gotten married (even to each other.)
Others are not.
Some of them had children.
Some do not.

All these years later, those two crazy kids are still alive, married, have two children in college and are trying to make their way through 2023.

Happy Anniversary Mary.

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

The former Prince of Wales Charles, now King, 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

Sunday, August 27, 2023

You've got to be taught

Most American children learned from an early age to look both ways before crossing the street, but how many of them 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

Today is the feast day of St. Monica of Hippo.

Monica, who was originally from Honey Badger Bluff 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, 1935 -
RKO Pictures released the film She, directed by Lansing C. Holden and Irving Pichel and starring Helen Gahagan, Randolph Scott, Helen Mack, and Nigel Bruce in the US, on this date.

For many years this film version was considered lost. This film exists at the present time because Buster Keaton had a copy of the original print stored in his garage, which he gave to film historian Raymond Rohauer for preservation.

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 demanding 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, 1953 -
William Wyler, romantic comedy, Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, and Eddie Arnold, premiered in NYC on this date.

Paramount originally wanted to shoot this movie in Hollywood. William Wyler refused, insisting it must be shot on location. They finally agreed, but with a much lower budget. This meant the movie would be in black and white, not the expected Technicolor, and he would need to cast an unknown actress as the Princess, Audrey Hepburn.

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.

Producer Harry Saltzman hired David Benedictus to write the screenplay, but Saltzman was unhappy with the way it was developing, so he instructed director Val Guest to pen his own script, assuring him that he'd deal with Benedictus. It wasn't until Guest's version was finished that Benedictus caught wind of the situation, at which point he sent Guest an angry letter.

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.

August 27, 2004 -
After 1,190 episodes, Craig Kilborn called it quits as the host of The Late Late Show on CBS TV, on this date.

The Scottish-born American comedian Craig Ferguson took over the show on January 3, 2005.

August 27, 2004 -
Hong Kong martial arts film Hero starring Jet Li, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi, Donnie Yen and Chen Daoming, opened in the US on this date, and became the first Chinese-language film to reach #1 at US box office.

The "red fight" between Moon and Flying-Snow was filmed in a forest in Mongolia. Director Yimou Zhang had to wait until the leaves turn yellow, and hired local nomads to gather even more yellow leaves in order to cover the ground completely. In fact, he was so fanatic about the leaves, that he had his crew separate the leaves into four different "classes" which were each put at increasingly farther lengths from the camera.

Another book from the back shelves of The ACME Library

Today in History:
August 27, 413 BC -
A lunar eclipse interrupted a lovely evening of fraternizing 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 is one of the only women buried in the Special Forces cemetery at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Raye joined the USO soon after the US entered WWII. During WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, she traveled extensively to entertain our troops, despite her extreme fear of flying. In 1966 she went to Vietnam to entertain two platoons of airmen, both were called out on a mission. She held the show there till they returned. She often served as a nurse on these trips.

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 -
The late, great 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, 1965 -
A small house party occurred at 525 Perugia Way in Bel Air, California, on this date, one that few knew about while it was taking place: the meeting between the four Beatles and Elvis Presley, in Elvis’s home.

The Beatles visit lasted 4 hours during which time they told stories, joked and listened to records. The five of them even had an impromptu jam session – at the time no one thought to record the historical event.

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.

And so it goes.