Saturday, June 22, 2024

If you listen carefully, they do sing to you

Today is the 42nd annual Mermaid Parade on Coney Island, self described as the 'largest art parade in the nation.' The grand-marshals this year are, King Neptune - Joe Coleman, and Queen Mermaid - Whitney Ward.

The event is meant, in part, to celebrate the beginning of summer so the Mermaid Parade typically takes place on a Saturday closest to the beginning of summer solstice in June.

The Parade starts at 1pm, rain or shine, on West 21st and Surf Avenue. It rolls east to West 10th Street, where the marchers and push-pull floats proceed to the Boardwalk and continue their march to Steeplechase Plaza, under the Parachute Jump. It's a beautiful day today, if you can, why not catch the fun by the sea.

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.

Walt Disney originally didn't want to include the 'Bella Notte' spaghetti-eating scene, now one of the most iconic moments in the whole Disney canon.

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

Katharine Hepburn's apartment is actually an amalgam of three different locations. The door through which she enters the apartment belongs to the Trattoria Sempione, a restaurant that still exists today. Her bedroom belongs to an apartment two miles away in the suburb of Dursoduro, and the terrace was a purpose-built set in Campo San Vio.

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

There was some surprise that Stanley Baker, who, along with Dirk Bogarde in 1960, was considered the most popular British movie star, accepted the relatively small supporting role of Private "Butcher" Brown. Baker revealed that he wanted to be in the movie because he was impressed at how anti-war the screenplay by the blacklisted writer Carl Foreman was.

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.

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

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 -
I never have tantrums. If anything makes me mad, I'm silent. If I'm not talking, leave me alone.

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.

Friday, June 21, 2024

Rolling out those lazy, hazy, crazy days

Today is the first full day of Summer

Hopefully your day goes better than Martin's does.

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

Once the script was in hand, the cast and crew made its way to Venice to begin prepping the locations. David Lean had accepted the job of directing it in part because of a desire to no longer do soundstage work but work on locations outside. He remarked that working on a soundstage made it feel as though one was working in a "pitch-black mine . . . I prefer the sun." He set out about Venice, picking out locations and taking pictures. Lean would fall in love with Venice and later live there part of every year.

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, 1969 -
In an ill-advised attempted to make the British royal family seem more 'approachable', the BBC airs the documentary Royal Family, on this date.

Created at the behest (I absolutely love the word behest,) of Queen Elizabeth, eager to humanize the Royal Family at a time of social upheaval, it only aired twice. The Queen concluded that it demystified them too much. For decades, no publicly available recordings existed, except for a few short clips, until the entire film was leaked to YouTube in January 2021. The programm was broadcast again by the BBC, in September 2022, to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Just to let you know -- if you watch the entire documentary, you've given up your chance to be  honors from the british government. I'm just saying.)

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

Producer Irwin Winkler said that during filming, Robert De Niro would constantly be walking around with a copy of the book Raging Bull. Raging Bull became the next film that De Niro and Martin Scorsese made together. It was also produced by Winkler and Robert Chartoff.

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.

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

With an estimated production budget of $70 million, this was the most expensive film produced in the 1980s, and had the longest on-screen credits for a film. The first test audience was mostly 18- and 19-year-olds, who hated it. After almost the entire audience walked out of the screening, Robert Zemeckis, who had final cut, said he wasn't changing a thing.

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".

Another unimportant moment in history

(it's an unexpected travel day for me, so today's posting will be abbreviated. Bunkies, it's hot out there - remember to keep hydrated!)
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 119th 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.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

What power you have to make us suffer and like it

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. ... John Lubbock

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 go outside and take in the day's beauty. Now quickly get back inside the air conditioning - it's hot as hell out there today.

The actual moment of the solstice occurred at about 4:51 p.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.)

Refugees are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, with the same hopes and ambitions as us—except that a twist of fate has bound their lives to a global refugee crisis on an unprecedented scale..

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 24th 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.

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.

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.

Groucho Marx was bitter when he was called for retakes on the Sing While You Sell number on a day his son Arthur Marx was playing a tennis match. He was even more upset when he got the lines he was to speak in the retakes and found them "six times as unfunny" as the ones they were replacing.

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.

Filming was delayed two months because Irene Dunne's husband was recovering from a heart attack. Twentieth Century Fox almost considered replacing her with Myrna Loy or Jean Arthur.

June 20, 1966
The Beatles released their ninth album issued on Capitol Records and twelfth American release overall, Yesterday and Today, with the amended cover, on this date.

The original release of the album Yesterday and Today by the Beatles, with the so-called “Butcher cover”, is one of the most widely recognized valuable albums in the world, and one that is known to many non collectors. Due to the negative reception, Capitol Records received from reviewers who received advance copies of the record, the original album cover art, the Beatles dressed in butcher smocks, surrounded by pieces of raw meat and plastic doll parts, was quickly replaced by one with a more modest design.

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

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

After several takes that never looked quite right, Faye Dunaway got annoyed and told Jack Nicholson to actually slap her. He did and felt very guilty for it, despite it being Dunaway's decision. The shot made it into the movie.

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

According to director Steven Spielberg, the prop arm looked too fake in the scene where Chrissie's remains are discovered, so instead, they buried a female crew member in the sand with only her arm exposed.

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.

The wedding dress worn in the opening credits is the same wedding dress worn by Jennifer Aniston's character, Rachel Green in Friends.

Another ACME Safety Film

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, the late Queen Elizabeth II.

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

Now that O.J.has met his maker, perhaps he can 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.

And so it goes

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Saunter, don't hike

June 19
It is a great art to saunter - Henry David Thoreau

Today is known as World Sauntering Day, sometimes referred to as International Sautering Day. Created by W.T. Rabe in response to the jogging craze; it was his thought that the day would be a reminder to slow down.

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.

I want to be a superhero. Maybe I'll be a bartending superhero who shakes martinis to save the world.

How many Republicans does it take to change a light bulb? Three. One to mix the martinis, one to change the light bulb, and one to reminisce about how good the old one was.

Unlike an aperitif, which is soft and bitter and prepares your body for a meal, a Martini is a cocktail. A cocktail is a social anaesthetic. It marks the end of the work day by ensuring that you’ll be in no condition to return to work or to even discuss it coherently after drinking a few of them – it's not socially acceptable to walk out the office and shoot each other with a tranquilliser dart, so instead we have a Martini.

Who knew

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!)

June 19, 1954 -
The Tasmanian Devil, Taz, made his debut in the Looney Tunes cartoon, Devil May Hare, on this date.

While Robert McKimson and his team were discussing new adversaries for Bugs Bunny, animator Sid Marcus suggested offhandedly that they have used everything except a Tasmanian devil. They looked the animal up in the encyclopedia and decided he would make a good foil for Bugs.

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

American International Pictures released this on a double bill with Invasion of the Saucer Men with the tag line "We DARE You To See The Most Amazing Pictures of Our Time!"

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

In an episode of the TV series Happy Days, Howard and Marion Cunningham are coming out of a movie theater; they pause in the lobby and look at the poster for The Music Man. Marion comments how much the little boy in the movie (Winthrop) "looks so much like Richie did when he was little". Both Winthrop and Richie were played by Ron Howard.

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.

In order to capitalize on the success of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Ray Harryhausen originally conceived of the film as Sinbad in the Age of Muses. The story would still have been set in ancient Greece and would have involved Sinbad joining Jason in the search for the Golden Fleece.

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.

This was the first US #1 hit for The Four Tops, and it was a big one, topping the Hot 100 for two weeks and the R&B chart for an amazing nine. The group had paid their dues: they formed in 1953 and didn't get a Motown deal until 10 years later. Their first Motown single, Baby I Need Your Loving, did very well, but this one established them as one of the top acts in the company.

June 19, 1976
The original emo boy, Eric Carmen's single Never Gonna’ Fall in Love Again went to the top of The Billboard Charts on this date.

Once again, Carmen uses (steals) a piece of classical music - this time, the melody line from Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 for this song. It comes from the Adagio movement.

June 19, 1976 -
HBO launched the series, Standing Room Only (SRO) with a taped special by Bette Midler on this date.

The original HBO presentation was shown "complete and uncut, minus any editing or interruption" (per the June 1976 HBO On Air guide), lasting nearly two-and-a-half hours. When it was shown on broadcast television later that year, it was shorn to 87 minutes. That truncated version was released on videocassette by Embassy Home Video in 1984. The special - a rare opportunity to see Midler in her first phase of stardom - has yet to be released in digital format.

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 job posting from The ACME Employment Agency

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
The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.

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.

Before you go - I nearly forgot, the summer solstice begins tomorrow at 4:51 PM EDT.

I will definitely be up by then and we'll discuss this in further detail tomorrow.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Just take those old records off the shelf

June 18, 1948 -
Goodbye to our old 78's

A CBS employee named Edward Wallerstein walked into a room at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York with Goddard Lieberson, the president of Columbia Records and publicly unveiled its new long-playing phonograph record, the 33 1/3, on this date.

Unlike the standard 10-inch 78 rpm record, which could play about 3 1/2 minutes on one side, the new “LP” could hold 15-plus minutes on one side of a 10-inch record and up to 25 minutes on one side of a 12-inch disc. Also, these new records were made of a vinyl compound rather than the easily breakable shellac of 78s. The larger discs were originally meant for classical music and the smaller for non-classical, but by 1955, the 10-inch LP had been superseded by the 12-inch version.

Once again,I ask you to ponder, but not too deeply, all the pleasure brought to you by that big 12".

June 18, 1956 -
The pilot episode for the quiz show To Tell the Truth premiered on CBS on this date. The series debuted on CBS on December 18, 1956.

The series outlasted most of the others of the period, especially after the 1958 quiz-show scandal, partly because every contestant was supposed to be untrustworthy.

June 18, 1959 -
Fred Zinnemann's quiet religious drama The Nun's Story, starring Audrey Hepburn, Colleen Dewhurst, Dean Jagger, Peggy Ashcroft, Peter Finch, and Edith Evans, premiered in NYC on this date.

Audrey Hepburn met the real Marie-Louise Habets - inspiration for the novel and film - while she was preparing for the role. The two actually became great friends and Habets later nursed Hepburn back to health after her near-fatal horse-riding accident on the set of The Unforgiven.

June 18, 1966 -
The Beach Boys release the single Wouldn't It Be Nice (with God Only Knows on the flip side of the 45), on this date. Brian Wilson wrote the song with contributions from vocalist Mike Love and lyricist Tony Asher. Asher wrote all of the lyrics except for the "Good night, my baby, sleep tight, my baby" lines at the end of the song, which were Love's contribution.

Mike Love sang the bridge; Brian Wilson did the verses. Love explained in the liner notes for the Pet Sounds boxed set that Brian Wilson made him do over 30 takes singing one background section of this song. Around the 20th take, Love started affectionately calling him "dog ears," as he could hear things other humans couldn't. "Brian must have been part canine because he was reaching for something intangible, imperceptible to most, and all but impossible to execute," wrote Love.

June 18, 1969 -
Sam Peckinpah's violent western elegy, The Wild Bunch, premiered on this date.

Robert Ryan's incessant complaints about not receiving top billing so annoyed director Sam Peckinpah that he decided to "punish" Ryan. In the opening credits, after freezing the screen on closeups of William Holden's and Ernest Borgnine's faces while listing them, Peckinpah froze the scene on several horses' rear ends as Ryan was listed.

June 18, 1977 -
Fleetwood Mac's third single from their album Rumours, Dreams, hit the no. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Dreams sold more than one million copies and was the band's only No. 1 hit.

Stevie Nicks recalled to The Daily Mail October 16, 2009: "I remember the night I wrote 'Dreams.' I walked in and handed a cassette of the song to Lindsey. It was a rough take, just me singing solo and playing piano. Even though he was mad with me at the time, Lindsey played it and then looked up at me and smiled. What was going on between us was sad. We were couples who couldn't make it through. But, as musicians, we still respected each other - and we got some brilliant songs out of it."

June 18, 1980 -
... We're on a mission from God.

The Blues Brothers Movie, starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi premiered on this date. Ounce for ounce (other than Walt Disney's animated classic The Jungle Book,) the most amount of dope was smoked in film history during the production of a major Hollywood film.

After the concert, the State Troopers chase the Blues Brothers back to Chicago. The scene in which several troopers' cars crash off the highway embankment was filmed at a closed section of Illinois State Highway 53 in Palatine, Illinois. They had trouble getting the cars to flip over when they went down the embankment, so they dug a hole into the embankment to help the cars flip over as they hit it.

June 18, 2001 -
The first in seemingly hundreds of installations of The Fast and the Furious franchise, starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, and Michelle Rodriguez premiered in the US, on this date.

Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Eminem were all considered for the part of Brian O'Connor before Paul Walker was cast.

June 18, 2010 -
Pixar's very successful second sequel (and surprisingly, a deeply moving children's film,) Toy Story 3 premiered on this date.

Tom Hanks and Tim Allen insisted that they record their lines together, which they had previously done for one day during the making of the original Toy Story, but which is rarely done with animated films. They loved the chemistry their characters shared on-screen.

Today's moment of Zen

Today in History:
June 18, 1155 -
Pope Adrian IV crowned Frederick I (AKA Fred Barbarossa) Holy Roman Emperor at St Peter's Basilica in Rome on this date, to the acclamation of his German army.

The Romans populace not so much; finding Frederick neither Holy nor Roman (he was German after all) began to riot, resulting in the deaths of over 1,000 Romans and many more thousands injured. Years later, Adrian IV unfortunately died, choking on a fly in his wine. Frederick has a heart attack and died after falling into only hip deep water of a very cold lake. But what the hell do you care.

European history would have been dramatically different if only for a higher fiber diet.

One of the most decisive battles in the history of Europe was fought in Belgium on June 18, 1815, as a resurgent Napoleon Bonaparte launched his last military offensive against the Duke of Wellington and the Prussian Marshal Blücher. Nearly 50,000 men were killed in the battle. Napoleon lost in part due to a case of inflamed hemorrhoids.

The battle was commemorated by Swedish sensation ABBA in their 1970s hit, Waterloo.

ABBA's interpretation of Waterloo's significance has been controversial from the start, as it tended to focus less on the military and political implications of the battle than on the feelings of euphoria typically incited by hormonal rushes of erotic excitement.

On June 18, 1817, Waterloo Bridge was opened over the River Thames in London,

And if that wasn't enough, to commemorate the high fiber diet of the Duke of Wellington, on June 18, 1822, the British government erected the first nude public statue since antiquity — an 18ft bronze Achilles — in London's Hyde Park in his honor.

It caused such an offense, women and small children were forbidden to amble through the park and a fig leaf was added.

This was all in anticipation ABBA performed Dancing Queen at a televised all-star gala on this date in 1976, held at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm, Sweden, on the eve of the wedding between Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Silvia Sommerlath. I'm sure the Sweden King consumes plenty of muesli and yogurt, keeping him quite regular and on the throne for these 51 years.

(This will all be on the test.)

June 18, 1900 -
The Empress Douairiere, Dowager of China orders all foreigners killed on this date. Among those meeting this fate are the foreign diplomats, their families, as well as hundreds of Christian missionaries and their Chinese converts.

She was apparently having a very bad day (perhaps she needed a higher fiber diet as well.)

June 18, 1913 -
The one I tell everyone, the one I'm very, very proud of is 'Call Me Irresponsible.' Simply because I want to say and it's not as facetious as it sounds. It has five syllable words in it..

Samuel Cohen (Sammy Cahn), one of American's foremost tunesmiths was born on this date. Over the course of his career, Cahn was nominated for 23 Academy Awards, five Golden Globe Awards, an Emmy and a Grammy.

June 18, 1940 -
The "This was their finest hour" speech was delivered by Sir Winston Churchill to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom on this date.

It was given shortly after he took over as Prime Minister of Britain on May 10th, in the first year of World War II.

June 18, 1940 -
Across town, on the same day, Charles de Gaulle galvanized the Free French Forces in one of the most important speeches of the 20th century, on this date. Known as L’Appel du 18 Juin (The Appeal of 18 June), it is often considered to be the origin of the French Resistance movement during the German occupation in World War II.

De Gaulle spoke to the French people from a BBC studio in London one day after the fall of France. He fled to England as his shattered government brokered an armistice deal with the advancing Nazis. He obtained special permission from Winston Churchill to broadcast a message to his countrymen—and in his speech, de Gaulle declared that the war for France was not over yet. He reminded the French people that the British Empire and the U.S. would support them militarily and economically, and it rallied the country in support of the Resistance.

June 18, 1942 -
Sir James Paul McCartney, CH, MBE, singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, entrepreneur, record and film producer, poet, painter, and animal rights activist, was born on this date.

McCartney is listed in Guinness World Records as the "most successful musician and composer in popular music history." And now it appears that he has been reduced to playing nostalgia tours around the world.

June 18, 1952 -
I grew up in a family of filmmakers, so I always wanted to make films about animals, especially comical films. Something about animals amuses me. And they have a great mystery. It's the same mystique some people might feel looking at the stars or the ocean.

Isabella Rossellini, one of Hollywood's' most intelligent and beautiful actresses was born on this date.

June 18, 1959 -
Based on his erratic behavior, the Governor of Louisiana, Earl K. Long, was committed to a state mental hospital.

Long responds by arranging for the hospital's director to be fired, and the new director proclaims him perfectly sane. (It is no secret that the man was completely nuts.)

June 18, 1967 -
Famed guitarist Jimi Hendrix burnt his guitar on stage at the Monterey Pop Festival on this date.

There had to be a better way to toast marshmallows.

June 18, 1971 -
The Nike "swoosh" logo was created in 1971 by a graphic design student Carolyn Davidson and was purchased by Blue Ribbon for $35.

The intention was to convey motion in its design. it was first used by Nike on this date. (She was later given around 500 shares in the company which are now estimated to be worth over a cool $1M.)

June 18, 1983 -
Almost 20 years to the day after the USSR sent Valentina Tereshkova into orbit, the United States sent its first woman astronaut into space. Sally Ride, an astrophysicist from Stanford University, and four other colleagues lifted off aboard the space shuttle Challenger.

During the six-day mission, Ride operated the robot's arm, which she had helped design. Ms. Ride dedicated her life to be an inspiration for young women wanting to enter the field of science

And on a personal note:

Happy Birthday John!

And so it goes.