Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Apologies for delay in posting

(Very serious technical difficulties had to be overcome - different location; the hunt for the password)

(two years ago, on this date, Mrs. Dr. Caligari had to rushd me to the hospital for emergency surgery. It's been a bumpy two years and hopefully all surgeries are behind me. All in all, it's pretty nice to be here, for another year at least. A huge thanks to all of you who've given me all of your support, help, and love, throughout the years. But I digress ...)

Today is Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis Night or Beltane Eve.) It is celebrated in most of Northern Europe the night of April 30 to May 1.

Legend has it, this night was the last chance for witches and various demons to stir up trouble before Spring reawakened the land.

April 30, 1938 -
Bugs Bunny first appeared, so to speak, in the cartoon short Porky's Hare Hunt, released on this date. This short was co-directed by Cal Dalton and Ben Hardaway.

The cartoon had an almost identical theme to a 1937 cartoon, Porky's Duck Hunt, directed by Tex Avery and introducing Daffy Duck. Following the general plot of this earlier film, the short cast Porky Pig as a hunter against an equally nutty prey more interested in driving his hunter insane than running away. But instead of a black duck, his current prey was a tiny, white rabbit. Bugs Bunny introduces himself with the expression "Jiggers, fellers," and Mel Blanc gave the rabbit a voice and laugh that he would later use to voice Woody Woodpecker. In this cartoon, he also quoted Groucho Marx for the first time (from the movie Duck Soup): "Of course, you know, this means war!"

April 30, 1948 -
Frank Capra's political drama State of the Union, starring Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Adolphe Menjou, Van Johnson, and Angela Lansbury, premiered in the US on this date.

Claudette Colbert was originally cast to play Mary Matthews. A few days before production began, Frank Capra fired her from this movie because she refused to work into the evening. Capra then hired Katharine Hepburn after Spencer Tracy suggested her.

April 30, 1950 -
The film-noir classic, DOA, starring Edmond O'Brien, was released on this date. (Stick around for the whole movie.)

When Frank Bigelow registers at the Allison Hotel in Los Angeles, the name directly above his is Russell Rouse, one of the film's writers. Also on the register is director of photography Ernest Laszlo and assistant director Marty Moss.

April 30, 1952 -
Mr. Potato Head® became the first toy to be advertised on television on this date.

Over one million kits were sold in the first year. Mrs.Horned Melon or Mr. Cherimoya didn't sell so well.

April 30, 1962 -
Tony Richardson's contribution to British kitchen sink dramas, A Taste of Honey, starring Rita Tushingham, Dora Bryan, Murray Melvin, and Paul Danquah, opened in the US on this date.

Despite winning Best Actor (Murray Melvin) and Best Actress (Rita Tushingham) prizes at Cannes, Dora Bryan and Tushingham went unrecognized and were barred from the film's celebration party until film critic Alexander Walker spotted them outside and was able to get them in.

April 30, 1966 -
The Young Rascals' single Good Lovin' went to No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard singles chart, on this date.

According to Rolling Stone magazine, The Young Rascals were surprised by the success of this track. Felix Cavaliere admitted, "We weren't too pleased with our performance. It was a shock to us when it went to the top of the charts."

April 30, 1975 -
Detectives David Starsky and Kenneth 'Hutch' Hutchinson, began to patrol the streets of Bay City (Los Angeles), when Starsky and Hutch debuted on ABC TV on this date. Even though the US broadcasts claims that it's not Los Angeles but "Bay City", the very first street sign they stop in front of in this pilot clearly reads "Los Angeles", 7 minutes into the show. This is why in many foreign markets, it takes place in Los Angeles, where it is evidently filmed.

On numerous occasions, Paul Michael Glaser has talked about how much he hated the car, as well as playing Starsky, and that he had campaigned to be released from his contract. He said, at the time, that he would have refused to continue with the series, had it not been canceled. Like many TV actors at the time, wanted to become a film director, however his attempts at directing Starsky & Hutch were unfruitful due to too many artsy shots that did not fit in tune with the series, the way it had originally been conceived.

April 30, 1997 -
Ellen DeGeneres' character came out of the closet on the sitcom Ellen on this date.

The show was the highest rated episode the series ever aired, with over 42 million viewers and won an Emmy for writing. Nonetheless, DeGeneres and her show quickly garnered criticism for being "too gay"; the series was canceled after one more season and DeGeneres and guest star Laura Dern faced career backlashes.

Today's moment of Zen

Today in History:
April 30, 1789 -
George Washington was inaugurated and took office in New York as the first president of the United States on this date. He took his oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street and spoke the words “So help me God,” which all future US presidents have repeated.

Please note: The oath as prescribed by the Constitution makes no mention of God, or of the Bible.

April 30, 1803 -
The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803, more than doubling the size of the nation. The price paid was fairly steep, 50 million francs ($262 million dollars in today's currency, roughly 4 cents an acre, for the 828,000 square miles.).

In addition to the city of New Orleans and western Louisiana, the purchase included Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska; most of North and South Dakota; parts of Minnesota, New Mexico Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado (portions of Texas were included for ordering before 1804). President Jefferson had hoped to pay for the acquisition using beads, but the people of New Orleans already had so many beads they held a party each year to give them away.

April 30, 1900 -
John Luther "Casey" Jones was born March 14, 1863 in southeast Missouri. While he was still a small child, his family moved to Cayce, Kentucky, which is how he got his nickname. As a boy, he liked trains - HE really liked trains. In 1878, at the age of 15, he went to work for the Mobile and Ohio Railroad as an apprentice telegrapher. By 1890, "Casey" had reached the pinnacle of the railroad profession as a crack locomotive engineer on the Illinois Central Railroad.

In 1899, Jones was given a regular passenger run on the Cannonball route which ran between Chicago and New Orleans. On April 29, 1900, Jones was in Memphis, Tennessee, from the northbound Cannonball when he agreed to take the southbound Cannonball because the scheduled engineer called in sick. He left Memphis at 12:50 am, 95 minutes behind schedule, but made up almost an hour between Memphis and Grenada, Mississippi, nearly 100 miles away. By Durant, 55 miles farther down, they were almost on time.

At Durant, Jones received orders to "saw by" two freights that had taken the siding in Vaughan. The two freights were too large to fit into the siding, leaving one end on the main line. If the "sawing" maneuver had been done correctly, the freights would have allowed the approaching train to pass the first switch, and then the trains on the siding would move past the other switch. However, an air hose on one of the freight trains burst, applying the brakes on the freight cars behind the break, and left them immobile on the main line. Meanwhile, Jones was traveling excessively fast, possibly up to 70 miles per hour, and did not have enough time to brake. When collision seemed imminent, Casey told his fireman, Sim Webb, to jump for it, but Jones rode the engine into the cars and was killed. It is believed that because Jones stayed to slow the train, he saved the passengers from injury and possible death (Casey himself was the only fatality of the collision).

Popular legend holds that when Jones' body was pulled from the wreckage of his train his hands were still firmly latched onto the whistle cord and the brake.

April 30, 1900 -
Another file from: Thing my teachers never told me - A group of American businessmen, led by Samuel Dole (of pineapple fame,) had overthrown the traditional monarchy of Hawaii several years earlier and operated the island themselves, occasionally clashing diplomatically with the US.

The US Congress finally got around to lend a legitimacy to the coup by American citizens by passing the Hawaiian Organic Act on this date. The provisional government finally allowed Hawaii to become a US territory after receiving a guarantee that they would not be punished for the coup.

And that bunkies is how the US stole Hawaii.

April 30, 1904 -
At 1:06 p.m. President Theodore Roosevelt officially opened the St. Louis World’s Fair commemorating the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase. Although the Fair was originally scheduled to open in 1903, the opening was delayed for a year while the elaborate fairgrounds were completed. Visitors were awed by 142 miles of exhibits shown in palatial buildings like Festival Hall the centerpiece of the fair boasting an auditorium seating 3,500. Cass Gilbert designed the art museum in Foret park, the only building left over from the fair.

Other wonders seen at the St. Louis World’s Fair were the Liberty Bell, the largest pipe organ in the world, the introduction of ice cream cones, the invention of iced-tea, and the fair popularization of the hot dog with prepared mustard. The fair lasted 7 months and inspired the phrase "Meet Me in St. Louis."

April 30, 1939 -
On a very hot New York Sunday, The 1939 World's Fair had its grand opening, with 200,000 people in attendance. The April 30 date coincided with the anniversary of George Washington's inauguration as President in New York City. Although many of the pavilions and other facilities were not quite ready for this opening, it was put on with pomp and great celebration.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the opening day address, and as a reflection of the wide range of technological innovation on parade at the fair, his speech was not only broadcast over the various radio networks but also was televised. NBC used the event to inaugurate regularly scheduled television broadcasts in New York City over their station W2XBS (now WNBC). An estimated 1,000 people viewed the Roosevelt telecast from about 200 television sets scattered throughout the New York area.

Little remembered but equally important, the View-Master was introduced at the World's Fair that day.

Don't worry about those storm clouds overhead (it's just World War II).

April 30, 1943 -
The British submarine HMS Seraph dropped ‘the man who never was,' a dead man the British planted with false invasion plans (which indicated the Allies would not invade Sicily,) into the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain on this date.

German agents discovered the body of a non-existent RAF major, bought the ruse and were unprepared for the actual attack on that island.

April 30, 1945 -
Holed up in a bunker under the Reich Chancellery headquarters in Berlin (conveniently called the Fuehrerbunker), blushing bride Eva Braun had a hankering for Almond Roca. Finding none available, she decide to chew a cyanide capsule and commit suicide instead (she was impulsive.) Distraught honeymooner Adolf Hitler, never one to go it alone, decides to commit suicide himself by swallowing a cyanide capsule and (to gilt the lily) shoot himself in the head (he was having a very bad day for an Evil Bastard.)

Soon after, Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allied forces, ending Hitler's dreams of a "1,000-year" Reich.

Guess that didn't work out for him.

April 30, 1975 -
The capital of South Vietnam - Saigon, fell on this date. Communist forces gains control of Saigon. The fall of the city was preceded by the evacuation of almost all the American civilian and military personnel in Saigon, along with tens of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians. The evacuation culminated in Operation Frequent Wind, the largest helicopter evacuation in history.

The Vietnam War formally ends with the unconditional surrender of South Vietnamese president Duong Van Minh.

This was a really big Oops for America.

And so it goes.

Monday, April 29, 2024

A whole lot of stuff going on

Today is the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, the co-patron saint of Italy. The Renaissance was tough on women, Catherine's older sister and younger sisters died in 1463 (she had 22 other siblings, although, at that point, who could tell who was alive or died or the neighbor's cat.) Catherine's father did what any other father would do - tried to make the teenage Catherine marry her sister's widow.

It didn't matter to anyone, save Catherine, that her brother-in-law was a filthy, lascivious old man. Catherine fasted until her father relented and let her enter a nunnery. While fasting, she, like our old pal Teresa of Avila, was pierced by God's shaft of 'pure love,', (is this what comes from anorexia in the Middle Ages?).

Though, supposedly illiterate, Catherine famously corresponded with the leading church figures (both men and women) of her day. In fact, Catherine is one of the few women Saints who are thought of, as holding doctorates. She is one of the church most famous bulimics, disgorging everything she ate for the next 17 years, except the Eucharist she received every day.

She, of course, is the patron saint of bulimics and anorexics, the sick (in general), nurses, firemen and sexual temptation (there is a connection between the two, but I'm not going there.)

As is always the case, when saints die, people clamor after their body parts. She is scattered over most of Italy; her head and one of her fingers are resting in Siena and a major part of her is beneath the main altar at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church in Rome.

When the music and dance create with accord...their magic captivates both the heart and the mind.

Today is also International Dance Day. The date was chosen in commemoration of the death of the greatly influential dancer, choreographer and innovator Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810).

The goals of Dance Day are to increase the awareness of the importance of dance among the general public, as well as to persuade governments all over the world to provide a proper place for dance in all systems of education.

One last thing, But wait, today is also National Shrimp Scampi Day

Don't forget to add a few red pepper flakes (we had shrimp last night; maybe we'll have to wait a few days to have our scampi.)

April 29, 1953
In the first 3D television broadcast, an episode of Space Patrol was shown on Los Angeles ABC affiliate KECA-TV.

Viewers needed special 3D glasses for proper viewing. Of course most viewers didn't have 3D glasses handy, so "while the show aired, it appeared to be a blurry mess."

April 29, 1964 -
The Toho Studios released their first cross-over monster movie Mosura tai Gojira (Godzilla vs. the Thing (Mothra)) in Japan on this date. This is the first Godzilla film without newly-shot American footage added for the American release.

1964 was the only year when Toho released two Godzilla movies in the same year. Right after this film, Toho began working on Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, which premiered that December.

April 29, 1979 -
ABC TV cancelled the series Battlestar Galactica earlier in the month, making the episode that aired on this date, The Hand of God, the last episode of the series.

Apollo reveals that the Galactica was launched "over 500 yahren ago." According to BattlestarWiki, fans have established a "yahren" (equivalent to a Colonial year) as being equivalent to approximately 250 Earth days, or a little more than 2/3 of an Earth year. That still makes Galactica an extremely old ship at over 340 Earth years old. In terms of Earth history, it would be like continuing to use a warship from about 1680 A.D.

April 29, 1983 -
Martha Coolidge's Rom-Com about a girl from the valley, Valley Girl, starring Nicolas Cage, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Meyrink, Elizabeth Daily, Cameron Dye and Michael Bowen premiered in the US on this date.

The producers of this film approached Frank Zappa about making a film based on his hit single Valley Girl (released May 1982), but he refused, leading the producers to make the film without his involvement. Zappa later sued them but lost the case.

April 29, 2005
Buena Vista releases a somewhat confusing (for the uninformed) but amusing version of Douglas Adams classic sci-fi classic, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, starring Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell, Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel and the voices of Stephen Fry and Alan Rickman on this date.

This was the ninth version of the Hitchhiker's Guide. It has previously appeared as a radio series, two record albums, novels, a television series, a computer game, a stage show, a comic book, a video game and a towel.

April 29, 2016 -
Jimmy Fallon and Paul Rudd do a shot-for-shot remake of the Styx video for Too Much Time On My Hands on this date.

The video has special memories for many in Generation X, as it was in heavy rotation when MTV went on the air in 1981. Rock revisionists have questioned the coolness of the band, but to those who grew up watching them on MTV, they will always be undeniably awesome.

Word of the Day

Today in History:
April 29, 1852 -
The first edition of Roget’s Thesaurus was published (distributed, circulated, printed) on this date.

Dr. Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869) was a London physician of French-Swiss ancestry who began to collect and organize English words to improve his public speaking.

April 29, 1901 -
Train robber and one of the last of the Old West outlaws, Thomas "Black Jack" Ketchum was unsuccessfully hanged in Clayton, New Mexico on this date.

The executioner's poor choice of rope and Ketchum's recent increase in weight combine to produce a gruesome decapitation in the gallows.

Thomas "Black Jack" Ketchum was the only person ever hanged in Clayton, New Mexico. He was also the only man ever hanged for train robbery in the entire state, a law that was later found to be unconstitutional. But, a little too late for poor Black Jack.

April 29, 1939 -
The Bronx-Whitestone Bridge connecting the Bronx and Queens opened for traffic on this date.

The primary reason for its construction was to provide access to the 1939-40 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows.

April 29, 1945 -
Adolf Hitler married Eva Braun on this date (the Allies sent the Fuhrer a wedding gift via liberating Dachau.) The very next day she killed herself. So did he. This demonstrates the importance of not rushing into marriage. You've got to take your time, get to know the other person, and really think it through. Especially if the other person happens to be an Evil Bastard at the head of a hellish genocidal war machine on the brink of defeat.

But it's not enough just making sure your intended isn't a war-criminal-in-training. The sad truth is that if you plan to marry a human being you're in for a pretty bumpy road no matter what—which isn't to say it would be all roses if you married something other than a human.

So maybe Adolf and Eva were doomed anyway. Who knows? I'm only saying they should have given it a little more thought. Bunker marriages have a notorious failure rate.

April 29, 1961 -
ABC's Wide World of Sports, debuted on this date. Rather than focus on one sport, it presented a variety of athletic events in one show. Each week, Wide World of Sports transported the viewer across the United States and around the world.

In addition to presenting races, bouts, and meets (often live via satellite), Wide World of Sports revolutionized sports coverage by including "up close and personal" features on athletes. The show's rallying cry, "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat," not only became one of the most familiar catchphrases on TV but captured the essence of athletic competition.

April 29, 1968 -
Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, the rock musical opened on this date. Hair tells the story of the "Tribe", a group of politically active, long-haired "Hippies of the Age of Aquarius" fighting against conscription to the Vietnam War and living a bohemian life together in New York City. They struggle to balance their young lives, loves and the sexual revolution with their pacifist rebellion against the war and the conservative impulses of their parents and society.

It was also a way for middle class America to see nudity on the stage without going to a strip club or porno house.

April 29, 1976
After a gig in Memphis, Bruce Springsteen took a cab to Graceland and proceeds to climb over the wall in an attempt to meet Elvis.

He is apprehended and escorted off the premises by guards who inform him that Elvis is not in the building, anyway. Even the Boss needed the healing powers of The King.

April 29, 1992 -
Rioting erupts in after Rodney King's assailants are acquitted by a jury. The looting and destruction began in South Central L.A. and quickly radiates outward.

By the time things are under control, 51 people were dead, 1093 buildings were damaged or destroyed (764 retail stores were owned by Koreans) and the city has sustained $1.5 billion in property damage.

It's the 13th anniversary for His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, Duke of Cambridge, the once and future king of England and Catherine, (nee Katherine Middleton), Duchess of Cambridge. The couple are probably going to be spending home with their kids, just like any other millionaire future monarch and his consort would be.

Remember, lace gifts,

the tradition gifts for an 13th anniversary. (Let's have a good thought, whether or not you're a monarchist, for Kate, and for Charles, for that matter.)

And so it goes.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Safety doesn’t happen by accident.

Today is International Workers' Memorial Day. The day is a day set aside to remember all of those people who have been injured or killed on the job.

Each year, more than two million women and men die as a result of work-related accidents and diseases. So remember, there was a good chance; an accident brought you into this world. Don’t let one take you out.

April 28, 1939 -
Cecil B. DeMille brought the Western into a new realm when Union Pacific, premiered in Omaha, Nebraska on this date.

Robert Preston, who appeared in several Cecil B. DeMille productions, not only disliked the director personally but felt he was inept at directing actors. The scene where Preston, Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea are trapped in the boxcar took two weeks to film and, according to Preston, DeMille had nothing but "Action," "Cut," and "Print" to say to the actors. He didn't seem to care about scenes that did not include action or spectacle. When Preston became a bigger star, he turned down offers to appear in other DeMille films and avoided any relationship or contact with him.

April 28, 1965 -
Barbra Streisand's first television special, My Name is Barbra, premiered on CBS-TV, on this date.

The audience segments were filmed in a small TV studio in New York City just down the street from where Barbra Streisand was performing in Funny Girl. The audience consisted of about 200 members of Streisand's fan club.

April 28, 1975
Former Beatle Ringo Starr appeared NBC-TV’s The Smothers Brothers Show performing his No No Song with hosts Tom and Dick Smothers, on this date.

Later that evening, Tom Snyder interviewed ex-Beatle John Lennon on The Tomorrow Show on April 8, 1975. The show was broadcast on this date

At the time, no one knew then that John Lennon would be taking an extended hiatus from public life, taking time to raise his son and live a less public life. The interview Lennon gave Tom Snyder in 1975 revealed he had tremendous humility and an affecting sense of humor.

April 28, 1978 -
John A. Alonzo's film about a radio station with a motley collection of DJs, FM, starring Michael Brandon, Eileen Brennan, Alex Karras, Cleavon Little, Martin Mull and Cassie Yates went into general release in the US on this date. The film is often believed to be the inspiration for the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, but in fact the pilot for that sitcom was filmed before this film's release.

The theme song from the movie, Steely Dan's FM (No Static at All) won engineers Al Schmitt and Roger Nichols the 1979 Grammy Award for Best Engineered Recording.

April 28, 1979 -
The first of their four chart-toppers, Blondie's Heart Of Glass hits #1 in the U.S. on this date.

According to Rolling Stone magazine's Top 500 Songs, Harry and Stein wrote the song in their dingy New York apartment and keyboardist Jimmy Destri provided the synthesizer hook. The result brought punk and disco together on the dance floor. Said Destri, "Chris always wanted to do disco. We used to do 'Heart Of Glass' to upset people."

April 28, 1985 -
The first single from Bryan Ferry's album Boys and Girls, Slave To Love, was released on this date.

The album, Boys and Girls, featured many brilliant guitarists, including Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler, Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Chic's Nile Rodgers and Bryan Adams' guitarist Keith Scott.

April 28, 1994 -
30 years ago the Fox network aired the 100th episode of The Simpsons - Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song, on this date. I wonder what ever happened to that series?

When this episode first aired, stars appeared during the commercial breaks to celebrate the 100th episode.

Luke Perry: (referring to his animated appearance) You know, I've been shot out of a lot of cannons, but there's nothing like the first time. Congratulations to the show on their 100th episode.
Leonard Nimoy: To everyone in the sleepy town of Springfield...may you live long and prosper.
Kelsey Grammer: Hello, Kelsey Grammer here. Felicitations to the people who bring The Simpsons to life. May you make 100 more.

April 28, 2009 -
A TV commercial for the UK car insurance company, Swiftcover featuring Iggy Pop was ruled as misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority. In the ad, Iggy was seen exclaiming that he had an insurance policy with Swiftcover but the company did not cover musicians at the time of the ad being shown.

Swiftcover had since started to offer policies to musicians, and Mr Osterberg, Jr. has continued to increase his retirement fund, I mean, endorse the company ever since.

April 28, 2011 -
Universal Pictures mega-hit comedy Bridesmaids, starring Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph. Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O'Dowd, Rebel Wilson, Matt Lucas, Michael Hitchcock, Jon Hamm, and Jill Clayburgh, premiered in the US on this date. (This film is my daughters' favorite comedy.)

It was originally intended that Chris O'Dowd's cop would be American, but everyone was so enamored with O'Dowd's native Irish accent that it was decided that he keep it.

April 28, 2012
The Gotye song (featuring Kimbra), Somebody That I Used to Know hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart on this date.

The song features New Zealand singer-songwriter Kimbra, who won her country's Critics' Choice awards in 2011; the award is intended to recognize and nurture up-coming talent. Gotye didn't begin writing this song as a duet, but after he finished the first verse, he realized he had nowhere to go with the character he was writing about, and needed to introduce another voice.

Another book froom the back shelf of The ACME Library

Today in History:
April 28, 1789 -
In the middle of the South Pacific, the crew of the HMS Bounty, led by either Clark Gable, Marlon Brando or Mel Gibson mutinied, setting Charles Laughton, Trevor Howard or Anthony Hopkins and 18 other crewmen adrift in an open boat, so they can hang out with topless Tahitian teens.

Sometimes history is very confusing.

April 28, 1881 -
Billy the Kid escaped from a New Mexico jail, killing jailer Bob Ollinger and a fellow prisoner in the process. Billy survived for another three months before Pat Garrett finally killed him.

Somehow Bob Dylan, Paul Newman, Dracula and Jane Russell's Howard Hughes engineered bosom are involved in this story

Once again, history is exceedingly confusing.

April 28, 1910 -
In England, Claude Grahame-White became the first person to pilot a plane at night on this date.

The landmark flight came during the 1910 London to Manchester air race.

April 28, 1941 -
... I always think that age is a natural progression, and I'm ready for it. Whatever. I'm going to be the best 85-year-old that I can be if I'm still around.

Ann-Margret Olsson, actress, singer and dancer, was born on this date.

April 28, 1945 -
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were captured by partisan fighters and executed (castrated and hung upside down on a meat hook - well, Mussolini had his junk removed - Clara, well, she just got hung.)

Just because you can get the trains to run on time does not mean that the voters love you (it should be a motto every politician has tattooed to their ass.) One of our bunkies had a relative who was involved in his arrest.

April 28, 1947 -
Sailing from Peru on the balsa-raft Kon Tiki, Thor Heyerdahl began his six-man, 101-day expedition across the Pacific Ocean to Polynesia.

Heyerdahl's expeditions were spectacular and caught the public imagination. Although much of his work remains unaccepted within the scientific community, Heyerdahl increased public interest in ancient history and anthropology.

April 28, 1967 -
Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the army because of religious reasons on this date, and was stripped of his boxing titles and sentenced to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for draft evasion.

The conviction was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court

April 28, 2001 -
Millionaire Dennis Tito, cut a $20 million check to Russia, (proving there is such a thing as 'stupid money',) and became the world's first space tourist, flying aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. For his money, he spent a week aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Tito, and his wife Akiko, have both recently made a deal to travel on a one-week journey aboard SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft, along with up to 10 other paying passengers, to the moon. Apparently he has made a lot more stupid money in the intervening years.

And so it goes.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Thanks for the "Heads Up'

On this day in 4977 B.C., the universe is created, according to German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler, considered a founder of modern science.

Kepler is best known for his theories explaining the motion of planets.

April 27, 1922 -
Fritz Lang's Dr Mabuse, der Spieler (some have called it the first film-noir,) premiered in Berlin, Germany on this date.

Fritz Lang originally wanted the actress portraying Venus to be completely nude. When the first take was completed, he didn't like how the woman's pubic hair looked, and ordered her to shave it off. The actress indignantly refused, sending Lang into a tantrum. Eventually, a compromise was reached when a small strip of cloth was draped over the offending hair. .

April 27, 1948 -
Alexander Korda's lavish remake of Anna Karenina directed by Julien Duvivier and starring Vivien Leigh and Ralph Richarson premiered in NYC on this date.

Vivien Leigh's costumes were made in Paris by Barbara Karinska to Cecil Beaton's designs. She was in such pain wearing them that she even went to her doctor fearing she had broken her ribs. It was subsequently discovered that the dresser had been putting the corsets on upside down.

April 27, 1969 -
Joe Cocker made his first U.S. TV appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, on this date. Together with the Grease Band, Cocker performed a cover of Dave Mason's Feelin' Alright.

The song would end up being a two-time charting hit for Cocker — in 1969 and again in 1972. Cocker included a version of the song on his 1970 double album, Mad Dogs & Englishmen.

April 27, 1971 -
CBS executives finally sobered up and the last episode of Green Acres aired on this date.

This was to have been the pilot for a proposed spin off featuring Elaine Joyce as Carol. Oliver and Lisa only appear briefly in the beginning as an excuse to introduce Carol and the pilot. Oliver appears later talking to Carol on the phone.

April 27, 1990 -
The British film based on the lives and crimes of the English gangster twins Ronald and Reginald Kray, The Krays, starring Gary Kemp (of Spandau Ballet) and Martin Kemp, premiered in the UK on this date.

Roger Daltrey had originally intended to produce a film about the Kray twins life after acquiring the rights to John Pearson's book The Profession Of Violence. The idea was abandoned however once the Peter Medak version was announced.

April 27, 2001 -
I can think of younger days when living for my life ...

The Bee Gees
performed audience and viewer requests for tunes from their long career in a concert at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom on the A&E series, Live By Request, on this date.

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

(Just getting back home after a long business trip; sorry, but it's an extremely abbreviated posting today.) Today in History:
April 27, 1509 -
The entire state of Venice was excommunicated by Pope Julius II for an entirely secular reason:

the refusal to place parts of Romagna under the Pope's control.

Oh, those wacky Pre-counterreformation Popes.

April 27, 1521 -
In an hour long battle with Philippine Islanders, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his men were repeatedly jabbed with sharpened bamboo spears. After Magellan finally succumbs to his wounds, the natives hacked him to pieces with their swords, barbecued and consumed him on this date.

They were surprised that they were not hungry an hour after eating him as they had been after eating some Asian explorers previously.

April 27, 1822 -
Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War hero and 18th President of the United States, would have been 202 today.

And if the rumors are true, he is still buried in Grant's Tomb, which was dedicated on this date in 1897.

April 27, 1861 -
In a blatantly unconstitutional act, President Abraham Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus inside a zone between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The government could detain citizens indefinitely without ever filing charges. A year and a half later, Lincoln expanded the scope of his order to the entire nation.

I will grant you that President Obama might have read a little too much, but thank God that the previous resident of the White House didn't read much at all.

April 27, 1865 -
The worst steamship disaster in the history of the United States occurs on this date. The SS Sultana, carrying over 2,000 passengers, the majority being freed Union POWs from the notorious Andersonville and Cahaba Prisons, exploded on the Mississippi River, while en route to Cairo, Illinois.

Neither the cause of the explosion nor the final count of the dead (estimated at between 1,450 and 2,000) was ever determined. Today, the Sultana disaster remains the worst of its kind.

Talk about bad luck.

April 27, 1871 -
The American Museum of Natural History opened to the public in New York City, on this date. With a series of exhibits, the Museum’s collection went on view for the first time in the Central Park Arsenal, the Museum’s original home, on the eastern side of Central Park.

The museum began from the efforts of Albert Smith Bickmore, one-time student of Harvard zoologist Louis Agassiz, who was successful in his proposal to create a natural history museum in New York City with the support of William E. Dodge, Junior, Theodore Roosevelt, Senior, Joseph Choate and J. Pierpont Morgan. The Governor of New York, John Thompson Hoffman, signed a bill officially creating the American Museum of Natural History on April 6, 1869.

April 27, 1932 -
Writer Hart Crane was racked with self-doubt about his ability to write good poetry and agonizing over his sexuality, had been mentally unstable for some time. Crane stood on the railing of the ship Orizaba in his pajamas (en route to the United States from Mexico,) shouted, "Goodbye Everyone," to the other stunned passengers and jumped over the side of the ship on this date.

Life preservers were thrown to him, but he makes no effort to reach them and drowned. The ship halted in the water, ten miles off the Florida coast, but never recovers his body.

April 27, 1986 -
Someone interrupted the HBO satellite feed during the movie The Falcon and The Snowman on this date. For five minutes, two-thirds of their customer base receives the message: Good evening HBO from Captain Midnight. $12.95 a month?

(Showtime-Movie Channel Beware.) Captain Midnight turned out to be John R. MacDougall of Florida. After media pressure forces the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to act, MacDougall was charged and sentenced, per a plea bargain, to a $5,000 fine and one year’s probation.

April 27, 1987 -
After determining that Kurt Waldheim had "assisted or otherwise participated in the persecution of persons" during his Nazi years, the Department of Justice places him on a watch list of undesirable aliens on this date. As such, the sitting President of Austria was disallowed entry into the U.S. It is the first time that a foreign head of state is legally forbidden from visiting America.

I suppose that he suffered from Waldheimer's Disease - it's having difficulty recalling that you're a Nazi

And so it goes.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Chew before you swallow!

National Pretzel Day celebrates pretzels of all shapes and sizes. Pretzels are believed to be the world's oldest snack. (This appears to be a legitimate celebration, there are many stores giving away free pretzels today.)

Wake me up when it's Very Dry Martini, straight up with Olives Day. And no that's not every day at my house, smarty pants.

Today is also Arbor Day. The holiday is celebrated on the last Friday of April  -

The first Arbor Day took place on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska. It was the brainchild of Julius Sterling Morton (1832-1902), a Nebraska journalist and politician originally from Michigan.  Throughout his long and productive career, Morton worked to improve agricultural techniques in his adopted state and throughout the United States when he served as President Grover Cleveland's Secretary of Agriculture.

But unless you plan on hugging or planting a tree, what do you care?

April 26, 1935 -
The Tod Browning MGM comedy-horror film Mark of the Vampire, starring Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, and Jean Hersholt, premiered in the US on this date.

Throughout the film, Count Mora (Bela Lugosi) has an unexplained bullet wound on his temple. In the original script Mora was supposed to have had an incestuous relationship with his daughter Luna, and to have committed suicide. After filming began, however, MGM deleted references to the crime (and any remaining references may have been deleted when 20 minutes of footage was removed after the film's preview).

April 26, 1945 -
United Artists wartime drama, Blood On The Sun, starring James Cagney and Sylvia Sidney, premiered in the US on this date.

The movie is based on the history behind Japan's alleged Tanaka Plan, aka the Tanaka Memorial document (it was made public after his death in 1929). This allegedly was Prime Minister Baron Gi-ichi Tanaka's militarist strategic plan for world domination prepared for Emperor Hirohito. It was first printed in China by the Chinese communists and in the US by a communist periodical, leading some to think that it was a forgery. No Japanese version has ever been found.

April 26, 1950 -
Twentieth Century-Fox released the Cold War drama, shot on location in Berlin, The Big Lift, starring, Montgomery Clift, and Paul Douglas, on this date.

When shooting at the Brandenburg Gate, which was inside the Russian zone of occupation, authorities there erected a large loudspeaker that blared communist propaganda. The scenes were shot without sound and voices were dubbed in later.

April 26, 1954 -
70 years ago, one of the greatest films in world cinema, Akira Kurosawa's iconic Seven Samurai, starring Toshiro Mifune, was released in Japan on this date. A technical and creative marvel, it became Japan’s highest-grossing movie but also was highly influential among Hollywood filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and George Lucas.

This was the first film on which Akira Kurosawa used multiple cameras, so he wouldn't interrupt the flow of the scenes and could edit the film as he pleased in post-production. He used the multiple-camera set-up on every subsequent film.

April 26, 1956 -
Godzilla debuted in America on this date. (Gojira premiered in Japan on November 3, 1954.)

The American version of the film had 40 minutes of the original excised (mostly the content dealing with World War II or the anti-nuclear message,) and had 20 minutes of the masterful deadpan stylings of Raymond Burr. The American version was released in Japan with Japanese subtitles and did very well.

April 26, 1967 -
CBS broadcast the documentary, Inside Pop - The Rock Revolution, with the host Leonard Bernstein, on this date.

The program marked the first time that television presented pop music as a legitimate art form.

April 26, 1975 -
B. J. Thomas' song, (Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song, was No. 1 on the charts on this date. It is the longest-titled #1 charting song to date.

(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song was B. J. Thomas' second #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, his other being Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head. I really apologize for this song being stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

April 26, 1978 -
The concert billed as The Band's "farewell concert appearance", was held on November 25, 1976, at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The concert film, The Last Waltz, directed by Martin Scorsese, starring members of the band and many of their friends, premiered in the US on this date.

The Band's management had overbooked the show. Two days before the show, they tried to have Muddy Waters taken off the bill. Levon Helm, The Band's drummer, threatened not to play the show if Muddy Waters was asked to leave. Muddy Waters is in the final cut of the film. Every camera but one ran out of film during his performance of Mannish Boy. It resulted in the longest shot of the film, while Martin Scorsese scrambled to get the film cans reloaded.

April 26, 1978
NBC aired a a musical version of The Prince and the Pauper, Ringo, starring Ringo, Art Carney, Angie Dickinson, Carrie Fisher, Vincent Price, John Ritter, and George Harrison narrating, on this date.

Really, don't feel you have to watch the whole thing (it's not very good.)

April 26, 1988 -
We were back in Nam (again) when the pilot episode of China Beach, starring Dana Delaney, Nan Woods, Michael Boatman, and Marg Helgenberger, premiered on ABC TV on this date. (For some reason this series has almost faded into obscurity.)

Several of the storylines, and even some of the dialogue were taken directly from the experiences and recollections of actual Vietnam era military nurses.

April 26, 1991 -
For some reason ABC TV fulfilled Jim Henson dying wish of creating a TV series about puppet anthropomorphic dinosaurs when Dinosaurs aired on this date.

Jim Henson originally got the idea of a live-action show featuring animatronic dinosaurs after he was impressed by the technology his Creature Shop was developing for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When this show went into production, the same technology was used to create the Dinosaurs. Many of the Ninja Turtle suit actors worked as various Dinosaur suit actors for the series.

Another unimportant moment in history

Today in History:
April 26, 1865 -
Discovered hiding in a farmer's tobacco shed, John Wilkes Booth was shot in the neck by a complete lunatic. Dying and paralyzed from the neck down, he whispers: Tell my mother I did it for my country.

As his hands are held up to his face, Booth mutters "useless...useless..."

They were his last words.

On April 26, 1923 (almost 89 years previously to the date of his great-grandson's nuptials,) the Duke of York married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in Westminster Abbey.

This wedding might have slipped into the ephemera of time had the Duke's brother not wanted to marry a woman reported so ugly, many thought her a man in drag. And calling a woman ugly in England is really saying something, as many of the British upper crust often marry their horses out of confusion.

That's British royalty.

Count Basie died on April 26, 1984; Duke Ellington was born on April 29, 1899; Ella Fitzgerald, the "First Lady of Song," was born on April 25, 1917.

That's American royalty.

April 26, 1933 -
Hermann Goering founded the Geheime Staatspolizei, otherwise known as the Gestapo on this date.

The original purpose of this "Secret State Police" is to disrupt and harass opponents of National Socialism, but it will later come to adopt many additional responsibilities.

April 26, 1933 -
I'm glad I was born when I was. My time was the golden age of variety. If I were starting out again now, maybe things would happen for me, but it certainly would not be on a variety show with 28 musicians, 12 dancers, two major guest stars, 50 costumes a week by Bob Mackie. The networks just wouldn't spend the money today.

Carol Creighton Burnett, the funniest woman in America was born on this day - don't argue with me, I will come to your home and hurt you. I was forced to watch The Carol Burnett Show in my bedroom and not with my family because I laughed so loudly and so hard, no one could hear it.

April 26, 1937 -
It was a beautiful Monday afternoon in Guernica, Spain on this date. At about 3:30 pm the day took a tragic turn. For over three hours, twenty-five or more of Germany's best-equipped bombers, accompanied by at least 20 more Messerschmitt and Fiat Fighters, dumped one hundred thousand pounds of high-explosive and incendiary bombs on the village, slowly and systematically pounding it to rubble.

Guernica had served as the testing ground for a new Nazi military tactic - blanket-bombing a civilian population to demoralize the enemy. It was wanton, man-made holocaust.

The bombing was the subject of a famous anti-war painting by Pablo Picasso.

April 26, 1937 -
Due to a publishing error, LIFE magazine was printed without the word "LIFE" on the cover on this date.

It was the only time that LIFE was nameless.

April 26, 1962 -
The NASA Ranger 4 spacecraft crashes into the Moon after sixty-four hours of flight, on this date.

The probe’s mission was to rough-land a seismometer capsule on the Moon, to collect gamma-ray data in flight, to study the radar reflectivity of the lunar surface, and to continue testing the Ranger program for development of lunar and interplanetary spacecraft.

So now you know, (this may be on the test.)

April 26, 1977 -
Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager open Studio 54 the world famous New York nightclub, renowned for being extremely difficult to get in unless you were famous / well known or considered one of the beautiful people over the years.

Studio 54 closed with a final party on February 4, 1980.

April 26, 1986 -
44 seconds into a late-night experiment at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, reactor number four sustains two large explosions. The exploded at Chernobyl burned for 10 days. About 70% of the fallout fell in Belarus. Damage was estimated to be up to $130 billion. The Soviet news agency TASS held off reporting the incident for almost 48 hours.

A 300-hundred-square-mile area was evacuated and 31 people died as unknown thousands were exposed to radioactive material that spread in the atmosphere throughout the world. By 1998, 10,000 Russian liquidators involved in the cleanup had died and thousands more became invalids. It was later estimated that the released radioactivity was 200 times the combined bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was later found that Soviet scientists were authorized to carry out experiments that required the reactor to be pushed to or beyond its limits, with safety features disabled.


And so it goes.