Sunday, August 20, 2017

Radio is sweeping across the nation

August 20, 1920 -
The first commercial radio station begins operating in Detroit, Michigan with call sign 8MK (Now WWJ (Newsradio 950) ). The radio station was started by The Detroit News newspaper and is now owned and run by CBS.

To celebrate the event, today is National Radio Day. UNESCO formally announced the formation of International Radio Day in February of 2012 (celebrated February 13th), after a suggestion put forward by Spain to celebrate this important means of communication. In some parts of the world, radio still remains an important lifeline to the outside world.

August 20, 1941 -
William Wyler's
pitch-perfect adaptation of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes, starring Bette Davis, premiered on this date.

Bette Davis was a contract player for Warner Brothers at the time, earning $3000 a week. When she heard how much Warners was receiving for her services she demanded a share of the payment.

August 20, 1942 -
An almost forgotten comedy from Columbia Pictures, Talk of The Town, directed by George Stevens starring Cary Grant, Jean Arthur and Ronald Colman, premiered on this date.

This was the first time since the silent era that Ronald Colman was billed below another male lead.

Don't forget to check out our other site: Dr. Caligari's Cupboard

Today in History:
August 20, 1865
In the great tradition of the American presidency, President Andrew Johnson rouses himself from an alcoholic stupor,

and formally declared the Civil War over (months after Lee's surrender at Appomattox.)

August 20, 1885  -
Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta, The Mikado opened at the Fifth Street Theatre in New York on this date.

The production originally opened on March 14, 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances.

August 20, 1940 -
Soviet Professional Leon Trotsky liked his job, but the strain was wearing on him — dictatorial burnout. In the summer of 1940 he finally used some of the vacation time he'd accumulated to head down to Mexico and think through his options.

On this date, in Mexico City, Trotsky met with one of Stalin's human resources representatives, who suggested he take an early retirement.

The suggestion was accompanied by several persuasive blows to the head with an axe, which seriously impeded Trotsky's growth potential. Sadly, he died the next day before he could sue for damages.

August 20, 1948 -
... There's nothing worse than a bunch of jaded old farts, and that's a fact....

Robert Anthony Plant CBE, button phobia rock singer and songwriter, was born on this date.

August 20, 1977 -
NASA bizarrely decided to go into the record business. Scientists, not quite understanding the record industry, press only one record but make it out of gold, believing that the unaffordable price will boost profit. The record is nearly unlistenable except for the recording of the Chuck Berry song, "Johnny B Good". NASA decided to hide this costly blunder by including the recording in the payload of the space probe Voyager 2, launched on this date, on a mission to Jupiter and beyond. (This will confused the aliens when they realize that NASA launched Voyager 1 on September 5, 1977.)

The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University. Dr. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind, and thunder, and animal sounds, including the songs of birds and whales. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earthlings in fifty-five languages, and printed messages from President Jimmy Carter and U.N. Secretary-General (and ex-Nazi) Kurt Waldheim. Remember these facts when the aliens come to invade the planet. It passed Jupiter in the summer of 1979, and is still traveling, probably right out of our solar system .

In a memorable Saturday Night Live segment, it was announced by Steve Martin that the first message from extraterrestrials was being received. Once decoded, the message stated, "Send moreChuck Berry."

August 20, 1986 -
US Postal worker Patrick Sherrill shot and killed 14 coworkers, and then himself, on this date.

The shooting, which happened in Edmond, Oklahoma, is generally accepted as the event that spawned the "going postal" phrase.

August 20, 1989 -
The two Menendez brothers, Lyle and Erik, shot their parents to death on this date and then went to the movies to establish an alibi. They called 911 when they returned home from the movies to report the murders.

Though they weren't initially suspected, the two brothers ultimately were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

On August 20, 1991, the Estonian parliament declared independence from the Soviet Union.

The next day, Latvia declared its independence from the Soviet Union and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev declared he was back in full control after a 60-hour coup by old-school Communists finally crumbled.

Full control of exactly what?

Today's brief quiz:
What did Vincenzo Peruggia steal on August 21, 1911?

a. The Shroud of Turin
b. Home plate
c. The Mona Lisa
d. The Sistine Chapel
e. The Hope Diamond

Bonus: what was his day job?
(Answer tomorrow)

And so it goes.

Before you go - Bunkies as if you could forget, there's a Total Solar Eclipse all the way from Oregon to South Carolina, along a stretch of land about 70 miles (113 kilometers) wide.

Please remember mama always told you not to look into the eyes of the sun. 

I don't care if that's were the fun is - don't do it; you'll burn your eyes out!


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Another conspiracy perpetrated by Big Dairy

Today is National Soft Ice Cream Day. Soft Serve Ice Cream has been around since the 1930s. There are conflicting reports of the origins of the dessert. In 1934, Tom Carvel, the founder of eponymous ice cream brand and franchise, had to sell melting ice cream on a parking lot because his ice cream truck had a flat tire. He noticed that people were delighted with soft frozen dessert and concluded that it was a potentially good business idea.

Dairy Queen also claims to have invented soft ice cream as an experiment. Owners J.F. McCullough and his son, Alex, decided to find out if customers preferred ice cream before it was completely frozen, which was how they liked it best.

Just in case this comes up in conversation - an average dairy cow can produce enough milk in her lifetime to make a little over 9,000 gallons of ice cream.

So now you know.

August 19, 1932
The Marx Brothers' fourth movie, Horse Feathers, went into general release on this date.

According to Groucho Marx, when Thelma Todd fell out of the boat, he kept rowing as she cried for help, not knowing she really couldn't swim. Crew members got her out of the water.

August 19, 1964 -
The Beatles first US tour began in San Francisco, California with their concert at the Cow Palace.

They played ten songs to a crowd of over 17,000. The Beatles returned there for another concert in 1965.

August 19, 1972 -
NBC-TV presented The Midnight Special for the first time on this date.

John Denver hosted the first episode of the show with guests including: Mama Cass, The Everly Brothers, The Isley Brothers, Harry Chapin, Linda Ronstadt and Argent. Helen Reddy was also a musical guest on the show, but did not host this first episode.

August 19, 1981 -
Sidney Lumet's crime drama, Prince of the City, starring Treat Williams and Jerry Orbach premiered on this date in NYC.

To prepare for the role, Treat Williams spent a month with New York City police, participated in a drug bust and lived with Robert Leuci, the person on whom his character is based.

August 19, 1988 -
Orion Pictures released Jonathan Demme's ganster comedy, Married to the Mob, starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Matthew Modine, Dean Stockwell, and Alec Baldwin, on this date in the US.

So many scenes didn't make it into the movie that Jonathan Demme decided to place them at the end during the credits, to retell the story.

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

Today in History:
August 19, 1601
The end of the 16th century was dominated by the personality of Michael the Brave. He became Voivode of Wallachia in 1593, joined the Christian League - an anti-Ottoman coalition initiated by the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire and he succeeded, following heavy battles (Calugareni, Giurgiu) to actually regain the independence of his country.

In 1599-1600 he united for the first time in history all the territories inhabited by Romanians, proclaiming himself "prince of Wallachia, Transylvania and the whole of Moldavia." The domestic situation was very complex, the neighboring great-powers - the Ottoman Empire, Poland, the Hapsburg Empire - were hostile and joined forces to overthrow him; so this union was short-lived as Michael the Brave was assassinated in 1601 on this date.

This bit of historical fluff was totally unnecessary but the next time you want to shut up some snooty blowhard, ask them to name their favorite Voivode of the sixteenth century.

August 19, 1934 -
The All-American Soap Box Derby, the first official soap box derby, took place for the first time in Dayton, Ohio.

The race continues annually with the World Championship race held every July.

August 19, 1934 -
Adolf Hitler won absolute power when 89.9% of the German electorate consolidates the positions of President and Chancellor into a single office, occupied by him (amazing, given the fact that Hitler was not officially a German citizen.)

Years after the war, many Germans swear that they voted for another candidate but the 'whole hanging voter' thing got in the way.

August 19, 1936 -
Federico Garcia Lorca retired from his position as Spain's most celebrated poet (and playwright) in order to become a gravedigger.

This proved to have been a poor career move: his Fascist supervisors were so displeased with his work that they shot him to death after he had dug only one grave on this date.

August 19, 1946
Bubba is 71 today! (No jokes.)

William Jefferson Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III) 42nd President of the United States of America was born on this date.

August 19, 1960 -
The Soviet Union convicted U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers of espionage on this date, sentencing him to three years in prison and seven years of hard labor.

All because he didn't jab himself with the poison needle; another example of our faulty military training.

August 19, 1960 -
The Soviet Union launched Sputnik V into orbit on this date. On board are two dogs (Belka and Strelka,) along with two unnamed rats and 40 mice. The menagerie was recovered safely the next day from the landing capsule.

The two rats were later appointed wardens of gulags in Siberia. Belka entered politics and nearly became Soviet Premier in the late 60s, unfortunately he developed mange and had to retire from public life. Strelka enjoyed a long career on Russian TV, appearing in such classics as, I Love Lenin and 14's Company. Scandal ruined his later career when doctored photos appeared of Strelka humping the leg of Gore Vidal.

August 19, 1977 -
The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made.

One of the world's leading commentator on the human condition, Julius Marx gave up the ghost on this date.

And so it goes.

Before you go - Puddles released a cover of REM's Losing My Religion -

Puddles wasn't appreciated on AGT - that's all I'm saying.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Something always happens everyday

After invading Denmark and capturing Sweden, Charles XII of Sweden forced Frederick IV of Denmark to sign the Peace of Travendal, on this date in 1698 - but you don't care. Today is National Bad Poetry Day in the United States.

There's a very fun website will generate on command a great deal of very bad poetry here.

August 18, 1957 -
Denis Colin Leary,
actor, comedian, writer, and director was born on this date.

His interest in the perils of firemen and his co-creation of the series Rescue Me stemmed from a tragic 1999 warehouse fire in his hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts, that took the lives of six firemen, including his cousin and a childhood friend.

August 18 1989 -   
Columbia Pictures
released Brian DePalma's memorable war drama, Casualties of War, starring  Michael J. Fox, Sean Penn, John C. Reilly, and John Leguizamo, in the US on this date.

Brian De Palma said that he had been trying to make this film since 1969 when he first read the Casualties Of War article in The New Yorker. But with the Vietnam War still going on, there was no way that was going to happen, even for many years after it ended.

August 18, 1993 -
Woody Allen
reunited with one of his favorite actress, Diane Keaton when Sony Pictures released Manhattan Murder Mystery in the US on this date.

Manhattan Murder Mystery was actually the generic working title during production--Woody Allen films usually have generic titles during production like "Woody Allen Fall Project"--but since no new title could be thought of, Allen decided to leave that as the title.

It's always 5 PM somewhere

Today in History:
August 18, 1227
Genghis Khan died in his sleep, after a fall from his horse on this date. His old age and drinking probably contributed to his death.

(or perhap a Tangut princess, to avenge her people and prevent her rape, castrated him with a knife hidden inside her - ouch) , which the Mongols manage to keep secret for some time. Apparently, it was only just announced.

August 18, 1503 -
... In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed — they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock....

Pope Alexander VI (a Borgia) died on this date. He was the father of seven illegitimate children, and during his reign chose as his lover the lovely sixteen year old Guilia Farnese. He is said to have uttered the last words "Wait a minute" before expiring. (Interesting aside - before the pope could be properly buried, his corpse bloated then exploded.  Share that at the dinner table tonight.)

August 18, 1590
Sent to England to get supplies three years prior, John White finally returns to Roanoke Island and discovers his colony "strongly enclosed with a high palisade of great trees, with [curtain walls] and [bastions] -- very fort-like."

There is no sign of the settlers or where they may have gone, but carved in the bark of one of the trees is the word CROATOAN.

Luckily, REDRUM wasn't carved in the trees, because that would have been scary.

August 18, 1920 -
When Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on this date, all American women were guaranteed the right of to vote.

It appeared that the amendment might fail by one vote in the Tennessee house, but 24 year-old Harry Burn surprised observers by casting the deciding vote for ratification. At the time of his vote, Burns had in his pocket a letter he had received from his mother urging him, "Don't forget to be a good boy" and "vote for suffrage."

August 18, 1936 -
Robert Redford, American actor was born on this date.

He is the founder of the Sundance Film Festival, which he named after his character from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He set up the Sundance Film Institute in Utah for independent filmmakers and in 1997 announced the creation of Sundance Cinemas, a venture with a major distributer to set up a chain of theaters for the screening of independent films.

August 18, 1940 -
King George VI felt bad that his brother The Duke of Windsor hadn't really found work after resigning from his previous job, as King Edward VIII of England (but that's another story,) and had him installed as Governor of the Bahamas, on this date.

Edward continued as governor of the Bahamas until 1945. Afterward, he and his wife spent the remainder of their lives essentially in retirement, waiting for death.

Not a particularly happy ending for a fairy tale.

August 18, 1958 -
... Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul....

Lolita, a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, first written in English and published in 1955 in Paris, later translated by the author into Russian, was finally published on this date in New York. The novel is both internationally famous for its innovative style and infamous for its controversial subject: the book's narrator and protagonist, Humbert Humbert, becoming sexually obsessed with a 12-year-old girl named Dolores Haze.

August 18, 1963 -
James Meredith
graduated with a political science degree from the University of Mississippi on this date; he was the first African-American to do so.

He continued on to earn a law degree from Columbia in 1968.

August 18, 1999 -
A giant black rainbow encircled the Earth, sucking all oxygen from the atmosphere. The air returns shortly thereafter, but only after millions die from asphyxiation. On the bright side, the survivors go on to build a Utopian civilization.

It all happens precisely as predicted in the 1950s by Criswell, the TV psychic immortalized in the movie Plan 9 from Outer Space. If you don't remember this happening, fear not, our new alien Overlords deemed you too stupid to handle this terrifying information and had you anally probed to erase your memory.

It's much too complicated to explain to the likes of most of you.

And so it goes.

Before you go - having intermittent connectivity issues with the internet - it is possible that I may not be able to post until Monday.  We'll see.