Thursday, April 26, 2018

If you cannot be a poet, be the poem.

Today is New York City's 16th Annual Poem in Your Pocket Day.



This year marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month. In 2002, as part of New York City’s National Poetry Month celebration, the Office of the Mayor, in partnership with the New York City Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education, initiated Poem in Your Pocket Day, a time for New York City residents to select a poem, carry it with them, and share it with others throughout the day.


April 26, 1933 -
It's not a bad thing to be able to do many things onstage. If you're an entertainer, you should be able to entertain. I'm proud to say that I'm not a one-trick pony.





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.


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, as there are many stores giving away free pretzels today.)



Wake me up when it's Very Dry Martini, straight up with Olives Day.


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.



Preview reviews list a running time of 80 minutes, indicating that considerable footage was cut prior to the film's release (purportedly, the entire story line concerning the incestuous relationship between Bela Lugosi and Elizabeth Allan was removed.) This would explain why many credited actors are not seen in the final print. Because director Tod Browning's previous film, Freaks, had been a box-office disaster, he was unable to object to any changes made by the studio.


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



James Cagney would chat with Sylvia Sidney in Yiddish between takes.


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.



Even though this was only his fourth film, Montgomery Clift already had a reputation for being difficult on set. Paul Douglas arrived in Berlin having been told by John Wayne (who had worked with Clift on Red River) that "this kid is a little shit". During the filming of their first scenes together, Douglas realized that Clift was deliberately leaning into the scene, hogging his space. He stamped on the younger actor's foot and said "Do that again and I'll break your fucking foot". Douglas and Clift didn't speak to each other for the rest of the shoot.


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, 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.)


Finally, a possible new job!


Today in History:
April 26, 1452
-
Leonardo da Vinci was born on this date. Mr. da Vinci was one of the great minds of the Renaissance. Sadly, he is best known for having painted the Mona Lisa (in Italian, La Joconde,) in which he accurately and exquisitely captured the unmistakable smile of a dignified woman who's just farted.



For some reason, many lonely computer geeks celebrate this day by releasing computer virii in hopes that female FBI agents will break down their doors.


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 are his last words.


On April 26, 1923 (almost 88 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, 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, 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.

Oops.



And so it goes


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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Try falling asleep with a mosquito in the room.

Malaria Awareness Day was designated on this date by President George W. Bush in 2007, to remind people that Malaria kills 3,000 children a day. He asked the world to join the fight to wipe out malaria on the African continent.



So I encourage all Americans to begin heavily drinking Gin and Tonics to honor the day



(While I am a Bombay Sapphire man, I am not affiliated in anyway with that fine brand - not that I wouldn't consider any offers, I'd suggest using Tanqueray.  I believe it goes better with the Tonic.)


Today is the holiday of Robigalia, honoring the god Robigus.  The purpose of the holiday was to prevent mildew from ruining crops.  Dog and sheep sacrifices were encouraged to honor Robigus. (I didn't suggest this, the ancient Romans did)

For some reason, it's also the holiday of celebrating male sex workers.  I'm not sure how one was supposed to celebrate that portion of the holiday slaughtering livestock.

But maybe it's just me.


April 25, 1917
Ella Jane Fitzgerald, the First Lady of Song, considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century, was born on this date.





Ella Fitzgerald’s life was the quintessential American success story. Through 58 years of performing, 13 Grammys and more than forty million records sold, she elevated swing, bebop, and ballads to their highest potential.


April 25, 1959 -
The Fleetwoods hit No. 1 with their recording of Come Softly to Me on this date.



The original title of this song Come Softly, was changed because Dolphin (later Dolton) Records owner Bob Reisdorff feared that AM radio DJs would think it to be too suggestive. He was being extra-cautious, Dolphin Records was formed by the Seattle DJ for the sole purpose of distributing Fleetwoods records.

Remember kids, don't dance so close. Leave room for the Holy Spirit.


April 25, 1992 -
The final episodes of Who's the Boss, aired on this date on ABC-TV.


(Sorry, this is a very bad copy of the show.)

Two days before the start of the series, Tony Danza was sentenced to 250 hours of community service after a fight with a bouncer at a New York hotel. His lawyer got him off by mentioning he had a series about to premiere.


April 25, 1997
The surprise comedy hit, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, starring Lisa Kudrow, Mira Sorvino, Janeane Garofalo, Camryn Manheim and Alan Cumming, premiered in the US on this date.



Lisa Kudrow received a degree in Biology from Vassar College, and Mira Sorvino a degree in Asian Studies from Harvard University, so during production of Romy and Michele, they nicknamed each other "Smart" and "Smarter".


An exciting new product from the designers at ACME


Today in History:
April 25, 1507 -
At a small college in Eastern France, German geographer Martin Waldseemüller published a map with the region of the world commonly referred to as “the New World” labeled as “America” for the first time ever in a book entitled Cosmographiae Introductio on this date.

In the book, Waldseemüller credited Amerigo Vespucci with discovering the continent.  The amount of money that make have changed hand is uncertain but Columbus was said to be quite pissed.


April 25, 1792 -
French highwayman Nicolas Jacques Pelletier was beheaded by the guillotine, after extensive testing during its development with corpses and sheep, making him its first victim on this date. The speed that the guillotine worked as quick as lightening and in the twinkling of an eye - it was over.

The outcome was not well received by the crowd who called for the return of the gallows.


April 25, 1856 -
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, mathematician and an Oxford professor, met a three year old girl named Alice Liddell on this date.



Charles had a penchant for making up stories to entertain the little girls he liked to photograph (many of them happened to be in the nude, at the time.) Alice had a penchant for consuming unknown (and apparently psychoactive) food, pills and liquids that she found while exploring a very large rabbit hole.

And 40 years later Oscar Wilde went to prison for the shoddy laundry services provided by the hotels he and several local young men frequented.  I'm not sure that there s a connection, I'm just pointing it out.


April 25, 1926 -
The premiere of Giacomo Puccini's opera, Turandot was at La Scala, Milan, on this date, one year and five months after Puccini's death. It was conducted by Arturo Toscanini.



Turandot was unfinished at the time of Puccini's death and was later completed by Franco Alfano.


April 25, 1939 -
DC Comics debuted what will become its second major superhero, Batman, in issue 27 of Detective Comics (the May issue) on this date.



The first book to feature Batman sold for 10 cents when it was published and one of the rare comics in pristine condition sold for $1,380,000 when it came up for auction .


April 25, 1947 -
Harry S. Truman officially opened the two-lane White House bowling alley on this day.

Though Truman himself wasn't much of a bowler, it became embarrassing for the staff to have to search local DC bowling alleys trying to find where the President was knocking back boiler makers every other night. The White House staff members formed a bowling team and even competed in national events.


April 25, 1953
Francis Crick and James D. Watson published Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid describing the double helix structure of DNA, in the scientific journal Nature, on this date.

In it, Crick and Watson reveal the double helix structure of DNA and explains how DNA transmits hereditary information between cells and generations, (the boys conveniently forgot to mention the work they 'cribbed' from Rosalind Franklin.) Their work will earn them a Nobel Prize in 1962.


April 25, 1963 -
The bronze statue of The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue) is Denmark's most visited tourist attraction. The statue was unveiled on August 23, 1913 at it's current location in Copenhagen Harbor. It gives hope to the Danes when they are not pining for the Fjords.

So imagine the horror, when Denmark woke up on this date to find that the unimaginable had happened, someone had sawed off the head of  The Little Mermaid, the night before. The head was never recovered and a new head was made from the original cast.


April 25, 1972 -
... And if you covered him with garbage, George Sanders would still have style....



George Sanders, actor and husband of not one but two Gabor sisters, killed himself, leaving this great suicide note: "Dear World, I am leaving you because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool - good luck," on this date.

Short and to the point.


April 25, 1980 -
In Iran, a commando mission to rescue hostages was aborted after mechanical problems disabled three of the eight helicopters involved. During the evacuation, a helicopter and a transport plan collided and exploded. Eight U.S. servicemen were killed on this date.



The mission was aimed at freeing American hostages that had been taken at the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979.


And on a personal note - still as lovely as ever, Andrea once again is celebrating her 39th birthday.



And so it goes


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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Pigs treat us as equals

Somehow it's Pig in a Blanket Day encouraging the consumption of ‘pigs in blankets’ – small pork sausages wrapped in bacon or pastry, and cooked until crispy (for those of you porcine adverse, choose your own ground meat filling.)



Please celebrate sensibly.


April 24, 1939 -
The Warner Bros. bio-pix on the life of Benito Juarez, Juarez, starring Paul Muni, Bette Davis, Brian Aherne, Claude Rains, and John Garfield, premiered in the US on this date.



Because the film shows many of Maximilian's generals to be Mexican, many viewers attribute it to typical Hollywood historical distortions. It is, however, indeed accurate. It's a little-known fact that, although Maximilian was eventually overthrown and executed by Mexican revolutionaries, there were actually more Mexicans fighting on Maximilian's side than against him. This was due in large part to the Catholic Church's strong support of the French occupation of Mexico and its "encouraging" Mexican Catholics to fight against the revolutionary forces by joining Maximilian's army, which they did in large numbers.


April 24, 1941 -
George Stevens'
tearjerker, Penny Serenade, starring Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Beulah Bondi, and Edgar Buchanan, premiered in the US on this date.



This is the third time that Cary Grant and Irene Dunne appeared in a film together, following The Awful Truth and My Favorite Wife. In all three films, they played spouses.


April 24, 1974 -
David Bowie
released his iconic album, Diamond Dogs, on this date.



This song introduces us to Bowie's post-Ziggy Stardust persona, Halloween Jack: "The Halloween Jack is a real cool cat and he lives on top of Manhattan Chase." It has also been suggested this song was influenced by Dhalgren, a science fiction novel by Samuel R. Delany.


Today moment of Zen


Today in History:
April 24, 1184 BC
(this is an approximated date.)
... burnt the topless towers of Ilium...



It is traditionally held that city of Troy fell on this date after a ten year siege by the armies of Greece.


April 24, 1800 -
The Library of Congress, the oldest cultural institution in the nation's capital, was established by an act of Congress on this date.



Initially it was housed in the new Capitol in Washington, D.C., but British troops burned the Capitol building and stole the library materials. Retired president Thomas Jefferson then offered his personal library to the Congress.


April 24, 1913
-
The Cathedral of Commerce built one nickel at a time, the Woolworth building opened on this date.



The Five and Dimes are long gone but the skyscraper remains.


April 24, 1915 -
The Ottoman Turkish Empire began the brutal mass deportation of Armenians on this date. Turkey said Armenians had sided with Russia and issued deportation orders for the mass deportation of Armenians. Armenian organizations in Istanbul were closed and 235 members were arrested for treason. Turkish police arrested some 800 of the most prominent Armenians in Constantinople, took them into the hinterlands and shot them



It is generally agreed upon (except by the Turkish Government) that this was the beginning of the Armenian Genocide. And here I go, losing another whole demographic.


April 24, 1916 -
... And what if excess of love, Bewildered them till they died? - W. B. Yeats



Some 1,600 Irish nationalist, the Irish Volunteers, launched the Easter Rising by seizing several key sites in Dublin, including the General Post Office. Eemon de Valera was one of the commandants in the uprising. It was provoked by impatience with the lack of home rule and was put down by British forces several days later. Michael Collins, a member of Sinn Fein, led the guerrilla warfare.


April 24, 1953 -
Winston Churchill, the British leader who guided Great Britain and the Allies through the crisis of World War II, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on this date.

Later, this same year he also won the Nobel peace prize for literature.


April 24, 1970 -
The first Chinese satellite, Dong Fang Hong I, was launched aboard a Long March rocket on this date. Upon reaching orbit, the satellite transmits the popular Communist Chinese song, The East is Red.



With the launch, China became the fifth country with a satellite in space.


April 24, 1986 -
'Her Royal Highness' The Duchess of Windsor, Bessie Warfield Spencer Simpson Windsor former maitresse en titre (official mistress), plain-faced, twice-divorced American, possible transvestite and Nazi sympathizer died on this date.



And the House of Windsor breathed a sigh of relief -

until Princess Diana.


April 24th, 1990 -
The Space Shuttle Discovery launched the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. It is hoped that the Telescope will be able to see up to the edge of the known universe. The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was one of the largest space telescopes ever used, at the time, and has contributed to many astrological discoveries, notably in the area of supernovas and dark energy.



Hubble has sent back a series of stunning photographs of deep space, and revolutionized thinking about the universe. Unlike many other spacecraft, the HST is open for public use — anyone regardless of education level or nationality can apply for time to use it.



And so it goes


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