Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Things must be really bad.

Air New Zealand can't afford uniforms for their flight crew.

I have so many questions.

Today in History:
June 30 1520 -
After looting Tenochtitlan, Spaniards are attacked by an angry Aztec mob. Tied down by armor and treasure, they are no match for the natives and nearly half of Cortes' men lose their lives.

Conquistador, your stallion stands in need of company ...

June 30 1837 -
England outlaws the use of the pillory.

This only leaves the British Navy, the lash, buggery and rum.

June 30 1882 -
Charles Guiteau, the assassin of President Garfield, is hanged.

Tickets for the event went for as much as $300. Proving once again, give the people what they want and they'll show up.

June 30 1908 -
A huge airburst explodes over Podkamennaya Tunguska at 7:30 am. The blast flattens thousands of square miles of trees, and is now believed to have been caused by an asteroid or comet impact.

June 30 1934 -
Acting on behalf of the Fuhrer, SS troops around Germany arrest hundreds of loyal SA stormtroopers under the charge of treason in order to eliminate the group.

One squad descends on a Bavarian resort, where it interrupts a contingent of SA men engaged in homosexual festivities. Lieutenant Edmund Heines is caught in bed with a teenaged boy, and shot to death on the spot. The rest are taken into custody. Hitler sacrificed Ernst Rohm (his pal and head of the SA stormtroopers) rather than lose the support of the military. He personally confronted Rohm in a jail cell and left a single shot pistol in the cell. Ten minutes later, Rohm had killed himself .

June 30, 1936 -

Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind was published on this date. It had been extensively promoted, chosen as the July selection by the Book-of-the-Month Club, and so gushed about in pre-publication reviews -- "Gone With the Wind is very possibly the greatest American novel," said Publisher's Weekly -- that it was certain to sell, though few predicted the sustained, record-breaking numbers. Though she had been eager and active for her fame, Mitchell too was caught off guard.

One trip to an Atlanta department store for a dress ended with a clutch of curious women throwing back the fitting room doors to stare at Mitchell in her petticoat: "They wanted to know the size of my intimate wearing apparel. They screamed to one another about me as I stood there like an animal in a cage, one asking the other: 'Ain't she skinny?' while still another observed: 'I expected her to look more middle-aged around the hips.'"

And so it goes.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Who's the next to go?

The King of the infomercials,Billy Mays, the well-known and energetic product salesman on TV infomercials and co-host of the series Pitchmen on Discovery Channel, was found dead early yesterday at his home in Tampa, FL. Mays began selling products on the boardwalk in Atlantic City then traveled the country working at garden and home shows and other sales exhibits.

If I were the king of paper clips or cotton briefs, I'd be nervous.

Today in History:
Jun 29 1613 -
The Globe Theater, William Shakespeare's original theatrical venue, burns to the ground. According to one of the few surviving documents of the event, no one was hurt except a man who put out his burning breeches with a bottle of ale.

It must have not been a very good bottle of ale.

Jun 29 1967 -
Actress Jayne Mansfield may or may not have been decapitated in a car crash, when her convertible collides with a parked tractor-trailer.

To downplay the gruesome death, sources spread the falsehood that only her wig flew off in the accident.

Jun 29 1971 -
When Soyuz 11 disengages from the Salyut space station, cosmonauts Georgi Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev are killed by a faulty pressurization valve.

All the oxygen leaks out of the Soyuz cabin before Patsayev can close the valve by hand, and the crew is asphyxiated.

I hate when that happens.

Jun 29 1978 -
The body of Bob Crane is discovered in bed with an electric cord wrapped around his neck and his head smashed in.

When Scottsdale police search the apartment belonging to the former star of television's Hogan's Heroes, they discover a video camera and a large library of amateur porn starring Crane and a parade of random women (isn't that a great name for a band - Parade of Random Women)

Jun 29 1992 -
Mohammed Boudiaf is assassinated by one of his own bodyguards less than six months after becoming President of Algeria. A former hero in the war of independence, Boudiaf had been chosen by the Islamic Salvation Front to serve as figurehead for their regime. More than 100,000 Algerians will later die in political bloodshed in the following decade.

(Please note - this is not a good way to promote one's services as a bodyguard - we will not kill you within the first six months.)

And so it goes.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tomorrow's the day

Bernie will find out if he speaks the rest of his life in the grey bar hotel.

Happy Birthday Mel Brooks

It's still good to know that Mel is still around -

Here's your Today in History:

June 28, 1902 -
Today is the birthday of nefarious American philosopher John Dillinger, born in 1902. (He is also believed to have been born on June 22, 1903.)

At the age of twenty, a precocious young Dillinger attempted to illustrate the transient nature of material goods by depriving a stranger of his automobile. When a warrant was issued for his arrest by Indiana police disinclined to accept Dillinger's delicate epistemological point, the young man cleverly joined the navy to demonstrate the redemptive powers of patriotism.

Philosophers have historically encountered resistance from the military, and Dillinger was no exception. He fled the service, returned home, got married, and robbed a grocer. The robbery went awry and Dillinger went to jail for nine years.

Jail hardened Dillinger and made him a very bitter man. Upon his release, he began robbing banks almost immediately. He quickly became Public Enemy Number One, which enabled him to be shot to death by the FBI outside the Biograph movie theatre in Chicago. And as stated previously, it is widely rumored (but hotly denied) pug ugly transvestite FBI chief, J. Edgar Hoover, ordered Dillinger's well-endowed member detached from his corpse and pickled, for his private files.

His philosophy, however, endures to this day, and is practiced widely and successfully by various tax authorities around the world. And I have no idea if Johnny Depp will be using his own penis or wearing a prosthetic one.

Jun 28 1905 -
Dr. Beaurieux picks up the freshly-severed head of Henri Languille just after it drops into the guillotine basket and shouts the man's name three times. According to the doctor's report: "Languille's eyes very definitely fixed themselves on mine and the pupils focused themselves. ... I was dealing with undeniably living eyes which were looking at me."

Again, if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, the French they are a funny race.

June 28 1914 -
The Austrian Archduck was having an extremely bad day. He was touring Serbia with his wife, the Mallard Sophie. The purpose of his tour was to get Serbia to calm down, it having become extremely irritable for reasons known only to itself, possibly having to do with Austria's occupation of the region. (Either that or gas.)

During their tour, Nedjelko Cabrinovic tosses a grenade into the automobile carrying Archduke Franz Ferdinand and wife Sofia. But Ferdinand knocks the bomb away with his arm and his driver speeds away from the would-be assassin. The driver was naturally addled and the Archduck and Mallard Sophie became lost and stopped to ask for directions from a young boy on the side of the road (and as most men know this is a no-no - if you are lost never ask for directions). The conversation went something like this:

"Say, lad, I'm the Austrian Archduck Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Habsburg throne, and this is my wife, the Mallard Sophie. We seem to be lost. If we don't find our way back I might never have the chance to take the Austrian throne and continue the ruthless and relentless persecution of the Serbian peoples. Could you give us a hand?"

The boy was Gavrilo Princip, and he had just started World War I. The war ended exactly five years later, on June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty of Versailles is best known for having caused the second World War.

Gavrilo Princip died of tuberculosis in his jail cell. After his death, the following graffiti was discovered on the wall:

Our ghosts will walk through Vienna
And roam through the Palace
Frightening the Lords.

June 28, 1969 -
Hey, hope you're enjoying the parade today.

In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village,.the homosexual community fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities, and they have become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.

And literally boys and girls, that's the way it was.

June 28 1997 -
Mike Tyson is disqualified from a championship boxing bout after biting off a large portion of Evander Holyfield's ear. Tyson is later banned from boxing and fined $3 million for the incident.

Tastes like chicken.

And so it goes.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

You might have looked at clouds from both sides but

I bet you've haven't seen them like this in a long time -

(It wasn't another sign of the apocalypse - it's an unusual cloud formation that sometimes occurs after a heavy thunderstorm.)

Here's your Today in History:
June 27 1844 -
Mormon leader Joseph Smith, along with his brother Hyrum, are shot and killed by a mob while in jail at Carthage, Illinois.

According to church legend, after Smith is shot a man raises a knife to decapitate him, but is thwarted by a thunderbolt from heaven. God was having an off day and the thunderbolt was meant to fry Smith's sorry ass body to a crisp.

Happy Birthday to You, the four-line ditty was written as a classroom greeting in 1893 by two Louisville teachers, Mildred J. Hill, an authority on Negro spirituals, and Dr. Patty Smith Hill, professor emeritus of education at Columbia University. The melody of the song Happy Birthday to You was composed by Mildred J. Hill, a schoolteacher born in Louisville, KY, on June 27, 1859. The song was first published in 1893, with the lyrics written by her sister, Patty Smith Hill, as "Good Morning To All."

So remember you can start to sing 'Happy Birthday' but don't finish it, the rights to the song are incredibly expensive. You may substitute any of the following for our purposes under "Fair Use":

* "Happy birthday to you, cha cha cha, happy birthday to you, cha cha cha"
*"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, you look like a monkey, and belong in a zoo!"
* "Happy birthday to you, you belong in a zoo, cause you look like a monkey and you smell like one too!"
* "Happy birthday to you, squashed tomatoes and stew, bread and butter in the gutter, happy birthday to you."
*"Happy birthday to you, you're one hundred and two, you smell like a monkey, and you eat like one too!"
* "Happy birthday to you, you were born in a loo, and since it's your birthday, I'll flush it for you!"
*"Happy Birthday to you, stick your head down the loo, don't waste it, just taste it, happy birthday to you"
*"Happy birthday to you, I went to the zoo, I saw a fat monkey, and it looked just like you!".
* "Happy birthday to you, you live in the zoo, you look like a monkey, and you smell like one too."
* "Happy birthday to you, you're one hundred and two, you smell like a monkey, and you look like one too!"

June 27, 1905 -
Battleship Potemkin uprising: Sailors from the Battleship Potemkin start a mutiny aboard the Battleship Potemkin, denouncing the crimes of autocracy, demanding liberty and an end to war. Sergei Eisenstein, wacky Russian film director, thinks he can make a summer comedy from the subject matter.

He unfortunately had no sense of humor and went on to create the classic silent film, The Battleship Potemkin, in spite of himself.

It's Bob Keeshan birthday. If you're of a certain age, you remember him very well.

June 27, 1928 -
On this day in 1928, Sylvia Beach invited James Joyce and Scott Fitzgerald to dinner at her apartment over her Paris Bookstore Shakespeare & Company. Fitzgerald became drunk (which is like stating, "The sun rose this morning):. He said he was such a fan of Joyce's that he would throw himself out the window to prove it.

Neither writer was having much success. Fitzgerald had just published The Great Gatsby, and it had not been selling well. Joyce's Ulysses wouldn't be published outside of Paris for another five years. Both men died 13 years later, less than a month apart, with no money and very few readers.

Such is life.

June 27, 1957 -
The brilliant film noir, Sweet Smell of Success, partially based on columnist Walter Winchell starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis was released on this date.

I'd hate to take a bite outta you. You're a cookie full of arsenic.

June 27, 1966 -
The first broadcast of Dark Shadows is aired on ABC-TV.

As a child Johnny Depp was so obsessed with Barnabas Collins that he wanted to be him and is reported to begin a film version of the series this summer.

And so it goes.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The King of Pop is dead.

Michael Jackson, former child star and international music icon died yesterday from an apparent heart attack. This momentus event will be remembered much like the day Elvis or John Lennon (or Kurt Cobain) died.

Unfortunately within the next few days, once the dust has settled, the shitstorm of controversies and scandals will breath taking.

Only the dead sleep well.

Also the sad deathwatch is over for the lovely 70's icon Farrah Fawcet.

Here's your Today in History:
June 26, 1284 -
The town of Hamelin had a large rat infestation. A weirdly dressed minstel promised to help them get rid of their rats. The townsmen in turn promised to pay him for the removal of the rats. The man accepted, and thus played a musical pipe to lure the rats with a song into the Weser River, where all of them drowned. Despite his success, the people reneged on their promise and refused to pay the rat-catcher. Pied Piper extracting his revenge, lures 130 children of Hamelin away on this date.

People, let this be a lesson to us all - please pay your exterminator bill promptly

Richard III made himself King of England on June 26, 1483 by killing everyone else who wanted to be king.

It seemed a clever stratagem at the time, especially for a hunchback, but his reign came to a bloody end just two months later as a result of his making a fiscally irresponsible bid on a horse.

Francisco Pizarro conquered the entire Peruvian Empire of the Incas with a handful of soldiers only to have those soldiers turn on and kill him on June 26, 1541. He was stabbed in the throat, then fell to the floor where he was stabbed repeatedly. Pizarro (who now was maybe as old as 70 years, and at least 62), collapsed on the floor, alone, painted a cross in his own blood and cried for Jesus Christ. He cried: Come to me my faithfull sword, companion of all my deeds.

This was the Dawn of the Ironic Age in the New World.

Abner Doubleday was born on this date in 1819. A forgotten footnote in his life is the fact that he aimed the cannon that fired the first return shot in answer to the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, starting the Civil War.

Mr. Doubleday is credited with the invention of baseball, without which Americans would have nothing to watch between waits in line for more beer.

June 26, 1870 -
Congress declared Christmas a federal holiday to the great relief of Americans who'd been forced to flee to Canada every December.

June 26, 1963 -
President John F. Kennedy stood before the Berlin Wall and announced to a quarter of a million Germans that he was a jelly donut, in his famous "I am a jelly donut" ("ich bin ein jelly donut") speech.

Although embarrassing, this was considered an improvement over Eisenhower's infamous "I am a well-hung platypus" speech.

June 26, 1968 -
Pope Paul VI declares that the bones of Apostle and first Pope, Saint Peter, were found underneath St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The bones are now housed in containers near where they were found, but some of them are clearly those of domesticated animals.

Oh well, another mystery of the church best left unexplained.

June 26, 1990 -
Irish Republican Army bombs the Carlton Club, an exclusive conservative gentleman's cabal in London.

(It is a well known fact that Margaret Thatcher was denoted an "honorary man" in order to become a member. It is not clear what surgical modifications, if any, were necessary.)

And so it goes.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yes, can you believe it's LEON Day again?

LEON is NOEL spelled backwards. It is now six months until Christmas. Kids, you can take a quick check of the whole naughty/ nice thing and see how you are doing.

And who better to celebrate this day then birthday boy George Michael:

Now that you are in a slightly nauseated mood, watch this -

Here's your Today in History:

June 25, 1876 -
This is a little cautionary tale about pissing off the wrong people. During the Battle of Little Big Horn, General George Armstrong Custer witnesses a large group of Indians fleeing their village, and decides to press his advantage. The cavalry officer shouts, "We've caught them napping, boys!" Then he splits his force of 210 men into three groups, in order to slaughter as many of the retreating noncombatants as possible. Which is right about the time Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse sweep in and kill the white men. Two days later, Custer's body is found amidst a cluster of 42 other corpses, the general entirely naked except for one boot, one sock, and an arrow stuck in his penis.

This is the native way a sending a very serious message.

Eric Arthur Blair was born on this day in 1903, in the Indian village of Motihari near the Nepalese border. His British father was an agent in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service. The family returned to England in 1907 so that young Eric could struggle and fail out of school. By 1921 he had returned to the subcontinent and joined the police in Burma. He spent five years with the Burmese police before returning to England to quit and struggle. He stayed in England for a year, then went to France to be poor.

Finally he returned to England and wrote a book about being poor in Paris but no one wanted to publish it. He told his mother to burn the book (she did not), then wrote a new one about being a policeman in Burma. It too was rejected by several publishers. Meanwhile, however, his mother had been sneaking around with the book she hadn't burned and had found a publisher for her son.

Upon submitting the final manuscript to the publisher, Blair decided that a book about being poor in Paris written by a middle-class servant of the British Empire might not look good, so he decided to write under a pen-name. The name he chose was George Orwell.

Later he wrote a book about the political frivolities of farm animals, and another one about a future that sucked (he later acknowledged that it would have been a cheerier book if he hadn't been dying of tuberculosis).

Finally he became a Famous Author and even a Great Writer, but by then he was dead, whatever his name was.

June 25, 1910 -
The Mann Act, sometimes known as the White Slave Traffic Act of 1910, makes it a federal crime to convey or assist in transporting women across state lines for prostitution, debauchery, or "any other immoral purpose." Men convicted of this heinous (if vague) statute face up to five years and a $5,000 fine for each count. Penalties are doubled if the female is underage, but men and boys are apparently not covered. This is, by far, the biggest party pooper in legislative history. Unless you're into guys.

June 25, 1938 -
Another classic Merry Melody cartoon, Have You Got Any Castles? was released on this date.

June 25, 1949 -
Jimmy Walker's dyn-o-mite birthday.

June 25, 1967 -
The first live, international, satellite television production (Our World) was broadcast on this date. Among the featured performers were opera singer Maria Callas and artist Pablo Picasso.

Oh yea, and The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Moon and Graham Nash.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

There's just so many things wrong with this video

After watching this a couple of times, I still have so many questions:

Chief among them -

Why is the steak manhandling Zach?

It's Midsummer day throughout most of Europe.

Here's Your Today In History -
June 24, 1374 -
In a sudden outbreak of Dancing Mania (aka "St. John's Dance"), people in the streets of Aix-la-Chapelle, Prussia experience terrible hallucinations and begin to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapse from exhaustion.

Many of the sufferers are afflicted with frothing at the mouth, diabolical screaming, and sexual frenzy. The phenomenon lasts well into the month of July. Nowadays, ergot madness is suspected as being the ultimate cause of the disorder.

June 24, 1812 -
Napoleon, ever the French cuisine booster, wants to spread his enjoyment of meals with heavy cream sauces and decides to invade Russia (ultimately with mixed results.)

He has to wait 70 years before Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky decides to write an Overture about the entire incident.

June 24, 1947 -
Businessman pilot Kenneth Arnold encounters a formation of nine flying saucers near Mt. Ranier, Washington, exhibiting unusual movements and velocities of 1,700 mph.

No explanation is found for this first report of flying saucers in the recent era, but it does earn Mr. Arnold legions of skeptics and an eventual IRS tax audit.

June 24, 1948 -
East Germany blockades the city of West Berlin.

June 24, 1949 -
Hopalong Cassidy premieres on NBC TV and becomes the first television Western series.

June 24, 1957 -
The U.S. Supreme Court rules, Roth v. United States, that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment, though a dissenting opinion included with the ruling notes the issue of prior restraint renders this a terrible decision. By 1973, another case, Miller v. California, a five-person majority agreed for the first time since Roth as to a test for determining constitutionally unprotected obscenity, superseding the Roth test. By the time Miller was considered in 1973, Brennan had abandoned the Roth test and argued that all obscenity was constitutionally protected, unless distributed to minors or unwilling third-parties.

Now you know.

June 24, 1970 -
Mike Nichols' Catch 22 was released on this date .

And so it goes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hey - it didn't rain yesterday.

Could it be a trend?

Today in History
June 23, 1611 -
The mutinous crew of Henry Hudson's fourth voyage sets Henry, his son and seven loyal crew members adrift in an open boat in what is now Hudson Bay; they are never heard from again.

So much for loyalty.

June 23, 1860 -
The U.S. Secret Service is founded to fight counterfeiting, protect the President

and give Robert Conrad a career.

June 23, 1894
Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David Saxe-Coburg-Gotha , later to be known as the Duke of Windsor and briefly Edward VIII, King of England who abdicated his throne to marry American divorcee (and possible transvestite) Wallis Simpson, was born.

Sometimes, it's not's so good to be the king.

June 23 1979 -
The rock group, the Knack releases "My Sharona".

Could be one of the worst songs every.

June 23 1989 -
Tim Burton's dark and brooding of Batman, is released on this date.

Willem Dafoe, David Bowie, Dan Aykroyd, Danny DeVito, John Lithgow and James Woods were considered for the Joker.

June 23 1993 -
In the middle of the night, Lorena Bobbitt severs her husband John's penis and drives off, casually discarding the organ in a farm field.

Surgeons successfully reattach the penis, allowing John to enter the porn industry. The media devotes 1.3 million column-inches of type to the story as both Lorena and John gain celebrity status; consequently, their last name becomes a verb.

June 23 1994 -
Life may or may not be a box of chocolate but Forrest Gump premieres in Los Angeles, on this date.

Dave Chappelle turned down the role of Bubba, thinking the movie would bomb and has since admitted to deeply regretting it.

And on a personal note:
Happy Birthday David

and so it goes.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Meryl

June 22, 1949 -
Possibly, the most talented actress of her generation, Mary Louise Streep,was born on this date.

Streep has received 15 Academy Award nominations and 23 Golden Globe nominations (winning six), more than any other person in film history. Her work has also earned her two Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Cannes Film Festival award, three New York Film Critics Circle Awards, four Grammy Award nominations, a BAFTA award, and a Tony Award nomination.

June 22, 1946 -
Another of the classic 40's Daffy Duck cartoons, Hollywood Daffy, was released on this date.

What's Errol Flynn got that you haven't got? Don't answer that!

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

Because the stars were all too old for their characters, the movie was nicknamed "Elderly Gang Goes Off to War" by the British press.

June 22, 1988 -
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (one of the most technically demanding films every shot - no CGI effect were used), was released on this date.

I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way.

Today in History -
June 22, 1633 -
The Holy Office in Rome forces Galileo Galilei to recant his scientific view that the Sun, not the Earth, is the center of the Universe:

"I abjure with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith these errors and heresies, and I curse and detest them as well as any other error, heresy or sect contrary to the Holy Catholic Church."

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 produced an album called Endless Summer.

June 22, 1933 -
German chancellor Adolf Hitler banned every political party except his own Evil Nazi Bastards from winning elections.

The Evil Nazi Bastards swept the next elections, demonstrating the public's strong support for this measure.

June 22, 1940 -
France surrenders; 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.

June 22, 1941-
The German Army invades Russia, 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.

June 22, 1969 -
The patron saint of the gay liberation movement, Judy Garland dies of a barbiturate overdose in her London apartment, either by accident or suicide.

It is not true that she did a header into the toilet and drowned.

June 22, 1993 -
Thelma Catherine "Pat" Ryan Nixon died on this date.

The patron saint of long suffering political wives and good Republican cloth coats. "Even when people can't speak your language, they can tell if you have love in your heart."

And so it goes.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

No really - it is!

This year, Summer begins on June 21 at 1:45 AM in the northern hemisphere (which happens to be my favorite hemisphere, with the possible exception of the southern one). Summer is the period between the June solstice and the September equinox, and its broad appeal should therefore come as no surprise. Twenty-five percent of all winning lottery tickets are issued in summer.

Hope all of you fathers, stepfathers, fathers to be, mothers who are the fathers to their kids and fathers (but you don't know it) have a great Father's Day this weekend.

Today in History
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, 1905-
It would have been the 104th birthday of Jean-Paul Sartre today.

But what the hell does he care, he's dead and it does mean anything anyway.

June 21, 1975 -
One of the all time great summer movies - Jaws opens on this date.

So remember, it's not safe to go back in the water or to take a shower.

June 21, 1977 -
The much under appreciated - New York, New York, directed by Martin Scorsese, was released on this date.

Do yourself a great favor and rent the restored DVD version.

June 21, 1982 -
Using an innovative Jodie Foster defense, John Hinckley is found not guilty by reason of insanity for the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.

Nobody is impressed by this verdict.

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.

And so it goes.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Kids, your mom was right.

Eating raw cookie dough will get you sick.

June 20, 1942 -
It's Brian Wilson's birthday

and luckily he's no longer hearing those voices in his head.

June 20, 1974 -
"Forget about it Jake. It's Chinatown" - the unforgettable film noir classic, Chinatown, was released on this date.

At this point, this is the last movie Roman Polanski filmed in the U.S.

Here is your Today in History -
June 20, 1793 -
Eli Whitney applied for a patent on his Cotton Gin. 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, 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.

Even with the economic downturn, an apartment that size would sell for $300,000.00 in Manhattan.

June 20, 1782 -
Congress adopts the Great Seal of the United States.

Although several people on the were Masons, the Masonic institutions themselves deny that the Seal is Masonic; therefore, any resemblance is purely coincidental.

Of course.

June 20, 1893 -
Lizzie Borden is found innocent of giving her stepmother and father forty and forty-one whacks, respectively.

Once O.J. finds the real killers of his wife while in prison, he promised to get cracking on this case as well.

June 20, 1947 -
Bugsy Siegel (Warren Beatty) is shot to death at Virginia Hill's (Annette Bennings) mansion, on orders from Meyer Lansky.

Siegel gets it twice in the face, and his right eyeball ends up on the dining room floor.

And so it goes.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Enjoy the brief respite

Looks like the rain is going to hold off for most of the day - if at all possible, walk around nude to air dry your nether regions.

Today in History:
June 19, 1312 -
Piers Gaveston, close personal friend of King Edward II of England, is beheaded after he attempted to return to Edward's side, having been banished for being too close a personal friend.

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 ends his day with 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 22 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), is executed by firing squad. 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 was 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, is created.

These are the clowns that perfected the fine art of capricious and arbitrary.

June 19, 1953 -
Atomic spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are electrocuted at Sing-Sing Prison, becoming the first civilians ever executed for espionage in American history. Five jolts of electricity were required to kill Ethel. 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, is found hanging from Blackfriar's Bridge in London. His death is initially ruled a suicide, though it is quite obviously murder; that assessment is 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.

Now I'm not suggesting that the Mafia (which does exist) go out and hang Bernie Madoff - all I'm saying is keep an eye on the Third Avenue Bridge.

And so it goes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Poor Billy Joel

His latest marriage has hit the rocks - (his 32 year younger wife has been stepping out on him in a major way.)

Hopefully he can keep it together.

June 18, 1952 -
Isabella Rossellini, One of Hollywoods' most intelligent and beautiful actresses was born on this date.

Also one of the funniest.

Today in History:
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,

probably in anticipation of the great Abba hit.

June 18, 1900 -
The Empress Dowager of China orders all foreigners killed. 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.

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 10 May, in the first year of World War II.

June 18, 1959 -
Based on his erratic behavior, the Governor of Louisiana, Earl K. Long, is 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 burns his guitar on stage at the Monterey Pop Festival.

There had to be a better way to toast marchmallows.

June 18, 1980 -
The Blues Brothers Movie, starring Dan Akwoyd & John Belushi premieres on this date. Ounce for ounce (other than Walt Disney's The Jungle Book,) the most amount of dope is smoked in film history during the production of this film.

How much for your wife?

Also a very big shout out to Johnny V. Happy Birthday big guy.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's International Violin Day

June 17, 1950 -
Bugs Bunny recounts his life story to a reporter from "Disassociated Press" in What's Up Doc?, released on this date.

... but now we have to go.

June 17, 1983 -
A late Kubrick masterpiece, Full Metal Jacket, is released on this date.

Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me, M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E.

Today in History:
June 17, 1775 -
American forces were defeated by the British at Breed's Hill, near Boston, in the Battle of Bunker Hill, after famously withholding their fire until they could see the whites of their enemies' eyes.

This battle should not be confused with that of Bunker Hill, fought on Breed's Hill, during which the Americans shot like hell at anything that moved.

June 17, 1797 -
Agha Muhammad Khan, Shah of Persia (also a eunuch, but that's another story) ordered his servants to bring him a melon cut into slices. He finished half, ordered the other half to be put away and vowed to his servants, that if even one slice of the melon was missing in the morning, all three servants would be beheaded by him. Later on that night one of the servants forgot and ate a slice. The servants then killed Agha Muhammad Khan with the dagger because they were afraid he would kill them in the morning.

There's a lesson here somewhere - Treat your staff better? Purchase more fruit for dessert? Dare to eat the peach?

The Statue of Liberty, France's gift to the United States marking the Centennial of the American Declaration of Independence arrived in New York Harbor on June 17, 1885 on board the French frigate Isère (only nine years after the event).

To prepare for transit, the Statue was reduced to 350 individual pieces and packed in 214 crates. (The right arm and the torch, which were completed earlier, had been exhibited at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, and thereafter at Madison Square in New York City.)

June 17, 1939 -
In Versailles, Eugene Weidmann becomes the last person to be publicly guillotined.

One year later, France asks Germany for terms of surrender in WW II, Marshal Henri Petain replaced Paul Reynaud (chose to resign over surrender) as prime minister and announced his intention to sign an armistice with the Nazis.

You make the connections.

June 17, 1968-
Ohio Express' "Yummy Yummy Yummy (I've got love in my tummy)" goes gold.

June 17, 1972 -
Five men broke into the Democratic Party National Committee headquarters at the Watergate building in Washington, DC. They had hoped to bug the offices but were arrested before they could release any insects.

President Nixon will later describe as a "third rate burglary." Their arrests ultimately led to President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974.

(Nixon's resignation prior to 1974 is attributed to simple melancholy.)

June 17, 1994 -
Convicted memorabilia thug O.J. Simpson fails to turn himself in to the LAPD at a prearranged time and is later spotted in a white Ford Bronco on a Los Angeles expressway. After a low-speed pursuit through the freeways and streets of Brentwood, O.J. is finally arrested live on television in the driveway of his mansion.

According to one of the defense attorneys who served on O.J.'s "Dream Team," Simpson tried to kill himself in the car, but the gun misfired. The Juice allegedly told him: "I pulled the trigger and it didn't go off."

That would have saved everyone a boatload of trouble.

And so it goes.