Monday, August 31, 2009

Happy Birthday Van (Please don't sue me)

August 31, 1945 -
George Ivan Morrison, singer and songwriter, was born on this date.

Van the Man, is still the greatest living blue-eyed soul singer.

August 31, 1957 -
This second Looney Tune with Rocky and Mugsy, Bugsy and Mugsy, was released on this date.

I don't know how yas done it but I know yas done it!

August 31, 1958 -
Glenn Tilbrook, singer, guitarist and with his writing partner Chris Difford, formed the pop group, Squeeze, was born on this date.

In for bingo, all the nines, A panda for sweet little niece.

Here's your late Today in History -
Gaius Caesar Caligula was born on August 31 in the year 12. Caligula succeeded Tiberius in the year 37, and his reign was most notable for its policy of Sex with the Emperor.

(Please note - this guy not only slept with the unwilling wives of senators and his sisters, he married his horse and tried to have him made a god.) This turned out to have been a weak Political Philosophy, because the Romans all had classical educations and saw right through him.

So they killed him.

August 31, 1422 -
Henry V of England, one of the great warrior kings of the Middle Ages, dies suddenly of dysentery on this date. He was 34 at the time.

At the time of his death, Henry had not only consolidated power as the King of England but had also effectively accomplished what generations of his ancestors had failed to achieve through decades of war: unification of the crowns of England and France in a single person.

In 2002 he was ranked 72nd in the 100 Greatest Britons poll. And yet, lack of proper sanitary conditions carried him away. Let this be a lesson to us all - wash your hands after visiting the rest room.

August 31, 1919 -
The American Communist Party is established on this date,

providing entertainment for Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover for decades.

August 31, 1879 -
Alma Maria Schindler, noted in her native Vienna for her beauty and intelligence, was born on this date.

In her youth she was an aspiring composer. But that not why I bring her up. She was the wife, successively, of the composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius, and novelist Franz Werfel, and lover to the painter Oskar Kokoschka. Rather than try to encapsulate the story of this very busy woman,

Listen to Tom Lehrer's song Alma, which nicely gives you the gist of her life.

August 31, 1976 -
George Harrison was found guilty of unintentionally plagurizing 'My Sweet Lord' .

Those damn Beatles could never come up with an original tune.

August 31, 1997 -
A charming, slightly addled, beautiful divorcee with two children decides to take a car ride with her very rich Middle Eastern boyfriend and his very drunk driver. She makes the fatal mistake of not buckling her seat belt and pays a very heavy toll. So ends the glamorous and controversial life of Diana Spencer Mountbatten-Windsor.

Kids, if you don't want to end up dying in the backseat of a black 1994 Mercedes-Benz W140 in a road tunnel in Paris - BUCKLE UP.

And so it goes

Sunday, August 30, 2009

In appreciation of Ellie Greenwich

With so much going on I didn't get a chance to mention the passing of Ellie Greenwich. Eleanor Louise Greenwich, along with Jeff Barry (her then husband) and Phil Spector (Wacko, then and now), tunesters from the famed Brill Building, created a series of teen pop classics in the 60's.

" Today I met the boy that I'm going to marry..."

Today in History:
On August 30, in the year 30 BC, Egypt's Queen Cleopatra clutched a snake to her breast and died. History has judged this a suicide, but there is room for doubt: she had previously clutched Julius Caesar and Marc Antony to her breast without dying, and may have therefore considered herself immunized.

Dilligent readers will realize that this is the second time that I have mentioned the death of Cleopatra - the dates came from different sources.

Hey, it's not like the Eyewitness News van was roaming around ancient Egypt back then.

August 30, 1780 -
General "Eggs" Benedict Arnold secretly promised to surrender the West Point fort to the British army during the American Revolution. The measure of Arnold's treachery was made worse by the fact that he was considered by many to be the best general and most accomplished leader in the Continental Army.

In fact, without Arnold's earlier contributions to the American cause, the American Revolution might well have been lost; notwithstanding, his name, like those of several other prominent traitors throughout history, has become a byword for treason and a brunch staple.

August 30, 1859 -
At the University of Göttingen, PhD candidate Albert Niemann isolates the alkaloid C17H21NO4 from leaves of the plant Erythroxylum coca.

Niemann names his white, powdery discovery "cocaine" and observes firsthand its peculiarly strong anesthetic effect: "it benumbs the nerves of the tongue, depriving it of feeling and taste."

Oh, that's what cocaine does. Now I know

August 30, 1930 -
Warren Edward Buffett often called the "Sage of Omaha", "Oracle of Omaha", or " Omaha Steak", American investor, businessperson and philanthropist is born on this date. Buffett has amassed an enormous fortune from astute investments managed through the holding company Berkshire Hathaway, of which he is the largest shareholder and CEO.

With an estimated current net worth of around $37 billion, he was ranked by Forbes as the second-richest person in the world as of February 2009, between Bill Gates and Mexican businessman Carlos Slim HelĂș.

I, on the other hand, did not make a blip on the list.

August 30, 1993 -
On CBS-TV "The Late Show with David Letterman" premiered.

Dave appears still to be going strong.

And so it goes.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

So that explains the whole 'Birthers' movement.

So much was going on that I didn't get a chance to make note about this - A new study finds obese people have 8 percent less brain tissue than normal-weight individuals. Their brains look 16 years older than the brains of lean individuals, researchers said today.

Those classified as overweight have 4 percent less brain tissue and their brains appear to have aged prematurely by 8 years.

It's all so clear to me now.

August 29, 1958
Michael Joseph Jackson, the self-crowned King of Pop was born on this date.

I'm just surprised that his family didn't buy the crypt above Marilyn Monroe.

August 29, 1915 -
Ingrid Bergman, the Swedish three-time Academy Award, two-time Emmy Award, and Tony Award- winner (what a slouch) and "a horrible example of womanhood and a powerful influence for evil" was born on this date.

"A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous."

August 29, 1920 -
Charles Christopher "Bird" Parker, jazz saxophonist and composer was born on this date.

Here's your Today in History:
More on Political Philosophy...

John Locke was born on August 29, 1632. Mr. Locke was a political philosopher, and many of his ideas found their way into the American Constitution.

He is best known for his essay concerning human understanding, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which remains famous to this day as the shortest essay ever written.

Another important political philosopher was born this week: Jean Baptiste Colbert was born on August 29, 1619.

Colbert was the finance minister to King Louis XIV of France. His own Political Philosophy consisted of a big pile of money. This was a very effective politics, and therefore deemed insufficiently philosophical, which is why you tend to hear more about Locke and Hegel.

August 29, 1904 -
David Hyrum Smith, son of Mormon founder Joseph Smith, dies in an insane asylum after 27 years of lunacy.

His father in 1844 had predicted that his unborn son would be named David and that he would be "President and King of Israel".

At least he got the name right.

August 29, 1966 -
The Beatles perform their last concert before paying fans at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

The performance marked the end of a four-year period dominated by touring and concerts including nearly sixty U.S. appearances and over one thousand four hundred internationally.

August 29, 2005 –
Hurricane Katrina devastates much of the U.S. Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, killing more than 1,836 and causing over $80 billion in damage.

Parts of the affected area has still not fully recovered. Please remember the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

And so it goes.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Katie Couric, Pop Star

Just heard this very funny Auto Tuned News Talking Heads

Did you know shortie was spelled 'shawtie'?

I'm so old.

Here's your Today in History:
Today is believed to be the date in 476 A.D. when the Western Roman Empire, which had lasted for almost 500 years, came to an end as Emperor Romulus Augustulus was deposed by a barbarian.

Historians have been theorizing about the causes of the fall of Rome ever since. Edward Gibbon's book The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776) put forward the idea that the Christian Church was to blame. After Christianity became the official religion of the empire, the best and the brightest leaders became leaders of the church rather than leaders of the government or the military. Another theory is that the aqueducts, which carried the water supply, were lined with lead, and so the Romans slowly went crazy. Some geologists believe that the eruption of Mount Vesuvius released so much ash into the air that it ruined Roman agriculture and weakened the empire. One of the more recent theories is that the Roman army had been infiltrated by the barbarians themselves.

But whatever the cause, the fall of Rome actually wasn't the catastrophic event most people think it was. So-called barbarian rulers kept most of the basic laws in place, Latin remained the official language of government, everyone remained Christian and orgies continued but in private.

August 28, 1907 -
United Parcel Service begins service, in Seattle.

Hopefully some of those packages will arrive soon.

August 28, 1922 -
The first radio commercial aired on WEAF in New York City (WEAF stood for "Water, Earth, Air and Fire.)

It was a 10-minute advertisement for the Queensboro Realty Co., which had paid $100.

Programming must have really stunk if people listened to a 10 minute commercial.

August 28, 1963 -
During a 200,000-person civil rights rally in at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his famous "I have a dream speech".

August 28, 1982 -
Two crazy kids got married on this date.

Some of the people who were at that wedding are still alive. Some of them are unfortunately not. Some of them have gotten married (even to each other.) Others are not. Some of them had children. Some did not.

Those two crazy kids are still alive, married and have children.

Happy Anniversary Mary.

August 28, 1996 -
Unfortunately for others, the fairy tale has a very unhappy ending,

Britons Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales, are divorced on this date. One year later, almost to the day, Diana, will have a very nasty accident in an Paris underpass.

(sorry I couldn't help myself - I promise I'll hold off on the Elvis Costello clips for awhile.)

And before I forget, Happy Birthday Claudia and Romolo.

And so it goes.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's the Feast day of St. Monica of Hippo

Monica, originally from Wart Hog and moved to the better neighborhood of Hippo, was known as a virtuous woman and was the mother of St. Augustine. She continually nagged her son about his debauched ways until she successfully convinced him to convert to Christainity. She is the patron saint of those with disappointing children.

Hey wait a minute, wouldn't this make her the patron saint of all Jewish mothers.

Most people have learned to watch their cholesterol and blood pressure, but how many Americans really know how to protect themselves against assassination? Not many. And yet, each year, millions of people are killed by assassins.

It’s tragic because these are needless deaths, almost all of which could have been prevented. I have found on the internet, a few simple precautions can help ensure that no assassin’s bullet will ever have your name on it:

First, get plenty of exercise, eat plenty of vegetables, and avoid being born into royalty.

Don’t be president, prime minister, or other Top Person.

Don’t create a military junta or mastermind a coup.

Don’t say or write anything that might be considered disparaging by anyone with their own military junta.

Do not found a religion.

Do not oppose a religion.

If your parents are gods, dismember them.

If your children are gods, devour them.

Excel at nothing.

Stay indoors.

Always call shotgun when driving with suicide car-bombers.

August 27, 1882,
Schmuel Gelbfisz, (Samuel Goldwyn), glove maker, sales man and pioneer filmmaker was born in Warsaw, Poland.

August 27, 1916 -
Martha Raye, singer, actor, denture wearer was born in Butte, Montana.

August 27, 1952 -
Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman) American actor, writer, comedian and public masturbator was born on this date.

I know you are but what am I.

Here's your Today in History -
August 27, 410 -
In case you were keeping score, the Sack of Rome still continues unabated. The orgies are winding down as everything that moved had been used. The Visigoths are forced to engage in unnatural acts with furniture.

I dare not say more.

Political Philosophy has caused more human death and suffering than any other disease. No inoculations exist. Outbreaks are sudden and almost always fatal. Political Philosophy strikes young and old alike, healthy and sickly, nimble and clumsy, lefty and righty. By the time its symptoms are visible, you have very little time to protect yourself. Popular referendums will only exacerbate the problem.

Emigrate at once.

Case studies:

On August 27, 1793, the Committee of Public Safety in Paris, France, accepted its newest member, Maximilien Robespierre. Robespierre soon rose to prominence on the basis of his Political Philosophy, the Guillotine, which was quicker than Inalienable Rights and more readily understood than Separation of Powers.

On August 27, 1770, George William Hegel was born. Hegel was also a kind of political philosopher.

He believed in theses and antitheses and that sooner or later everyone ended up in Synthetics. Unfortunately there was no way to test his theory, as this was well before the invention of polyester.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Lion of the Senate is dead.

U.S. Senator Edward Moore Kennedy, the second most senior member of the Senate, the third-longest-serving senator in U.S. history, brother of one assassinated President and another assassinated Senator, author of more than 300 bills and tabloid fodder for the better part of his life has died.

"I am a part of all that I have met
To [Tho] much is taken, much abides
That which we are, we are --
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

August 26, 1953 -
Considered to be one of the great science fiction films of the 1950s, George Pal's The War of the Worlds was released in 1953.

Cecil B. DeMille, Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles, at one time considered then turned down the chance to direct a version of this H. G Welles classic.

Here's your Today in History:
Today is the Feast of The Transverberation of St. Teresa of Avila (again, find an old lady saying her rosary in church to explain it to you.)

If you find yourself in Rome, run, do not walk, to see the Santa Maria della Vittoria Church. It houses one of the most amazing statues - The Ecstasy of St. Teresa by Bernini.

The statues depict a moment described by Saint Teresa of Avila in her autobiography, where she had the vivid vision of an angel piercing her heart with a golden shaft, over and over again, causing her both immense joy and pain. The flowing robes and contorted posture abandon classical restraint and repose to depict a more passionate, almost voluptuous trance.

Give me that old time religion!!!

(More of the Elvis Costello birthday celebration)

Here's your Today in History:
August 26, 1743 -
Antoine Laurent Lavoisier was born. Dr. Lavoisier discovered oxygen.

The discovery was a great boon to science, as it enabled Breathing, without which many subsequent scientific advances wouldhave been impossible.

August 26, 1883-

Krakatoa erupted, between Java and Sumatra. The two-day eruption and related tidal waves killed 36,000 people and destroyed two thirds of the island. (Yeah, yeah, I know, Krakatoa is West of Java.)

On a lighter note, "Krakatoa" sounds like "cracked a toe, huh?" and can be used in many humorous puns.

August 26, 1920 -
Happy Susan B. Anthony Day

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted women suffrage. Most women opposed the amendment, on the grounds that they had suffered enough already, but it passed anyway since only men could vote.

August 26, 1982 -
The Argentine government ended its ban on political parties. This resulted in more festive politicians, and the great National Hangover of 1983.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's Elvis' birthday again

No, not that Elvis. It's the birthday of Declan Patrick MacManus, one of the most prolific musicians of the late 20th Century. Not too bad a description for an old punk rocker.

The Council of Nicaea ended on August 25, 325, resulting in the Nicene Creed. This established the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which proved that the Father and Son were not two, but three and therefore one. This controversial creed alienated many math teachers from the church.

Its repercussions eventually caused a Schism, which caused in Infidels, which caused considerable bloodshed and ultimately resulted in more Political Philosophy.

August 25 1835 -
The New York Sun publishes stunning revelations that Sir John Hershel has observed little men living on the surface of the moon.

The stories, now generally believed to be false, brings the paper record circulation.

August 25 1900 -

No, Nietzsche is dead.

God finds this very amusing.

August 25 1925 -
The Sleeping Car Porters' Union was established by A. Phillip Randolph,

a political malcontent who'd been agitating for reform ever since his ejection from the Wide Awake Car Porters' Union.

August 25 1967 –
George Lincoln Rockwell, the leader of the American Nazi Party,

was relieved of his duties by means of the usual Nazi method: he was shot to bloody hell.

August 25 1993 -
Snoop Doggy Dogg arrested on charges of accomplice to murder, manslaughter, in Los Angeles.

He is later aquitted of all charges. His defense, "I was too high to commit any crime."

(maybe more tomorrow)

And So It Goes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Steve

August 24, 1958 -
Steve Guttenberg, actor, comedian and Dancing with the Stars loser, was born on this date.

The youth of America want to know, "Is there any reason to release a Police Academy 8?"

I just watched Ashes of Time Redux the other night at enjoyed it immensely. I found these two shorts by Wong Kar-wai that you might enjoy:

Yes, even commercials can aspire for something more.

It is believed that the original potato chip recipe was created by chef George Crum, at Moon's Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York, on August 24, 1853.

He was fed up with a customer (the popular myth wrongly identifies him as Cornelius Vanderbilt) who continued to send his fried potatoes back, claiming that they were too thick and soggy. Crum decided to slice the potatoes so thin that they couldn't be eaten with a fork, nor fried normally in a pan, so he decided to stir-fry the potato slices. Against Crum's expectation, the guest was ecstatic about the new chips. They became a regular item on the lodge's menu under the name "Saratoga Chips." They soon became popular throughout New York and New England.

You don't want to know how Crum got the vinegar flavor for that damn chip.

Here's your Today in History:

August 24 79 –
The entire city of Pompeii was fired by Mount Vesuvius. Vesuvius, ever the vengeful volcano god buried that happening spot by the sea, Pompeii, apparently to punish the debauchery that made the town famous. Tens of thousands of people perished only to have plaster casts made centuries later of the hollows their bodies once occupied.

Once again, this is what happens when a city goes on the cheap and starts scarifying any old whore rather than a proper virgin.

August 24 410 –
In what was possibly the largest layoff in history, all of Rome was sacked (again).

August 24 1572 -
Troops loyal to the French crown alongside Catholic civilians massacre the Protestant Huguenots of Paris, estimates range between 20,000 and 100,000 deaths. At news of this carnage of this St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, a gleeful Pope Gregory XIII ordered celebrations and a medal to be struck.

Sometimes, you just have to be embarrassed to be a Catholic.

August 24, 1814 -
The White House and other public buildings in the District of Columbia are torched by the British.

The President's wife, Dolley Madison and Paul Jennings, her husband's enslaved manservant, are torn away from Mrs. Madison's ice cream and candy making duties to save a couple of chairs

and an unfinished portrait of some dead Virginian Slave holder, Masonite and dope smoker.

August 24, 1958 -
Red China commences the shelling of the islands of Quemoy and Matsu, which hold one-third of Chiang Kai Shek's troops. The United States threatens nuclear retaliation for this, but the American people do not support the stance. A very strange compromise is worked out, permitting China to shell the islands on odd dates and Chiang Kai Shek's troops to resupply the islands on even dates.

August 24, 1968 –
France explodes its first hydrogen bomb, thus becoming the world's fifth nuclear power.

The Germans break out in an ever slight sweat. (The 1998 film Godzilla uses this particular test as the basis for the monster Godzilla, an infant green iguana mutated by the fallout from the blast.)

Another reason to hate the French.

August 24 1989 -
Pete Rose is suspended from baseball for life for gambling

Remember, Pete just gambled, he didn't take any damn steroids.

And So It Goes.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Next you'll tell us

That Jackie Kennedy swam in the nude.

Why was it so shocking that Mrs. Obama wore shorts during the summer - it's freaking hot.

August 23, 1940 -
Preston Sturges' Oscar winning satire on political corruption, The Great McGinty, premiered on this date.

Brian Donlevy and Akim Tamiroff reprised their roles as Governor McGinty and The Boss in Preston Sturges's The Miracle of Morgan's Creek

August 23, 1996 -
One of the most bizarre films ever made (starring Marlon Brando) The Island of Dr. Moreau, was released on this date.

Rent it just to see the scene where Marlon and his mini-me play piano, I'll say no more.

In appreciation of Leonard Cohen Part 3 (I'll stop now before you get sick of Leonard.)

It's Gene Kelly's birthday.

Everybody run outside and dance!

Here's Your Today in History:
August 23, 1305 -
Scottish patriot William Wallace (Mel Gibson) was persuaded to take an early retirement.

According to one eyewitness: "He was hung in a noose, and afterwards let down half-living; next his genitals were cut off and his bowels torn out and burned in a fire; then and not till then his head was cut off and his trunk cut into four pieces. At this point he was given a gold watch, and a humorous card that we had all signed."

August 23 1914 -
Japan declared war on Germany. Much confusion and embarrassment ensues about 25 years later when this point is brought up at a meeting of the Axis powers.

August 23 1926 -
Rudolf Valentino dies. Sales of the Sheik condoms soar.

There's a very dirty joke I could insert here but recent FCC rulings prevent me.

August 23 1927 -
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed in Massachusetts, on this date.

Their guilt is still disputed.

August 23 1939-
Joachim von Ribbentrop and Josef Stalin signed a non-aggression pact, allowing Germany to attack Poland and the USSR to invade Finland without fears of reprisal. Three years later, the Battle of Stalingrad began. (The battle of Stalingrad was fought by Germans and Russians, in case the irony was lost on you.)

Moral: secret wartime pacts with evil conquering bastards aren't any more reliable in the real world than they are in a game of Risk.

August 23 1968 -
The Youth International Party designates Pigasus as their choice of candidate for U.S. President. The boar hog is introduced at a press conference outside the Chicago Civic Center, with the slogan "They nominate a President and he eats the people. We nominate a President and the people eat him."

The gathering is broken up shortly thereafter when the Chicago PD takes into custody the Yippie organizers and their pig.

August 23 1994 -

Inside an abandoned boathouse on the Scottish island of Jura, two members of the band KLF set fire to 20,000 fifty pound notes in front of witnesses.

It takes two hours to burn all 1,000,000 pounds.

Stupid bastards

And so it goes.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Oh, Bevis! And I though you were so butch!

The movie Monty Python introduced it seminal brand of comedy to American audiences, And Now for Something Completely Different premiered on this date.

My hovercraft is full of eels.

In appreciation of Leonard Cohen Part 2 (no he's not dead but why not celebrate him now while he's still here.)

Today in History:
August 22, 1485 -
At the Battle of Bosworth, England's King Richard III was terminated for having made a fiscally irresponsible bid on a horse.

August 22, 1776 -
George Washington asks the Continental Congress for permission to burn New York City, to stop the city from being used to quarter troops arriving via the British fleet. It is declined, but his soldiers set 1/4th of the town ablaze on September 21.

There are still many in the government that would like to enact Washington's plan right now.

August 22, 1864 -
12 nations sign the first Geneva Convention specifically calling for the protection of the wounded during times of active warfare on this date. This leads directly to formation of the Red Cross.

In 1882, U.S. President Chester Arthur signed the treaty, making the U.S. the 32nd nation to do so. Hopefully, someone reminded Mr. Bush that we did, in fact, sign.

August 22, 1893 -
Dorothy Parker was born in New York City, to Henry and Eliza Rothschild ("My God, no, dear! We'd never even heard of those Rothschilds") on this date.

Her birth was two months premature, allowing her to say that it was the last time she was early for anything; her early writing was a "following in the exquisite footsteps of Edna St. Vincent Millay, unhappily in my own horrible sneakers."

While she was a successful writer, she was just plain lousy at committing suicide. Dorothy Parker attempted suicide four times herself before succumbing to a heart attack in 1967.

August 22, 1942 -
The Battle of Stalingrad began on this date, which many historians think of as the turning point of World War II. Hitler had already conquered all of Europe except for England, Switzerland and Monaco and he began the invasion of Russia in the summer of 1941 with an army of four million men. The Germans reached Stalingrad on this day in 1942 and flew more than 2,000 bombing raids in just the first day of the battle. They hit oil storage tanks that flowed into the river and caught fire and laid siege to the city. It went on for months.

It's been called the most terrible battle the world has ever known, and in the end the Russians won, thanks to the approach of winter. The German troops were not prepared for fighting in below zero weather.

By February of 1943, all the German soldiers had surrendered or been killed, the first defeat of Hitler's army.

And so it goes.

Friday, August 21, 2009

In appreciation of Leonard Cohen (Part 1)

No, he's not dead but why not celebrate him now while he's still here.

Here's your Today in History:
August 21, 1614 -

Erzsebet Bathory, ruler of Transylvania, dies at 54. She had sought immortality by killing young virgins and bathing in their blood. It didn't work.

I wonder if Elizabeth Arden is still offering this service and where are they finding enough virgins.

What did Vicenzo Perruggia 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?

Pablo Picasso was having a very bad day. His so called friend, French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had once called for the Louvre to be "burnt down," came under suspicion when the Mona Lisa was stolen from on Lourve on this day; he was arrested and put in jail. Apollinaire, as all bad French dadaist poets would do, ratted out his friend Pablo Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning, but both were later exonerated. Very nice guy.

At the time, the painting was believed to be lost forever, and it would be two years before the real thief was discovered. Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia stole it by entering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet and walking out with it hidden under his coat after the museum had closed. Peruggia was an Italian patriot who believed da Vinci's painting should be returned to Italy for display in an Italian museum. Peruggia may have also been motivated by a friend who sold copies of the painting, which would skyrocket in value after the theft of the original. After having kept the painting in his apartment for two years, Peruggia grew impatient and was finally caught when he attempted to sell it to the directors of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence; it was exhibited all over Italy and returned to the Louvre in 1913. Peruggia was hailed for his patriotism in Italy and only served a few months in jail for the crime.

August 21, 1952 -
The classic John Ford film, The Quiet Man was released on this date.

It's so good, you can almost stand Wayne's limited acting ability.

August 21, 1986 -

1,700 people are killed in Cameroon when Lake Nyos emits a huge cloud of fast-moving fog, quickly enveloping the villages of Nyos, Kam, Cha, and Subum. The lethal mist, consisting mainly of carbon dioxide and water vapor, displaces the oxygen in the low-lying zones, killing thousands of cattle and even more birds and wild animals. One eyewitness later describes the landscape as being "littered with human remains and animal carcasses."

That would have ruined a vacation.

And so it goes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Barney Frank, American Patriot

I believe more Congress people can take this page from Barney the next time the come up against this type of question.

I read a great response to this, "All dining room tables across America are offended; at least they have a leg to stand on."

Today in History:
August 20, 1866 -

President Andrew Johnson rouses himself from an alcoholic stupor and formally declared the Civil War over.

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 August 20, 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 before he could sue for damages.

August 20, 1948 -
Robert Anthony Plant CBE, button phobia rock singer and songwriter, was born on this date.

The men don't know, but the little girls understand

August 20, 1977 -
NASA bizarrely decides 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 recoding of the Chuck Berry song, "Johnny B Good". NASA decides to hide this costly blunder by including the recoding in the payload of the space probe Voyager 1, launched on this date.

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

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 more Chuck Berry."

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 what?

And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Free pie for everybody

There's no way she can say that and not sound dirty.

Good to see that Britney is not in 'crazy mode'.

Here's your 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. 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, 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 1934 -
Adolf Hitler wins absolute power when 89.9% of the German electorate consolidates the positions of President and Chancellor into a single office, occupied by him.

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 1960 -
The Soviet Union convicts U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers of espionage, sentencing him to 3 years in prison and 7 years of hard labor.

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

August 19 1960 -
The Soviet Union launches Sputnik V into orbit. On board are two dogs (Belka and Strelka), along with 2 unnamed rats and 40 mice. The menagerie is 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 60's, 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 -

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

And so it goes.