Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's a perfect day

The weather's fine, why not have an ice cream soda?

It's National Ice Cream Soda Day. Remember to pour the soda over the ice cream (you get a thicker ice cream soda foam.) If you added a little Kahlua in first, even better.

June 30, 1989 -
One of Spike Lee's big early films, Do The Right Thing, premiered on this date.

Supposedly, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama saw this movie on their first date in 1989.

June 30, 1995 -
Houston, we have a problem ...

Ron Howards' film about the ill-fated 13th Apollo mission bound for the moon, Apollo 13, premiered on this date.

Today in History:
June 30, 1520 -
After witnessing the murder of Montezuma II (or committing the murders themselves,) the Conquistador, led by Hernan Cortes, did what any red-blooded Spaniard would do and looted Tenochtitlan, the ancient Mexican capital of the Aztec empire on this date. The retreating Spaniards were attacked by an angry Aztec mob. Tied down by armor and treasure, they are no match for the natives and nearly half of Hernan Cortes' men lose their lives.

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

June 30, 1837 -
England outlaws the use of the pillory on this date.

This still leaves the British Navy the three things they love the most - the lash, buggery and rum.

June 30, 1882 -
Charles Guiteau, the assassin of President Garfield, was hanged on this date.

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, 1894 -
One of London's most iconic symbols, The Tower Bridge was officially opened on this date by The Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII.)

The bridge can be opened, allowing river traffic to pass and closed, allowing the resumption of road traffic in five minutes.

June 30, 1908 -
An explosion near the Tunguska River in Siberia incinerated some 300 sq. km. that encircled the impact of an estimated 60 meter diameter stony meteorite. It flattened some 40,000 trees over 900 sq. miles and caused damage equivalent to a 15-megaton hydrogen bomb.

The explosion in Siberia, which knocked down trees in a 30-mile radius and struck people unconscious some 40 miles away, is believed by some scientists to be caused by a falling fragment from a meteorite.

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 (unless he didn't, in which case, he was executed at point blank range by Hitler's goons - reports are sketchy.)

Nobody ruins a good orgy like Hitler's goons.

June 30, 1936 -
It's the 75th anniversary of publication of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind 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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Even the Pope is tweeting !?!

With a click from his iPad, Pope Benedict XVI opened the Vatican's new website

Now you too can know what the Pope had for lunch.

(I'm in enough trouble with the Chinese and the Mormons. I'm going on vacation soon, I don't need the Church breathing down my neck.)

Here's a clip from last year's Melbourne Film Festival

Snack food that fights back!

June 29, 1940 -
According to the Batman Canon: two gangsters working for Tony Zucco rubbed out a circus highwire team known as the Flying Graysons, leaving their son Dick (Robin) an orphan on this date.

Lucky for Dick, an older man, Bruce Wayne is there to give him the care and attention a strapping young man in tights needs.

June 29, 1984 -
One of the original gross out comedies of the 80's, Bachelor Party, opened on this date.

Both Kelly McGillis and Paul Reiser were originally considered for the lead-roles early in production but were replaced due to lack of chemistry between the actors.

Today in History:
June 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.

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

Her three children survived in the back seat of the 1966 Buick Electra. Daughter Mariska Hargitay was at the time and began a film career at 19.

June 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.

June 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. (Parade of Random Women - still a great name for an indie band.) No one has every been convicted of his murder.

June 29, 1992 -
Mohammed Boudiaf was 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 was probably not a good business model - we will not kill you within the first six months or your money back.)

And so it goes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Geez, hadn't he been recalled to heaven yet?

When Pat Robertson speaks about Sodom and Sodomy, you should listen - he was actually there (although he was never asked to join in any of the reindeer games, hence his attitude.)

Notice the spittle on his lips, he has a little santorum on them.

June 28, 1969 -
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 kids, that's the way it was.

A friend sent me this promo for the Melbourne International Film Festival

They have a very funny set of them. I'll post a couple of them in the upcoming days.

Happy Birthday Mel Brooks

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

Today in History:
June 28, 1778-
It was a hot day in New Jersey on this date. Temperatures reportedly reached 96 degrees in the shade. Possibly invented historical character, Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley, "Molly Pitcher," wife of an American artilleryman, carried water to the soldiers during the Revolutionary War Battle of Monmouth, N.J. and, supposedly, took her husband's place at his cannon after he was overcome with heat.

According to myth she was presented to General George Washington after the battle.

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 used his own penis or wore a prosthetic one.

Jun 28 1905 -
At 5:30 a.m. on this date, a murderer named Henri Languille lost his head on the guillotine in Orleans. Dr. Jacques Beaurieux, an official witness to the execution, picks up the freshly-severed head of Languille just after it drops into the guillotine basket (don't worry, he's an official - the French just don't anybody pick up freshly severed heads) 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 -
Franz Ferdinand 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, 1956 -
The film version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical, The King and I premiered in New York City, on this date.

Small world - the real-life Anna Leonowens was the maternal aunt of Boris Karloff.

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.

Yeah, it tastes like chicken.

And on a personal note: Happy Birthday Angie

And so it goes.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Did you know?

In 1845, President Andrew Jackson's pet parrot, Poll, was removed from his funeral for swearing.

I want my cigar smoking chimp, Mr. Teeny, to be led away from my funeral overly maudlin and visible drunk.

Happy Birthday to You, the four-line ditty was written as a classroom greeting in 1893 by two Louisville teachers, Mildred J. Hill (born in Louisville, KY, on June 27, 1859) an authority on Negro spirituals, and Dr. Patty Smith Hill, professor emeritus of education at Columbia University.

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!

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 body to a crisp.

June 27, 1905 -
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, thought he could 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's 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, 1949 -
"Guardian of the Safety of the World", private citizen-scientist Captain Video, premiered on the Dumont Network on this date.

Captain Video was an agent of, and worked for, the Solar Council of the Interplanetary Alliance.

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 aired on ABC-TV on this date.

Since the show was canceled rather suddenly, viewers never learned Barnabas Collins' fate. But according to one of the writers, here's what they had planned - Barnabas was going to marry his doctor, Julia Hoffman, and move to Asia, where she would eventually discover a cure for his vampirism.

And so it goes.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The huge cheers you hear

will be for the Governor marching by

If you're in NYC today, get ready to shake your groove thang, the Gay Pride parade makes it's way down Fifth Avenue.

And believe me that's a lot of groove thang to cram into 5 hours.

June 26, 1925 -
Charlie Chaplin's classic comedy, The Gold Rush, premiered at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, on this date.

Originally a stagehand wore the chicken suit from Jim's hallucination. But when he couldn't mime Charles Chaplin's walk and manners, Chaplin himself donned the suit.

Today in History:
June 26, 1284 -
The town of Hamelin had a large rat infestation. A weirdly dressed minstrel 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 incorrectly credited with the invention of baseball, without which Americans would have nothing to watch between waits in line for more beer.

June 26, 1819 -
W.K. Clarkson of New York received a patent for what was then called a velocipede (even though, Denis Johnson of London had patented his velocipede in December 1818.)

Unfortunately, the patent record was destroyed by fire, so the actual design is not known.

June 26, 1870 -
The day after Leon Day, 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.

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones .... 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.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

This is big

The NY Assembly finally cut through the moral morass and voted in favor of the marriage equality bill.

33 Senators of conscience voted to give every New Yorker the right to be legally, miserably unhappy. Marriage licenses could be handed out in as soon as 30 days. Get ready to start crashing the more tony gay weddings in the more swank hotels.

Happy LEON day.

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:

Speaking of Michaels - Michael Jackson has been moonwalking in Heaven for two years today. Death hasn't put a crimp in his record sales.

June 25, 1963 -
Dammit, I'm putting my foot down, one of the greatest films ever made, Federico Fellini's Otto e mezzo (), opened in the US, on this date.

Federico Fellini attached a note to himself below the camera's eyepiece which read, "Remember, this is a comedy."

June 25, 1982 -
(Once again, going out on a limb) the greatest dystopian Sci- Fi film, Blade Runner, opened on this date.

This was one of the first major films to be reissued years later in a "director's edition" in which the director was allowed to restore edited footage or otherwise make changes more closely reflecting his original vision.

June 25, 1993 -
Possibly the best Meg Ryan 'chick flick', Sleepless in Seattle, premiered on this date.

Believe it or not, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks only share approximately two minutes screen time together.

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

And on a personal note: After we got home from my daughter's graduation, my kids wanted to watch a movie. They decided on one of their favorites - The Princess Bride.

After we finished watching it, I checked my e-mails and found out that Peter Falk had died earlier in the day. Once again, isn't life strange.

And so it goes.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Take you dog to work

Yeah, it's Take your dog to work day - let me tell you a story (and I swear that it's true.)

Another life time ago, when I was a Vice-President at a Major Television Venue and I was having the Murphy Brown problem of hiring and retaining an administrative assistant. I thought No. 17 would be a keeper - very intelligent and funny recent college graduate.

No. 17 was an excellent assistance for the first few weeks. The only problem was, I kept hearing barking coming somewhere from outside of my office but I couldn't figure it out. I would run out of my office, trying to track down the source of the noise and couldn't find the dog. No. 17 swore that she didn't hear anything. This went on for a couple of weeks. I thought my drinking had finally gotten the better of me.

I had to go to a meeting and walked out at the same time No. 17 had to run a quick errand for me out of the office. I forgot something in my office and came back before No. 17 did and heard the soft, faint barking sounds coming from her desk. I opened up the bottom drawer of the desk and there was a very cute, very nervous Yorkie puppy. And then, No. 17 came back to her desk.

No. 17 explained that she had been given the puppy by her sister's boyfriend and didn't want to leave it home alone. While I sympathized with her, I told her to collected her things, including her puppy and sent her directly to Human Resources and told her to explain to them why she felt the need to hide a dog in her desk.

No. 17 was gone from the office shortly thereafter but shed not a tear for her - she and her sister became backup dancers for a short performer from Minneapolis and her sister was briefly married to said singer.

So I've had my fill of bring your dog to work - thank you.

It's Midsummer day throughout most of Europe (it's also the feast day of St. John the Baptist.)

Hey, it's a European thing.

June 24, 1967 -
Procol Harum released their classic A Whiter Shade of Pale on this date.

It was the most played song in the last 75 years in public places in the UK, as of 2009.

Again, it's a European thing

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.

To paraphrase one of my faithful readers advice - Please titrate your ergot carefully, a little sexual frenzy is good and all, but ...

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 -
Communist forces with 30 military divisions cut off all land and water routes between West Germany and West Berlin, prompting the United States to organize the massive Berlin airlift.East Germany blockades the city of West Berlin.

During the Berlin Airlift, American and British planes flew about 278,000 flights, delivering 2.3 million tons of food, coal and medical supplies. General Lucius Clay, the local American commander, ordered the air supply effort.

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, Justice 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, 1967 -
Pope Paul VI published his encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus (priestly celibacy) on this date.

I would bet here's when things really came to a head with that whole 'inappropriate' touching situation in the church.

June 24, 1970 -
Mike Nichols' adaptation of Joseph Heller's Catch 22 was released on this date .

Orson Welles tried to acquire the rights to the novel so that he could film it. He had to be content with playing the part of General Dreedle.

And on a personal note: Congratulations SOS and all of your friends at PS 3, Allie, Frankie and everyone else who is graduating today.

Have the best of days!

And so it goes.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I know this will shock you

The New England Journal of Medicine has just released a study confirming that eating a whole bag of potato chips will make you fat.

I'm waiting with bated breathe for the study proving the corollary between drinking three martinis and drunkenness.

June 23, 1965
One of the classic Motown singles, Tracks of My Tears by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, was released on this date.

Stevie Wonder came up with the idea for the song. He gave Robinson a demo of it at a Motown Christmas party. Robinson thought it sounded like a circus, and came up with the lyrics based on the clown.

June 23, 1955 -
Walt Disney's 15th animated feature, Lady and the Tramp, the first animated feature filmed in CinemaScope, opened in theaters on this date.

Casting Peggy Lee was possibly the first instance of a superstar voice being used for an animated film. Peggy Lee later sued Disney for breach of contract claiming that she still retained rights to the transcripts. She was awarded $2.3m, but not without a lengthy legal battle with the studio which was finally settled in 1991.

June 23, 1965 -
One of Frank Sinatra best performances on film, Von Ryan's Express, premiered on this date.

Sinatra insisted that his character to be killed off to add a token of believability to the movie as well as for there to be redemption for the death of the female character Gabriella.

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 -
On this date, the U.S. Secret Service is founded to fight counterfeiting, protect the President

and give Robert Conrad a chance to show off his manly physique.

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

Sometimes, it's very complicated to be the king.

June 23 1979 -
The rock group, the Knack releases My Sharona on this date.

Weird Al Yankovic did a parody of this called My Bologna. It was the song that kickstarted his career in song parody. He first recorded it while he was a student at California Polytechnic State University, and sent it to Dr. Demento who played it on his radio show.

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

Jack Nicholson received a percentage of the gross on the film, and due to its massive box-office took home around $60 million. As of 2003 it is still the single-movie record for actor's salary.

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

Look for these things the next time you watch the film: with every transition of Forrest's age, one thing remains the same- in the first scene of each transition he wears a blue plaid shirt. Every still picture of Forrest during this film shows Tom Hanks with his eyes closed.

And on a personal note:
Happy Birthday David (whatever age you are is the new 30)

and so it goes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Isn't Life Strange

For days, the song This Guy's in Love with You by Herb Alpert has been playing in my head. I just read that it topped the charts on this date in 1968.

Alpert sang this to his first wife in a 1968 TV special called The Beat of the Brass. The sequence was taped on the beach in Malibu. The song was not intended to be released, but after it was used in the TV special, thousands of telephone calls to CBS asking about it convinced label owner Alpert to release it as a single two days after the show aired.

It's National Chocolate Eclair Day. While the eclair is a delicious dessert, its charms escape me.

Maybe it's the fake vanilla pudding most bakeries use rather than bavaran cream.

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

Streep has received 16 Academy Award nominations and 25 Golden Globe nominations (winning seven), 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, four New York Film Critics Circle Awards, five Grammy Award nominations, a BAFTA award, and a Tony Award nomination.

Imagine if she really applied herself to her craft.

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.

Despite the narrated prologue setting the "historical background", this is a work of fiction. There was no such mission, because there never were any guns of Navarone.

June 22, 1966 -
Mike Nichol's first film, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, opened on this date.

According a 2005 interview with Edward Albee, the writer of the play which the film is based, producer Ernest Lehman hired himself to write the screenplay for $250,000. Also, Albee says that when director Mike Nichols and stars Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor read the script, they hated it so much that, unknown to Lehman, they changed all of the dialog back to Albee's play save two lines: "Hey, let's go to the roadhouse!" and "Hey, let's come back from the roadhouse!" Albee said, "Two lines for $250,000, $125,000 a piece. That's pretty good."

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.

This was the second time he was forced to recant Earth orbits Sun by the Pope. Almost immediately, on October 31, 1992, the Vatican admitted it was wrong.

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 -
Eight days after German forces overran Paris, France is forced to sign an armistice; 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 bachelors of a certain age, Judy Garland died of a barbiturate overdose in her London apartment, either by accident or suicide.

Folks, she did not do a header into the toilet and drowned.

June 22, 1993 -
The patron saint of long suffering political wives and good Republican cloth coats, Thelma Catherine "Pat" Ryan Nixon died on this date.

I have sacrificed everything in my life that I consider precious to advance the political career of my husband ...

And so it goes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

There ain't no cure for the summertime blues

This year, Summer begins on June 21 at at 1:16 P.M. EDT 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. One in every five people in the world live on less than $1 a day. Think about it

Welcome back Al

June 21,1955 -
The David Lean movieSummertime starring Katharine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi premiered in New York on this date.

When Katharine Hepburn filmed the scene where she falls into the canal, one of her eyes became infected. That infection stayed with her the rest of her life.

June 21, 1988 -
Robert Zemeckis' incredible advance in animation, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, opened in NYC on this date.

Since the movie was being made by Disney, Warner Brothers would only allow the use of their biggest toon stars, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, if they got an equal amount of screen time as Disney's biggest stars, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Because of this, both sets of characters are always together in frame when on the screen.

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, 1893 -
The first ferris wheel debuted at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, on this date. The ferris wheel was designed by George W. Ferris, a bridge-builder from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The exposition commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus's landing in America. The Chicago Fair's organizers wanted something that would rival the Eiffel Tower. Gustave Eiffel had built the tower for the Paris World's Fair of 1889, which honored the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.

June 21, 1905 -
It would have been the 106th birthday of Jean-Paul Sartre today.

But what the hell does he care; he's dead and it doesn't mean anything anyway.

June 21, 1977 -
Martin Scorsese's much under appreciated - New York, New York, premiered on this date.

Do yourself a great favor and put this (the restored version) on the top of your Netflix queue now.

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 was impressed by this verdict.

June 21, 1989 -
The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Texas v. Johns on 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.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Brian

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

Luckily he's only occasionally hearing those voices in his head.

June 20, 1946 -
Rex Harrison's first American movie, Anna & The King Of Siam, with Irene Dunne, opened in theaters on this date.

In the film, Linda Darnell's character dies by being burned at the stake. In a bizarre ironic twist, 19 years later, she was killed in a house fire.

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.

June 20, 1975 -
Steven Spielberg's thriller, Jaws, premiered on this date. Beach vacations were never the same again.

Steven Spielberg named the shark "Bruce" after his lawyer.

Today in History:
June 20, 1793 -
Eli Whitney applied for a patent on his Cotton Gin on this date. 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 on this date.

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

Of course.

June 20, 1791-
King Louis XVI and his family attempted their escape from Paris to the royalist citadel of Montedy on this date.

They were captured at Varennes-en-Argonne when they were recognized. It didn't go too well for them after this.

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.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

And the Big Man joined the band

Somehow it was fitting that I heard on the radio that The Big Man had passed away while I was crossing the GWB last night

Clarence Anicholas Clemons, Jr. , born January 11, 1942 in Norfolk, Virginia, musician and actor, suffered a stroke on June 12, 2011 and died due to complications from the stroke on June 18 at 69 years old.

I 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 today.

Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water. - W.C. Fields

I like to drink martinis. Two at the most. Three I'm under the table, four I'm under the host. - Dorothy Parker

He knows just how I like my martini - full of alcohol. - Homer Simpson

If this day wasn't special enough, today is National Martini Day! Well, sort of. It's debated exactly what day this momentous occasion is actually supposed to occur, but since it's Father's Day Today, why not celebrate now.

And unlike James Bond, I don't give a rat's ass if mine is shaken or stirred. It just has to be GIN and bone dry!

June 19, 1954 -
The Tasmanian Devil, Taz, made his debut in the Looney Tunes cartoon, Devil May Hare, on this date.

... All the world loves a lover, but in this case, we'll make an exception.

June 19, 1957 -
The classic 50's teenage-horror film, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, starring Michael Landon, premiered on this date.

This was one of the most successful films ever released by American International Pictures.

June 19, 1962 -
One of the great film-musicals from the 60's, The Music Man, premiered on this date.

Robert Preston had never sung professionally until he appeared in the stage version of The Music Man.

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

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.

And so it goes.