Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sweet dreams are made of these

The folks at the CollegeHumor site have come up with a supercut defining the 50 Most Traumatizing Moments From Kids’ Movies (See if you agree -)

Make sure you watch this clip with you kids tonight, especially before bedtime.

Later this afternoon, The Holy See will become Sede vacante - temporarily vacant and without a leader. 

Please feel free to wantonly commit any sin imaginable until the new pope is elected.

February 28, 1915
Humor is a sense of proportion and a power of seeing yourself from the outside.

Samuel Joel Zero Mostel,(blacklisted by the HUAC in the '50s), larger than life actor and comedian, was born on this date.

February 28, 1948 -
The first Broadway show I ever heard was the recording of Carousel, and it was a very vivid experience.

Bernadette Lazzara (Bernadette Peters), Actress/Singer was born on this date.

February 28, 1970 -
Simon and Garfunkel's song Bridge over Troubled Water reached number one on this date and stayed there for the next six weeks.

Art Garfunkel sang this alone, although he thought Paul Simon should have sung it. Paul Simon has said, "Many times I'm sorry I didn't do it."  Bridge Over Troubled Water was the last album Simon & Garfunkel released before they split up. It is the biggest selling ever for Columbia Records.

February 28, 1986 -
The Brat-Pack Classic, Pretty In Pink, starring Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy, Jon Cryer and James Spader premiered on this date.

The original ending to this film depicted Duckie getting the girl. However, the test audiences said they would have preferred to see Blane win Andie's heart. Additionally, Molly Ringwald was sick during the filming of the ending and John Hughes wasn't satisfied with the editing. He was also concerned that audiences would take the original ending as a message that poor people and rich people don't belong together.

Hughes virtually made the same film all over again the following year with Some Kind of Wonderful, a film about a similar love triangle. Hughes wanted Molly Ringwald to star in it as well, but she refused. Hughes took it personally, and effectively ended their working relationship. They never worked together again.

Today in History:
February 28, 1574 -
Two impertinent heretics are burned at the stake in Mexico at a spectacular auto-da-fe comparable to those in Spain.

The two are the first victims of the Inquisition in the New World, dying for their heretical crimes of...Lutheranism.

February 28, 1844 -
Julia Gardner meets her future husband, President John Tyler, on this date.

The USS Princeton departed Alexandria, Virginia on a pleasure and trial trip down the Potomac with President John Tyler, his Cabinet and approximately two hundred guests on board. Upon the final firing of Captain Robert F. Stockton's Peacemaker (a newly designed cannon), the defective gun finally burst, instantly killing Secretary of State Abel Upshur; Secretary of the Navy Thomas Gilmer; Captain Beverly Kennon, Chief of the Bureau of Construction, Equipment and Repairs; Virgil Maxcy of Maryland, Charge d'Affaires to Belgium, 1837–42; David Gardiner of New York, the father of Julia Gardiner; and the President's valet, a black slave named Armistead.

It also injured about 20 people, including Captain Stockton (who received severe powder burns on his face, and all the hair on his head was burned off.) A Court of Inquiry exonerated Capt. Stockton due to his political influence (he supported Tyler’s campaign), blaming the explosion on John Ericsson, designer of the ships' engines (despite the fact Ericsson had nothing to do with the design of the Peacemaker gun. Capt. Stockton, in fact, stole the design plans from Ericsson, got a key element of the design wrong in the process, and passed them off as his own), and "bad luck". When Julia Gardiner, who was aboard, found out her father had died in the explosion she fainted into President Tyler's arms.

Isn't love grand.

February 28, 1905 -
Jane Lathrop Stanford, the wife of the late Leland Stanford, died of suspected arsenic poisoning at the Moana Hotel in Honolulu. A coroner’s jury confirmed the result.

Her body was returned to the mainland under the care of David Starr Jordan, the president of Stanford Univ. An examination by Stanford physicians claimed no trace of strychnine and set heart attack as cause of death.

A will signed 19 months earlier had left the bulk of her $30 million estate to Stanford University. After 100 years the only thing certain about the case - Stanford did in fact died of strychnine poisoning and somebody got away with murder.

February 28, 1939 -
On July 31, 1931, while working on the second edition of New International Dictionary for the G. and C. Merriam CompanyAustin M. Patterson, Merriam-Webster's chemistry editor, sent a slip of paper reading "D or d, cont./density."  it was meant as a note to say the the letters D or d could be used as the abbreviation for the word Density. The typo word got past proofreaders and appeared on page 771 of the dictionary around 1934.

The ghost word "dord" was not discovered to have made it into the dictionary until this date in the New International Dictionary. The word was a great source of embarrassment for the G. and C. Merriam Company, since it's not actually a word.  For some reason though, they never go around to kicking it out of the dictionary until 1947.

(But please feel free to use it in Scrabble, citing the above mentioned page as proof of it's existence.)

February 28, 1954 -
The first NTSC standard color television sets were sold on this date.  The first set was made by Westinghouse, and sold for $1295 (appromiately one-half the cost of a new car.)

Only 30 of these sets were sold by April of that year and only 500 sets were ever be built. On March 25th, RCA began shipping its mass-produced all-electronic compatible color set, for $1,000, and later in the year, a still cheaper model that will secure the company’s dominance in the television market.

February 28, 1968 -
Singer and early 60's heartthrob Frankie Lymon was found dead from a heroin overdose next to his syringe, in his grandmother's New York City apartment, on this date. Years later, three women, Zola Taylor, Elizabeth Waters and Elmira Eagle, each claim to be Lymon's rightful widow and sue to stake out a piece of his estate.

SO, I'm hoping the answer to the question, "Why do fools fall in love?" isn't - so that they can O.D. and have three women pick over the bones of your rotting corpse.

Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen was the 251st and final episode of M*A*S*H*. Closing out the series' eleventh season, the -hour episode first aired on Monday, February 28, 1983.

The episode was written by a large number of collaborators (including series star Alan Alda) and directed by Alda.  Even now, 30 years later, Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen still holds the record for the most-watched scripted TV episode with over 125 million viewers.

February 28, 1986 -
Prime Minister of Sweden Olof Palme was assassinated as he left a movie theater in Stockholm on this date.

In 1996 South African former police officer Eugene de Kock said that Craig Williamson, a South African spy, was involved in the murder. In 1997 lawyer Pelle Svensson said that his client, Lars Tingstrom, wrote a statement on his deathbed in prison in 1993 that he committed the killing. The family of Christer Pettersson, a drug addict and alcoholic, was convinced that he was the killer. In 1999, Abdullah Ocalan in Turkey suggested that a rival PKK organization killed Olaf Palme.

It seems everybody wanted to get into the act.

February 28, 1993 -
Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco use armed force attempting to serve Branch Davidian leader David Koresh with a search warrant (one with no actual evidence of any illegal activity whatsoever), in what the BATF viewed as a publicity stunt to improve their image.

While the agents carefully coordinated the raid with eleven different media outlets, something apparently tipped off Koresh and as these things usual happen - things do not go well: six Davidians and four ATF agents were killed.

The warrant instead could have been served peacefully, while Koresh did his daily morning jog.

And so it goes

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Another Caucasian, Gary!

Today is National Kahlua Day. Kahlua, in case you are under 21 or a Mormon, is a rich, creamy, coffee based alcoholic liqueur from Mexico.

If you begin to see zoo animals parading about - tightly recap your bottle.  You've celebrated enough already.

In case you didn't like the Jame Bond montage on the Oscars, here's a more detailed one  -

Although it is alittle too Daniel Craig heavy, for my taste.

February 27, 1932 -
I am a very committed wife. And I should be committed too - for being married so many times

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, actress and serial bride was born on this date.

February 27, 1937 -
An early Porky Pig, drawn by Tex Avery, Picador Porky, premiered on this date.

This is the first Warner Bros. cartoon to feature Mel Blanc's voice.

Today in History:
On this date in 280 A.D. (or another date or year, again remember lead cups and constant orgies, do not good calendar keepers make), Emperor Constantine the Great was born. Constantine took half the Roman Empire and moved it to Byzantium, a little village which he built up into such a magnificent city that it was eventually named after him: Istanbul.

And it's nobody's business but the Turks.

February 27, 1859 -
Censured Congressman Dan Sickles of New York (who escorting a known prostitute into State chambers) shot and killed Philip Barton Key, son of Francis Scott Key and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. The younger Key was having an affair with the congressman's wife at the time.

He was tried on a charge of murder, but was acquitted after a sensational trial involving the first use of the insanity defense in U.S. history.

An interesting aside: Sickle went on to become a Union general and was involved in some of the bloodiest fighting at Gettysburg and lost his own right leg in the battle. He had the leg preserved and sent to Washington D.C., where it was exhibited in a little wooden coffin at the Medical Museum of the Library of Congress. Sickles frequently visited it himself.

February 27, 1933 -
The Reichstag conveniently went up in flames on this date. A mad Dutchman who was arrested at the scene, Marinus van der Lubb, may have been partially responsible but if this is so, he is likely someone's patsy. The Nazi Party benefit greatly from the subsequent crack down, and it's suspected that SA stormtroopers set things up for van der Lubb.

Another important life lesson - bad Germans in leather shorts, beer halls and matches do not mix.

On February 27, 1939, Neville Chamberlain, everyone's favorite peas supporter, recognized General Franco's government on this date. The Fascist regime was on it's way to achieved victory in the Spanish Civil War.

Ernest Hemingway had been defeated.

The war had been so successful that Europe decided to have the second world war, which was every bit as exciting as the Spanish Civil War but with more geography and submarines.

General Franco and Ernest Hemingway are still dead.

February 27, 1951 -
The 22nd Amendment to the American Constitution was ratified by Minnesota, the 36th state out of 48 to ratify, thereby making it the law of the land. The 22nd Amendment states that no person shall be president of the United States more than twice unless they're Harry Truman.

Really, look it up - it says that.

In the graphic novel Watchmen, a crushing U.S. victory in the Vietnam War leads to the repeal of the 22nd Amendment and the repeated reelection of President Richard M. Nixon, who still serves as of 1985, the year in which Watchmen is set.

Similarly, in the time-travel movie Back to the Future Part II, an alternate timeline newspaper headline, before changing to report Ronald Reagan considering a second term, reports Nixon considering a fifth term. In a Saturday Night Live sketch, Dan Aykroyd portrayed Richard Nixon writing to random congressmen, asking for repeal of the amendment.

February 27, 1968 -
CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite's commentary on the progress of the Vietnam War solidified President Lyndon B. Johnson's decision not to seek reelection in 1968. Cronkite, who had been at Hue in the midst of the Tet Offensive earlier in February, said: "Who won and who lost in the great Tet Offensive against the cities? I m not sure." He concluded: "It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out...will be to negotiate, not as victors but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could."

Johnson called the commentary a turning point, saying that if he had "lost Cronkite," he d "lost Mr. Average Citizen." On March 31, President Johnson announced he would not seek reelection.

February 27, 1992 -
Trying to get the lid off her McDonald's coffee to add cream and sugar, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck accidentally splashes the 180-degree liquid on herself, causing third-degree burns to the thighs, genitals, and buttocks.

After skin graft surgery and weeks of recuperation, Liebeck asks McDonald's to turn down the temperature of their coffee and pay $20,000 to defray her hospital bills. McDonald's tells the old lady go take a flying leap, as they had done for a decade of similar burn claims. Ultimately, a jury awards Liebeck $2.9 million in the resulting lawsuit, which immediately triggers a renewed call for legislative tort reform and makes that one expense cup of coffee.

February 27, 2003 -
All of our neighborhoods were a little less beautiful when our good neighbor, Fred McFeely Rogers died on this date.

But let's make the most of this beautiful day.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

You may not want children to watch this ad

According to the group, One Million Moms, the following Geico ad, featuring Maxwell the Pig is promoting bestiality -

No, I believe it's a not too clever product placement for FRUIT NINJA.

I had a romance novel inside me, but I paid three sailors to beat it out of me with steel pipes - Patton Oswalt

I caught this great mini documentary on Patton Oswalt and his working process.  Find the time to watch it.

Continuing along with their theme from last week, the guys from Minute Physics have a new video - How Big is the Universe?

So kids remember, you are the center of the universe (that doesn't make you particularly special, though.)

February 26, 1908 -
He wasn't Bugs without the gags we gave him.

Frederick Bean (Tex) Avery, animator, cartoonist, and another member of the legendary Termite Terrace was born on this date.

February 26, 1916 -
Thin people are beautiful, but fat people are adorable.

John Herbert Gleason, (The Great One) comedian, actor and musician was born on this day.

February 26, 1988 -
John Water's great, albeit more mainstream feature (Water's first PG-rated film), Hairspray, opened on this date.

The role of Edna Turnblad was originally written for famed transsexual Christine Jorgensen. The role of Velma Von Tussle was originally offered to Mamie Van Doren.

February 26, 1994 -
Bill Hicks, writer and comedian, died of pancreatic cancer on this date.

In the years after his death, Hicks' work has achieved significant admiration and acclaim.

Today in History:
February 26, 1815 -
Able was I ere I saw Elba.

Napoleon left his exile on the Island of Elba, intending to return to France on this date.

February 26, 1870 -
The Beach Pneumatic Transit, the first pneumatic-powered subway line in New York City was opened to the public on this date.

Propulsion was provided by a giant fan, nicknamed The Western Tornado, operated by a steam engine, drawing air in through a valve, and blowing it forcefully into the tunnel.

The tunnel was only a block long, and the line had only one car. Rush hour must have been a bitch.

February 26, 1918 -
Grandstands at the Hong Kong Jockey Club collapsed and burnt, killing 604 spectators on this date. It was the worst disaster in sports history.

Even though mad dogs and Englishmen may go out in the midday sun - they apparently will not leave a burning stadium.

The good people at Volkswagen seem to overlook this anniversary every year.

On this date in 1936, Some junior officers in the Japanese Army mistook Japan for a foreign country and tried to conquered it. This disrupted the Japanese automotive industry, giving Adolf Hitler the opportunity to preside over the official opening of the first Volkswagen factory on this date.

February 26, 1966 -
While Nancy Sinatra was on the same record label (Reprise) as her famous father, her record label was going to drop her because her first few singles flopped. Things changed when they teamed her with producer Lee Hazlewood. These Boots Are Made for Walkin' topped the charts on this date.

It was her first hit. In 1996, Nancy Sinatra gave a pair of white go-go boots she wore to promote this song to the Hard Rock Cafe in Beverly Hills.

February 26, 1974 -
A U.S. Senate report reveals Ford Motor's involvement in Nazi Germany's war efforts, for which CEO Henry Ford received the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from Adolf Hitler himself.

After the war, the car company was paid nearly $1M reparation by the U.S. government to compensate for one of its plants that was bombed within the Reich.

And some people worry about buying a BMW.

February 26, 1993 -
A bomb explodes on level B2 of the World Trade Center, creating a five story crater and leaving six dead and over 1,042 injured.

Mohammed A. Salameh was later arrested in connection with the bombing as he tries to claim a refund on a rented van believed to have carried the explosion.

Genius, sheer genius.

And so it goes.

Before I let you go - a very cute extended commercial, based on the 'lost footage' from the original Grey Poupon ad.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Do they have a card for every event?

February 25, 1836-
According to Hallmark, today is Pistol Patent Day.

Samuel Colt was granted his first patent for a multi-chamber gun on this date.

His pistol was different from others; its design allowed several shots to be fired in succession without reloading.  Please celebrate responsibly.

February 25, 1941 -
Another Preston Sturges' comic masterpiece, The Lady Eve, premiered in the US on this date.

Sturges wrote the script in Reno, Nevada, while awaiting his third divorce.

February 25, 1945 -
Part of Roberto Rossellini Neo-realist classic war trilogy, Roma, città aperta (Rome Open City) opened in the US on this date.

Rossellini used real Nazi POWs as extras for added realistic effect.

February 25, 1950 -
The comedy-variety program Your Show of Shows, starring Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca and Carl Reiner, debuted on NBC-TV on this date.

Writers for the show included Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Larry Gelbart. A common misconception is that Woody Allen wrote for Your Show of Shows; he in fact wrote for its successor program, Caesar's Hour, which ran from 1954 to 1957.

(We watched all of the Academy Awards last night, so this is an abreviated) Today in History:
February 25, 1570 -
Pope Pius V excommunicates Queen Elizabeth I of England, for the sin of being a Protestant, on this date.

As Elizabeth was already the head of her own religion, Church of England,

this Papal Bull did not make her break stride.

February 25, 1601 -
Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, was beheaded following a conviction of treason on this date. His plot to capture London and the Tower had failed.

He was the last person to be beheaded in the Tower of London. It was reported to have taken three strokes by the executioner to complete the beheading. Ouch!

Let this be a lesson to all you playas - never try to steal you girlfriends' country.

February 25, 1879 -
Charles Frederick Peace, imfamous Victorian cat burglar and The Murderous Musician was executed by hanging on this date.

Pearce's notoriety was such that he appeared as a character in short stories by both Arthur Conan Doyle and Mark Twain.

February 25, 1888 -

John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State to President Eisenhower, was born on this date.

Haven't we all made a fool of ourselves over John Foster Dulles.

February 25, 1922 -
Henri Landru, the notorious French serial killer known as "Bluebeard", was guillotined for murdering ten women, and one boy on this date. His motive was purely financial; by placing classified ads Landru lured selected women into his clutches, married them, and disposed of their bodies without a trace.

While denying guilt to the end, a drawing given to his attorney had written on the reverse, "I did it. I burned their bodies in my kitchen oven".

Charles Chaplin based his movie, Monsieur Verdoux on this case.

February 25, 1932 -
The German state government of Brunswick, in which the Nazi Party participated, appointed Adolph Hitler of Austria to a minor administrative post this month and on this day gave him German citizenship.

Hitler was thus able to stand against Hindenburg in the forthcoming Presidential election.


February 25, 1964 -
Mohammed Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, became the heavyweight champion of the world for the first time on this day when he beat Sonny Liston.

Ali went on to become the first person to win the heavyweight champion title three times.

February 25, 1969 -
In Vietnam, a 25 year old Navy Lt., Bob Kerrey, took part in a SEAL raid in the Mekong Delta where over a dozen women, children and old men were killed in the village of Thanh Phong, on this date. Kerrey received a Bronze Star for the raid and later strongly regretted his actions.

Soon after the raid, Lt. Kerrey lost a leg at Hon Tam Island and was later awarded a Congressional medal of Honor. In 2001, the former Governor and Senator from Nebraska, publicly discussed his participation in the raid of Thanh Phong, at length for the first time.  "We fired because we were fired upon," Kerrey said at a news conference, "We did not go out on a mission to kill innocent people. I feel guilty about what happened."  Governor Kerrey described the event in his 2002 memoir When I Was a Young Man.

Bui Thi Luom, 12 at the time of the incident, the only survivor from her hut of 16, disputed Kerrey claim. saying, "Only civilians, women and children" were killed.

February 25, 1983 -
Playwright Tennessee Williams was found dead on this date, in his New York hotel room after he choked on a bottle cap during the night.

Once again, another victim of not reading the pill bottle label correctly.

And so it goes.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Quit hitting each other with those groggers

Purim started last night:

The festival of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). It commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.

It's sometimes referred to as the Jewish Mardi Gras or Halloween.

(I still like the Poppy seed Hamentaschen more than the fruit filled ones - really, who but old people would put prunes in a dessert.)

Happy Purim to all, and to all a good...wait, wrong holiday.

Raise your Frozen Margarita's tonight - contrary to popular belief, tortilla chips are not from Mexico. They were invented in Los Angeles in the 1940s by Rebecca Webb Carranza. Stick that in your guacamole!

Margaritas and chips - what's a great way to celebrate the Oscars!

And speaking of the Academy Awards, remember actual betting on the results is illegal in most states.

February 24, 1921 -
It's Abe Vigoda's birthday.

Still not dead yet!

February 24, 1973 -
The song, Killing Me Softly with His Song by Roberta Flack topped the charts on this date.

Robert Flack heard Lori Lieberman original version of the song on an in-flight tape recorder while flying from Los Angeles to New York.  She loved the title and lyrics and decided to record it herself.

Today in History:
On February 24, 1582, Pope Gregory XIII issued a proclamation that made everyone change their calendars from the Julian calendar to his own new and improved Gregorian calendar. (Obviously he was in cahoots with the calendar printing people, or he would have done it in November or December.)

It was this shameless act of self-promotion that led to subsequent Vatican proclamations being called Papal Bull.

February 24, 1807 -
It was not a good day for a hanging - In a crush to witness the hanging of John Holloway, Owen Heggerty and Elizabeth Godfrey in England on this date, 17 people died and 15 were wounded.

People, please, remember that you can see the executions perfectly well, if you stand back.

February 24, 1838 -
Thomas Benton Smith, brigadier general in the Confederate States Army , was born in Mechanicsville, Tennessee, on this date. He was wounded at Stone’s River/Murfreesboro and again at Chickamauga. He was captured at the Battle of Nashville (December 16, 1864) where he was beaten over the head with a sword by Col. William Linn McMillen of the 95th Ohio Infantry. His brain was exposed and it was believed he would die.

He recovered partially, ran for a seat in the U. S. Congress in 1870, but lost and spent the last 47 years of his life in the State Asylum in Nashville, Tennessee, where he died on May 21, 1923.

Now you know

February 24, 1868 -
President Andrew Johnson was impeached for High Crimes and Misdemeanors on this date, which is fancy talk for removing Secretary of War Stanton.

The Senate later acquitted Johnson. This remains an honor not bestowed again until the blowjob years of the Clinton Administration.

On February 24, 1920, the spokesman of a radical political group in Germany announced that it would change its name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party. The group had previously been called the East Munich Crips. Rejected names had included The Genocidal Maniacs Party, The World Conquest Party and The Party of Smiley People Who'll Make Life a Happy Little Picnic for Everyone.

This name change made all the difference in the world, and eventually led to Evil Nazi Bastards, who later teamed up with the Evil Fascist Bastards of Italy and became a Significant Problem. They did not kill quite as many people as the Evil Communist Bastards of the Soviet Union, however, and were therefore unable to scare posterity into producing apologists.

(The party spokesman who had announced the change was of course, Adolf Hitler, who did not change his own name and is therefore known to history as... you guessed it... Adolf Hitler.)

February 24, 1990 -
Businessman Malcolm Forbes died of a heart attack, at his home in Far Hills, New Jersey on this date.

Aging Chelsea leather boys still mourn his passing.

And so it goes.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I'm not quite sure why

In honor of the First Lady's "Let's Move" campaign, Jimmy Fallon dressed like his mom and got down with Michelle Obama.

It's a little disturbing how attractive Jimmy Fallon looks in drag.

February 23, 1896 -
The Tootsie Roll was introduced by Leo Hirshfield an Austrian immigrant, in his small candy shop located in New York City on this date.

He was America's first candy maker to individually wrap penny candy. Current production is over 49 million pieces a day. For many, this day should be a Federal holiday.

February 23, 1940 -
Walt Disney's animated movie Pinocchio went into general release, on this date.

During the musical number "When You Wish Upon a Star," when a spotlight is seen on Jiminy Cricket, one is able to see two books to the left of the screen, which are "Peter Pan" and "Alice in Wonderland." Walt Disney started developing these two stories for the big screen at the time of this film's release, and they would be released in 1953 and 1951, respectively.

Today in History
February 23, 303 -
Roman Emperor Diocletian issues an edict to suppress Christianity, "to tear down the churches to the foundations and to destroy the Sacred Scriptures by fire". Further edicts require that church officials engage in animal sacrifice to appease traditional Roman gods.

One can only image the kind of orgies that when on that night.

February 23, 1861 -
President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrived secretly in Washington D.C. to take office after an assassination plot was foiled in Baltimore on this date. Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, may have saved Lincoln’s life by uncovering the plot to assassinate the president-elect in Baltimore, Md.

At the detective’s suggestion, Lincoln avoided the threat by secretly slipping through the city at night.

February 23, 1885 -
The British hangman at Exeter Gaol tried three times on this date, to hang John Lee of Devonshire, for the murder of Emma Keyse. The trap refused to open.

His sentence was commuted to life, and he was eventually released.

February 23, 1915 -
Nevada enacts a law reducing the quickie divorce residency requirements down to six months, a figure further reduced in 1931 to six weeks.

February 23, 1821 -
English poet John Keats died in Rome on this date. Mr. Keats was Romantic and therefore wrote an Ode to a Nightingale, an Ode to Psyche, and even an Ode to a Grecian Urn.

None of them would have him, so the poor man died alone.

February 23, 1836 -
The siege of the Alamo began on this date. It was quite an adventure. For years afterward people would sigh, Remember the Alamo?

And they'd kind of nod and smile, but eventually they forgot.

February 23, 1903 -
Tomás Estrada Palma, the first president of Cuba, leased Guantanamo Bay to the US in perpetuity on this date.  Guantanamo Bay is the only US military base in a country with which the US does not have diplomatic relations.

Guantanamo Bay is also home to Cuba's first and only McDonald's restaurant.  I'm guessing it's McDonald's fault that we're still in Gitmo.

February 23, 1919 -
Benito Mussolini founded the Fasci del Comattimento (Evil Fascist Bastards) party in Italy in hopes of improving the nation's irregular train schedules on this date.

The Evil Fascist Bastards did eventually succeed in getting the trains to run on time, but their success was short-lived: allied forces entered the country in the 1940s and threw off their timetables for ever.

February 23, 1945 -
U. S. Marines raised the flag on Mt. Suribachi (Battle of Iwo Jima) on this date.

The photograph of the event was extremely popular, being reprinted in thousands of publications. Later, it became the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its publication, and ultimately came to be regarded as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war, and possibly the most reproduced photograph of all time.

February 23, 1954 -
The students of Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania participated in the first mass vaccination of children against polio with the vaccine (using the dead virus to induce immunization) developed by Jonas Salk, on this date.

Poliomyelitis is a viral attack of the central nervous system and can cause paralysis and death by asphyxiation

February 23, 1996 -
The Freeway Killer William G Bonin was executed at San Quentin. He was the first person to be executed by lethal injection in the history of California.

For his last meal, Bonin requested two large pepperoni and sausage pizzas, three pints of coffee ice cream and three six-packs of regular Coca Cola.

That kind of diet will kill you.

And so it goes.

Psst, here's a hint - claim your seat this morning on the couch for the Academy Awards tomorrow night.  See if you can enlist a large stuffed toy or the family pet as a seat filler.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sometimes life, just is what it is

(I swear to you that I did not make this up) - Today is the twelfth day of Chinese New Year.  It is sometimes referred to as the Diarrhea Day

As I have seen noted on many sites, the day is usually a time to diet a bit after so much rich food - vegetarian foods, like rice and mustard greens are eaten to cleanse the digestive systems.

The 85th Academy Awards are on this Sunday evening on ABC-TVNelson Carvajal edited together clips from all 84 previous Best Oscar Winners -

How many of them have you seen?  (They're all listed at the end of the superclip.)

February 22, 1934 -
Frank Capra's romantic comedy It Happened One Night, starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, premiered at Radio City Music Hall on this date .

Constance Bennett and Myrna Loy, among others, turned the script down. Claudette Colbert only accepted because Frank Capra promised he would double her salary and she would be done in four weeks. When Clark Gable showed up for work on the first day, he reportedly said grimly, "Let's get this over with."

February 22, 1977 -
The single New Kid in Town, the first release from the album Hotel California, was the Eagles' first to be certified gold for selling more than 1 million copies on this date.

On February 26, 1977, it reached the Billboard #1.

February 22, 2001 -
Mira Nair's wonderful Monsoon Wedding, opened in both Los Angeles and New York on this date.

A large portion of the original footage (including the wedding itself) was ruined by an airport x-ray machine. The scenes had to be re-shot, when additional funds had been raised to do so, some months later.

February 22, 2002 -
Charles Martin Chuck Jones, director of many of the classic short animated cartoons starring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote, died on this date.

In 1996, Jones received an Honorary Academy Award in, for "the creation of classic cartoons and cartoon characters whose animated lives have brought joy to our real ones for more than half a century." At that year's awards show, Robin Williams, a self-confessed "Jones-aholic," presented the Honorary award to Jones, calling him The Orson Welles of cartoons.

Today in History:
It is better to be alone than in bad company - George Washington

Young George Washington was born on February 11, 1731 (or so he thought.)

Unfortunately for him, England had been stubbornly holding onto the Julian calendar - they wanted none of that Papist Gregorian calendar crap. But England finally wanted to get with the times, so in 1752, Parliament adopted the Gregorian calendar. Many prominent colonists supported the new system; including Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. Washington updated his own birthday from the old February 11th to the Gregorian February 22.

But wait, there's more - the calendar switch of 1752 included another significant change. Under the Julian system, the year began on March 25. That means a colonist who went to bed on March 24, 1700, would wake up on March 25, 1701. The new Gregorian rules set the start of the year to January 1st. This created some confusion, since anyone who was born between January 1st and March 25th in the old system would have the wrong birth year in the new one - thus George's new birthday was February 22, 1732.

So you have to wish the Father of Our Country birthday greetings for the third time this month.

Much heavy drinking ensued.

On February 22, 1862, Jefferson Davis was officially inaugurated for a six-year term as the President of the Confederate States of America in Richmond, Virginia.

He was previously inaugurated as a provisional president on February 18, 1861.

I guess his mother was proud of him.

February 22, 1987 -
Andy Warhol died of complications after gallbladder surgery, though the details are hazy. The official cause was listed as cardiac arrhythmia, but speculation includes his fear of hospitals as well as possible Cefoxitin allergy. Mr. Warhol is best known for painting pictures of Campbell's Soup cans and Marilyn Monroe, although never together. Warhol's death brings him a bonus 15 minutes of fame.

His work can be seen in museums and galleries around the world to this very day.

Campbell's Soup cans can still be found in the canned goods section of your favorite supermarket to this very day.

February 22, 1980 -
During the XIII Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York, the United States hockey team defeats the Soviet Union hockey team 4-3 on this date.

It is considered to be one of the greatest upsets in sports history (the Miracle on Ice.)

February 22, 1994 -
CIA agent Aldrich Ames and his wife are charged by the United States Department of Justice with spying for the Soviet Union on this date.

And though by 1989 Ames had acquired unexplainable wealth from his spying and did very little to conceal the spying, he somehow managed to evade being caught for five more years.

February 22, 1997
The first cloning of an advanced mammal, a sheep known as Dolly, was announced in the news media, on this date. Dolly, actually born on July 5, 1996, was cloned from a mammary cell -

Dolly was purportedly named after Dolly Parton.

I guess that's a compliment.

And so it goes.

Before I let you go - Did you ever wonder who invented the drink amateur drinkers imbibe - The Long Island Ice Tea?  Well, wonder no more - it was Bob Rosebud Butt:

If you are so inclined, raise a glass to him this weekend.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Do you look good in hats?

In case you're looking for a career change, I understand that there is an opening, coming up soon in Vatican City.  The great vlogger, CGP Grey has come up with the particulars in How to become Pope.

I unfortunately do not qualify, if for no other reason than I have been married for a very long time. That and not being a priest or not holding a doctorate in divinity.  Tends to put you out of the running almost immediately  (also I tend not to look good in shapeless cassocks.)

February 21, 1931 -
Plop Plop Fizz Fizz, Oh what a relief it is ...

Miles Laboratories introduced Alka-Seltzer® on this date.

February 21, 1967 -
One Million Years B.C., starring Raquel Welch, her bodacious tatas and a bunch of dinosaur puppets, premiered on this date.

As I've mentioned in the past, folks going to the Creation Museum, this is NOT a documentary.

February 21, 1981 -
Charles Rocket, first in the long line of performers on Saturday Night Live to drop the f-bomb, curses live at the end of the episode in response to a question about how it felt being shot during a skit.

Due partially to the violation of broadcast standards, along with Saturday Night Live's low ratings, Rocket and most of that seasons cast and writers were fired shortly thereafter. (Sorry but Youtube has taken down the clip)

Today in History:
King James I of Scotland was assassinated on February 21, 1437. (Please feel free to chart the following genealogy, it may be on the test) James I's grandfather, Robert II, had married twice and the awkward circumstances of the first marriage (the one with James's grandmother Elizabeth Mure - he didn't get around to marrying her until several years and children into their relationship) led some to dispute its validity. Conflict broke out between the descendants of the first marriage and the unquestionably legitimate descendants of the second marriage over who had the better right to the Scottish throne.

Matters came to a head on February 21, 1437, when a group of Scots led by Sir Robert Graham assassinated James at the Friars Preachers Monastery in Perth. He attempted to escape his assailants through a sewer. However, three days previously, he had had the other end of the drain blocked up because of its connection to the tennis court outside, balls habitually got lost in it.

I'm sure the irony was not lost on James while he scrambled around in the sewer.

February 21, 1803 -
Edward Despard and six co-conspirators were executed at Horsemonger Lane Gaol for plotting to assassinate England's King George III and to destroy the Bank of England, in front of a crowd of at least 20,000 spectators. Despard was originally sentenced, with six of his fellow-conspirators (John Wood and John Francis, both privates in the army, carpenter Thomas Broughton, shoemaker James Sedgwick Wratton, slater Arthur Graham and John Macnamara,) to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

These were the last men to be so sentenced in England, although prior to execution the sentence was commuted to simple hanging and beheading, amid fears that the Draconian punishment might spark public dissent.

This must have been a very pretty sight indeed.

February 21, 1878 -
The first telephone directory was issued with 50 subscribers, by the District Telephone Company of New Haven, Connecticut on this date.

The first prank phone call to a Mr. Lipshitz soon follows.

February 21, 1885 -
America's greatest phallic symbol, the Washington Monument, is dedicated by President Chester A. Arthur on this date. The shaft towers over 555 feet into the air and sports an aluminum foreskin.

The monument was the tallest structure in the world when completed .

Talk about feeling inadequate (and talk about smegma.)

February 21, 1916 -
The Battle of Verdun began today, which in nine months yielded 975,000 casualties and almost no change in the front line.

It is the bloodiest battle in history, and often the one remarked as having the "highest density of dead per square yard."

February 21, 1925 -
The top hatted character Eustace Tilley first appeared on a magazine cover on this date.  Eustace Tilley, the mascot of The New Yorker magazine, was based on an engraving of Compte Alfred d'Orsay, interpreted by house cartoonist and art director Rea Irvin.

The first issue of the New Yorker magazine, founded by Harold Ross, hit the newsstands.

February 21, 1953 -
Francis Crick and James D. Watson came up with a key insight in their discovery of the structure of the DNA molecule on this date.

At first they were going with a squiggle or smiley face structure until they hit upon the double helix.

February 21, 1965 -
Former Black Muslim leader El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, aka Malcolm X was shot to death on this date, in front of 400 people in New York by assassins identified as Black Muslims.

He was murdered at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan. His wife, Betty Sha-bazz, was pregnant with twins and sat in the audience along with his 4-year-old daughter Quibi-lah.

February 21, 1972 -
Richard M. Nixon visits the People's Republic of China to normalize Sino-American relations, becoming the first US president to visit a country not diplomatically recognized by the US.

He fulfills the old Vulcan proverb - Only Nixon could go to China.

February 21, 1988 -
Television evangelist Jimmy Swaggart of the Assemblies of God, with tears streaming down his face, confesses sinning with a prostitute (Debra Murphree) in a Louisiana hotel room.

A second scandal with yet another prostitute emerges in 1991, further killing his evangelical career. It way have not to do with the situation but Jimmy is related to both Mickey Gilley and Jerry Lee Lewis.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

That's a lot of pizza

Some one had a lot of time on their hands and came up with a supercut of about two dozen clips from various movies featuring America's favorite food:

Now what are you having for lunch?

February 20, 1932 -
Tod Browning's incredible film, Freaks, about sideshow performers, was released on this date.

The original casting had Victor McLaglen as Hercules, Myrna Loy as Cleopatra, and Jean Harlow as Venus. All balked at the prospect of co-starring with "sideshow exhibitions".

February 20, 1952 -
John Huston's excuse for big game hunting, The African Queen, starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, opened in general release at Capitol Theater in NYC on this date.

It seems that everyone in the cast and crew got sick, except Humphrey Bogart and John Huston, who said they avoided illness by essentially living on imported Scotch. Bogart later said, "All I ate was baked beans, canned asparagus, and Scotch whisky. Whenever a fly bit Huston or me, it dropped dead."  To show her disgust with the amount of alcohol that John Huston and Humphrey Bogart consumed during filming, Katharine Hepburn drank only water. As a result, she suffered a severe bout of dysentery.

February 20, 1956 -
The wonderfully evil comedy, The Ladykillers, starring Alec Guinness and Peter Sellars, opened in New York on this date.

The producers originally rejected director Alexander Mackendrick's choice of Katie Johnson for the role of Mrs. Wilberforce on the grounds that she might be too frail for the project, and so they cast a younger actress - who died before filming began.

February 20, 1967 -
The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.

Kurt Cobain, musician and lead guitarist of seminal grunge band Nirvana, was born on this date.

Today in History:
February 20 is just one many dates on which Francois-Marie Arouet may have been born in 1694.

Francois-Marie was a supremely intelligent, fiercely independent man and was therefore instructed to leave Paris.

Each time he was kicked out, however, he simply came back, said something witty, and was kicked out yet again.

Eventually the French invented reverse psychology. They invited Francois-Marie back from his latest exile and threw a big party for him. The shock of his reception killed him and Paris has mourned his loss ever since.

Except now they call him Voltaire.

February 20, 1872 -
The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened its doors to the public for the first time. The Museum first was housed at the Dodworth Building at 681 Fifth Avenue between 53rd and 54th Streets.

The Museum remained in its first home until 1873, when it moved to larger quarters in the Douglas Mansion on West 14th Street. In 1880, the Metropolitan opened its first building at its current location in Central Park. Currently, its permanent collection contains more than two million works. (That's a lot of art to dust.)

February 20, 1907 -
Pres. Theodore Roosevelt signed an immigration act which excluded "idiots, imbeciles, feebleminded persons, epileptics, insane persons" from being admitted to the US on this date.

I've said it before: Teabaggers and Birthers should rejoice that there is not a 'sanity clause' for the native born citizen.

February 20, 1947 -
A chemical mistake at the O'Connor Electro-Plating Co. in Los Angeles caused a blast that destroyed/damaged more than 55 structures in a 300-foot radius, 150 people were injured and 15 persons perished.

The incident resulted in the city's first ordinance stipulating regulations for the storage, transportation, production, processing, and use of hazardous chemicals and led to one of the first Hazmat Dictionary's in the U.S.


February 20, 1962 -
... Godspeed John Glenn.

While aboard Friendship 7, John Glenn orbited the earth three times in 4 hours, 55 minutes, becoming the first American to orbit the earth. Remember, NASA hadn't invented the astronaut diaper yet; I bet he had to pee something wicked.

February 20, 1971 -
An erroneous warning is emitted on the Emergency Broadcast System causing a number of stations to go off the air, and others to completely ignore the alert (thus pointing out that many key stations would not react to any emergency broadcast over the system.)

So remember this just a test, unless it's not.

February 20, 1980 -
After some heavy drinking, Bon Scott, vocalist for heavy metal band AC/DC, was found in a friend's automobile - he apparently choked to death on his own vomit.

His family was relieved that he hadn't choked to death on someone else vomit.

February 20, 1984 -
Ballerina Julia Pak married Heung Jin Moon, son of Sun Myung Moon, religious icon on this date. The ceremony was a tasteful affair save one small detail - Heung Jin Moon was prevented from attending the service in person; he had died in an auto accident the previous Decemeber.

As adult Moonies are only allowed to enter Heaven once they are married, there was a dire need for this awkward necro-ceremony.

Happy 29th Zombie Anniversary!!!

And so it goes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Another minor question addressed

The folks at Minute Physics try to answer a small matter - What is the Universe?

Today is tenth day of Chinese New Year; tomorrow will be the 11th and the day after that - the 12th.  Are you really still celebrating?

February 19, 1913 -
Prizes were inserted into a Cracker Jack box for the first time on this date (A Prize in Every Box.)

In ensuing decades, over seventeen billion prizes have been "awarded" to Cracker Jack purchasers. Among the numerous Cracker Jack prizes offered across the years are miniature plates, puzzles, books, bookmarks, pinball games, plastic figurines, and self-adhesive stickers (but alas, no Coup de Villes.)

Extra credit question: The name of Jack's dog ... Bingo.

February 19, 1940 -
William Smokey Robinson, singer was born, on this date.

Robinson, when still a child, was nicknamed "Smokey Joe" by an uncle because of his love of cowboy movies.

February 19, 1982 -
The Wes Craven film Swamp Thing, starring Louis Jourdan, Adrienne Barbeau, Ray Wise and Dick Durock, was released on this date.

Dick Durock was forced into the role of the Swamp Thing by necessity. He'd been brought on board the project as a stuntman, but the filmmakers found that it was impossible to go from Durock to Ray Wise - who had been cast as Alec Holland, Swamp Thing's former self - and back again because the two men looked so different in Swamp Thing's makeup.

Today in History:
February 19, 1329 -
(Antipope) Nicholas V presided at a bizarre ceremony in the Duomo of Pisa, at which a straw puppet representing his rival, Pope John XXII and dressed in pontifical robes was formally condemned, degraded, and handed over to the secular arm (to be "executed").

John XXII had the last laugh when he excommunicated Nicholas V in April 1329 and had him imprisoned until his death in August 1333.

Oh those wacky Antipopes.

February 19, 1473 -
Nicolaus Copernicus (or Mikolaj Kopernik or Nicolaus Koppernigk - apparently he was running some sort of scheme at an early age) was born in Poland on this date.

He stated an early theory that the earth and the planets move around the sun that led the way to our understanding of planetary movement.

In the presidential election of 1800, Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson drew to a tie. The House of Representatives broke the tie by throwing their weight behind Jefferson, making him president, on February 17, 1801. Burr was given the vice-presidency as either a consolation prize or a practical joke.

Like many other people, Vice-President Burr was often irritated by Alexander Hamilton. Unlike most other people, he shot and killed him. Although it had been a fair duel, the vice-president was indicted for murder. He was never actually arrested for the shooting, nor was he removed from office, because there was no controlling legal authority in place to prevent a vice-president from shooting Alexander Hamilton.

Instead of reviving Burr's political career, the duel helped to end it. Burr was charged with two counts of murder. After his term as vice president ended, he would never hold elective office again. And his next plot to gain power would end with charges of treason.

Civilized political discourse?

(A subsequent constitutional amendment that would have made it illegal for members of the executive branch to shoot Alexander Hamilton was defeated on the grounds of its limited usefulness to the deceased.) After serving out his term as VP, Mr. Burr moved to the southwest and decided to establish his own empire. Fortunately there were controlling legal authorities that prohibited the establishment of empires. President Jefferson had him arrested on February 19, 1807.

Burr was ultimately acquitted. (His descendant Raymond Burr would go on to restore a bit of varnish to the family name as Perry Mason and as spokesperson for Raymond Burr Nipple Rouge.)

February 19, 1910 -
Mr. Creosote had nothing on Diamond Jim Brady - at a New York dinner party on this date, Mr. Brady amazed his guests with his appetite:

he ate five helpings of roast beef, gallons of stewed fruit, 84 oysters and drank three gallons of orange juice to wash it all down!

February 19 is also notable for the 1995 marriage, on that date, of Pamela Anderson to rocker Tommy Lee. Their marriage is best remembered for having produced the most widely-distributed honeymoon pictures in the history of the world.

Sorry folks, you're going to have to find the link to the video yourself.

February 19, 1951 -
It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.

Nobel laureate, Protestant, cocaine addict and noted pederast, Andre Gide died on this date .

February 19, 1997 -
Supreme Chinese leader and one time replacement for Diana Ross, Deng Xiaoping died on this date.

Dying takes the shine off of being Supreme.

And so it goes.