Friday, January 31, 2014

Mǎnián dàjí

(Please be aware that once again, Mr. Teeny and  I will be celebrating Chinese New Year by recklessly shooting firecrackers in public locations for the next two weeks. Please also remember that people in China don't call it Chinese New Year, it's Lunar New Year; other countries celebrate Lunar New Year as well.)

Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal's year would have some of that animal's personality. This year is the year of the Horse. Those born in horse years are cheerful, skillful with money, perceptive, witty, talented and good with their hands. Rembrandt, Harrison Ford, Aretha Franklin, Chopin, Sandra Day O'Connor, and President Theodore Roosevelt were born in the year of the horse.

The spirit of the horse is recognized to be the Chinese people's ethos – making unremitting efforts to improve themselves. It is energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able. Ancient people liked to designate an able person as 'Qianli Ma', a horse that covers a thousand li a day (one li equals 500 meters).

Occupying the Seventh position in the Chinese Zodiac, The Horse symbolizes such character traits as strength, energy, and an outgoing nature. Extremely animated, Horses thrive when they’re the center of attention. Always in search of a good time, Horses keep the crowds happy with their humor and their wit.

Happy Hansen's Disease Day

Celebrate World Leprosy Day - be like St. Francis - lick a leper's sores.

Or not, You could think about the fact that Barry Manilow's song, Mandy went gold on this date in 1974.

January 31, 1921 -
John G. Agar
, American's greatest B movie actor, first husband of Shirley Temple

and once the owner of the world's largest King Kong Statue (I kid you not), was born on this day.

Sometimes, it's just a red letter day.

January 31, 1957 -
! Double Horror Sensation! Oh Roger Corman, we love you!

It's not to be believed but on a double bill, Attack of the Crab Monsters and Not of this Earth premiered on this date.

Today in History:
January 31, 1606
Guy Fawkes and a group of English Catholics attempted to overthrow and assassinate King James I with the intention of installing his daughter, Princess Elizabeth as queen. The failed attempt came to be known as the Gunpowder Plot.

Fawkes was sentenced to the traditional traitors' death - to be 'hanged, drawn and quartered'. In the event, he jumped from the gallows, breaking his own neck and thereby avoiding the horror of being cut down while still alive, having his testicles cut off and his stomach opened and his guts spilled before his eyes. His lifeless body was hacked into quarters and his remains sent to 'the four corners of the kingdom' as a warning to others.

While most of England celebrates the failed Gunpowder Plot as a national holiday on November 5, Guy Fawkes was also voted #30 in the BBC-sponsored list of "100 Greatest Britons" in 2002.

January 31, 1921 -
The Carroll A. Deering was a five-masted commercial schooner that was found run aground off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, on this date. Its crew was mysteriously missing.

Theories abound about the the crews disappearance ranging from piracy, mutiny and victims of the dread 'Bermuda Triangle'.

The truth is out there.

January 31, 1940 -
The first monthly retirement check was issued to Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont, in the amount of $22.54. Miss Fuller, a Legal Secretary, retired in November 1939. She started collecting benefits in January 1940 at age 65 and lived to be 100 years old, dying in 1975.

Ida May Fuller worked for three years under the Social Security program. The accumulated taxes on her salary during those three years were a total of $24.75. Her initial monthly check was $22.54. During her lifetime she collected a total of $22,888.92 in Social Security benefits.

January 31, 1945 -
Private Eddie Slovik was the first U.S. soldier to be shot for desertion since the Civil War on this date.

Although over 21,000 American soldiers were given varying sentences for desertion during World War II, including 49 death sentences, Slovik's was the only death sentence carried out.

January 31, 1950 -
Coming off yet another three day bender, President Truman gives the go-ahead for the development of Edward Teller's hydrogen bomb on this date.

The "hell bomb," as it was called, served to greatly heighten US-USSR tensions in the Cold War.  Hopefully, Kim Jong Un is not reading my blog and taking notes.

Explorer-I, officially Satellite 1958 Alpha (and sometimes referred to as Explorer 1), was the first Earth satellite of the United States, having been launched at 10:48 pm EST on January 31, 1958, as part of the United States program for the International Geophysical Year.

The satellite was launched from LC-26 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on board a Juno I rocket.

Electrical power was provided by mercury chemical batteries that made up approximately 40 percent of the payload weight. These provided power that operated the high power transmitter for 31 days and the low-power transmitter for 105 days. (This is on the test.)

January 31, 1961 -
The United States sends its first space monkey into space, Ham the chimpanzee. His Mercury/Redstone 2 achieves an altitude of 158 miles. Ham's capsule splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean and was recovered by a rescue ship later that day.

After the flight, Ham lived for 17 years in the National Zoo in Washington D.C., then at the North Carolina Zoo before dying at the age of 27 on January 19, 1983. Ham the Chimp was not the first animal in space. That honor goes to Laika the dog, who was sent into orbit by the Soviet Union in 1957. Ham could not deal with this fact and NASA had to hide the fact that Ham had become a heroin addict.

January 31, 1966 -
The Soviet Union launches the unmanned Luna 9 spacecraft as part of the Luna program. Three days later, on February 3, 1966 the Luna 9 spacecraft was the first spacecraft to achieve a lunar soft landing and to transmit photographic data to Earth.

For unknown reasons, the pictures from Luna 9 were not released immediately by the Soviet authorities.

Now the truth can be told.

And so it goes.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

You have 30 seconds before you're through

It's National Inane Answering Message Day. Observed on January 30th every year, this holiday encourages you on this day to bring an end to all of the mindless and endlessly long answering machine messages that annoy and waste the time of callers.

Or, you could leave a long, drawn out, insane message on your machine this day. The choice is up to you.

January 30, 1931 -
Charlie Chaplin's City Lights
(A Comedy Romance in Pantomime) premiered at Los Angeles Theater on this date. The episodic film includes a complete musical soundtrack and various sound effects - but no speech or dialogue.

This was Charles Chaplin's first film made during the sound era. He faced extreme pressure to make the film as a talkie, but such was his popularity and power in Hollywood that he was able to complete and release the film as a silent (albeit with recorded music) at a time when the rest of the American motion picture industry had converted to sound.

January 30, 1969 -
At a free concert at their Apple corporate headquarters in London, The Beatles made their last-ever public appearance as a group on this date.

The performance, filmed for the documentary Let It Be, was eventually halted when police arrived after neighbors complained about the racket.

January 30, 1981 -
Universal Pictures
released the Joel Schumacher film The Incredible Shrinking Woman,  starring Lily Tomlin and Charles Grodin, on this date.

Make-up artist Rick Baker portrays Sidney the Gorilla himself in this film which was released in the same year that An American Werewolf in London was released, the film that Baker won the first ever Academy Award for Make-Up.

Today in History:
January 30, 1649
If history teaches us anything, it's that sometimes, it not good to be the king.

King Charles I of England, was beheaded for treason at Banqueting House on this date. It is reputed that he wore two shirts as to prevent the cold January weather causing any noticeable shivers that the crowd could have been mistaken for fear or weakness. He put his head on the block after saying a prayer and signaled the executioner when he was ready; he was then beheaded with one clean stroke.

It was common practice for the head of a traitor to be held up and exhibited to the crowd with the words Behold the head of a traitor!; although Charles' head was exhibited, the words were not used.

January 30, 1835 -
Andrew Jackson
was the subject of the first recorded assassination attempt on a U.S. president. Jackson was crossing the Capitol Rotunda following the funeral of a Congressman when Richard Lawrence approached Jackson and fired two pistols, which both miraculously misfired. Jackson proceeded to beat the living daylights out of Lawrence with his cane, prompting his aides to restrain him.

As a result, Jackson's statue in the Capitol Rotunda is placed in front of the doorway in which the attempt occurred. Lawrence was later found to be mentally ill, having accused Jackson of preventing him from becoming King of England.

January 30, 1889
Kids, your history teachers lied to you once again - World War I really started on this date.

The bodies of Archduke Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, syphilitic, depressive, whore mongering heir to the Austro-Hungarian crown, and his air headed 17 year old mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera, were discovered in the Imperial hunting lodge at Mayerling in the Vienna Woods on this date.

The Prince had either a.) shot himself after killing his mistress, b.) been killed by his mistress in a suicide pact or c.) been a victim of a political assassination. Their death and the resulting cover-up left Rudolf's cousin, The Archduck Ferdinand heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

And you see where that got Europe.

January 30, 1948 -
I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before any one even at the cost of your life - Gandhi

Sometimes, it's not good to be the world's greatest advocate of non violence.

Mohandas K. Gandhi was assassinated by Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse on his way to morning prayers on this date.

January 30, 1968 -
The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Communist forces launched a surprise offensive on the lunar New Year Tet holiday truce that became known as the Tet Offensive on this date.

Although the Communists were beaten back, the offensive was seen as a major setback for the US and its allies and shocked the complacent American television viewer who had been led to believe the war was won.

Faced with an unhappy American public and depressing news from his military leaders, President Lyndon B. Johnson decided to end the escalation of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

January 30, 1976 -
George H.W. Bush
became the 11th director of the Central Intelligence Agency, a position which he held until 1977.

And you still wonder how Dubya won.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Amazing things are happening every day

Another video from Kid President's Letter To A Person On Their First Day Here

There's just so much to do.

Uncle Joe had a good time last night

January 29, 1954 -
Orpah Gail Winfrey
, the most influential (and one of the wealthiest) woman in the world, is another year older.

Oprah got snubbed for an Oscar nomination this year.  I just want to remind those folks that Oprah could get enriched uranium in a human heart beat.

January 29, 1959 -
With a budget that exceeded $6 million, Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty premiered in Los Angeles on this date.

Second only to Dumbo (who didn't speak at all), Sleeping Beauty had only about 18 lines of actual dialogue throughout the entire film in which she only appears in the film for 18 minutes

January 29, 1964
Introducing us to saving our precious bodily fluids and the rule about no fighting in the War room, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was released in the United States, on this date.

George C. Scott was reputedly annoyed that Stanley Kubrick was pushing him to overact for his role. While he vowed never to work with Kubrick again, Scott eventually saw this as one of his favorite performances. Many fans consider it some of his best work on-screen.

Today in History
January 29 1595
... O! she doth teach the torches to burn bright
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear

William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet was probably first performed on this date (unless it wasn't).

I don't know, I wasn't there, were you?

It's Thomas Paine's birthday today. He was born in 1737.

You could commemorate the occasion by reading (or rereading) Common Sense. You could also commemorate the occasion by piercing an eyebrow or waxing your car or bleaching someone's anal area.

I don't care, it was just a suggestion.

January 29, 1886-
Karl Benz
patented the "Benz Patent Motorwagon", on this date, which looked much like a tricycle with a cushioned seat; this was the first gas-powered car.

Making a gas-powered car had been a long-time dream of Benz, who had originally started tinkering with engines in his spare time as a bicycle shop owner.

January 29, 1979 -
Brenda Spencer
fired repeatedly at the school across from her residence in San Diego, killing two and wounding eight children, using the rifle her father had given her as a gift.

I don't like Mondays. This livens up the day. -- The reason she gave inspired the Boomtown Rats song.

Remember: guns don't kill people, it's the damn gifts our father's give us.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Taking the trust game to a new level

This purports to be the test for the emergency brakes of the Netherlands Leopard Tank

I might want to find another job.

The word for today:
Serendipity - the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely.

The word derives from an old Persian fairy tale and was coined by Horace Walpole on January 28, 1754 in a letter he wrote to his friend Horace Mann (not the same man as the famed American educator).

This should not be confused with Synchronicity - which is an album by the Police (but that's another story).

In a similar vein  - why are they called:

a blush of boys

a drunkship of cobblers

a hastiness of cooks

a stalk of foresters

an observance of hermits

a bevy of ladies

a faith of merchants

a superfluity of nuns

a malapertness (= impertinence) of pedlars

a pity of prisoners

a glozing (= fawning) of taverners

January 28, 1953 -
J. Fred Muggs
joined NBC's Today Show on this date.

Please note: the more intelligent looking fellow sitting on the desk is Mr. Muggs

January 28, 1973 -
Barnaby Jones
, starring Buddy Ebsen, premieres on CBS-TV, on this date.

William Conrad appeared on many early episodes of the show as Frank Cannon. Barnaby had originally appeared on Cannon after Barnaby's son Hal, who was a good friend of Frank's, was murdered. Cannon helped Barnaby eventually track down his son's killers.

January 28, 1977 -
Star of TV's Chico and the Man, Freddie Prinze has a violent allergic reaction to lead on this date.

Despondent over his upcoming divorce and battling a major drug addiction, Prinze, shot himself in the head days earlier, died on this day. He was 22 years old.

January 28, 1978 -
Fantasy Island
, starring Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaize, debuted on ABC-TV on this date.

Whenever guests were arriving on Fantasy Island, Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize) would run up to the bell tower, ring the bell, and announce "de plane!". After he left the show, Mr. Roarke's new assistant, Lawrence (Christopher Hewett), would simply push a button next to him, which would ring the bell.

Today in History:
January 28, 814 -
First Reich
: Charlemagne, German emperor, dies at the age of 71 on this date.

Though he had conquered much of Europe, his legacy was considerably reduced after his death from mismanagement and incompetence.

Coincidentally, The Siege of Paris, lasting from September 19, 1870 until January 28, 1871, bringing about French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and led to the establishment of the German Empire (Second Reich).

Due to a severe shortage of food, Parisians were forced to slaughter whatever animals at hand. Rats, dogs, cats, and horses were regular fare on restaurant menus.

* Consommé de Cheval au millet. (horse)
* Brochettes de foie de Chien à la maître d'hôtel. (dog)
* Emincé de rable de Chat. Sauce mayonnaise. (cat)
* Epaules et filets de Chien braisés. Sauce aux tomates. (dog)
* Civet de Chat aux Champignons. (cat)
* Côtelettes de Chien aux petits pois. (dog)
* Salmis de Rats. Sauce Robert. (rats)
* Gigots de chien flanqués de ratons. Sauce poivrade. (rats)
* Begonias au jus. (flowers)
* Plum-pudding au rhum et à la Moelle de Cheval. (horse)

Even Pollux and Castor, the only pair of elephants in Paris, were not spared.

January 28, 1829 -
In Scotland, serial killer William Burke was hanged for murder following a scandal in which he was found to have provided extra-fresh corpses for anatomy schools in Edinburgh. His partner William Hare had turned king's witness.

If only he had gone for the less fresh corpses. The scandal led to the 1832 Anatomy Act.

January 28, 1958 -
Those damn little toys that you step on in the middle of the night became legal today.

The Lego company patented their design of modern Lego bricks, still compatible with bricks produced today.

January 28, 1958 -
Bizarrely on the same day, Brooklyn Dodger catcher Roy Campanella's career ended when he lost control of his car on a slick highway.

He became a paraplegic and was confined to a wheelchair the remainder of his life.

January 28, 1986 -
The Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated 74 seconds into its flight, killing teacher Christa McAuliffe and the rest of the crew. Their capsule plunged intact into the ocean, pulverizing everyone on impact, making a rescue attempt difficult, if not impossible.

The cause was later found to be failure of a booster rocket O-rings because of the cold weather.

Moral: Avoid rocket travel this week, if possible.

And so it goes.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Punch the Clock Day

I have no idea why anyone would want to celebrate the soul-numbing activity of having to punch into work. So instead, let's celebrate a great cut from the Elvis Costello album Punch the Clock, Shipbuilding.

We could also note that it's Thomas Crapper day (more about Mr. Crapper later.)

On January 21, 1901, the great maestro Joe Green (Giuseppe Verdi was merely his stage name) suffered a stroke while staying at the Grand Hotel et de Milan, in Milan. So revered was the composer that horses hooves were wrapped in blankets to muffle their noise as they passed the hotel where he rested.

Verdi gradually grew more feeble and died six days later, on this date. To date, his funeral remains the largest public assembly of any event in the history of Italy.

January 27, 1918 -
Tarzan of the Apes
, the first Tarzan film, premiered at the Broadway Theater in NYC on this date.

In one scene a lion is supposed to crawl through the window of Tarzan's cabin to devour Jane. Tarzan grabs him and pulls him out. Rumor has it that the old and drugged lion turned on Elmo Lincoln who stabbed and killed him. "I stepped on him to beat my chest. As my foot pressed down on him, the remaining air in his lungs escaped with a loud whoosh. I was already shaken and you should have seen me jump!" The lion wound up as a lobby display when the picture opened on Broadway. However, Enid Markey and others from the cast have disputed this version of events, saying that the lion was actually killed off screen. Contrary to popular opinion, the death of the lion is not actually shown on screen. It is already dead when Elmo stabs at it, barely puncturing its skin.

January 27, 1976 -
Laverne and Shirley
, a spinoff from Happy Days, starring Penny Marshall as Laverne De Fazio and Cindy Williams as Shirley Feeney, premiered on ABC-TV on this date .

Virtually all the scripts of the unsuccessful sitcom Hey, Landlord (1966) were eventually rewritten as scripts for this show .

Today in History:
January 27, 1756 -
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
, Austrian musical genius, composer and fart joke lover, whose works included The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute, was born on this date.

When Mozart died in 1791, probably of heart disease, he was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave.

January 27, 1832
... Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, Anglican deacon, children's author, mathematician, and photographer (child pornographer?) was born on this date.

January 27, 1859 -
Kaiser Wilhelm II, (Queen Victoria's first grandchild and first cousin to both King George V and Tsar Nicholas II) emperor who ruled Germany during World War I but was forced to abdicate in 1918, was born on this date.

Oh, those wacky royals.

January 27, 1900 -
Hyman Rickover
, American admiral who is considered the "Father of the Atomic Submarine", was born on this date.

Creating a detail-focused pursuit of excellence to a degree previously unknown, Rickover redirected the United States Navy’s ship propulsion, quality control, personnel selection, and training and education, and has had far reaching effects on the defense establishment and the civilian nuclear energy field.

Hooray, it's Thomas Crapper Day

Thomas Crapper died on January 27, 1910. In popular American folklore, the British Mr. Crapper was the man who invented and gave his name to the flush toilet. Unfortunately, there is little historical evidence to support Mr. Crapper as anything but a friendly British plumber.

I say unfortunately because the world is ambiguous enough as it is, and the toilet is one of a very few things that can be counted on to acquit itself without any ambiguity. Having a toilet in the home improves our quality of life enormously; the contributions of most other appliances pale by comparison. Like other vital but widely available amenities, however, a toilet’s importance is most strongly felt in its absence. Most of us have had at least one experience where we’ve made a hefty contribution to a toilet only to discover afterwards that it won’t flush. Can you not remember the horror as you stared down into the bowl and wondered what to do? Can you not remember the icy panic that gripped you as you noticed that not only wouldn’t the toilet flush, but that the water was rising?

(The Germans have a word for that bone-chilling dread, and it reflects poorly upon us as a nation that we do not. The Germans also have a word for the feeling you get when you notice just as you’re locking your car door that the keys are still in the ignition. Clearly, they have more to offer the world than beer, pretzels, and maniacal plans for world conquest.)

The importance of toilets cannot be overstated, and anything that important deserves a good legend. Thomas Crapper may not have invented the toilet, and his name may not have been the source of our "crap" or "crapper," but that doesn’t mean we have to tolerate the truth. We can choose to embrace the legend of Thomas Crapper:

Thomas Crapper was born in 1839. He became a plumber. He invented the flush toilet, which is why people called it the "crapper," which eventually led to people calling the stuff they put into the toilet "crap."

It’s concise. It’s easy. It’s elegant. Reject the truth, and give thanks this day for Thomas Crapper.

January 27, 1967 -
A launchpad flash fire in the Apollo I capsule killed the astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward H White and Roger B Chaffee at Cape Canaveral on this date.

An investigation indicated that a faulty electrical wire inside the Apollo I command module was the probable cause of the fire .

January 27, 1973 -
North and South Vietnam, the Viet Cong, and the United States signed the Paris Peace Accord on this day, ending one of the longest and most unpopular wars in American history.

Despite a ceasefire that had been put into effect a few days earlier, the last American troop to die in Vietnam was killed just 11 hours before the treaty was signed.

January 27, 1992 -
Candidate Bill Clinton and Gennifer Flowers mutually accuse each other of lying about whether or not they had a 12 year affair on this date.

Oh, that wacky Bubba

January 27, 2010

Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and whose books, such as A People's History of the United States, inspired young and old to rethink the way textbooks present the American experience, died on this date.

Go out and buy his book, if not for a kid you know, buy it for yourself.

And so it goes.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Party time around the world

It's Republic Day in India and dancers from all over the nation gather in New Delhi every year on this day to dance in the huge National Arena and all along a five mile parade route.

It's Australia Day today (formerly known as Foundation Day in Australia) as well and commemorates the establishment of the first settlement at Port Jackson, now part of Sydney, in 1788. (The fleet was led by Captain Arthur Philip, who went on to establish the Colony of New South Wales, the first penal colony in Australia.) The day is filled with drinking, merriment and sodomy.

On January 26, 1979, Le Freak was on the top of the American charts.

It's nice to think there's a connection.

January 26, 1958 -
Ellen DeGeneres
, actress, comedian and Cover Girl spokes model, was born on this date.

Ellen seems to be ready for hosting this year's Oscar telecast..

January 26, 1979 -
Dukes of Hazzard
premiered on CBS television with One Armed Bandits - (A shipment of slot machines is hijacked.)

High comedy indeed.

Today in History:
January 26, 1885
General Charles George “Chinese” Gordon (Charlton Heston), an extremely popular and influential figure in the British Empire and governor-general of Sudan, was killed on the palace steps in the garrison at Khartoum by the forces of Muhammad Ahmed, El Mahdi on this date.

Unfortunately for Gordon, immediate after he was stabbed to death, he was decapitated and his head was paraded around for several hours until it was presented as a trophy to Muhammad Ahmed.

January 26, 1962 -
Mafia boss Charles Lucky Luciano died of natural causes at the Naples airport. On the day of his fatal heart attack, Luciano had plans to sell the rights of his life's story to a movie maker. Luciano dropped dead as he was about to shake hands. The Mob disliked the idea and had tried unsuccessfully to change his mind. It has been hypothesized that Luciano's heart attack was a result of poisoning by the Mafia.

He was buried in St. John's Cemetery in Queens, New York after a federal court ruled his burial on United States soil could not be blocked on the grounds that a corpse is not a citizen of any country and is therefore not subject to immigration control or deportation laws.

January 26,1979 -
70-year-old multibillionaire Nelson Rockefeller was stricken by a massive heart attack while giving dictation to his 27-year-old research assistant, Megan Marshack on this date. Some time after that event, Marshack had called her friend, news reporter Ponchitta Pierce, to the townhouse and it was Pierce who phoned 911 approximately an hour after the heart attack.

Much speculation went on in the press regarding a personal relationship between Rockefeller and Marshack. Rockefeller's will left Marshak $50,000 and the deed to a Manhattan townhouse.

January 26, 1984 -
A magnesium flash bomb at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles ignited Michael Jackson’s hair during the filming of a Pepsi television commercial, causing third-degree scalp burns.

It is later reveals that unscrupulous doctors prescribe a full but highly unorthodox regiment of pedophilia to ease the singer’s wounds.

January 26, 1998 -
U.S. President Bill Clinton denied, on television, having had sexual relations with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

The president must have skipped class that day.

January 26, 1996 -
Insane madman millionaire John E. Du Pont shot Olympic wrestler David Schultz three times, killing him on this date. A two day police standoff follows at the Foxcatcher estate and wrestling compound, with SWAT teams biding their time under the assumption that Du Pont, an expert marksman, possessed an arsenal at his disposal.

Mr. Du Pont later died in prison. Perhaps Mr. Du Pont has gone to a better place where greasing yourself up and rolling around a mat with another person in nothing but a jock strap or a unitard is not considered a crime against nature.

January 26, 2004 -
A decomposing sperm whale exploded while in transport in Tainan City, Taiwan on this date. The whale was being moved to a laboratory for study when a critical build-up of gas caused it to explode, covering people and shop fronts in Tainan City with whale viscera.

Though decomposing whales are regularly exploded with dynamite to clear beaches, it is thought to be the first time a whale exploded in a city.  You may have had a bad day but you never had to go home to change because you were covered in whale viscera.

And so it goes.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

First glimpse of US Winter Olympic uniform

Ralph Lauren's Team USA uniform was unveiled yesterday.  Luckily there is not a category for 'good looking team uniform'.

If you wish to buy the 'ugly Christmas sweater ', it had be had for a mere $495.  The proceeds will go toward the U.S. Olympic Committee.  (I truly hope that they have other means of funding the committee.)

January 25, 1961 -
Walt Disney's 101 Dalmations, premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on this date.

The author of the book on which the film is based, Dodie Smith, was a successful playwright and novelist who had nine Dalmatians of her own, including one named Pongo. She got the idea for the book when a friend who was at her house saw all the dogs together and remarked, "Those dogs would make a lovely fur coat."

January 25, 1970 -
Robert Altman's
Oscar winning film starring Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould, M*A*S*H, premiered in NYC on this date.

Robert Altman said that during filming, Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland together went to the studio and complained that Altman was filming too much of the secondary characters. They requested that he be removed from the film, but the studio refused. After the film was completed and received its accolades, only Gould confessed the matter to Altman. As a result, he received parts in other Altman pictures, whereas the director never again used Sutherland.

Today in History:
January 25, 1759
It's Robert Burns' birthday and people will be celebrating with a Burns Supper.

The Burns Supper is eaten all across Scotland each year on the anniversary of the national poet's birth. It consists of haggis and whiskey. It is customary for the host to read Burns' Ode to a Haggis at the dinner table, presumably as a diversionary tactic.

January 25, 1924 -
The first Winter Olympics opened on this date in Chamonix, France .

Prior to this, figure skating and ice hockey had been events at the Summer Olympics. Few, if any, of the athletes survived those winter sports Summer Olympics, as the rinks continually melted. And you don't want to know about the injuries sustained during nude hockey games.

January 25, 1927 -
Antonio Carlos Jobim
, composer and primary force behind the creation of the bossa nova style, was born on this date.

If you are in your mid 40's to early 50's, you probably wouldn't have been born without the help of this guy - go ask your parents.

January 25, 1938 -
Etta James, blues, soul, R&B, rock & roll, gospel and jazz singer and songwriter, was born on this date

Pour yourself a double and remember this great singer.

January 25, 1947 -
Anita Pallenberg, model, actress, fashion designer,

bathtub companion to Mick Jagger and bedmate companion to Keith Richards, was born on this date.

January 25, 1947 -
Mobster Al Capone died in Florida on this date, having only recently been released from Alcatraz , due to his declining health (his mind gone from long untreated syphilis.)

For the wages of sin is death

January 25, 1960 -

Actress Diana Barrymore, Drew's aunt, committed suicide by taking a combination of sleeping pills and alcohol on this date.

Go out and rent The Bad and the Beautiful (the Lana Turner character is based on Diana.)

January 25, 1971 -
Idi Amin Dada
, everybody's favorite tyrant, comes to power in Uganda on this date.

Forest Whitaker won a Golden Globe award, a BAFTA, the Screen Actors' Guild award for Best Actor (Drama), and the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of this cannibal.

Hopefully, Forest isn't a method actor.

January 25, 1971 -
Charles Manson
and three of his followers were convicted in Los Angeles of the Tate and LaBianca murders on this date.

All were sentenced to the gas chamber, with sentences commuted to life imprisonment when the death penalty was temporarily abolished.

January 25, 1990 -
Avianca Flight 52
ran out of fuel and crashed in Cove Neck, N.Y. on this date.

73 of the 161 people aboard were killed.

January 25, 1995 -
Hey, the world almost ended on this date and you probably didn't even know it. Russia almost launched a nuclear missile at a Norwegian research rocket after mistaking it for a US missile.

The event, known as the Norwegian Rocket Incident, highlighted remaining Cold War tensions, despite the fact that the war had officially ended four years earlier.

And so it goes.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Another word of the day

Today's word of the day: Clatfart: N, gossip

Jack hung out at the water cooler to meet with his coworkers to dole out the daily dose of clatfart.  Please go ahead an ad this word to your daily conversation.

January 24, 1927 -
Alfred Hitchcock
, former titles writer for silent movies, releases his first film, The Pleasure Garden, in England.

Alfred Hitchcock and Alma Reville became engaged during the shoot.

January 24, 1940 -
John Ford's film version of John Steinbeck's novel, The Grapes of Wrath, starring Henry Fonda, premiered in New York City on this date.

The pro-union stance of the film led to both John Steinbeck and John Ford being investigated by Congress during the McCarthy "Red Scare" era for alleged pro-Communist leanings.

January 24, 1947 -
... I wish I sang better.

Warren William Zevon, singer-songwriter and musician, was born on this date.

Remember kids - keep enjoying every sandwich.

January 24, 1949 -
...Because I'm a dancer!

John Belushi, actor and comedian, was born on this date.

Today in History:
January 24, 41
Roman emperor and crackpot Caligula was assassinated by his bodyguards on this date. His last words apparently were, "I am still alive! Strike again."

Yeah, yeah, I know you know that the Roman Emperor Caligula made his horse a senator and a god, married his sister, slept with the horse, slept with the potted plants ...

I guess this guy got more unnatural things done in a day then most of us do in a lifetime.

January 24, 1848 -
James W. Marshall found gold at Sutter's Mill near Sacramento, starting the California gold rush on this date.

According to the Gold Institute less than 2 million ounce's of gold were mined during the height of the California Gold Rush in 1849.

January 24, 1908 -
The first Boy Scout troop is organized in England on this date, by its founder, Robert Baden-Powell, a man who enjoyed seeing and photographing, just a little too much, naked boys swimming.

I wonder what Baden-Powell would think (a noted repressed homosexual) now that openly gay boys can join the scouts.

January 24, 1925 -
A motion picture of a solar eclipse was recorded by the United States Navy from the dirigible USS Los Angeles, about nineteen miles east of Montauk Point, Long Island, New York on this date.

It is the first time a dirigible has been used for astronomical observations in the U.S.

January 24, 1978 -
The nuclear-powered Soviet Cosmos 954 satellite plunges through Earth's atmosphere and disintegrates, scattering radioactive debris over parts of Canada's Northwest Territories. Much of the satellite lands in the Great Slave Lake; only about 1% of the radioactive material was recovered.

Hey, I hope we all enjoyed that smoked salmon from Canada in the late 70's.

January 24, 1972 -
Shoichi Yokoi
, despite the fact that the war had been over for more than 27 years, was still at his post in Guam. Yokoi was unaware that the war had ended, and had been hiding out in the jungles of Guam since American troops occupied the island in the 1940s.

He refused to surrender until his old commanding officer, who had retired from the military for more than 20 years, was found and told him to stand down on this date. He was the last Japanese soldier from World War II to surrender.

January 24, 1986 -
Note to John Travolta, please continue your deep prostate massage - nothing to read here, move on.

Crackpot and founder of the fraudulent Scientology movement, L. Ron Hubbard died on this date (laughing his ass off about the crap he made up.) His bad science fiction writing has grown alarmingly prolific in the years since his death.

And so it goes.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

We're having a heat wave

It's 11°F right now (at 8:30 am est) and it will go up to a balmy 21°F with scattered snow showers later today.

Ah, the wonders of winter in the Northeast.

January 23, 1948 -
John Huston's
classic film, Treasure of Sierra Madre, starring Humphrey Bogart opens in NYC on this date.

To lend authenticity to his role, Walter Huston was persuaded by his son John to perform without his false teeth. John Huston stated that working with his father on this picture and his dad's subsequent Oscar win were among the favorite moments of his life.

January 23, 1950 -
Richard Dean Anderson
, actor and love god of Patty and Selma Bouvier, was born on this date.

I shudder to think how Patty and Selma celebrate the day.

January 23, 1975 -
Barney Miller
, a TV series set in a New York City police station in Greenwich Village, premiered on ABC-TV on this date.

One of only a few episodes that showed scenes outside of the squad room. First appearances of Jack Soo as Nick Yemana, Max Gail as Wojo, Gregory Sierra as Chano, and Ron Glass as Harris. Yemana's and Chano's dialogue were originally given to Sgt. Grimaldi in the pilot. While Wojo was a replacement for the character of Kazinski in the original pilot. Harris was a replacement for Detective Wilson from the original pilot.

January 23, 1977 -
The twelve-hour miniseries Roots premiered on ABC-TV on this date.

The author Alex Haley was sued successfully for plagiarizing by novelist Harold Courlander. The works he plagiarized led to the book that served as the basis for the mini-series Roots. Haley paid $650,000 in an out of court settlement.

January 23, 1983 -
The A-Team starring George Peppard, Dirk Benedict and Mr. T premiered on NBC-TV on this date.

The remaining cast members have not made it a secret that Mr. T and George Peppard did not get along very well on the set. Arguments were fed by the fact that Mr. T became the real star of the show, despite Peppard's being a 'proper movie actor'. Things got even worse when Peppard learned that Mr. T was paid more than he was.

Today in History:
January 23, 1849
It is not easy to be a pioneer - but oh, it is fascinating! I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world.

English-born Elizabeth Blackwell, becomes the first woman to receive an American medical degree, graduated at the top of her class from the medical school of Hobart College, Geneva, NY on this date.

January 23, 1897 -
Elva Zona Heaster was found dead in Greenbrier County, West Virginia on this date. Authorities originally thought Heaster had died of natural causes, but her mother later claimed that Elva's ghost visited her and told her otherwise, leading to her widowed husband's arrest and conviction.

It was one of the few times in American legal history that the testimony of a ghost was taken into account at trial.

January 23, 1931  -
While touring in the Netherlands, the prima ballerina Anna Pavlova's train had a slight accident, derailing and being delayed for 12 hours. She went outside dressed only in pajamas and a light scarf to see what was happening. As a result of this she caught a cold, which developed into pneumonia.

She died three weeks later on this date. At the end, she asked to hold her Dying Swan costume. Her last words were, "Play that last measure very softly."

 So kids, once again, your mother was right - it's cold outside, put on a sweater.

January 23, 1978 -
Terry Kath
of band Chicago accidentally killed himself on this date while pretending to play Russian Roulette in Woodland Hills.

The circumstances of his death gave him the dubious distinction of being one of the first celebrities to be nominated for a Darwin Award.

Moral: Remember guns don't kill - one bullet in the chamber does.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Kids, really don't do this

It's cold enough for this to happen but please refrain from trying.

Unless you want your friend to do this to help -

You know what, if these are your choices, perhaps you need to get a hobby.

January 22, 1968 -
The comedy show Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, premiered on NBC television on this date.

One of the trademarks of the series was the fast cutting that happened in between videotaped segments. Blackouts, one-liners and sketches were edited together in such a way that the show had a very rapid, almost frenzied, pace. This was done before computer controlled editing machines were invented, so much of the show was edited by hand.

January 22, 2003 -
The hysterical funny and groundbreaking comedy show Chappelle's Show, starrring Dave Chappelle premiered on Comedy Central on this date.

Dave Chappelle was inspired to create the show after watching a documentary about Hugh M. Hefner that featured clips of Playboy After Dark. Chappelle was inspired by the laid-back atmosphere of Hefner's show.

Today in History -
Today is the birthday of Grand Duke Ivan III of Moscow, better known as Ivan the Great.

He was born in 1440 and became Grand Duke of Moscow in 1462. Although Moscow was a lot of fun, it was not yet Russia. Ivan was determined to remedy that shortcoming as quickly as possible: he had tsars in his eyes.

To enlarge his dominions he began nibbling at his smaller neighbors, paying an annual tribute to the Golden Horde of Tatars to keep them from nibbling at him. Having eventually swallowed most of his surroundings, Ivan decided in 1480 that it was time to stop paying the Golden Horde.

The Golden Horde reminded him that it was time for their annual tribute. Ivan ignored them.

The Golden Horde sent him polite reminders in the mail, but he ignored these also.

They sent reminders on brightly colored stationery embossed with the words PAYMENT PAST DUE, but Ivan, alas, remained indifferent.

Finally the Golden Horde marched against Ivan and he marched his own troops out to meet them. The two armies met, faced off, and simultaneously retreated.

This was a victory for Ivan, in that neither he nor his descendants ever paid tribute to the Golden Horde again. But it was also a defeat for Ivan, who was therefore denied the rank of tsar.

(The first real Tsar of Russia was his grandson, Ivan IV, "the shooting tsar.")

January 22, 1521 -
The Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V commenced the imperial Diet of Worms, on this date, to address the issues Martin Luther brought up in his 95 Theses.

While worms in general are quite unpleasant to consume, most people were afraid to contradict the Emperor, so many people in Europe became Protestant.

It was on this date in 1807 that U.S. President Thomas Jefferson exposed a plot by his former vice-president and unconvicted murderer, Aaron Burr, to establish an empire in the southwestern part of the continent. Burr was eventually acquitted as a result of Chief Justice Marshall's tree-falling-in-forest ruling that treason wasn't treason unless someone was there to see it—along with someone else who saw the same thing. The vice-presidency was never the same.

From that date forward, retiring vice-presidents have been compelled to either retire into the political obsolescence of private life, where we can safely ignore them, or into the presidency, where we can keep an eye on them (or in Dick Cheney's case, get to run the government away from prying eyes.)

January 22, 1901 -
After 63 years, England stopped sales of the Queen Victoria postage stamps series and began the King Edward VII series on this date.

Alexandrina Victoria (Hanover, if she needed a last name) the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India of the British Raj, finally gave up the ghost much to the relief of her 59 year old son Edward, permitting him to finally get a job.

January 22, 1905
Thousands of demonstrating Russian workers were fired on by Imperial army troops in St. Petersburg
on what became known as "Red Sunday" or "Bloody Sunday" on this date.

96 people were killed, and over 300 were wounded. This incident marks the beginning of the so-called 1905 revolution.

January 22, 1918 -
Manitoba, Canada
film censor board decides to ban comedies, on the grounds that they make audiences too frivolous.

Canada does not fully recover their true frivolousness until the broadcasting of SCTV in the early 80's.

January 22, 1970 -
A Pan Am Boeing 747-100 named Victor Clipper (N736PA) makes its first commercial passenger trip to London, England on this date

The flight had departed from New York City, and had carried 332 passengers and 18 crew. Although most passengers enjoyed the flight, one had mentioned that this plane is too big for commercial travel. (Unfortunately, seven years later on March 27, 1977, the Clipper Victor was involved in the worst aircraft accident in history, with a total of 583 fatalities. A KLM 747 at full take off speed, while trying to get airborne crashed into Pan Am’s Clipper Victor in Tenerife (one of the Canary Islands.)

January 22, 1973 -
The Supreme Court in a 7-2 ruling handed down its Roe vs. Wade decision on this date, which legalized abortion, using a trimester approach. The court ruled that a woman's right to privacy encompasses her decision to terminate a pregnancy.

Norma McCorvey, the anonymous Jane Roe, revealed her identity in 1989. She ended up having her third baby that was the initial focus of the issue.

January 22, 1984 -
The future began today. The Apple Macintosh, the first consumer computer to popularize the computer mouse and the graphical user interface, was introduced during Super Bowl XVIII with its famous 1984 television commercial.

Now that Steve Jobs is gone, we can stop saying 'Hooray for Big Brother!!!'

January 22, 1997 -
Lottie Williams
was reportedly the first human to be struck by a remnant of a space vehicle after re-entering the earth's atmosphere on this date.

The debris that struck Ms. Williams has not been examined to confirm its origin, but a used Delta II rocket, launched nine months earlier, had crashed into the Earth's atmosphere half an hour earlier. Williams says she received a letter from the deputy secretary of defense apologizing for the incident.

And so it goes.

Before I let you go:
January 22, 1987 -
If you know, you know why

Otherwise, nothing to see here

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Remember your mukluks

The snow has started earlier than expected. 

Keep an eye out for any earlier closures (if you'd like, I'll write you a doctors' note that you're allergic to snow.)

I've seen this photograph around the internet this past week

I'm not sure why but I've been struck by it.

January 21, 1966 -
George Harrison married model/actress Patti 'Layla' Boyd whom he met on the set of the Beatles movie, Hard Day's Night on this date.

The couple later divorced in 1974 and she married Eric Clapton (whom she divorced in 1989.)

Today in History:
January 21, 1793
On a chilly Monday, stripped of all titles and honorifics by the republican government, citizen Louis Capet was guillotined in front of a cheering crowd in what today is the Parisian Place de la Revolution. The executioner, Charles Henri Sanson, testified that King Louis XVI had bravely met his fate.

An early urban legend has the King months earlier suggesting a slant and beveling of the blade, for better cutting action.

Sometimes, people should just keep their opinions to themselves.

January 21, 1908 -
New York City's Board of Aldermen passed the Sullivan Ordinance that effectively prohibited women from smoking in public.

Two weeks later the measure was vetoed by Mayor George B. McClellan Jr.

January 21, 1924 -
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov
(Vladimir I. Lenin) driving force behind the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the first great dictator of the Soviet Union died from a massive stroke on this date.

Lenin, idolized during his life -- an icon after his death, helped along by an unusual effort to preserve his corpse. For decades after his death, Russians lined up in all weather to view Lenin's body on display in a glass container inside a special mausoleum in Red Square. A triumph of the embalmer's art, the corpse was removed on a regular basis for the special top-secret treatments that kept it looking remarkably lifelike.

I'm going to let you sick puppies go on your own to this site - you can enjoy the sight of the nude, mummified corpse of Lenin getting his rejuvenating bath.

January 21, 1954 -
The first atomic submarine, the USS Nautilus (named after the submarine in Jules Vernes' Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea) was launched by First lady Mamie Eisenhower on the Thames River in Groton, Connecticut on this date.

The propulsion system of the Nautilus makes the ship the first “true” submarine. Vessel previously termed “submarines” were, in fact, only submersibles powered by diesel engines which consumed vast amounts of oxygen. However, the Nautilus can remain submerged for months on end.

January 21, 1957 -
Patsy Cline
sang Walking After Midnight on Arthur Godfrey's nighttime television show, quickly launching her career on this date.

If only she sang Don't Go Flying in Inclement Weather, things might have been different.

January 21, 1959 -
Former Our Gang child star Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer arrived at Moses 'Bud' Stiltz's home in Mission Hills, California, to settle an alleged debt owed to Switzer on this date.

Previously, Switzer had borrowed a dog from Stiltz which was lost, but eventually found, Switzer paying the man who returned the dog $50. Switzer went to Stiltz's house to collect the money "owed" him. He banged on Stiltz's front door, demanding that he let him in, flashing a fake police badge. Once Switzer got inside he and Stiltz got into an argument. Switzer informed Stiltz that he wanted the money owed him. However, when Stiltz refused to hand over the money, the two engaged in a physical fight. Switzer bashed Stiltz in the head with a lamp, which caused Stiltz to bleed from his left eye. Stiltz retreated to his bedroom and returned holding a gun, but Switzer immediately grabbed the gun away from Stiltz, which resulted in a shot being fired but neither man being hit. Then Switzer forced Stiltz into a closet, despite Stiltz having gotten his hands back on the gun. Switzer then allegedly pulled out a knife and was attempting to stab Stiltz with it. But just as Switzer was about to charge Stiltz, Stiltz raised the gun and shot Switzer in the chest. Switzer died of intense blood loss while on his way to the hospital. He was 31 years old.

Switzer's death was largely ignored in the media, mainly because director Cecil B. DeMille had died on the same day.

Kids, never loan a dog to a former child star.

January 21, 1960 -
The Little Joe 1B was a Launch Escape System test of the Mercury spacecraft, conducted as part of the U.S. Mercury program, on this date. The mission also carried a female Rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) named Miss Sam in the Mercury spacecraft. The six pound monkey survived the 8 minute 35 second flight in good condition.

Miss Sam retired from the space program and enjoyed a successfully career in the "Straw Hat" theatre circuit, starring in, among other things, The Little Foxes and A Doll's House.

January 21, 1968 -
A B-52 bomber crashes near Thule Air Base, contaminated the area after its nuclear payload ruptured on this date. One of the four bombs remains unaccounted for after the cleanup operation is complete.

If you have the bomb, the US government would be happy to take it off your hands - no questions asked.

And so it goes.