Saturday, April 30, 2016

Light that bonfire

Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis Night or Beltane Eve) is celebrated in most of Northern Europe the night of April 30 to May 1.

Legend has it, this night was the last chance for witches and various demons to stir up trouble before Spring reawakened the land.

April 30, 1938 -
Bugs Bunny first appeared, so to speak, in the cartoon short Porky's Hare Hunt, released on this date. This short was co-directed by Cal Dalton and Ben Hardaway.

The cartoon had an almost identical theme to a 1937 cartoon, Porky's Duck Hunt, directed by Tex Avery and introducing Daffy Duck. Following the general plot of this earlier film, the short cast Porky Pig as a hunter against an equally nutty prey more interested in driving his hunter insane than running away. But instead of a black duck, his current prey was a tiny, white rabbit. Bugs Bunny introduces himself with the expression "Jiggers, fellers," and Mel Blanc gave the rabbit a voice and laugh that he would later use to voice Woody Woodpecker. In this cartoon, he also quoted Groucho Marx for the first time (from the movie Duck Soup): "Of course, you know, this means war!"

April 30,1950 -
The film-noir classic, DOA, starring Edmond O'Brien, was released on this date. (Stick around for the whole movie.)

The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.

April 30, 1952 -
Mr. Potato Head® became the first toy to be advertised on television on this date.

Over one million kits were sold in the first year.  Mrs.Celeriac or Mr. Romanesco didn't sell so well.

April 30, 1997 -
Ellen DeGeneres'
character came out of the closet on the sitcom Ellen on this date.

The show was the highest rated episode the series ever aired, with over 42 million viewers and won an Emmy for writing.

Today in History:
April 30, 1789
George Washington was inaugurated and took office in New York as the first president of the United States on this date. He took his oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street and spoke the words “So help me God,” which all future US presidents have repeated.

Please note: The oath as prescribed by the Constitution makes no mention of God, or of the Bible.

April 30, 1900 -
John Luther "Casey" Jones was born March 14, 1863 in southeast Missouri. While he was still a small child, his family moved to Cayce, Kentucky, which is how he got his nickname. As a boy, he liked trains - HE really liked trains. In 1878, at the age of 15, he went to work for the Mobile and Ohio Railroad as an apprentice telegrapher. By 1890, "Casey" had reached the pinnacle of the railroad profession as a crack locomotive engineer on the Illinois Central Railroad.

In 1899, Jones was given a regular passenger run on the Cannonball route which ran between Chicago and New Orleans. On April 29, 1900, Jones was in Memphis, Tennessee, from the northbound Cannonball when he agreed to take the southbound Cannonball because the scheduled engineer called in sick. He left Memphis at 12:50 am, 95 minutes behind schedule, but made up almost an hour between Memphis and Grenada, Mississippi, nearly 100 miles away. By Durant, 55 miles farther down, they were almost on time.

At Durant, Jones received orders to "saw by" two freights that had taken the siding in Vaughan. The two freights were too large to fit into the siding, leaving one end on the main line. If the "sawing" maneuver had been done correctly, the freights would have allowed the approaching train to pass the first switch, and then the trains on the siding would move past the other switch. However, an air hose on one of the freight trains burst, applying the brakes on the freight cars behind the break, and left them immobile on the main line. Meanwhile, Jones was traveling excessively fast, possibly up to 70 miles per hour, and did not have enough time to brake. When collision seemed imminent, Casey told his fireman, Sim Webb, to jump for it, but Jones rode the engine into the cars and was killed. It is believed that because Jones stayed to slow the train, he saved the passengers from injury and possible death (Casey himself was the only fatality of the collision).

Popular legend holds that when Jones' body was pulled from the wreckage of his train his hands were still firmly latched onto the whistle cord and the brake.

April 30, 1939 -
On a very hot New York Sunday, The 1939 World's Fair had its grand opening, with 200,000 people in attendance. The April 30 date coincided with the anniversary of George Washington's inauguration as President in New York City. Although many of the pavilions and other facilities were not quite ready for this opening, it was put on with pomp and great celebration.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the opening day address, and as a reflection of the wide range of technological innovation on parade at the fair, his speech was not only broadcast over the various radio networks but also was televised. NBC used the event to inaugurate regularly scheduled television broadcasts in New York City over their station W2XBS (now WNBC). An estimated 1,000 people viewed the Roosevelt telecast from about 200 television sets scattered throughout the New York area.

Little remembered but equally important, the View-Master was introduced at the World's Fair that day.

Don't worry about those storm clouds overhead (it's just World War II).

April 30, 1943 -
The British submarine HMS Seraph dropped ‘the man who never was,' a dead man the British planted with false invasion plans (which indicated the Allies would not invade Sicily,) into the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain on this date.

German agents discovered the body of a non-existent RAF major, bought the ruse and were unprepared for the actual attack on that island.

April 30, 1945 -
Holed up in a bunker under the Reich Chancellery headquarters in Berlin (conveniently called the Fuehrerbunker), blushing bride Eva Braun had a hankering for Almond Roca. Finding none available, she decide to chew a cyanide capsule and commit suicide instead (she was impulsive.) Distraught honeymooner Adolf Hitler, never one to go it alone, decides to commit suicide himself by swallowing a cyanide capsule and (to gilt the lily) shoot himself in the head (he was having a very bad day for an Evil Bastard.)

Soon after, Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allied forces, ending Hitler's dreams of a "1,000-year" Reich.

Guess that didn't work out for him.

April 30, 1975 -
The capital of South Vietnam - Saigon, fell on this date.  Communist forces gains control of Saigon. The fall of the city was preceded by the evacuation of almost all the American civilian and military personnel in Saigon, along with tens of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians. The evacuation culminated in Operation Frequent Wind, the largest helicopter evacuation in history.

The Vietnam War formally ends with the unconditional surrender of South Vietnamese president Duong Van Minh.

This is a really big Oops for America.

And so it goes

Friday, April 29, 2016

Never give a sword to a man who can't dance.

Today is International Dance Day. The date was chosen in commemoration of the death of the greatly influential dancer, choreographer and innovator Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810).

The goals of Dance Day are to increase the awareness of the importance of dance among the general public, as well as to persuade governments all over the world to provide a proper place for dance in all systems of education.

Today is also the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, the co-patron saint of Italy.  The Renaissance were tough on women, Catherine's older sister and younger sisters died in 1463 (she had 22 other siblings, although , at that point, who could tell who was alive or died or the neighbor's cat.)  Catherine's father did what any other father would do - tried to make the teenage Catherine marry her sister's widow.

It didn't matter to anyone, save Catherine, that her brother-in-law was a filthy, lascivious old man.  Catherine fasted until her father relented and let her enter a nunnery.  While fasting, she, like our old pal Teresa of Avila, was pierced by God Shaft of 'pure love'.

Though, supposedly illiterate, Catherine famously corresponded with the leading church figures (both men and women) of her day. In fact, Catherine is one of the few women Saints who are thought of, as holding doctorates. She is one of the church most famous bulimics, disgorging everything she ate for the next 17 years, except the Eucharist she received every day.

She, of course, is the patron saint of bulimics and anorexics, the sick (in general), nurses, firemen and sexual temptation (there is a connection between the two, but I'm not going there.)

As is always the case, when saints die, people clamor after their body parts. She is scattered over most of Italy; her head and one of her fingers are resting in Siena and a major part of her is beneath the main altar at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church in Rome.

One last thing, today is also National Shrimp Scampi Day

Don't forget a few Red Pepper Flakes

Hey, it's also National Arbor Day,

But unless you plan on hugging or planting a tree, what do you care.

April 29, 1964 -
The Toho Studios released their first cross-over monster movie Mosura tai Gojira (Godzilla vs. the Thing (Mothra)) in Japan on this date. This is the first Godzilla film without newly-shot American footage added for the American release.

(Sorry I couldn't find the original version)

1964 was the only year when Toho released two Godzilla movies in the same year. Right after this film, Toho began working on Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, which premiered that December.

Today in History:
April 29, 1852
The first edition of Roget’s Thesaurus was published (produced, made, created) on this date.

Dr. Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869) was a London physician of French-Swiss ancestry who began to collect and organize English words to improve his public speaking.

April 29, 1901 -
Train robber and one of the last of the Old West outlaws, Thomas "Black Jack" Ketchum was unsuccessfully hanged in Clayton, New Mexico on this date.

The executioner's poor choice of rope and Ketchum's recent increase in weight combine to produce a gruesome decapitation in the gallows.

Thomas "Black Jack" Ketchum was the only person ever hanged in Clayton, New Mexico. He was also the only man ever hanged for train robbery in the entire state, a law that was later found to be unconstitutional. But, a little too late for poor Black Jack.

April 29, 1939 -
The Bronx-Whitestone Bridge connecting the Bronx and Queens opened for traffic on this date.

The primary reason for its construction was to provide access to the 1939-40 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows.

April 29, 1945 -
Adolf Hitler married Eva Braun on this date (the Allies sent the Fuhrer a wedding gift via liberating Dachau.) The very next day she killed herself. So did he. This demonstrates the importance of not rushing into marriage. You've got to take your time, get to know the other person, and really think it through. Especially if the other person happens to be an Evil Bastard at the head of a hellish genocidal war machine on the brink of defeat.

But it's not enough just making sure your intended isn't a war-criminal-in-training. The sad truth is that if you plan to marry a human being you're in for a pretty bumpy road no matter what—which isn't to say it would be all roses if you married something other than a human.

So maybe Adolf and Eva were doomed anyway. Who knows? I'm only saying they should have given it a little more thought. Bunker marriages have a notorious failure rate.

April 29, 1961 -
ABC's Wide World of Sports, debuted on this date. Rather than focus on one sport, it presented a variety of athletic events in one show. Each week, Wide World of Sports transported the viewer across the United States and around the world.

In addition to presenting races, bouts, and meets (often live via satellite), Wide World of Sports revolutionized sports coverage by including "up close and personal" features on athletes. The show's rallying cry, "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat," not only became one of the most familiar catchphrases on TV but captured the essence of athletic competition.

April 29, 1968 -
Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, the rock musical opened on this date. Hair tells the story of the "Tribe", a group of politically active, long-haired "Hippies of the Age of Aquarius" fighting against conscription to the Vietnam War and living a bohemian life together in New York City. They struggle to balance their young lives, loves and the sexual revolution with their pacifist rebellion against the war and the conservative impulses of their parents and society.

It was also a way for middle class America to see nudity on the stage without going to a strip club or porno house.

April 29, 1992 -
Rioting erupts in Los Angeles after Rodney King's assailants are acquitted by a jury. The looting and destruction begins in South Central L.A. and quickly radiates outward.

By the time things are under control, 51 people were dead, 1093 buildings were damaged or destroyed (764 retail stores were owned by Koreans) and the city has sustained $1.5 billion in property damage.

It's the fifth anniversary for His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, the once and future king of England and Catherine, (nee Katherine Middleton), Duchess of Cambridge. (Prince William might have thought better of scheduling his wedding on the Hitler's anniversary.)

Remember, a nice wooden gift is the tradition gift for a fifth anniversary .

And so it goes.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Kids, please do NOT try this at home

Here is the mashup you've been waiting for, 70 film clips of people getting drunk accompanied by a filthy song! (Please ask your folks if you can listen this song Shots by LMFAO)

Remember, I am a professional

I nearly forgot, today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Poem in Your Pocket Day was originally initiated in 2002 by the Office of the Mayor, in partnership with the New York City Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education, as part of the city’s National Poetry Month celebration. This year I have The Good Life by Tracy K. Smith.

What poem do you have?

Each year, more than two million women and men die as a result of work-related accidents and diseases.

International Workers' Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember all of those people who have been injured or killed on the job.

April 28, 1939 -
Cecil B. DeMille
brought the Western into a new realm when Union Pacific, premiered in Omaha, Nebraska on this date.

The world premiere in Omaha, Nebraska, was a three-day celebration that drew 250,000 people, doubling the population of the city and requiring the National Guard to help keep order. The special train en route from Hollywood to Omaha, carrying Cecil B. DeMille and stars Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea, took three days and made stops along the way, drawing large crowds.

April 28, 1941 -
...I've always tried to do my very best, and I want to be the very best age, whatever age I am.

Ann-Margret Olsson, actress, singer and dancer, was born on this date.

April 28, 1965 -
Barbra Streisand's first television special, My Name is Barbra, premiered on CBS-TV, on this date.

The audience segments were filmed in a small TV studio in New York City just down the street from where Barbra Streisand was performing in Funny Girl. The audience consisted of about 200 members of Streisand's fan club.

Today in History:
April 28, 1789
In the middle of the South Pacific, the crew of the HMS Bounty, led by either Clark Gable, Marlon Brando or Mel Gibson mutinied, setting Charles Laughton, Trevor Howard or Anthony Hopkins and 18 other crewmen adrift in an open boat, so they can hang out with topless Tahitian teens.

Sometimes history is very confusing.

April 28, 1881 -
Billy the Kid escaped from a New Mexico jail, killing jailer Bob Ollinger and a fellow prisoner in the process. Billy survived for another three months before Pat Garrett finally killed him.

Somehow Bob Dylan, Paul Newman, Dracula and Jane Russell's braless bodaeous ta-tas are involved in this story

Once again, history is exceedingly confusing.

April 28, 1910
In England, Claude Grahame-White became the first person to pilot a plane at night on this date.

The landmark flight comes during the 1910 London to Manchester air race.

April 28, 1945 -
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were captured by partisan fighters and executed (castrated and hung upside down on a meat hook - well, Mussolini had his junk removed - Clara, well, she just got hung.)

Just because you can get the trains to run on time does not mean that the voters love you (it should be a motto every politician has tattooed to their ass.)

April 28, 1947 -
Sailing from Peru on the balsa-raft Kon Tiki, Thor Heyerdahl began his six-man, 101-day expedition across the Pacific Ocean to Polynesia.

Heyerdahl's expeditions were spectacular and caught the public imagination. Although much of his work remains unaccepted within the scientific community, Heyerdahl increased public interest in ancient history and anthropology.

April 28, 1967 -
Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the army because of religious reasons on this date, and was stripped of his boxing titles and sentenced to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for draft evasion.

The conviction was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court

And so it goes

Before You Go - (continuing with the drinking theme,) an almost unbelievable story about a guy who wanted to share a beer with his friends and the extraordinary lengths he went though to have it.

I can't believe this hasn't been made into a movie yet.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hug a tree this morning

April 27, 4977 BC -
Today should have been Earth Day,

God creates the universe on this day, according to calculations by mystic and part-time astronomer Johannes Kepler.

April 27, 1922 -
Fritz Lang's Dr Mabuse, der Spieler (some have called it the first film-noir,) premiered in Berlin, Germany on this date.

Soviet editors re-cut the Dr. Mabuse films into one shorter film. The lead editor was Sergei M. Eisenstein.

April 27, 1930 -
One of the greatest anti-war films, based on the Erich Maria Remarque novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, premiered in NYC on this date.

With the loss of limbs and gory deaths shown rather explicitly, this is undoubtedly the most violent American film of its time. This is because the Production Code was not strictly enforced until 1934, and also because Universal Pictures deemed the subject matter important enough to allow the violence to be seen.

April 27, 1971 -
CBS executives finally sobered up and the last episode of Green Acres aired on this date.

This was to have been the pilot for a proposed spin off featuring Elaine Joyce as Carol. Oliver and Lisa only appear briefly in the beginning as an excuse to introduce Carol and the pilot. Oliver appears later talking to Carol on the phone.

Today in History:
April 27, 1509
The entire state of Venice was excommunicated by Pope Julius II for an entirely secular reason:

the refusal to place parts of Romagna under the Pope's control.

Oh, those wacky Pre-counterreformation Popes.

April 27, 1521 -
In an hour long battle with Philippine islanders, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his men were repeatedly jabbed with sharpened bamboo spears. After Magellan finally succumbs to his wounds, the natives hacked him to pieces with their swords, barbecued and consumed him on this date.

They were surprised that they were not hungry an hour after eating him as they had been after eating some Asian explorers previously.

April 27, 1822 -
Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War hero and 18th President of the United States, would have been 194 today.

And if the rumors are true, he is still buried in Grant's Tomb, which was dedicated on this date in 1897.

April 27, 1861 -
In a blatantly unconstitutional act, President Abraham Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus inside a zone between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The government could detain citizens indefinitely without ever filing charges. A year and a half later, Lincoln expanded the scope of his order to the entire nation.

I'm still greatly relieved that the previous resident of the White House didn't read much history. I will grant you that a case could be made the current one has read a little too much.

April 27, 1865 -
The worst steamship disaster in the history of the United States occurs on this date. The SS Sultana, carrying over 2,000 passengers, the majority being freed Union POWs from the notorious Andersonville and Cahaba Prisons, exploded on the Mississippi River, while en route to Cairo, Illinois.

Neither the cause of the explosion nor the final count of the dead (estimated at between 1,450 and 2,000) was ever determined. Today, the Sultana disaster remains the worst of its kind .

Talk about bad luck.

April 27, 1871 -
The American Museum of Natural History opened to the public in New York City, on this date. With a series of exhibits, the Museum’s collection went on view for the first time in the Central Park Arsenal, the Museum’s original home, on the eastern side of Central Park.

The museum began from the efforts of Albert Smith Bickmore, one-time student of Harvard zoologist Louis Agassiz, who was successful in his proposal to create a natural history museum in New York City with the support of William E. Dodge, Junior, Theodore Roosevelt, Senior, Joseph Choate and J. Pierpont Morgan. The Governor of New York, John Thompson Hoffman, signed a bill officially creating the American Museum of Natural History on April 6, 1869.

April 27, 1932 -
Writer Hart Crane was racked with self-doubt about his ability to write good poetry and agonizing over his sexuality, had been mentally unstable for some time. Crane stood on the railing of the ship Orizaba in his pajamas (en route to the United States from Mexico,) shouted, "Goodbye Everyone," to the other stunned passengers and jumped over the side of the ship on this date.

Life preservers were thrown to him, but he makes no effort to reach them and drowned. The ship halted in the water, ten miles off the Florida coast, but never recovers his body.

April 27, 1986 -
Someone interrupted the HBO satellite feed during the movie The Falcon and The Snowman on this date. For five minutes, two-thirds of their customer base receives the message: Good evening HBO from Captain Midnight. $12.95 a month?

(Showtime-Movie Channel Beware.) Captain Midnight turned out to be John R. MacDougall of Florida, who was fined and placed on probation.

April 27, 1987 -
After determining that Kurt Waldheim had "assisted or otherwise participated in the persecution of persons" during his Nazi years, the Department of Justice places him on a watch list of undesirable aliens on this date. As such, the sitting President of Austria was disallowed entry into the U.S. It is the first time that a foreign head of state is legally forbidden from visiting America.

I suppose that he suffered from Waldheimer's Disease - it's having difficulty recalling that you're a Nazi

And so it goes

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

We are all so very glad we had this time together

April 26, 1933 -
Everybody I know who is funny, it's in them. You can teach timing, or some people are able to tell a joke, though I don't like to tell jokes. But I think you have to be born with a sense of humor and a sense of timing.

Carol Creighton Burnett, the funniest woman in America was born on this day - don't argue with me, I will come to your home and hurt you.  I was forced to watch The Carol Burnett Show in my bedroom and not with my family because I laughed so loudly and so hard, no one could hear it.

National Pretzel Day celebrates pretzels of all shapes and sizes. Pretzels are believed to be the world's oldest snack. (This appears to be a legitimate celebration, as there are many stores giving away free pretzels today - SOS is skulking around Boston in search of the freebies.)

Wake me up when it's Very Dry Martini, straight up with Olives Day.

April 26, 1956 -
Godzilla debuted in America on this date. (Gojira premiered in Japan on November 3, 1954.)

The American version of the film had 40 minutes of the original excised (mostly the content dealing with World War II or the anti-nuclear message,) and had 20 minutes of the masterful deadpan stylings of Raymond Burr. The American version was released in Japan with Japanese subtitles and did very well.

April 26, 1967 -
CBS broadcast the documentary, Inside Pop - The Rock Revolution, with the host Leonard Bernstein, on this date.

The program marked the first time that television presented pop music as a legitimate art form.

Today in History:
April 26, 1452 -
Leonardo da Vinci
was born on this date. Mr. da Vinci was one of the great minds of the Renaissance. Sadly, he is best known for having painted the Mona Lisa (in Italian, La Joconde,) in which he accurately and exquisitely captured the unmistakable smile of a dignified woman who's just farted.

For some reason, many lonely computer geeks celebrate this day by releasing computer virii in hopes that female FBI agents will break down their doors.

April 26, 1865 -
Discovered hiding in a farmer's tobacco shed, John Wilkes Booth was shot in the neck by a complete lunatic. Dying and paralyzed from the neck down, he whispers: Tell my mother I did it for my country.

As his hands are held up to his face, Booth mutters "useless...useless..."

They are his last words.

On April 26, 1923 (almost 88 years previously to the date of his great-grandson's nuptials,) the Duke of York married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in Westminster Abbey.

This wedding might have slipped into the ephemera of time had the Duke's brother not wanted to marry a woman reported so ugly, many thought her a man in drag. And calling a woman ugly in England is really saying something, as many of the British upper crust often marry their horses out of confusion.

That's British royalty.

Count Basie died on April 26, 1984; Duke Ellington was born on April 29, 1899; Ella Fitzgerald, the "First Lady of Song," was born on April 25, 1917.

That's American royalty.

April 26, 1933 -
Hermann Goering founded the Geheime Staatspolizei, otherwise known as the Gestapo on this date.

The original purpose of this "Secret State Police" is to disrupt and harass opponents of National Socialism, but it will later come to adopt many additional responsibilities.

April 26, 1937 -
It was a beautiful Monday afternoon in Guernica, Spain on this date. At about 3:30 pm the day took a tragic turn. For over three hours, twenty-five or more of Germany's best-equipped bombers, accompanied by at least 20 more Messerschmitt and Fiat Fighters, dumped one hundred thousand pounds of high-explosive and incendiary bombs on the village, slowly and systematically pounding it to rubble.

Guernica had served as the testing ground for a new Nazi military tactic - blanket-bombing a civilian population to demoralize the enemy. It was wanton, man-made holocaust.

The bombing was the subject of a famous anti-war painting by Pablo Picasso.

April 26, 1937 -
Due to a publishing error, LIFE magazine was printed without the word "LIFE" on the cover on this date.

It was the only time that LIFE was nameless.

April 26, 1986 -
44 seconds into a late-night experiment at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, reactor number four sustains two large explosions. The exploded at Chernobyl burned for 10 days. About 70% of the fallout fell in Belarus. Damage was estimated to be up to $130 billion. The Soviet news agency TASS held off reporting the incident for almost 48 hours.

A 300-hundred-square-mile area was evacuated and 31 people died as unknown thousands were exposed to radioactive material that spread in the atmosphere throughout the world. By 1998 10,000 Russian liquidators involved in the cleanup had died and thousands more became invalids. It was later estimated that the released radioactivity was 200 times the combined bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was later found that Soviet scientists were authorized to carry out experiments that required the reactor to be pushed to or beyond its limits, with safety features disabled.


And so it goes

Monday, April 25, 2016

A mosquito bite away from death

Malaria Awareness Day, designated on this date by President George W. Bush in 2007, to remind people that Malaria kills 3,000 children a day. He asked the world to join the fight to wipe out malaria on the African continent.

So I encourage all Americans to begin heavily drinking Gin and Tonics to honor the day

(While I am a Bombay Sapphire man, I am not affiliated in anyway with that fine brand - not that I wouldn't consider any offers, I'd suggest using Tanqueray.  I believe it goes better with the Tonic.)

Today is the holiday of Robigalia, honoring the god Robigus.  The purpose of the holiday was to prevent mildew from ruining crops.  Dog and sheep sacrifices were encouraged to honor Robigus. (I didn't suggest this, the ancient Romans did)

For some reason, it's also the holiday of celebrating male sex workers.  I'm not sure how one was supposed to celebrate that portion of the holiday slaughtering livestock. 

But maybe it's just me.

April 25, 1917
Ella Jane Fitzgerald, the First Lady of Song, considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century, was born on this date.

Ella Fitzgerald’s life was the quintessential American success story. Through 58 years of performing, 13 Grammys and more than forty million records sold, she elevated swing, bebop, and ballads to their highest potential.

April 25, 1959 -
The Fleetwoods hit No. 1 with their recording of Come Softly to Me on this date.

The original title of this song Come Softly, was changed because Dolphin (later Dolton) Records owner Bob Reisdorff feared that AM radio DJs would think it to be too suggestive. He was being extra-cautious, Dolphin Records was formed by the Seattle DJ for the sole purpose of distributing Fleetwoods records.

Remember kids, don't dance so close. Leave room for the Holy Spirit.

Today in History:
April 25, 1507
At a small college in Eastern France, German geographer Martin Waldseemüller published a map with the region of the world commonly referred to as “the New World” labeled as “America” for the first time ever in a book entitled Cosmographiae Introductio on this date.

In the book, Waldseemüller credited Amerigo Vespucci with discovering the continent.  The amount of money that make have changed hand is uncertain but Columbus was said to be quite pissed.

April 25, 1792 -
French highwayman Nicolas Jacques Pelletier was beheaded by the guillotine, after extensive testing during its development with corpses and sheep, making him its first victim on this date. The speed that the guillotine worked as quick as lightening and in the twinkling of an eye - it was over.

The outcome was not well received by the crowd who called for the return of the gallows.

April 25, 1856 -
Charles Lutwedge Dodgson, mathematician and an Oxford professor, met a three year old girl named Alice Liddell on this date.

Charles had a penchant for making up stories to entertain the little girls he liked to photograph (many of them were in the nude, at the time.) Alice had a penchant for consuming unknown (and apparently psychoactive) food, pills and liquids that she found while exploring a very large rabbit hole.

And 40 years later Oscar Wilde went to prison for the shoddy laundry services provided by the hotels he and several local young men frequented.

April 25, 1926 -
The premiere of Giacomo Puccini's opera, Turandot was at La Scala, Milan, on this date, one year and five months after Puccini's death. It was conducted by Arturo Toscanini.

was unfinished at the time of Puccini's death and was later completed by Franco Alfano.

April 25, 1939 -
DC Comics debuted what will become its second major superhero, Batman, in issue 27 of Detective Comics (the May issue) on this date.

The first book to feature Batman sold for 10 cents when it was published and one of the rare comics in pristine condition sold for $1,380,000 when it came up for auction .

April 25, 1947 -
Harry S. Truman officially opened the two-lane White House bowling alley on this day.

Though Truman himself wasn't much of a bowler, it became embarrassing for the staff to have to search local DC bowling alleys trying to find where the President was knocking back boiler makers every other night. The White House staff members formed a bowling team and even competed in national events.

April 25, 1963 -
The bronze statue of The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue) is Denmark's most visited tourist attraction. The statue was unveiled on August 23, 1913 at it's current location in Copenhagen Harbor. It gives hope to the Danes when they are not pining for the Fjords.

So imagine the horror, when Denmark woke up on this date to find that the unimaginable had happened, someone had sawed off the head of  The Little Mermaid, the night before. The head was never recovered and a new head was made from the original cast.

April 25, 1972 -
... And if you covered him with garbage, George Sanders would still have style....

George Sanders actor and husband of not one but two Gabor sisters, killed himself, leaving this great suicide note: "Dear World, I am leaving you because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool - good luck," on this date.

Short and to the point.

April 25, 1980 -
In Iran, a commando mission to rescue hostages was aborted after mechanical problems disabled three of the eight helicopters involved. During the evacuation, a helicopter and a transport plan collided and exploded. Eight U.S. servicemen were killed on this date.

The mission was aimed at freeing American hostages that had been taken at the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979.

And on a personal note - still as lovely as ever, Andrea once again is celebrating her 39th birthday.

And so it goes

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Have plenty of Mustard on hand

Somehow it's Pig in a Blanket Day encouraging the consumption of ‘pigs in blankets’ – small pork sausages wrapped in bacon or pastry, and cooked until crispy (for those of you porcine adverse, choose your own ground meat filling.)

Please celebrate sensibly.

April 24, 1974 -
David Bowie released his iconic single, Diamond Dogs, on this date.

This song introduces us to Bowie's post-Ziggy Stardust persona, Halloween Jack: "The Halloween Jack is a real cool cat and he lives on top of Manhattan Chase." It has also been suggested this song was influenced by Dhalgren, a science fiction novel by Samuel R. Delany.

Today in History:
April 24, 1184 BC
(this is an approximated date.)
... burnt the topless towers of Ilium...

It is traditionally held that city of Troy fell on this date after a ten year siege by the armies of Greece.

April 24, 1800 -
The Library of Congress, the oldest cultural institution in the nation's capital, was established by an act of Congress on this date.

Initially it was housed in the new Capitol in Washington, D.C., but British troops burned the Capitol building and stole the library materials. Retired president Thomas Jefferson then offered his personal library to the Congress.

April 24, 1913 -
The Cathedral of Commerce built one nickel at a time, the Woolworth building opened on this date.

The Five and Dimes are long gone but the skyscraper remains.

April 24, 1915 -
The Ottoman Turkish Empire began the brutal mass deportation of Armenians on this date. Turkey said Armenians had sided with Russia and issued deportation orders for the mass deportation of Armenians. Armenian organizations in Istanbul were closed and 235 members were arrested for treason. Turkish police arrested some 800 of the most prominent Armenians in Constantinople, took them into the hinterlands and shot them

It is generally agreed upon (except by the Turkish Government) that this was the beginning of the Armenian Genocide. And here I go, losing another whole demographic.

April 24, 1916 -
... And what if excess of love, Bewildered them till they died? - W. B. Yeats

Some 1,600 Irish nationalist, the Irish Volunteers, launched the Easter Rising by seizing several key sites in Dublin, including the General Post Office. Eemon de Valera was one of the commandants in the uprising. It was provoked by impatience with the lack of home rule and was put down by British forces several days later. Michael Collins, a member of Sinn Fein, led the guerrilla warfare.

April 24, 1953 -
Winston Churchill, the British leader who guided Great Britain and the Allies through the crisis of World War II, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on this date.

Later, this same year he also won the Nobel peace prize for literature.

April 24, 1970 -
The first Chinese satellite, Dong Fang Hong I, was launched aboard a Long March rocket on this date. Upon reaching orbit, the satellite transmits the popular Communist Chinese song, The East is Red.

With the launch, China became the fifth country with a satellite in space.

April 24th, 1990 -
The Space Shuttle Discovery launched the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. It is hoped that the Telescope will be able to see up to the edge of the known universe. The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was one of the largest space telescopes ever used, at the time, and has contributed to many astrological discoveries, notably in the area of supernovas and dark energy.

Hubble has sent back a series of stunning photographs of deep space, and revolutionized thinking about the universe. Unlike many other spacecraft, the HST is open for public use — anyone regardless of education level or nationality can apply for time to use it.

April 24, 1986 -
'Her Royal Highness' The Duchess of Windsor, Bessie Warfield Spencer Simpson Windsor former maitresse en titre (official mistress), plain-faced, twice-divorced American, possible transvestite and Nazi sympathizer died on this date.

And the House of Windsor breathed a sigh of relief -

until Princess Diana.

And so it goes

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Strangest Vengeance Ever Planned!

April 23, 1896 -
Thomas Edison presented the first publically-projected Vitascope motion picture (with hand-tinting) in the US to a paying American audience on a screen, at Koster and Bial's Music Hall in New York City (at 34th Street and Broadway), with his latest invention - the projecting kinetoscope or Vitascope.

Customers watched the Edison Company's Vitascope project a ballet sequence in an amusement arcade during a vaudeville act.

April 23, 1958
Orson Welles' noir thriller Touch of Evil, starring Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh, was released on this date.

According to Orson Welles, Universal didn't want the film to be screened at the Brussels World's Fair, but the head of distribution had such faith in the film that he submitted it without the studio's knowledge.  The judges (and then critics) Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut awarded the film the top-prize. It was said the film was a great influence on starting Godard's and Truffaut's illustrious careers, both of whom within a year went on to make their first films Breathless and The 400 Blows, respectively.

April 23, 1988 -
... And I am not frightened of dying. Any time will do, I don't mind. Why should I be frightened of dying? There's no reason for it – you've got to go sometime....

Pink Floyd's album Dark Side Of The Moon, after spending the record total of 741 consecutive weeks (over 14 years) on the Billboard 200, left the charts for its first time ever.

How did they ever make ends meet?

Today in History:
April 23, 303
St George, the future patron saint of England, literally lost his head when he annoyed the Emperor Diocletian so much that the emperor had him separated from his head.

According to legend, George, saved a Libyan king's daughter (Cleodolinda) from a fiery dragon.  You'd think people would be more patient with a local dragon slayer.

William Shakespeare was born on this date in 1564 and wrote a lot of plays then died in the end—on April 23, 1616.

His accomplishments are all the more remarkable when you consider that he died on the same day he’d been born.

April 23, 1616 -
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra died the very same day as Shakespeare. Mr. Cervantes was a brilliant Spanish humorist, best known for his novel Don Quixote, in which an old man suffering from acute mental illness rides around the Spanish countryside hallucinating, then dies.

Sometimes that's all there is.

April 23, 1867 -
The Zoetrope was patented (#64,117) by William E. Lincoln of Providence, Rhode Island on this date. The device was the first animated picture machine.

It provided an animation sequence of pictures lining the inside wall of a shallow cylinder, with vertical slits between the images. By spinning the cylinder and looking through the slits, a repeating loop of a moving image could be viewed .

April 23, 1899  -
Life is a great sunrise. I do not see why death should not be an even greater one.

(This is some kind of trifecta for writers.) Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, writer and avid butterfly collector, was born in Saint Petersburg on this date. His work included Lolita, Pnin and Pale Fire.

April 23, 1936 -
I may be a living legend, but that sure don't help when I've got to change a flat tire.

Roy Orbison, the coolest singer in sunglasses,was born on this date.  ( Luxuriate in the voluptuousness of despair)

April 23, 1940 -
A fire broke out in the Rhythm Night Club in Natchez , Mississippi on this date. More than 200 people died, making it one of the worst fires in US history at the time.

News of the tragedy reverberated throughout the country, especially among the African American community, and blues performers have recorded memorial songs such as The Natchez Burning and The Mighty Fire ever since.

April 23, 1967 -
The USSR launched Soyuz One on this date.

The next day, forced to return to earth, cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov became the first casualty of space flight when his capsule's parachute opened improperly.


April 23, 2005
The first video uploaded to YouTube, entitled Me at the zoo, made its online debut on this date. The 19-second video was shot by Yakov Lapitsky and shows YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim at the San Diego Zoo.

It has racked up 19 million views in its ten years online.

And so it goes

Friday, April 22, 2016

Good Pesach to you all

Passover starts tonight - please bone up on those four questions.

Remember you will not be graded on a curve!

Happy Earth Day!

On April 22,1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment.

Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

So go outside and hug a tree.

If you don't want to be this familiar with nature, give a warm but firm shake hands to your house plants.

April 22, 1935 -
Universal Studios released the sequel to the original Frankenstein movie, Bride of Frankenstein, starring Boris Karloff, Colin Clive and Elsa Lanchester on this date.

Elsa Lanchester was only 5'4" but for the role was placed on stilts that made her 7' tall. The bandages were placed so tightly on her that she was unable to move and had to be carried about the studio and fed through a straw.  Lanchester's make-up took three hours for her face alone and her shock hairdo was held in place by a wired horsehair cage and her.

April 22, 1939 -
Warner Bros.
released the film, Dark Victory, starring Bette Davis (in one of her favorite roles) and George Brent (her favorite actor with whom she had an affair) on this date.

During the filming of the emotionally-charged scene when Bette Davis' character needs to find her way upstairs to her room after the brain tumor has caused her blindness, the cast and crew and several visitors were watching as Davis grasped the banister and began to feel her way up the steps, one by one. Halfway to the top of the staircase, Davis paused, stopped the scene, briskly walked back downstairs, and addressed director Edmund Goulding. "Ed," Davis said, "is Max Steiner going to be composing the music score to this picture?" Goulding, surprised by the question, replied that he didn't know, and asked Davis why the matter was important enough to stop the filming of the scene. "Well, either I'm going to climb those stairs, or Max Steiner is going to climb those stairs," Davis responded, "but I'll be God-DAMNED if Max Steiner and I are going to climb those stairs together!"

April 22, 1942 -
One of Hitchcock's brilliant World War II efforts (and with his first all-American cast), Saboteur, premiered in Washington D.C. on this date.

The shot of the ship on its side toward the end was an actual shot of the ocean liner SS Normandie, which had caught fire and capsized at its pier in New York. The fire was an accident, not sabotage (a cutting torch accidently set fire to some kapok life vests), though there were rumors of sabotage at the time.

April 22, 1950 -
Peter Frampton
, musician, singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, was born on this date.

If you were a teenager in the mid 70s, you were issued your standard copy of Frampton Comes Alive to face your 'awkward' years.

April 22, 1953 -
Twentieth Century Fox releases the surrealistic science fiction film Invaders from Mars, directed by William Cameron Menzies on this date.

The special effects department used condoms to create the "bubbles" on the walls of the underground tunnels.

Today in History:
April 22, 1451

April 22, 1870 -
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov was born on this date He later became Lenin, invented the Communist Party in Russia and made himself first Head Bastard of the Soviet Union.

It's interesting to note that Alexander Kerensky, the leader of Russia's provisional revolutionary government in 1917 until overthrown by Lenin, was born on the same day as Lenin, only eleven years later.

Well, it's interesting to some people.

April 22, 1904 -
Robert Oppenheimer was born on this date. Mr. Oppenheimer is known as the father of the atomic bomb.

The bomb's mother has never been identified to anyone's satisfaction, which only underscores the lax security at Los Alamos.

April 22, 1923 -
Sex is a part of love. You shouldn't go around doing it unless you are in love.

Bettie Mae Page was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on this date.

April 22, 1946 -
If you go home with somebody, and they don't have books, don't fuck 'em!

John Waters, film director, actor and raconteur, was born on this date.

April 22, 1964 -
President Johnson opened the New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadow, Corona Park, New York, on this date.

The Fair also is remembered as the vehicle Walt Disney utilized to design and perfect the system of "audio-animatronics," in which a combination of sound and computers control the movement of life-like robots to act out scenes. In the It's a Small World attraction at the Pepsi pavilion, animated dolls and animals frolicked in a spirit of racially-insensitive unity on a boat-ride around the world.

Once the fair was over, Walt feverishly pushed his Imagineers to build him an 'actual' President. Historians argue that this was the beginning of Ronald Reagan campaign for the Presidency.

April 22, 1994 -
Richard M. Nixon suffered a fatal stroke on this date. His body was laid to rest in the unhallowed grounds of his Presidential Library.

His head was severed from his body and wooden stakes were driven through his heart to make sure he was dead.

And so it goes

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hmmm, I did not know this

In Ventura County, California cats and dogs are not allowed to have sex without a permit.

Utah state legislation outlawed all sex with anyone but your spouse. Next to that adultery, oral and anal sex, masturbation are considered sodomy and can lead to imprisonment. Sex with an animal – unless performed for profit – however is NOT considered sodomy.

April 21, 1932 -
You know how sometimes you lie in bed at night and think, “What if the law of gravity just wears out and lets go and I drift into space?” Does that ever make you anxious?

Elaine May, one of the funniest human being who ever lived, was born on this date.

April 21, 1951 -
Les Paul and Mary Ford topped the charts with their hit of the classic How High the Moon on this date.

Although it was written by lyricist Nancy Hamilton and composer Morgan Lewis for the 1940 musical Two For The Show, the definitive version of "How High The Moon" was recorded by the husband and wife team of Les Paul and Mary Ford. This recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1979.

April 21, 1990 -
Sinead O'Connor topped the charts with a cover of Prince's Nothing Compares 2U on this date.

The video was the first time most people saw what O'Connor looked like and were surprised that she was bald. She shaved her head when she first started recording because she wanted to make a statement and not be known for her beauty. Some people believe this is the saddest song ever recorded (but wait.)

Did you make it through Jimmy Scott's version without crying?

Today in History:
April 21, 753 BC
Today is the traditional date of the foundation of Rome by Romulus and his brother, Remus, as a refuge for runaway slaves and murderers who captured the neighboring Sabine women for wives (they are hoping to finish building it any day now.)

But since the Gregorian Calendar was just a gleam in Pope Gregory eye - who knows.  But by all means, please bring enough lubricant with you to the commemorative orgy tonight.

April 21,1792 -
Jose da Silva Xavier, Tiradentes, considered by many to be Brazil's George Washington, was having an extremely bad day. The Portuguese rulers of Brazil were not happy with his seditious talk of independence. Tiradentes was hung in Rio de Janeiro on this date. His body was broken into pieces.

With his blood, a document was written declaring his memory infamous. His head was exposed in Vila Rica. Pieces of his body were exposed in the cities between Vila Rica and Rio, in an attempt to scare the people who had listened to the independence ideas of Tiradentes.

He began to be considered a national hero by the republicans in the late 19th century, and after the republic was proclaimed in Brazil in 1889 the anniversary of his death (April 21) became a national holiday.

April 21, 1836 -
With the battle cry, 'Remember the Alamo!' Texan forces under Sam Houston defeated the army of Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, assuring Texas independence .

According to legend, Santa Anna was astride a mulatto, or "yellow" prostitute, Emily Morgan, who came to be celebrated in song as The Yellow Rose of Texas.

Now you know.

April 21, 1910 -
Halley's comet reappeared on this date. It had been last seen in 1835, the year Samuel Clemens was born.

The Earth passes safely through the comet's tail with no perceptible effect, of course, not counting the death of Mark Twain on this date.
This time, the reports were not exaggerated.

April 21, 1918 -
German fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, known as The Red Baron, was shot down and killed over Vaux sur Somme in France on this date.

There is no truth to the rumor that Snoopy fired the fatal shot.

The following people were born on this day:
Alexandra Mary Windsor (1926),

Iggy Pop (James Newell Osterberg) (1947) ,

Patti LuPone (1949),

Tony Danza (1951)

and Robert Smith (1959)

Make of this coincidence what you will

April 21, 1962 -
President John F. Kennedy took time out of his busy schedule, of banging starlets and interns, two, three at a time, to push a button in Palm Beach, Florida and officially open the Top of the Needle (the first revolving restaurant in the United States,) atop the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington on this date.

The President was so high on pain killers that he did not realize that he wasn't in Seattle at the time.

April 21, 1997 -
The ashes of Timothy Leary and Gene Roddenberry were launched into orbit (this marked the beginning of the space funeral industry,) on this date.

I guess this is the highest Dr. Leary will ever get.

April 21, 2003 -
Nina Simone, dubbed the high priestess of soul, died in France on this date.

Kids go out and buy one of her CD's, your life will be better for it.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

In the time of darkest defeat, victory may be nearest.

A 1,800-year-old triumphal arch destroyed by Isis in the Syrian city of Palmyra last year, arose, phoenix like yesterday in London. The recreation of Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph will be on display for four days in Trafalgar Square after being made by carving stone to the exact shape of the original, working from a database of 3D photographs collected by the Institute of Digital Archaeology (IDA).

After its stay in London – which has been timed to coincide with World Heritage Week - the recreated arch will be taken around the world, visiting New York’s Times Square and Dubai, before being taken to Syria.

You couldn’t buy alcohol while polls were open in Kentucky until 2013.  You would probably think that was a great step forward.

But bars were open all day yesterday in NY State - we may want to rethink our blue laws. 

Jacob T. Swinney
has created a fantastic mashup looking at 100 years of cinema with 100 different clips from 100 different films.

The short debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival this week.

If you or your kid cut school or work today, lock up the snacks. They may come home with a case of the munchies.

If they were out celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Klara Hitler's bouncing baby little evil bastard named Adolf on this date in 1889, smack them hard across the back of the head.

If they were celebrating the anniversary of the Columbine attack, have them talk to Michael,

That's all we're gonna say.

April 20, 1959 -
Desilu Productions launched its new TV series The Untouchables with a two-part episode The Scarface Mob on this date

The only actors to reprise their roles as members of The Untouchables from the series pilot, Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, were Robert Stack as Eliot Ness and Abel Fernández as William Youngfellow. All of the other team members were recast for the series.

April 20, 1977 -
Annie Hall, at 93 minutes, the shortest color film to ever win the Best Picture Oscar, premiered on this date (Marty, in glorious B & W was 91 minutes.)

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton had trouble keeping a straight face when working together. An example of the uncontrollable laughter between the two was the lobster dinner scene. It was the first scene shot for the movie and neither Woody nor Diane had to do much acting for the scene, for their laughter was completely spontaneous.

April 20, 1981 -
ABC unceremoniously aired the final episode of Soap, leaving many of the plotlines unresolved.

Susan Harris, the creator of the series, went on to create The Golden Girls and Empty Nest, using many of the same actors who first appeared on Soap.

Today in History:
April 20, 1233
Pope Gregory IX placed the Inquisition, in existence since 1227, under the aegis of the Dominican Order on this date. Torture is apparently sometimes necessary to save souls, and the office continues to exist today as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

And until a decade or so ago, the congregation was headed by Prefect Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

April 20, 1940 -
The first electron microscope was demonstrated by RCA on this date.

The company was among the first to develop the electron microscope, which remains widely used in many forms of scientific research today.

April 20, 1979 -
President Jimmy Carter was attacked by a Killer Swamp Rabbit, while on vacation in Plains GA on this date. The rabbit swam menacingly towards him, and he had to repel the ferocious creature with a paddle. There were no injuries.

Press Secretary Jody Powell leaked the story to the press, and the White House had a lot of explaining to do.

April 20, 1992 -
Alone in his apartment watching TV, British comedic legend Benny Hill suffered a fatal heart attack on this date.

His bloated toupee-less body with his underwear around his ankles were found four days later

April 20, 2010 -
While drilling at the Macondo Prospect, an explosion on the rig, Deepwater Horizon, caused by a blowout which killed 11 crewmen and ignited a fireball visible from 35 miles away. The resulting fire could not be extinguished and, on this date, Deepwater Horizon sank, leaving the well gushing at the sea floor and causing the largest offshore oil spill in United States history.

BP announced on April 18, 2012 that it has reached a class-action settlement with attorneys representing thousands of businesses and individuals who made claims after the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. As late as January of 2014, BP was still attempting not to pay claims made against them in the suit.  The court has rejected BP attempts.

BP originally projected that its settlement costs would be $7.8 billion. As of two weeks ago,a federal judge approved a $20 billion settlement to end years of litigation. If agreed to, the settlement would be paid over 16 years.

And so it goes