Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dolce far niente

School's out for NYC school kids today.


But don't get too comfortable - once again, school starts up again in 72 days (or 6,220,800 seconds if that makes you feel better.)


Happy Birthday Mel Brooks



I'm so happy to once again note that it's always a good day to know that Mel is still around.


June 28, 1951 -
A TV version of the popular radio program Amos 'N' Andy premiered on CBS on this date.



Although criticized for racial stereotyping, it was the first network TV series to feature an all-black cast.  I'm ambivalent about embedded the episode, but it's out there on the internet.



If you have the time, watch the documentary posted above so you can understand what the show is about.


June 28, 1956
-
The film version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical, The King and I premiered in New York City, on this date.



Yul Brynner is the only actor to have played a lead role in a Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II production both on the stage and on the screen, winning a Tony and an Oscar, respectively.


June 28, 1985 -
Hard to believe now but Hollywood employed some of the Brat Pack again when Joel Schumacher's St. Elmos's Fire, starring Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, and Mare Winningham, premiered on this date.



Director Joel Schumacher saw Demi Moore walk down the hallway in his office's building and asked a colleague to run after her and find out if she was an actress. Schumacher's production office at the time was in the same place as that of John Hughes' office where Moore had just been visiting regarding a casting call.


Another Childhood Classic


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



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


June 28, 1820 -
Robert Gibbon Johnson proved that tomatoes were not poisonous when he ate two homegrown tomatoes in front of a horrified crowd on the steps of the courthouse in Salem, New Jersey.



At the time in the US, tomatoes were believed to be poisonous because of their relationship with some wild plants of the nightshade family that produce toxic berries.

This is what passed for entertainment in New Jersey - Chris Christie wasn't born yet.


June 28, 1902 -
Today is the birthday of nefarious American philosopher John Dillinger, born in 1902. (He is also believed to have been born on June 22, 1903.)



At the age of twenty, a precocious young Dillinger attempted to illustrate the transient nature of material goods by depriving a stranger of his automobile. When a warrant was issued for his arrest by Indiana police disinclined to accept Dillinger's delicate epistemological point, the young man cleverly joined the navy to demonstrate the redemptive powers of patriotism.

Philosophers have historically encountered resistance from the military, and Dillinger was no exception. He fled the service, returned home, got married, and robbed a grocer. The robbery went awry and Dillinger went to jail for nine years.



Jail hardened Dillinger and made him a very bitter man. Upon his release, he began robbing banks almost immediately. He quickly became Public Enemy Number One, which enabled him to be shot to death by the FBI outside the Biograph movie theatre in Chicago. And as stated previously, it is widely rumored (but hotly denied) pug ugly transvestite FBI chief, J. Edgar Hoover, ordered Dillinger's well-endowed member detached from his corpse and pickled, for his private files.



His philosophy, however, endures to this day, and is practiced widely and successfully by various tax authorities around the world.

And I have no idea if Hoover did with his trophy.


Jun 28 1905 -
At 5:30 a.m. on this date, a murderer named Henri Languille lost his head on the guillotine in Orleans. Dr. Jacques Beaurieux, an official witness to the execution, picks up the freshly-severed head of Languille just after it drops into the guillotine basket (don't worry, he's an official - the French just don't let anybody pick up freshly severed heads) and shouts the man's name three times. According to the doctor's report: "Languille's eyes very definitely fixed themselves on mine and the pupils focused themselves. ... I was dealing with undeniably living eyes which were looking at me."

Again, if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, the French they are a funny race.


June 28 1914 -
Archduck Franz Ferdinand was having an extremely bad day.

He was touring Serbia with his wife, the Mallard Sophie. The purpose of his tour was to get Serbia to calm down, it having become extremely irritable for reasons known only to itself, possibly having to do with Austria's occupation of the region. (Either that or gas.)




During their tour, Nedjelko Cabrinovic tosses a grenade into the automobile carrying Archduck Franz Ferdinand and wife Sofia. But Ferdinand knocks the bomb away with his arm and his driver speeds away from the would-be assassin. The driver was naturally addled and the Archduck and Mallard Sophie became lost and stopped to ask for directions from a young boy on the side of the road (and as most men know this is a no-no - if you are lost, never ask for directions). The conversation went something like this:

"Say, lad, I'm the Austrian Archduck Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Habsburg throne and this is my wife, the Mallard Sophie. We seem to be lost. If we don't find our way back I might never have the chance to take the Austrian throne and continue the ruthless and relentless persecution of the Serbian peoples. Could you give us a hand?"



The boy was Gavrilo Princip and he had just started World War I. The war ended exactly five years later, on June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty of Versailles is best known for having caused the Second World War.




Gavrilo Princip died of tuberculosis in his jail cell. After his death, the following graffiti was discovered on the wall:



June 28, 1969 -
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, a Mafia run bar in Greenwich Village, the gay community fought back against routine police harassment that persecuted sexual minorities. Police raided the bar this time because it had refused to pay an increase in bribery. This incident is regarded by many as history's first major protest on behalf of equal rights for the LGBT community.



34 years later, on June 26, 2003, the US Supreme Court, in Lawrence v. Texas, struck down a Texas sodomy law and proclaimed that gay Americans have a right to private sexual relations. 44 years later (on June 26, 2013) the Supreme Court overturned DOMA and just two years after that, the court legalized marriage for same-sex couples, nationwide.


June 28, 1975 -
Rod Serling
(b.1924), iconoclastic writer and director of the TV series Twilight Zone and Night Gallery, died on this date.





Serling, a decorated World War II veteran suffered from PTSD and insomnia throughout his life.  His wartime experiences led him to become an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War.


June 28 1997 -
Mike Tyson
was disqualified from a championship boxing bout after biting off a large portion of Evander Holyfield's ear.



Tyson was later banned from boxing and fined $3 million for the incident.

Yeah, it tastes like chicken.


And on a personal note: Happy Birthday Angie

.

And so it goes


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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Operating from his secret mountain headquarters

June 27, 1949 -
Guardian of the Safety of the World, private citizen-scientist Captain Video, premiered on the Dumont Network on this date.



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


June 27, 1957 -
... I love this dirty town
.

The brilliant film-noir, Sweet Smell of Success, partially based on columnist Walter Winchell starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis was released on this date.



The narc in the film, Lt Harry Kello, is based on NYPD detective Eddie Egan, immortalized by Gene Hackman as 'Popeye' Doyle in The French Connection.


June 27, 1966 -
The first broadcast of Dark Shadows aired on ABC-TV on this date.



For more than a year and a half the characters of Dark Shadows used almost every possible phrase to refer to Barnabas Collins ("He's not alive!" "He's one of the undead." "He walks at night but he ain't alive.") It wasn't until the 410th episode that the word "vampire" was actually used on the show.


June 27, 1973 -
Roger Moore stepped into the role of James Bond with Live and Let Die, released in the US on this date.



Sean Connery turned down the then astronomical sum of $5.5 million to play James Bond. Connery gave Roger Moore his personal seal of approval for inheriting his role, calling him "an ideal Bond".


June 27, 1997 -
Paramount Pictures
backed John Woo effort to create a film with more hammier acting that William Shatner/ Ricardo Ricardo Montalban in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, went it put Face/Off, starring John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Joan Allen, and Gina Gershon into general release on this date.



Originally, Nicolas Cage turned down the role of Castor Troy, citing a lack of interest in playing a villain. However, once he was told that he would actually be playing the hero for a majority of the film, he quickly signed on.


June 27, 2008 -
The Disney/ Pixer Academy Award winning animation film, WALL-E went into general release on this date.



Andrew Stanton and the Pixar team watched every single Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton movie (the short films and the features) every day during lunch for about a year and a half. This was to inspire the possibilities of pure visual storytelling.


A moment of zen


Today in History:
June 27, 363
-
The Roman Emperor Julian died on this date from grievous wounds he sustained in battle.

With his death, so ended the revival of Paganism (and state sanctioned, rigorous devotion to sodomy) in Rome.



I believe this is the third day in a row I got to reference sodomy.  (I continue to scare the children and horses in the street but as long as I do it in the privacy of my own home, it's not illegal.)


June 27 1844 -
Mormon leader Joseph Smith, along with his brother Hyrum, were shot and killed by a mob while in jail at Carthage, Illinois.

According to church legend, after Smith was shot a man raises a knife to decapitate him, but was thwarted by a thunderbolt from heaven. God was having an off day and the thunderbolt was meant to fry Smith's body to a crisp.


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

Music publisher Warner/Chappell will no longer be allowed to collect licensing royalties on those who sing "Happy Birthday" in public and will pay back $14 million to those who have paid for licensing in the past. You no longer have to substitute any of the following for our purposes under "Fair Use":



June 27, 1905 -
Sailors from the Battleship Potemkin start a mutiny aboard the Battleship Potemkin, on this date, denouncing the crimes of autocracy, demanding liberty and an end to war.



Sergei Eisenstein, wacky Russian film director, thought he could make a summer comedy from the subject matter.



He unfortunately had no sense of humor and went on to create the classic silent film, The Battleship Potemkin, in spite of himself.


It's Bob Keeshan's birthday.



If you're of a certain age, you remember him very well.


June 27, 1928 -
Sylvia Beach
invited James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald to dinner at her apartment over her Paris Bookstore Shakespeare and Company on this date. Fitzgerald became drunk (which is like stating, the sun rose this morning). He said he was such a fan of Joyce's that he would throw himself out the window to prove it.

Neither writer was having much success. Fitzgerald had just published The Great Gatsby and it had not been selling well. Joyce's Ulysses wouldn't be published outside of Paris for another five years. Both men died 13 years later, less than a month apart, with no money and very few readers.

Such are the vagaries of life.


June 27, 1964 -
Ernest Borgnine
and Ethel Merman (the woman who learned love at the hands of Ernest Borgnine) were married on this date.




The marriage lasted 38 days.  Truly, such are the vagaries of life



And so it goes



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Monday, June 26, 2017

Life is like a roller coaster, live it, be happy, enjoy life.

The Cyclone roller coaster opened on this date in 1927. The roller coaster opened in Coney Island and is still available to induce vomiting today.



It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 and was made an historic New York City landmark in 1988.


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



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


June 26, 1987 -
The truly silly yet likeable Mel Brooks film, Spaceballs, starring Mel Brooks, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Bill Pullman, Daphne Zuniga, Dick Van Patten, and Joan Rivers went into general release on this date.



According to Mel Brooks, this was one of the most expensive movies he had ever made, at 25 million dollars. By contrast, The Producers cost less than one million dollars to produce.


Word of the day


Today in History:
June 26, 1284
-
The town of Hamelin had a large rat infestation. A weirdly dressed minstrel promised to help them get rid of their rats. The townsmen in turn promised to pay him for the removal of the rats. The man accepted and thus played a musical pipe to lure the rats with a song into the Weser River, where all of them drowned. Despite his success, the people reneged on their promise and refused to pay the rat-catcher. Pied Piper extracting his revenge, luring 130 children of Hamelin away on this date.



People, let this be a lesson to us all - please pay your exterminator bill promptly.


Richard III made himself King of England on this date in 1483 by killing everyone else who wanted to be king.



It seemed a clever stratagem at the time, especially for a hunchback, but his reign came to a bloody end just two years later as a result of his making a fiscally irresponsible bid on a horse.  (To all of you Richard rehabilitators, this is a joke.  Please, no e-mails.)


June 26, 1498 -
The toothbrush (as we know it) was invented in China during the Hongzhi Emperor's reign.  The toothbrush used hog bristles (or horse hair - again, please, no e-mails), at that time.



Hog bristle brushes remained the best until the invention of nylon.  I completely understand the slight gagging feeling you're experiencing this morning. We were able to ascertain this date through the diligent work of ancient Chinese chronologists, who were not plagued by the distraction of the massive amount of sodomy that was rampant throughout Western Europe, where they were going through a touch of Renaissance at the time.


Francisco Pizarro conquered the entire Peruvian Empire of the Incas with a handful of soldiers only to have those soldiers turn on and kill him on June 26, 1541. He was stabbed in the throat, then fell to the floor where he was stabbed repeatedly. Pizarro (who now was maybe as old as 70 years, and at least 62, remember, the problem with calendars: sodomy), collapsed on the floor, alone, painted a cross in his own blood and cried for Jesus Christ. He then cried out: Come to me my faithful sword, companion of all my deeds.

Mr. Pizarro was a tiny bit of a drama queen.


Abner Doubleday was born on this date in 1819. A forgotten footnote in his life is the fact that he aimed the cannon that fired the first return shot in answer to the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, starting the Civil War.



Mr. Doubleday is incorrectly credited with the invention of baseball, without which Americans would have nothing to watch between waits in line for more beer.


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







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


June 26, 1870 -
The day after Leon Day, Congress declared Christmas,

a federal holiday to the great relief of Americans who'd been forced to flee to Canada every December.


June 26, 1926 -
Ernest Hemingway
hung around Europe with several of his friends after WWI. He used to drive an ambulance.  It had a horn.  The horn went beep - beep.  It was a good sound. Hemingway and his friend wrote some novels in between, drinking, whore mongering and general lollygagging. Typewriters made a sound - clackity -clack.  It was a good sound. Hemingway novel The Sun Also Rises was published on this date. It is a good date to publish.





All in all it was a damn good novel. Isn’t it pretty to think so?


June 26, 1959
-
In a ceremony presided over by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II, the St. Lawrence Seaway was officially opened, creating a navigational channel from the Atlantic Ocean to all the Great Lakes.



The seaway, made up of a system of canals, locks, and dredged waterways, extends a distance of nearly 2,500 miles, from the Atlantic Ocean through the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Duluth, Minnesota, on Lake Superior.

(Great bar bet winner for tonight: Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, was probably conceived in Canada on this royal visit.)


June 26, 1963 -
President John F. Kennedy stood before the Berlin Wall and announced to a quarter of a million Germans that he was a jelly donut, in his famous "I am a jelly donut" ("ich bin ein jelly donut") speech.



Although embarrassing, this was considered an improvement over Eisenhower's infamous "I am a well-hung platypus" speech on a golf course in Costa Rica.


June 26, 1968 -
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones ....


Pope Paul VI declares that the bones of Apostle and first Pope, Saint Peter, found underneath St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, were authentic. The bones are now housed in containers near where they were found, but some of them are clearly those of domesticated animals.



Oh well ... another mystery of the church best left unexplained.


June 26, 1976 -
The CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, was the world's tallest structure at the time, at 1,815 feet (553 meters,) opened for tourists on this date.



It now is third, behind an observation tower in China and the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in the United Arab Emirates.


June 26th 1977 -
St. Elvis
played his last ever concert at the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana on this date. Elvis was not long for this world; he was very over-weight and seemed ill, but he wanted to silence the press and make his loyal fans happy.



He played in excess of 18,000 fans as they watched his last and most historic performance. Elvis would be gone in less that two months. Remember - one hand on the screen - the other upon your afflicted area


June 26, 1990
-
Irish Republican Army bombed the Carlton Club on this date, an exclusive conservative gentleman's cabal in London.



(It is a well known fact that Margaret Thatcher was denoted an "honorary man" in order to become a member. It is not clear what surgical modifications, if any, were necessary.)



And so it goes.



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