Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Stirs the dancing daffodil.

I can't remember the old saying ... March comes in like a The Gerenuk and goes out like a Babirusa?

The name of March comes from ancient Rome, when March was the first month of the year and called Martius after Mars, the Roman god of war.

In Rome, where the climate is Mediterranean, March is the first month of spring, a logical point for the beginning of the year as well as the start of the military campaign season. The numbered year began on March 1 in Russia until the end of the fifteenth century.



Great Britain and her colonies continued to use March 25 until 1752, the same year they finally adopted the Gregorian calendar. Many other cultures and religions still celebrate the beginning of the New Year in March.  (But I bet you told your boss that you still tenaciously clung to the Julian Calendar and celebrated January 13th as New Years Day - well you're SOL.)

Among the things we celebrate this month are:
* Cataract Awareness Month  
* Honor Society Awareness Month  
* Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month  
* Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month (Please stop broadcasting colonoscopies!)
* Rosacea Awareness Month 
* Deaf History Month 
* Feminine Empowerment Month  
* Foot Health Month 
* Furniture Refinishing Month 
* Humorists Are Artists Month 
* International Hamburger & Pickle Month 
* Irish-American Heritage Month (Please don't let the Catholic High Schools know that St. Patrick's Day can be celebrated all month long.) 
* Poison Prevention Awareness Month 
* Red Cross Month 
* Talk with Your Teen about Sex Month
* National Umbrella Month  
* Social Worker's Month (If you don't talk to your kids about sex.) 

Hominem te esse memento! Memento mori! - You're not being helpful - by trying to wipe the the smudge mark on your friend's forehead today





( Did you find the coin in the Kings cake? )



So begins forty days (remember that the six Sundays between today and Easter don't count as part of the 40 days) of prayer, fasting, contemplation and community service and not the Lentil season, which is marked by forty days of legume eating and gas passing (but that's another story.)


Today is National Pig Day honoring the porcine fellow. According to one of the holiday's creators, the purpose of National Pig Day is "to accord the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized, place as one of man's most intellectual and domesticated animals."



Everybody should go wallow in the mud and kiss a pig (or not.)


March 1, 1936 -
Warner Bros. Pictures releases the horror film The Walking Dead, directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Boris Karloff and Edmund Gwenn, which premiered in New York City, on this date.



The "glass heart" machine used to revive Karloff's dead character was said to be "nearly a prefect replica" of an actual perfusion pump- a device designed to keep organs alive outside an organism's body- which had been built by Charles Lindbergh, when the legendary pilot and engineer was working with a Nobel-winning scientist at New York's Rockefeller Institute research labs in the mid-1930s.


March 1, 1985 – 
Another of Woody Allen's takes on the public's relationship with the movies, The Purple Rose of Cairo starring Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, and Danny Aiello, premiered on this date.



After this film was previewed, word got back to Woody Allen that if he just changed his ending, he could have a big hit. Allen declined, saying that the ending is one of the reasons he made the film.


Today in History:
March 1, 1810 -
Frédéric François Chopin
, one of the best-known and best-loved composers of the Romantic period, was born on this date.



Chopin's entire musical output was devoted to his favorite instrument, the piano.


March 1, 1932 -
A person, most likely not the convicted and executed Bruno Hauptmann, climbed a makeshift ladder to the 2nd floor of Charles Lindbergh's New Jersey home and snatches his twenty-month-old son, Charles Jr. Whoever took the baby left behind a poorly-written ransom note demanding $50,000 in small bills.



Interesting aside, leading the investigation for the New Jersey state police was Col. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, father of the Gulf War hero, Stormin Norman, who shares his name.


March 1, 1954 -
The first hydrogen bomb is detonated at Bikini. Even though the bomb was hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bomb exploded there in 1946, no islanders were evacuated this time. Almost 300 people suffered radiation exposure. The test was so successful that it blew the once happy island into tiny bits that came to be known collectively as the Bikini Atoll.



Shrewd fashion moguls in France put two and two together and invented bell bottoms.


About four hundred years earlier--on March 1, 1562-- Jason and his thousand Huguenots were at prayer in Vassy, France, when they were suddenly massacred by Catholics. Huguenots and Catholics subsequently fought The Wars of Religion for over three decades to settle the question of Best Religion Ever. Unfortunately the Edict of Nantes granted religious tolerance in 1598 and the question was never settled to anyone's satisfaction.

As a result, billions of human beings continue to honor the wrong religion to this very day. I truly hopes God is grading on a curve. . .


March 1, 1969 -
While performing with the Doors at The Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami, the formerly svelte, now tubby alcoholic Jim Morrison asks the audience Do you wanna see my cock? then exposes himself briefly on a Miami stage.



For thus showing his peepee, Morrison received a sentence of six months hard labor.

Mr. Mojo Rising indeed.

Coincidentally, in a weird cosmic way, the Oliver Stone film, The Doors, premiered on the same date in 1991.



The bar that Jim and his buddies frequented in the movie is Barney's Beanery, a popular spot in W. Hollywood, California. It was the last place Janis Joplin visited before she died at a nearby hotel later that night.


March 1, 1971 -
You may not need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows but... The radical group Weather Underground exploded a bomb in a restroom of the U.S. Capitol building, causing significant damage. The bomb exploded after an intensive search of the building yielded no results.



Nobody was ever convicted of the attack.


March 1, 1978 -
The body of Charlie Chaplin was stolen for ransom by Galtcho Ganav (Bulgaria) and Romnan Wardas (Poland) from a cemetery in Corsier, Switzerland. The actor's corpse is recovered two months later.

One can only hope the little tramp was properly embalmed.


March 1, 1982 -
Russian spacecraft Venera 13 landed on Venus and sent back data.



Frightened scientists try to suppress the video but the world must know.



And so it goes.


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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ho Natay, swing dat thing

Bon temps roulez, mes amis - It's Mardi Gras!









No one needs to disrobe, it's much too cold and we've got plenty of beads (unless you like to disrobe in public.)


Today is also know as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day, which heralds the beginning of fasting in Lent. On this day (so the historians say) there were feasts of pancakes to use up the supplies of fat, butter and eggs... foods that were forbidden during austere Lent.



In England there are several celebrations on this day but perhaps the best known one is the Pancake Day Race at Olney in Buckinghamshire which has been held since 1445. The race came about when a woman cooking pancakes heard the shriving bell summoning her to confession. She ran to church wearing her apron and still holding her frying pan, and thus without knowing it, started a tradition that has lasted for over five hundred years.

Keep flipping them pancakes


February 28, 1915
I wanted to say something about the universe. There's God, angels, plants... and horseshit.







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


February 28, 1948 -
You've gotta be original, because if you're like someone else, what do they need you for?







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


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



At first, Simon thought the opening lyrics were too simple: "When you're weary, feeling small. When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all." He later realized that it was this simplicity that helped give the song a universal appeal.


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



Alan Alda and Loretta Swit were the only actors to appear in the first episode of MASH, and this episode.


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



Robert Downey Jr. was almost cast as Duckie when the ending had Andie getting together with Duckie. Per Molly Ringwald, this ending may have stuck if Downey won the role because he didn't give her the "brother vibe" Jon Cryer did.


What is Truth?


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

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


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

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

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

Isn't love grand.


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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



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


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

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

It seems everybody wanted to get into the act.


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

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



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



And so it goes


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Monday, February 27, 2017

We're all really tired in our house

How'd you do on your pool?

That was some finish.



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



If I could get Jeff Daniels to do voice-overs for all of my stories - I might consider switching to White Russians.


February 27, 1932 -
The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues.



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


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



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



Don't forget to check out Dr. Caligari's Cabinet.


Today in History:
On this date in 280 A.D. (or another date or year, again remember lead cups and constant orgies, do not good calendar keepers make), Emperor Constantine the Great was born.



Constantine took half the Roman Empire and moved it to Byzantium, a little village which he built up into such a magnificent city that it was eventually named after him: Istanbul.

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


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



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



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


February 27, 1933 -
The Reichstag conveniently went up in flames on this date. A mad Dutchman who was arrested at the scene, Marinus van der Lubbe, may have been partially responsible but if this is so, he is likely someone's patsy. The Nazi Party benefit greatly from the subsequent crack down, and it's suspected that SA stormtroopers set things up for van der Lubbe.  (I was really tired when I typed this up this morning. This time I did not leave the e off, this poor unfortunate soul's name.)

video



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


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

Ernest Hemingway had been defeated.

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

General Franco and Ernest Hemingway are still dead.


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

Really, look it up - it says that.

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

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


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



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


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



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


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



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



And so it goes.


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