Monday, February 28, 2011

National Chocolate Souffle Day

I have no idea

They just taste good

February 28, 1915
Samuel Joel Zero Mostel, larger than life actor and comedian, was born on this date.

Flaunt it baby, flaunt it.

February 28, 1948 -
Bernadette Lazzara (Bernadette Peters), Actress/Singer was born on this date.

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

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

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

The USS Princeton departed Alexandria, Virginia on a pleasure and trial trip down the Potomac with President John Tyler, his Cabinet and approximately two hundred guests on board. Upon the final firing of Stockton's Peacemaker, the defective gun finally burst, instantly killing Secretary Upshur; Secretary 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), 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, 1968 -
Singer and early 60's heartthrob Frankie Lymon is found dead from a heroin overdose next to his syringe, in his grandmother's New York City apartment. Years later, three women, Zola Taylor, Elizabeth Waters and Elmira Eagle, each claim to be Lymon's rightful widow and sue to stake out a piece of his estate.

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

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

Written by a large number of collaborators (including series star Alan Alda) and directed by Alda, Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen was the single most watched episode of a television series in American history until this year's Super Bowl.

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

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 was convinced that Christer Pettersson, a drug addict and alcoholic, 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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Some Oscar Trivia

Tonight is the 83rd Annual Academy Awards Presentation on ABC-TV. Here are a few fun facts:

Playwright George Bernard Shaw was the only Nobel Laureate (1924 for Literature) who also won an Oscar (1938 for Pygmalion).
Midnight Cowboy was the only X-rated movie (for graphic sex scene) to ever win the Academy Award for Best Pictures.

Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro are the only two actors to win Oscars (Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor) for playing the same character in different films: Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather, Part II (1974), respectively.

Oscar Hammerstein II is the only Oscar winner named Oscar

True Grit stars Jeff Bridges, 62, and Hailee Steinfeld, 14, are the oldest and youngest nominees for the 2011 Academy Awards.

It's National No Brainer Day. You might think much of what follows came directly from no brains.

February 27, 1932 -
Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, actress and serial bride was born on this date.

Get well soon

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.

There are over 2 million accidents in the home every year, and thousands of these end in tragedy.

Today in History:
On this date in 280 A.D., 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) shoots and kills 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.

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.

(His defense attorney was Edwin M. Stanton, later to become Secretary of War.)

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

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

On February 27, 1939, General Francisco Franco's rebellion 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 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, Johnson announced he would not seek reelection.

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


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

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

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

And so it goes.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Don't be afraid

I know it's been a while but the bright light in the sky this weekend is actually the sun.

February 26, 1908 -
Frederick Bean (Tex) Avery, animator, cartoonist, and another member of the legendary Termite Terrace was born on this date.

His work proved that, 'In a cartoon you can do anything...'

February 26, 1916 -
John Herbert Gleason, (The Great One) comedian, actor and musician was born on this day.

Thin people are beautiful, but fat people are adorable.

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

Ricki Lake began rapidly losing weight due to the intense dance lessons she had to take for the film. She reportedly had to "eat like crazy" in order to stay plump.

February 26, 1994 -
Bill Hicks, writer and comedian, died of pancreatic cancer on this date. In the years after his death, Hicks' work has achieved significant admiration and acclaim.

A documentary entitled American: The Bill Hicks Story, based on interviews with his family and friends is available on DVD (unfortunately, currently only in PAL.)

If you sneeze too hard you can fracture a rib and if you try to suppress a sneeze you can rupture a blood vessel in your head or neck and die

and if you keep your eyes open by force they can pop out

Have a nice day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 26, 1974 -
A U.S. Senate report reveals Ford Motor's involvement in Nazi Germany's war efforts, for which CEO Henry Ford received the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from Adolf Hitler himself. After the war, the car company was paid nearly $1M reparation by the U.S. government to compensate for one of its plants that was bombed within the Reich.

And some people worry about buying a BMW.

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

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

Genius, sheer genius.

Don't forget the Oscars are on tomorrow night on ABC-TV.

In case you need some help with your betting sheet, here's Oscar the Grouch

So remember - go with Colin Filth.

And so it goes.

Friday, February 25, 2011

It's National Clam Chowder Day!

I've got nothing funny to say about it but I thought you might like to know

(well, I do have a bunch of very filthy jokes, most of them involving Charlie Sheen but it's Friday and I'm trying to be good.)

So many things - so much to talk about

I'm sorry, I'm just not this funny or clever, so I'll just give this to you straight:

"The U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in 'psychological operations' to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war, Rolling Stone has learned – and when an officer tried to stop the operation, he was railroaded by military investigators"

Those singled out in the campaign included senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Jack Reed, Al Franken and Carl Levin.

But you always knew McCain was the Manchurian Candidate.

Here's a dedication to Charlie Sheen -

I wish I could earn almost 2 million dollars an episode and blow it all on whores and crack.

I don't even have time to applaud Anonymous for bitch slapping you know who (they're so below contempt, I won't even type their name.)

More than 40,000 Americans are injured each year by toilet seat.

Most of them will be men.

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

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

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

Anna Magnani delivers one of the greatest performances in the history of world cinema in this film.

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

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

Today in History:
February 25, 1570
Pope Pius V excommunicates Queen Elizabeth I of England, for the sin of being a Protestant.

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

this Papal Bull did not make her break stride.

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

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

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

February 25, 1888 -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Soon after the raid, Lt. Kerrey lost a leg at Hon Tam Island and was later awarded a Congressional medal of Honor. In 2001, the former Governor and Senator from Nebraska, publicly discussed his participation in the raid after Bui Thi Luom of Thanh Phong, the only survivor from her hut of 16, said, "Only civilians, women and children" were killed. Kerrey described the event in his 2002 memoir When I Was a Young Man.

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

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

And so it goes.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Another long forgotten tune

All the voices in my head stopped talking at one time and I thought about this long forgotten tune -

... Take all you want and leave all the rest to die.

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

Still alive and kicking!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now you know

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aging Chelsea boys still mourn his death.

And so it goes .

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How deep is the ocean?

How high is the sky?

Now you know.

Get yourself a nice cuppa and relax, you're going to be here for a while.

We could quibble about what they left out but it's damn good anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you wished upon a star lately?

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

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

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

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

That kind of diet will kill you.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hey, my fortune cookie is unfortunately coming true.

May you live in interesting times.

I would have been happy with You will come into a small fortune.

Give a little - lend a hand.

Hey, they have a point. It is better that a jab in the arm with a pointy spike.

Young George Washington was born on February 11, 1731 (or so he thought.) Unfortunately for him, England had been stubbornly holding onto the Julian calendar - they wanted none of that Papist Gregorian calendar crap. But England finally wanted to get with the times, so in 1752, Parliament adopted the Gregorian calendar. Many prominent colonists supported the new system; including Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. Washington updated his own birthday from the old February 11th to the Gregorian February 22th.

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

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

Much heavy drinking ensued.

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

This was the first film to win the Oscar "grand slam" (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Screenplay).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I guess his mother was proud of him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dolly was purportedly named after Dolly Parton.

I guess that's a compliment.

And so it goes.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's Generic Executive Office Holder of the Government Day

Celebrate anyone of them in style - James Garfield for example. Let's celebrate the fact that he like to perform parlor tricks. He could write in Latin with one hand, while writing in Greek with the other hand at the same time.

Or Martin Van Buren, the eighth president of United States, was the first president of the United States to have been born in the United States.

Or the fact that Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Grover Cleveland, were all draft dodgers

Or my personal favorite, Warren G. Harding.

Besides being the only President probably murdered by his wife because of his philandering ways (he actually did have sex will someone in a White House broom closet), Warren was such a lousy poker player that he once lost a complete set of china that had been in the White House dating back to President Benjamin Harrison's years.

So let's hear it for all the generic Presidents.

Here's a tidbit for the day that should get you a free drink in any bar worth their salt:

Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abe Lincoln, was present at the assassinations of three Presidents: his father's, President Garfield's and President McKinley's. After the last shooting, he refused to attend any State affairs. He would not have been present at these events if it hadn't been for the brother of John Wilkes Booth, who saved his life years earlier.

Rep. Jackie Speier , American

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

Miles Laboratories introduced Alka-Seltzer® on this date.

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

As I mentioned last year, tea-baggers, this is NOT a documentary.

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

Due partially to the violation of broadcast standards, along with Saturday Night Live's low ratings, Rocket and most of that seasons cast and writers were fired shortly thereafter.

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

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

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

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

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

This must have been a very pretty sight indeed.

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

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

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

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

Talk about feeling inadequate (and talk about smegma.)

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

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

February 21, 1925 -
The top hatted character Eustace Tilley first appeared on a magazine cover on this date.

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

February 21, 1953 -
Francis Crick and James D. Watson discover the structure of the DNA molecule.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A second scandal with yet another prostitute emerges in 1991, further killing his evangelical career.

And so it goes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

It's a twister, it's a twister

That was some wind storm yesterday

(It's always good to start the day with a little Bowie)

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

I won't even try to describe this masterpiece any further - you must see it.

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

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

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

This is one of the classic films from the Ealing studios - rent it if you haven't seen it.

February 20, 1967 -
Kurt Cobain, musician and lead guitarist of seminal grunge band Nirvana, was born on this date.

I thought you died alone, a long long time ago.

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

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

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

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

Except now they call him Voltaire.

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

Teabaggers and Birthers should rejoice that there is not a 'sanity clause' for the native born citizen.

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

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


February 20, 1962 -
While aboard Friendship 7, John Glenn orbits the earth three times in 4 hours, 55 minutes, becoming the first American to orbit the earth.

I bet when he got back, he had to pee like it a racehorse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Imagine - 27 years of Zombie Bliss!!!

And so it goes.