Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Just Quit

World No Tobacco Day is observed around the world every year on May 31. The member states of the World Health Organization created World No Tobacco Day in 1987. It draws global attention to the tobacco epidemic and to the preventable death and disease it causes.

It aims to reduce the 3.5 million yearly deaths from tobacco related health problems. From 1988 the WHO has presented one or more World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) Awards to organizations or individuals who have made exceptional contributions to reducing tobacco consumption.

Today in History:
May 31, 455 -
Petronius Maximus, emperor for less than three month, was having an extremely bad day. News reached Rome that Vandals were planning on sacking Rome (a favorite past time for Vandals.) The level headed Petronius attempted to organize an orderly evacuation of the Senate and his cronies. Panic, unfortunately set in and Petronius Maximus was completely abandoned by his bodyguard and entourage and left to fend for himself.

As he rode out of the city on his own on , he was set upon by an angry mob who stoned him to death. His body was mutilated and flung into the Tiber.

Sometimes, it sucks to be the king.

May 31, 1678 -
The lovely young Lady Godiva, aged 17, rode naked on horseback through Coventry, England, to protest the high tax rate established by her own husband, Earl Leofric of Mercia. Her protest worked and he lowered taxes.

While I can't say whether or not the Tea Bag movement strongly endorse this type of civil disobedience, Id like to remind the ladies out there that taxes are pretty high just about everywhere these days.

May 31, 1819 -
Great New Yorker and even greater poet, Walt Whitman was born on this date.

Although a staunch supporter of the Union cause, Whitman comforted dying soldiers of both sides, as described in one of the poet's war-time newspaper dispatches: "I stayed a long time by the bedside of a new patient.... In an ad-joining ward I found his brother...It was in the same battle both were hit. One was a strong Unionist, the other Secesh; both fought for their respective sides, both badly wounded, and both brought together after a separation of four years. Each died for his cause."

May 31, 1859 -
The iconic clock in the clock tower attached to the Palace at Westminister first began to keep time on this date.

The name Big Ben is often used to describe the tower or the clock but it's actually is the name of the carillon inside.

May 31, 1884 -
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, head of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, patents corn flakes. The good doctor believed in a vegetarian diet and a regimen of exercise. The good doctor also believed in proper elimination. At his sanitarium, Kellogg made sure that the bowel of each and every patient was plied with water, from above and below. His favorite device was an enema machine that could run fifteen gallons of cold water through an unfortunate bowel in a matter of seconds.

Every water enema was followed by a pint of yogurt — half was eaten, the other half was administered by enema “thus planting the protective germs where they are most needed and may render most effective service”. The yogurt served to replace the intestinal flora of the bowel, creating what Kellogg claimed was a squeaky clean intestine.

You'll never look at a carton of Activa the same way again.

May 31, 1889 -
Relentless rain and inadequate maintenance causes the South Fork Dam to fail, unleashing a 35-foot-high wall of water on Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

2,209 people are entombed beneath a pile of debris half a mile wide.

May 31, 1902 -
The Treaty of Vereeniging was signed, canceling the Bore War for lack of interest.

(The Bore War should not be confused with the Boar War, which was much more exciting on account of tusks.)

May 31, 1963 -
Nun Nu Thanh Quang, a Buddhist monk, immolates himself at the Dieu de Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam.

That has got to hurt.

May 31, 1969 -
The National Legume Collective negotiates intensely all through the early part of 1969 with John Lennon and his new wife, Yoko Ono to record their new promotional song, Give Peas a Chance. The agreement ends abruptly when the organization actually hears Ms. Ono's voice.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono then decide not to waste the experience and record Give Peace a Chance, the first single recorded by a solo Beatle, from their hotel bed (not as a political statement as some have argued but because of the bloated feeling from eating a non-stop diet of peas for the past five months).

A pilot show (The Seinfeld Chronicles) created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld premiered on Thursday, May 31, 1990 on NBC. The show often described as "about nothing" was not an immediate success.

After the pilot was shown, on July 5, 1989, a pickup by the NBC network did not seem likely and the show was actually offered to Fox, which declined to pick it up. However, Rick Ludwin, head of late night and special events for NBC, diverted money from his budget, and the next four episodes were filmed.

I wonder what ever happened to those guys?

May 31, 1996 -
Timothy Leary dies quietly in his sleep, thereby failing his intended mission of killing himself live on the Internet.

On a brighter note, a longstanding Moody Blues prophecy is fulfilled.

And so it goes.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Decoration Day

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday that is observed on the last Monday of May. It was formerly known as Decoration Day. This holiday commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service to their country. It began first to honor Union soldiers who died during the American Civil War.

After World War I, it expanded to include those who died in any war or military action. One of the longest standing traditions is the running of the Indianapolis 500, which has been held in conjunction with Memorial Day since 1911 (no one has been able to successfully explain the connection between honoring the nation's war dead and people driving around a race track).

It Manhattanhenge time again

Because of the work of the The Commissioners' Plan of 1811, the orderly plan of the grid like layout of most of Manhattan occurred, we were able to see the spectacular setting of the sun which aligns with the east-west streets, fully illuminating every single cross-street for the last fifteen minutes of daylight (best bet according to Neil deGrasse Tyson is 8:17 P.M. EDT.)

Today in History:
Breasts are an important feature among mammals. They allow mothers to nurture their young through protracted infancies. No infancy is longer than that of the human species, especially that of the American male, which often lasts until death.

Breasts are more than just moving diner for the young, however. On humans at least, they also have valuable recreational value. Nothing else has the nutrition, entertainment, and sheer jiggle value of the human breast (although Jell-O™ does come close).

Naturally, men couldn't leave anything with the power, appeal, and nutritive value of breasts in the hands of women, literally or metaphorically. From the very dawn of human history, therefore, breasts have been in men's hands.

In 2500 BC, the Minoan women of Crete are believed to have worn a special garment that lifted their breasts entirely out of their clothing. (Like another popular story of ancient Minos, this is believed to be half bull.) By the rise of the Hellenic (Greek) and Roman (Roman) civilizations, however, women were wearing tightly bound breast bands to reduce their busts. This style persisted until 476 AD, rightly referred to by historians as the Fall of Rome.

As history progressed, the popularity of breasts rose and fell, heaved and plunged, lifted and separated. Each new culture found a new way of exalting or obscuring the breast, according to their inclinations. By the nineteenth century in Europe, breasts were being pressed together and thrust upward by means of whalebone-fortified corsets.

The strain was unbearable. Something had to give.

On May 30, 1889, the world’s first bra was invented. To tell you the truth, I’ve lost all track of where I found that date but I do know, however, that corset maker Herminie Cadolle invented the Bien-être in 1889, and that this “health aid” was the first garment to support breasts from the shoulder down instead of squeezing them up from below.

Marie Tucek patented the first “breast supporter” in 1893 (separate pockets for the breasts, with straps that went over the shoulder and were fastened by hook-and-eye closures). Yes, the first documented over the over the shoulder boulder holder.

New York socialite Mary Jacob Phelps invented a modern bra in 1913 (with two handkerchiefs, some ribbon, and a bit of cord) to accommodate a sheer evening gown. Ms. Phelps sold her invention, which she called the brassiere, to the Warner Brothers Corset Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for $1500 in 1914.

The US War Industries Board encouraged the assimilation of the bra in 1917 by encouraging women to stop buying corsets, thereby freeing up nearly sixty million pounds of the metal used in them.

During the 1920s, a Russian immigrant by the name of Ida Rosenthal founded Maidenform with her husband William. The Rosenthals grouped breasts into cup sizes and developed bras for women of every age.

So it doesn’t really matter what happened on May 30, 1889. It only matters that I’ve gotten you to read the word breast about twenty times in the last several paragraphs.

May 30, 1431 -
Convicted of heresy by the English (see May 23), 19-year-old Joan of Arc got an extreme hot foot as her punishment in Rouen, France, on this date.

Pope Benedict XV canonized her in 1920.

May 30, 1593 -
Noted English dramatist, spy and buggerer, Christopher Marlowe was either

a: murdered in a tavern brawl on this date, or,
b: faked his death and assumed a new identity as William Shakespeare, noted English dramatist, spy and buggerer.

May 30, 1908 -
Melvin Jerome Blanc, the prolific American voice actor, performing on radio, in television commercials, and most famously, in hundreds of cartoon shorts for Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera during the Golden Age of American animation was born on this date. He is often regarded as one of the most gifted and influential persons in his field, providing the definitive voices for iconic characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and Barney Rubble among hundreds of others. His talents earned him the nickname, The Man of a Thousand Voices.

On January 24, 1961, Blanc was involved in a near-fatal auto accident on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California. Hit head-on, Blanc suffered a triple skull fracture that left him in a coma for three weeks, along with fractures of both legs and the pelvis.

The accident prompted over 15,000 get-well cards from anxious fans, including some addressed only to "Bugs Bunny, Hollywood, USA", according to Blanc's autobiography. One newspaper falsely reported that he had died. After his recovery, Blanc reported in TV interviews, and later in his autobiography, that a clever doctor had helped him to come out of his coma by talking to Bugs Bunny, after futile efforts to talk directly to Blanc. Although he had no actual recollection of this, Blanc learned that when the doctor was inspired to ask him, "How are you today, Bugs Bunny?", Blanc answered in Bugs' voice. Blanc thus credited Bugs with saving his life.

And so it goes.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dog pee can't stop Santorum

Please google Rick Santorum (I'll wait.)

Rachel Maddow, I will buy you a drink anytime,anywhere - TV at it finest.

May 29, 1453 -
Constantinople is taken by Ottoman Turks, after a fifty day siege led by Sultan Mehmet II. The city defense of 10,000 men was no match for a force of 100,000 armed with heavy artillery.

It is the final gasp of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.

Why is this important, you may well ask - it really isn't (it's considered the end of the Middle Ages) but neither is most of history.

May 29, 1936 -
Fritz Lang's crime thriller, Fury, starring Sylvia Sidney and Spencer Tracy, opened on this date.

The script was based upon the 1933 kidnapping and murder of Brooke Hart, the son of the owner of Hart's Department Store in San Jose, California. The two kidnapping suspects were pulled from jail by a group of vigilantes, who dragged them across the street to St. James Park and lynched both of them.

May 29, 1942 -
The movie Yankee Doodle Dandy, starring James Cagney, premiered at a war-bonds benefit in New York on this date.

Many facts were changed or ignored to add to the feel of the movie. For example, the real George M. Cohan was married twice, and although his second wife's middle name was Mary, she went by her first name, Agnes. In fact, the movie deviated so far from the truth that, following the premiere, the real George M. Cohan commented, "It was a good movie. Who was it about?"

May 29, 1954 -
During the first 3D crazy of the 50's, Alfred Hitchcock releases his masterpiece, Dial 'M' for Murder, on this date.

After several unsuccessful attempts to film the scene where Margot stabs Swan with the scissors, Alfred Hitchcock said, "This is nicely done but there wasn't enough gleam to the scissors, and a murder without gleaming scissors is like asparagus without the hollandaise sauce - tasteless."

And please, stop the scurrilous rumor that Hitchcock wanted to direct the original Activa commercials with Tippen Hedrin having the unfortunate digestive system.

Today in History
Patrick Henry was born on May 29, 1736. Mr Henry was an American patriot best known for never having been able to make up his mind. Asked the simplest question, Mr Henry found himself befuddled for days. It therefore came as no surprise to anyone who knew him when, given the choice between liberty and death, he famously pronounced that either would be welcome.

History records his vow at St. John's Church in March of 1775 as "Give me liberty or give me death!" Eyewitnesses and other contemporaries claim he actually said, "Liberty, death, whatever, let's just wrap this thing up."

May 29, 1806 -
Andrew Jackson couldn't wait to marry his wife, Rachel Donelson Robards. He was so impatient that he had married her before she could obtain a legal divorce from her first husband, Captain Lewis Robards - so technically she was a bigamist and an adulteress. His political opponents made much of this fact. Dueling over a horse racing wager and his wife's honor, the future President takes a bullet in the chest from fellow lawyer Charles Dickinson on this date. The slug shatters two ribs and buries itself near his heart. Then it is Jackson's turn to fire, which manages to sever an artery, technically breaking the rules of the duel. Dickinson died a few hours later, the only man Jackson ever killed in any of his 103 duels.

The bullet that struck Jackson was so close to his heart that it could never be safely removed. Jackson had been wounded so frequently in duels over his wife's honor that it was said he "rattled like a bag of marbles". At times he would cough up blood, and he experienced considerable pain from his wounds for the rest of his life.

I suppose that's what love was like in the 19th Century.

May 29, 1913 -
Imagine, if you will, you live in Paris and that after a hard day of not working and drinking heavily (it's what most of the idle rich did in Paris at the time, while they waited around for Marcel Proust to finish writing that damn book he was working on - but that's another story), you were dragged to the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Tonight, the Ballets Russes was going to perform a new ballet, Le Sacre du printemps (The Rites of Spring) with the international star, Nijinsky, the choreographer. You might have been expecting a brief snooze but what you got was a full out boxing match (not unlike an evening at the Boston Pops).

The complex music and violent dance steps depicting fertility rites first drew catcalls and whistles from the crowd, and there were loud arguments in the audience between supporters and opponents of the work. These were soon followed by shouts and fistfights in the aisles. The unrest in the audience eventually degenerated into a riot. The Paris police arrived by intermission, but they restored only limited order. Chaos reigned for the remainder of the performance, and Igor Stravinsky (the composer) himself was so upset on account of its reception that he fled the theater in mid-scene, reportedly crying. Fellow composer Camille Saint-Saëns famously stormed out of the première, (though Stravinsky latter said "I do not know who invented the story that he was present at, but soon walked out of, the premiere.") allegedly infuriated over the misuse of the bassoon in the ballet's opening bars.

I hate when they misuse the bassoon.

Stravinsky ran backstage, where Sergei Diaghliev, was turning the lights on and off in an attempt to try to calm the audience. Nijinsky stood on a chair, leaned out (far enough that Stravinsky had to grab his coat-tail), and shouted numbers to the dancers, who couldn't hear the orchestra (this was challenging because Russian numbers are polysyllabic above ten, such as eighteen: vosemnadsat).

Although Nijinsky and Stravinsky were despondent, Diaghilev (the ballet's impresario) commented that the scandal was "just what I wanted". The music and choreography were considered barbaric and sexual and are also often noted as being the primary factors for the cause of the riot, but many political and social tensions surrounding the premiere contributed to the backlash as well.

It was quite an evening.

John F. Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917, and is best remembered for telling Berliners "I am a jelly-filled donut speech," delivered in Berlin (either that or "I am a small brimmed hat, usually worn in early spring" or "I like cheese"), an axiom that many Americans found problematic in the face of increasing cold war tensions, imminent nuclear war, an escalating presence in Vietnam, the troubled state of race relations, and the ubiquitous threat of poisonous snakes.

Mr. Kennedy should not be faulted for his mangling of the phrase, he was a pill-popping, philanderer (banging Hollywood starlets, two and three at a time) in constant pain from Addison's disease and shouldn't have been expected to stay on point in a foreign language with so many other things on his mind.

Born on the same day but several centuries earlier (in 1630), was King Charles II of England, best known for the saying, "Give me back my throne."

May 29, 1953
Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay are the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest, on Tenzing Norgay's (adopted) 39th birthday.

Following his ascent of Everest he devoted much of his life to helping the Sherpa people of Nepal through the Himalayan Trust, which he founded. Through his efforts many schools and hospitals were built in this remote region of Nepal.

And so it goes

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ah, the smell of seared meat

Hope you're getting ready to enjoy a BBQ or picnic with your family this holiday weekend. I'm running around like a monkey getting ready for several family events with mine so I have an Abbreviated posting today:

May 28, 1989 -
Marvin Young (Young MC) an economics major at University of Southern California releases his Grammy Award winning album on this date.

The song is now old enough to go to the clubs but at my age it would be criminal to have anything to do with it.

Today in History
May 28, 1503 -
The Treaty of Everlasting Peace between Scotland and England is signed culminating in the marriage of James IV of Scotland and Margaret Tudor (sister of Henry VIII).

Once again the European sense of time prevails and the treaty would actually last only 10 years.

On May 28, 1743, Joseph Ignace Guillotine was born in France. Later he became a doctor. As a politically active humanitarian, he was understandably disturbed by the grisly executions of the French Revolution. He was sure people could be killed more efficiently, and he invented a device to do just that.

His machine sliced the victim's head off by means of a heavy, suspended blade rushing down a pair of siderails onto (or more accurately through) the victim's neck. Not only was it quick and painless: in those dull years before cable, it was also great entertainment. Dr Guillotine enjoyed watching the youngsters scampering playfully about the machine, fighting for the severed head.

During the rough weather that followed the French Revolution (known to meteorologists as "The Rain of Terror") it became necessary to purge the Republic of all obstacles to the welfare of its people. Sadly, most of those obstacles were people themselves, and there were a damned lot of them.

Drunk with power (a lingering effect of the Bourbon era) and armed with Dr Guillotine's new invention, the government succeeded in eliminating thousands of such obstacles quickly and effectively, in a way that made the children laugh and sing right up to the moment that their own heads were sliced off.

Dr Guillotine himself was eventually guillotined, suggesting the possible existence of a moral to his story. (Readers seeking morals, however, are advised as always to conduct their searches elsewhere.)

May 28, 1930 -
The Chrysler Building, the premier Art Deco skyscraper in New York City, opens on this date. Standing 1,047 feet (319 meters) high, it was briefly the world's tallest building before it was overtaken by the Empire State Building in 1931. After the destruction of the World Trade Center, it is again the second tallest building in New York City.

The skyscraper, designed by architect William Van Alen, was originally built to house the Chrysler Corporation. The groundbreaking occurred on September 19, 1928. At the time, the builders of New York were engaged in an intense competition to build the world's tallest skyscraper. The Chrysler Building was erected at an average rate of four floors per week and no workers were killed during construction. Just prior to its completion, the building stood about even with the rival project 40 Wall Street, designed by H. Craig Severance. Severance quickly increased the height of his project by two feet and claimed the title of the world's tallest building (this distinction excluded structures that were not fully habitable, such as the Eiffel Tower).

Van Alen secretly obtained permission to build a spire that was hidden inside the building during construction. The spire, measuring 125 feet (58.4 meters) long and composed of Nirosta stainless steel, was hoisted to the top of the building on October 23, 1929. The added height allowed the Chrysler Building to surpass both 40 Wall Street and the Eiffel Tower as the tallest building and the tallest structure in the world. It was also the first man-made structure to stand taller than 1,000 feet (305 meters). The steel chosen to cap the building was Krupp KA2 "Enduro" Steel (in case you needed to know that fact).

In less than a year, the Chrysler Building was surpassed in height by the Empire State Building. Van Alen's satisfaction was further muted by Walter Chrysler's refusal to pay his fee.

May 28, 1944 -
The thrice married, former prosecutor, businessman, and Republican politician from the state of New York Sir Rudolph William Louis Giuliani III was born on this date.

Please, there is nothing wrong with transvestism. My favorite comic, Eddie Izzard is a Male Executrix. But remember that this idiot 'forgot' that his first wife was his second cousin then next time you see him on TV, discussing the possibility of his running for president again.

May 28, 1959 -
America launches a Jupiter rocket containing a rhesus monkey named Able and a squirrel monkey named Miss Baker. After experiencing nine minutes of microgravity, the capsule successfully returns to Earth with both monkeys intact.

However, Able dies during surgery to remove his electrodes. Able was then stuffed and mounted, and is now on display at the Smithsonian Institute of Air and Space Museum.

Wally Schirra's family is quite happy this practice has not continued.

May 28, 1972 -
The virtually exiled King Edward VIII, styled the Duke of Windsor by his brother King George VI in 1936, died on this day in 1972 in Paris. He was buried at Windsor Castle. It was the first time that the Duchess was a royal guest of the Queen.

According to Sarah Bradford, the royal biographer, the Queen Mother, who had for 36 years resented the fact that the Duke's undying love for the horse faced, possible transvestite Mrs. Simpson had put her husband on the throne right at the threshold of war and had condemned him to an early death (She conveniently forgot that her husband was a very heavy smoker from early adulthood and that his family was prone to cancer), was very solicitous about the senile Duchess and took care of her during the funeral. The Queen did not weep for her uncle, but, strangely enough, when the Duchess followed him in death 14 years later, the Queen did weep at her funeral.

May 28, 1987 -
German teenager Matthias Rust lands his Cessna in Moscow's Red Square, buzzing the Kremlin on the way in.

He serves 18 months in prison for this prank, which also costs the commander of the Soviet Air Command his job.


And so it goes.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Put down your beverage

You may spit take while laughing -

And yet there's an incredibly filthy joke blowing through this commercial.

The Popsicle was first made (but not patented) in 1905 by Frank Epperson, who was only 11 years old at that time, on this date.

So we celebrate not just any popsicle today but the greatest flavor of them all - Grape.

Today in History:
May 27, 1923 -
Henry Kissinger was born in Fuerth, Germany on this date.

50 years later, (America Favorite Freely Roaming War Criminal - according to your political beliefs) Dr. Kissinger receives the Nobel Peace Prize for quitting the Vietnam War.

No kidding.

Henry also proves that outliving your enemies is the best revenge.

May 27, 1930 -
Howard Hughes' multi-million dollar war drama, Hell's Angels, premiered in Los Angeles, on this date

At the time, this was the most expensive movie ever made.

May 27, 1933 -
Walt Disney classic take on The Three Little Pigs, premiered on this date.

The natural commercial tie-in with Parks Link sausages wasn't such a big hit though.

May 27, 1941 -
The British sank Germany's elusive, pocket-battleship Bismarck, then the largest warship commissioned, on this date.

The destruction of the battleship was reported on the front pages of newspapers around the world. Only 110 of her crew of 2,222 survived the sinking.

May 27, 1942 -
A couple of Czech assassins ambush the car carrying Reinhard Heydrich and toss a grenade into the front seat.

The man who headed the Wannsee Conference is mortally wounded in the attack, and died of septicemia a week later. The Nazis retaliate by obliterating the Catholic village of Lidice, Czechoslovakia and its inhabitants.

May 27, 1964 -
From Russia with Love, the second spy film in the James Bond series, was released in the US on this date.

President John F. Kennedy had named Ian Fleming's novel From Russia with Love among his ten favorite books of all time in a Life magazine article. In a bizarre coincidence, according to the book Death of a President by William Raymond Manchester, this was the last motion picture John F. Kennedy ever saw, on November 20, 1963, in the White House.

May 27, 1977 -
After the pressing plant initially refuses to duplicate the record and the printer refuses to make the covers, Virgin finally releases God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols in time for the monarch's Jubilee celebration.

34 years later, she's still there.

May 27, 1993 -
Five are killed and 37 wounded when a Fiat Fiorino explodes outside the Uffizi museum in Florence, Italy.

The car bomb (a combination of PETN, T4 and TNT, kids don't try to make this at home) also manages to obliterate three priceless artworks and substantially damage thirty more. The bombing appears to have been the work of the Sicilian Mafia.

May 27, 1995-
During the third jump of an equestrian event in Charlottesville, Virginia, Christopher Reeve is thrown headfirst over his horse.

Reeve broke his neck in two places, instantly rendering him a quadriplegic, unable to move or breathe without assistance.

Today's birthday include:
Hubert Humphrey (1911),

Vincent Price (1911),

Siouxsie Sioux (1957),

Neil Finn (1958),

And so it goes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I know what I want for my birthday this year

Saint Vitalis of Assisi (not to be confused with St. Vitilas of Milan, patron saint of grey haired lotharios ) was an Italian hermit and monk who died in 1370. He became a saint despite an early life marked by licentiousness and immorality. However, in an attempt to atone he went on pilgrimages to various sanctuaries.

On his return to Umbria, he became a Benedictine monk at Subiaco and later lived as a hermit. He spent the rest of his life in the hermitage of Santa Maria di Viole, near Assisi, in utter poverty. His reputation for holiness soon spread after his death. He was known as a patron against sicknesses and diseases affecting the genitals.

The severed head alleged to belong to the patron saint of genital diseases will hit the auction block in Ireland Sunday.

Friends, nothing says love like the holy relic of the saint of the burning loins.

The Oprah Winfrey Show came to an end and yet, the sun is shining and I thought I'd play you this song

I'm sure it will rain any minute.

Make sure you're wearing your hip boots, there's plenty of seamen flooding Time Square.

I can't believe I forgot to mention that Fleet Week started yesterday.

May 26, 1977 -
Police arrested George Willig, after he had successfully scaled the World Trade Center's south tower in NYC on this date.

He was fined $110 -- a dollar per floor climbed.

Today in History:
May 26, 1232 -
Gregory IX issues the bull Declinante jam mundi, bringing the Papal Inquisition to Spain.

I never get tired of playing this clip.

May 26, 1647 -
Alse Young, a widow, is hanged for witchcraft in Hartford, Connecticut. She is the first person in America executed for the crime of witchcraft.

Her daughter Alice is accused of the same offense 30 years later, in Massachusetts.

It was something in the genes.

May 26, 1868 -
In England's last public execution, Michael Barrett was hanged at Newgate. All subsequent hangings are held behind prison walls.

Presiding over the event is executioner William Calcraft, who frequently supplements his income by selling the clothes and noose worn by the condemned.

May 26, 1913
Peter Wilton Cushing, OBE, English actor, known for his many appearances in Hammer Films, was born on this date.

Cushing loved making horror roles and met his life long friend Christopher Lee while both worked at Hammer Studios, but ironically, did not enjoy horror films very much at all.

May 26, 1923 -
Le Mans France held its first Grand Prix D'endurance -- the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as an endurance test for touring cars.

The winning drivers, Amdre Lagache and Rene Leonard, averaged 57.2 miles per hour.

May 26, 1960 -
America's UN Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. charges the Soviets with having bugged the Moscow embassy. He shows off a large wooden carving of the United States seal which had been hollowed out to conceal a sophisticated resonant cavity transmitter.

Less than 30 years later a newly-rebuilt Moscow embassy is determined to be "structurally riddled with eavesdropping devices."

May 26, 1994 -
Michael Jackson weds Lisa Marie Presley in the Dominican Republic. The couple keeps their love match secret for six weeks, then files for divorce 18 months after that.

Lisa Marie has confirmed on the Oprah show that she had enjoyed marital relations with Jackson -

I still have a little taste of vomit in my mouth!!

May 26, 1995 -
89-year-old Friz Freleng, the cartoonist who created Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and many other Looney Tunes characters, died in Los Angeles on this date.

The nickname "Friz" came from how "frizzy" his hair was at one time.

There were a lot of notable music birthdays on this date.
May 26, 1920 -
Norma Deloris Egstrom, Grammy award winning singer, songwriter, composer and actress, was born on this date.

And yes Peggy, that's all there is.

May 26, 1926
Miles Dewey Davis III born on this date in Alton, Illinois, was a trumpeter, bandleader, composer and widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.

Winner of 9 Grammys, Miles Davis received an honorary Doctorate of Music from the New England Conservatory in 1986 in honor of his longstanding achievements.

May 26, 1948 -
Stephanie Lynn Nicks, singer-songwriter and acclaimed goat singer, was born on this date.

May 26, 1940 -
Mark Lavon Helm, is an American rock musician and actor and he was born on this date.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Get those clean towels out again!

Remember a towel is "about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have."

Towel Day is celebrated every May 25th as a tribute by fans of the late author Douglas Adams. On this day, fans carry a towel with them to demonstrate their love for the books and the author, as referenced in Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

So don't panic.

May 25, 1950 -
The Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel, the longest-continuous, underwater-vehicular tunnel (measuring 1.7 miles long between portals) in North America, opened in NYC, on this date.

A parade of dignitaries led by Mayor William O’Dwyer and Robert Moses, head of the newly created Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, traveled by motorcade through the tunnel where they were welcomed by a cheering crowd on the Manhattan side.

May 25, 1966 -
Norman Jewison's Cold War comedy, The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming, premiered on this date.

Unable to borrow a real submarine from the US Navy, and unable to bring a Soviet submarine to the United States, the art department built the Russian sub. It is powered by four motors underneath the hull, each driving a section of the "sub", and if you watch carefully, you can see it flexing where the four sections are joined..

Today in History -
May 25, 1521 -
Charles V, a Holy Roman Emperor (Who was neither holy or a Roman - he was just a German King) issues the Diet of Worms (which neither helps you lose weight nor comprised of non-arthropod invertebrates.)

Martin Luther, German monk and all around killjoy, couldn't stomach this diet (as it declaring him an outlaw for not eating worms, banning his writings, and requiring his arrest) and goes off to start the Protestant Reformation.

May 25, 1803 -
Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on this date. Emerson whose original profession, a Unitarian minister but secret calling was as, an amateur plumber, left the ministry to pursue a career in writing and public speaking.

Emerson became one of America's best known and best loved 19th century figures, writing such works as Trust Thyself and carry a self-threading snake and Bacchus on the chamber pot.

May 25, 1895 -
British playwright and novelist Oscar Wilde is convicted of "committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons," to wit: buggering some rent boys.

For his crime, Wilde is sentenced to two years of hard labor in Reading jail. Perhaps, he should have taken up gardening instead.

May 25, 1925 -
John Scopes was indicted for teaching evolution in school. Evolution was a theory put forth by Charles Darwin, whose boat was named "the Beagle." People objected to this theory, which put forth the proposition that mankind had evolved from life forms with hairy red asses.

This resulted in the famous Scopes Monkey Trial, in which Spencer Tracy gave a long monologue that changed everyone's minds even though it was so darn hot in the courtroom.

It is now commonly accepted as fact that mankind evolved from life forms with hairy red asses, a proposition that anyone who's been to the beach lately shouldn't find too hard to accept.

May 25, 1977 -
In a time long ago and in a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas began legally printing money with the release of the first Star Wars movie, which for reasons only know to George was titled - Stars War IV: A New Hope.

George realized that he did not have enough money so he released Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi on this date in 1983.

Carrie Fisher complained about her costumes in the previous two movies. She said they were so long, you could not tell "she was a woman". Those complaints led to the skimpy outfit she wore as Jabba's prisoner. The costume became something of a running joke among the crew, because the metal framework that held the top together meant that the costume didn't move well with her. Since Fisher didn't like the industry standard solution of using double-sided tape, it became necessary before each take to have a wardrobe person check to ensure that her breasts were still snug inside the costume top (and several scenes had to be re-shot when "wardrobe malfunctions" occurred).

Yes, we are old.

May 25, 1996 -
The body of Bradley Nowell is discovered in his room at San Francisco's Ocean View Motel.

Nowell, lead singer for radio trio Sublime, was killed by an accidental smack overdose.


May 25, 2001 -
Erik Weihenmayer was the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest, on this date. He also completed the Seven Summits in September 2002. His story was covered in a Time article in June 2001 titled Blind Faith.

He is author of Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man's Journey to Climb Farther Than the Eye can See, his autobiography. Some of you reading this actually have actual met and know him.

Small world.

And so it goes

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Oh wait, I see, that's the lesson learned

We did go through a 'spiritual' Rapture, according to Harold 'Tinfoil Hat' Camping.

And the Earth will still come to a very physical end on October 21st. So everyone be nice to each other for the next few months.

You're all on notice!

May 24, 1989 -
The third movie in Steven Spielberg's salute to Saturday afternoon serials, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, premiered nationwide on this date.

Sean Connery and Harrison Ford wore no trousers during the shooting of the entire Zeppelin sequence (mainly because it was filmed in a very hot studio and Connery didn't want to sweat too much).

May 24, 1941 -
Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham Zimmerman, a young boy from a small shtetl in the great state of Minnesota, don't ya know, who has been a major figure in popular music for five decades, was born on this date.

Hopefully, someday he'll get a larger audience

May 24, 1968 -
The Rolling Stones released Jumping Jack Flash, in Britain, on this date.

The Rolling Stones have played Jumping Jack Flash during every tour since its release; it ranks as the number the band has played in concert most frequently.

Today in History -
May 24, 1610 -
Buggery is criminalized for the first time in North America by Sir Thomas Gates, when the Virginia colony declares that "no man shall commit the horrible, and detestable sinnes of Sodomie upon pain of death."

This was all probably due to the lack of proper lubricant and the fact that Sir Thomas was a troll.

May 24, 1686 -
Gabriel Fahrenheit was born on the date. Mr Fahrenheit did pioneering work in the field of temperature. It was his dream to develop a more sophisticated temperature measurement system than the accepted worldwide standard of his era, which consisted of only seven gradations: brr!, cold as hell, chilly, warm, hot, hot as hell and ow!.

Hard at work on the same problem was his colleague Anders Celsius. Mr Fahrenheit eventually discovered the "degree." It took 32 of Mr Fahrenheit's degrees to freeze water and 212 of them to boil it. Mr Celsius, meanwhile, had discovered a different kind of "degree."

It took only a hundred of his degrees to bring water to a boil, and, even more impressively, he discovered that water would freeze without any degrees at all.

By requiring fewer degrees to get things done, and less tick marks on thermometers, Mr Celsius's system was more compact and economical than Mr Fahrenheit's. This made it a natural for the crowded lands of Europe, where storage came at a premium. In the great unsettled expanse of the New World, however, space was not an issue and Mr Fahrenheit's system took hold.

May 24, 1819 -
Queen Victoria was born as Princess Alexandria Victoria at Kensington Palace, London on this date. Through a series of accidents, debauched living and bad planning on the part of her uncles, she became Queen. She reigned for 64 years, and lent her name to an era best remembered for its prudery and chastity.

Remember, this was the time when one put skirts on piano legs for fear of arousing the passions of young men. This pent up frustrastion resulted in so many citizens having to stay home and care for their children, since Victoria's reign also saw the largest population explosion in British history.

May 24, 1856 -
A small gang led by abolitionist John Brown murders five unarmed pro-slavery homesteaders in Franklin County, Kansas, hacking them to pieces with swords.

The event comes to be known as the Pottawatomie Massacre.

May 24, 1883 -

The Brooklyn Bridge (originally the New York and Brooklyn Bridge), one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States, stretches 5,989 feet (1825 m) over the East River connecting the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn opened for business today. On completion, it was the largest suspension bridge in the world and the first steel-wire suspension bridge. Since its opening, it has become an iconic part of the New York Skyline and is still considered one of the Wonders of the Modern World.

The first person to jump from the bridge was Robert E. Odlum (and not Steve Brodie) on July 23, 1886. Robert, a swimming teacher, made the jump in a costume bearing his initials. He survived the pre-announced jump, but died shortly thereafter from internal injuries. Apparently, no one told him taking the high dive off the bridge would get him killed.

This showed him.

May 24, 1920 -
Senile French President Paul Deschanel falls off a train bound for Montbrison, and is later discovered wandering along the track in his pajamas. The Station master's wife later commented that she knew he was a gentleman because he had such "clean feet."

Soon afterwards, Deschanel walked out of a state meeting, straight into the fountains at the Rambouillet chateau, fully clothed.

As I mentioned yesterday, The French, they are a strange race.

May 24, 1941 -
During the Battle of the Denmark Strait (World War II,) the German battleship Bismarck sank the HMS Hood.

More than 1,400 crewmen died; only three survived.

And so it goes.

Monday, May 23, 2011

It could make a million for you overnight

May 23, 1966 -
The Beatles released the single Paperback Writer on this date

Written in the form of a letter from an aspiring author to a publisher, Paperback Writer was the first UK Beatles single that was not a love song.

And now, Conversation with Bert -

This needs to become a new series on PBS.

It's World Turtle Day today. Turtle Day is celebrated worldwide in a variety of ways, from dressing up as turtles to saving turtles caught on highways, to research activities.

The purpose of World Turtle Day, sponsored yearly since 2000 by American Tortoise Rescue, is to bring attention to, and increase knowledge of and respect for, turtles and tortoises, and encourage human action to help them survive and thrive.

May 23, 1980 -
Stanley Kubrick's classic horror thriller The Shining, opened on this date (I remember seeing it at the midnight showing on this date in Time Square.)

At the time of release, it was the policy of the MPAA to not allow the portrayal of blood in trailers that would be approved for all audiences. Bizarrely , the trailer for The Shining is comprised entirely of the shot of blood pouring out of the elevator. Stanley Kubrick had convinced the board the blood flooding out of the elevator was actually rusty water.

May 23, 1984 -
Steven Spielberg/ George Lucas' theme park thrill ride film, Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom, opened on this date.

While filming the whipping scene, the crew played a practical joke on Harrison Ford. While he was chained to a large stone, Barbra Streisand appeared, dressed in a leather dominatrix outfit. She proceeded to whip him, saying "That's for Hanover Street, the worst movie I ever saw." She continued whipping him for Star Wars, and making all of that money. Carrie Fisher then threw herself in front of Ford to protect him, and Irvin Kershner chided director Steven Spielberg. "Is this how you run your movies?"

May 23, 1997 -
Steven Spielberg's sequel monster movie, The Lost World: Jurassic Park opened nationally, on this date (this date must be a lucky day for Steve.)

The Japanese tourists running from the rampaging T-Rex in the San Diego scene (an obvious homage to Godzilla movies) are saying in Japanese: I left Japan to get away from this?!

Today in History -
May 23, 1430 -
The French, they are a strange race.

A little french shepherdess goes out into a field for a picnic. And instead of getting food poisoning, which was common, hears the voice of God, which is not.

Joan, heeding God's command, heads the army of France to rout the England and help crown a new French King. And for her troubles, Joan of Arc captured by Burgundians today at Compiegne, who sell her to the British. The British, known for their sense of humor, give Joan the ultimate hot foot.

This is what comes from being the messenger of God.

May 23, 1498 -
What a day for an auto da fe...

Religious fundamentalist Girolamo Savonarola was executed in Florence on this date, Italy for his many heresies, after being excommunicated by Pope Alexander VI. The Catholic Church had already excommunicated the Dominican friar the year before, but Savonarola continued to preach for radical reforms. Among other things, he held bonfires of the vanities for his parishioners' worldly possessions, because they competed with the word of God for attention.

Brother Savonarola was first hanged along with two accomplices and their bodies burned.

This is what comes from trying to follow your own understanding of God's words.

May 23, 1618 -
In what is later called the Second Defenestration of Prague, (yes there was a First) three men representing the soon-to-be Emperor Ferdinand II are thrown from a window in the Hradshin Palace by Protestant noblemen.

Luckily for the imperial emissaries, they land on a large pile of manure and survive (Catholics immediately proclaimed that God’s angels had saved them from certain death.) But when Ferdinand assumes the throne the following year, all hell breaks loose in Europe, starting with Bohemia.

Thus begins the horrific religious conflict that comes to be known as the Thirty Years War. Shockingly, given the European sense of time, the war actually lasted 30 years. It is generally agreed that the war set back the continent a full century.

May 23, 1701 -
Captain William Kidd was hanged in London on this date. After the first attempt fails when the rope snaps, Kidd is brought right back to the gallows and the process repeated. After death, the body is slathered in tar, chained up, and suspended over the Thames where it remains for years as an example to others considering a life of piracy.

Again, the British and their sense of humor.

May 23, 1734 -
Friedrich Anton Mesmer was born on this date.

Mr. Mesmer was a physician and hypnotist who developed a peculiar method of therapy-by-suggestion that bears his name to this day: Antonism.

(Antonism should not be confused with antonyms, an antonym for synonyms. Synonyms should not be confused with cinnamon, which is used on hot buns. It will spare embarrassment at the breakfast table if hot buns are confused with hot buns.)

May 23, 1934 -
200 years later, a group of FBI agents and police officers from two states ambush Bonnie and Clyde on a highway near Gibsland, Louisiana.

The men open fire as the bank robbers drive past the concealed posse, unloading hundreds of rounds into the car.

You make the connection.

May 23, 1911 -
More than one million books were set in place for the official dedication of The New York Public Library (on Fifth Avenue on the site of the old Croton Reservoir) on this date – exactly 16 years to the day since the historic agreement creating the Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations had been signed.

The ceremony was presided over by President William Howard Taft and was attended by Governor John Alden Dix and Mayor William J. Gaynor.

Please, all of you who forgot to return your books from the opening day, return them. All is forgiven.

No questions asked.

May 23, 1969 -
... Tommy, can you hear me?
Tommy, can you hear me?

The Who release Tommy, the first rock opera on this date.

Somehow this may or may not be connected with the fact that the BBC gave the go-ahead for 13 episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus on this date as well.

And so it goes.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Here's the lesson learned

Nobody was good enough to make it into heaven

So enjoy yourself while you're here.

May 22, 1947 -
David Lean's classic, Great Expectations, premiered in NYC on this date.

This was the first film speaking role for Alec Guinness.

Today in History:
May 22, 337 -
Emperor Constantine died on this date. Although quite dead, his embalmed corpse continues to act as head of state, receiving state dignitaries and daily reports from ministers as if nothing had changed. Constantine's macabre leadership continues through winter.

Sometimes, it good to be the King, even after you're dead.

May 22, 1813 -
One of the most controversial personalities of the nineteenth century, Richard Wagner was born on this date. Wagner wrote some of its most controversial music. Hitler is said for most of his life to have kept only three books on his nightstand: Wagner's autobiography, Machiavelli's The Prince, and The Best of Juggs. (How Hitler ended up with Wagner's nightstand is a question best left alone.)

Wagner considered it his life's mission to create a new and purely German music, in German, about Germany, for Germans, and is therefore best known for having scored the helicopter scene in Apocalypse Now.

May 22, 1907 -
Laurence Kerr Olivier, director, producer and one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century, was born on this date.

Interestingly, Olivier is buried alongside some of the people he has portrayed in theatre and film, for example King Henry V, General John Burgoyne and Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding.

On May 22, 1939, Hitler and Benito Mussolini signed their "Pact of Steel," committing their countries to a military alliance.

The pact held. (Their "Pact of Tin Foil" had failed miserably, and their "Pact of Semi-Adhesive Paste" is still the butt of diplomats' jokes.)

May 22, 1967 -
Today was the first day a soft spoken man slipped into your home and made himself more comfortable. But don't let his demeanor fool you, he was the power behind the throne of a kingdom where most of the royalty were mere "puppets".

Mr. Fred Rogers premiered on WQED on this date.

May 22, 1992 -
The man, most of America went to bed with every night for 30 years finally got tired of having to try to satisfy so many people.

John Carson's final appearance on the Tonight Show was broadcast on this date.

And so it goes.