Friday, November 30, 2012

Breaking news!

In the U.S., sweet potatoes are often called yams. They are, however, two different vegetables, as noted by the North Carolina Sweet Potato Association (I keep up with all the heady publications). The Association further notes that yams are originally from Africa and are rarely sold in the U.S (if you're in America and think you're eating a yam, you probably aren't.)

So dammit, quit confusing the two tubers.

November 30, 1971 -
The TV movie that makes 'real men' weep unabashedly, Brian's Song debuted on ABC-TV on this date.

In real life, James Caan (who had been a football player in high school) was a much better athlete than Billy Dee Williams; but in the movie Williams' character, Gale Sayers, was supposed to surpass Cann's character, Brian Piccolo, in playing ability. So when they were racing on film, Caan was forced to slow down considerably so that Williams could beat him.

November 30, 1990 -
Rob Reiner's adaptation of Stephen King's thriller, Misery, premiered on this date.

Jack Nicholson was offered the role of Paul Sheldon but passed because he wasn't sure he wanted to do another movie based on one of Stephen King's novels after what he had experienced with Stanley Kubrick on The Shining.

The focus of Today in History on this date should be used as a guide to help you reallize the blessings you should find in life:

On November 30, 1935, the German government proclaimed a failure to accept the tenets of Nazism as grounds for divorce.

Be grateful you never married a Nazi.

Jonathan Swift was born on November 30, 1667,

and Mark Twain was born exactly 170 years later, in 1835.

Be grateful that not everyone is taking everything so goddamn seriously.

Winston Churchill (one of my favorite American who became British Prime Minister) was also born on November 30, in 1874, in a coat closet of his family home (really).

Be grateful that not everyone was so grateful for Peace In Our Time.

Otherwise, here are some other events that occurred on this date

November 30, 1900 -
Celebrated Irish author and noted sodomite Oscar Wilde, died in Paris of meningitis on this date. Wilde had been charged three times with indecency, specifically "the seduction and corruption of young men." Evidence admitted against him included testimony about fecal stains on his sheets.

Be thankful that we obviously have better cleaning detergents than the French did in 1900.

November 30, 1929 -
Dick Clark, the American Bandstander, was born on this date.

Be thankful the few of us are faced with bargaining with Satan for our careers.

November 30, 1936 -
The Crystal Palace, originally built by Sir Joseph Paxton in London's Hyde Park for the 1851 Great Exhibition, burns to the ground on this date.

It was said that over 75,000 people came to watch the blaze, among them Winston Churchill, who said, "This is the end of an age". The glow was visible across eight counties.

Be thankful that you weren't down wind from this one.

November 30, 1954 -
At 1 pm, an 8.5 pound stone meteorite fell from the sky and struck Ann Elizabeth Hodges from Sylacauga, Alabama.

The housewife was seriously bruised but survived, although the meteorite destroyed her radio.

Oh the humanity!

8 more shopping days until Hanukkah, 25 more shopping days until Christmas, and the world may just be over in 21 days.

And so it goes

Before I let you go - Here's another video from the guys at AsapSCIENCE. The 4.5 billion year history of life on earth is compressed into a 24 hour time frame -

Remember that we didn't show up on the scene until 11:58 PM

Thursday, November 29, 2012

At least this time, it didn't involve chicken

The local CBS morning anchor Robert Morrison, had a major brain fart:

I'm sure there are some politicians in the House of Commons who would heartily agree.

November 29, 1940 -
I'm very fond of children. Girl children, around eighteen and twenty.

W.C. Fields at his peak, The Bank Dick, premiered on this date.

Universal's censors initially objected to W.C. Fields' script and demanded many changes. Director Edward F. Cline suggested that Fields should go ahead and film it their way, and that the front office wouldn't notice the difference. They didn't.

November 29, 1945 -
Remarkable for it frank portrayal of alcoholism (for it's day), The Lost Weekend, opened in Los Angeles on this date.

Billy Wilder claimed the liquor industry offered Paramount $5 million to not release the film; he also suggested that he would have accepted, had they offered it to him.

November 29, 1950 -
Jean Cocteau's beautifully magical, Orphee, opened in the US on this date.

The part of Orphee was played by Cocteau's former lover Jean Marais, while the part of Cegeste was played by his then current lover, Edouard Dermithe. Both Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo were approached about playing the mysterious Princess. Both declined.

Today's holiday special - Christmas light shows

Today in History:
November 29, 1777 -
José Joaquín Moraga proved that he knew the way to San Jose on this date,

when he established, for Spain, el Pueblo de San Jose de Guadelupe, the first civil settlement in California.

November 29, 1864 -
The Sand Creek Massacre occurred, on this date, when Colorado volunteers led by Colonel John Chivington, in retaliation for an Indian attack on a party of immigrants near Denver, massacred at least 400 Cheyenne and Arapaho noncombatants (mostly children, women, physically- and mentally-challenged, and elders) inside Colorado Territory.

It also generated two Congressional investigations into the actions of Chivington and his men. The House Committee on the Conduct of the War concluded that Chivington had "deliberately planned and executed a foul and dastardly massacre which would have disgraced the varied and savage among those who were the victims of his cruelty."

The American Government has so much to be proud of with their dealings with the Native Americans.

November 29, 1929 -
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Richard E. Byrd (on a break from his experiments with frozen vegetables) radioed that he'd made the first airplane flight with pilot Floyd Bennett, over the South Pole: "My calculations indicate that we have reached vicinity of South Pole."

After briefly loitering around the Pole, Byrd and his crew headed back to their home base, Little America and more intense testing of frozen zucchini.

November 29, 1951 -
The United States set off the first underground nuclear explosion named "Uncle" at Frenchman Flats in Nevada on this date.

It was a great success, except for the giant spiders, ants, grasshoppers and other insects left in the aftermath.

November 29, 1961 -
The US sends the chimpanzee Enos into space, on the Mercury Atlas 5 capsule from Cape Canaveral.

Enos returns to earth safely but dies less than a year later before he can sign with the William Morris Agency.

November 29, 1986 -
I do not think Cary Grant was a homosexual or bisexual. He just got carried away at those orgies - US congressman Bob Dornan, spoken on the House floor  (I love that quote.)

82 year old Archibald Leach, better known as Cary Grant, died on this date.

November 29, 2001 -
Without looking out of my window I could know the ways of heaven

The "quiet" Beatle George Harrison was silenced by cancer on this date.

November 29, 2004 -
Godzilla received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on this date.

In honor of the event, the Toho star was allowed to run rampant through Little Tokyo that afternoon.

And on a personal note:
Oh yeah, millions of years ago (or at least more than half a century ago) the earth cooled and formed a hard crust, huge dinosaurs ruled the land and John was there to see it all. Happy Birthday John.

About a decade later, vast plains with wildflowers sprung up and Mary skipped along them all. Happy Birthday Mary.

9 more shopping days until Hanukkah, 26 more shopping days until Christmas, and the world may just be over in 22 days.

And so it goes

Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the coolest physicist around, answers the question: Does the Universe Have a Purpose?

Tyson forgot to mention dessert, an awesome reason to live!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We're happy you like us -

but won't you please stay home.

Major Gridlock Alert - the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will be lit for the first time this holiday season tonight. Remember to bring a cudgel with you if you unfortunately find yourself in midtown

Thousands of poor souls will gather for the 80th Annual Christmas tree lighting ceremonies. Do you really want to be stuck in the middle of potential Darwin Award winners and children who should be forced to play in traffic? So once again, I'm giving native New Yorkers a gentle reminder - watch last year's lighting here.

Somehow, Mariah Carey (hopefully off her meds) and the overbooking of ancient hotels in the holy land are involved this year.

Exert extreme caution!

Let it not be said that we are not getting into the holiday mood, here's Ceelo Green and the Muppets:

We're going to start in earnest our holiday video countdown very soon - so hang on

It's also National French Toast Day

Janet Napolitano has ordered that you eat as much French Toast (pan perdu) as you can or the terrorist have won.


November 28, 1943 -
Randall Stuart Newman, singer/songwriter, arranger, composer, and pianist was born on this date.

Newman has been nominated for twenty Academy Awards, winning twice. He has also won three Emmys, five Grammy Awards, and the Governor's Award from the Recording Academy.

November 28, 1944 -
Vincente Minnelli's gift to his future wife, Judy Garland, the musical film Meet Me In St. Louis, opened in NYC on this date.

Judy Garland scoffed at the idea of portraying yet another teenager (she was 21 when filming began) and wanted nothing to do with the film. Her mother even went to MGM chief Louis B. Mayer on her behalf. However, Vincente Minnelli convinced her to play the part of Esther Smith, and Judy later fell in love with the story. In her later years she considered it one of her favorite roles.

November 28, 1962 -
If you watch the news and don't like it, then this is your counter program to the news.

Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, comedian, television host, political satirist and America's most trusted newscaster, was born on this date.

Today in History -
Sorry boys and girls but it's not a pleasant day in history today -

November 28, 1942 -
A fire at the overcrowded and sleazy Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Boston, killed 491 people on this date. Flammable artificial palm trees aided the spread of the fire.

The numerous dead were crushed, burnt, and asphyxiated, all within minutes.

There's a lesson here boys and girl - sleazy nightclubs kill!!!

November 28, 1953 -
Frank Olson, government scientist, has a particularly bad dream and jumped to his death from the Statler Hotel in New York City on this date.

It was later revealed in 1975 that Olson had been administered LSD by Dr. Sidney Gottlieb in a CIA experiment.  That really must have been one bad trip.

November 28, 1981 -
A drunken Natalie Wood toppled off her yacht near Catalina Island and drowned. Her husband Robert Wagner and melodramatic friend Christopher Walken, were on board and unaware of her predicament, apparently having some sort of argument in the cabin -

possibly about whether or not a drunken Natalie Wood could float (you know that's still an awful joke.)

November 28, 1994 -
Jeffrey Dahmer was beaten to death with a broomstick by inmate Christopher Scarver while cleaning the prison bathroom.

Dahmer's brain was to be preserved in formaldehyde at the request of Mom, but a court ordered its destruction in late 1995.

There's yet another lesson here boys and girls, dirty prison bathrooms kill!!!

27 more shopping days until Christmas, 10 more shopping days until Hanukkah and the world may just be over in 23 days.

And so it goes

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Great light show last night

Alicia Keys celebrated her new album Girl on Fire, by syncing the single Girl on Fire as well as her hit track Empire State of Mind (with a simulcast on various NYC radio stations) with the ESB new LED lights.  The show was fun.

I'm anticipating that The Empire State Building might give The Time Square Ball drop a run for their money this year.

November 27 is also the Feast of St. Josaphat, a Middle Age prince who renounced his wealth to do charitable work.

Well, St. Josephat, turns out to be a Christianized version of a legend about Buddha (yeah Siddhārtha Gautama .) I don't remember them telling me that back at St. John's.

Funny, the things that slipped Sister Rita's mind. Oh, that wacky Catholic Church!

November 27, 1948 -
You see what some ducks will do for money!

Another (less familiar) Daffy & Porky pairing, Riff Raffy Daffy, premiered on this date.

November 27, 1967 -
The Beatles released Magical Mystery Tour album the US on this date.

While the film bombed both times it appeared on British television, and was never broadcast by the US networks, it did become a modest success on the American midnight and college movie circuits in the 1970s. After the premiere showing on the BBC, Ringo Starr apparently rang up the BBC complaining that the poor ratings were due to them showing "this colorful film" in B/W. The BBC responded by transmitting again, this time in glorious color a few days later.

It still bombed.

November 27, 1980 -
The sitcom Bosom Buddies, staring Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari premiered on ABC-TV on this date.

In the summer of 1984 as Tom Hanks was becoming a household name thanks to the movie Splash, NBC bought the rights to the ABC sitcom and re-aired selected episodes to lead off their Saturday Night line-up.

Today in History:
Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, was bled to death to cure her uterine cancer on this date. (In a strange coincidence, her father was also bled to death to cure a fever.)

She is often thought of as the world's first computer programmer, due to her interest in mathematics and her work on Charles Babbage's analytical engine.

Alfred Nobel signed his last will, which established the Nobel Prize on this date in 1895. (Yes, this is the second reference to Alfred in the same week.)

Mr Nobel is interesting because his fortune was founded in large part on the commercial success of something he invented in 1866: dynamite. Dynamite proved so lucrative for Mr Nobel that he was able to spend most of the rest of his life blowing things up in the interests of world peace. World peace was not achieved in his lifetime, however, and he therefore endowed a foundation with millions of dollars to give prizes to the men and women of future generations who helped bring the world closer to peace by blowing things up.

Sadly, in recent years the foundation appears to have forgotten its roots and has begun awarding prizes to men and women whose work for peace has resulted in things blowing up.

I encourage you all to write the Nobel Committee to take immediate corrective action, lest they continue to mislead people into thinking that Peace can be achieved by anything other than the blowing up of Evil Bastards.

November 27, 1978 -
City Supervisor Dan White enters San Francisco City Hall through an open basement window (avoiding metal detectors), walks into the office of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and shoots him dead. Then White continues to kill Supervisor Harvey Milk on this date.

Apparently, Mr. White consumed too many Twinkies.  (So here is one of the only bright spots of the collapse of the Hostess company; no more Twinkie enduced rages.)

28 more shopping days until Christmas, 11 more shopping days until Hanukkah and the world may just be over in 24 days.

And so it goes

Before I let you go - This could be the perfect gift for the smokers in your life -

You can order it here from the Diesel Sweeties Store. (Remember kids, Dr. Caligari does not endorse cigarette smoking; it causes cancer.  However I will endorse drinking, especial Bombay Sapphire Gin, at the drop of a hat.)

Monday, November 26, 2012

That makes Rick a citizen of the world

November 26, 1942 -
One of the classic films of the 40's, Casablanca, premiered in NYC on this date.

Producer Hal B. Wallis nearly made the character Sam a female. Hazel Scott, Lena Horne, and Ella Fitzgerald were considered for the role. Dooley Wilson (Sam) was a professional drummer who faked playing the piano. He was, in fact, also the only member of the cast to have ever actually visited the city of Casablanca.

November 26, 1952 -
In Thrilling Color!
The first modern 3-D movie Bwana Devil, viewed with special glasses, premiered in Hollywood.

Arch Oboler, the director, traveled to Africa in 1948 to make audio recordings of native peoples. While in Africa, Oboler met William D. Snyder, a 16mm cameraman with his own industrial filmmaking company in Fargo, North Dakota. During their travels throughout Africa, Mr. Snyder shot the African footage that appears in Bwana Devil.

November 26, 1953 -
MGM released the first musical in 3-D, Kiss Me Kate on this date.

For the famous spanking scene, Kathryn Grayson and costume designer Helen Rose played a joke on Howard Keel - Rose put a wooden board under Grayson's costume.

Today in History:
November 26, 1789 -
The first national Thanksgiving Day was observed in the United States as recommended by President George Washington and approved by Congress on this date.

Thanks George.

November 26, 1865 -

Oxford Don and nude child photographer, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, sends the manuscript for the psychedelic novel Alice in Wonderland to his 12 year old special friend Alice Liddell.

For some reason her parents did not notify the authorities.

November 26, 1965 –
Arlo Guthrie was arrested in Stockbridge, Mass., for dumping some trash following a Thanksgiving feast at a  run by Alice Brock, on this date.

He wrote a song about the event that became a folk classic and was turned into a movie in 1969.

Yes kids, it really happened.

November 26, 1976 -
Anarchy in the UK, (as a single) by the Sex Pistols is released.

The song later appeared on Never Mind the Bollocks.

29 more shopping days until Christmas, 12 more shopping days until Hanukkah and the world may just be over in 25 days.

And so it goes

Sunday, November 25, 2012

We got in late last night

Didn't have a lot of time to get ready for this morning, so here's a very good, seldom seen Preston Sturges film, Christmas in July:

I'll get back into the swing of things tomorrow

Today in History:
November 25, 2348 BC -
According to Biblical scholars, a powerful rain storm began on this date. It rained an inch every ten seconds. Imagine that. An inch every ten seconds. The sheer volume and velocity of the deluge, comparable to rapid-fire artillery, ought to have been enough to kill every living thing on the planet in seconds, and yet it reportedly continued at this rate for a full 960 hours.

The only human survivors were a crotchety six-hundred-year-old man and his family. Fortunately, these sturdy souls had had the foresight to gather up two to seven specimens of every species on the planet (excepting, one assumes, the undaunted creatures of the sea) and load them onto a wooden boat before the storm began.

It may not sound like much, put like that, but considering the far-flung distribution of all the various creatures of the earth, and the difficulty of tracking down, say, all the varieties of paramecium without the benefit of a microscope, or sustaining desert flora on a water-logged ship, it was a considerable accomplishment.

I applaud the foresight, initiative, and ambition displayed by Noah and his family, but remain a little wary of the person or persons behind all that rain.

November 25, 1867 -
I can forgive Alfred Nobel for having invented dynamite, but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize - George Bernard Shaw

Patent granted to Alfred Nobel for dynamite. To quote Big Jim McBob and Billy Sol Hurok, "May the Lord take a liking to you and blow you up real good!!!"

November 25, 1914 -
Joe DiMaggio was born on this date. In addition to leading the New York Yankee to ten World Series championships, Joe DiMaggio also got to marry Marilyn Monroe.

Be grateful for role models.

November 25, 1940 -
Walter Lantz's introduced Woody Woodpecker with the release of Knock Knock on this date.

Although Woody made his first appearance in this film, he doesn't have a name until his next film, Woody Woodpecker.

November 25, 1970 -
Japanese playwright, poet, novelist, nationalism and patron of transvestite bars, Yukio Mishima committed seppuku (self disembowelment) after an aborted coup attempt in Japan on this date.

He had authored over 100 works and was deemed by Life magazine the "Japanese Hemmingway".

One has to ask themselves - what is it that requires "true manhood" to face one's own death willingly.

On November 25, 1977, Greece announced the discovery of the tomb of King Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great.

On November 26, 1922, archeologists Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter opened the tomb of Egypt’s King Tutankhamen.

Be grateful that the high point of your job isn’t digging up people who’ve been dead for thousands of years.

November 25, 1987 -
Fawn Hall, Oliver North's assistant, removes documents from sealed National Security Council offices inside the White House by hiding them inside her skirt, causing President Ronald Reagan to form a task force which eventually put both North and Hall on trial.

Another true American Patriot

30 more shopping days until Christmas, 13 more shopping days until Hanukkah and the world may just be over in 26 days.

And so it goes

Before I let you go:  Here's the Fifth Annual Holiday Spectacular

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sometimes small is better

Today is Small Business Saturday - the day set aside to celebrate the engines of the US economy and support small businesses.

If for no other reason - remember, the combined worth of the 6 Walmart heirs and heiresses ($89.5 billion in 2010) is greater than that of the bottom 41% of American families (48.8 million households).

It's very nice that stars like Neil Patrick Harris can share their affliction with others during this holiday season -

Puppet dream doesn't have to be in the closet any more.

Today in History:
November 24, 1740 -
William Duell was hanged for rape and murder. A few hours later, whilst being prepared for dissection by medical students, he awakens .

The authorities took pity on him and commuted his sentence to one of transportation to Australia.

Wow that must have freaked him out.

November 24, 1835 -
The provisional government of Texas authorized the creation of the Texas Rangers (Corps of Rangers) police force.

While it's nice to think so, there's no truth to the rumor that Chuck Norris was there at the beginning.

November 24, 1859 -

Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species 153 years ago today.

And depending on your point of view, either this is a seminal work in scientific literature and arguably the pivotal work in evolutionary biology or

you're a monkey's uncle.

November 24, 1963 -

Extra-terrestrials used mass-hypnosis to persuade the world that someone resembling Jack Ruby had fatally shot someone resembling the person alleged to have been Lee Harvey Oswald. This also becomes the first actual murder captured on live TV.

The next day, November 25, a coffin containing the purported remains of the man, many Americans believed to have been John F. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. And on November 29, President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren the head of a commission to investigate the alleged assassination of the person believed to have been John F. Kennedy.

Be grateful the CIA, the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucians, extraterrestrials, and the Children's Television Workshop don't give a damn about you.

November 24, 1971 -
On Thanksgiving eve, DB Cooper boarded Flight 305 in Portland, Or., and demanded $200,000 with the threat of a bomb. He parachuted from a Northwest Airlines 727 with the money over the Cascade Mountains near Ariel, Wash., and was never seen again.

A packet containing $5,880 of the ransom money was found in 1980 on the north shore of the Columbia River, just west of the Washington city of Vancouver, but he's still is missing.

30 more shopping days until Christmas, 13 more shopping days until Hanukkah and the world may just be over in 26 days.  If you are so inclined, you may want to stock up on virgins and GPS the location of any active volcanoes in your area.

(It's a travel day for us, so this has been an abbreviated today in history.  I hope to post the Annual Christmas Spectaculars sometime very soon.)

And so it goes

Friday, November 23, 2012

The dishes are still piled high in the kitchen

I'm sure you're waking up a little bleary eyed and worse for wear.  Here's a pleasant thought: today is the birthday of both Boris Karloff (1887)

and Harpo Marx (1888).

And that makes this a good day.

As most of you know, the Friday after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year in the US.

Why not do something more meaningful - volunteer your time to help the victims of Sandy this weekend.

Someone sent me this video; The Axis of Awesome: In the Club Tonight, basically spoofing every dance club song

I keep meaning to post more of the Pop Culture Memory Lane series.  This clip is about the time actor John Cho ran into the famously moody singer Morrissey.

This should prove once and for all - never interact with your idols

Today in History:
November 23, 1499 -
A young man claiming to be the son of Edward IV landed in Cornwall, England, and declared himself King Richard IV. Unfortunately England already a king, the young man wasn't really the son of Edward IV, and his name wasn't Richard.

He was in fact Perkin Warbeck, and was therefore hanged to death on this date (as opposed to having been well hung.)

November 23, 1910 -
English murderer Hawley Crippen an American physician is hanged in Pentonville Prison, London, England, after he was caught aboard the SS Montrose attempting to escape to Britain, on this date.

It was the first use of wireless radio for the apprehension of a criminal.

November 23, 1936 -
The first edition of Life, the picture magazine created by Henry R. Luce, was published on this date.

It was an immediate sellout.

November 23, 1963 -
The first episode of Doctor Who, The Unearthly Child, premiered on the BBC, on this date.

William Hartnell was the first Doctor Who.

November 23, 1976 -
Jerry Lee Lewis has been a bad boy again. On this date, he was arrested in front of Graceland in Memphis for public drunkenness, and carrying a chrome plated .38.

Looking for Elvis, I bet.

November 23, 1990 -
MTV banned Madonna's video Justify My Love due to its sexually-explicit content on this date.

Oh, do you remember when television was this quaint (or Madonna was this revelant)?

31 more shopping days until Christmas, 14 more shopping days until Hanukkah, Black Friday is just a year away if you haven't already left for the store but the world may just be over in 27 days.

You'll need to figure out what to do.

And so it goes

Before I left you go, I'm so sorry I didn't see this sooner -

It might have helped you out of an awkward situation or two yesterday.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving folks!

We've gone over the river and through the woods to get to where we needed to be for dinner today.

Here is a brief history of the holiday you may wish to share with your loved ones:

In the winter of 1620-1621, a group of immigrants in Massachusetts experienced a devastating winter. The weather was fierce. Food was scarce. Many died. At last spring came, then summer, and by the time of the autumn harvest things were looking about as rosy as they ever look in Massachusetts.

At a fundraising dinner that fall, Governor Bradford stood up and gave a speech:

"Thank God we survived last winter," he said. "Thank God this harvest gives us a fighting chance to survive the coming winter. And thank you for your support in the last election, please make checks payable to the Committee to Re-Elect the Governor, God bless America, amen. Let's eat."

The ensuing winter didn't turn out too badly, so the superstitious immigrants concluded that Governor Bradford's magic spell of "Thanksgiving" had done the trick.

The holiday was intermittently celebrated for years, with an enthusiasm scaled to the previous winter's weather, until November 26, 1789, when President Washington issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide day of thanksgiving for the establishment of the Constitution.

Washington's proclamation wasn't much different from Bradford's.

"Thank God we survived last winter," he said. "Thank God we've got a fighting chance to survive the coming winter. Thank God we've got our own damn country now and don't have to put up with a bunch of meddling European bastards. And thank you for your support in the last election, please make checks payable to Federalists for Washington, God bless America, amen. Let's eat."

Washington, the Constitution, and many of the immigrants (who were now Americans) survived the winter, so this new spell was also deemed effective.

President Lincoln later proclaimed the last Thursday of November Thanksgiving Day in 1863 (although he did not survive to see the next Thanksgiving),

but President Roosevelt moved it back to the fourth Thursday of the month in 1939 to extend the time available for holiday shopping.

President Ford proposed making it the third Wednesday in September, in order to really extend the time available for holiday shopping, but he only made the proposal to his golden retriever, Liberty, so the suggestion never reached congress.

And so we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November every year, in honor of having survived last winter, having got rid of those meddling European bastards, having invented our own rules and having plenty of time to shop before the holidays.

Remember, it's about 20 minutes per pound for a frozen turkey and 15 minutes for a fresh one.

November 22, 1940 -
The Letter, starring Bette Davis (at her best) premiered in NYC on this date.

Due to the restrictive the Production Code, the film ending is different from the original play because it would not allow one of its characters be seen to get away with adultery and murder.

November 22, 1968 -
The Beatles released their long-awaited double album, simply called The Beatles, but better known as The White Album.

The album was the first the Beatles undertook following the death of their manager, Brian Epstein, and the first released by their own record label, Apple.

Today in History:
November 22, 1888 -
Tarzan of the Apes (Lord Greystoke) was born on this date,

according to Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel.

November 22, 1928 -
Maurice Ravel composition Boléro has it's first public performance in Paris on this date.

Boléro became Ravel's most famous composition, much to the surprise of the composer, who had predicted that most orchestras would refuse to play it

November 22, 1963 -
We, in this country, in this generation, are - by destiny rather than choice - the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. - from the address that President Kennedy never got to deliver in Dallas on this date.

A covert CIA operation privately funded by a plutocratic cabal of multinational industrial interests acting in conjunction with extraterrestrial forces and the Knights Templar succeeded in making it appear that Lee Harvey Oswald had assassinated President John F. Kennedy, on this date.

Or if this is too much for you, you can always believe in the MAGIC BULLET.

November 22, 1968 -
Many a KKK member and Daughter of the Civil War were given the vapors on this date in history.

Capt. Kirk (William Shatner) and Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) share the first interracial kiss in TV history on Star Trek on this date.

November 22, 1975 -
Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias was proclaimed King of Spain after he confirms with advisers that Francisco Franco planned to be dead for a while.

Juan Carlos is related to both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip (and as you know they are related to each other.) To confuse matters even more, his wife Queen Sofia, is related to all three of them.

Oh, love among the royals.

November 22, 1995 -
Toy Story is released as the first feature-length film created completely using computer-generated imagery.

Woody and Buzz Lightyear are inspired by director John Lasseter's own childhood toys. He based Woody on his own pull-string Casper doll, and once he grew out of Casper he moved on to a G.I Joe, a flashy toy at the time of his childhood.

Please remember all of those who are less fortunate than yourself, (especially those affected by the storm a few weeks ago) while you are cramming your face with that second slice of pecan pie this evening

32 more shopping days until Christmas, 15 more shopping days until Hanukkah, Black Friday is just a day away and the world may just be over in 28 days.

And so it goes

In case you're looking for it - the annual Thanksgiving menu and recipes are here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving prep tip #3

Biggest tip - eat at someone elses' home. Bring a nice bottle (or 2 of wine) and a dessert.  Offer to help clear off the table after dinner. 

Leave about a half hour after everyone finishes with dessert.

Today is the 38th annual World Hello Day. (I'm still hoping that the people in charge would reconsider my 'Say Hello to Kevin and give him 10 bucks day' idea.) Anyone can participate in World Hello Day simply by greeting ten people.

This demonstrates the importance of personal communication for preserving peace. World Hello Day was begun in response to the conflict between Egypt and Israel in the Fall of 1973. Since then, World Hello Day has been observed by people in 180 countries.

November 21, 1931 -
James Whale classic retelling of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, premiered on this date.

The method of animating the creature is never discussed in Mary Shelley's novel. In the book, Frankenstein, narrating, refuses to divulge how he did it so no one can re-create his actions. However, the use of lightning to resurrect the monster has become the accepted methodology and appears in virtually every Frankenstein movie since.

November 21, 1942 -
Babbit and Catstello, take-offs on Bud Abbott and Lou Costello try to catch Tweety bird (in his first appearance) in A Tale of Two Kitties, premiered on this date.

Catstello tells the audience "If the Hays office would only let me, I'd give him the bird alright." This is a double entendre acknowledging that the Hays Code, which set the guidelines for content allowed in a motion picture, would never have allowed a movie character to "give the bird"

November 21, 1946 -
One of the greatest films about vets returning home after WWII, The Best Years of Our Lives, premiered in NYC on this date.

Harold Russell was first discovered by William Wyler when he saw an army training film called Diary of a Sergeant that Russell had appeared in about the rehabilitation of wounded servicemen.

November 21, 1976 -
Ok everybody, "...Gonna Fly Now, Flying High Now..."

Rocky, premiered in NYC on this date.

Although Sylvester Stallone famously wrote the first draft of the script in 3 days, it went through nine sizable rewrites before it was purchased by Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff. Originally, Stallone's much darker script depicted Mickey (Burgess Meredith) as a bitter old racist, and the film ended with Rocky throwing the fight after realizing he did not want to be part of the professional boxing world.

Today in History:
November 21, 1694 -
Jean Francois Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet) was born on this date.

Voltaire is best known for having said things. Here are some of the witty things he said:

"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh."

"To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered."

"Anything too stupid to be said is sung."

"God created sex. Priests created marriage."

"It is an infantile superstition of the human spirit that virginity would be thought a virtue and not the barrier that separates ignorance from knowledge."

"He was unhappy only when he thought: and that is true of the majority of mankind."

"People who believe in absurdities will eventually commit atrocities."

And most significantly:

"A witty saying proves nothing."

November 21, 1921 -
U.S. President Warren G. Harding signed the Wills Campbell Act, which prohibited the medical prescription of beer and liquor on this date.

He was killed - probably by his wife - two years later and nobody seemed to mind (remember, this was the genius who lost the White House China in a poker game.)

Enough said.

November 21, 1964 -
The upper deck of The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opened to traffic on this date (at the time it was the world's longest suspension bridge).

And it still takes forever to get to Jersey through Staten Island.

November 21, 1973 -
A gap of 18 1/2 minutes is revealed in one of the Watergate tapes, a conversation between Richard M. Nixon and Bob Haldeman. The erasure is blamed on an accident by Nixon's private secretary Rose Mary Woods, but scientific analysis determines the erasures to be deliberate. Later, Chief of Staff Alexander Haig blames the erasure on "some sinister force".

Forensic experts worked on Haldeman's notebook to see if they could find the imprint of any notes he may have taken that day but later destroyed. (The experts had inconclusive results.)

November 21, 1980 -
The third deadliest hotel fire in history occurs at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, caused by faulty wiring; 84 people died. Helicopters were used to rescue stranded guests from the top floors.

No more pu-pu platters with charcoal grills in the suites.

November 21, 1997 -
Lead singer of INXS Michael Hutchence was found hanged in his hotel room at the Ritz-Carlton in Sydney Australia on this date. Police have denied that his death was due to Autoerotic Asphyxiation.

The fact that his pants were around his ankles and copies of the magazines "Hot Chicks in Tubs of Pudding" were scattered around the room, did not enter into it.

33 more shopping days until Christmas, 16 more shopping days until Hanukkah, Black Friday is just 2 days away and the world may just be over in 29 days.

And so it goes

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving prep tip #2

You can make your desserts today, giving you a leg up on your preparations for the big day (also, most major supermarket chains are open at least part of the day on Thursday, giving you plenty of time to grab one of their pre-made pies and a can of Reddi-Whip.)  Pace your drinking - you should be building up your tolerance not getting sloppy drunk.

Only 50 of the 102 original Pilgrims survived to participate in the first Thanksgiving in 1621 and only 5 women Pilgrims survived that first year at the Plymouth settlement. They were the first ones to cook and prepare the meager celebration meal. The first Thanksgiving lasted three day; luckily, due to the soporific nature of turkey, some of men attending that first meal made it to the next celebration.

Today is Absurdity Day - one is supposed to celebrate the illogical and senselessness of life,

You really wouldn't believe the number of videos and fanart commenting on StarWars/Disney marriage.  If only we could harness all that creative energy for something good.

Here's another wonderful animated short from StoryCorps - Sunday's at Rocco's:

I'll give you a moment to get that thing out of your eye.  Yes, I understand that you are not crying.

November 20, 1965 -
Michael Louis Diamond, better known as Mike D, member of the Beastie Boys, was born on this date.

Once again, we are all getting old.

November 20, 1981 -
Miles Foreman's epic take on E.L. Doctorow novel, Ragtime, premiered on this date.

When Jack Nicholson, who was to play Rhinelander Waldo, had to drop out of the film less than a month before filming began, the producers were left without a name star in the cast. It was then that director Milos Forman recruited James Cagney, whom he had met at a private dinner in Connecticut the year before. He offered Cagney any part he wanted including (facetiously) the role of Evelyn Nesbitt. 

November 20, 1983 -
An estimated 100 million people watched on this date, the controversial ABC-TV movie The Day After , which depicted the outbreak of nuclear holocaust in the United States .

The Department of Defense would only co-operate with the film's production on condition that it be made clear in the story that the Soviets, and not the United States, launched their missiles first.

Today in History :
November 20, 1917 -
T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) was held prisoner, whipped, and repeatedly raped by Turkish Army officers. He apparently thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

50 Shade of Grey, indeed.

November 20, 1947 -
Princess Elizabeth married a ne'er-do-well Greek distant cousin, Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, in a ceremony broadcast worldwide from Westminster Abbey on this date.

She was so happy that day that it seems to escape her attention that she related to everyone at the church, include the groom's mother.  Happy Anniversary Liz and Phil

It's the 37th anniversary of Generallismo Francisco Franco brave and courageous fight to remain dead.

He is still working at it today.

November 20, 1976-
Former-Beatle George Harrison appeared on Saturday Night Live on this date.

George Harrison seemed to have misunderstood Lorne Michaels offer of the $3,000 payment for his appearance; Michaels explained to George that the $3,000 was for all four of the Beatles - making the payment only $750 for him.

November 20, 1984 -
McDonald's made its 50 billionth hamburger at 12:10 P.M. in the Grand Hyatt Hotel, in New York City on this date.

It was eaten by Richard J. McDonald, one of the founders, who cooked burger No. 1 in San Bernardino, California, 36 years previously. That first burger and the 50 billionth are still lodged undigested in the colon of the deceased Mr. McDonald.

November 20, 1985 -
Windows 1.0, a 16-bit graphical operating environment was released on this date. It was Microsoft's first attempt to implement a multi-tasking graphical user interface-based operating environment on the PC platform. Windows 1.0 was the very first version of Windows launched.

If you think I'm going to make fun of Bill Gates, you're mistaken.

Hooray for Big Brother!!!

34 more shopping days until Christmas, 17 more shopping days until Hanukkah, Black Friday is just 4 days away and the world may just be over in 30 days.

And so it goes.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving prep tip #1

If you bought the frozen corpse of a bird for your feast, begin thawing it out now in the bottom of your refrigerator.

That puppy's probably colder than Walt Disney and needs three days to come around (Yes, I know Walt was cremated.)

November 19, 1959 -
The first episode of Rocky & His Friends aired on this date.

Many of you know this famous line, Hey Rocky want to see me pull a rabbit out of my hat? But what you probably don't know is the line was originally, Hey Rocky, want to see me pull a hamster out of my ass?

TV censors were not amused.

November 19, 1975 -
One of Jack Nicholson's greatest performances, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, opened in the US on this date.

Louise Fletcher was signed a week before filming began, after auditioning repeatedly over six months; director Milos Forman had told her each time that she just wasn't approaching the part correctly, but kept calling her back.

November 19, 1980 -
It fails so completely that you might suspect Mr. Cimino sold his soul to obtain the success of The Deer Hunter and the Devil has just come around to collect. - Vincent Canby

Michael Cimino's 'tainted masterpiece', Heaven's Gate premiered on this date.

At one point during filming, Michael Cimino decided that the spacing of the buildings on one of the sets didn't look right, despite it having been built to his exact specifications. He ordered both sides of the street razed and rebuilt, at a cost of $1.2 million over the objections of his crew, who reasoned that it would be easier and cheaper to knock down one side of the street and rebuild it twice as far away.

Today in History:
November 19, 1581 -
Russian Czar Ivan The Terrible killed his son, Ivan The Merely Petulant on this date. The younger Ivan interrupted the elder Ivan, who was beating Ivan Jr's pregnant wife because of her inappropriate garb. Still in a fit of rage, dad smote his son with a staff, killing him dead.

This is what passed for family life amongst the Royals in the Middle Ages in Russia.

November 19, 1620 -
A group of maniacal religious fanatics reached North America and stepped ashore on Plymouth Rock on this date. Because America did not yet have a Puritan Government, they developed the Mayflower Compact while still at sea. (William Bradford had argued for a Sporty Coupe, but the more practical John Alden had carried the day.)

Eventually the descendants of these frugal and passionately religious people would invent apps that enable the downloading of pornography to your smart phones around the world at light speed.

November 19, 1703 -
The Man in the Iron Mask died in the Bastille on this date.

He was a prisoner of Louis XIV, forced to wear a black velvet mask, and his identity has never been revealed.

Seven score and nine years ago today (November 19, 1863) -
President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on this date.

The speech remains an important part of American history on account of its having been written on the back of an envelope despite stringent postal requirements that addresses be printed clearly on the front.

November 19, 1954 -
Driving to Los Angeles, Sammy Davis, Jr. was in a serious automobile accident in San Bernardino on this date.

He lost his left eye, but the resultant publicity greatly accelerated his career.

November 19, 1961 -
Michael Rockefeller, 23 year old son of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller (later Vice President), was last seen while searching for Asmat wood carvings in the jungles near Atsj, Papua New Guinea on this date.

He was probably eaten by the Asmat. Hence the motto, "Eat the Rich".

35 more shopping days until Christmas, 18 more shopping days until Hanukkah, Black Friday is just 5 days away and the world may just be over in 31 days.

And so it goes

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I'm running around, getting ready for Thanksgiving

I don't have a lot of time today - so we'll start off with a picture of Picasso dressed like Popeye:

Why?  I don't have a freaking clue but it does give one pause.

November 18, 1985 -
Cartoon strips approach their zenith on this date.

The comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, created by Bill Waterson, was first published on this date.

We learn of Hobbes' love for tuna fish (and as I've said before, the world's greatest strip)

November 18, 1959 -
The Biblical spectaculars to end all spectaculars, Ben-Hur, starring Charlton Heston, had its world premiere in New York, on this date.

William Wyler was a renowned stickler for detail. Charlton Heston recalled one particular scene where Judah Ben-Hur simply walks across a room upon his return from slavery. Such a simple scene required eight takes before the actor finally asked Wyler what was missing. The director informed him that he liked the first take where Heston had kicked a piece of pottery to give the scene its only sound. Heston on the other hand had assumed that Wyler didn't like the kicking and had therefore deliberately avoided doing it again.

November 18, 1987 -
Bernardo Bertolucci's magnificent take on Pu Yi, The Last Emperor, premiered in NYC on this date.

An Italian chef was brought in to cook for the international cast. He brought with him 22,000 bottles of Italian mineral water, 450 pounds of Italian coffee, 250 gallons of olive oil and 4,500 pounds of pasta.

November 18, 1992 -
The biopic of the influential Black Nationalist leader, Malcolm X, premiered on this date.

The original director was going to be Norman Jewison but he had to withdraw from the project due to outside pressure demanding that the subject be made by a black film-maker.

Today in History:
November 18, 1307 -
Local Child Services authorities in Uri, Switzerland reported that a William Tell shot an apple off his son's head on this date

- Charges may still be pending.

November 18, 1421 -
A seawall at the Zuiderzee dike breaks, in the Netherlands, flooding 72 villages and killing somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 people.

Please try to refrain yourselves from make jokes about the killer dikes.

November 18, 1477 -
William Caxton published the first book printed in England, on this date. The book was a translation of The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, by Frenchman Guillaume de Tignoville. The translation to English was performed by Anthony Wodville, Earl Rivers, who had devoted a considerable portion of his life to the study of philosophers' dictes.

Wodville first formulated the theory that the length of a philosopher's dicte was less important than its thrust. He has also been credited with originating the theory that a philosopher's dicte was commensurate with his shoe size. Neither theory is given much credence by contemporary philosophers, most of whom appear to be dicteless anyway.

November 18, 1686 -
King of France Louis XIV's anal fistula was operated on by surgeon Charles Francois Felix, with great success, in front of the horrified yet fascinated court. To prepare for the operation Felix practiced his surgery on anuses of the peasantry, with some fatalities at first but improving his technique in time for the royal bung.

This is what passed for entertainment at the french royal court.

November 18, 1922 -
Marcel Proust, French a pioneer of the modern novel (A la Recherche du Temps Perdu), died at 51 on this date.

While it is generally agreed upon that he died of pneumonia and a pulmonary abscess, I believe he was crushed by the sheer weight of the unedited proof of his massive novel.

November 18, 1928 -
Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse (Even though this is his third appearance in a cartoon - I wouldn't mess with the Disney corporation since Vader's been working there.)

Steamboat Willie, the first fully synchronized sound cartoon, directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, was released on this date.

November 18, 1966 -
After this final "meatless" day of sacrifice, the American Roman Catholic Church would withdraw its edict forbidding meat consumption on Fridays.

No one knows how much the American Ground Beef Consorium 'donated' to the church on that day.

November 18, 1970 -
Singer/polygamist Jerry Lee Lewis divorces his third wife Myra Gail, after 12 years of marriage. Not only was she jailbait when they got married (being 13 at the time), but Lewis was married to Jane Mitcham at the time.

It's so hard to keep details like the number of wives you have straight in your mind.

November 18, 1978 -
Congressman Leo Ryan was slain at the People's Temple compound in Guyana, after which over 900 members of the cult led by the Reverend Jim Jones drank cyanide laced Flavor Aid (a Kool Aid knockoff), including over 270 children. It was probably not a pretty sight.

The Kraft Foods Company would like you guys to stop making those damn 'drink the Kool Aid' jokes

- it wasn't them. So go 'drink the damn Flavor Aid and drop dead'.

36 more shopping days until Christmas, 19 more shopping days until Hanukkah, Black Friday is just 6 days away and the world may just be over in 32 days.

And so it goes

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Another court mandated PSA

Your friends at ACME spare no expense (free), scouring the internet, to bring you the finest PSAs (and complete our court ordered community service.)  This one is from the fine folks at Melbourne's Metro company - Dumb ways to Die:

So kids remember, don't play on the railroad tracks!

November 17, 1942 -
Martin Scorsese, Academy Award-winning American film director, writer, producer, actor, film historian and asthmatic was born on this date.

Go watch a movie (any movie) in his honor. He won't mind.

November 17, 1933 -
We were just four Jews trying to get a laugh - Groucho Marx

Unbelievable, but, a box office flop (at the time), Duck Soup, opened on this date.

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini banned the film from Italy because he thought it was a direct attack on him. When news of this reached The Marx Brothers, they were reportedly ecstatic.

(This film marks the last appearance of Zeppo Marx in a Marx Brothers film.)

November 17, 1951 -
Slight pause while I adjust my accoutrements.

Another in the series of Daffy and Porky buddy flicks, Drip-Along Daffy, opened on this date.

Today in History:
November 17, 1558 -
Elizabeth I of England ascended to the throne, on this date.

She is best known for her imperfect application of the cosmetic sciences, a flaw that is strikingly evident in all her portraits but that courtiers were apparently reluctant to address the issue.

November 17, 1796 -
Empress Catherine the Great dies of a stroke while sitting on the commode and not while astride her steed (or something like that) on this date.

So dammit, stop making those jokes.

November 17, 1869 -
The Suez Canal was opened in Egypt, linking the Mediterranean and the Red seas on this date. The 100 mile canal eliminated a 4000-mile trip around Africa.

Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, together with Ferdinand de Lesseps, chief architect of the canal, led the first file of ships from on board the French imperial yacht Aigle.

November 17, 1903 -
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin's stubbornness split his Russian Social Democratic Labor Party into two factions: the slim majority who sided with him, and the vast minority who opposed him, on this date.

The Russian terms for majority and minority are Bolshevik and Menshevik, respectively, and so these factions took their names. Later the Mensheviks became the majority party, meaning that the Mensheviks had become Bolsheviks and the Bolsheviks Mensheviks.

This was confusing. If you asked someone what they were and they said "Bolshevik," you'd have no way of knowing whether they meant Bolshevik (Menshevik) or Menshevik (Bolshevik.) This state of affairs quickly became intolerable. All sorts of remedies were suggested placards, ID bracelets, hats, tattoos but it was impossible to arrive at a consensus until Lenin clarified matters by having all the Mensheviks shot.

It was easy after that.

November 17, 1917 -
The world famous 77 year old French Sculptor Auguste Rodin froze to death in an unheated attic in Meudon, France on this date. He had applied to the government for quarters as warm as those wherein his statues were stored, but the government turned him down.

His case was so desperate that he asked to be permitted to have a room in the museum the Hotel Biron, formerly his own studio. The official in charge of the museum refused. Other officials and friends promised coal but never sent it, though his situation at Meudon, ill, and freezing to death, was apparently well known to all of them.

November 17, 1941-
U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Joseph C. Grew cables the US State Department that he has heard that Japan has 'planned, in the event of trouble with the United States, to attempt a surprise mass attack at Pearl Harbor.' His warning is ignored by the Office of Naval Intelligence.

His diplomatic relations with Japan were cordial until the late 1930s, when Japanese expansionism became openly aggressive toward Asian neighbors like China. The US increased economic pressures on Japan until, in late 1939, Grew had been predicting that the situation will soon come to a head. He told Roosevelt in October 1939 that 'if we start sanctions against Japan we must see them through to the end, and the end may conceivably be 'war.'


November 17, 1968 -
NBC preempts the final 1:05 from a very close Jets-Raiders NFL football game with Heidi. Two touchdowns were scored during this missing time.

Sports fans everywhere applaud and understand the network's decision.

November 17, 1973 -
People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I am not a crook.

Thus spoke Richard M. Nixon on this date.

37 more shopping days until Christmas, 20 more shopping days until Hanukkah, Black Friday is just 7 days away and the world may just be over in 33 days. 

And so it goes.

Before I let you go - share a tear or two with me for the end of era -

Bon jour Hostess - Après vous, le déluge.