Sunday, June 30, 2013

Let the Beat Rock

Get ready to shake your groove thang, the Gay Pride parade makes it's way down Fifth Avenue this afternoon.

And believe me that's a lot of groove thang to cram into 5 hours.

It's National Ice Cream Soda Day. Remember to pour the soda over the ice cream (you get a thicker ice cream soda foam.)

If you added a little Kahlua in first, even better.  (Folks, it's really going to be humid outside - take it easy today.)

June 30, 1989 -
One of Spike Lee's big early films, Do The Right Thing, premiered on this date.

Spike Lee originally wanted Robert De Niro for the role of Sal. But De Niro turned down the part, saying that it was too similar to many of the parts he had played in the past. In the end the part went to Danny Aiello.

June 30, 1995 -
Ron Howards' film about the ill-fated 13th Apollo mission bound for the moon, Apollo 13, premiered on this date.

Several actors from the movie including: Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon and Gary Sinise visited US Space and Rocket Center Space Camp program and worked on their simulators before production of the movie began to help them get a feel for what it would be like to work in zero gravity.

Today in History:
June 30, 1520 -
... I see your armour-plated breast has long since lost it's sheen ...

After witnessing the murder of Montezuma II (or committing the murders themselves,) the Conquistadors, led by Hernan Cortes, did what any red-blooded Spaniard would do and looted Tenochtitlan, the ancient Mexican capital of the Aztec empire on this date. The retreating Spaniards were attacked by an angry Aztec mob. Tied down by armor and treasure, they are no match for the natives and nearly half of Hernan Cortes' men lose their lives.

June 30, 1837 -
England outlawed the use of the pillory on this date.

That still left the British Navy the three things they love the most - the lash, buggery and rum.

June 30, 1882 -
Charles Guiteau, the assassin of President Garfield, was hanged on this date.

Tickets for the event went for as much as $300. Proving once again, give the people what they want and they'll show up.

June 30, 1894 -
One of London's most iconic symbols, The Tower Bridge was officially opened on this date by The Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII.)

The bridge can be opened, allowing river traffic to pass and closed, allowing the resumption of road traffic in five minutes.

June 30, 1908 -
An explosion near the Tunguska River in Siberia on this date, incinerated some 300 sq. km. that encircled the impact of an estimated 60 meter diameter stony meteorite. It flattened some 40,000 trees over 900 sq. miles and caused damage equivalent to a 15-megaton hydrogen bomb.

The explosion in Siberia, which knocked down trees in a 30-mile radius and struck people unconscious some 40 miles away, is believed by some scientists to be caused by a falling fragment from a meteorite.

June 30, 1934 -
Acting on behalf of the Fuhrer, SS troops around Germany arrest hundreds of loyal SA stormtroopers under the charge of treason in order to eliminate the group.

One squad descends on a Bavarian resort, where it interrupts a contingent of SA men engaged in homosexual festivities. Lieutenant Edmund Heines was caught in bed with a teenaged boy, and shot to death on the spot. The rest are taken into custody. Hitler sacrificed Ernst Rohm (his pal and head of the SA stormtroopers) rather than lose the support of the military. He personally confronted Rohm in a jail cell and left a single shot pistol in the cell. Ten minutes later, Rohm had killed himself (unless he didn't, in which case, he was executed at point blank range by Hitler's goons - reports are sketchy.)

Nobody ruins a good gay orgy like Hitler's goons.

June 30, 1936 -
It's the 77th anniversary of publication of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind on this date.

It had been extensively promoted, chosen as the July selection by the Book-of-the-Month Club, and so gushed about in pre-publication reviews -- "Gone With the Wind is very possibly the greatest American novel," said Publisher's Weekly -- that it was certain to sell, though few predicted the sustained, record-breaking numbers. Though she had been eager and active for her fame, Mitchell too was caught off guard.

One trip to an Atlanta department store for a dress ended with a clutch of curious women throwing back the fitting room doors to stare at Mitchell in her petticoat: "They wanted to know the size of my intimate wearing apparel. They screamed to one another about me as I stood there like an animal in a cage, one asking the other: 'Ain't she skinny?' while still another observed: 'I expected her to look more middle-aged around the hips.'"

June 30, 1953 -
The first Corvette rolled off the production line on this date.  The car only came in white with a black top and red interior. Optional features included a curtain instead of roll-up windows and interior door handles.

300 cars were made the first year and sold for $3,498.

And so it goes.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Caution: Cape does not enable user to fly

June 29, 1940 -
According to the Batman Canon: two gangsters working for Tony Zucco rubbed out a circus highwire team known as the Flying Graysons, leaving their son Dick (Robin) an orphan on this date.

Lucky for Dick, a rugged virile older man, Bruce Wayne was there to give him the care and attention a strapping young man in tights needs.

June 29, 1968 -
Tip-Toe Thru The Tulips With Me by Tiny Tim (Herbert Khaury) peaks at #17 on this date.

Proof positive, people did massive amounts of drugs in the '60s.

June 29, 1984 -
One of the original gross out comedies of the 80's, Bachelor Party, opened on this date.

Jim Carrey, Howie Mandel and Tim Robbins were all considered for the role of Rick. Julia Louis-Dreyfus was considered for the role of Debbie.

Today in History:
June 29, 1613 -
The Globe Theater, William Shakespeare's original theatrical venue, burns to the ground on this date. According to one of the few surviving documents of the event, no one was hurt except a man who put out his burning breeches with a bottle of ale.

It must have not been a very good bottle of ale.

Canada Day is soon upon us, so here's some history about our neighbor to the north -
June 29, 1864 -
The worst railway disaster in Canada's history killed 99 people and injured 100 more on this date, when a train, which had been carrying many German and Polish immigrants, failed to stop at an open bridge (the Beloeil Bridge) and plunged into the the Richelieu River near Quebec.

The engineer, who was new to his job, claimed that he did not see the signal. The St-Hilaire train disaster is still considered Canada's worst train crash in history.

June 29, 1967 -
Actress Jayne Mansfield may or may not have been decapitated in a car crash, when her convertible collides with a parked tractor-trailer. To downplay the supposed gruesome death, sources spread the falsehood that only her wig flew off in the accident.

Her three children survived in the back seat of the 1966 Buick Electra. Daughter Mariska Hargitay was 3 years old at the time and began her film career at 19.

June 29, 1971 -
When Soyuz 11 disengages from the Salyut space station, cosmonauts Georgi Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev were killed by a faulty pressurization valve on this date.

All the oxygen leaks out of the Soyuz cabin before Patsayev could close the valve by hand, and the crew was asphyxiated.

I hate when that happens.

June 29, 1978 -
The body of Bob Crane was discovered in bed with an electric cord wrapped around his neck and his head smashed in on this date.

When Scottsdale police searched the apartment belonging to the former star of television's Hogan's Heroes, they discovered a video camera and a large library of amateur porn starring Crane and a parade of random women. (Parade of Random Women - still a great name for an indie band.) No one has every been convicted of his murder.

June 29, 1992 -
Mohammed Boudiaf was assassinated by one of his own bodyguards less than six months after becoming President of Algeria. A former hero in the war of independence, Boudiaf had been chosen by the Islamic Salvation Front to serve as figurehead for their regime. More than 100,000 Algerians would later die in political bloodshed in the following decade.

(Please note - this was probably not a good business motto to choice a protection agency - we will not kill you within the first six months or your money back.)

And so it goes

Friday, June 28, 2013

He who hesitates is poor

Happy Birthday Mel Brooks

It's always a good day to know that Mel is still around.

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

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

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

At the time in the US, tomatoes were believed to be poisonous because of their relationship with some wild plants of the nightshade family that produce toxic berries. This is what passed for entertainment in New Jersey - Chris Christie wasn't born yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our ghosts will walk through Vienna And roam through the Palace Frightening the Lords.

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

Dorothy Dandridge was one of the original choice for the role of Tuptim. It has been reported that Miss Dandridge, who had just made history as the first African American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in Carmen Jones, was strongly advised to refuse the role because Tuptim was a slave. The role went to Rita Moreno instead. Rita Moreno said that the heavy Siamese headdresses she and the ballet dancers wore in The Small House of Uncle Thomas ballet sequence gave all of them headaches, which lasted for days.

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

44 years later (almost to the day) the Supreme Court overturned DOMA. (I bet Scalia is still obsessing about state sponsored homosexual sodomy right now.)

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

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

Yeah, it tastes like chicken.

And on a personal note: Happy Birthday Angie

And so it goes

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Just hum to yourself - it's cheaper!

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

So remember you can start to sing 'Happy Birthday' but don't finish it, the rights to the song are incredibly expensive. You may substitute any of the following for our purposes under "Fair Use":

* Happy birthday to you, cha cha cha, happy birthday to you, cha cha cha
* Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, you look like a monkey, and belong in a zoo!
* Happy birthday to you, you belong in a zoo, cause you look like a monkey and you smell like one too!
* Happy birthday to you, squashed tomatoes and stew, bread and butter in the gutter, happy birthday to you.
* Happy birthday to you, you're one hundred and two, you smell like a monkey, and you eat like one too!
* Happy birthday to you, you were born in a loo, and since it's your birthday, I'll flush it for you!
* Happy Birthday to you, stick your head down the loo, don't waste it, just taste it, happy birthday to you.
* Happy birthday to you, I went to the zoo, I saw a fat monkey, and it looked just like you!
* Happy birthday to you, you live in the zoo, you look like a monkey, and you smell like one too.
* Happy birthday to you, you're one hundred and two, you smell like a monkey, and you look like one too!

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

During the Vietnam War, American soldiers who were taken as Prisoners of War by the North Vietnamese were often interrogated and asked whom the American military leaders were. Reportedly, several POWs would respond with "Captain Video." The North Vietnamese interrogators, being extremely gullible, accepted this answer. This allowed the POWs to escape possible torture and avoid giving the identities of the real military leaders.

June 27, 1957 -
... I'd hate to take a bite outta you. You're a cookie full of arsenic.

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

The narc in the film, Lt Harry Kello, was based on NYPD detective Eddie Egan

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

The first time Jonathan Frid had to bite a victim, he had to rush to the set in a matter of seconds. He only had a matter of seconds to put his fangs in; they wound up going in upside down and he chewed them to bits.

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

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

I believe this is the third day in a row I got to reference sodomy.  (I will now stop referring to sodomy - homosexual or otherwise; it seems to really bother Antonin Scalia.)

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

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

June 27, 1905 -
Sailors from the Battleship Potemkin start a mutiny aboard the Battleship Potemkin, denouncing the crimes of autocracy, demanding liberty and an end to war. Sergei Eisenstein, wacky Russian film director, thought he could make a summer comedy from the subject matter.

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

It's Bob Keeshan's birthday.

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

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

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

Such is life.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Throw the old play book out

You can apparent send pictures of your junk to people, take a morality breather, then run for mayor and be ahead in the polls.

I truly fear what will come next.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 26, 1870
The day after Leon Day, Congress declared Christmas a federal holiday to the great relief of Americans who'd been forced to flee to Canada every December.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so it goes.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

They're Back

On July 15th, Twinkies, CupCakes, Ding Dongs, Donettes and other classic treats are making a comeback.

You may pace yourself with your remaining stash.

According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (remember, they have no affiliation to organized crime,) Americans will eat 7 billion hot dogs over the summer.

That's a lot of lips and thighs (and other unmentionable ground animal parts.)

Michael Jackson has been singing with the castrati in Heaven for four years. Death hasn't put a crimp in his record sales.  (Farrah Fawcett also died four years ago today.  I don't believe she's singing with any castrati.)

There is no connection between these two events but it's the birthday of George Michael:

I wonder how he will celebrate his 50th birthday? (whatever he's up to, it's definitively not singing with castrati.)

Happy LEON day. LEON is NOEL spelled backwards. It is now six months until Christmas.

Kids, you can take a quick check of the whole naughty/ nice thing and see how you are doing.

June 25, 1938 -
Another in the series of 'books come alive', Have You Got Any Castles? was released on this date.

The globe on the cover of Pearl Buck's book "The Good Earth" requests blessings for people in his family, including "Papa Leon and Uncle Ray." This is in reference to Leon Schlesinger, who was the executive producer of the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons up until 1944, and Raymond Katz, Schlesinger's brother-in-law, who also worked in the cartoon studio.

June 25, 1963 -
One of Federico Fellini's greatest films, Otto e mezzo, (8 ½), opened in the US, on this date.

Federico Fellini was well-known for working without a stable, finished screenplay. At one point during pre-production, he had completely forgot what his next work would have been about, his original idea had completely gone. While he was set to communicate to the movie producer Angelo Rizzoli his intention of abandoning the project, Fellini was invited to the birthday party of a head camera-operator of Cinecittà. All of a sudden, during the celebration, he got a new idea: his film would have told about a film-director who was going to direct a film, but he forgot what it was about.

June 25, 1982 -
The greatest dystopian Sci- Fi film (at this point), Blade Runner, opened on this date.

The ending title sequence in the theatrical cut of the film contains unused footage from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. These were extra shots of the main title sequence, although none of the shots contain the road that was seen in The Shining.

June 25, 1993 -
Possibly the greatest Meg Ryan 'chick flick' (which may seem redundant to some,) Sleepless in Seattle, premiered on this date.

A pre-Seinfeld reference to the real-life "Soup Nazi": A male journalist is speaking as Meg Ryan enters an office at her newspaper, saying, "...he's the meanest guy in the world, but he makes the best soup you've ever eaten."

Today in History:
June 25, 841 -
Charles the Bald and Louis the German defeated Lothar at Fontenay on this date.

I kid you not, Charles the Fat and Louis the Younger (Louis' sons) were too young (although Louis the Younger was older than Charles the Fat) to join in the fracas.And you thought mafioso capo names were funny.

June 25, 1876 -
This is a little cautionary tale about pissing off the wrong people.

During the Battle of Little Big Horn, General George Armstrong Custer witnesses a large group of Indians fleeing their village, and decides to press his advantage. The cavalry officer shouts, "We've caught them napping, boys!" Then he splits his force of 210 men into three groups, in order to slaughter as many of the retreating noncombatants as possible. Which is right about the time Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse sweep in and kill the white men. Two days later, Custer's body is found amidst a cluster of 42 other corpses, the general entirely naked except for one boot, one sock, and an arrow stuck in his penis.

This is the native way a sending a very serious message.

June 25, 1903 -
Eric Arthur Blair was born on this day in eastern India, the son of a British colonial civil servant. He burned to be a writer but had no success get people to look at his work, so he was forced him into a series of menial jobs.

Finally he became a Famous Author and even a Great Writer, but by then he was dead, whatever his name was.

June 25, 1910 -
The Mann Act, sometimes known as the White Slave Traffic Act of 1910, makes it a federal crime to convey or assist in transporting women across state lines for prostitution, debauchery, or "any other immoral purpose." Men convicted of this heinous (if vague) statute face up to five years and a $5,000 fine for each count. Penalties are doubled if the female is underage, but men and boys are apparently not covered. This is, by far, the biggest party pooper in legislative history.

Unless you're into guys.

June 25, 1967 -
The first live, international, satellite television production, Our World, was broadcast on this date. Among the featured performers were opera singer Maria Callas, artist Pablo Picasso and a small English skiffle group called The Beatles.

When the The Beatles' appearance on the program was announced, John Lennon wrote the song especially for the occasion. He was told by the BBC: it had to be simple so that viewers would tune in.

I guess he was right.

There are 183 days until Christmas.

And so it goes.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dance around the Maypole again

It's Midsummer day throughout most of Europe. It should not be confused with the Summer Solstice except they're kind of celebrating the same thing, (it's also the feast day of St. John the Baptist.)

Hey, it's big in Europe.

June 24, 1967 -
Procol Harum released their classic A Whiter Shade of Pale on this date.

It was the most played song on jukeboxes in the last 75 years in public places in the UK, as of 2009.

Again, it's a European thing

June 24, 1970 -
Mike Nichols' adaptation of Joseph Heller's Catch 22 was released on this date .

The film has one of the longest, most complex uninterrupted scenes ever made. In the scene, where two actors talking against a background, 16 of the 17 planes, four groups of four aircraft, took off at the same time. As the scene progresses, the actors entered a building and the same planes were seen through the window, climbing into formation. The problem was, for every take, the production manager has to call the planes back and made to take off again for every take of the particular scene. This was done four times.

June 24,1970 -
20th Century Fox for some unknown reason released Myra Breckinridge, starring Raquel Welch and Mae West, on this date.  It's as bad as you think it might be but you must watch it.

Gore Vidal disowned this screen version of his novel.  In the 1970s, Gore Vidal wrote in Esquire Magazine that when he found out Myra Breckinridge's director Michael Sarne was now working as a waiter in a pizza restaurant, he said it "proves that God exists and there is such a thing as Divine Symmetry."

Today In History:
June 24, 1374 -
Please titrate your ergot carefully, a little sexual frenzy is good and all, but ...

In a sudden outbreak of Dancing Mania (aka St. John's Dance), people in the streets of Aix-la-Chapelle, Prussia experience terrible hallucinations and begin to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapse from exhaustion.

Many of the sufferers are afflicted with frothing at the mouth, diabolical screaming, and sexual frenzy. The phenomenon lasts well into the month of July. Nowadays, ergot madness is suspected as being the ultimate cause of the disorder.  (Please refrain from mentioning raves.)

June 24, 1812 -
Napoleon, ever the French cuisine booster, wants to spread his enjoyment of meals with heavy cream sauces and decides to invade Russia (ultimately with mixed results.)

He has to wait 70 years before Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky decides to write an Overture about the entire incident.

June 24, 1947 -
Businessman pilot Kenneth Arnold encounters a formation of nine flying saucers near Mt. Ranier, Washington, exhibiting unusual movements and velocities of 1,700 mph.

No explanation is found for this first report of flying saucers in the recent era, but it does earn Mr. Arnold legions of skeptics and an eventual IRS tax audit.

June 24, 1948 -
Communist forces with 30 military divisions cut off all land and water routes between West Germany and West Berlin, prompting the United States to organize the massive Berlin airlift.East Germany blockades the city of West Berlin.

During the Berlin Airlift, American and British planes flew about 278,000 flights, delivering 2.3 million tons of food, coal and medical supplies. General Lucius Clay, the local American commander, ordered the air supply effort.

June 24, 1957
The U.S. Supreme Court rules, Roth v. United States, that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment, though a dissenting opinion included with the ruling notes the issue of prior restraint renders this a terrible decision.

By 1973, another case, Miller v. California, a five-person majority agreed for the first time since Roth as to a test for determining constitutionally unprotected obscenity, superseding the Roth test. By the time Miller was considered in 1973, Justice Brennan had abandoned the Roth test and argued that all obscenity was constitutionally protected, unless distributed to minors or unwilling third-parties.

(Aren't you happy when important legal issues can be dramatized with puppet shows.)

June 24, 1967 -
Pope Paul VI published his encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus (priestly celibacy) on this date.

I would bet here's when things really came to a head with that whole 'inappropriate' touching situation in the church.

And so it goes.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It beats measuring out life with coffee spoons

Vlogger Ze Frank takes a deeper look into the meaning of life using jelly beans.  He counted out over 28,000 beans, one for each day the average Americans will live for.

To paraphrase Warren Zevon, "enjoy every jelly bean."

June 23, 1955 -
Walt Disney's 15th animated feature, Lady and the Tramp, the first animated feature filmed in CinemaScope, opened in theaters on this date.

Peggy Lee helped promote the film on the Disney TV series, explaining her work with the score and singing a few numbers. Peggy Lee later sued Disney for breach of contract claiming that she still retained rights to the transcripts. She was awarded $2.3m, but not without a lengthy legal battle with the studio which was finally settled in 1991.

June 23, 1965 -
One of Frank Sinatra best performances on film, Von Ryan's Express, premiered on this date.

The leather jacket that Frank Sinatra wore in Von Ryan's Express, was later worn by Bob Crane in Hogan's Heroes. It was later worn by Greg Kinnear in Auto Focus.

June 23, 1989 -
Tim Burton's dark and brooding retelling of Batman, was released on this date.

Michael Keaton casting as Bruce Wayne/Batman caused a controversy amongst comic book fans, with 50,000 protest letters sent to Warner Bros. offices. Bob Kane, Sam Hamm and Michael E. Uslan also heavily questioned the casting.

June 23, 1994 -
Life may or may not be a box of chocolate but Forrest Gump premiered in Los Angeles, on this date.

Tom Hanks signed onto the film after an hour and a half of reading the script but agreed to take the role only on the condition that the film was historically accurate. He initially wanted to ease Forrest's pronounced Southern accent, but was eventually persuaded by director Robert Zemeckis to portray the heavy accent stressed in the novel and patterned his accent after Michael Conner Humphreys (young Forrest) who actually talked that way.

Today in History:
June 23, 1611 -
The mutinous crew of Henry Hudson's fourth voyage sets Henry, his son and seven loyal crew members adrift in an open boat in what is now Hudson Bay; they are never heard from again.

So much for loyalty.

June 23, 1894 -
Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, briefly Edward VIII, King of England and later to be known as the Duke of Windsor (making him both brother and uncle to successive monarchs), who abdicated his throne to marry American divorcee (and possible transvestite) Wallis Simpson, was born on this date.

Sometimes, it's very complicated to be the king.

June 23, 1965 -
One of the classic Motown singles, Tracks of My Tears by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, was released on this date.

Smokey Robinson had the music Marv Tarplin wrote on a cassette, but it took him about six months to write the lyrics. The words started coming together when he came up with the line, "Take a good look at my face, you see my smile looks out of place." From there, it was a few days before he got the lines, "If you look closer it's easy to trace... my tears."

June 23 1979 -
The rock group, the Knack releases My Sharona on this date.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Doug Fieger said: "I was 25 when I wrote the song. But the song was written from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy. It's just an honest song about a 14-year-old boy."

And on a personal note:
Happy Birthday David

and so it goes.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Feel good about wasting your time

More than six months after Hurricane Sandy, people in the Rockaway area are still in need of food.  The Toyota Company has helped an emergency food distribution company, Metro World Child, to develop ways to deliver more food, more quickly, to more New Yorkers in need, using their production systems. Filmmakers Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman, creators of the feature films Catfish and Paranormal Activity 3 and 4, have made a short documentary about this charity's effect to become more efficient.

More importantly, Toyota will donate one meal to The Food Bank for every view the clip gets (up to 1.25 Million Meals.)  Yes, Toyota is monetizing your eyeball but are you doing anything more important with it at the moment?

It's National Chocolate Eclair Day. While the eclair is a delicious dessert, their charms escape me.

Maybe it's the fake vanilla pudding most bakeries use rather than Bavarian cream.

June 22, 1946 -
Another of the classic 40's Daffy Duck cartoons, Hollywood Daffy, was released on this date.

The director of the cartoon was an uncredited effort by Friz Freleng.

June 22, 1949 -
Possibly, the most talented actress of her generation, Mary Louise Streep,was born on this date.

She has a deviated septum, which she refuses to have fixed.

Imagine if she took her looks more seriously, how far her career would go.

June 22, 1961 -
A great old-fashion thriller, The Guns of Navarone, was released on this date.

Despite the narrated prologue setting the "historical background", this is a work of fiction. There was no such mission, because there never were any guns of Navarone.

June 22, 1966 -
Mike Nichol's first film, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, opened on this date.

The movie was one of a series of films in the 1960s to successfully challenge the Production Code Office. In addition to the compromise on language described below, Warner Bros. studio head, Jack L. Warner, undercut the Code's usefulness by arranging to have the film released with the "For Adults Only" and required theaters to prohibit selling tickets to unaccompanied minors, which in effect unofficially created the Restricted rating years before the Motion Picture Association of America abandoned the Production Code for a classification system (G-GP-M-X) in 1968.

June 22, 1966 -
The first screenplay of Woody Allen's produced, What's New Pussycat?, starring Peter O'Toole, Peter Sellers (and co-starring Woody Allen) premiered in the US on this date.

Richard Burton appears in a cameo with Peter O'Toole in a scene in a bar where Burton asks O'Toole "Don't you know me from someplace?" and O'Toole responds "Give my regards to what's her name." The dialogue is a reference to their appearance together in Becket and to Burton's wife at the time, Elizabeth Taylor. Woody Allen later said of the Burton cameo, "It was so cute, you want to vomit."

June 22, 1969 -
The patron saint of bachelors of a certain age, Judy Garland died of a barbiturate overdose in her London apartment, either by accident or suicide.

Folks, she did not do a header into the toilet and drown.

June 22, 1993 -
I have sacrificed everything in my life that I consider precious to advance the political career of my husband ...

The patron saint of long suffering political wives and good Republican cloth coats, Thelma Catherine "Pat" Ryan Nixon died on this date.

Today in History:
June 22, 1633 -
The Holy Office in Rome strong-armed Galileo Galilei into recanting his scientific view that the Sun, not the Earth, is the center of the Universe.

This was the second time he was forced to recant Earth orbits Sun by the Pope. Almost immediately, on October 31, 1992, the Vatican admitted it was wrong.

June 22, 1906 -
Billy Wilder was born on this date. Not surprisingly, Mr. Wilder would go on to produce Some Like It Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, all of whom frolicked giddily on the beach in bikinis. Mr. Wilder, you see, was comfortable in his season.

Not like some people. Some people had to force it. Some people had to prove something. Some people were like Brian Wilson, who was born the day before summer (June 20) in 1942, and subsequently became a "Beach Boy" and released an album called Endless Summer.

June 22, 1918 -
The worst circus train wreck in history occurred just outside Hammond, Indiana on this date. A seriously over-tired engineer, Alonzo Sargent, fell asleep at the throttle of a trainload of empty Pullman cars and slammed into the rear of the 26-car Hagenbeck-Wallace circus train.

86 of the 400 performers and workers on board were killed. There were no reports on whether or not the crowd at the previous days performance was greater than the gawkers at the scene of the wreck.

June 22, 1933 -
German chancellor Adolf Hitler banned every political party on this date, except his own Evil Nazi Bastards from winning elections.

The Evil Nazi Bastards swept the next elections, demonstrating the public's strong support for this measure.

June 22, 1940 -
Eight days after German forces overran Paris, France is forced to sign an armistice on this date; hilarity ensues.

Adolf Hitler forces the instrument of surrender to be signed in the very railcar in which the French inflicted the humiliating World War I Treaty of Versailles upon the Germans. (In a bizarre co-incidence, it was also the anniversary of Napoleon's second abdication in 1815.)

June 22, 1941-
The German Army invades Russia, quickly destroying five Russian armies and one fourth of the Red air force. At completion of the war in 1945, nearly 27 million Soviets were dead.

Thus ended the German- Soviet "Peace and Friendship" Treaty.

June 22, 1968 -
This Guy's in Love with You by Herb Alpert topped the charts on this date.

Alpert's previous material consisted of instrumental songs recorded with The Tijuana Brass Band. This was his first released on A&M Records that contained vocals. He had released vocal recordings for another label, Dot Records, under the assumed name of Dore Alpert.

And so it goes.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Today is the first day of summer, also known as the Summer Solstice. It's the longest day of the year (and the shortest night).

The actual moment of the solstice will occur at about 1:04 A.M. this evening, while the sun sits directly above the Pacific Ocean to the west of Hawaii.  Don't complain about the heat today, remember that it's the beginning of Winter in Australia.  (The naked run is optional - please.)

While you are chillin' in your office, think about this - Twenty-five percent of all winning lottery tickets are issued in summer. One in every five people in the world live on less than $1 a day.

Congratulations to all of the kids graduating elementary school in NYC today.

June 21,1955 -
The David Lean movie, Summertime starring Katharine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi premiered in New York on this date.

Despite being set in summer, as its title suggests, some of the scenes were shot in winter. This is particularly clear during Katharine Hepburn's visit to San Marco's Square: while watching the clock tower, she sees a parade of wooden statues coming up of the clock and marching around it; those statues are actually the Three Wise Men, and they appear only once every year, on January 6th.

June 21, 1977 -
Martin Scorsese's homage to movie musicals - New York, New York, premiered on this date.

Originally four and a half hours long. Martin Scorsese cut it to 153 minutes, then to 136 minutes. In 1981 some material (mainly the 'Happy Endings' sequence) was restored and the film became 163 minutes long. The added 'Happy Endings' musical fantasy cost an extra $350,000 to make.

June 21, 1988 -
Robert Zemeckis' incredible advancement in animation, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, opened in NYC on this date.

During filming, Charles Fleischer delivered Roger Rabbit's lines off camera in full Roger costume including rabbit ears, yellow gloves and orange cover-alls. During breaks when he was in costume, other staff at the studios would see him and make comments about the poor caliber of the effects in the "rabbit movie".

Today in History:
June 21, 1877 -
The Molly Maguires, ten Irish immigrants who were labor activists, are hanged at Carbon County Prison in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

Author and Judge John P. Lavelle of Carbon County said of this, "The Molly Maguire trials were a surrender of state sovereignty...A private corporation initiated the investigation through a private detective agency. A private police force arrested the alleged defenders, and private attorneys for the coal companies prosecuted them. The state provided only the courtroom and the gallows."

June 21, 1893 -
The first Ferris wheel debuted at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, on this date. The Ferris wheel was designed by George W. Ferris, a bridge-builder from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The exposition commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus's landing in America. The Chicago Fair's organizers wanted something that would rival the Eiffel Tower. Gustave Eiffel had built the tower for the Paris World's Fair of 1889, which honored the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.

June 21, 1905 -
It would have been the 108th birthday of Jean-Paul Sartre today.

But what the hell does he care; he's dead and it doesn't mean anything anyway.

June 21, 1982 -
Using an innovative Jodie Foster defense, John Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity, on this date, for the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.

Nobody was impressed by this verdict.

June 21, 1989 -
The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Texas v. Johnson that flag burning is indeed protected speech under the Constitution, prompting Congress to put forth an endless series of amendments to ban the activity.

And so it goes.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Who took that look away ...

June 20, 1942 -
It's Brian Wilson's birthday today.

At this point, Brian may outlive us all.

June 20, 1946 -
Rex Harrison's first American movie, Anna and the King Of Siam, with Irene Dunne, opened in theaters on this date.

In a scene early in the film, Anna is seen walking through an open-air market. While this scene was being filmed, an airplane passed over the set, creating a low hum on the soundtrack. Composer Bernard Herrmann was instructed to compose an accompanying score that would obscure the airplane motor. He used low gongs.

June 20, 1974 -
Forget about it Jake. It's Chinatown

The unforgettable film noir classic, Chinatown, was released on this date.

This was the first film of a planned trilogy about corruption in the development of Los Angeles. It was set in the 1930s and was about the water department. The second film, The Two Jakes, was set in the 1940s and was about the gas company. The third film of the trilogy was about the building of the massive freeway system and was to be called "Cloverleaf", named after the famous interchange in downtown L.A., but it was never filmed. However, certain elements (like the building of a massive freeway by a corporation called called "Cloverleaf") were eventually incorporated into Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which took a fantasy/comedic view of this material but also functioned as a detective story.

June 20, 1975 -
Steven Spielberg's thriller, Jaws, premiered on this date. Beach vacations were never the same again.

Lee Marvin was Spielberg's first choice for the role of Quint, despite his reservations about using big-name actors. Marvin thanked him but replied that he'd rather go fishing. Spielberg then wanted Sterling Hayden for the role of Quint. Hayden, however, was in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid tax. All Hayden's income from acting was subject to a levy by the IRS, so there was an attempt to circumvent that: Hayden was also a writer, so one idea was to pay him union scale for his acting, and buy a story from him (his literary income wasn't subject to levy) for a large sum. It was concluded that the IRS would see through this scheme, so Robert Shaw was cast by Spielberg instead on the recommendation of the film's producers, Zanuck and Brown.

Today in History:
June 20, 1756 -
In Calcutta, 146 British prisoners are placed in a 18 foot by 14 foot cell known as The Black Hole by a Bengali, Siraj-ud-daula, and held there until the following morning.

Of those imprisoned, only 23 survive. Even with the economic downturn, an apartment that size would sell for $300,000.00 in Manhattan.

June 20, 1782 -
Congress adopts the Great Seal of the United States on this date.

Although several people on the committee were Masons, the Masonic institutions themselves deny that the Seal is Masonic; therefore, any resemblance is purely coincidental.

Of course.

June 20, 1791-
King Louis XVI and his family attempted their escape from Paris to the royalist citadel of Montedy on this date.

They were captured at Varennes-en-Argonne when they were recognized. It didn't go too well for them after this.

June 20, 1793 -
Eli Whitney applied for a patent on his Cotton Gin on this date. More affordable than gin distilled from grain alcohol and juniper berries, Cotton Gin quickly became the drink of choice among America's rural poor.

This led to widespread outbreaks of Cotton Mouth and eventually caused the Civil War.

June 20, 1893 -
Lizzie Borden was found innocent on this date of giving her stepmother and father 40 and 41 whacks, respectively.

Once O.J. finds the real killers of his wife while in prison, he promised to get cracking on this case as well.

June 20, 1947 -
Bugsy Siegel (Warren Beatty) was shot to death on this date, at Virginia Hill's (Annette Bennings) mansion, on orders purportedly from Meyer Lansky.

The drive-by shooting never was solved and remains an open case.

And so it goes.

Before I let you go - Mental Floss has covering one of my favorite topics - Bizarre Historical Deaths

I've actually noted many of these in the pages herein.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

They made me feel civilized

Do not allow children to mix drinks. It is unseemly and they use too much vermouth. - Steve Allen

A man must defend his home, his wife, his children, and his martini. - Jackie Gleason

He knows just how I like my martini - full of alcohol. - Homer Simpson

Today is National Martini Day! Well, sort of. It's debated exactly what day this momentous occasion is actually supposed to occur, but why not celebrate now.

It just has to be GIN and bone dry!

June 19, 1954 -
The Tasmanian Devil, Taz, made his debut in the Looney Tunes cartoon, Devil May Hare, on this date.

While Robert McKimson and his team were discussing new adversaries for Bugs Bunny, animator Sid Marcus suggested offhandedly that they have used everything except a Tasmanian devil. They looked the animal up in the encyclopedia and decided he would make a good foil for Bugs.

June 19, 1957 -
The classic 50's teenage-horror film, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, starring Michael Landon, premiered on this date.

American Internation Pictures rushed out a number of films similar to this in hopes of capitalizing on the success of I Was A Teenage Werewolf. Among them - I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, How to Make a Monster, and Blood of Dracula.

June 19, 1962 -
One of the great film-musicals from the 60's, The Music Man, premiered on this date.

Even though Robert Preston had played the role of Harold Hill on Broadway, Frank Sinatra was Warner Bros' personal choice to play the role in the movie. However, Meredith Willson told them, "No Robert Preston, no movie." Cary Grant was also offered the lead role, but told Warner Brothers, "Not only will I not star in the movie, if Robert Preston does not star in it, I will not see it."

June 19, 1963 -
Columbia Pictures releases the fantasy film Jason and the Argonauts, directed by Don Chaffey, with special effects by Ray Harryhausen and starring Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Honor Blackman, and Gary Raymond, in the US on this date.

It took Ray Harryhausen four months to produce the skeleton scene, a massive amount of time for a scene which lasts, at the most, three minutes.  Ray Harryhausen regards this as his best film.

Today in History:
June 19, 1312 -
Piers Gaveston, close personal friend of King Edward II of England, was beheaded after he attempted to return to Edward's side, having been banished for being too close a personal friend, on this date.

After succession to king, Edward appointed Gaveston as Earl of Cornwall for no other reason than being his close personal friend.

And for his troubles, Edward II ends his day with a serious pain in his ass.

June 19, 1623 -
Blaise Pascal was born in France on this date (which worked out extremely well for him as he wanted to grow up to be French.)

At the age of 17 he wrote a paper entitled Essay on Conic Sections, which quickly became the best-selling paper on conic sections in European history and eventually inspired the classic French noir film, Death by Conic Section.

By the age of 22 Mr. Pascal had invented a calculator. Unfortunately he could not invent the battery, so he turned to religion.

And he meant to get around to it right away, but in 1647 he ended up proving the existence of a vacuum. The famous French philosopher Rene Descartes visited Pascal, inspected his vacuum, and bemoaned its lack of attachable hoses. This caused an epistemological split that has endured to the present day.

("The more I see of men," Pascal observed at about this time, "the better I like my dog." This was a famous quotation and can be found on many greeting cards.)

In 1653 he discovered Pascal's Law of Pressure. A year later he was involved in a carriage accident that reminded him he had turned to religion. He turned back to it.

He began work on his famous Pensées ("Blather") in 1656 and worked on it for three years. In the book, Pascal proved that if God didn't exist then believing in Him wouldn't hurt, whereas if He did exist, not believing would hurt like Hell.

It has been observed that if Pascal was wrong, not reading his book wouldn't hurt, and if he was right it wouldn't hurt either.

When he was 39 a malignant growth in his stomach spread to his brain and he died horribly, proving that unbearable pain is unbearable pain whatever you think of God or philosophy.

June 19, 1865 -
Marching his troops into Galvaston, Texas,Union General Gordon Granger announced the emancipation of slaves on this date.

The day has become known as Juneteenth or Emancipation Day.

June 19, 1867 -
Emperor Maximilian of Mexico (Brian Aherne), unwitting stooge for Napoleon III (Claude Rains), was executed by firing squad. Although he bribed the seven riflemen to not shoot him in the head, one did anyway.

Bette Davis somehow figures into this as the Mad Empress Charlotta was just snapped when she returned to France to get help for her beleaguered husband. She lived in her private mad world for over 60 years, dying in the mid twenties of the next century.

So much for the privileges afforded royalty.

June 19, 1934 -
The Federal Communications Commission, perhaps the most wicked body of do-gooders ever to exist in the United States, is created.

These are the clowns that perfected the fine art of capricious and arbitrary.

June 19, 1945
Freedom and democracy are dreams you never give up.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese politician and Nobel laureate was born on this date.

June 19, 1953 -
Atomic spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were electrocuted at Sing-Sing Prison, becoming the first civilians ever executed for espionage in American history. Five jolts of electricity were required to kill Ethel on this date. Ethel did not succumb immediately and was subjected to two more electrical charges before being pronounced dead. The chair was designed for a man of average size; and Ethel Rosenberg was a petite woman: this discrepancy resulted, it is claimed, in the electrodes fitting poorly and making poor electrical contact. Eyewitness testimony (as given by a newsreel report featured in The Atomic Cafe) describes smoke rising from her head.

That must have been a pretty sight.

While her husband Julius was on the Soviet payroll, according to recently released archives, is now clear that Ethel had no involvement in the espionage ring. For that matter, it is unclear how much Julius actually assisted the Soviet atomic bomb effort.

So much for American Justice.

June 19, 1982 -
Roberto Calvi, chairman of Banco Ambrosiano, was found hanging from Blackfriar's Bridge in London, on this date. His death is initially ruled a suicide, though it is quite obviously murder; that assessment is later overturned. Calvi may have been killed because of his involvement in the laundering of drug money through the Vatican Bank.

This is part of the back story of Godfather III.

Roberto Calvi's life was insured for $10 million with Unione Italiana, and attempts by his family to obtain a payout resulted in litigation. Following the forensic report of 2002 which established that Calvi was murdered, the policy was finally paid out, although around half of the sum was paid to creditors of the Calvi family who had incurred considerable costs during their attempts to establish that Calvi had been murdered.

So much for Italian justice.

And so it goes.