Monday, September 30, 2013

Truly unnecessary fact of the day

Turtles can breathe through their cloaca.

A cloaca is a combined anus, genitals and urethra.  Try to continue on with your day.

September 30, 1938 -
RKO Studios released the eighth Marx Brothers film, Room Service, on this date.

Lucille Ball, who has a supporting role in this film, would later buy the studio that made this film, RKO Studios. She and Desi Arnaz purchased it during the height of their success on I Love Lucy and renamed it Desilu Studios.

September 30, 1948 -
Howard Hawks released his iconic western, Red River, starring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift on this date.

During production, many members of the cast and crew caught illnesses and injuries. Howard Hawks was hospitalized for several days after being stung by a centipede. John Wayne caught a severe cold. Joanne Dru suffered from influenza.

September 30, 1952 -
The motion picture process Cinerama -- which employed three cameras, three projectors and a deeply curved viewing screen -- made its debut with the premiere of This Is Cinerama at the Broadway Theater in New York City on this date.

Cinerama technicians were working on the system right up to the last minute. The was no time for a trial run. It wasn't until the actual premiere in front of an audience that the entire presentation of this film, from start to finish, took place.

September 30, 1960 -
The first prime-time animated series aimed at adults, The Flintstones, premiered on ABC-TV on this date.

For a full season after Mel Blanc's near-fatal automobile accident in 1961-1962, the show was taped in his bedroom where he lay in a full-body cast. Daws Butler, who had voiced both Fred and Barney in the original pilot The Flintstones: The Flagstones filled in as the voice of Barney for five episodes. Executive Producer, Joseph Barbera has said that as many as 16 people crowded into Blanc's bedroom.

September 30, 1982 -
Cheers, the comedy television series that ran eleven seasons from 1982 to 1993, premiered on this date.

NBC came close to cancelling the show in its first season, but it was championed by then-NBC entertainment president Brandon Tartikoff - who later worked for Paramount, the show's production company.

Today in History:
September 30, 1452
It's the anniversary of the printing of the Gutenberg Bible in Mainz, Germany on this date. It was the first book ever printed with movable type. What made Gutenberg's invention revolutionary was not that it allowed you to print letters on paper, but that you could print an infinite number of different pages from a small number of letter blocks simply by rearranging them.

The first section of the Bible came out on this day. He printed 180 copies on expensive Italian paper. It was designed to be used for public reading in the dining halls of monasteries. But within three decades there were print shops all over Europe, and Gutenberg's invention launched a revolution in education.

Today about four dozen copies of the Gutenberg Bible survive. One of the most recent copies to come on the market was auctioned in New York in 1987 and sold for more than $5 million.

September 30, 1630 -
Pilgrim John Billington, who arrived on the Mayflower, was hanged at Plymouth for killing John Newcomen with a musket on this date.

(this is not a picture of either John Billington or John Newcomen.  The wayback machine was in the shop for repairs.)

Billington was the first Englishman executed in New England.

September 30, 1846 -
William Morton used ether for the first time as an anesthetic on this date. 

Morton, a dentist in Boston, demonstrated its use during a surgery to extract a tooth.

September 30, 1927 -
Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run of the season, on this day.

(Mark McGwire was born on October 1, 1963, however, so this no longer matters to some. Although, the Bambino was only hopped up on booze.)

September 30, 1938 -
The Germans occupied the Sudetenland in late summer of 1938. This enraged the British and the English, who both feared for the loss of the Sudetenland's celebrated pea crops.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew to Germany to meet Hitler at Bertesgaden to discuss the situation, on this date.

Hitler assured him that there would be plenty of peas to go around, and Chamberlain returned to England with the famous proclamation of Peas in Our Time. World War II was therefore avoided and did not break out until some time later.

September 30, 1955 -
Teen idol James Dean was killed in a car accident that probably could have been avoided if he had had his car inspected and tuned up regularly, obeyed all posted highway signs, and driven only when alert and sober

(Remember kids, if you are going to drink til you drop, drop where you drink), on this date.

And so it goes.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Why? Well...why not!

Meet Liberace, performance artist - in a cameo on The Monkees he appeared at an avant-garde art gallery as himself, gleefully smashing a grand piano with a sledgehammer

Lee could have had a whole other career.

September 29, 1948 -
Laurence Olivier's powerful interpretation of Shakespeare's melancholy Dane, Hamlet premiered in New York City on this day.

The film was greatly influenced by the inventive camera effects that Orson Welles and Gregg Toland pioneered in Citizen Kane, and by the psychological reinterpretations of the play that were being floated at the time.

September 29, 1953 -
The family comedy Make Room for Daddy, starring Danny Thomas, premiered on ABC TV on this date.

The title "Make Room for Daddy" actually grew out of an in-joke within Danny Thomas's family. Whenever Danny was away on a nightclub tour, his children more or less had the run of the house. When he returned from a tour, it was time to spread out and "make room for daddy", hence the show's title.

September 29, 1954 -
The movie musical A Star Is Born, (the third version of the film, fourth, if you count What Price Hollywood) starring Judy Garland and James Mason, had its world premiere at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood on this date.

The film was re-edited several times. Premiering at 181 minutes, the studio (Warner Bros.) cut the film by 30 minutes despite the objections of director George Cukor and producer Sidney Luft (Judy Garland's husband). In 1983, all but 5 minutes of the cut footage was found and re-instated, but some footage had to be reconstructed using production stills.

September 29, 1955 -
The only film Charles Laughton directed, The Night of the Hunter opened in New York City on this date.

While the poor critical reviews are often cited as the reason Laughton never directed another feature, Laughton himself said that he much preferred directing in the theatre. In the theatre you could constantly change and amend the production - adding lines, changing lighting and sets - but with film once it was done it could never be changed.

September 29, 1960 -
We were all welcomed into the Douglas household when My Three Sons, starring another of TV favorite alcoholic dads, Fred McMurray, premiered on ABC on this date.

At Fred MacMurray's insistence, all episodes were filmed out of sequence during the show's entire run using a technique now known as the MacMurray method. MacMurray would do all of his scenes in 65 nonconsecutive days. The cast regulars got haircuts once a week in order to maintain continuity. Guest stars would have to return months later to complete an episode.

September 29, 1963 -
My Favorite Martian
, starring Ray Walston and Bill Bixby premiered on CBS-TV on this date.

The character 'Uncle Martin' was ranked #3 in TV Guide's list of the "25 Greatest Sci-Fi Legends" (1 August 2004 issue).

September 29, 1967 -
The indestructible Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, filmed in Supermarionation, premiered on ITV in the United Kingdom on this date.

According to Gerry Anderson, The Mysterons were written as an invisible enemy because Gerry didn't want to offend any aliens if life were ever found on Mars.  (I wonder if Uncle Martin would have been offended?)

Today in History:
September 29, 1399
... For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings...

Richard II was deposed, on this date,which only served him right for having posed in the first place. He was succeeded by Henry IV Part I.

September 29, 1513 -
Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean, on this date (although he may have discovered it four days earlier - I'm not sure what the Spanish Navy's stance was on the the whole rum ... question.)

How something that covers roughly a third of the earth's surface could have been lost for so long is a question that stumps historians to this day.

It's Miguel de Cervantes' birthday today. Born in 1547, Cervantes is best known as the author of Don Quixote, a cunning satire on mental illness. The work is an epic treatment of the perennial question, "wouldn't the world be better off if we were all crazy?"

The answer from the novel is a qualified yes: the story supports the premise, but its length and lucidity suggest that the author himself was not crazy, which contradicts the premise.

Ever since the publication of Don Quixote, the idea of improving through world through mental illness has taken root in the popular culture of the west. From the good soldier Svjek and Prince Myshkin to Chauncy Gardener, Elwood P. Dowd and Forrest Gump, western readers and filmgoers have a galaxy of benevolent lunatics to show them the way to a better, purer existence. Grand mal seizures, delirium tremens, and hallucinations are merely the price of admission to their wistful world of blissful ignorance.

The sane and hard-working do not come off nearly so well in film or literature. In fact, sane and hard-working people seldom even appear in film or literature. No one wants to read about them, or spend good money to watch them go about their plodding lives, because most of us are surrounded by sane and hard-working people already and know what they're like—they're just like us, only less so.

Early to bed and early to rise may make a man healthy, and wealthy, and wise, but it won't do a goddam thing for his Nielsens. In fact, if you're healthy, wealthy, wise, and well-rested, you're only going to piss the rest of us off. Lighten up, slack off, drink up, and spend plenty of quality time with imaginary friends.

That's the real road to happiness—or at least our acceptance, without which you have no right to be happy.

September 29, 1957 -
An explosion at the Chelyabinsk-40 complex, a Soviet nuclear fuel processing plant, irradiated the nearby city of Kyshtym with strontium-90, cesium-137, and plutonium.

This accident released twice the radioactivity of the Chernobyl incident.


September 29, 1976 -
At his birthday party, musician Jerry Lee Lewis accidentally shot his bass player Norman Owens twice in the chest, trying to open a soft drink bottle with a .357 magnum. Owens survived and filed a lawsuit.

Now don't you wish you were at that party !!!

September 29, 1988 -
Stacy Allison
became the first American woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, all 29,035 feet, on this date.

The first people ever to reach the Mount Everest summit was New Zealand native Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, who climbed the mountain in 1953.

September 29, 1989 -
Zsa Zsa Gabor
, a person famous for no apparent reason and with no visible means of support (It's too weird to think that Zsa Zsa was once Paris Hilton's step-grandmother), was convicted of slapping a Beverly Hills police officer on this date.

Gabor later complains that she was denied a jury of her peers, saying "It was not my class of people, There was not a producer, a press agent, a director, an actor."

And so it goes.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Nature in the raw

I came across this video and I couldn't believe, at first, that this wasn't staged.

Nobody ever said that life was easy or fair.  (I feel like Marlin Perkins, sitting back in the studio with my pitcher of martinis while Jim was out in the swamp, wrestling hippos.)

September 28, 1949 -
The first of the 12 films Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis made, My Friend Irma, premiered in New York City on this date.

Jerry Lewis was originally cast to play Al. But it was decided to let Lewis act similar to his onstage comic persona and the character of Seymour was created for him.

September 28, 1964 -
I would have to say loneliness is next to uncleanliness.

Janeane Garofalo, comedian, actress and writer was born on this date.

September 28, 1968 -
The Beatles' single, Hey Jude, went to number one on the Billboard Charts and stayed there for 9 weeks. (Listen how the song starts with one instrument and the record ends with with 50 instruments playing.)

This was the first song released on Apple Records, The record label owned by The Beatles. It was recorded at the Trident Studios, London, on July 31 and August 1, 1968 with a 36 piece orchestra. Orchestra members clapped and sang on the fadeout. They earned double their normal rate for their efforts.

September 28, 1980 -
Billions and billions of brilliant moments on TV are about to be aired - Carl Sagan's 13 part Cosmos premiered on PBS.

The series featured the most extensive use of special effects ever conducted for a documentary. In one notable episode, special effects were used to make it seem as if host Sagan was walking through a model recreation of the Library of Alexandria.

September 28, 1987
Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered  on CBS-TV with the episode Encounter at Farpoint on this date.

Gene Roddenberry's original scripts did not include any scenes set in the Enterprise's engine room. When he learned that Paramount was therefore refusing to pay to build an engine room set, he revised the scripts to include the engine room.

September 28, 1994 -
Tim Burton's
love letter to the early career of Edward D. Wood, Jr., Ed Wood premiered on this date.

One day Kathy Wood, the wife of Edward D. Wood Jr., visited the set and asked to meet Johnny Depp. That day they were filming a scene where Wood would look really messed up, which made Burton nervous for what Kathy would think of the movie. When Depp exited his trailer she said, "That's my Eddie."

Today in History -
British history began on September 28, 1066, with the Norman invasion of England. The Normans were a group of Franks who'd grown weary of being so Frank. Their decision to become Normans cost them their Frankness, so they joined together and invaded England under the leadership of William (or, in Norman, "Norman") the Conqueror.

Prior to this invasion, Britain had been occupied mostly by Angles, Saxons, and large stones (who had never properly appreciated cricket, fog, or Kipling and had therefore been unable to invent England.) William (Norman) the Conqueror realized that, if it was ever going to amount to anything, what England really needed was a Great King, preferably someone very much like himself.

Appropriate arrangements were made.

September 28, 1850 -
The United States Navy abolishes the practice of flogging. Among the crimes for which this was the penalty are: stealing poultry from the coop (12 lashes), being lousy (6), stealing a wig (12), and being naked on the spar deck (9).

I believe 9 lashes for being naked merely encouraged most of the men.

It's the birthday of Ed Sullivan, born in New York City (1902) on this date. He was writing a gossip column for the New York Daily News called "Little Old New York," moonlighting now and then as a master of ceremonies at variety shows and benefits. He was emceeing a dance contest when somebody asked him if he'd like to try hosting a show on this new thing called television.

The Ed Sullivan Show premiered live on CBS in 1948, and within a few years about 50 million people watched it every Sunday night. It was like vaudeville. It had opera singers, ventriloquists and magicians and pandas on roller skates and big stars. Ed Sullivan said, "Open big, have a good comedy act, put in something for children, and keep the show clean."

He was a shy, awkward man, but he loved performers. He personally chose every guest for his show. He was one of the first hosts to invite black performers, including Jackie Robinson, Duke Ellington, Richard Pryor and James Brown, on his show.

Ed Sullivan: the last television host who tried to appeal to everyone in America.

September 28, 1920 -
A Cook County grand jury indicts the White Sox players paid to throw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds on this date.

Even though they are found not guilty, Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis bans them all from professional baseball for life.

September 28, 1978 -
A nun at the Vatican discovers the lifeless body of Pope John Paul I, formerly Albino Luciani, in bed. The pontiff had been on the job only 33 days before unexpectedly dying in his sleep, after having taken some sort of pills with dinner.

The church refuses to grant an autopsy.

See Godfather III for further explanations.

September 28, 1989 -
Former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos died in Waikiki, Hawaii, after three years in exile on this date. He was in ill health and awaiting US charges on looting funds from his country.

His wife keeps the cadaver in a refrigerated coffin for years.   (Wow, this is the second time in about a week that I've mentioned the popicle ex-dictator.)

And so it goes.

Friday, September 27, 2013

I dare you not to smile

Jimmy Fallon and the Roots celebrate the 44th season of Sesame Street by singing the open theme with some of the cast members.

It's a good way to start your day.

September 27, 1947 -
Delmer Daves stylish noir-thriller, Dark Passage, opened on this date.

The third of four films made by husband and wife Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

September 27, 1951 -
Marvin Lee Aday
, singer songwriter was born on this date.

September 27, 1964 -
The Beach Boys appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time on this date.

They performed  the song I Get Around that evening. The song was released as a double A-side single in May 1964 with Don't Worry Baby.  It is considered one of the best ever single releases along with Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles and Don't Be Cruel/Hound Dog by Elvis Presley.

September 27, 1975 -
The documentary film by Albert and David Maysles, Grey Gardens, premiered in the New York Film Festival on this date.

Edith Bouvier Beale was the sister of Jacqueline Kennedy's father, John V. "Blackjack" Bouvier. As a child, Jaqueline spent a great deal of time with her aunt and cousin Edith 'Little Edie' Bouvier Beale at Grey Gardens and considered "Big Edie" her favorite aunt throughout her lifetime.

Today in History:
Today is the 107 year anniversary of the publication of Albert Einstein's paper "Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?" in the Annalen der Physik, introducing the equation E=MC2.

Before this, E equaled just about anything you wanted it to equal. Just think what the atomic bomb would have been like if E = banana peels or dog turds.

September 27, 1854 -
The first great disaster involving an ocean liner in the Atlantic occurred when the steamship Arctic sinks in foggy weather after colliding with the iron bow of the Vesta on this date. When Captain Luce of the Arctic orders women and children into the lifeboats, the crewmen rebel and take the boats for themselves.

Of 435 on board, only 85 survive -- and none of them women or children. It is the first major ocean liner disaster in the Atlantic. The "Arctic" disaster shattered high Victorian notions of how men were supposed to respond under duress.

September 27, 1938 -
RMS Queen Elizabeth was launched by Queen Elizabeth (after a couple of G & T's) at the John Brown and Company yard in Clydebank, Scotland.

She (the ship and not her majesty) was the largest passenger liner ever built and named to honor Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI of England and mother to Queen Elizabeth II.

September 27, 1940 -
Japan, Germany and Italy, signed the Tripartite Pact in Berlin on this date. The pact saw the formation of the World War II Axis powers, an opponent group against the Allies.

The Axis alliance bizarrely hoped to persuade the US against joining the Allies during the war, but failed. In 1940, Hungary was forced by Germany to became the fourth country to sign the Pact, allying themselves with the Axis powers.

September 27, 1959 -
Typhoon Vera, otherwise known as the Isewan Typhoon, killed 4,464 people on the Japanese island of Honshu and injured 40,000 more. 1.5 million were made homeless.

The severe storm conditions of Typhoon Vera caused the most of destruction and loss of life of any tropical cyclone in Japanese history.

September 27, 1964 -
The Warren Commission issued its final report on this date.

It's main conclusions was that President Kennedy had been assassinated and was probably dead.

September 27,  2008 -
Chinese astronaut, Zhai Zhigang, aboard Shenzhou 7, became the first person from China to walk in space on this date.

Mr. Zhiagang would immediately return to his space craft when he realized that he could not get delivery in space.

It's Friday

You deserve one (I know I deserve one, probably, two)

And so it goes

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Advice, I guess, we could all use

Bo Diddley's words of wisdom concerning cows:

Cows - If they wanna play, and you don’t wanna make pets out of ‘em, and you can’t eat ‘em - then get rid of ‘em!

Mr Teeny has been in one of his moods again

He thinks he's going to an audition for a Kurosawa movie.  (I keep explaining to him that Kurosawa's dead but that doesn't seem to make a difference.)

Today is National One Hit Wonder day.  Celebrate responsibly - listen to only one or two of them at a time.

The Vapors - Turning Japanese

Chumbawamba - Tubthumping

Soft Cell - Tainted Love

Norman Greenbaum - Spirit In The Sky

Note to Alanis Morissette - it's ironic that Mr. Greenbaum – who wrote the line "I got a friend in Jesus" — is Jewish.

September 25, 1943 -
 The music goes around and around and it comes out here

An excellent Merrie Melodies cartoon, A Corny Concerto was released on this date.

For some reason, the identity of the black duckling in this short has prompted much debate among cartoon fans as to whether or not it is in fact Daffy Duck. Supporters of the idea claim it is Daffy due to the character's similar color design (such as the white collar around the neck), while naysayers say that if it was supposed to be Daffy then it would have been made a little more clearer in design or by having him speak. It should be noted that the books about Warner Bros. animation history has never addressed this, nor has it ever been confirmed either way.

September 25, 1961 -
One of the greatest sports movies of all time, The Hustler, premiered on this date.

During the filming, one of the production days happened to fall on St. Patrick's Day. Prior to Jackie Gleason's arrival to the shoot at the pool hall, the lighting crew took out all the clear gels, and replaced them with green ones. Upon seeing this, Gleason was so impressed he said, "Boys! This looks beautiful! Take the rest of the day off!". He left, and production was shut down for that day!

September 25, 1964 -
The series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., starring Jim Nabors (who was not married to Rock Hudson) premiered on CBS-TV on this date.

Andy Griffith said that when they were trying to come up with an idea for a spinoff for Gomer, they wanted the toughest location or situation they could put him in; so they came up with the Marines. The idea was to pit Gomer's gentle character against the tough setting and it worked.

September 25, 1965
The Beatles Cartoon Show premiered on ABC-TV on this date. It racked up a 13 score (or 52 share), then unheard of in daytime television.

The Beatles themselves reportedly did not care for this series. They were also less than enthusiastic about the idea of Brodax and Dunning doing a feature film. However, they changed their minds about the feature film when they began seeing completed footage from Yellow Submarine. (John Lennon admitted in the 1970s that he "got a blast" out of watching reruns of the old cartoons.)

September 25, 1970 -
Everybody was implored to 'Get Happy' when The Partridge Family on this date.

Several songs credited to the Partridge Family actually charted. In fact the very first single, I Think I Love You went to number-one and sold over 4 million copies. Other hits included I'll Meet You Halfway, Doesn't Someone Want to Be Wanted and I Woke Up in Love This Morning.

Today in History -
On this day in 1789, Congress proposed twelve amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Habeas Corpus Christi and Freedom from Unreasonably Surging Seashores were ultimately rejected but the other ten passed and have come to be known as the "Bill of Rights."

In honor of this important anniversary, I have chosen to celebrate my favorite amendment, in the hopes that it may also soon be yours. I am speaking of the Ninth Amendment.

Like that of Beethoven, the Constitution's Ninth is the standard against which all others must be measured. Unlike Beethoven's, it doesn't climax with a resounding choral tribute to Joy (but that could be fixed).

Here is the ninth amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

This important amendment should not be neglected just because of some awkwardly placed commas.

Under the first amendment, for example, I have been given the right to say any stupid thing that pops into my head. (This should not be confused with the responsibility of doing so, which is reserved to journalists. Glenn Beck seems confused about this.) This is an enumerated right. My right not to have to listen to anyone else's idiotic opinion is not enumerated, but it's just as important.

In the second amendment, in order to preserve peace and order in the state, I have been granted the right to stockpile dangerous weapons. Unenumerated but no less important is my right not to be caught in the crossfire while you fire off a couple of clips at a Sunday School picnic. (The NRA generally seems to have missed this subtle point.)

Under the eighth amendment, I have the right not to be drawn and quartered, boiled in pitch, burned at the stake, or belittled by a British producer on national television. But this does not overrule my right to be entertained.

Let us all take a moment to give thanks to the Ninth Amendment, which preserves us not only from the tyranny of government, but the far more dangerous tyranny of one another.

September 25, 1890 -
The "1890 Manifesto", sometimes simply called "The Manifesto", is a statement which officially ceased the practice of plural marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

Announced by church president Wilford Woodruff on this date, the Manifesto was a dramatic turning point in The Mormons renounced the practice of polygamy after six decades in exchange for statehood for Utah. This was a great day in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as many of the church leaders are finally able to sleep with both eyes closed.

September 25, 1919 -
President Woodrow Wilson became seriously ill and collapsed after a speech  today. The cause of his incapacitation was the physical strain of the demanding public speaking tour he undertook to obtain support of the American people for ratification of the Covenant of the League. After one of his final speeches to attempt to promote the League of Nations in Pueblo, Colorado, on this date, he collapsed. On October 2, 1919, Wilson suffered a serious stroke that almost totally incapacitated him, leaving him paralyzed on his left side and blind in his left eye. For at least a few months, he was confined to a wheelchair. Afterwards, he could walk only with the assistance of a cane. The full extent of his disability was kept from the public until after his death on February 3, 1924.

Remarkably, Wilson was, with few exceptions, kept out of the presence of Vice President Thomas R. Marshall, his cabinet or Congressional visitors to the White House for the remainder of his presidential term. His second wife, Edith, would continually tell people for the next five years that the President was in the bathroom and couldn't be disturbed. This was, as of 2013, the most serious case of presidential disability in American history and was later cited as a key example why ratification of the 25th Amendment and a large supply of TP at the White House was seen as important.

September 25, 1980 -
John Bonham
, drummer for the seminal rock band, Led Zeppelin, actually did choke to death in his sleep on a regurgitated ham sandwich on this date.

The coroner's report concludes that it was his own vomit and no one else's.

September 25, 1981 -
Sandra Day O'Connor became the first female justice of the U.S. Supreme Court when she was sworn in as the 102nd justice on this date.

She had been nominated the previous July by President Ronald Reagan. (One of my faithful reader was one of her law clerks.)

There are 90 days until Christmas (I'm sure many of you have failed the naughty/ nice test already. Maybe you still have time.)

And so it goes

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Unnecessary fact of the day

When KFC first translated the slogan finger lickin good into Chinese,

it came out as eat your fingers off

September 24, 1938 -
One of the craziest cartoons Looney Tunes ever produced, Porky in Wackyland was released on this date.  You need to watch it a few times to really get everything that's going on in this one.

This cartoon set the bar for outlandishness in animation.

September 24, 1945 -
Michael Curtiz' tense film noir, Mildred Pierce, starring Joan Crawford and her enormous shoulder pads, was released on this date.

Shooting the early scenes, director Michael Curtiz accused Joan Crawford of needlessly glamorizing her working mother role. She insisted she was buying her character's clothes off the rack, but didn't mention that her own dressmaker was fitting the waists and padding out the shoulders.

September 24, 1958 -
The Donna Reed Show
premiered on ABC-TV on this date. Ladies (and some men), don't you always wears heels, pearls and chic frocks to do the housework?

During the show's early years, whenever a scene takes place in a supermarket, look very closely in the background. Chances are, you'll see large amounts of Campbell's Soup, V-8 Vegetable Juice, Franco-American Spaghetti, and various Johnson & Johnson products including their famous baby powder. Not coincidentally, those brands were the series' original advertisers during its network run.

September 24, 1961-
Students of Great Comedy lined up around the block to enroll in Whatsamatta U when The Bullwinkle Show moved to primetime on NBC TV on this date.

Jay Ward was able to avoid network interference by working close to the deadline. Prints of the show would reportedly arrive at the network only hours before broadcast.

September 24, 1964 -
We all visited 1313 Mockingbird Lane for the first time when The Munsters premieres on TV on this date.

Grandpa (played by Al Lewis, born in 1923) was one year younger than his "daughter" Lily (played by Yvonne De Carlo, born in 1922). Herman was the youngest adult (played by Fred Gwynne, born in 1926).

September 24, 1968 -
The TV show Mod Squad premiered on ABC-TV on this date.

Series creator Buddy Ruskin, a former Los Angeles police officer, used his experiences with a special L.A.P.D. youth squad as the basis for this show.

September 24, 1977 -
Everyone got to order their first drink from Isaac when The Love Boat set sail for the first time on ABC-TV on this date.

Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, Ted Lange and Fred Grandy are the only actors to appear in every episode of the series.

September 24, 1991 -
Nirvana's album Nevermind was released 22 years today on this date.

This album helped ignite the "grunge" craze, led by bands coming out of the Northwest. Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were other top Grunge bands of the era. Cobain would often dismiss the term as a meaningless label when asked about it in early interviews, but their bass player Krist Novoselic explained that it was a growling, organic guitar sound that defined it.

Today in History:
September 24, 1046
I was going to tell you that today is the feast day of St. Gerard Sagredo of Hungary.

During mass on this date, hordes of heathens, stormed his church, bundled him up and wheeled him to the top of  Gellert Hill, in Hungary (but you don't care.)  Those heathen hordes shoved the cart down the hill, then beat him to death on this date (but I'm sure this is all meaningless to you because there's no Feast of St. Gerald Sagredo festival in your neighborhood.)

September 24, 1896 -
... All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.

On this date in 1896, a young Minnesota woman gave birth to a depressive, witty young alcoholic named Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald.

The boy did badly in school and went to train for war in 1918. While training at Camp Sheridan in Alabama, he fell in love with Zelda Sayre, the mentally unstable daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge.

The war ended before Fitzgerald could be sent overseas and shot, however, so he went to New York to become rich and famous. He became neither, so Zelda broke off their engagement.

Fitzgerald then moved back to Minnesota. A year later he became a famous writer. He moved to Connecticut, Zelda married him, and they became drunken celebrity wrecks.

They spent a lot of time in Europe. This lasted until Zelda went mad and Fitzgerald died.

Fitzgerald is best remembered for having said the rich were different, even though Hemingway kept telling him to act like a man and strip down, grease himself up and get into a boxing ring.

Oh yeah, he also wrote several books.

... Show me a hero, and I'll write you a tragedy....

September 24, 1947 -
Majestic 12
, a secret committee of scientists, military leaders, and government officials, is allegedly established by a secret executive order issued by President Harry Truman (who may or may not hasve been sober at the time) to investigate UFO activity in the aftermath of the Roswell incident.

Conspiracy theorists consider the Majestic 12 major evidence supporting the government-cover-up theories. The FBI has since attempted to debunk any documents associated with the committee. Debate continues to this day about whether or not the committee existed.  (And remember, you didn't read any of this here.)

September 24, 1954 -
Steve Allen sat down at his piano and the Tonight Show premiered on NBC on this date.

Simply called Tonight, the show was a blend of comedy, interview and musical performance that set the basic template for future late-night television.

September 24, 1969 -
The trial of the "Chicago Eight" (later seven) began on this date. Demonstrations began outside the court house, with the Weatherman group proclaiming the "Days of Rage" in protest of the trial. The Chicago Eight staged demonstrations at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago to protest the Vietnam War and its support by the top Democratic presidential candidate, Vice President Hubert Humphrey. These anti-Vietnam War protests were some of the most violent in American history as the police and national guardsmen beat antiwar protesters, innocent bystanders and members of the press.

Five defendants (Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger and Rennie Davis) were convicted of crossing state lines to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic national convention; the convictions were ultimately overturned.

September 24, 1970 -
Luna 16 was the first robotic probe to land on the Moon and return a sample to Earth. An automatic drilling rig was deployed and 101 grams of lunar soil was collected.

The samples were returned to Earth on this date and marked the first time lunar sampled were recovered by an unmanned spacecraft.

September 24, 1991 -
Theodor Seuss Geisel, an American writer and cartoonist best known for his classic children's books under the pen name Dr. Seuss, including The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, died on this date.

No greater tribute was given to the Doctor than when the Reverend Jesse Jackson appeared on SNL following his death.

And so it goes

On a personal note - I've been very busy lately and haven't been paying much attention to some housekeeping matters with the blog.  The folks at ACME have informed me that today is the 2100 posting.  I appear to have way too much time on my hands.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Apparently, it's all his fault

Funny or Video has another very funny video that has gone viral over the weekend: Everything is Samuel L. Jackson's Fault -

Samuel Jackson is a really good sport.

September 23, 1944 -
Frank Capra's
screwball comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace finally gets it US general release on this date. The film was based on a hit play and had to wait to be released until after it Broadway run had ended.

The film was shot between October 20 and December 16, 1941. During 1943, the film was shown to the Armed Forces overseas. but went unissued domestically until its Manhattan debut at the Strand Theatre on September 1, 1944, followed by the nationwide release on this date.

September 23, 1949 -
Anybody wanna go on up to Greasy Lake?

It's the birthday of the Boss.

If you are of a certain age, at one point, Bruce meant everything to you.

September 23, 1962 -
The Jetsons
debuted on Sunday night's prime time lineup on this date.

The Jetsons only ran for only 24 episodes during the 1962-1963 TV season.

The youth of America want to know, "Did it always rain dog poop in the future with all those outdoor dog walking tracks?"

September 23, 1969 -
Marcus Welby MD
, starring the not terribly sober Robert Young, premiered on ABC-TV on this date.

The exterior of Dr. Welby's office was the same building used as the Cleaver family home on Leave It to Beaver with only Welby's shingle as the new addition to the set.

September 23, 1970 -
The only American film Akira Kurosawa almost directed, Tora! Tora! Tora!, was released on this date. Akira Kurosawa agreed to direct the Japanese part of the film only because he was told that David Lean was to direct the American part. This was a lie, David Lean was never part of the project. When Kurosawa found out about this, he tried to get himself fired from the production - and succeeded.

Akira Kurosawa attempted to cast friends and business associates, including some high-level industrialists, in key roles in the film's Japanese segments as a quid-pro-quo for later funding of future films. Twentieth Century Fox was not amused by this, and finally, the breach became the cause for Kurosawa's dismissal from the project.

September 23, 1990 -
PBS premiered Ken Burns powerful 11 hour miniseries The Civil War on this date.

The documentary took six long years to make - two years longer than the actual war.

Today in History:
September 23, 480 BC
It's the birthday of the Greek poet Euripides, born near Athens on this date.

Euripides has the greatest number of plays that have survived for the modern reader -19 of them—including Medea.

Remember -  Euripides, I ripa dos.

September 23, 63 BC -
Gaius Octavius Thurinus
(Augustus Caesar) was born on this day. The first real Roman Emperor, Caesar introduced the famous Pax Romana. This was a political policy which stated that any country which did not object to being conquered by Rome would be conquered by Rome.

Countries not wishing to be conquered by Rome stood in violation of this policy, and were therefore invaded until they agreed to be conquered. This ensured peace throughout the world.

September 23, 1779 -
During the Revolutionary War, While on break from Led Zeppelin, the American navy under Scotsman John Paul Jones (Robert Stack), commanding from Bonhomme Richard, defeated and captured the British man-of-war Serapis on this date. Jones, chose to name the ship after Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard’s Almanac.

Fierce fighting ensued, and when Richard began to sink, Serapis commander Richard Pearson called over to ask if Richard would surrender and Jones responded, "I have not yet begun to fight!"--a response that would become a slogan of the U.S. Navy. Pearson surrendered and Jones took control of Serapis. Imagine the amount of rum consumed (it was an American Ship - I'm sure there was no sodomy!)

The Bonhomie Richard sank two days after the battle.

September 23, 1939 -
Sigmund Freud
was not having a good day. He had been suffering from the late stages of cancer of the jaw when he decided to commit suicide with the help of his personal physician, Max Schur on this date. The good doctor administered 21 mg of morphine -- a lethal dose, in three large doses of morphine in the space of several hours.

Sometimes 21 mg of morphine is just 21 mg of death.

September 23, 1950 -
Congress passes the McCarran Act, also known as The Internal Security Act of 1950, overriding Harry Truman's veto. The act provides for severe restrictions on civil liberties, suspension of free speech, and placing of undesirable Americans in concentration camps.

Much of the Act has been repealed, but some portions remain intact.

So watch it, bub.

September 23, 1952 -
Responding to accusations that he diverted $18,000 in contributions into his pocket, Senator Richard M. Nixon rescues his candidacy for Vice President by insisting that he had never accepted any money.

Although Nixon does admit he accepted a cocker spaniel named Checkers for his daughter Tricia. The televised monologue rescues his political career.

Little is know about this political operative, Checkers. Recently unclassified FBI documents reveal that Checker advised Nixon not to shave just prior to his famous televised debate with Kennedy. Checkers was also recorded on his deathbed in late '68 advising Nixon's men about creating a list of enemies of the future President.

September 23, 1969 -
An article in the Northern Illinois University student newspaper The Northern Star propagated the rumor that "Paul is dead."

But if you play I'm so Tired from the White Album (and smoke an enormous amount of dope,) you hear the question Is Paul McCartney Dead?

And Revolution #9 implores, Turn me on dead man.

Well, sort of. Remember it's I buried Paul and not cranberry sauce.

And so it goes

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sorry for the delay in posting

Time got away from me.

September 22, 1957
The comedy-western series Maverick, premiered on ABC-TV on this date .

In 1960, James Garner sued the Warner Brothers studio for breach of contract, arising from his suspension during the writers' strike of that year. Warner claimed that there were no scripts available during the strike, and were, therefore justified in suspending Garner without pay. However, it was learned during court testimony that the studio had secretly obtained approximately 100 television scripts during the strike. Eventually, the Los Angeles Superior Court ruled in favor of Garner, and he was released from his contract with the series.

September 22, 1958 -
The Private Eye series, Peter Gunn, starring Craig Stevens premiered on this date

The pianist who played the well known piano portion of the "Peter Gunn Theme" was future film composer John Williams.

September 22, 1960 -
Joan Marie Larkin
, singer/ musician extraordinaire was born on this date.

If you love Rock and Roll, you love Joan

September 22, 1964 -
Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, who kept the world safe on The Man from U.N.C.L.E, made their first appearance on NBC-TV on this date.

U.N.C.L.E. stands for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.  The meaning of the acronym THRUSH was never spelled out in the series, though a meaning was created for one of the UNCLE novels published at the time (Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity).

September 22, 1994 -
You could get a cup of coffee at Central Perk for the first time when Friends, premiered on NBC-TV on this date.

The golden frame around the peephole was originally a mirror which one of the crew accidentally smashed. But because it still looked good they decided to leave it there.

Today in History:
September 22, 1761 -
George III
and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz were crowned King and Queen of the Great Britain. Which is funny because George was not British. He was German. He had been Elector of Hanover. (Although he was the first King of England in a very long time that spoke English as his first language, if at all.)

But he ended his days, completely blind, increasingly deaf and totally insane locked up in Windsor Castle, with his son acting as Regent for the remainder of George III's life.

I've said it before - sometimes it's not so good to be King.

September 22, 1776 -
An American Captain was hanged as a spy with no trial by the British, under the orders of General William Howe, in New York City during the Revolutionary War on this date. He was considered as one of the incendiaries of the burning of NYC.

Moments before his execution, he expressed regret that he couldn't be hanged more than once. This remark catapulted him to posthumous fame (but only after his death), and Nathan Hale is revered to this day.

September 22, 1869 -
Richard Wagner's opera Das Rheingold premieres in Munich on this date.

Beer drinkers around the world rejoice!!!

September 22, 1961 -
President John Kennedy took a break from hanging out with Frank Sinatra, shooting speed and having sex with Marilyn Monroe to sign a congressional act establishing the Peace Corps on this date.

The government-funded volunteer organization was created to fight hunger, disease, illiteracy, poverty, and lack of opportunity around the world.

Sometimes it good to be the President (and sometimes it sucks, as Mr. Kennedy would eventually find out.)

September 22, 1980 -
In a stunning blow to America's feminine hygiene, consumer products manufacturer Procter & Gamble initiates the largest tampon recall in history, pulling Rely Tampons from store shelves, starting on this date.

The action results from the ongoing Toxic Shock Syndrome controversy.

No comment.

And so it goes.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Les feuilles mortes

Today is the first day of autumn.

By happy coincidence, it's also the first day of fall.

Many people in the northern hemisphere are disturbed by the changes they see around them at about this time each year. It gets darker earlier, temperatures drop, leaves change color and die and the Red Sox tend to drop out of playoff contention (but not this year.)

There have been myths about the changing of the seasons as long as there have been children to lie to. Some primitive peoples believed that leaves changed color because Nature was pining for her abducted daughter; others blamed it on the seasonal absence of sunlight-fed chlorophyll, allowing xanthophyll, carotene, and antocyanin to determine leaf color. We may never know the truth.

The first day of autumn is sometimes also referred to as the Autumnal Equinox. Don't be alarmed by the title. It's just fall.

With courage and some heavy drinking, we can get through this thing.

Two giants of animation sharing the same birthday:

September 21, 1912 -
Chuck Jones
, animator and director of Warner Brothers cartoons Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, was born on this date.

September 21, 1920 -
Jay Ward, cartoonist (Rocky & his Friends, Bullwinkle), was born on this date.

September 21, 1968 -
The police drama ADAM 12, premiered on NBC-TV on this date.

The dispatcher voice on the program was played by Shaaron Claridge. Claridge was a real L.A. dispatcher. Producer Jack Webb thought using a real dispatcher for the voiceovers would lend authenticity to the program. Webb did the same thing for his later series, Emergency!, casting a real-life emergency dispatcher to voice the role.

September 21, 1975 -
Sidney Lumet's amazing film, Dog Day Afternoon, starring Al Pacino and John Cazale, premiered on this date.

After the initial title sequence (Elton John, Amoreena) there is no background or incidental music on the soundtrack (the start of the Looney Tunes opening music is heard after the TV/phone interview, but it's cut-off after a few seconds, and also Uriah Heap's Easy Living is heard briefly through a hand-held radio.).

September 21, 1957 -
Perry Mason starring Raymond Burr premiered on CBS-TV on this date.

Godzilla, Perry Mason, Ironside, spokes model and owner of Raymond Burr Nipple Rouge - what couldn't he do?

September 21, 1993 -
The police drama NYPD Blue, premiered on ABC-TV on this date.

Dennis Franz (Detective Andy Sipowicz) is the only cast member to stay with the series throughout its entire run and the only actor to appear in all 261 episodes.

Today in History:
September 21, 1327 -
Former King Edward II had a particularly painful end on this date.

Edward had been overthrown by his wife, Isabella and her lover, Roger Mortimer. Edward had pissed off Isabella royally for among other things, sleeping with men. Isabella and Mortimer had Edward II imprisoned, after his abdication in favor of his son, Edward III.

It was rumored that Edward had been killed by the insertion of a piece of copper into his rectum (later a red-hot iron rod, as in the supposed murder of Edmund Ironside - King Edmund II was murdered in a lavatory; stabbed in the bowels when he sat down to relieve himself). Murder in this manner would have appeared a natural death, as a metal tube would have been inserted into the anus first, thus allowing the iron rod to penetrate the entrails without leaving a burn on the buttocks.

As I have said in the past, sometimes it is NOT good to be the king.

September 21, 1897 -
The New York Sun ran its famous editorial that answered a question from 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon: ``Is there a Santa Claus? "on this date.

Obviously, times were different back then given that The New York Sun was printing an editorial about Christmas in September.

September 21, 1915 -
With a winning bid of  £6,600, Mr. Cecil Chubb purchases Stonehenge and 30 acres of land at auction. He donates the monument to the British state three years later.

He donated the monument because he could not reset Stonehenge correctly.

September 21, 1975 -
Self-proclaimed revolutionary Sara Jane Moore attempted to kill President Gerald Ford as he walked from a San Francisco hotel on this date.

A bullet she fired slightly wounded a man in the crowd but once again President Ford walks away unscathed.

September 21, 1983
In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, on this date, Interior Secretary James G. Watt jokingly described a special advisory panel as consisting of 'a black ... a woman, two Jews and a cripple.'

Although Watt apologized, he later resigned .

And so it goes.

Friday, September 20, 2013

And now a word for our sponsor

Fly National Airlines

Remember -  if you solve the belt puzzle, you get to fly the plane.

September 20, 1946 -
The first Cannes film festival, the first great international cultural event of the post-war period, begins on this date. Among the selections that year were:

Caesar and Cleopatra directed by Gabriel Pascal

Anna and the King of Siam directed by John Cromwell

La Belle et La Bête directed by Jean Cocteau

Rhapsody in Blue directed by Irving Rapper

Roma Citta Aperta directed by Roberto Rossellini

The festival was France's response to the world's first international film festival in Venice, Italy, in 1932. By 1938, the Venice festival had become a Nazi propaganda tool, and France decided to hold a rival event focused strictly on film. Its planned 1939 debut was delayed when World War II broke out.

September 20, 1955 -
The Phil Silvers Show (originally broadcast as You'll Never Be Rich) premiered on CBS-TV on this date

Paul Ford often forgot his exact lines which allowed Phil Silvers to improvise during many of the scenes between Bilko and Col. Hall. Both men always stayed in character however, it was usually the other actors in the scene who laughed ruining the scene.

September 20, 1975 -
David Bowie's Fame single hits #1 for two weeks on this date.

John Lennon helped write this song - he came up with the title and also sang the background "Fame" parts in the high voice. They started working on the song when Bowie invited Lennon to the studio, and Lennon played rhythm guitar on a jam session that resulted in this track.

September 20, 1984 -
Despite his taste in loud, ugly sweaters, Bill Cosby's award winning show, The Cosby Show, premiered on NBC-TV on this date.

The character of Sondra, the Huxtables' eldest daughter, was added almost as an afterthought. In the pilot, Phyllicia Rashad's Clair Huxtable mentions the couple's four children (Sondra makes it five). They decided there should be another child that represented the results of a good upbringing, hence a daughter in college. When casting the role, it came down to two actresses: 26-year-old Sabrina Le Beauf and 21-year-old Whitney Houston. LeBeauf's theater experience won her the role.

Today in History :
September 20, 1881 -
Chester Alan Arthur was sworn in as the 21st president of the United States following the death of James Garfield the previous day.

This is the first time the oath of office has been taken in the Vice President's Room of the Capitol. Two ex-presidents (Grant and Hayes) are present at the ceremony. (Also bar bet winner - it's the second time there were three Presidents within the same year; Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield then Chester A. Arthur.)

September 20, 1958 -
Rev. Martin Luther King was stabbed by Izola Curry, a deranged woman, during a book signing on 125th St. in Harlem on this date.

Dr. Aubre De Lambert Maynard successfully performed surgery on King who had a knife embedded in his sternum. Ms. Curry was found mentally incompetent to stand trial; ultimately, she was diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic.

September 20, 1970 -
A jury in Miami, Florida finds vocalist Jim Morrison guilty of profanity and indecent exposure for whipping out his mojo at a Doors concert in Coconut Grove the previous year.

Oh you naughty Mr. Mojo Rising ...

September 20, 1973 -
A Beechcraft D-18 charter plane crashes into a tree near Natchitoches, Louisiana, killing singer/songwriter Jim Croce, his lead guitarist, and the entire flight crew.

I guess if he could have put time in a bottle, the first real thing he would have done would be chartering a different plane.

September 20, 1973 -
On the same day, in their so-called 'Battle of the Sexes,' tennis star Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, at the Houston Astrodome.

In recent years, a persistent urban legend has arisen, particularly on the Internet, that the rules were modified for the match so that Riggs had only one serve for King's two, and that King was allowed to hit into the doubles court area.

This is false: the match was played under the normal rules of tennis.

September 20, 1988 -
Greg Louganis won the gold medal in springboard diving at the Summer Olympics in Seoul, one day after he struck and injured his head on the board in the preliminary round.

His comeback earned him the title of ABC's Wide World of Sports "Athlete of the Year" for 1988.

And on a personal note:

Happy Birthday Angela and

Happy Anniversary John and Maria.

And so it goes

Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

The holiday is a parody holiday invented in 1995 by John Baur (Ol' Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap'n Slappy), of Corvallis, Oregon, who proclaimed September 19 each year as the day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate.

Nothing says Piracy (or the British Navy) more than Rum, The Lash and Sodomy.  So remember: keep plenty of rum, leather belts and Crisco handy today.

September 19, 1931 -
Paramount released the Marx Brother's third film, Monkey Business on this date.

Early in the movie, the Marx Brothers - playing stowaways concealed in barrels - harmonize unseen while performing the popular song 'Sweet Adeline.' It is debated whether Harpo was actually singing or not.

September 19, 1970 -
The greatest sitcom every produced, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, premiered on CBS TV on this date.

The shot in the opening credits where Mary Tyler Moore throws her hat into the air was shot at the corner of 7th Street and Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis.  The two joggers who pass Mary in the park during the opening credit sequence are producers James L. Brooks and Allan Burns. Also in the credit sequence, the gray-haired man Mary has lunch with and is later seen walking with in the evening is Mary Tyler Moore's then-husband Grant Tinker, the president/co-founder of MTM.

September 19, 1975 -
The British sitcom Fawlty Towers, created by John Cleese, premiered on BBC2 on this date.

As the series progressed, each episode's opening shot of the Fawlty Towers hotel sign shows rearranged and misplaced letters. Variations include: Watery Fowls (with a kid seen adjusting it), Farty Tower, Flay Otters, Fatty Owls, Warty Towels, Flowery Twats and Farty Towels. Production team-member Iain McLean supplied the hotel sign anagrams supposedly left by aggrieved paperboys.

September 19, 1986 -
David Lynch's
profoundly unsettling film, Blue Velvet, premiered on this date, (after I saw the movie, I had to go out and have a drink.)

The role of Jeffrey was originally offered to Val Kilmer, who turned it down, describing the script he read as "pornography", although he says he would've done the version that finally made it to the screen.

Today in History:
September 19, 1692 -
Giles Corey
was accused of witchcraft in 1692. This put him in a difficult spot. If he pleaded guilty, he'd be burned alive at the stake. If he pleaded not guilty, he'd have to take a lie-detector test.

The state-of-the-art lie detector of 1692 wasn't any less accurate than today's models, but it was significantly rougher on its subjects. It was called "dunking." The tightly bound subject would be dunked repeatedly into a pond or lake until the truth emerged.

One of the primary symptoms of demonic possession was immunity to water, so those who survived the process were rewarded with a warm, dry burning at the stake. Those who drowned, on the other hand, were clearly innocent and received a favorable ruling.

Giles Corey wasn't eager to be burned at the stake, but he wasn't keen on posthumous vindication, either. A plea of guilty meant the stake; a plea of not-guilty meant drowning (or the stake, depending on the results of the lie-detector test). Mr. Corey therefore did what any reasonable person might have done: he claimed his Fifth Amendment rights under the Constitution and said nothing.

This was a foolish and costly blunder, as the Constitution had not yet been invented.

Baffled by the accused's refusal to enter a plea, the court pressed him for an answer. Literally. Giles Corey became the first, last, and only American ever to have been pressed to death by his own government, on this date in history.

September 19, 1881 -
The 20th president of the United States, James A. Garfield, (shot by assassin Charles J. Guiteau,) died of wounds on this date.

Psst - Guiteau didn't kill the President, his doctors did. Several inserted their unsterilized fingers into the wound to probe for the bullet, and one doctor punctured Garfield's liver in doing so. Garfield's doctors had turned a three-inch-deep, harmless wound into a twenty-inch-long contaminated gash stretching from his ribs to his groin and oozing more pus each day. He lingered for eighty days, wasting away from his robust 210 pounds to a mere 130 pounds.

Alexander Graham Bell had made several unsuccessful attempts to remove the assassin’s bullet with a new metal detection device.

September 19, 1931 -
Adolf Hitler's 23-year-old half niece, Geli Raubal, was found dead in her uncle's Munich apartment from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest on this date.

Some allege that she and Adolf had a sexual relationship, which involved Geli urinating on him. Hitler conveniently happens to be out of town at the time of the shooting.

Oh that Hitler, what a wacky Fuhrer.

September 19, 1934 -
Bruno Hauptmann was arrested for the kidnap-murder of the Lindbergh baby on this date.

We aren't sure if he did it, but he did have $11,000 of the ransom money.

So they fried him two years later.

September 19, 1957 -

The U.S. conducted its first underground nuclear test, code-named Rainier, in the Nevada desert on this date. This caused a major disturbance in the natural order of the fragile desert eco-system,

ultimately resulting in Las Vegas,

and enormous spiders

and oversized seafood.

September 19, 1959 -
In a Cold War setback, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was annoyed to learn that he would not be permitted to visit Disneyland, due to concerns for his personal safety.

This mean, most of the cold war could have been prevented, if we let that fat bald premier ride Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

September 19, 1961 -
Betty (Estelle Parsons) and Barney (James Earl Jones) Hill were picked up near Indian Head, New Hampshire and anally probed by five beings in a flying saucer. The couple later describes the craft as being "banana-like, with pointed tips and windows."

Anyway, that's what Barney told Betty what happened.

September 19, 1991 -
A body was found frozen in a glacier in the Alps between Austria and Italy. A German tourist found the body and called the Austrian police. They tried to free the body from the ice with a jackhammer. It was only when an anthropologist showed up to examine the body that they realized it was a very, very old corpse - 5,300 years old, in fact - of a man between 25 and 35 years old. He was five feet, two inches tall, with hair about three inches long. He had tattoos. He wore an unlined fur robe, a woven grass cape, and size six shoes stuffed with grass for warmth.

He came to be called Ötzi the Iceman, and what made him such a remarkable discovery for anthropologists was the fact that he died while he was out walking on an ordinary day wearing ordinary clothing. He carried a copper axe and a fur quiver for his arrows, the only quiver from the Neolithic period that has ever been found. His arrows had sharp flint points and feathers that were affixed at an angle that would cause the arrows to spin. And he carried mushrooms in his bag that scientists speculate were used for medicine.

It was not until ten years later that a forensics expert noticed in an x-ray that the Iceman had an arrowhead lodged in his back. He had been murdered.

Who murdered the Iceman. Stay tuned to CSI Austria on your local CBS networks.

September 19, 1995 -
The New York Times and the Washington Post published the Unabomber's rambling, 35,000-word anti-technology screed, Industrial Society And Its Future, on this date.

In exchange, he promises to halt his bombing campaign.

And so it goes