Saturday, February 28, 2015

Hopefully this will resolve the strange phenomenon sweeping the nation

The folks at AsapScience have hopefully helped everyone understand What Color Is This Dress?

Perhaps one day they will take on the more urgent question, How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?   

The tenth day of the Lunar New Year is the birthday of the god of stone. On this day, it is forbidden to move any stone, including stone roller, stone mill and stone mortar, so this day is also known as “Shi Bu Dong”(meaning not move any stone). In addition, it is also forbidden to cut into a mountain for rock and build a house with rocks, or bad things will happen to the crops. On this day, families will burn incense and candles for the stones, and offer pancake to the god of stone.

In Chinese, shí meaning 10 and shí also meaning stone, have the same pronunciation. Thus the tenth day of the Chinese New Year is conveniently considered the birthday of the stones, in the hope of shí quán shí měi, everything is perfect. In ancient China, stones were regarded as the foundation of the earth, thus the birthday of stones is synonymous with celebrating the earth’s birthday.

On day after the Jade Emperor's birthday, there is so much food left from the birthday's ceremony. People may have to consume all the vegetable, animal scarifies, cakes and fruit on the 10th lunar day of the year. This is an extended feasting of the Jade Emperor's birthday.

February 28, 1915
There is no crime in making anybody laugh. I don't care if you laugh at me.

Samuel Joel Zero Mostel,(blacklisted by the HUAC in the '50s), larger than life actor and comedian, was born on this date.

February 28, 1948 -
You've gotta be original, because if you're like someone else, what do they need you for?

Bernadette Lazzara (Bernadette Peters), Actress/Singer was born on this date.

February 28, 1970 -
and Garfunkel's song Bridge over Troubled Water reached number one on this date and stayed there for the next six weeks.

The line "Sail on, silver girl" is often reputed to refer to a needle (meaning the song is about heroin) but it actually refers to Simon's girlfriend (and later wife) Peggy Harper who found a few gray hairs and was upset. The lyric was meant as a joke - Simon calling her "Silver Girl" because of her hair.

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

Alan Alda and Loretta Swit were the only actors to appear in the first episode of MASH, and this episode.

February 28, 1986 -
The Brat-Pack Classic, Pretty In Pink, starring Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy, Jon Cryer and James Spader premiered on this date.

Robert Downey Jr. was almost cast as Duckie when the ending had Andie getting together with Duckie. Per Molly Ringwald, this ending may have stuck if Downey won the role because he didn't give her the "brother vibe" Jon Cryer did.

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

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

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

The USS Princeton departed Alexandria, Virginia on a pleasure and trial trip down the Potomac with President John Tyler, his Cabinet and approximately two hundred guests on board. Upon the final firing of Captain Robert F. Stockton's Peacemaker (a newly designed cannon), the defective gun finally burst, instantly killing Secretary of State Abel Upshur; Secretary of the Navy Thomas Gilmer; Captain Beverly Kennon, Chief of the Bureau of Construction, Equipment and Repairs; Virgil Maxcy of Maryland, Charge d'Affaires to Belgium, 1837–42; David Gardiner of New York, the father of Julia Gardiner; and the President's valet, a black slave named Armistead.

It also injured about 20 people, including Captain Stockton (who received severe powder burns on his face, and all the hair on his head was burned off.) A Court of Inquiry exonerated Capt. Stockton due to his political influence (he supported Tyler’s campaign), blaming the explosion on John Ericsson, designer of the ships' engines (despite the fact Ericsson had nothing to do with the design of the Peacemaker gun. Capt. Stockton, in fact, stole the design plans from Ericsson, got a key element of the design wrong in the process, and passed them off as his own), and "bad luck". When Julia Gardiner, who was aboard, found out her father had died in the explosion she fainted into President Tyler's arms.

Isn't love grand.

February 28, 1905 -
Jane Lathrop Stanford
, the wife of the late Leland Stanford, died of suspected arsenic poisoning at the Moana Hotel in Honolulu. A coroner’s jury confirmed the result.

Her body was returned to the mainland under the care of David Starr Jordan, the president of Stanford Univ. An examination by Stanford physicians claimed no trace of strychnine and set heart attack as cause of death.

A will signed 19 months earlier had left the bulk of her $30 million estate to Stanford University. After 100 years the only thing certain about the case - Stanford did in fact died of strychnine poisoning and somebody got away with murder.

February 28, 1939
On July 31, 1931, while working on the second edition of New International Dictionary for the G. and C. Merriam Company,  Austin M. Patterson, Merriam-Webster's chemistry editor, sent a slip of paper reading "D or d, cont./density."  it was meant as a note to say the the letters D or d could be used as the abbreviation for the word Density. The typo word got past proofreaders and appeared on page 771 of the dictionary around 1934.

The ghost word "dord" was not discovered to have made it into the dictionary until this date in the New International Dictionary. The word was a great source of embarrassment for the G. and C. Merriam Company, since it's not actually a word.  For some reason though, they never go around to kicking it out of the dictionary until 1947.

(But please feel free to use it in Scrabble, citing the above mentioned page as proof of it's existence.)

February 28, 1954 -
The first NTSC standard color television sets were sold on this date.  The first set was made by Westinghouse, and sold for $1295 (approximately one-half the cost of a new car.)

Only 30 of these sets were sold by April of that year and only 500 sets were ever be built. On March 25th, RCA began shipping its mass-produced all-electronic compatible color set, for $1,000, and later in the year, a still cheaper model that would secure the company’s dominance in the television market.

February 28, 1968 -
Singer and early 60's heartthrob Frankie Lymon was found dead from a heroin overdose next to his syringe, in his grandmother's New York City apartment, on this date. Years later, three women, Zola Taylor, Elizabeth Waters and Elmira Eagle, each claim to be Lymon's rightful widow and sue to stake out a piece of his estate.

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

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

In 1996 South African former police officer Eugene de Kock said that Craig Williamson, a South African spy, was involved in the murder. In 1997 lawyer Pelle Svensson said that his client, Lars Tingstrom, wrote a statement on his deathbed in prison in 1993 that he committed the killing. The family of Christer Pettersson, a drug addict and alcoholic, was convinced that he was the killer. In 1999, Abdullah Ocalan in Turkey suggested that a rival PKK organization killed Olaf Palme.

It seems everybody wanted to get into the act.

February 28, 1993 -
Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco use armed force attempting to serve Branch Davidian leader David Koresh with a search warrant (one with no actual evidence of any illegal activity whatsoever), in what the BATF viewed as a publicity stunt to improve their image.

While the agents carefully coordinated the raid with eleven different media outlets, something apparently tipped off Koresh and as these things usual happen - things do not go well: six Davidians and four ATF agents were killed.

The warrant instead could have been served peacefully, while Koresh did his daily morning jog.

And so it goes

Friday, February 27, 2015

You know what

Today is the Ninth day of the Lunar New Year. It is the Birthday of Jade Emperor, King of Heaven. The Jade Emperor is also known as the Yù Huáng or Yù Dì, the Ruler of all Heavens (of which the Chinese have over 30), Earth and the Underworld/ Hell, Creator of the Universe, later the Emperor of the Universe, and Lord of the Imperial Court. According to Taoist legend, all the deities of the heaven and the earth will celebrate this day. And there will be grand ceremonies in Taoist temples on this day.

The Jade Emperor is one busy guy. I'd be very tired if I had to follow a holiday this long

Today is National Kahlua Day. Kahlua, in case you are under 21 or a Mormon, is a rich, creamy, coffee based alcoholic liqueur from Mexico.

If I could get a small jazz combo to accompany all of my stories - I might consider switching to White Russians.

February 27, 1932 -
You find out who your real friends are when you're involved in a scandal.

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, actress and serial bride was born on this date.

February 27, 1937 -
An early Porky Pig, drawn by Tex Avery, Picador Porky, premiered on this date.

This is the first Warner Bros. cartoon to feature Mel Blanc's voice.

Today in History:
On this date in 280 A.D. (or another date or year, again remember lead cups and constant orgies, do not good calendar keepers make), Emperor Constantine the Great was born. Constantine took half the Roman Empire and moved it to Byzantium, a little village which he built up into such a magnificent city that it was eventually named after him: Istanbul.

And it's nobody's business but the Turks.

February 27, 1859 -
Censured Congressman Dan Sickles of New York (who escorting a known prostitute into State chambers) shot and killed Philip Barton Key, son of Francis Scott Key and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. The younger Key was having an affair with the congressman's wife at the time.

He was tried on a charge of murder, but was acquitted after a sensational trial involving the first use of the insanity defense in U.S. history.

An interesting aside: Sickle went on to become a Union general and was involved in some of the bloodiest fighting at Gettysburg and lost his own right leg in the battle. He had the leg preserved and sent to Washington D.C., where it was exhibited in a little wooden coffin at the Medical Museum of the Library of Congress. Sickles frequently visited it himself.

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

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

On February 27, 1939, Neville Chamberlain, everyone's favorite legume supporter, recognized General Franco's government on this date. The Fascist regime was on it's way to achieved victory in the Spanish Civil War.

Ernest Hemingway had been defeated.

The war had been so successful that Europe decided to have the second world war, which was every bit as exciting as the Spanish Civil War but with more geography and submarines.

General Franco and Ernest Hemingway are still dead.

February 27, 1951 -
The 22nd Amendment to the American Constitution was ratified by Minnesota, the 36th state out of 48 to ratify, thereby making it the law of the land. The 22nd Amendment states that no person shall be president of the United States more than twice unless they're Harry Truman.

Really, look it up - it says that.

In the graphic novel Watchmen, a crushing U.S. victory in the Vietnam War leads to the repeal of the 22nd Amendment and the repeated reelection of President Richard M. Nixon, who still serves as of 1985, the year in which Watchmen is set.

Similarly, in the time-travel movie Back to the Future Part II, an alternate timeline newspaper headline, before changing to report Ronald Reagan considering a second term, reports Nixon considering a fifth term. In a Saturday Night Live sketch, Dan Aykroyd portrayed Richard Nixon writing to random congressmen, asking for repeal of the amendment.

February 27, 1968 -
CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite's commentary on the progress of the Vietnam War solidified President Lyndon B. Johnson's decision not to seek reelection in 1968. Cronkite, who had been at Hue in the midst of the Tet Offensive earlier in February, said: "Who won and who lost in the great Tet Offensive against the cities? I m not sure." He concluded: "It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out...will be to negotiate, not as victors but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could."

Johnson called the commentary a turning point, saying that if he had "lost Cronkite," he d "lost Mr. Average Citizen." On March 31, President Johnson announced he would not seek reelection.

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

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

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

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

And so it goes.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

There's a bit of a controversy

I have two citations for the meaning of today's celebration -

The eighth day of the Lunar New Year is believed to be the birthday of millet, an important crop in ancient China. According to the folk proverbs, if this day is bright and clear, then this whole year will be a harvest year; however, if this day is cloudy or even rainy, then the whole year will suffer from poor harvest.

The Eigth Lunar day of the first month is also the birthday of Yen-Lo King, who is fifth king of Legendary Hell in the fifth palace. The fifth palace of the hell is under the northern-east side of the big scorching and burning stone in the sea (location, location, location.) The palace covers an area of 64,000 square miles (cleaning up this place is the work for all those idle hands.) It contains 16 divisions of the small hells.

Yen-Lo King was once in charge of the first palace of the hell. Many times, he sent death people, who died  falsely accused of crimes, back to the human world to have a chance to clear their names. Because of this, he was demoted to the fifth palace of the hell (so literally, there is no rest for the wicked.)

February 26, 1908 -
Let's make some funny pictures.

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

February 26, 1916 -
If you have it and you know you have it, then you have it. If you have it and don't know you have it, you don't have it. If you don't have it but you think you have it, then you have it.

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

February 26, 1966 -
While Nancy Sinatra was on the same record label (Reprise) as her famous father, her record label was going to drop her because her first few singles flopped. Things changed when they teamed her with producer Lee Hazlewood. These Boots Are Made for Walkin' topped the charts on this date.

It was her first hit. In 1996, Nancy Sinatra gave a pair of white go-go boots she wore to promote this song to the Hard Rock Cafe in Beverly Hills.

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

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

February 26, 1988 -
The science fiction film Alien from L.A., directed by Albert Pyun and starring Kathy Ireland was released in US theaters, on this date.

And the only reason to note it is because the MST3K guys spoofed it.

February 26, 1994 -
Bill Hicks, writer and comedian, died of pancreatic cancer on this date.

In the years after his death, Hicks' work has achieved significant admiration and acclaim.

Today in History:
February 26, 1815
One of the Top 10 prison breaks of all time

Napoleon managed to sneak past his guards and somehow escape from Elba, slip past interception by a British ship, and start on his return to France.

February 26, 1870 -
The Beach Pneumatic Transit, the first pneumatic-powered subway line in New York City was opened to the public on this date.

Propulsion was provided by a giant fan, nicknamed The Western Tornado, operated by a steam engine, drawing air in through a valve, and blowing it forcefully into the tunnel.

The tunnel was only a block long, and the line had only one car. Rush hour must have been a bitch.

February 26, 1918 -
The Grandstands at the Hong Kong Jockey Club collapsed and burnt, killing 604 spectators on this date. It was the worst disaster in sports history.

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

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

On this date in 1936, Some junior officers in the Japanese Army mistook Japan for a foreign country and tried to conquered it.

This disrupted the Japanese automotive industry, giving Adolf Hitler the opportunity to preside over the official opening of the first Volkswagen factory on this date. (More about Hitler and cars in a moment.)

February 26, 1970 -
National Public Radio (NPR) was created by Congressional mandate, along with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on this date.

Its programs "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" rank among the most popular radio programs in America.

February 26, 1974 -
A U.S. Senate report reveals Ford Motor's involvement in Nazi Germany's war efforts, for which CEO Henry Ford received the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from Adolf Hitler himself.

After the war, the car company was paid nearly $1M reparation by the U.S. government to compensate for one of its plants that was bombed within the Reich.

And some people worry about buying a BMW.

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

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

Genius, sheer genius.

And so it goes.

Before you go - You will never have to watch another Barney video again - Barney sings Straight Outta Compton (kids, this is the uncensored version, proceed with caution.)

Try getting this out of your mind's eye.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Happy Birthday Everybody

The seventh day of the Lunar New Year is commonly referred to as “Ren Ri” (the day of human), because according to the legend, Nu Wa ( a Goddess in Chinese mythology who is believed to create the world and human beings) created human beings on the seventh day.

Humans were made using mud, mixing yellow soil and water. Also, human learned about marriage; so human could reproduce themselves. Therefore, the seventh lunar day of the year becomes everyone's birthday.

It was announced recently that Netflix will exclusively premiere the Judd Apatow produced film Pee-wee’s Big Holiday starring Paul Reubens.

Reason enough to draw another day's breath.

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

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

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

Rossellini used real Nazi POWs as extras for added realistic effect.

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

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

Today in History:
February 25, 1570
Pope Pius V issued a Papal Bull on this day excommunicating Queen Elizabeth I, whom he called "the pretended Queen of England and the servant of crime."

As Elizabeth was already the head of her own religion, Church of England, this Papal Bull did not make her break stride.

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

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


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

February 25, 1836 -
Samuel Colt was granted his first patent for a multi-chamber gun on this date.

His pistol was different from others; its design allowed several shots to be fired in succession without reloading.

Please celebrate responsibly.

February 25, 1870 -
Hiram Rhoades Revels
, a representative from Mississippi, became the first African-American congressman when he was sworn in to finish out Jefferson Davis' term.

The seat had been left vacant when Davis left to become the president of the Confederacy.

February 25, 1879 -
Charles Frederick Peace, infamous Victorian cat burglar and The Murderous Musician was executed by hanging on this date.

Peace's notoriety was such that he appeared as a character in short stories by both Arthur Conan Doyle and Mark Twain.

February 25, 1888 -

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

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

February 25, 1899
The first test drive fatality occurs in Grove Hill Harrow, England on this date. The accident occurs while the car, a Daimler Wagonette, is being demonstrated for Major James Richer, Department Head of the Army & Navy Stores. The car apparently lost a wheel and both Mr E.R. Sewell, the driver, and Richer were thrown from the car onto the road.

Sewell was killed on the spot; he was fired by Daimler Motors five days later. The unfortunate Major Richer, died four days later, without regaining consciousness. The accident became a dubious double-first – the first death of a driver in Britain, followed by the first death of a passenger in a car

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

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

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

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

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


February 25, 1964 -
Muhammad Ali
, then known as Cassius Clay, became the heavyweight champion of the world for the first time on this day when he beat Sonny Liston.

Ali went on to become the first person to win the heavyweight champion title three times.

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

Soon after the raid, Lt. Kerrey lost a leg at Hon Tam Island and was later awarded a Congressional medal of Honor. In 2001, the former Governor and Senator from Nebraska, publicly discussed his participation in the raid of Thanh Phong, at length for the first time.  "We fired because we were fired upon," Kerrey said at a news conference, "We did not go out on a mission to kill innocent people. I feel guilty about what happened."  Governor Kerrey described the event in his 2002 memoir

Bui Thi Luom, 12 at the time of the incident, the only survivor from her hut of 16, disputed Kerrey claim. saying, "Only civilians, women and children" were killed.

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

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

And so it goes.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Today is the Sixth Day of The Lunar New Year Festival -

The day is also known as “Ma Ri” (the day of horse). According to traditional customs, families usually send away the ghost of poverty on this day. Different regions in China have different ways to send away the ghost of poverty, their wishes are the same, which is to send away poverty in the past and welcome the beautiful days in a new year.

According to the legend, the ghost of poverty is a son of Zhuan Xu (an emperor among the Three Emperor and Five Sovereigns in ancient China). He was short and weak, and liked wearing ragged clothes and eating poor porridge. Even when people presented him with new clothes, he would not wear it until he ripped it apart or burn it. So, he got the name of “the man of poverty”, and with time passing by, he gradually became the ghost of poverty.

Also, according to tradition, families should clean their toilets because the God of toilets will come to inspect the cleanliness of your bathroom. In the agriculture society, before plumbing, Chinese farmers called someone to clean the manure pit every 3 to 5 days. This is the day to clean the manure pit (Man it always sucks when you have to clean the manure pit.)

Raise your Frozen Margarita's tonight - contrary to popular belief, tortilla chips are not from Mexico. They were invented in Los Angeles in the 1940s by Rebecca Webb Carranza. Stick that in your guacamole!

Margaritas and chips - celebrated within  the same week!

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

Still not dead yet!

February 24, 1973 -
The song, Killing Me Softly with His Song by Roberta Flack topped the charts on this date.

Robert Flack heard Lori Lieberman original version of the song on an in-flight tape recorder while flying from Los Angeles to New York.  She loved the title and lyrics and decided to record it herself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now you know

February 24, 1868 -
President Andrew Johnson was impeached for High Crimes and Misdemeanors on this date, which is fancy talk for his attempt to remove Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton from his job.

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

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

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

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

February 24, 1942 -
Just over three months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Unidentified Flying Objects were sighted over Los Angeles this evening.  The Plane / Blimp / Weather Balloon / UFO was fired on with a massive anti-aircraft artillery barrage but is not hit. Air raid sirens were sounded throughout Los Angeles County at 2:25 a.m. and a total blackout was ordered. The events became known as the Battle of Los Angeles by the contemporary press.

While the military eventually attributed the incident to "war nerves" and the sighting of an errant weather balloon, many skeptics have speculated for years that our guns were actually firing at extraterrestrial spaceships—a theory that provided inspiration for the 2011 film Battle: Los Angeles (Steven Spielberg's film 1941 was also loosely based on the event).

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

Aging Chelsea leather boys still mourn his passing.

And so it goes.

Monday, February 23, 2015

I can barely open my eyes

We stayed up way too late watching the Oscars.

Today, the 5th day of the Lunar New Year Celebrations. It is the Welcome Day for the God of Wealth. Many families worship the God of Wealth in the early morning. After the ceremony, people explode firecrackers to invite the God of Wealth to enter the house.

Many stores open on this day after the Chinese New Year holiday. Some store owners put a table in the front of company's main entry. They prepare fruit, flower, candy, tea, candles and animal sacrifices on the table to worship the God of Wealth. Some even invite the lion dance team to celebrate the opening ceremony. The mascot of the God of Wealth will appear and enter the store. The store owner will give the mascot a Red Envelope with money reward inside.

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

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

February 23, 1964 -
The Beatles
appear for the third consecutive appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on this date.  They performed Twist and Shout and Please Please Me and closed the show once again with I Want to Hold Your Hand.

The third broadcast, February 23, showed a performance taped earlier in the day of the original February 9th appearance.

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

One can only weep that they did not have the lubricant concessions given the kind of orgies that when on that night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 23, 1903 -
Tomás Estrada Palma,
the first president of Cuba, leased Guantanamo Bay to the US in perpetuity on this date.  Guantanamo Bay is the only US military base in a country with which the US does not have diplomatic relations.

Guantanamo Bay is also home to Cuba's first and only McDonald's restaurant.  I'm guessing it's McDonald's fault that we're still in Gitmo.

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

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

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

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

February 23, 1954 -
The students of Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania participated in the first mass vaccination of children against polio with the vaccine (using the dead virus to induce immunization) developed by Jonas Salk, on this date.

Poliomyelitis is a viral attack of the central nervous system and can cause paralysis and death by asphyxiation (I have nothing else to say.)

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

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

That kind of diet will kill you.

And so it goes.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Speak of Good Deeds in Heaven, Keep Peace on Earth.

Today is the fourth day of the Chinese New Year is the day to welcome the kitchen god, the god of fortune and other gods. Families should stay at home to prepare abundant fruits, burn incense and light candles to welcome the gods. The sacrifices provided to the god of fortune should include goat head and carp.

(this is the picture of my kitchen god)

On the fourth day of the Lunar New Year, families can finally clean their house. They collect all the rubbish to one place and throw them all, which symbolize that they throw away all the bad luck and possible poverty of this year. And in some rural areas in North China, people will light a fire on a stick and throw the stick into a river to put off the fire. This shows that there will not be any fire disaster in this family in the whole year.

Don't forget to stake out a claim to your favorite seat on the sofa

The Oscars are on tonight!

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

While shooting the scene where he undresses, Clark Gable had trouble removing his undershirt while keeping his humorous flow going and took too long. As a result the undershirt was abandoned altogether. It then became cool to not wear an undershirt which resulted in a large drop in undershirt sales around the country. Legend has it that in response, some underwear manufacturers tried to sue Columbia.

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

Glen Frey mentioned in a interview at the time that the song was about Steely Dan whom the band saw as a new and upcoming group that was possibly taking over the spotlight from the Eagles (there has been some dispute as to whether or not Glen Frey was joking.) Given that the two bands shared a manager (Irving Azoff) and that the Eagles proclaimed their admiration for Steely Dan, this was more friendly rivalry than feud.

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

An entire subplot (the relationship between the groom's parents played by Soni Razdan and Roshan Seth) had to be dropped in order to fit the shooting into the thirty-day schedule.

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

At 85, Chuck signed a long-term contract with Warner Bros. to supervise the animation department. His thoughts on the contract were: "At 85 you can only think ahead for the next 50 years or so.".

Today in History:
If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. - George Washington

Young George Washington was born on February 11, 1731 (or so he thought.)

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

But wait, there's more - the calendar switch of 1752 included another significant change. Under the Julian system, the year began on March 25. That means a colonist who went to bed on March 24, 1700, would wake up on March 25, 1701. The new Gregorian rules set the start of the year to January 1st. This created some confusion, since anyone who was born between January 1st and March 25th in the old system would have the wrong birth year in the new one - thus George's new birthday was February 22, 1732.

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

Much heavy drinking ensued.

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

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

I guess his mother was proud of him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dolly was purportedly named after Dolly Parton.

I guess that's a compliment.

And so it goes.

Before I let you go - Here is the definitive cover version of Kashmir (among other Zeppelin songs) by 12 year xylophone players.

The men don't know, but the little girls (and boys) understand

Saturday, February 21, 2015

It's the third day of The Lunar New Year.

It is known as the Mice Wedding Day.

They said that people should turn off the light and go to bed early, because the night is the Mice's Wedding and we shouldn't disturb them. The other reason we should turn out the lights, so the mice can’t see their wedding, which would slow down mice breeding.  In the old farmer society,  people would leave a few grains of rice or cake crumbs in the corner of a room for the mice at night.

According to the Chinese Farmers Calendar it's also the Red Dog day. Red Dog is the name of the God of Anger, who brings bad luck to people. So people don't like to go out on this day, otherwise they might lose their temper easily and become argumentative. Actually, After a 2-day binge of, eating, drinking, playing, gambling, many people are tired and would probably want to sleep in. They said that if people want to work on this day, they won't get much accomplished. Therefore, the Red Dog day is a good excuse for people who need a rest.

February 21, 1931 -
I can't believe I ate the whole thing ...

Miles Laboratories introduced Alka-Seltzer® on this date.

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

As I've mentioned in the past, folks going to the Creation Museum, this is NOT a documentary.

February 21, 1970 -
The Jackson 5
, led by 11-year old Michael Jackson, introduced themselves to America with their TV debut on American Bandstand.

The performances showed not only that the group were amazing performers, but that Michael was a superstar in the making.

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

Due partially to the violation of broadcast standards, along with Saturday Night Live's low ratings, Rocket and most of that seasons cast and writers were fired shortly thereafter. (Sorry but Youtube has taken down the clip)

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

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

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

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

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

This must have been a very pretty sight indeed.

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

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

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

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

Talk about feeling inadequate (and talk about smegma.)

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

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

February 21, 1918 -
The last Carolina Parakeet, Incas, died at the Cincinnati Zoo on this date, the only native parrot species in the Eastern US. The species went extinct through a combination of loss of environment and overhunting for their decorative feathers.

Coincidentally, the last Carolina Parakeet died in the same cage in which the last Passenger Pigeon, Martha died.

February 21, 1925 -
90 years ago, the top hatted character Eustace Tilley first appeared on a magazine cover on this date.  Eustace Tilley, the mascot of The New Yorker magazine, was based on an engraving of Compte Alfred d'Orsay, interpreted by house cartoonist and art director Rea Irvin.

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

February 21, 1947 -
Edwin H. Land
first demonstrated, the first instant camera, the Polaroid Land camera, during a meeting of the Optical Society of America (OSA) at the Hotel Pennsylvania, in New York City.

The camera produces a black and white photograph in sixty seconds, using development and fixer chemicals sandwiched in pods with the photographic paper and film.

February 21, 1953 -
Francis Crick and James D. Watson came up with a key insight in their discovery of the structure of the DNA molecule on this date.

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

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

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

February 21, 1972 -
Only Nixon could go to China - old Vulcan proverb

To celebrate the 1848 publication of  The Communist Manifesto in London on this date, written by Karl Marx with the assistance of Friedrich Engels  -

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

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

A second scandal with yet another prostitute emerges in 1991, further killed his evangelical career. It may not have anything to do with the situation but Jimmy is related to both Mickey Gilley and Jerry Lee Lewis.

And so it goes.