Thursday, April 30, 2015

Is that a poem in your pocket,

Or are you just happy to see me?

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Poem in Your Pocket Day was originally initiated in 2002 by the Office of the Mayor, in partnership with the New York City Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education, as part of the city’s National Poetry Month celebration. This year I have Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's classic poem, Excelsior!

What poem do you have?

Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis Night or Beltane Eve) is celebrated in most of Northern Europe the night of April 30 to May 1.

Legend has it, this night was the last chance for witches and various demons to stir up trouble before Spring reawakened the land.

April 30, 1938 -
Bugs Bunny
first appeared, so to speak, in the cartoon short Porky's Hare Hunt, released on this date. This short was co-directed by Cal Dalton and Ben Hardaway.

The cartoon had an almost identical theme to a 1937 cartoon, Porky's Duck Hunt, directed by Tex Avery and introducing Daffy Duck. Following the general plot of this earlier film, the short cast Porky Pig as a hunter against an equally nutty prey more interested in driving his hunter insane than running away. But instead of a black duck, his current prey was a tiny, white rabbit. Bugs Bunny introduces himself with the expression "Jiggers, fellers," and Mel Blanc gave the rabbit a voice and laugh that he would later use to voice Woody Woodpecker. In this cartoon, he also quoted Groucho Marx for the first time (from the movie Duck Soup): "Of course, you know, this means war!"

April 30,1950 -
The film-noir classic, DOA, starring Edmond O'Brien, was released on this date. (Stick around for the whole movie.)

The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.

April 30, 1952 -
Mr. Potato Head
® became the first toy to be advertised on television on this date.

Over one million kits were sold in the first year.  Mrs. Okra or Mr. Romanesco didn't sell so well.

April 30, 1997 -
Ellen DeGeneres'
character came out of the closet on the sitcom Ellen on this date.

The show was the highest rated episode the series ever aired, with over 42 million viewers and won an Emmy for writing.

Today in History:
April 30, 1789 -
George Washington
was inaugurated and took office in New York as the first president of the United States on this date. He took his oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street and spoke the words “So help me God,” which all future US presidents have repeated.

Please note
: The oath as prescribed by the Constitution makes no mention of God, or of the Bible.

April 30, 1900 -
John Luther "Casey" Jones was born March 14, 1863 in southeast Missouri. While he was still a small child, his family moved to Cayce, Kentucky, which is how he got his nickname. As a boy, he liked trains - HE really liked trains. In 1878, at the age of 15, he went to work for the Mobile and Ohio Railroad as an apprentice telegrapher. By 1890, "Casey" had reached the pinnacle of the railroad profession as a crack locomotive engineer on the Illinois Central Railroad.

In 1899, Jones was given a regular passenger run on the Cannonball route which ran between Chicago and New Orleans. On April 29, 1900, Jones was in Memphis, Tennessee, from the northbound Cannonball when he agreed to take the southbound Cannonball because the scheduled engineer called in sick. He left Memphis at 12:50 am, 95 minutes behind schedule, but made up almost an hour between Memphis and Grenada, Mississippi, nearly 100 miles away. By Durant, 55 miles farther down, they were almost on time.

At Durant, Jones received orders to "saw by" two freights that had taken the siding in Vaughan. The two freights were too large to fit into the siding, leaving one end on the main line. If the "sawing" maneuver had been done correctly, the freights would have allowed the approaching train to pass the first switch, and then the trains on the siding would move past the other switch. However, an air hose on one of the freight trains burst, applying the brakes on the freight cars behind the break, and left them immobile on the main line. Meanwhile, Jones was traveling excessively fast, possibly up to 70 miles per hour, and did not have enough time to brake. When collision seemed imminent, Casey told his fireman, Sim Webb, to jump for it, but Jones rode the engine into the cars and was killed. It is believed that because Jones stayed to slow the train, he saved the passengers from injury and possible death (Casey himself was the only fatality of the collision).

Popular legend holds that when Jones' body was pulled from the wreckage of his train his hands were still firmly latched onto the whistle cord and the brake.

April 30, 1939 -
On a very hot New York Sunday, The 1939 World's Fair had its grand opening, with 200,000 people in attendance. The April 30 date coincided with the anniversary of George Washington's inauguration as President in New York City. Although many of the pavilions and other facilities were not quite ready for this opening, it was put on with pomp and great celebration.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the opening day address, and as a reflection of the wide range of technological innovation on parade at the fair, his speech was not only broadcast over the various radio networks but also was televised. NBC used the event to inaugurate regularly scheduled television broadcasts in New York City over their station W2XBS (now WNBC). An estimated 1,000 people viewed the Roosevelt telecast from about 200 television sets scattered throughout the New York area.

Little remembered but equally important, the View-Master was introduced at the World's Fair that day.

Don't worry about those storm clouds overhead (it's just World War II).

April 30, 1943 -
The British submarine HMS Seraph dropped ‘the man who never was,' a dead man the British planted with false invasion plans (which indicated the Allies would not invade Sicily,) into the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain on this date.

German agents discovered the body of a non-existent RAF major, bought the ruse and were unprepared for the actual attack on that island.

April 30, 1945 -
Holed up in a bunker under the Reich Chancellery headquarters in Berlin (conveniently called the Fuehrerbunker), blushing bride Eva Braun had a hankering for Almond Roca. Finding none available, she decide to chew a cyanide capsule and commit suicide instead (she was impulsive.) Distraught honeymooner Adolf Hitler, never one to go it alone, decides to commit suicide himself by swallowing a cyanide capsule and (to gilt the lily) shoot himself in the head (he was having a very bad day for an Evil Bastard.)

Soon after, Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allied forces, ending Hitler's dreams of a "1,000-year" Reich.

Guess that didn't work out for him.

April 30, 1975 -
The capital of South Vietnam - Saigon, fell on this date.  Communist forces gains control of Saigon. The fall of the city was preceded by the evacuation of almost all the American civilian and military personnel in Saigon, along with tens of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians. The evacuation culminated in Operation Frequent Wind, the largest helicopter evacuation in history.

The Vietnam War formally ends with the unconditional surrender of South Vietnamese president Duong Van Minh.

This is a really big Oops for America.

And so it goes

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dance like no one is watching

Today is International Dance Day. The date was chosen in commemoration of the death of the greatly influential dancer, choreographer and innovator Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810).

The goals of Dance Day are to increase the awareness of the importance of dance among the general public, as well as to persuade governments all over the world to provide a proper place for dance in all systems of education.

Today is also National Shrimp Scampi Day

Don't forget a few Red Pepper Flakes

One last thing, Today is also the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, the co-patron saint of Italy.  The Renaissance were tough on women, Catherine's older sister and younger sisters died in 1463 (she had 22 other siblings, although , at that point, who could tell who was alive or died or the neighbor's cat.)  Catherine's father did what any other father would do - tried to make the teenage Catherine marry her sister's widow.

It didn't matter to anyone, save Catherine, that her brother-in-law was a filthy, lascivious old man.  Catherine fasted until her father relented and let her enter a nunnery.  While fasting, she, like our old pal Teresa of Avila, was pierced by God Shaft of 'pure love'.

Though, supposedly illiterate, Catherine famously corresponded with the leading church figures (both men and women) of her day. In fact, Catherine is one of the few women Saints who are thought of, as holding doctorates. She is one of the church most famous bulimics, disgorging everything she ate for the next 17 years, except the Eucharist she received every day.

She, of course, is the patron saint of bulimics and anorexics, the sick (in general), nurses, firemen and sexual temptation (there is a connection between the two, but I'm not going there.)

As is always the case, when saints die, people clamor after their body parts. She is scattered over most of Italy; her head and one of her fingers are resting in Siena and a major part of her is beneath the main altar at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church in Rome.

April 29, 1964 -
The Toho Studios released their first cross-over monster movie Mosura tai Gojira (Godzilla vs. the Thing (Mothra)) in Japan on this date. This is the first Godzilla film without newly-shot American footage added for the American release.

(Sorry I couldn't find the original version)

1964 was the only year when Toho released two Godzilla movies in the same year. Right after this film, Toho began working on Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, which premiered that December.

Today in History:
April 29, 1852
The first edition of Roget’s Thesaurus was published (produced, made, created) on this date.

Dr. Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869) was a London physician of French-Swiss ancestry who began to collect and organize English words to improve his public speaking.

April 29, 1901 -
Train robber and one of the last of the Old West outlaws, Thomas "Black Jack" Ketchum was unsuccessfully hanged in Clayton, New Mexico on this date.

The executioner's poor choice of rope and Ketchum's recent increase in weight combine to produce a gruesome decapitation in the gallows.

Thomas "Black Jack" Ketchum was the only person ever hanged in Clayton, New Mexico. He was also the only man ever hanged for train robbery in the entire state, a law that was later found to be unconstitutional. But, a little too late for poor Black Jack.

April 29, 1939 -
The Bronx-Whitestone Bridge connecting the Bronx and Queens opened for traffic on this date.

The primary reason for its construction was to provide access to the 1939-40 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows.

April 29, 1945 -
Adolf Hitler married Eva Braun on this date (the Allies sent the Fuhrer a wedding gift via liberating Dachau.) The very next day she killed herself. So did he. This demonstrates the importance of not rushing into marriage. You've got to take your time, get to know the other person, and really think it through. Especially if the other person happens to be an Evil Bastard at the head of a hellish genocidal war machine on the brink of defeat.

But it's not enough just making sure your intended isn't a war-criminal-in-training. The sad truth is that if you plan to marry a human being you're in for a pretty bumpy road no matter what—which isn't to say it would be all roses if you married something other than a human.

So maybe Adolf and Eva were doomed anyway. Who knows? I'm only saying they should have given it a little more thought. Bunker marriages have a notorious failure rate.

April 29, 1961
ABC's Wide World of Sports, debuted on this date. Rather than focus on one sport, it presented a variety of athletic events in one show. Each week, Wide World of Sports transported the viewer across the United States and around the world.

In addition to presenting races, bouts, and meets (often live via satellite), Wide World of Sports revolutionized sports coverage by including "up close and personal" features on athletes. The show's rallying cry, "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat," not only became one of the most familiar catchphrases on TV but captured the essence of athletic competition.

April 29, 1968 -
Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, the rock musical opened on this date. Hair tells the story of the "Tribe", a group of politically active, long-haired "Hippies of the Age of Aquarius" fighting against conscription to the Vietnam War and living a bohemian life together in New York City. They struggle to balance their young lives, loves and the sexual revolution with their pacifist rebellion against the war and the conservative impulses of their parents and society.

It was also a way for middle class America to see nudity on the stage without going to a strip club or porno house.

April 29, 1992 -
Rioting erupts in Los Angeles after Rodney King's assailants are acquitted by a jury. The looting and destruction begins in South Central L.A. and quickly radiates outward.

By the time things are under control, 51 people were dead , 1093 buildings were damaged or destroyed (764 retail stores were owned by Koreans) and the city has sustained $1.5 billion in property damage.

It's the fourth anniversary for His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, the once and future king of England and Catherine, (nee Katherine Middleton), Duchess of Cambridge.

Remember, a nice appliance (or a baby gift in the Duchess' case) is the gift for the fourth year.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Speak out for Job Safety

Each year, more than two million women and men die as a result of work-related accidents and diseases.

International Workers' Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember all of those people who have been injured or killed on the job.

April 28, 1939 -
Cecil B. DeMille
brought the Western into a new realm when Union Pacific, premiered in Omaha, Nebraska on this date.

The world premiere in Omaha, Nebraska, was a three-day celebration that drew 250,000 people, doubling the population of the city and requiring the National Guard to help keep order. The special train en route from Hollywood to Omaha, carrying Cecil B. DeMille and stars Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea, took three days and made stops along the way, drawing large crowds.

April 28, 1941 -
...I've always tried to do my very best, and I want to be the very best age, whatever age I am.

Ann-Margret Olsson
, actress, singer and dancer, was born on this date.

If you can't wait until Friday - Sesame Street has a new parody of the new Avengers Film: Age of Ultron - The Aveggies- Age of Bon Bon.

 Or maybe you just like vegetables and puppets.

Today in History:
April 28, 1789
In the middle of the South Pacific, the crew of the HMS Bounty, led by either Clark Gable, Marlon Brando or Mel Gibson mutinied, setting Charles Laughton, Trevor Howard or Anthony Hopkins and 18 other crewmen adrift in an open boat, so they can hang out with topless Tahitian teens.

Sometimes history is very confusing.

April 28, 1881 -
Billy the Kid escaped from a New Mexico jail, killing jailer Bob Ollinger and a fellow prisoner in the process. Billy survived for another three months before Pat Garrett finally killed him.

Somehow Bob Dylan, Paul Newman, Dracula and Jane Russell's braless bodaeous ta-tas are involved in this story

Once again, history is exceedingly confusing.

April 28, 1910 -
In England, Claude Grahame-White became the first person to pilot a plane at night on this date.

The landmark flight comes during the 1910 London to Manchester air race.

April 28, 1945 -
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were captured by partisan fighters and executed (castrated and hung upside down on a meat hook - well, Mussolini had his junk removed - Clara, well, she just got hung.)

Just because you can get the trains to run on time does not mean that the voters love you (it should be a motto every politician has tattooed to their ass.)

April 28, 1947 -
Sailing from Peru on the balsa-raft Kon Tiki, Thor Heyerdahl began his six-man, 101-day expedition across the Pacific Ocean to Polynesia.

Heyerdahl's expeditions were spectacular and caught the public imagination. Although much of his work remains unaccepted within the scientific community, Heyerdahl increased public interest in ancient history and anthropology.

April 28, 1967 -
Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the army because of religious reasons on this date, and was stripped of his boxing titles and sentenced to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for draft evasion.

The conviction was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court

And so it goes

Monday, April 27, 2015

A second happy birthday is in order, I guess

April 27, 4977 BC -
Today should have been Earth Day,

God creates the universe on this day, according to calculations by mystic and part-time astronomer Johannes Kepler.

April 27, 1922 -
Fritz Lang's Dr Mabuse, der Spieler (some have called it the first film-noir,) premiered in Berlin, Germany on this date.

Fritz Lang originally wanted the actress portraying Venus to be completely nude. When the first take was completed, he didn't like how the woman's pubic hair looked, and ordered her to shave it off. The actress indignantly refused, sending Lang into a tantrum. Eventually, a compromise was reached when a small strip of cloth was draped over the offending hair.

April 27, 1930 -
One of the greatest anti-war films, based on the Erich Maria Remarque novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, premiered in NYC on this date.

In part because of his experience in playing the part of Paul Baumer, Lew Ayres became a conscientious objector during the Second World War. His films were banned in over 100 Chicago theaters.

Today in History:
April 27, 1509 -
The entire state of Venice was excommunicated by Pope Julius II for an entirely secular reason:

the refusal to place parts of Romagna under the Pope's control.

Oh, those wacky Pre-counterreformation Popes.

April 27, 1521 -
In an hour long battle with Philippine islanders, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his men were repeatedly jabbed with sharpened bamboo spears. After Magellan finally succumbs to his wounds, the natives hacked him to pieces with their swords, barbecued and consumed him on this date.

They were surprised that they were not hungry an hour after eating him as they had been after eating some Asian explorers previously.

April 27, 1822 -
Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War hero and 18th President of the United States, would have been 193 today.

And if the rumors are true, he is still buried in Grant's Tomb, which was dedicated on this date in 1897.

April 27, 1861 -
In a blatantly unconstitutional act, President Abraham Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus inside a zone between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The government could detain citizens indefinitely without ever filing charges. A year and a half later, Lincoln expanded the scope of his order to the entire nation.

I'm still greatly relieved that the previous resident of the White House didn't read much history.

April 27, 1865 -
The worst steamship disaster in the history of the United States occurs on this date. The SS Sultana, carrying over 2,000 passengers, the majority being freed Union POWs from the notorious Andersonville and Cahaba Prisons, exploded on the Mississippi River, while en route to Cairo, Illinois.

Neither the cause of the explosion nor the final count of the dead (estimated at between 1,450 and 2,000) was ever determined. Today, the Sultana disaster remains the worst of its kind .

Talk about bad luck.

April 27, 1871 -
The American Museum of Natural History opened to the public in New York City, on this date. With a series of exhibits, the Museum’s collection went on view for the first time in the Central Park Arsenal, the Museum’s original home, on the eastern side of Central Park.

The museum began from the efforts of Albert Smith Bickmore, one-time student of Harvard zoologist Louis Agassiz, who was successful in his proposal to create a natural history museum in New York City with the support of William E. Dodge, Junior, Theodore Roosevelt, Senior, Joseph Choate and J. Pierpont Morgan. The Governor of New York, John Thompson Hoffman, signs a bill officially creating the American Museum of Natural History on April 6, 1869.

April 27, 1932 -
Writer Hart Crane was racked with self-doubt about his ability to write good poetry and agonizing over his sexuality, had been mentally unstable for some time. Crane stood on the railing of the ship Orizaba in his pajamas (en route to the United States from Mexico,) shouted, "Goodbye Everyone," to the other stunned passengers and jumped over the side of the ship on this date.

Life preservers were thrown to him, but he makes no effort to reach them and drowned. The ship halted in the water, ten miles off the Florida coast, but never recovers his body.

April 27, 1986 -
Someone interrupted the HBO satellite feed during the movie The Falcon and The Snowman on this date. For five minutes, two-thirds of their customer base receives the message: Good evening HBO from Captain Midnight. $12.95 a month?

(Showtime-Movie Channel Beware.) Captain Midnight turned out to be John R. MacDougall of Florida, who was fined and placed on probation.

April 27, 1987 -
After determining that Kurt Waldheim had "assisted or otherwise participated in the persecution of persons" during his Nazi years, the Department of Justice places him on a watch list of undesirable aliens on this date. As such, the sitting President of Austria was disallowed entry into the U.S. It is the first time that a foreign head of state is legally forbidden from visiting America.

I suppose that he suffered from Waldheimer's Disease - it's having difficulty recalling that you're a Nazi

And so it goes

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Today is Pretzel Day

National Pretzel Day celebrates pretzels of all shapes and sizes. Pretzels are believed to be the world's oldest snack. (This appears to be a legitimate celebration, as there are many stores giving away free pretzels today - my kids are skulking around Philly in search of their freebies.)

Wake me up when it's Very Dry Martini, straight up with Olives Day.

April 26, 1956 -
Godzilla debuted in America on this date. (Gojira premiered in Japan on November 3, 1954.)

The American version of the film had 40 minutes of the original excised (mostly the content dealing with World War II or the anti-nuclear message,) and had 20 minutes of the masterful deadpan stylings of Raymond Burr. The American version was released in Japan with Japanese subtitles and did very well.

Today in History:
April 26, 1452 -
Leonardo da Vinci was born on this date. Mr. da Vinci was one of the great minds of the Renaissance. Sadly, he is best known for having painted the Mona Lisa (in Italian, La Joconde,) in which he accurately and exquisitely captured the unmistakable smile of a dignified woman who's just farted.

For some reason, many lonely computer geeks celebrate this day by releasing computer virii in hopes that female FBI agents will break down their doors.

April 26, 1865 -
Discovered hiding in a farmer's tobacco shed, John Wilkes Booth was shot in the neck by a complete lunatic. Dying and paralyzed from the neck down, he whispers: Tell my mother I did it for my country.

As his hands are held up to his face, Booth mutters "useless...useless..."

They are his last words.

On April 26, 1923 (almost 88 years previously to the date of his great-grandson's nuptials,) the Duke of York married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in Westminster Abbey.

This wedding might have slipped into the ephemera of time had the Duke's brother not wanted to marry a woman reported so ugly, many thought her a man in drag. And calling a woman ugly in England is really saying something, as many of the British upper crust often marry their horses out of confusion.

That's British royalty.

Count Basie died on April 26, 1984; Duke Ellington was born on April 29, 1899; Ella Fitzgerald, the "First Lady of Song," was born on April 25, 1918.

That's American royalty.

April 26, 1933 -
Hermann Goering founded the Geheime Staatspolizei, otherwise known as the Gestapo on this date.

The original purpose of this "Secret State Police" is to disrupt and harass opponents of National Socialism, but it will later come to adopt many additional responsibilities.

April 26, 1937 -
It was a beautiful Monday afternoon in Guernica, Spain on this date. At about 3:30 pm the day took a tragic turn. For over three hours, twenty-five or more of Germany's best-equipped bombers, accompanied by at least 20 more Messerschmitt and Fiat Fighters, dumped one hundred thousand pounds of high-explosive and incendiary bombs on the village, slowly and systematically pounding it to rubble.

Guernica had served as the testing ground for a new Nazi military tactic - blanket-bombing a civilian population to demoralize the enemy. It was wanton, man-made holocaust.

The bombing was the subject of a famous anti-war painting by Pablo Picasso.

April 26, 1986 -
44 seconds into a late-night experiment at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, reactor number four sustains two large explosions. The exploded at Chernobyl burned for 10 days. About 70% of the fallout fell in Belarus. Damage was estimated to be up to $130 billion. The Soviet news agency TASS held off reporting the incident for almost 48 hours.

A 300-hundred-square-mile area was evacuated and 31 people died as unknown thousands were exposed to radioactive material that spread in the atmosphere throughout the world. By 1998 10,000 Russian liquidators involved in the cleanup had died and thousands more became invalids. It was later estimated that the released radioactivity was 200 times the combined bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was later found that Soviet scientists were authorized to carry out experiments that required the reactor to be pushed to or beyond its limits, with safety features disabled.


And so it goes

Saturday, April 25, 2015

It's Malaria Awareness Day

Malaria Awareness Day, designated on this date by President George W. Bush in 2007, to remind people that Malaria kills 3,000 children a day. He asked the world to join the fight to wipe out malaria on the African continent.

So I encourage all Americans to begin heavily drinking Gin and Tonics to honor the day

(While I am a Bombay Sapphire man, I am not affiliated in anyway with that fine brand - not that I wouldn't consider any offers, I'd suggest using Tanqueray.  I believe it goes better with the Tonic.)

Today is the holiday of Robigalia, honoring the god Robigus.  The purpose of the holiday was to prevent mildew from ruining crops.  Dog and sheep sacrifices were encouraged to honor Robigus. (I didn't suggest this, the ancient Romans did)

For some reason, it's also the holiday of celebrating male sex workers.  I'm not sure how one was supposed to celebrate that portion of the holiday slaughtering livestock.  But maybe it's just me.

April 25, 1917 –
Ella Jane Fitzgerald
, the First Lady of Song, considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century, was born on this date.

Ella Fitzgerald’s life was the quintessential American success story. Through 58 years of performing, 13 Grammys and more than forty million records sold, she elevated swing, bebop, and ballads to their highest potential.

April 25, 1959 -
The Fleetwoods hit No. 1 with their recording of Come Softly to Me on this date.

The original title of this song Come Softly, was changed because Dolphin (later Dolton) Records owner Bob Reisdorff feared that AM radio DJs would think it to be too suggestive. He was being extra-cautious, Dolphin Records was formed by the Seattle DJ for the sole purpose of distributing Fleetwoods records.

Remember kids, don't dance so close. Leave room for the Holy Spirit.

(It's a travel day today.  Mr Teeny is guarding the house again and we've limited him to only a litre of rocket fuel.  So he's particularly ornery; I'm just saying.)

Today in History:
April 25, 1507
At a small college in Eastern France, German geographer Martin Waldseemüller published a map with the region of the world commonly referred to as “the New World” labeled as “America” for the first time ever in a book entitled Cosmographiae Introductio on this date.

In the book, Waldseemüller credited Amerigo Vespucci with discovering the continent.  The amount of money that make have changed hand is uncertain but Columbus was said to be quite pissed.

April 25, 1792
French highwayman Nicolas Jacques Pelletier was beheaded by the guillotine, after extensive testing during its development with corpses and sheep, making him its first victim on this date. The speed that the guillotine worked as quick as lightening and in the twinkling of an eye - it was over.

The outcome was not well received by the crowd who called for the return of the gallows.

April 25, 1926 -
The premiere of Giacomo Puccini's opera, Turandot was at La Scala, Milan, on this date, one year and five months after Puccini's death. It was conducted by Arturo Toscanini.

Turandot was unfinished at the time of Puccini's death and was later completed by Franco Alfano.

April 25, 1947 -
Harry S. Truman officially opened the two-lane White House bowling alley on this day.

Though Truman himself wasn't much of a bowler, it became embarrassing for the staff to have to search local DC bowling alleys trying to find where the President was knocking back boiler makers every other night. The White House staff members formed a bowling team and even competed in national events.

April 25, 1963 -
The bronze statue of The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue) is Denmark's most visited tourist attraction. The statue was unveiled on August 23, 1913 at it's current location in Copenhagen Harbor. It gives hope to the Danes when they are not pining for the Fjords.

So imagine the horror, when Denmark woke up on this date to find that the unimaginable had happened, someone had sawed off the head of  The Little Mermaid, the night before. The head was never recovered and a new head was made from the original cast.

April 25, 1972 -
... And if you covered him with garbage, George Sanders would still have style....

George Sanders actor and husband of not one but two Gabor sisters, killed himself, leaving this great suicide note: "Dear World, I am leaving you because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool - good luck," on this date.

Short and to the point.

April 25, 1980 -
In Iran, a commando mission to rescue hostages was aborted after mechanical problems disabled three of the eight helicopters involved. During the evacuation, a helicopter and a transport plan collided and exploded. Eight U.S. servicemen were killed on this date.

The mission was aimed at freeing American hostages that had been taken at the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979.

And on a personal note - still as lovely as ever, Andrea once again is celebrating her 39th birthday.

And so it goes

Friday, April 24, 2015

I must remember this excuse

Yes, yes - because of the unusually chilly spring day, I had to start my morning off with a martini or two.

Somehow it's Pig in a Blanket Day encourages the consumption of ‘pigs in blankets’ – small pork sausages wrapped in bacon or pastry, and cooked until crispy (for those of you porcine adverse, choose your own ground meat filling.)

Please celebrate sensibly.

April 24, 1974 -
David Bowie released his iconic single, Diamond Dogs, on this date.

The crowd noise at the beginning of the album was sampled from studio tapes of Rod Stewart's early '70s band, The Faces. The tapes were of their live album, Coast To Coast/Overture And Beginners and if you listen close enough, you may pick up Stewart shout "Oy-oy!" as the riff starts.

Today in History:
April 24, 1184 BC (this is an approximated date.)
... burnt the topless towers of Ilium...

It is traditionally held that city of Troy fell on this date after a ten year siege by the armies of Greece.

April 24, 1800 -
The Library of Congress, the oldest cultural institution in the nation's capital, was established by an act of Congress on this date.

Initially it was housed in the new Capitol in Washington, D.C., but British troops burned the Capitol building and stole the library materials. Retired president Thomas Jefferson then offered his personal library to the Congress.

April 24, 1913 -
The Cathedral of Commerce built one nickel at a time, the Woolworth building opened on this date.

The Five and Dimes are long gone but the skyscraper remains.

April 24, 1915 -
The Ottoman Turkish Empire began the brutal mass deportation of Armenians on this date. Turkey said Armenians had sided with Russia and issued deportation orders for the mass deportation of Armenians. Armenian organizations in Istanbul were closed and 235 members were arrested for treason. Turkish police arrested some 800 of the most prominent Armenians in Constantinople, took them into the hinterlands and shot them

It is generally agreed upon (except by the Turkish Government) that this was the beginning of the Armenian Genocide. And here I go, losing another whole demographic.

April 24, 1916 -
... And what if excess of love, Bewildered them till they died? - W. B. Yeats

Some 1,600 Irish nationalist, the Irish Volunteers, launched the Easter Rising by seizing several key sites in Dublin, including the General Post Office. Eemon de Valera was one of the commandants in the uprising. It was provoked by impatience with the lack of home rule and was put down by British forces several days later. Michael Collins, a member of Sinn Fein, led the guerrilla warfare.

April 24, 1953 -
Winston Churchill
, the British leader who guided Great Britain and the Allies through the crisis of World War II, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on this date.

Later, this same year he also won the Nobel peace prize for literature.

April 24, 1970 -
The first Chinese satellite, Dong Fang Hong I, was launched aboard a Long March rocket on this date. Upon reaching orbit, the satellite transmits the popular Communist Chinese song, The East is Red.

With the launch, China became the fifth country with a satellite in space.

April 24th, 1990 -
The Space Shuttle Discovery launched the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. It is hoped that the Telescope will be able to see up to the edge of the known universe. The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was one of the largest space telescopes ever used, at the time, and has contributed to many astrological discoveries, notably in the area of supernovas and dark energy.

Hubble has sent back a series of stunning photographs of deep space, and revolutionized thinking about the universe. Unlike many other spacecraft, the HST is open for public use — anyone regardless of education level or nationality can apply for time to use it.

April 24, 1986 -
'Her Royal Highness' The Duchess of Windsor, Bessie Warfield Spencer Simpson Windsor former maitresse en titre (official mistress), plain-faced, twice-divorced American, possible transvestite and Nazi sympathizer died on this date.

And the House of Windsor breathed a sigh of relief -

until Princess Diana.

And so it goes

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Luxuriate in the voluptuousness of despair

April 23, 1936 -
I close my eyes, then I drift away, into the magic night I softly say. A silent prayer, like dreamers do, then I fall asleep to dream my dreams of you.

Roy Orbison, the coolest singer in sunglasses,was born on this date.

April 23, 1958 -
Orson Welles'
noir thriller Touch of Evil, starring Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh, was released on this date.

According to Orson Welles, Universal didn't want the film to be screened at the Brussels World's Fair, but the head of distribution had such faith in the film that he submitted it without the studio's knowledge.  The judges (and then critics) Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut awarded the film the top-prize. It was said the film was a great influence on starting Godard's and Truffaut's illustrious careers, both of whom within a year went on to make their first films Breathless and The 400 Blows, respectively.

April 23, 1988 -
... I've been mad for fucking years, absolutely years, been over the edge for yonks, been working me buns off for bands....

Pink Floyd's album Dark Side Of The Moon, after spending the record total of 741 consecutive weeks (over 14 years) on the Billboard 200, left the charts for its first time ever.

How did they ever make ends meet?

Today in History:
April 23, 303
St George, the future patron saint of England, literally lost his head when he annoyed the Emperor Diocletian so much that the emperor had him separated from his head.

According to legend, George, saved a Libyan king's daughter (Cleodolinda) from a fiery dragon.  You'd think people would be more patient with a local dragon slayer.

William Shakespeare was born on this date in 1564 and wrote a lot of plays then died in the end—on April 23, 1616.

His accomplishments are all the more remarkable when you consider that he died on the same day he’d been born.

April 23, 1616 -
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra died the very same day as Shakespeare. Mr. Cervantes was a brilliant Spanish humorist, best known for his novel Don Quixote, in which an old man suffering from acute mental illness rides around the Spanish countryside hallucinating, then dies.

Sometimes that's all there is.

April 23, 1867 -
The Zoetrope was patented (#64,117) by William E. Lincoln of Providence, Rhode Island on this date. The device was the first animated picture machine.

It provided an animation sequence of pictures lining the inside wall of a shallow cylinder, with vertical slits between the images. By spinning the cylinder and looking through the slits, a repeating loop of a moving image could be viewed .

April 23, 1899  -
Life is a great sunrise. I do not see why death should not be an even greater one.

(This is some kind of trifecta for writers.) Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, writer and avid butterfly collector, was born in Saint Petersburg on this date. His work included Lolita, Pnin and Pale Fire.

April 23, 1967 -
The USSR launched Soyuz One on this date.

The next day, forced to return to earth, cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov became the first casualty of space flight when his capsule's parachute opened improperly.


April 23, 2005 -
The first video uploaded to YouTube, entitled Me at the zoo, made its online debut on this date. The 19-second video was shot by Yakov Lapitsky and shows YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim at the San Diego Zoo.

It has racked up 19 million views in its ten years online.

And so it goes

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Crawling on the planet's face

Some insects called the human race, lost in time, and lost in space and meaning  - Happy Earth Day!

So go outside and hug a tree. If you don't want to be this familiar with nature, give a warm but firm shake hands to your house plants.

Here's a little poem, especially for our friends in California, on this Earth Day -

Choosing to let it mellow can make a difference in water usage, and save you some money long term, depending on the part of the country you live in.

April 22, 1935 -
Universal Studios released the sequel to the original Frankenstein movie, Bride of Frankenstein, starring Boris Karloff, Colin Clive and Elsa Lanchester on this date.

Elsa Lanchester never receives on screen credit as "The Bride". The character is listed as being played by "?".  Elsa Lanchester said that her spitting, hissing performance was inspired by the swans in Regent's Park, London. "They're really very nasty creatures," she said.

April 22, 1939 -
Warner Bros. released the film, Dark Victory, starring Bette Davis (in one of her favorite roles) and George Brent (her favorite actor with whom she had an affair) on this date.

Bette Davis pestered Warner Brothers to buy the rights to the story, thinking it a great vehicle for her. WB studio chief Jack L. Warner fought against it, arguing that no one wanted to see someone go blind. Of course, the film went on to become one of the studio's biggest successes of that year.

April 22, 1942 -
One of Hitchcock's brilliant World War II efforts, Saboteur, premiered in Washington D.C. on this date.

Alfred Hitchcock's original director's cameo was cut by order of the censors. He and his secretary played deaf-mute pedestrians. When Hitch's character made an apparently indecent proposal to her in sign language, she slapped his face. A more conventional cameo in front of a drugstore was substituted.

April 22, 1950 -
Peter Frampton
, musician, singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, was born on this date.

If you were a teenager in the mid 70's, you were issued your standard copy of Frampton Comes Alive to face your 'awkward' years.

April 22, 1953 -
Twentieth Century Fox
releases the surrealistic science fiction film Invaders from Mars, directed by William Cameron Menzies on this date.

In one scene, Dr. Kelston refers to the "Lubbock Lights" and to a "Captain Mantell." These were real life U.F.O. events that created a national wide sensation in their day. The photographs shown by Dr Kelston are actual photographs of the Lubbock Lights that appeared in newspapers and magazines.

Today in History:
April 22, 1451 -

April 22, 1870 -
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov was born on this date He later became Lenin, invented the Communist Party in Russia and made himself first Head Bastard of the Soviet Union.

It's interesting to note that Alexander Kerensky, the leader of Russia's provisional revolutionary government in 1917 until overthrown by Lenin, was born on the same day as Lenin, only eleven years later.

Well, it's interesting to some people.

April 22, 1904 -
Robert Oppenheimer was born on this date. Mr. Oppenheimer is known as the father of the atomic bomb.

The bomb's mother has never been identified to anyone's satisfaction, which only underscores the lax security at Los Alamos.

April 22, 1923 -
Sex is a part of love. You shouldn't go around doing it unless you are in love.

Bettie Mae Page was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on this date.

April 22, 1946
I’ve been called the Pope of Trash… I’ve been milking that title for years, and maybe that’s why I feel infallible.

John Waters, film director, actor and raconteur, was born on this date.

April 22, 1964 -
President Johnson opened the New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadow, Corona Park, New York, on this date.

The Fair also is remembered as the vehicle Walt Disney utilized to design and perfect the system of "audio-animatronics," in which a combination of sound and computers control the movement of life-like robots to act out scenes. In the It's a Small World attraction at the Pepsi pavilion, animated dolls and animals frolicked in a spirit of racially-insensitive unity on a boat-ride around the world.

Once the fair was over, Walt feverishly pushed his Imagineers to build him an 'actual' President. Historians argue that this was the beginning of Ronald Reagan campaign for the Presidency.

April 22, 1994 -
Richard M. Nixon suffered a fatal stroke on this date. His body was laid to rest in the unhallowed grounds of his Presidential Library.

His head was severed from his body and wooden stakes were driven through his heart to make sure he was dead.

And so it goes

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Make of this what you will -

The following people were born on this day:
Alexandra Mary Windsor (1926),

Iggy Pop (James Newell Osterberg) (1947) ,

Patti LuPone (1949),

Tony Danza (1951)

& Robert Smith (1959)

April 21, 1951 -
Les Paul and Mary Ford topped the charts with their hit of the classic How High the Moon on this date.

Although it was written by lyricist Nancy Hamilton and composer Morgan Lewis for the 1940 musical Two For The Show, the definitive version of "How High The Moon" was recorded by the husband and wife team of Les Paul and Mary Ford. This recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1979.

April 21, 1990 -
Sinead O'Connor
topped the charts with a cover of Prince's Nothing Compares 2U on this date.

The video was the first time most people saw what O'Connor looked like and were surprised that she was bald. She shaved her head when she first started recording because she wanted to make a statement and not be known for her beauty. Some people believe this is the saddest song ever recorded (but wait.)

Did you make it through Jimmy Scott's version without crying?

Today in History:
April 21, 753 BC
Today is the traditional date of the foundation of Rome by Romulus and his brother, Remus, as a refuge for runaway slaves and murderers who captured the neighboring Sabine women for wives (they are hoping to finish building it any day now.)

But since the Gregorian Calendar was just a gleam in Pope Julius eye - who knows.  But by all means, please bring enough lubricant with you to the commemorative orgy tonight.

April 21,1792 -
Jose da Silva Xavier, Tiradentes, considered by many to be Brazil's George Washington, was having an extremely bad day. The Portuguese rulers of Brazil were not happy with his seditious talk of independence. Tiradentes was hung in Rio de Janeiro on this date. His body was broken into pieces.

With his blood, a document was written declaring his memory infamous. His head was exposed in Vila Rica. Pieces of his body were exposed in the cities between Vila Rica and Rio, in an attempt to scare the people who had listened to the independence ideas of Tiradentes.

He began to be considered a national hero by the republicans in the late 19th century, and after the republic was proclaimed in Brazil in 1889 the anniversary of his death (April 21) became a national holiday.

April 21, 1836 -
With the battle cry, 'Remember the Alamo!' Texan forces under Sam Houston defeated the army of Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, assuring Texas independence .

According to legend, Santa Ana was astride a mulatto, or "yellow" prostitute, Emily Morgan, who came to be celebrated in song as The Yellow Rose of Texas.

Now you know.

April 21, 1910 -
comet reappeared on this date. It had been last seen in 1835, the year Samuel Clemens was born.

The Earth passes safely through the comet's tail with no perceptible effect, of course, not counting the death of Mark Twain on this date.

This time, the reports were not exaggerated.

April 21, 1918 -
German fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, known as The Red Baron, was shot down and killed over Vaux sur Somme in France on this date.

There is no truth to the rumor that Snoopy fired the fatal shot.

April 21, 1932 -
The only thing experience teaches you is what you can't do. When you start, you think you can do anything. And then you start to get a little tired.

Elaine May, one of the funniest human being who ever lived, was born on this date.

April 21, 1962 -
President John F. Kennedy took time out of his busy schedule, of banging starlets and interns, two, three at a time, to push a button in Palm Beach, Florida and officially open the Top of the Needle (the first revolving restaurant in the United States,) atop the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington on this date.

The President was so high on pain killers that he did not realize that he wasn't in Seattle at the time.

April 21, 1997 -
The ashes of Timothy Leary and Gene Roddenberry were launched into orbit (this marked the beginning of the space funeral industry,) on this date.

I guess this is the highest Dr. Leary will ever get.

April 21, 2003 -
Nina Simone, dubbed the high priestess of soul, died in France on this date.

Kids go out and buy one of her CD's, your life will be better for it.

And so it goes.

Monday, April 20, 2015

It's not teatime in Holland

If you or your kid cut school or work today, lock up the snacks. They may come home with a case of the munchies.

If they were out celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Klara Hitler's bouncing baby little evil bastard named Adolf on this date in 1889, smack them hard across the back of the head.

If they were celebrating the anniversary of the Columbine attack, have them talk to Matt,

That's all we're gonna say.

April 20, 1959 -
Desilu Productions
launched its new TV series The Untouchables with a two-part episode The Scarface Mob on this date

The show was noted as rather violent for a TV production with many shootouts filmed in a fairly brutal style.

April 20, 1977 -
Annie Hall, at 93 minutes, the shortest color film to ever win the Best Picture Oscar, premiered on this date (Marty, in glorious B & W was 91 minutes.)

Woody Allen's sneezing into the cocaine was an unscripted accident. When previewed, the audience laughed so loud that director Allen decided to leave it in, and had to add footage to compensate for people missing the next few jokes from laughing too much.

Today in History:
April 20, 1233 -
Pope Gregory IX placed the Inquisition, in existence since 1227, under the aegis of the Dominican Order on this date. Torture is apparently sometimes necessary to save souls, and the office continues to exist today as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

And until a decade or so ago, the congregation was headed by Prefect Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

April 20, 1940 -
The First electron microscope was demonstrated by RCA on this date.

The company was among the first to develop the electron microscope, which remains widely used in many forms of scientific research today.

April 20, 1979 -
President Jimmy Carter was attacked by a Killer Swamp Rabbit, while on vacation in Plains GA on this date. The rabbit swam menacingly towards him, and he had to repel the ferocious creature with a paddle. There were no injuries.

Press Secretary Jody Powell leaked the story to the press, and the White House had a lot of explaining to do.

April 20, 1992 -
Alone in his apartment watching TV, British comedic legend Benny Hill suffered a fatal heart attack on this date.

His bloated toupee-less body with his underwear around his ankles were found four days later

April 20, 2010 -
While drilling at the Macondo Prospect, an explosion on the rig, Deepwater Horizon, caused by a blowout which killed 11 crewmen and ignited a fireball visible from 35 miles away. The resulting fire could not be extinguished and, on this date, Deepwater Horizon sank, leaving the well gushing at the sea floor and causing the largest offshore oil spill in United States history.

BP announced on April 18, 2012 that it has reached a class-action settlement with attorneys representing thousands of businesses and individuals who made claims after the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. As late as January of 2014, BP was still attempting not to pay claims made against them in the suit.  The court has rejected BP attempts.

BP originally projected that its settlement costs would be $7.8 billion. As of late 2014 it had boosted this estimate to $9.9 billion, and said it could be "significantly higher." The case is far from over.

And so it goes

I'm running around like a monkey today and I've run out of time to continue posting - Please enjoy this Merry Melodies cartoon from 1933, We're In The Money

OK, you may enjoy the rest of your day.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I bet you haven't heard this before

I came across a very rare cut off a Monty Python album - Farewell to John Denver

I think I might make it my new ringtone

April 19, 1927 -
Cecil B. Demille's
silent-film version of The King of Kings premiered on this date.

This film features author Ayn Rand as one of the hundreds of people in a crowd. At a time when Rand was a struggling immigrant, Cecil B. DeMille gave her the job to help get her on her feet.

April 19, 1946 -
Raymond Chandler's
film-noir classic The Blue Dahlia premiered on this date.

Shortly after this film released, a young woman named Elizabeth Short was murdered in Los Angeles. The local newspapers dubbed the case the Black Dahlia as a morbid twist on this film's title. Unlike the movie, the Short murder case is still unsolved.

April 19, 1961 -
Frederico Fellini's
iconic, La Dolce Vita, premiered in the United States on this date.

The famous scene in the Trevi Fountain was shot in March, when nights were still cold. According to Federico Fellini, Anita Ekberg stood in the cold water in her dress for hours without any trouble. Marcello Mastroianni, on the other hand, had to wear a wetsuit beneath his clothes, and even that wasn't enough. Still freezing, he downed an entire bottle of vodka, so that he was completely drunk while shooting the scene.

April 19, 1987 -
The Simpsons make their television debut in the short Good Night - a segment for The Tracey Ullman Show.

(Once again, I had to hang around the murky world of the internet underground to get this blurry copy of the clip. I'd like to show you a better version of the clip but the goons, I mean lawyers from Fox would break my legs and I've just about gotten used to walking.)

I wonder whatever happened to The Simpsons.

April 19, 1978 -
The Patti Smith Group released the song Because the Night on this date.

Bizarrely, this was Patti Smith's only chart topping hit, making it an anomaly in her discography, which was aimed at a far more narrow audience.

Today in History:
April 19, 1775
Alerted by Paul Revere, the American Revolutionary War began at Lexington Common with the Battle of Lexington-Concord on this date. Eight Minutemen were killed and 10 wounded in an exchange of musket fire with British Redcoats.

In New York, Lexington seems to have won as there is no Concord Avenue.

April 19, 1824 -
Notorious drug user, buggerer, sister sleeping, club footed man about Europe, oh yeah, and poet, Lord George Gordon Byron, died from malaria fever in Greece on this date.

His body is set back to England for burial (his heart, literally remains in his beloved Greece, buried under a tree in Messolonghi) but he is so infamous that neither the deans of Westminster and St Paul's would accept his body for proper burial. His family at last buried him in a small family vault in Northern England.)

April 19, 1906 -
It was a rainy day in Paris. One of those days that song writers write about. Nobel-winning chemist Pierre Curie was preoccupied and in a hurry. He tried to run across the street and did not look both ways. He slipped and then was hit and run over by a horse drawn vehicle. His skull was badly fractured.

Kids' once again - Your mother is always right. Just because you're a Nobel winning - look both ways before crossing.

April 19, 1927 -
Mae West, suspected transvestite, was jailed, on this date, for her performance in Sex, the Broadway play she wrote, directed, and starred in. She was sentenced to ten days in prison. While incarcerated on Roosevelt Island, she was allowed to wear her silk panties instead of the scratchy prison issue and the warden reportedly took her to dinner every night.

She served eight days with two days off for good behavior. Media attention to the case enhanced her career - it didn't make her change her act, but it did bring her national notoriety—and helped make her one of Hollywood's most memorable, and quotable, stars.

She said: "I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it."

April 19, 1993 -
More than 80 Branch Davidians died in Waco, Texas as the FBI stages a disastrous final assault on their compound on this date. This brought a sudden end to the 51-day siege.

As you about to see, this helped us a great deal.

April 19, 1995 -
At 9:02 am, 20 years ago today, a large car bomb exploded at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, and injuring 500 including many children in the building’s day care center.

Authorities charged Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, with the crime.

Both were convicted. McVeigh was executed in 2001 and Nichols is currently serving a life sentance.

And so it goes