Monday, August 31, 2015

An now a message from a political candidate

Here is Mr. Trump discussing one of his policy papers:

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog. (Pssst, I think he likes to say China.)

August 31, 1929 -
RKO released the musical film-short St. Louis Blues, starring singer Bessie Smith, on this date.

At W.C. Handy's suggestion, Bessie Smith was picked to be the star of the film. Bessie had scored a huge hit in 1925 with her recording of "St. Louis Blues", which had featured Louis Armstrong on cornet. It was Bessie Smith's only film appearance.

August 31, 1946 -
Howard Hawks'
version of Raymond Chandlers classic Philip Marlowe yarn (William Faulkner was one of the screen writers), The Big Sleep, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, was put into general release on this date.

According to Lauren Bacall, production was such fun, that they got a memo from Jack L. Warner saying "Word has reached me that you are having fun on the set. This must stop."

August 31, 1987
Epic/CBS Records released the Michael Jackson album, BAD on this date.

A nearly 18 minute video of the title song, written by novelist and screenwriter Richard Price and directed by Martin Scorsese, debuted on CBS-TV on this same day, as well.

Today in History -
Gaius Caesar Caligula was born on August 31 in the year 12 AD. Caligula succeeded Tiberius in the year 37, and his reign was most notable for its policy of Sex with the Emperor.

(Please note - this guy not only slept with the unwilling wives of senators and his sisters, he married his horse and tried to have him made a god.) This turned out to have been a weak Political Philosophy, because the Romans all had classical educations and saw right through him.

So they killed him.

August 31, 1422 -
Henry V of England, one of the great warrior kings of the Middle Ages, died suddenly of dysentery on this date. He was 34 at the time.

At the time of his death, Henry had not only consolidated power as the King of England but had also effectively accomplished what generations of his ancestors had failed to achieve through decades of war: the near unification of the crowns of England and France in a single person.

In 2002 he was ranked 72nd in the 100 Greatest Britons poll. And yet, lack of proper sanitary conditions carried him away. Let this be a lesson to us all - wash your hands after visiting the rest room.

August 31, 1879 -
Alma Maria Schindler, noted in her native Vienna for her beauty and intelligence, was born on this date.

In her youth she was an aspiring composer. But that's not why I bring her up. She was the wife, successively, of the composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius, and novelist Franz Werfel, and lover to the painter Oskar Kokoschka. Rather than try to encapsulate the story of this very busy woman,

Listen to Tom Lehrer's song Alma, which nicely gives you the gist of her life.

August 31, 1919 -
Workers of the world unite!

In Chicago, journalist John Reed established the American Communist Labor Party, on this date,

providing entertainment for Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover for decades.

August 31, 1945 -
Let's all wish the intensely litigious and curmudgeonly, George Ivan Morrison, singer and songwriter, happy birthday.

Van the Man, is still the greatest living blue-eyed soul singer.

August 31, 1948 -
Los Angeles police arrested actor Robert Mitchum, the coolest cat in Hollywood, for marijuana possession on this date. He later received a 60-day sentence.

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands celebrated her Golden Jubilee on this date as well. (You figure out the connection.)

August 31, 1957
A grape to tempt your leisure, romantic gestures strange ...

Glenn Tilbrook, singer, guitarist and with his writing partner Chris Difford, formed the pop group Squeeze, was born on this date.

August 31, 1976 -
George Harrison
was found guilty of unintentionally plagiarizing My Sweet Lord.

Those damn Beatles could never come up with an original tune.

August 31, 1977 -
Ian Smith
, espousing racial segregation, won the Rhodesian general election with 80% of overwhelmingly white electorate's vote.


August 31, 1997 -
On August 28, 1997, My wife and I were coming out of the revolving doors at the Ritz Hotel in Paris and a very famous couple were coming in. A few days later on this date, a charming, slightly addled, beautiful divorcee with two children decides to take a car ride with her very rich Middle Eastern boyfriend and his very drunk driver. She makes the fatal mistake of not buckling her seat belt and paid a very heavy toll.

So ended the glamorous and controversial life of Diana Spencer Mountbatten-Windsor.

Kids here a good piece of advice for anyone, if you don't want to end up dying in the backseat of a black 1994 Mercedes-Benz W140 in a road tunnel in Paris - BUCKLE UP.

And so it goes .

Sunday, August 30, 2015

On a sidewalk, blue Sunday mornin'

August 30, 1959 -
Bobby Darin's jazzy interpretation of Mack The Knife began its 26-week stay on the pop-singles charts.

McDonald's used this song in the late '80s to promote their dinner specials as "Mac Tonight." They skipped the lyrics about killing a guy and dumping his body in the water in the versions used for the commercials.

August 30, 1967 -
John Boorman's
crime drama thriller, Point Blank, premiered on this date.

This was the first major picture to film on location at Alcatraz Island after the closure of the federal prison in 1963.

August 30, 1968 -
Apple Records released its first single, Hey Jude by The Beatles on this date.

This was the Beatles longest single, running 7:11, and at the time was the longest song ever released as a single. It was the first long song to get a lot of airplay, as radio stations still preferred short ones so they could play more of them. When this became a hit, stations learned that listeners would stick around if they liked the song, which paved the way for long songs like American Pie and Layla. Disc jockeys were the real winners here, as they could finally take a reasonable bathroom break.

Today in History:
August 30, 1780
General "Eggs" Benedict Arnold secretly promised to surrender the West Point fort to the British army during the American Revolution. The measure of Arnold's treachery was made worse by the fact that he was considered by many to be the best general and most accomplished leader in the Continental Army.

In fact, without Arnold's earlier contributions to the American cause, the American Revolution might well have been lost; notwithstanding, his name, like those of several other prominent traitors throughout history, has become a byword for treason and a brunch staple.

August 30, 1859 -
At the University of Göttingen, PhD candidate Albert Niemann isolates the alkaloid C17H21NO4 from leaves of the plant Erythroxylum coca.

Niemann names his white, powdery discovery cocaine and observes firsthand its peculiarly strong anesthetic effect: "it benumbs the nerves of the tongue, depriving it of feeling and taste."

Oh, that's what cocaine does. Now I know.

August 30, 1918 -
Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin should have been having a great day on this date. Six weeks earlier, Lenin had the previous tenant of Kremlin, Tsar Nicholas II, permanently taken off the lease. After speaking at a factory in Moscow, Lenin was shot twice by Fanya Kaplan, a member of the Social Revolutionary party. Lenin narrowly survived an assassination attempt, but was severely wounded.

As Lenin was a 'godless' communist, he did not turn the other cheek. The assassination attempt set off a wave of reprisals by the Bolsheviks against the Social Revolutionaries and other political opponents. Thousands were executed as Russia fell deeper into civil war.

August 30, 1930 -
Warren Edward Buffett often called the "Sage of Omaha", "Oracle of Omaha", or "Omaha Steak", American investor, businessperson and philanthropist is born on this date. Buffett has amassed an enormous fortune from astute investments managed through the holding company Berkshire Hathaway, of which he is the largest shareholder and CEO.

With an estimated current net worth of around $72.7 billion, he was ranked by Forbes as the third-richest person in the world as of yesterday afternoon, falling behind behind Bill Gates (with a net worth of $79.2 billion) and Carlos Slim Helu (with a net worth of $77.1 billion.)

I, on the other hand, did not make a blip on the list.

August 30, 1967 -
Thurgood Marshall, the lawyer who was best known for arguing the Brown v. Board of Education case before the Supreme Court, became the first black US Supreme Court Justice.

The US Senate voted 69 to 11 to appoint Marshall. He served on the Court from 1967 to 1991.

August 30, 1993 -
The Late Show with David Letterman premiered on this date, on CBS-TV.

Towards the end of the show, listen for Dave to mention that Robin Williams will be on the show tomorrow.

And so it goes.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

... look my way

August 29, 1953 -
Warner Brothers
introduced Speedy Gonzalez in the cartoon Cat-Tails for Two on this date.

While this is the first cartoon featuring the character Speedy Gonzales, his depiction here is vastly different from the character he would later become. It wasn't until his second appearance, Speedy Gonzales (two years later,) that he was re-designed as the character we know him as today.

August 29, 1964 -
Roy Orbison’s
single, (Oh,) Pretty Woman, was released on this date.

Roy Orbison and his wife Claudette had recently reconciled after some tough times, but as this song was climbing the charts, Roy found out she had been cheating on him and filed for divorce. In 1966, they remarried, but two months later Claudette was killed when the motorcycle she was riding was hit by a truck.

August 29, 1964 -
Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins opened on this date. This is first movie I ever saw (but not on this date.)

Walt Disney
cast Julie Andrews for the lead after seeing her in Camelot on Broadway. When she mentioned she was pregnant, he offered to wait until she had her baby to start filming and offered her then-husband, Tony Walton, the job of designing costumes and some sets for the film. Disney also gave the couple a personally escorted tour of Disneyland and the studio to help them make up their minds.

August 29, 1967 -
television ratings soared through the roof as David Janssen and Barry Morse starred in the final episode of The Fugitive on this date.

Barry Morse recalls that he was in a London restaurant when a waiter handed him a note. It read, "Kimble is in the kitchen."

Today in History:
August 29, 29/30AD
( The date is a best guess, and the subject of much debate. Once again, Romans were too busy with their orgies and draining lead-lined wine goblets to accurately document events of the day.)
John the Baptist (cousin of the itinerant carpenter of Nazareth) received a severe haircut from King Herod, because his teenage step-daughter, Salome (the Miley Cyrus of her day,) couldn't keep her shorts on while dancing.

Children are always such a handful.

August 29, 1533 -
Atahualpa, the last Incan Emperor, discovered on this date, that the European exploration of the new world was not going to go well for the indigenous people. Francisco Pizarro, one in a long line of Spanish conquistadors arrived in the Andes, with a bible in one hand and a sword in the other.  Atahualpa was quickly captured by the Spanish and held for ransom.  After paying an immense ransom for his release (a room, 22 ft by 17 ft by 8 ft high, once filled with gold and twice with silver within two months), Pizarro decided it was better to kill his hostage and keep the random.

Atahualpa was condemned to be burnt at the stake - which was anathematic since the Inca believed that the soul would not be able to go on to the afterlife if the body were burned.  Atahualpa offered and paid an additional random to be ritualistically garroted after a proper Christian baptism, which occurred on this date in 1533.

And in keeping with the true spirit of diplomacy, Pizarro had Atahualpa corpse burned afterwards.

More on Political Philosophy ...
Jean Baptiste Colbert was born on August 29, 1619.

Colbert was the finance minister to King Louis XIV of France. His own Political Philosophy consisted of a big pile of money. This was a very effective politics, and therefore deemed insufficiently philosophical, which is why you tend to hear more about Locke and Hegel.

Another important political philosopher was born this week: John Locke was born on August 29, 1632. Mr. Locke was a political philosopher, and many of his ideas found their way into the American Constitution.

He is best known for his essay concerning human understanding, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which remains famous to this day as the shortest essay ever written.

August 29, 1896 -
Here is one of those bright dividing lines: if you know what Chop Suey is - you're old. If you've tasted Chop Suey - you're really old.

The Chinese-American dish Chop Suey was invented in New York City by the chef to visiting Chinese Ambassador Li Hung-chang on this date.

August 29, 1915 -
Ingrid Bergman, the Swedish three-time Academy Award, two-time Emmy Award, and Tony Award - winner was born (and died in 1982) on this date.

Many of her shorter male co-stars, such as Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains, had to wear lifts to avoid looking small next to her 5' 10" stature.

August 29, 1920 -
Charles Christopher "Bird" Parker, jazz saxophonist and composer was born on this date.

Along with trumpet legend Dizzy Gillespie, he created the sporadic rhythms known as "be bop" in the 1950s.

August 29, 1949 -
The Soviet Union joined the nuclear club on this date when they detonated a nuclear weapon, code-named First Lightning (Pervaya Molniya) at a test site in Kazakhstan. American experts were shocked and dismayed because they had thought the Soviets were still years away from having a workable bomb.

The resultant fear helped trigger an arms race that would see the Americans and Soviets stockpile approximately 32,000 and 45,000 nuclear devices.

August 29, 1958 -
Michael Joseph Jackson, the self-crowned King of Pop was born on this date.

He has achieved the dubious distinction of being in the number one position on Forbes magazine's list of "Top-Earning Dead Celebrities", three years in a row.

Last year, Jackson's posthumous earnings were $140 million dollars (Jackson beat out his former dead father-in-law Elvis, who earned over $55 million dollars.)

August 29, 1966 -
The Beatles
performed their last concert before paying fans at in San Francisco's Candlestick Park on this date.

The performance marked the end of a four-year period dominated by touring and concerts including nearly 60 U.S. appearances and over 1400 internationally.

August 29, 1991 -
After a vote in the Soviet Union's parliament on this date, the Supreme Soviet, dissolved the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

The move brought an end to one of the world's largest communist governments.

August 29, 2005 -
Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastates much of the U.S. Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle. The death toll eventually reached at least 1,600. An estimated 300 Louisiana residents died out of state; some 230 people perished in Mississippi. Property damage estimates were in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

The name Katrina was officially retired on April 6, 2006 by the World Meteorological Organization at the request of the U.S. government. The name will never again be used for another North Atlantic hurricane.

And so it goes.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Gentlemen... question mark.

August 28, 1930 -
... You've left out a Hungerdunger. You left out the main one, too. Thought you could slip one over on me, didn't you, eh? ...

The Marx Brothers second outing at Paramount, Animal Crackers, opened on this date.

Zeppo Marx, the youngest of the five brothers, was very skilled at impersonating his older siblings and occasionally performed in their place when one of them was ill or unavailable. The blackout that occurs when Chico and Harpo are attempting to steal the painting was contrived so that Zeppo could play Captain Spaulding on a day that Groucho was not on the set. (Zeppo played Spaulding several times during the show's live run; Groucho stated, "he was so good as Captain Spaulding that I would have let him play the part indefinitely, if they had allowed me to smoke in the audience.")

August 28, 1946 -
Universal's film-noir classic version of Ernest Hemingway's story, The Killers, premiered in NYC on this date.

This was Burt Lancaster's first movie role. He was the third choice for the part of The Swede, and was signed only after actors Wayne Morris and Sonny Tufts proved unavailable. Lancaster was an ex-circus acrobat from Union City, New Jersey. When producer Mark Hellinger saw the first rushes of Lancaster's performance in a private screening room, he was so pleased that he yelled "So help me, may all my actors be acrobats!"

August 28, 1951 -
second film version based on Theodore Dreiser's novel, An American Tragedy, A Place in the Sun, opened in NYC on this date.

Shelley Winters developed mixed feeling toward director George Stevens for making her look so unglamorous alongside Elizabeth Taylor. Her role, moreover, typecast her in mousy or brassy parts for years. Winters said she drove white Cadillac convertibles (similar to Taylor's in the film) for years afterward to compensate for her intense feelings of inferiority while making the film.

Today in History:
August 28, 476 A.D.
Today is believed to be the date when the Western Roman Empire, which had lasted for almost 500 years, came to an end as Emperor Romulus Augustulus was deposed by a barbarian. (Well, his father, Orestes, the real power behind the throne, was executed on this date - he, Augustulus, relinquished the throne on September 4, 476 and disappeared into obscurity.)

Historians have been theorizing about the causes of the fall of Rome ever since. Edward Gibbon's book The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776) put forward the idea that the Christian Church was to blame. After Christianity became the official religion of the empire, the best and the brightest leaders became leaders of the church rather than leaders of the government or the military. Another theory is that the aqueducts, which carried the water supply, were lined with lead, and so the Romans slowly went crazy. Some geologists believe that the eruption of Mount Vesuvius released so much ash into the air that it ruined Roman agriculture and weakened the empire. One of the more recent theories is that the Roman army had been infiltrated by the barbarians themselves.

But whatever the cause, the fall of Rome actually wasn't the catastrophic event most people think it was. So-called barbarian rulers kept most of the basic laws in place, Latin remained the official language of government, everyone remained Christian and orgies continued but in private.

August 28, 1837 -
Pharmacists John Lea and William Perrins began commercially manufacturing Worcestershire Sauce on this date, based on an Indian recipe brought to them by Lord Marcus Sandys -- an ex-governor of Bengal.

If they told you the recipe (it contains anchovies), they'd have to kill you.

August 28, 1898
Pharmacist Caleb Davis Bradham created a beverage, he believed would aid in digestion and boost energy, calling it "Brad's Drink," on this date.

He later renamed it Pepsi-Cola, after "pepsin" and the kola nut used to flavor the drink.

And still made with no cocaine.

August 28, 1907 -
Two teenagers, Jim Casey and Claude Ryan decide to start the American Messenger Company in Seattle, on this date. The company's name was later changed to the United Parcel Service.

Hopefully you have those tracking numbers available, some of those packages will arrive soon.

August 28, 1922 -
The first radio commercial aired on WEAF in New York City (WEAF stood for Water, Earth, Air and Fire.)

It was a 10-minute advertisement for the Queensboro Realty Co., which had paid $100.  Programming must have really stunk if people listened to a 10 minute commercial.

August 28, 1938 -
Charlie McCarthy (Edgar Bergen’s wooden partner ) received the first degree given to a ventriloquist’s dummy on this date.

The honorary degree, “Master of Innuendo and Snappy Comeback,” was presented on radio by Ralph Dennis, the dean of the School of Speech at Northwestern University.

I wrote my dissertation on. "Chilling Gin in the freezer - the non-dilution of alcohol." And I earned my degree without someone's hand up my ass.

August 28, 1963 -
During a 200,000-person civil rights rally in at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I have a dream" speech, 52 years ago today.

The speech, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement.

August 28, 1982 -
crazy kids got married on this date.

Some of the people who were at that wedding are still alive. More and more of them are unfortunately not. Some of them have gotten married (even to each other.) Others are not. Some of them had children. Some do not.

Thirty three years later, those two crazy kids are still alive, married and have children.

Happy Anniversary Mary.

August 28, 1996 -
Unfortunately for others, the fairy tale has a very unhappy ending,

Britons Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales, were divorced on this date.

One year later, almost to the day, Diana, would have a very nasty accident in a Paris underpass.

And so it goes

Thursday, August 27, 2015

An important message brought to you by ACME -

Your friends at ACME thought you'd might like to know -
Most people have learned to watch their weight and properly apply sunscreen, but how many Americans really know how to protect themselves against political assassination? Not many. And yet, each year, millions of people are killed by assassins.

It’s tragic because these are needless deaths, almost all of which could have been prevented. ACME would like to mention a few simple precautions can help ensure that no assassin’s bullet will ever have your name on it:

A) First, get plenty of exercise, eat plenty of vegetables, and avoid being born into royalty.
B) Don’t be president, prime minister, or other Top Person.
C) Don’t create a military junta or mastermind a coup.
D) Don’t say or write anything that might be considered disparaging by anyone with their own military junta.
E) Do not found a religion.
F) Do not oppose a religion.
G) If your parents are gods, dismember them.
H) If your children are gods, devour them.
I) Excel at nothing.
J) Stay indoors.
K) Always call shotgun when driving with suicide car-bombers.

It's the feast day of St. Monica of Hippo.

Monica, who was originally from Rhino and moved to the better neighborhood of Hippo, was known as a virtuous woman. Much to her disappointment, she was also the mother of St. Augustine. She continually encouraged (nagged) her son (the lazy bum) about his debauched ways until she successfully convinced him to convert.  She is the patron saint of all mothers with disappointing children.

August 27, 1943 -
(An almost forgotten film) Warner Bros. released the Lillian Hellman anti-fascist drama, Watch On The Rhine, starring Bette Davis, Paul Lukas, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Beulah Bondi, on this date.

This adaptation of Lillian Hellman's play was written by her longtime companion, Dashiell Hammett. Hellman was unable to write the adaptation herself as she was contracted to work on the screenplay for The North Star. She recommended that Hammett be given the assignment as he was very familiar with the material.

August 27, 1947 -
20th Century Fox's classic film-noir, crime-drama, Kiss of Death, premiered on this date.

When New York mobster "Crazy Joe" Gallo was starting out as a small-time hoodlum, he saw this movie and instantly idolized Tommy Udo (Richard Widmark). Afterwards, Gallo began wearing his suits with black shirts and white ties in emulation of Udo.

August 27, 1961 -
Francis the Talking Mule was mystery guest on What's My Line on this date.

This was a gentle reminder that we are not living through the nadir of television.

Today in History:
August 27, 413 BC
A lunar eclipse interrupted a lovely evening of sodomy among the sailors of the Athens fleet on this evening, affecting the outcome of a battle in the Peloponnesian War. The Athenians were ready to move their forces from Syracuse when the Moon was eclipsed. The soldiers and sailors were startled by this celestial omen and tenaciously clung to their nude and well-oiled ship mates.

The fleet’s commander, Nicias, gutted a sheep and postpones the fleet’s departure for 27 days. The delay gave an advantage to their enemies, the Syracusans, who went on to defeat the entire Athenian fleet and army, killing Nicias in the process.

August 27, 410 -
In case you were keeping score, the Sack of Rome still continued unabated. The orgies were winding down: lubricants were in short supply and everything that moved had been used. The Visigoths were forced to engage in unnatural acts with statuary.

For those of you with a more genteel nature, I won't tell you how the statuary was used.

Political Philosophy has caused more human death and suffering than any other disease. No inoculations exist. Outbreaks are sudden and almost always fatal. Political Philosophy strikes young and old alike, healthy and sickly, nimble and clumsy, lefty and righty. By the time its symptoms are visible, you have very little time to protect yourself. Popular referendums will only exacerbate the problem.

Emigrate at once.

Case studies:On August 27, 1793, the Committee of Public Safety in Paris, France, accepted its newest member, Maximilien Robespierre.

Robespierre soon rose to prominence on the basis of his Political Philosophy, the Guillotine, which was quicker than Inalienable Rights and more readily understood than Separation of Powers.

On August 27, 1770, Georg William Hegel was born on this date. Georg's family was so poor that they couldn't afford the second 'e' in his first name. Hegel was also a kind of political philosopher.

He believed in theses and antitheses and that sooner or later everyone ended up in Synthetics. Unfortunately there was no way to test his theory, as this was well before the invention of polyester.

August 27, 1882 -
Schmuel Gelbfisz,
(Samuel Goldwyn), glove maker, sales man and pioneer filmmaker was born in Warsaw, Poland on this date.

His sayings, sometimes known as "Goldwynisms," were famous for their unintentional wit, which was partially as a result of his somewhat limited understanding of the English language that surfaced when he tried to comment on certain situations. There are many examples of this, such as "Include me out" or "a verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on.".

August 27, 1916 -
Martha Raye
, singer, actor, denture wearer was born in Butte, Montana, on this date.

Martha left the bulk of her estate to Mark Harris, but left some money to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Harris spent a portion of his money designing a line of furs.

August 27, 1952 -
Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman) actor, writer, comedian and public onanist was born on this date.

Reubens credits pioneer TV children's show host Pinky Lee as a partial inspiration for his "Pee-Wee Herman" character. Like Reubens, Lee also wore a tight checked suit and hat as part of his characterization.

August 27, 1967 -
Brian Epstein
, the man who discovered the Beatles and guided them to mega-stardom, died at his London residence, from an overdose of sleeping pills, on this date.

Many critics believe this traumatic event ultimately lead to the Beatles breakup.

August  27, 1979  -
Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India (and matchmaker of his second cousin, the Queen of England to his nephew, our favorite itinerant Greek sailor, Philip Mountbatten,) was killed, along with his grandson, off the coast of Ireland in his 29-foot sail boat in Sligo, Ireland; the Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility.

Thomas McMahon was the bombmaker and was jailed at Dublin’s Mountjoy prison. He was released in 1998 as part of the Northern Ireland peace agreement.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Don't let your sins turn into bad habits.

Today is the Feast of The Transverberation of St. Teresa of Avila (this time, I not sure even an old lady saying her rosary in church can explain it to you.)

If you find yourself in Rome, run, do not walk, to see the Santa Maria della Vittoria Church. It houses one of the most amazing pieces of art - The Ecstasy of St. Teresa by Bernini. (Look for the light switch to illuminate the statue.  Just think, God had to turn St. Teresa on with his shafts of pure light - you can do it with a flick of a switch.)

The statues depict a moment described by Saint Teresa of Avila in her autobiography, where she had the vivid vision of an angel piercing her heart with a golden shaft, over and over again, causing her both immense joy and pain. The flowing robes and contorted posture abandon classical restraint and repose to depict a more passionate, almost voluptuous trance.

Such is my obsession with religion.

I have no problem with a holiday celebrating pets. National Dog Day reminds potential dog owners to adopt their dogs from shelters, rather than buying from pet stores.

But why isn't it celebrated during the dog days of summer?

The first time toilet paper was ever sold on a roll was on August 26, 1871. August 26 was later officially dubbed National Toilet Paper Day.

The Chinese took a break from inventing everything else and found time to create TP on this date in 580 AD. They were far too serious to be messing around with any old orgies not to note the correct date.

August 26, 1953 -
Considered to be one of the great science fiction films of the 1950s, George Pal's The War of the Worlds was released on this date.

The sound effects of the Martian war machines' heat ray were created from three electric guitars played backward. The sound of the Martian screaming after Forrester hit it was a mixture of a microphone scraping along dry ice and a woman's scream played backward. The former set of sound effects became widely used stock sound effects after the film was released. They are still in use.

Today in History:
August 21, 1498 -
A statue was commissioned for the tomb in St. Peters of the French cardinal Jean de Billheres (who was a representative in Rome), on this date.

Michelangelo (23 at the time) won the commission to make the Pieta.

August 26, 1743 -
Antoine Laurent Lavoisier was born on this date. Dr. Lavoisier discovered Oxygen but not on this date; he was usually too busy celebrating his birthday.

The discovery was a great boon to science, as it enabled Breathing, without which many subsequent scientific advances would have been impossible.

August 26, 1883 -

Krakatoa erupted, between Java and Sumatra on this date. The two-day eruption and related tidal waves killed 36,000 people and destroyed two thirds of the island. (Yeah, yeah, I know, Krakatoa is West of Java.)

On a lighter note, "Krakatoa" sounds like "cracked a toe, huh?" and can be used in many humorous puns.

August 26, 1957 -
Henry Ford was a very plain man; he wasn't interested in anything fancy. Ford left the design stylings of the Model A (during the late 20s, early 30s) to his son Edsel. The Model A pretty much saved the company, at the time (thanks Jim for the info.)

Henry never gave his son the proper credit for his help until the Ford Motor Company rolled the first Edsel, named after Edsel Bryant Ford, off the assembly line on this date. (Well, Ford did give his son one million dollars on his 21st birthday, which in my book is not too shabby a gift.)

110,847 of the cars are built before Ford pulls the plug due to lack of sales.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

a last chance power drive

August 25, 1962 -
Little Eva's record The Loco-Motion topped the charts on this date.

Gerry Goffin had actually had this song idea in the back of his mind for a couple of years, but had never found the right moment to bring it out. When he sat down to write it at last, he defended it to his songwriting partner, Carole King: "This is going to sound stupid, but what the hell." Don't all the biggest fads start out that way?

August 25, 1975 -
Bruce Springsteen's
third album Born to Run was released on this date.

Springsteen played the title song, Born to Run, for the first time on May 9, 1974 when he opened for Bonnie Raitt at Harvard Square. Rock critic Jon Landau was at the show and wrote in Boston's Real Paper: "I saw rock and roll's future - and its name is Bruce Springsteen." Landau eventually became Springsteen's manager.

August 25, 1986 -
WEA Records released Paul Simon's award-winning Graceland album on this date.

At first, Simon considered the word "Graceland" a placeholder title until he could come up with something better - maybe something that had to do with Africa. After a while, he realized the title wasn't going away, and he got comfortable with it.

Today in History:
It's the birthday of Declan Patrick MacManus, one of the most prolific musicians of the late 20th Century.

In addition to recordings as "Elvis Costello" (often backed by The Attractions), he has recorded music as "Declan MacManus", "Napoleon Dynamite & The Royal Guard", "The Coward Brothers" (with T-Bone Burnett), "Nick Lowe & His Sound", "The Emotional Toothpaste" and "The Imposter".

The Council of Nicaea ended on August 25, 325, resulting in the Nicene Creed. This established the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which proved that the Father and Son were not two, but three and therefore one. This controversial creed alienated many math teachers from the church.

Its repercussions eventually caused a Schism, which caused Infidels, which caused considerable bloodshed and ultimately resulted in more Political Philosophy.

August 25, 1718 -
French colonists, led by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur De Bienville, established the Louisiana settlement and fortress of Nouvelle Orleans.

In honor of the Big Easy, Laissez les bons temps rouler.

August 25, 1830 -
The 'Tom Thumb' steam locomotive, designed by Peter Cooper, ran the famous first race between a locomotive and a horse-drawn vehicle, over a nine mile stretch, between Relay and Baltimore, Maryland. The locomotive was off to a promising start, but broke down, and the horse won .

Strangely enough on this date in 1875, Captain Matthew Webb became the first person to swim across the English Channel, traveling from Dover, England, to Calais, France, in less than 22 hours. The only connection between both the event - the wayback machine.

August 25, 1835 -
The New York Sun published stunning revelations that Sir John Hershel, having built a new super powerful telescope, had observed little men living on the surface of the moon.

The stories, now generally believed to be false, brought the paper record circulation.

August 25, 1900 -

No, Nietzsche is dead, on this date.

God finds this very amusing.

August 25, 1901 -
Clara Maass, a 25 year old army nurse, volunteered for an experiment to prove that the mosquito carries yellow fever.

Unfortunately for her, the experiment proved successful and Maass died. Her death roused public sentiment and put an end to yellow fever experiments on humans.

August 25, 1925 -
The Sleeping Car Porters' Union was established by A. Phillip Randolph, a political malcontent who'd been agitating for reform ever since his ejection from the Wide Awake Car Porters' Union.

Mr. Randolph was the principle organizer for the March on Washington in 1963.

August  25, 1944 -The City of Paris, occupied since June 1940, was liberated from German occupation by Free French Forces under General Jacques LeClerc and his 2nd Tank division on this date (Charles De Gaulle might beg to differ.)

Although ordered by Adolf Hitler to leave Paris a smoldering ruin, Paris' military governor Major General Dietrich von Cholitz lied to his superiors and left the city's landmarks intact.

I bet Hitler wasn't a happy camper today.

August 25, 1967
George Lincoln Rockwell, the leader of the American Nazi Party, was relieved of his duties by means of the usual Nazi method: he was shot to bloody hell on this date.

Former party member John Patler was later convicted of the killing.

August 25, 1970 -
Elton John, a virtual unknown, started the first night of a six night engagement at the Troubador Club in Los Angeles on this date, making his first American public appearance.

After the first night, Robert Hilburn, music critic for the Los Angeles Times, wrote: “Tuesday night at the Troubadour was just the beginning. He’s going to be one of rock’s biggest and most important stars.” And as Hilburn predicted, in 1990 Rolling Stone magazine declared these shows to be among the 20 most important concerts in the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

And so it goes.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Is it just for the moment we live?

August 24, 1937 -
William Wyler's crime-drama film, Dead End, premiered in NYC on this date.

Humphrey Bogart
got the role of "Baby Face" Martin after George Raft declined it. George Raft had a habit of declining roles that other actors made famous because he was too busy given most of Hollywood syphilis.

August 24, 1966 -
One of the quintessential films of the 60s, Alfie, opened in the US on this date.

The film cost only $500,000 about which director Lewis Gilbert famously quipped that the sum was "the sort of money executives spend on cigar bills".

August 24, 1966 -
The (still surprising good) sci-fi film, Fantastic Voyage, premiered on this date.

Medical schools, at least as late as the 1980s, would show clips from this film to illustrate various concepts in human anatomy, physiology, and especially immunology.

August 24, 1968 -
The Rascals song People Got to Be Free topped the charts on this date.

Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records briefly blocked the single's release as he thought the Rascals' career would be hurt by a political record. He was partly right: although People Got to Be Free was the group's biggest hit (#1 for five weeks), it was also their last Top Ten single.

Today in History:
August 24, 79

The cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were fired by Mount Vesuvius. Vesuvius, ever the vengeful volcano god buried those happening Roman vacation spots, apparently to punish the debauchery that made the towns famous. Tens of thousands of people perished only to have plaster casts made centuries later of the hollows their bodies once occupied.

Once again, People, this is what happens when a city goes on the cheap and starts sacrificing any old whore rather than a proper virgin.

August 24, 1572 -
Troops loyal to the French crown alongside Catholic civilians massacre the Protestant Huguenots of Paris, estimates range between 20,000 and 100,000 deaths. At news of this carnage of this St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, a gleeful Pope Gregory XIII ordered celebrations and a medal to be struck.

Sometimes, you just have to be embarrassed to be a Catholic.

August 24, 1680
Colonel Thomas Blood, Irish adventurer who stole the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London in 1671, died on this date.

Captured after the theft, he insisted on seeing King Charles II, who had a reputation for liking bold scoundrels. Charles not only pardoned him, but granted Blood Irish lands worth £500 a year!

August 24, 1814 -
The White House and other public buildings in the District of Columbia were torched by the invading British army on this date.

The President's wife, Dolley Madison and Paul Jennings, her husband's enslaved manservant, are torn away from Mrs. Madison's ice cream and candy making duties to save a couple of chairs,

and an unfinished portrait of some dead Virginian Slave holder, Masonite and dope smoker.

August 24, 1853 -
It is believed that the original potato chip recipe was created by chef George Crum, at Moon's Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York, on this date.

He was fed up with a customer (the popular myth wrongly identifies him as Cornelius Vanderbilt) who continued to send his fried potatoes back, claiming that they were too thick and soggy. Crum decided to slice the potatoes so thin that they couldn't be eaten with a fork, nor fried normally in a pan, so he decided to stir-fry the potato slices. Against Crum's expectation, the guest was ecstatic about the new chips. They became a regular item on the lodge's menu under the name Saratoga Chips. They soon became popular throughout New York and New England.

You don't want to know how Crum got the vinegar flavor for that damn chip.

August 24, 1932 -
Amelia Earhart
flew from Los Angeles to Newark, becoming the first woman to complete a non-stop, transcontinental flight on this date.

She completed the journey in 19 hours and five minutes.

August 24, 1958
Red China commenced the shelling of the islands of Quemoy and Matsu, which hold one-third of Chiang Kai Shek's troops, on this date. The United States threatens nuclear retaliation for this, but the American people do not support the stance.

A very strange compromise is worked out, permitting China to shell the islands on odd dates and Chiang Kai Shek's troops to resupply the islands on even dates.

August 24, 1959 -
Three days after Hawaiian statehood,

Hiram L. Fong was sworn in as the first Chinese-American U.S. senator while Daniel K. Inouye was sworn in as the first Japanese-American U.S. representative.

August 24, 1968
France exploded its first hydrogen bomb, thus becoming the world's fifth nuclear power.

The Germans break out in an ever slight sweat. (The 1998 film Godzilla uses this particular test as the basis for the monster Godzilla, an infant green iguana mutated by the fallout from the blast.)

Another reason to hate the French.

August 24, 1989 -
Pete Rose
was suspended from baseball for life for gambling on this date.

Unfortunately, Pete may never get in after the recent reports of the extent of his gamble have surfaced.

August 24, 2006 -
The planet Pluto was reclassified as a "dwarf planet" by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) on this date. Pluto's status was changed due to the IAU's new rules for an object qualifying as a planet.

The other planets have been picking on Pluto ever since. (Damn you, Neil deGrasse Tyson!)

And so it goes.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

If it wasn't for graft, you'd get a very low type of people in politics.

August 23, 1940 -
Preston Sturges' Oscar winning satire on political corruption, The Great McGinty, premiered on this date.

This is the first movie to show the credit "Written and Directed by...." followed by just one name: Preston Sturges.

August 23, 1957 -
20th Century Fox
released its film adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway novel, The Sun Also Rises, on this date.

Upon seeing it for the first time, Ernest Hemingway walked out after the first 25 minutes. He criticized most aspects of the film heavily, and said the only good thing about the film was Errol Flynn's performance.

August 23, 1969 -
The Rolling Stones hit, Honky Tonk Women reached number one on the pop-singles charts on this date.

The single was given away to all the fans who helped clean up after The Stones free concert in Hyde Park on July 5, 1969. This was the first concert Mick Taylor played with the band. A life-size cutout of Brian Jones, who died three days earlier, was kept on stage and the show was dedicated to him.

August 23, 1985 -
Atlantic Releasing Corp releases the comedy film Teen Wolf, directed by Rod Daniel and starring Michael J. Fox, on this date.

Most of the "teen" actors were too old to be high school students. Scott is played by Michael J. Fox: age 23. Stiles is played by Jerry Levine: age 27. Chubby is played by Mark Holton: age 26. Mick is played by Mark Arnold: age 27.

August 23, 1996 -
One of the most bizarre films ever made (starring Marlon Brando) The Island of Dr. Moreau, was released on this date.

Fairuza Balk tried to escape the production but was caught on the airport and sent back to the set. Balk protested the firing of original director Richard Stanley. She was warned by her agent that if she tried to quit the film, it would effectively destroy her career as she'd be in breach of contract.

Today in History:
August 23, 1305
Scottish patriot William Wallace (Mel Gibson) was persuaded to take an early retirement on this date.

According to one eyewitness: "He was hung in a noose, and afterwards let down half-living; next his genitals were cut off and his bowels torn out and burned in a fire; then and not till then his head was cut off and his trunk cut into four pieces. At this point he was given a gold watch, and a humorous card that we had all signed."

August 23, 1912
At 14 I discovered girls. At that time dancing was the only way you could put your arm around the girl. Dancing was courtship.

Eugene Curran "Gene" Kelly, dancer, actor, singer, film director, producer and choreographer was born on this date.

August 23, 1914 -
declared war on Germany on this date.

Much confusion and embarrassment ensues about 25 years later when this point is brought up at a meeting of the Axis powers.

August 23, 1926 -
Rudolph Valentino died from peritonitis and severe pleurisy,  on this date, following an emergency appendectomy. His death caused a worldwide frenzy among his fans, sales of the Sheik condoms soared.

Thing is, he probably would have survived if the surgeons weren’t so freaked out by the fact that "Valentino" was their patient. They were so terrified of operating on such a world famous person, that they procrastinated for several hours, dramatically worsening his condition.

Sometime it sucked to be Valentino.

August 23, 1927 -
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, convicted of murder in 1921, were executed in Boston in spite of worldwide protests, on this date.

Their guilt is still disputed.

August 23, 1939 -
Joachim von Ribbentrop and Josef Stalin signed a non-aggression pact, allowing Germany to attack Poland and the USSR to invade Finland without fears of reprisal on this date. Three years later, the Battle of Stalingrad began. (The Battle of Stalingrad was fought by Germans and Russians, in case the irony was lost on you.)

Moral: secret wartime pacts with evil conquering bastards aren't any more reliable in the real world than they are in a game of Risk.

August 23, 1942 -
The Battle of Stalingrad began on this date, which many historians think of as the turning point of World War II. Hitler had already conquered all of Europe except for England, Switzerland and Monaco and he began the invasion of Russia in the summer of 1941 with an army of four million men. The Germans reached Stalingrad on this day in 1942 and flew more than 2,000 bombing raids in just the first day of the battle. They hit oil storage tanks that flowed into the river and caught fire and laid siege to the city. It went on for months.

It's been called the most terrible battle the world has ever known, and in the end the Russians won, thanks to the approach of winter. The German troops were not prepared for fighting in below zero weather.

By February of 1943, all the German soldiers had surrendered or been killed, the first defeat of Hitler's army.

August 23, 1944 -
At 10.30 am on this date, an American Liberator Bomber 42-50291 took off from Warton on a routine test flight. A huge explosion, thought to have been sparked by a bolt of lightning, tore the huge plane apart and parts of the fuselage hit the Holy Trinity Church of England School in Freckleton, England.

61 people were killed in the Freckleton Air Disaster, 38 were children; it was the greatest loss of civilian life outside London during the Second World War.

August 23, 1944 -
Romanian Prime Minister Ion Antonescu was dismissed by King Michael (another cousin of both Queen Elizabeth and her itinerant sailor husband Philip Mountbatten), paving the way for Romania to abandon the Axis in favor of the Allies.

King Michael organized a coup against the pro-Nazi dictator, Marshal Ion Antonescu, but was double-crossed by Joseph Stalin and betrayed by the Allies who ceded the country to the Russians at the Yalta summit in 1945.

August 23, 1968 -
The Youth International Party designated Pigasus as their choice of candidate for U.S. President on this date. The boar hog was introduced at a press conference outside the Chicago Civic Center, with the slogan "They nominate a President and he eats the people. We nominate a President and the people eat him."

The gathering is broken up shortly thereafter when the Chicago PD takes into custody the Yippie organizers and their pig.

August 23,  2012 -
An 80 something grandmother, Cecilia Gimenez,  took it upon herself to restore a fresco of Jesus called Ecce Homo painted by Elias Garcia Martinez at the Sanctuary of Mercy Church near Zaragoza, Spain.

Unfortunately her attempt at restoration did not turn out the way she hoped and the fresco was turned into an image almost resembling a hairy monkey. The woman hoped that it could be further restored by professionals and had gone into it with good intentions.   And you all know what is paved with good intentions.

And so it goes.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ohhh! Godfrey Daniel!

August 22, 1929 -
Walt Disney released the animated short film The Skeleton Dance (The first of Disney's Silly Symphony series,) animated by Ub Iwerks, on this date.

Worried that he would be too dependent on Mickey, Walt Disney wanted to diversify. Carl W. Stalling came up with the idea of producing "musical novelties" (which would later become Silly Symphonies).

August 22, 1930 -
W.C. Fields' classic short, The Golf Specialist, premiered on this date.

According to the wanted poster among the offenses that Bellweather has committed are "Eating spaghetti in public" and "Telling the facts of life to an Indian."

August 22, 1946 -
The last of Alfred Hitchcock's wartime thrillers, Notorious, premiered on this date.

After filming had ended, Cary Grant kept the famous UNICA key. A few years later he gave the key to his great friend and co-star Ingrid Bergman, saying that the key had given him luck and hoped it would do the same for her. Decades later at a tribute to their director Alfred Hitchcock, Bergman went off-script and presented the key to him, to his surprise and delight.

August 22, 1972 -
The movie that introduced Monty Python and its seminal brand of comedy to American audiences, And Now for Something Completely Different, premiered on this date.

According to Terry Gilliam, executive producer Victor Lownes, who primarily represented Playboy magazine (which funded the movie), insisted on getting an animated credit equal in size to those of the group members.

Today in History:
August 22, 1485
At the Battle of Bosworth, England's King Richard III was terminated for having made a fiscally irresponsible bid on a horse.

For evermore, kingdoms went for a great deal more than small pieces of hardware.

August 22, 1770 -
Captain James Cook claimed Australia for the British crown when he landed on a small island off the coast of Queensland.

This must have come as a great shock to the indigenous inhabitants there.  But then again, they didn't have a flag.

August 22, 1776 -
George Washington asked the Continental Congress for permission to burn New York City, to stop the city from being used to quarter troops arriving via the British fleet. It is declined, but his soldiers set 1/4th of the town ablaze on September 21.

There are still many in the government that would like to enact Washington's plan right now.

August 22, 1849 -
In the first air raid in history, Austria launched 200 pilotless balloons, each attached with 30-pound bombs, against the city of Venice on this date.

The bombs don’t cause much damage. But on this August day, exactly a hundred years later, Japan dedicated the town of Hiroshima as a shrine of peace after a single nuclear bomb killed 130,000 people

August 22, 1851 -
The American schooner America was allowed, through special dispensation of Queen Victoria, to enter the annual Royal Yacht Squadron's Regatta. The America won the race, beating out 15 competitors and the trophy was renamed the America's Cup after the yacht.

The race was a 53-mile (85-kilometer) regatta at the Isle of Wight. The Cup is the oldest trophy awarded in international sports.

August 22, 1864 -
12 nations sign the first Geneva Convention specifically calling for the protection of the wounded during times of active warfare on this date. This leads directly to formation of the Red Cross.

In 1882, U.S. President Chester Arthur signed the treaty, making the U.S. the 32nd nation to do so.

August 22, 1893 -
If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.

Dorothy Parker was born in New York City, to Henry and Eliza Rothschild (... My God, no, dear! We'd never even heard of those Rothschilds ....) on this date.

Her birth was two months premature, allowing her to say that it was the last time she was early for anything. She was quoted, when discussing her early years, "All those writers who write about their childhood! Gentle God, if I wrote about mine you wouldn’t sit in the same room with me."

While she was a successful writer, she was just plain lousy at committing suicide. Dorothy Parker attempted suicide four times herself before succumbing to a heart attack in 1967.

August 22, 1902 -
President Theodore Roosevelt became the first U.S. chief executive to ride in an automobile (a purple-lined Columbia Electric Victoria) in Hartford, Ct. on this date. The police detail covering the event rode bicycles.

I'm sure he had a bully time, but the truth is a year earlier William McKinley rode in a car, although it was the electric ambulance that took him to the hospital after he was shot.

August 22, 1920 -
The late great Ray Bradbury, science fiction writer whose works include The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, was born on this date.

As a young boy, a friend once ridiculed his collection of science fiction and comic books, and heckled him into throwing them away. A day later, Bradbury was heartbroken, feeling that he had trashed his best friends. He immediately rebuilt his collection.

August 22, 1962 -
A group called the OAS (Secret Army Organization in English) plotted an assassination attempt on President Charles De Gaulle, who they believed had betrayed France by giving up Algeria (in northern Africa) to Algerian nationalists.

Frederick Forsyth dramatized the events of that August in his best-selling novel The Day of the Jackal, later made into a film.

August 22, 1973 -
Henry Kissinger, German-born American bureaucrat, succeeded William Rogers as Secretary of State under President Richard Nixon, on this date.

Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in the same year, (he's also considered a war criminal by others.) He continued in office until 1977.

(I really don't care about the man but it gave me an excuse to play the Python song.)

And so it goes.

Friday, August 21, 2015

We'll dance until morning

August 21, 1952 -
The classic John Ford film, The Quiet Man was released on this date.

The white haired frail Dan Tobin, who gets up from his death bed and runs to see the fight is John Ford's older brother, Francis Ford. Francis was a silent film actor and director in his own right, who died two years after the film was made.

August 21, 1965 -
The Lovin' Spoonful's released their first no. 1 hit, Do You Believe In Magic on this date.

This was written by John Sebastian, who formed The Lovin' Spoonful with his friend, Zal Yanovsky. Sebastian and Yanovsky were in a group called The Mugwumps, and made a name for themselves playing clubs in Greenwich Village. When the other Mugwumps - Mama Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty - moved to California and formed The Mamas And The Papas, they formed the band and Sebastian began focusing on songwriting.

August 21, 1979 -
Gary Numan released his hit Cars from his album The Pleasure Principle, on this date.

This was Numan's only hit in the US, but he has had many others in England, where he has a large cult following. Numan specializes in electronic music, and was an influence on artists like Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails.

Today in History:
August 21, 1614
Erzsebet Bathory, ruler of Transylvania, died at 54, on this date. She had sought immortality by killing young virgins and bathing in their blood (or so they say.) It apparently didn't work.

I wonder if Elizabeth Arden is still offering this service and where are they finding enough virgins.

August 21, 1888 -
William Seward Burroughs of St. Louis, Missouri (grandfather of Beat Generation writer William S. Burroughs) was granted four patents for the first successful “Calculating-Machine,” sometimes referred to as an “adding and listing machine.” (US No. 388,116-388,119)

One year after making his first patent application on January 10, 1885, he incorporated his business as the American Arithmometer Corporation, with an investment of $100,000.

August 21, 1906 (or 1905?) -
Happy Birthday Friz

Isadore 'Friz' Freleng, one of the original tennants of Warner Bros. Termite Terrace, was born on this date.

August 21, 1911 -
Pablo Picasso was having a very bad day.

His so called friend, French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had once called for the Louvre to be "burnt down," came under suspicion when the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Lourve on this day; he was arrested and put in jail. Apollinaire, as all bad French dadaist poets would do, ratted out his friend Pablo Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning, but both were later exonerated.

Very nice guy.

At the time, the painting was believed to be lost forever, and it would be two years before the real thief was discovered. Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia stole it by entering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet and walking out with it hidden under his coat after the museum had closed. Peruggia was an Italian patriot who believed da Vinci's painting should be returned to Italy for display in an Italian museum.

Peruggia may have also been motivated by a friend who sold copies of the painting, which would skyrocket in value after the theft of the original. After having kept the painting in his apartment for two years, Peruggia grew impatient and was finally caught when he attempted to sell it to the directors of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence; it was exhibited all over Italy and returned to the Louvre in 1913. Peruggia was hailed for his patriotism in Italy and only served a few months in jail for the crime.

August 21, 1912 -
Arthur R. Eldred
was the first person to have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest in the Boy Scouts of America.

A few weeks after becoming the first Eagle Scout, Eldred helped to save another Scout from drowning and was awarded the Bronze Honor Medal for his actions.

August 21, 1959 -
Hawaii became the 50th state to enter the Union when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the order, granting the stolen island nation, Hawaii statehood on this date.

Several bills for Hawaii had been presented to the US Congress, in 1919, 1935, 1947 and 1950, but none had passed until this day in 1959. (Notice Nixon gleefully looking on.  He was ensuring that little Barry Obama would be born on U.S. soil.  Nixon was at the heart a many a conspiracy.)

August 21, 1962 -
I just want the money and the fame and the adoration, and I don't want any of the other stuff.

Matthew Broderick, actor and Native New Yorker was born on this date.

August 21, 1983 -
Longtime political opponent of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, former Philippine senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr. was not having a very good day. As Benigno stepped off a airplane at the Manila airport (ending his three years of self-imposed exile in the US,) he was assassinated on this date.

He was returning home to run in the Philippine's next election. These kind of things tend to put people off of travel.

August 21, 1986 -
1,700 people were killed in Cameroon when Lake Nyos emitted a huge cloud of fast-moving fog, quickly enveloping the villages of Nyos, Kam, Cha and Subum on this date.

The lethal mist, consisting mainly of carbon dioxide and water vapor, displaces the oxygen in the low-lying zones, killing thousands of cattle and even more birds and wild animals. One eyewitness later describes the landscape as being "littered with human remains and animal carcasses."

That would have ruined a vacation.

And so it goes.