Sunday, November 19, 2017

Not to burst your bubble

It's unclear if colonists and Native Americans ate turkey at their feast.

There is truly no definitive proof that the bird we wait all year to eat was even offered to guests back in 1621. However, they did indulge in other interesting foods like lobster, seal and swan.

Drum roll please - the 2017 word of the year this year is -

According to the Collins Dictionary, the word you're looking for is "Fake news." The dictionary's new Word of the Year is defined as "false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting."

Once again, thank Mr. President.

November 19, 1942 -
The second (and last) Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth outing, You Were Never Lovelier, co-starring  Adolphe Menjou and Xavier Cugat, premiered in NYC on this date.

Free space at the studio was limited during production so Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth rehearsed most of their routines in a nearby funeral parlor next to a cemetery. They had to stop rehearsing to the upbeat music whenever a funeral procession arrived.

November 19, 1946 -
Edmund Goulding's
adaptation of  W. Somerset Maugham's novel, The Razor's Edge, starring Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, John Payne, Anne Baxter, Clifton Webb, and Herbert Marshall, premiered in NYC on this date.

Tyrone Power got along well with Gene Tierney. In the movie her character falls for his, but on the set it was Power who fell for Tierney. As soon as this was noticed, rumors began to fly that the two were romantically involved in real life. After the premiere, Power brought her a scarf with the word "Love" embroidered on it as a gift and she had to tell him she was seeing John F. Kennedy, one of the sons of Joseph Kennedy, still years away from his political victories in the US Senate and the Presidency. Power understood and made no more advances.

November 19, 1959 -
The first episode of Rocky & His Friends aired on this date.

The first episode, Part One of the Jet Fuel Formula story arc, was recorded in February 1958. However, subsequent episodes were not recorded until February 1959, using a different soundtrack stock. This led to some notable changes in the performances of the voice cast - in Part One of Jet Fuel Formula the clarity of the voice cast is noticeably better than in subsequent episodes, particularly the voice performances of June Foray and Paul Frees; a close listen finds that the studio echo of the session bleeds into the soundtrack.

November 19, 1975 -
One of Jack Nicholson's greatest performances, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, opened in the US on this date.

During filming, a crew member running cables left a second story window open at the Oregon State Mental Hospital and an actual patient climbed through the bars and fell to the ground, injuring himself. The next day The Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon reported the incident with the headline on the front page "One flew OUT of the cuckoo's nest".

November 19, 1980 -
It fails so completely that you might suspect Mr. Cimino sold his soul to obtain the success of The Deer Hunter and the Devil has just come around to collect. - Vincent Canby, The New York Times

Michael Cimino's 'tainted masterpiece', Heaven's Gate premiered on this date.

33 years
later - By all means see it on the big screen if only to appreciate the enormity of Mr. Cimino's efforts.  A fascinating artifact and a monument to Mr. Cimino's towering ambitions, as much for himself as for his art. He sought to recreate the Old West in the film, but the greater marvel is how he tried to replicate Old Hollywood and a dream world that once was - a world that these days is often made in computers. – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

Another stop along the lost highway

Today in History:
November 19, 1581
Russian Czar Ivan The Terrible killed his son, Ivan The Merely Petulant on this date, or so history alleges. The younger Ivan interrupted the elder Ivan, who was beating Ivan Jr's pregnant wife because of her inappropriate garb. Still in a fit of rage, dad smote his son with a staff, killing him dead.

This is what passed for family life amongst the Royals in the Middle Ages in Russia.

November 19, 1620 -
A group of maniacal religious fanatics reached North America and stepped ashore on Plymouth Rock on this date. Because America did not yet have a Puritan Government, they developed the Mayflower Compact while still at sea. (William Bradford had argued for a Sporty Coupe, but the more practical John Alden had carried the day.)

Eventually the descendants of these frugal and passionately religious people would invent apps that enable the downloading of pornography to your smart phones around the world at light speed.

November 19, 1703 -
The Man in the Iron Mask died in the Bastille on this date.

He was a prisoner of Louis XIV, forced to wear a black velvet mask, and his identity has never been revealed.

Seven score and 14 years ago today (November 19, 1863) -
President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on this date.

The speech remains an important part of American history on account of its having been written on the back of an envelope despite stringent postal requirements that addresses be printed clearly on the front.

November 19, 1954
Driving to Los Angeles, Sammy Davis, Jr. was in a serious automobile accident in San Bernardino on this date.

He lost his left eye, but the resultant publicity greatly accelerated his career.

November 19, 1961 -
Michael Rockefeller, 23
year old son of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller (later Vice President), was last seen while searching for Asmat wood carvings in the jungles near Atsj, Papua New Guinea on this date.

He was probably eaten by the Asmat. Hence their motto, "Eat the Rich".

November 19, 1969 -
Please feel free to use this piece of information at your Thanksgiving dinner should you run out of conversation:

Apollo 12 astronauts, Mission commander Charles "Pete" Conrad and Lunar Module Pilot Alan L. Bean, landed at the Oceanus Procellarum (“Ocean of Storms”) and become the third and fourth humans to walk on the Moon on this date.

November 19, 1978
Philadelphia Eagles’ Herman Edwards returned a fumble for a touchdown with 31 seconds left to give Philadelphia a 19-17 victory over the New York Giants.

The play became know as the Miracle at the Meadowlands and the play vaulted the Eagles into the postseason for the first time in 18 years, while the Giants finished last in the division.

And so it goes

Begin discussing with your family the Thanksgiving menu

(start drinking the Beaujolais Nouveau you purchased the other day.  You need to exercise your liver.)


Before you go - Puddles released a fantastic version of Elvis Costello's (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding -

(If everyone is very good, I'll try to find the clip of Elvis Costello singing this in a bear suit.)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Neither fat nor skinny

November 18, 1928 -
Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse (even though this is his third appearance in a cartoon.) I've stopped arguing with the Disney corporation since Darth Vader's been working there.

Steamboat Willie, the first fully synchronized sound cartoon, directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, was released on this date.

November 18, 1931 -
The groundbreaking film, M├Ądchen in Uniform, premiered in Berlin, on this date.

The movie was banned when first released in Germany and the United States. The Nazi regime tried to burn all the copies of this movie. It wasn't until First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt saw the importance of the movie that the ban was lifted in the US.

November 18, 1959 -
The Biblical spectaculars to end all spectaculars, Ben-Hur, starring Charlton Heston, had its world premiere in New York, on this date.

The desert sequences were all set to be filmed in Libya until authorities in the country--a Muslim nation--realized that the film was promoting Christianity. The government ordered MGM out of the country, forcing the studio to shift filming to Spain, which has the only desert in Europe.

November 18, 1987 -
Bernardo Bertolucci's
magnificent take on Pu Yi, The Last Emperor, premiered in NYC on this date.

1,100 schoolchildren were brought in to play Red Guards who composed the Cultural Revolution march of 1967. Bernardo Bertolucci had problems instilling the right amount of anger in them, as none of them knew of the attitudes of the Cultural Revolution.

November 18, 1992
The biopic of the influential Black Nationalist leader, Malcolm X, premiered on this date.

Initially, Spike Lee requested 33 million dollars for the film, a reasonable sum considering its size and scope, but much more than his previous budgets. Because Lee's five previous films combined had grossed less than 100 million dollars domestically, Warner Bros. offered 20 million dollars for a two-hour and fifteen-minute film, plus eight million dollars from Largo Entertainment for the foreign rights. When the film went five million dollars over budget, Lee kicked in most of his salary, but failed to keep the financiers from shutting down post-production. Lee went public with his battles, and raised funds from celebrity friends, including Oprah Winfrey, and Michael Jordan to regain control of the project. Warner Bros. eventually kicked in more funds, after a positive screening of a rough cut.

Don't forget to tune into The ACME Eagle Hand Soap Radio Hour

Today in History:
November 18, 1307
Local Child Services authorities in Uri, Switzerland reported that a William Tell shot an apple off his son's head on this date

- Charges may still be pending.

November 18, 1421 -
A seawall at the North Sea (and once again to be clear, not the Zuiderzee, as I have joked in the past) dike breaks, in the Netherlands, flooding 72 villages and killing somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 people on this date.

Please try to refrain yourselves from make jokes about the killer dikes.

November 18, 1477 -
William Caxton
published the first book printed in England, on this date. The book was a translation of The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, by Frenchman Guillaume de Tignoville. The translation to English was performed by Anthony Wodville, Earl Rivers, who had devoted a considerable portion of his life to the study of philosophers' dictes.

Wodville first formulated the theory that the length of a philosopher's dicte was less important than its thrust. He has also been credited with originating the theory that a philosopher's dicte was commensurate with his shoe size. Neither theory is given much credence by contemporary philosophers, most of whom appear to be dicteless anyway.

November 18, 1686 -
Louis XIV's,
King of France, anal fistula was operated on this date, by surgeon Charles Francois Felix, with great success, in front of the horrified yet fascinated court. To prepare for the operation Felix practiced his surgery on anuses of the peasantry, with some fatalities at first but improving his technique in time for the royal bung.

This is what passed for entertainment at the french royal court.

November 18, 1922 -
Marcel Proust, a pioneer of the modern novel (A la Recherche du Temps Perdu), died at 51 on this date.

While it is generally agreed upon that he died of pneumonia and a pulmonary abscess, I believe he was crushed by the sheer weight of the unedited proof of his massive novel.

(Please feel please as punch with yourself that you've read about Proust twice in one week.)

November 18, 1966 -
After this final "meatless" day of sacrifice, the American Roman Catholic Church would withdraw its edict forbidding meat consumption on Fridays.

No one knows how much the American Jellied Ox Tongue Consortium 'donated' to the church on that day.

November 18, 1970 -
Singer/polygamist Jerry Lee Lewis divorced his third wife Myra Gail, after 12 years of marriage. Not only was she jailbait when they got married (being 13 at the time), but Lewis was married to Jane Mitcham at the time.

It's so hard to keep details like the number of wives you have straight in your mind.

November 18, 1978 -
Congressman Leo Ryan was slain at the People's Temple compound in Guyana, after which over 900 members of the cult led by the Reverend Jim Jones drank cyanide laced Flavor Aid (a Kool Aid knockoff), including over 270 children. It was probably not a pretty sight.

The Kraft Foods Company would like you guys to stop making those damn 'drink the Kool Aid' jokes

- it wasn't them.

November 18, 1985 -
Cartoon strips approached their zenith on this date.

The comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, created by Bill Watterson, was first published on this date. We learn of Hobbes' love for tuna fish

And so it goes

Begin laying down your wine choices - if you're having a house full of people, you'll need it.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Another unnecessary fact of the day

Black Friday is the busiest day of the year for plumbers.

Thanks to all that food we gobble up, Roto-Rooter reports that kitchen drains, garbage disposals and, yes, toilets, require more attention the day after Thanksgiving than any other day of the year.

November 17, 1933 -
...Calling all nations. Calling all nations. This is Rufus T. This is Rufus T. Firefly coming to you through the courtesy of the enemy. We're in a mess folks, we're in a mess. Rush to Freedonia! Three men and one woman are trapped in a building! Send help at once! If you can't send help, send two more women!  ....

Unbelievable, but, a box office flop (at the time), The Marx Brothers Duck Soup opened on this date. (This film marks the last appearance of Zeppo Marx in a Marx Brothers film.)

Shortly before this film premiered, the city of Fredonia, New York, complained about the use of its name with an additional "e". The Marx Brothers' response was, "Change the name of your town, it's hurting our picture."

November 17, 1942 -
Martin Scorsese
, Academy Award-winning American film director, writer, producer, actor, film historian, former drug addict and asthmatic was born on this date.

Go watch a movie (any movie) in his honor. He won't mind.

November 17, 1951 -
... Slight pause while I adjust my accoutrements.

Another in the series of Daffy and Porky buddy flicks, Drip-Along Daffy, opened on this date.

November 17, 1978 -
The two-hour Star Wars Holiday Special aired for the first and only time on CBS on this date. (I must strongly warn readers not to attempt to watch the entire special in one seating - stronger men have been driven to drink and drugs for less.)

The Holiday Special is the first time that James Earl Jones was credited with performing the voice of Darth Vader. The next time would be five years later, in 1983, during the end credits of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi.

November 17, 1989 -
Jim Jarmusch's fourth
feature, Mystery Train, opened on this date.

The hotel where the three stories converge is no longer standing, so many fans of the movie have made pilgrimages to the site only to find that it no longer exists. The film also contains some of the last known footage of Stax Records.

November 17, 2006 -
Daniel Craig
stepped into the role of James Bond for the first time with the third adaptation of Ian Fleming's Casino Royale premiered in the U.S. on this date. This was the 21st Bond film (in the official canon.)

Daniel Craig actually rejected the part of James Bond a year before, as he had felt that the series had settled into a standard formula. He changed his mind when he read the finished script.

Speaking of James Bond: sometimes you shake it too much

Today in History:
Things you probably didn't need to know
November 17, 375 -
Valentinian I
, the Emperor of the West, enraged by the rudeness of barbarian envoys,

died of apoplexy in present day Hungary on this date.

November 17, 1558 -
Elizabeth I
of England ascended to the throne, on this date.

She is best known for her imperfect application of the cosmetic sciences, a flaw that is strikingly evident in all her portraits but that courtiers were apparently reluctant to address the issue.

November 17, 1796 -
Empress Catherine the Great died of a stroke while sitting on the commode and not while astride her steed (or something like that) on this date.

So dammit, stop making those jokes.

November 17, 1869 -
The Suez Canal
was opened in Egypt, linking the Mediterranean and the Red Seas on this date. The 100 mile canal eliminated a 4000-mile trip around Africa.

Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, together with Ferdinand de Lesseps, chief architect of the canal, led the first file of ships from on board the French imperial yacht Aigle.

November 17, 1871 -
George Wood Wingate
and William Conant Church established the National Rifle Association in New York on this date.

Today, the group has more than five million members (as of January 2015,) - but the truth of those numbers is a matter of debate.

November 17, 1903 -
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin's
stubbornness split his Russian Social Democratic Labor Party into two factions: the slim majority who sided with him, and the vast minority who opposed him, on this date.

The Russian terms for majority and minority are Bolshevik and Menshevik, respectively, and so these factions took their names. Later the Mensheviks became the majority party, meaning that the Mensheviks had become Bolsheviks and the Bolsheviks Mensheviks.

This was confusing. If you asked someone what they were and they said "Bolshevik," you'd have no way of knowing whether they meant Bolshevik (Menshevik) or Menshevik (Bolshevik.) This state of affairs quickly became intolerable. All sorts of remedies were suggested placards, ID bracelets, hats, tattoos but it was impossible to arrive at a consensus until Lenin clarified matters by having all the Mensheviks shot.

It was easy after that.

November 17, 1917 -
The world famous 77 year old French Sculptor Auguste Rodin froze to death in an unheated attic in Meudon, France on this date. He had applied to the government for quarters as warm as those wherein his statues were stored, but the government turned him down.

His case was so desperate that he asked to be permitted to have a room in the museum the Hotel Biron, formerly his own studio. The official in charge of the museum refused. Other officials and friends promised coal but never sent it, though his situation at Meudon (ill, and freezing to death,) was apparently well known to all of them.

November 17, 1941
U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Joseph C. Grew cabled the US State Department that he has heard that Japan has 'planned, in the event of trouble with the United States, to attempt a surprise mass attack at Pearl Harbor.' His warning was ignored by the Office of Naval Intelligence.

His diplomatic relations with Japan were cordial until the late 1930s, when Japanese expansionism became openly aggressive toward Asian neighbors like China. The US increased economic pressures on Japan until, in late 1939, Grew had been predicting that the situation will soon come to a head. He told President Roosevelt in October 1939 that 'if we start sanctions against Japan we must see them through to the end, and the end may conceivably be 'war.'


November 17, 1968 -
preempted the final 1:05 from a very close Jets-Raiders NFL football game with the TV movie Heidi. Two touchdowns were scored during this missing time.

Sports fans everywhere applaud and understand the network's decision.

November 17, 1970 -
Douglas Engelbart
receives a patent (US No. 3,541,541) for the first computer mouse on this date.

The patent, titled “X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System,” is a simple hollowed-out wooden block, with a single push button on top.

November 17, 1970 -
Things that didn't teach you in school: The Soviet moon rover, Lunokhod 1 lands on the Moon on this date. (Yes kids, the video is a simulation.)

Lunokhod was the first roving remote-controlled robot to land on another celestial body.

November 17, 1973 -
People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.

President Nixon spoke to more than 400 editors from the Associated Press at a gathering in Orlando, Florida, at Walt Disney World on this date.

I guess that means Disney World isn't the happiest place on Earth for everybody.

And so it goes

Big question for the day - Fresh or Frozen?