Monday, March 19, 2018

It's a saint's day/ it's a delicious pastry day

It's the Feast of St. Joseph, stepdad to Jesus and patron saint of real estate closers.

Remember to go out and have the very delicious Sicilian pastry that bears his name (but get the ones with canolli filling, not the custard.)  It's so good, it brings you that much closer to God.

Also, if you live in Capistrano,

remember the swallows are coming back today, eat you pastries indoors.

March 19, 1921 -
The German silent film classic, Das Kabinett Des Docktor Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari - wait a minute, I know that title from somewhere), starring Werner Kraus and Conrad Veidt premiered in the US on this date. The film is considered to be the first true horror film ever made.

Weeks before the initial release of the film, posters with the tag-line "Du mußt Caligari werden!" ("You have to become Caligari!") were put up in Berlin without the slightest hint that they were promotion for the upcoming movie.

March 19, 1947 -
Another Bob Hope film (at the peak of his career), My Favorite Brunette, opened in Los Angeles on this date.

Bing Crosby, Bob Hope's long-term co-star and rival in the Road movies, plays an executioner who is livid when he doesn't get to execute Hope's character. Hope fires back saying, "He'll do any kind of role" (at the time, Crosby's one-scene cameo earned him the highest amount ever paid an actor for a cameo appearance.)

March 19, 1958 -
The film based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical, South Pacific, was released on this date. (Please feel free to sing along with Rossano Brazzi)

Concerned that the film's lush tropical settings would appear unnatural in Technicolor, and partially to cover up the fluctuations in weather during the shoot, director Joshua Logan hoped to soften the effect by filming several scenes through the newly available colored filters. He later indicated he considered this to be the biggest mistake he had made in his filming career. He wanted the filters to be subtler, but he says that the film processing lab had made them more extreme than he liked.

March 19, 1962 -
Luis Buñuel's
sacrilegious masterpiece, Viridiana, opened in the US on this date.

The film was initially banned in Spain and completely denounced by the Vatican.  The script was initially approved by the Spanish authorities with a few minor changes. They had no opportunity to view the finished film until it played at the Cannes Film Festival where it won the Palme d'Or. Nevertheless they were sufficiently horrified by what they saw to ban the film.

March 19, 1984 -
CBS TV premiered the midseason replacement show Kate & Allie starring Susan Saint James and Jane Curtin on this date.

The series was the brainchild of Sherry Coben who came up with the idea for the series while attending a high school reunion. There she noticed that a couple of divorcees who seemed unhappy and dissatisfied found comfort in sharing with each other.

Word of the Day

Today in History:
March 19, 1931
Though unregulated gambling had taken place in mining towns all over Nevada, gambling was outlawed in the early 20th century as part of a nationwide campaign against corruption.

The state re-legalized it on this day in 1931, and became the state's primary source of revenue.

March 19, 1943 -
Francesco Raffaele Nitto, better known as, Frank 'The Enforcer' Nitti, one of the top henchmen of Alphonse "Big Al" "Scarface" Capone and later the front man for the mob Capone created, the Chicago Outfit, was having a very bad day. Many top members of the Chicago Outfit were indicted for extortion. The Outfit was accused of trying to strong arm some of the largest Hollywood movie studios. The studios had cooperated with The Outfit to avoid union trouble stirred up by the mob.

The day before his scheduled grand jury appearance, Nitti shared breakfast with his wife in their Riverside, Illinois home at 712 Selborne Road. As his wife was leaving for church, Nitti told her he planned to take a walk. After his wife left, Nitti began to drink heavily. He then loaded a .32 caliber revolver, put it in his coat pocket, and walked five blocks to a local railroad yard. Two railroad workers (William F. Sebauer and Lowell M. Barnett) spotted Nitti walking on the track of an oncoming train and shouted a warning. They thought the train hit him, but Nitti had managed to jump out of the way in time. Then two shots rang out.

The trainmen first thought Nitti was shooting at them, but then realized he was trying to shoot himself in the head. The two bullets went through his hat. Nitti finally sat on the ground against a fence and, with the railroad workers watching from a distance, shot himself in the head on this date.

March 19, 1945 -
The Third Reich's World Tour was drawing to an abrupt close. And the band members were understandably depressed. The ever wacky and truly evil bastard Adolf Hitler issued his so-called "Nero Decree" on this date, ordering the destruction of German facilities that could fall into Allied hands.

Albert Speer, gave himself a birthday present today (avoiding the noose at the Nuremberg trials) and does everything he can to stop this from happening, in direct defiance of Hitler. Speer knew he had some precedent, Hitler also had decreed that Paris should be left a smoking ruin the previous summer, but Dietrich von Choltitz thought better of his Fuhrer's order.

March 19, 1953 -
NBC TV aired The Academy Awards on television for the first time on this date.  Though the winners had been announced several months earlier, the program still garnered a lot of attention.

The show was hosted by Bob Hope and Conrad Nagel.

March 19, 1957 -
Elvis Presley was touring and has a vision. Before he immediately act upon it, St. Elvis wolfed down seven fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches and agreed to purchase the 14 acre Graceland estate from Ruth Moore for $100,000 on this date.

The place is now his cemetery. Or is it?

March 19, 1982 -
The guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads, died during the Diary of a Madman tour after the plane he is flying in buzzed the band's tour bus and clipped the wing of the plane, crashing into a nearby farmhouse.

Kids, once again, repeat after me, Drugs are bad.

March 19, 1987 -
Televangelist Jim Bakker resigns his PTL ministry after it is revealed he was delivering a little too much spiritual healing to former church secretary and future Playboy playmate Jessica Hahn.

Some $265,000 in ministry funds had been used to keep Hahn quiet about a one-time sexual encounter in 1980. (Given that some unnamed executive paid $130,000 to kept his 'supposed' nine month affair a secret; that was one very expensive tryst.)

March 19, 2003 -
President George W. Bush announced on this date, the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a military mission to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein. The American led coalition began with the launch of U.S. cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs aimed at Saddam Hussein near Baghdad.

The war was internationally unpopular from the start, and lost a lot of popularity in America after Bush's claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction were found to be unsubstantiated.

March 19, 2005 -
John Zachary DeLorean former American engineer and executive in the U.S. automobile industry, and drug dealer died on this date.

He quit GM in 1973 to launch the DeLorean Motor Car Co. in Northern Ireland. Eight years later, the DeLorean DMC-12 hit the streets.

8,900 cars were built.

And so it goes.

Before you go - Spring starts tomorrow in Northern Hemisphere at 12:15 p.m. EDT,

with the threat of more snow still in the air.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Many of you are not awake yet

It's Oatmeal Cookie day.

Given the amount of drinking many of you probably did yesterday, a little extra fiber in your diet today wouldn't be the worst idea in the world.  Word to the wise - if one of the raisins stats to crawl away, don't eat the cookie.

March 18, 1924 -
The Thief of Bagdad, the Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckler adventure film which tells the story of a thief who falls in love with the daughter of the Caliph, was released on this date.

In the scenes with the giant ape, the guards are played by children. When the ape is out of sight the guards are played by adults. It was done to make the normal-sized ape appear bigger.

March 18, 1938 -
The under appreciated Ernst Lubitsch film, Bluebeard's Eighth Wife premiered on this date.

At their first production meeting, Ernst Lubitsch posed this question: How do the boy and girl get together? Billy Wilder promptly suggested that the opening scene should be in the men's shop of a department store. "The boy is trying to buy a pajama," he extemporized glibly, "but he sleeps only in the tops. He is thrifty so he insists on buying ONLY the tops. The clerk says he must buy the pants too. It looks like a catastrophe. Then the girl comes into the shop and buys the pants because she sleeps only in the pants." Ernst Lubitsch and Charles Brackett were enchanted with this idea. Months later, they discovered that Billy Wilder himself was a pajama tops-only sleeper and had been contemplating this idea for months, waiting for a chance to use it in a comedy.

March 18, 1964 -
In his first outing as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, Peter Sellers stars in The Pink Panther, premiered in New York City on this date.

The film was intended to have David Niven's character Sir Charles Lytton as the main character. However, Peter Sellers' portrayal of Inspector Clouseau was so loved by the crew (and later by the audience) it became his character that this film and the sequels focused on.

March 18, 1967 -
The Beatles' Penny Lane single goes #1 on this date.

Paul McCartney was sitting at a bus shelter waiting for John Lennon to meet him on Penny Lane, a street near their houses. While sitting there Paul jotted down the things he saw, including a barber's shop with pictures of its clients and a nurse selling poppies for Remembrance Day (November 11th - the day World War I officially ended). He later turned these into the song we now know. Penny Lane still contains the bank and barber's shop mentioned in the song, however the shelter in the middle of the roundabout where the nurse sells the poppies has now become a restaurant named Sgt. Pepper's Bistro.

March 18, 1968 -
Mel Brook's screamingly funny first film, a send-up of Broadway, The Producers, premiered in New York City on this date.

When Mel Brooks was sixteen-years-old, he worked for a cash-strapped theatrical producer who'd raise funds by sleeping with his investors, most of whom were elderly women. "He pounced on little old ladies and would make love to them", Brooks told The Guardian. "They gave him money for his plays, and they were so grateful for his attention." In Manhattan, Brooks also knew a pair of showmen who had more or less failed their way into prosperity. "They were doing flop after flop and living like kings", Brooks said. "A press agent told me, 'God forbid they should ever get a hit, because they'd never be able to pay off the backers!' I coupled the producer with these two crooks and, BANG!, there was my story."

March 18, 1975
McLean Stevenson’s character (Lt. Colonel Henry Blake) died in the M*A*S*H episode Abyssinia, Henry, its third season finale on this date.

This was the final episode for both McLean Stevenson and Wayne Rogers. Wayne Rogers decided to leave the show because he felt that Trapper John had become more of a sidekick to Alan Alda's Hawkeye than the equals they were supposed to be. 20th Century-Fox sued Rogers, but its case collapsed when it transpired that he'd never signed his contract. The reason Rogers cited for this was an archaic "morals clause", which he wouldn't accept unless the studio signed one for him in turn.

On my recent shopping trip

Today in History:
March 18, 1314
Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, was burned at the stake during the final purge of the Templars in France on this date.

Among the things de Molay admitted to the Inquisitor panel (though possibly coerced) were the obligation of Templars to deny Christ when they joined, and a sacrament that involved spitting on a crucifix.

Oh that wacky life during the Middle Ages.

March 18, 1584 -
Ivan IV of Russia died on this date. He is better known by his nickname: Ivan the Terrible. He was the first king of Russia to call himself a Caesar, probably in the hopes that Shakespeare would write a play about him. He also replaced the sale of beer and mead with vodka at state-run taverns.

He couldn't pronounce Caesar, however, so he simply called himself "zar," and subsequent arguments over whether that should be spelled czar, tsar, zar or tzar became so heated that they eventually resulted in Russian History.

And all of this led to Vladimir Putin having himself elected president in a rigged election, again.

March 18, 1913 -
(Once again kids follow along, it's complex.)
Itinerant sailor and general layabout Philip Mountbatten's (nee Philip Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg) grandfather, Christian Wilhelm Ferdinand Adolf Georg of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (sibling to a king and two queens) was out on an afternoon stroll. This, in and of itself, is not remarkable, except for the fact that this minor Danish/ German prince had changed his name to George and became the King of Greece. Wilhelm/ George, like most royalty, went out for an afternoon stroll without any pocket change (royalty and presidents don't carry money.)

Alexandros Schinas, an alcoholic vagrant asked the King for some spare change and shot him in the back went the King refused to give him money. Wilhelm/ George died en route to the hospital,

Alexandros died five days later after he 'accidentally' fell out of a window at police headquarters.

So kids let this be a lesson to you, if you find yourself the ruler of a European nation - the change you carry, may save your life.

March 18, 1922 -
Mohandas K. Gandhi a British educated lawyer, was arrested and sentenced to prison in India for civil disobedience after calling for mass civil disobedience which included boycotting British educational institutions and law courts, not working for the British controlled government and the boycott of foreign-made goods, especially British goods, on this date.

Although he was sentenced to six years in prison, he only served two before being released for an appendicitis operation.

March 18, 1937 -
A massive gas explosion at the New London Junior-Senior High School in New London, Texas, killed more than 400 people, most of them children, on this date.

As a result of the explosion, legislation was passed requiring an odor to be added to natural gas so that leaks may be detected.

March 18, 1954 -
In 1948, Howard Hughes gained majority control of RKO Pictures stock; at that time RKO had becomes a struggling Hollywood studio. A steady stream of lawsuits from RKO's minority shareholders became an increasing nuisance, especially as Hughes looked to focus on his aircraft-manufacturing and TWA holdings during the Korean War years. And so our favorite bisexual billionaire, ever increasing germaphobe and aviator Howard Hughes bought RKO Pictures for $23,489,478 (and not a penny more,) on this date.

With his purchase of the studio, Hughes became the closest thing to a sole owner of a studio that Hollywood had seen in more than three decades. Six months later, Hughes sold the studio to General Tire and Rubber Company for $25 million.

March 18, 1965 -
Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov performed the first spacewalk on this day. He stayed outside his ship for 12 minutes, held to the ship by a tether.

By the time his walk was over, his spacesuit had inflated so much in the vacuum of space that he could barely get back inside the ship. With a bit of quick thinking, he opened a value to allow some of the suit’s air to bleed off without venting all of it, only barely getting back into the capsule in time.

March 18, 1970 -
Country Joe McDonald (of Country Joe and the Fish) was convicted on obscenity charges after he asks for an F, a U, a C and one other letter at a concert in Massachusetts.

The song was meant as a satire of US government attitudes toward the Vietnam War. Country Joe MacDonald released it at the height of the war after he had been discharged from the US Navy for several years. He wrote it in about 30 minutes after it popped into his head.

March 18, 1980 -
50 people were killed at the Plesetsk Space Center, Mirny, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia, when a Vostok rocket exploded on the launch pad on this date.

At the time, this represented a significant percentage of the Soviet space program's scientists.

And so it goes.


Saturday, March 17, 2018

May the road rise to meet you

The Feast Day of St. Patrick is celebrated on March 17.

St. Patrick is considered the father of Celtic Christianity. He founded more than three hundred churches, drove the snakes out of Ireland, invented green beer, and coined the popular slogan, Kiss me, I'm Irish.

The Citizenry of Chicago is encouraged to drink cheap green beer early and often before St. Patrick's Day so the Chicago River can be dyed with their vomit.

I find few things more scenic than 40 tons of green dye dumped in a river of raw sewage

I'm pretty sure that St. Patrick would be horrified by St. Patrick's Day.

March 17, 1756 -
St. Patrick's Day was celebrated in New York City for the first time (at the Crown and Thistle Tavern). The patrons finally sober up and six years later, the celebration evolves into a parade (the first in NYC) and the St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City has become the largest celebration of the holiday in the world (drawn more revelers than any parade for the holiday in the whole of Ireland.)

March 17, 1958 -
The song Tequila by the Champs was number one on the music charts on this date.

Danny Flores, who was the saxophone player in The Champs, wrote this song (it's credited to his pen name, Chuck Rio). Flores had the melody kicking around for a while, and would play it as an interlude during the group's club shows.

March 17, 1968 -
The Bee Gees made their U.S. television debut on the Ed Sullivan Show, on this date.

Besides their song, Words (which went on to become a no. 1 hit in several countries,) they sang To Love Somebody, (which went on to be one of their most covered songs.)

March 17, 1972 -
John Water
presented Divine to an unsuspecting world: Pink Flamingos, premiered in Baltimore on this date.

The dog feces in the infamous final scene are real. According to director John Waters, the dog was fed steak for three days beforehand.

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

Today in History:
March 17, 965
Pope Leo VIII died of a stroke during sexual congress with a prostitute on this date.

Perhaps a fine way for a man to die, but not a very appropriate choice for the Bishop of Rome. (it's OK if you hum to yourself, Back in the saddle again.)

March 17, 1845 -
Stephen Perry and Thomas Barnabas Daft, British inventors and businessmen patented the rubber band on this day.

They conceived of the device after experimentally slicing up rubber bottles that had been manufactured by South and Central America natives and brought to England by sailors. Other regional names for the rubber band include a binder, a laggy band, an elastic, and a gum band.

March 17, 1884 -
John Joseph Montgomery made the first manned, controlled, heavier than air flight in a glider he built. Although not publicized at the time, this flight was first described by Montgomery as part of a lecture delivered at the Conference on Aerial Navigation at Chicago, 1893 and published by Octave Chanute in Progress in Flying Machines.

While Montgomery himself never claimed firsts, his flight experiments of the 1880s are considered by several historians and organizations to have been the first controlled flights in America, or in the Western Hemisphere depending on source. After a crash destroyed his glider in 1886, Montgomery abandoned aviation, but then took it up again in 1903.

March 17, 1905 -
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, niece of President Theodore Roosevelt, married her fifth cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt in New York on this date.

Apparently, Roosevelt confuses himself with British Royalty by marrying his distant relative.  FDR jokes with friends that, "Only on St. Patrick's Day can you marry your cousin".

March 17, 1919 -
Nathaniel Adams Coles, the premiere singer and jazz pianist was born on this date.

Cole's popularity allowed him to become the first African American to host a network variety program, The Nat King Cole Show, which debuted on NBC television in 1956. The show fell victim to the bigotry of the times, however, and was canceled after one season; few sponsors were willing to be associated with a black entertainer.

March 17, 1939 -
After German troops crossed the Czech border, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain threw all his years of careful diplomacy out the window and accused Adolf Hitler of breaking his word.

He instantly regretted having let these angry words slip, however, and subsequently resigned.

March 17, 1941 -
President Franklin D. Roosevelt opened the National Gallery of Art to the public, on this date. The National Gallery of Art would become known as one of the best museums in the world. It contains a collection of more than 130,000 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculpture, decorative arts, and furniture pieces.

At the time of its inception, it was the largest marble structure in the world. The museum stands on the former site of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad station, most famous for being where 20th president James Garfield was shot in 1881 by Charles Guiteau.

March 17, 1942 -
John Wayne Gacy, part time clown, serial killer, and sodomizer of dozens of boys, was born in Chicago on this date. His father was convinced Gacy was a "sissy", but friends and family didn't really suspect anything untoward was afoot until his 1968 arrest for coercing a teenage boy employee into committing multiple homosexual acts.

It's always a clue.

March 17, 1966 -
A U.S. midget submarine, the Alvin, located a missing hydrogen bomb which had fallen from an American bomber into the Mediterranean off Spain on this date. Oops.

Most famously, the Alvin was involved in the exploration of the wreckage of RMS Titanic in 1986. Launched from her support ship RV Atlantis II, she carried Dr. Robert Ballard and two companions to the wreckage of the great liner. RMS Titanic sank while attempting to transit the North Atlantic Ocean, after striking a large iceberg in 1912.

Alvin, accompanied by a small remotely operated vehicle (ROV) named Jason Jr., was able to conduct detailed photographic surveys and inspections of the Titanic's wreckage. Many of the photographs of the expedition have been published in the magazine of the National Geographic Society which was a major sponsor of the expedition.

March 17, 1999 -
Six members of the International Olympic Committee were expelled for corruption, all from poor third world countries. They received bribes from Salt Lake City totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, a practice that had been going on for years.

It should also be noted that the IOC Vice President at the time was named Dick Pound.

And so it goes.

And on a personal note:
March 17, 1960 -
My good friend John (a fraternity brother) was born on this day.

Not to be confused with his cousin, John, who was also born but not on this day.

March 17, 1970
My actual fraternal brother was born at Jewish Memorial Hospital in Upper Manhattan on this date.

As was noted at the time, he must be a lucky kid as he was a Puerto Rican baby born in a Jewish Hospital on an Irish holiday.

Happy Birthday guys.