Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Monday, December 31, 2007
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If we're never heard from again, we may have fried ourself & the Deskpro. BZZZT! If not, you'll have heard about it elsewhere. Just look for "spree killer" in your favorite search engine.
TTFN, & a Hippie New Year to all!!
P. S.: If you're still desperate for something to read on the web, make use of the Just Another Blog™ bogrolls [sic], & check in at Fire Megan McArdle, where we've been neglecting our duties. Maybe we can vent some of our hate, rage, pain, & fear on an easy target. — M. B.
Today's Highlight in History:
In 1879, Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
On this date:
In 1775, the British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; Montgomery was killed.
In 1857, Britain's Queen Victoria decided to make Ottawa the capital of Canada.
In 1862, President Lincoln signed an act paving the way for West Virginia statehood.
In 1877, President and Mrs. Hayes celebrated their silver anniversary (actually, a day late) by re-enacting their wedding ceremony in the White House.
In 1938, the first breath test for drivers, "drunkometer," was introduced in Indianapolis.
In 1946, President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.
In 1961, the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than 12 billion in foreign aid.
In 1963, the Central African Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was formally dissolved.
In 1964, the al-Fatah guerrillas of Yasser Arafat launched their first terrorist raid on Israel.
In 1974, private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.
In 1978, Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, marking the end of diplomatic relations with the US.
In 1986, 97 people were killed when fire broke out in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Three hotel workers later pleaded guilty in connection with the blaze.)
In 1987, Robert Mugabe was sworn in as Zimbabwe's first executive president.
Ten years ago: Michael Kennedy, the 39-year-old son of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in Colorado. In Sorocaba, Brazil, riot troops stormed a prison where inmates were holding hundreds of hostages, quickly ending a three-day rebellion without any deaths.
Five years ago: Emerging from holiday seclusion at his Texas ranch, President Bush told reporters an attack by Saddam Hussein or a terrorist ally "would cripple our economy." [Mr. Bush has left it to capitalists, real estate speculators & mortgage lenders to "cripple our economy." — Ed.] Two U. N. nuclear inspectors expelled by North Korea arrived in China, leaving the communist nation's nuclear program isolated from international scrutiny. An explosion at a clandestine fireworks factory in the Mexican port city of Veracruz ignited an entire city block, killing 28 people.
In 2004, Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych resigned, acknowledging that he had little hope of reversing the presidential election victory of his Western-leaning rival, Viktor Yushchenko.
One year ago: The death toll for Americans killed in the Iraq war reached 3,000. Hundreds of Iraqis flocked to the village of Ouja where Saddam Hussein was born to see the deposed leader buried in a religious compound 24 hours after his execution. Ordinary Americans paid their respects to former President Gerald R. Ford, walking slowly by his flag-covered casket in the U. S. Capitol. [Equal in life, equal in death. — Ed.]
Today's Birthdays: Folk and blues singer Odetta is 77. Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins is 70. Actor Tim Considine ("My Three Sons") is 67. Actress Sarah Miles is 66. Rock musician Andy Summers is 65. Actor Ben Kingsley is 64. Rock musician Peter Quaife (The Kinks) is 64. Producer-director Taylor Hackford is 63. Designer Diane Von Furstenberg is 61. Actor Tim Matheson is 60. Pop singer Burton Cummings (The Guess Who) is 60. Singer Donna Summer is 59. Actor Joe Dallesandro is 59. Rock musician Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith) is 56. Actor James Remar is 54. Actress Bebe Neuwirth is 49.[Any relation to Janis Ian? — Ed.] Actress Gong Li is 42.
Also Born on December 31, But Died in the Interim: Jacques Cartier, explorer (1491). Charles Cornwallis, general (1738). Henri Matisse, artist (1869). Elizabeth Arden, beautician, business executive (1878). Gorge C. Marshall, general and cabinet member (1880). Simon Wiesenthal, writer, activist (1908). John Denver, entertainer [Crummy pilot, too. — Ed.] (1943).
The Bidness of Show:
On December 31st, 1943, a near-riot of bobby-soxers in Times Square in New York greeted Frank Sinatra's singing engagement at the Paramount Theater.
In 1947, singing cowboy Roy Rogers married Dale Evans.
In 1961, the Beach Boys played their first gig in Long Beach, California. They earned $300.
In 1969, Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys [sic] made its debut in New York.
In 1972, the MC5 played its last gig, in Detroit. They were paid $200. [Compare to The Bleach Bozos above, in 1961. Or the Angry Samoans getting $75.00 to play The Cuckoo's Nest, in 1978. Is there no justice or decency? — Ed.]
In 1973, AC/DC made their concert debut in Sydney, Australia.
In 1982, Little Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band got married in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Percy Sledge and Little Richard performed "When A Man Loves A Woman" at the reception. [Excuse us, but did his bride have a name? — Ed.]
In 1984, drummer Rick Allen of Def Leppard lost his left arm in a car crash near his home in England. Allen stayed with the band, using a special drum kit. [Did he ever find his left arm? — Ed.]
In 1985, singer Rick Nelson, 45, was killed when fire broke out aboard a DC-3 that was taking him to a New Year's Eve performance in Dallas. His fiancee and five other people were also killed. [Free basing or heater malfunction? You decide. And why were they in a DC-3? Cheap? — Ed.]
In 1989, game show host Pat Sajak married former "Playboy" model Lesly Brown in Annapolis, Maryland. [Perhaps the least significant or interesting item since we started running this crap last month. — Ed.]
In 1991, Gilbert O'Sullivan won his lawsuit against rapper Biz Markie for using a sample of his song "Alone Again (Naturally)" for Markie's song "Alone Again." The case changed the rules of sampling by requiring that all samples be cleared before releasing them on another record.
In 1993, Barbra [Legs! — Ed.] Streisand performed her first paid concert in 22 years, singing to a sellout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.In 1997, pianist Floyd Cramer died in Nashville, Tennessee, at age 64.
In 2000, Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson married actress Kate Hudson in Aspen, Colorado. They have since divorced.
In 2004, singer Natalie Imbruglia married Silverchair singer Daniel Johns in an exclusive resort in Australia, & Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson was arrested after he and his son got into a fight with police during a New Year's Eve celebration in Naples, Florida.
In 2005, Dick Clark returned to his "New Year's Rockin' Eve" telecast after missing the previous year because he had had a stroke. He was hoarse and sometimes hard to understand, but he said he "wouldn't have missed this for the world."
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Today's Highlight in History:
On December 30th, 1907, the Mills Commission issued its final report which concluded that Abner Doubleday was the inventor of the sport of baseball -- a claim which Doubleday himself had never made. (Few, if any, sports historians take this finding seriously.)
On this date:
In 1813, the British burned Buffalo, New York, during the War of 1812. [Unless it happened on 29 December. — Ed.]
In 1853, the United States bought some 45,000 square miles of land from Mexico in a deal known as the Gadsden Purchase.
In 1903, about 600 people died when fire broke out at the recently opened Iroquois Theater in Chicago.
In 1911, Sun Yat-sen was elected the first president of the Republic of China.
In 1922, Vladimir I. Lenin proclaimed the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
In 1936, the United Auto Workers union staged its first "sit-down" strike, at the Fisher Body Plant Number 1 in Flint, Michigan.
In 1940, California's first freeway, the Arroyo Seco Parkway connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena, was officially opened.
In 1947, King Michael I of Romania agreed to abdicate, but charged he was being forced off the throne by Communists.
In 1972, the United States halted its heavy bombing of North Vietnam.
In 1978, Ohio State University fired Woody Hayes as its football coach, one day after Hayes punched a Clemson University player during a game.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan and President-elect George H.W. Bush were subpoenaed to testify as defense witnesses in the pending Iran-Contra trial of Oliver North. (The subpoenas were subsequently quashed.) [Oh, huzzah for democracy, responsibility & accountablility!! — Ed.]
In 1993, Israel and the Vatican agreed to recognize one another. ["Hey, Pope, that you?" "Yeah, um, uh, Israel, right?" — Ed.]
In 1994, a gunman walked into a pair of suburban Boston abortion clinics and opened fire, killing two employees and wounding five other people. (John C. Salvi III was later convicted of murder; he committed suicide in prison.) [Typical Christian: Murderer & chickenshit. — Ed.]
Ten years ago: A deadly massacre in Algeria's insurgency began in four mountain villages as armed men killed 412 men, women and children in an attack that lasted from dusk until dawn the following morning.
Five years ago: A suspected extremist killed three US missionaries at a Baptist hospital in Yemen. (The gunman, Abed Abdul Razak Kamel, was executed in February 2006.) China catapulted a fourth unmanned craft into orbit. [Imagine how much farther along their space program would be if they used rockets. — Ed.]
In 2003, the federal government announced it would ban the sale of ephedra, an herbal stimulant linked to 155 deaths and dozens of heart attacks and strokes.
One year ago: Iraqis awoke to news that Saddam Hussein had been hanged; victims of his three decades of autocratic rule took to the streets to celebrate. The casket bearing the body of former President Gerald R. Ford arrived in Washington, D. C. Gerald "Wash" Washington, the mayor-elect of Westlake, Louisiana, was found shot to death in a parking lot; authorities ruled his death a suicide, a conclusion disputed by his family.
Today's Birthdays: Singer-musician Bo Diddley is 79. Actor Joseph Bologna is 73. Actor Russ Tamblyn is 73. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Sandy Koufax is 72. Actor Jack Riley is 72. Folk singer Paul Stookey is 70. TV director James Burrows is 67. Actor Fred Ward is 65. Singer-musician Michael Nesmith is 65. Singer Davy Jones is 62. Singer Patti Smith is 61. Rock singer-musician Jeff Lynne is 60. "Today Show" co-host Meredith Vieira is 54. Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph is 52. Actress Patricia Kalember is 51. Country singer Suzy Bogguss is 51. "Today Show" newscaster Matt Lauer is 50. Actress-comedian Tracey Ullman is 48. Rock musician Rob Hotchkiss is 47. Radio-TV commentator Sean Hannity is 46. Runner Ben Johnson is 46. Golfer Tiger Woods is 32. Baseball player A.J. Pierzynski is 31. Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James is 23.
Born This Date But Refuse to Respond to Stimuli:
Titus, emperor (39). John Milne, seismologist (1850). Rudyard Kipling, author (1865). Alfred E. Smith, political leader (1873). Paul Bowles, writer and composer (1910). Jack Lord, actor (1920).
In Show Bidness This Date:
In 1944, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys made their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.
In 1948, the Cole Porter musical "Kiss Me, Kate" opened on Broadway.
In 1962, singer Brenda Lee was slightly injured when she tried to rescue her dog from her burning home in Nashville. The dog died of smoke inhalation.
In 1979, composer and lyricist Richard Rodgers died in New York at the age of 77. His musicals include "The King and I" and "The Sound of Music." Emerson, Lake and Palmer announced they were splitting up. They later reunited.
In 1981, XTC played their first American concert, in Philadelphia.
In 1999, an intruder broke into George Harrison's home outside London and stabbed Harrison and his wife. Michael Abram was later found innocent by reason of insanity. Singer Johnny Moore of The Drifters died on his way to a London hospital after having breathing difficulties. He was 64.
In 2002, singer Diana Ross was arrested for drunk driving in Tucson, Arizona.
In 2006, more than 8,500 James Brown fans filled an arena in Augusta, Georgia, for a final, joyful farewell to the godfather of soul.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Today's Highlight in History:
In 1890, the Wounded Knee massacre took place in South Dakota as an estimated 300 Sioux Indians were killed by U.S. troops sent to disarm them. [See our note below. — Ed.]
On this date:
In 1170, Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in England by knights loyal to King Henry II.
In 1808, the 17th president of the United States, Andrew Johnson, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina.
In 1813, British forces burned Buffalo, N.Y., during the War of 1812.
In 1845, Texas was admitted as the 28th state.
In 1851, the first American Young Men's Christian Association was organized, in Boston. [We all know what that led to, don't we? — Ed.]
In 1890, the last major battle of the Indian Wars, at Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota, took place with hundreds of Indian men, women, and children massacred. [Battle or massacre? Get your lies straight, Associated Press. — Ed.]
In 1916, Grigory Rasputin, the so-called "Mad Monk" who'd wielded great influence with Czar Nicholas II, was murdered by a group of Russian noblemen in St. Petersburg. [Note from infoplease.com: Extra credit: Rasputin died on 30 December under the modern (Gregorian) calendar, on 17 December under the old (Julian) calendar; Russia didn't adopt the modern calendar until after the Revolution of 1917. Some sources list the death date as the 29th (or 16th) of December, on the theory that Rasputin died before midnight on the night of his murder.]
In 1934, Japan renounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.
In 1937, the Constitution of Ireland, changing the Irish Free State into Eire, went into effect.
In 1940, during World War II, Germany dropped incendiary bombs on London, setting off what came to be known as "The Second Great Fire of London."
In 1957, the Detroit Lions defeated the Cleveland Browns, 59-14, to win the NFL Championship at Briggs Stadium in Detroit.
In 1975, a bomb exploded in the main terminal of New York's LaGuardia Airport, killing 11 people.
In 1986, former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan died at age 92.
In 1989, playwright Vaclav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia by the country's Federal Assembly, becoming the first non-Communist to attain the post in more than four decades.
In 1996, a peace agreement was signed, ending 36 years of conflict in Guatemala.
Ten years ago: Hong Kong began killing 1.4 million chickens to stem the spread of a mysterious bird flu that had already killed four people.
In 1998, Khmer Rouge leaders apologized for the 1970s genocide in Cambodia that claimed 1 million lives. ["Well excuuuuuse us!" — Ed.]
Five years ago: Secretary of State Colin Powell, making the rounds of the Sunday TV talk shows, said there was still time to find a diplomatic resolution to North Korea's development of nuclear weapons, and that the situation hadn't yet reached the crisis stage.
One year ago: Word reached the United States of the execution of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (because of the time difference, it was the morning of December 30th in Iraq when the hanging took place). In a statement, President Bush called Saddam's execution a milestone on Iraq's road to democracy. Gerald R. Ford's flag-draped casket was carried into a church in Palm Desert, California, for a public viewing that marked the start of six days of mourning for the former president. More than 400 people died when a crowded Indonesian ferry sank in the Java Sea.
Today's Birthdays: Actor Clarence Swensen ("The Wizard of Oz") is 90. Actress Inga Swenson is 75. ABC newscaster Tom Jarriel is 73. Actress Mary Tyler Moore is 70. Actor Jon Voight is 69. Country singer Ed Bruce is 68. Rock musician Ray Thomas is 66.
Born on This Date, But Not Celebrating: Charles Goodyear, invented vulcanized rubber (1800). William Gladstone, British Prime Mininster (1809). Pablo Casals, virtuoso cellist (1876). William "Billy" Mitchell, military aviator (1879). Vera Brittain, novelist, poet (1893).
Today In Entertainment History:
In 1955, 13-year-old Barbra Streisand made her first recording, "You'll Never Know."
[Another first for Babs on this date: Actor Jason Gould, above in Today's Birthdays, is her first (& only) child. — Ed.]
In 1957, singers Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme were married in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In 1967, musician Dave Mason left the band Traffic to pursue a solo career.
In 1975, Paul Kantner and Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane divorced.
In 1980, singer-songwriter Tim Hardin died of a heroin overdose in Los Angeles at the age of 40. He's best known for composing the song "If I Were A Carpenter."
In 1989, Jane Pauley marked her last day as co-host of the "Today" show after 13 years. Her successor was Deborah Norville.
In 1992, actor Todd Bridges was arrested in Burbank, California. Police say they found speed and a loaded gun in his car, but Bridges claimed he had been framed. At the time, Bridges had been doing public service announcements telling kids to stay away from drugs.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
According to the Department of Education [...] the proportion who were proficient—capable of such tasks as “comparing viewpoints in two editorials”— declined from fifteen per cent to thirteen.That's right, only thirteen per cent of the population of our so-called democracy can compare editorials, most of which are probably deliberately written at a freshman level. High school freshman level. There's also some interesting scientific material which, to our jaundiced mind, indicates why the inhabitants of Jesusland are the way they are. ("The peasants are revolting." "They certainly are.") We literary smart guys have all heard of the "authoritarian mind-set," as popularized by John Dean in his book (Conservatives Without Conscience) about what a bunch of assholes today's Republican party is. This may be a significant part of why those people are so eager & able to accept "wisdom:"
In an oral culture, cliché and stereotype are valued, as accumulations of wisdom, and analysis is frowned upon, for putting those accumulations at risk. There’s no such concept as plagiarism, and redundancy is an asset that helps an audience follow a complex argument. Opponents in struggle are more memorable than calm and abstract investigations, so bards revel in name-calling and in “enthusiastic description of physical violence.” Since there’s no way to erase a mistake invisibly, as one may in writing, speakers tend not to correct themselves at all. Words have their present meanings but no older ones, and if the past seems to tell a story with values different from current ones, it is either forgotten or silently adjusted. As the scholars Jack Goody and Ian Watt observed, it is only in a literate culture that the past’s inconsistencies have to be accounted for, a process that encourages skepticism and forces history to diverge from myth.Take that, true-believing wingnut nitwits! Those of you thinking that the Internet offers hope that the powers of literacy may yet triumph over the numb masses of accepting sheep should surrender now. The new Morlocks will be those w/ broadband, watching YouTube™ & feeding on the rational, defenseless Eloi who can't afford anything but text-&-still-photos-only dial-up.
NCAT stands for Nihilism, Chaos, Anarchy & Turmoil (or Troublemaking) & it's what drives the editorial staff here. Our fingers are crossed in the hope that radical Islamic fundamentalist extremist Pakistanians [sic] will soon have a few nukes w/ which to begin the process of thinning both the human herd (prey) & the human pack (predators).
Today's Highlight in History:
In 1932, Radio City Music Hall opened in New York City.
On this date:
In 1822, scientist Louis Pasteur was born in Dole, France.
In 1831, British naturalist Charles Darwin set out on a voyage to the Pacific Ocean aboard the HMS Beagle. Darwin's discoveries during the nearly five-year journey helped form the basis of his theories on evolution.
In 1900, prohibitionist Carry Nation carried out her first public smashing of a bar, at the Carey Hotel in Wichita, Kan.
In 1945, 28 nations signed an agreement creating the World Bank.
In 1949, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands signed an act granting sovereignty to Indonesia after more than three centuries of Dutch rule.
In 1968, Apollo 8 and its three astronauts made a safe, nighttime splashdown in the Pacific.
In 1979, Soviet forces seized control of Afghanistan. President Hafizullah Amin, who was overthrown and executed, was replaced by Babrak Karmal.
In 1985, Palestinian guerrillas opened fire inside the Rome and Vienna airports; a total of 20 people were killed, including four of the attackers, who were slain by police and security personnel. Naturalist Dian Fossey, who had studied gorillas in the wild, was found hacked to death at a research station in Rwanda. [Or she was found 26 December. See below & make up your mind, AP! — Ed.]
Ten years ago: Billy Wright, Northern Ireland's most notorious Protestant militant, was shot to death by three members of the Irish National Liberation Army at the Maze Prison outside Belfast.
In 2001, President Bush permanently normalized trade relations with China, & U. S. officials announced that Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners would be held at the U. S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. [Yet another "day that will live in infamy." — Ed.]
Five years ago: A defiant North Korea ordered U. N. nuclear inspectors to leave the country and said it would restart a laboratory capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons. But the U.N. nuclear watchdog said its inspectors were "staying put" for the time being. A suicide truck-bomb attack destroyed the headquarters of Chechnya's Moscow-backed government, killing 72 people. Clonaid, a company founded by a religious sect that believes in space aliens, announced it had produced the world's first cloned baby, a claim subsequently dismissed by scientists for lack of proof.
In 2004, on an audiotape, a man purported to be Osama bin Laden endorsed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as his deputy in Iraq.
In 2005, Indonesia's Aceh rebels formally abolished their 30-year armed struggle for independence, under a peace deal born out of the 2004 tsunami.
One year ago: Saddam Hussein urged Iraqis to embrace "brotherly coexistence" and not to hate U.S.-led foreign troops in a goodbye letter posted on a Web site a day after Iraq's highest court upheld his death sentence. Former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards jumped into the presidential race a day earlier than he'd planned after his campaign accidentally went live with his election Web site a day before his scheduled announcement.
Rockabilly musician Scotty Moore is 76. Actor John Amos is 68. ABC News correspondent Cokie Roberts is 64. Rock musician Mick Jones (Foreigner) is 63. [Not the good Mick Jones. This is the evil one. — Ed.] Singer Tracy Nelson is 63. Actor Gerard Depardieu is 59. Jazz singer-musician T.S. Monk is 58. [That's Thelonius Monk's son. 58! — Ed.] Singer-songwriter Karla Bonoff is 56. Actress Tovah Feldshuh is 55. Rock musician David Knopfler (Dire Straits) is 55. Former White House aide [& George W. Bush mommy-substitute — Ed.] Karen Hughes is 51. Actress Maryam D'Abo is 47. Football player Deuce McAllister is 29. Football player Carson Palmer is 28.
Dead Born This Date:
Johannes Kepler, astronomer (1571)
Sir George Cayley, scientist and aerial navigator (1773)
Sydney Greenstreet, actor (1879)
Show Bidness & Weaponry:
In 1904, James Barrie's play "Peter Pan: The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up" opened at the Duke of York's Theater in London.
In 1927, the musical play "Show Boat," with music by Jerome Kern and libretto by Oscar Hammerstein the Second, opened at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York.
In 1947, the children's TV program "The Howdy Doody Show" made its debut on NBC under the title "Puppet Playhouse."
In 1970, "Hello, Dolly!" closed on Broadway after a run of 2,844 performances. It had opened in 1964.
In 1981, singer-songwriter Hoagy Carmichael died of natural causes at his home in Rancho Mirage, California. He was 82.
In 1992, singer Harry Connick Junior was arrested in New York's Kennedy Airport because an unloaded gun was found in his carry-on bag. He spent a night in jail.
In 1999, Puff Daddy and Jennifer Lopez were arrested following a shooting at a New York dance club during which three people were shot and wounded. Charges against Lopez were dropped. Puff Daddy [Ahem. We call him "P. Diddy now. — Ed. ] was acquitted of gun and bribery charges.
In 2002, Oscar™-winning director George Roy Hill died in New York at age 81.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
(Note to "culture warriors": Mr. Benny, born Benjamin Kubelsky (i. e., he was Jewish) made no mention of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or anything else, wishing his viewers only a "Merry Christmas." Not very traditional, that. Just when was "Happy Christmas" replaced by "Merry Christmas?" Whenever it was, the decline & fall of the American Empire can be directly traced to that unfortunate substitution. What is so wrong with maintaining our glorious traditions? Shut up, woman, & keep those damn kids quiet too! Why aren't they at work, anyway?)And what should we spot on the parking strip but a lonely object, appearing at first glance to be a microwave oven. As we drew nearer, & confirmed that it was indeed a miracle of modern quick cookery, our mind flooded w/ thoughts: Did it work? Should we carry it to the House of Bouffant©, a trek of several blks., a bus ride w/ X-Mess drunks, then several more blks. on foot? Would we feel like a fucking dipstick if we dragged it home only to discover that it sat in solitude on the parking strip because it no longer functioned, rather than (as hoped) it had been exiled from its former kitchen home only because Santa had brought a newer model?
Miracle of miracles & wonder of wonders, our questions were answered: Taped atop the "may cause interference to pacemakers" device was a message, written on an 8½" x 11" sheet of ruled paper torn from a spiral-bound notebook: "This is still working Please take it!!" Our questions were mostly answered then, though as a distrustful, cynical type we had nagging suspicions that it might be a practical joke of some sort, or a lazy slob's attempt to save a bit of space in his/her trashcans (doubtless overflowing w/ Yule effluvia) & be rid of a parking strip eyesore at the same time. But, circumstances being what they are, we brought the zapper back to the editorial offices w/ us, and found ourself to be the proud new possessor of a totally functioning Sharp Carousel II 500-watt microwave oven, model no. R-5880A, assembled in the USA in December 1986 from parts made in the USA & Japan. No Chicom slave labor involved, & no fancy digital processor bullshit either. No clock, no buttons to push, a simple manual dial timer, & a list of suggested times for various atomic heating tasks. All that this simple non-consumer needs.
And "needs" is the operative word here, the above-mentioned circumstances being that the gas @ The House of Bouffant© was cut off by the oppressive forces of capitalism several weeks ago. Fuck 'em, though! Coffee warmer than tapwater is back! And melted cheese! And pizza! And anything else that a bachelor can nuke! Chili! Canadian beef stew from the 99¢ Only Store! Hot chocolate, to take the chill of 40ºF temperature & 70 mph winds away! Whoo!! Of course, were there any actual justice or karmic satisfaction, someone would have left a working devil-box w/ more memory, a more up to date OS & an ethernet card in our path, to replace the piece of ancient, slow shit we're currently using in lieu of the merely semi-ancient, able to use broadband devil-box whose hard drive died a week ago. Maybe we should start wandering the streets in search of one. Probably too late though, all the good ones will have been snatched up by now. Our wise cynicism remains unaffected.
Today is Wednesday, December 26th, the 360th day of 2007.
There are five days left in the year. The seven-day African-American holiday Kwanzaa begins today. This is Boxing Day.
Today's Highlight in History:
In 2004, more than 280,000 people, mostly in southern Asia, were killed by a tsunami triggered by the world's most powerful earthquake in 40 years beneath the Indian Ocean.
On this date:
In 1776, the British suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War.
In 1799, former President Washington was eulogized by Colonel Henry Lee as "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen."
In 1865, James H. Nason received a patent for a coffee percolator.
In 1917, during World War I, President Wilson issued a proclamation authorizing the government to take over operation of the nation's railroads.
In 1941, Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.
In 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, the embattled U.S. 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne, Belgium, was relieved by units of the 4th Armored Division.
In 1947, heavy snow blanketed the Northeast, burying New York City under 26.4 inches of snow in 16 hours; the severe weather was blamed for some 80 deaths.
In 1966, the first Kwanzaa was celebrated.
In 1972, the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, died in Kansas City, Missouri, at age 88.
In 1985, zoologist Dian Fossey was found murdered in Rwanda. [Or on 27 December 1985. See above. 'Zup, AP? — Ed.]
In 1996, 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colorado. (To date, the slaying remains unsolved, despite a widely publicized "confession" by John Mark Karr.) [Also to date, the phrase "six-yr.-old beauty queen" gives us the willies. — Ed.]
Ten years ago: Badly battered South Korean financial markets surged after the International Monetary Fund and the Group of Seven countries agreed on 10 billion dollar emergency loans to Seoul.
Five years ago: It was announced that West Virginia resident Jack Whittaker had won the 314.9 million-dollar Powerball lottery jackpot, at that time a record prize. Israeli soldiers killed seven Palestinians in West Bank raids and reimposed a curfew on Bethlehem after briefly withdrawing over Christmas.
One year ago: Former President Gerald R. Ford, who took over the White House after Richard Nixon resigned over the Watergate scandal, died in Rancho Mirage, California, at age 93. Iraq's highest court rejected Saddam Hussein's appeal of his conviction and death sentence and said the former president should be hanged within 30 days. (Saddam was hanged on December 30th, 2006.)
Actor Richard Widmark is 93.[Aw-reet!! One of the last (maybe the only) remaining great movie actors of the post-WWII generation, & we didn't even know he was still on this mortal coil. As good a portrayer of the twisted cinematic psycho as anyone, he was also Sandy Koufax' father-in-law for a while. Hang in there, Dick, only seven yrs. to the big one-oh-oh! — Ed.]
Actor Donald Moffat is 77. Rhythm-and-blues singer Abdul "Duke" Fakir (The Four Tops) is 72. Record producer Phil Spector is 67. "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh is 62. Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 61. Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 60. Former baseball player Chris Chambliss is 59. Rock musician James Kottak (The Scorpions) is 45. Country musician Brian Westrum (Sons of the Desert) is 45. Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 44. Actress Nadia Dajani is 42.
And The Dead:
Frederick II, Holy Roman emperor (1194)
Thomas Gray, poet (1716)
Charles Babbage, mathematician (1791)
George Dewey, admiral (1837) ["Fire when ready, Gridley!" — Ed.]
Mao Zedong, founder, People's Republic of China (1893)
Steve Allen, comedian, actor, author (1921)
World of Entertainment:
In 1944, Tennessee Williams' play "The Glass Menagerie" was first performed publicly in Chicago.
In 1955, Decca Records released "See You Later, Alligator" by Bill Haley and the Comets.
In 1957, Elvis Presley got a temporary draft deferment so he could finish the movie "King Creole."
In 1957, the Ingmar Bergman film "Wild Strawberries," starring Victor Sjostrom, opened in Sweden.
In 1963, Capitol Records released the single "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles, which became the band's first number one hit in the US.
In 1967, "Magical Mystery Tour," The Beatles' critically drubbed one-hour special, aired on BBC-1 television. [Fuck a bunch of critics! — Ed.]
In 1968, Led Zeppelin played its first U. S. show, opening for Vanilla Fudge.
In 1973, "The Exorcist" made its premiere nationwide.
In 1974, comedian Jack Benny died. He was 80. ["Oh Rochester! I'm dead!" — Ed.]
In 1999, musician Curtis Mayfield died outside Atlanta at the age of 57.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
On this date:
In 336, the first recorded celebration of Christmas on December 25th took place in Rome.
In 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned king of England.
In 1776, General George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey.
In 1868, President Andrew Johnson granted an unconditional pardon to all persons involved in the Southern rebellion that resulted in the Civil War. ["Southern rebellion." Har-de-har-har. — Ed.]
In 1926, Hirohito became emperor of Japan, succeeding his father, Emperor Yoshihito. (Hirohito was formally enthroned almost two years later.)
In 1941, during World War II, Japan announced the surrender of the British-Canadian garrison at Hong Kong.
In 1946, comedian W.C. Fields died in Pasadena, California, at age 66. [We don't believe he died in Pasadena. We think it was in the house later owned by Lily Tomlin in Laughlin Park, a gated community in Hollywood. And the AP can't get the age right either; see below. — Ed.]
In 1989, ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were executed following a popular uprising.
In 1991, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev went on television to announce his resignation as the eighth and final leader of a communist superpower that had already gone out of existence.
Ten years ago: Richard Bliss, a field technician for Qualcomm Incorporated accused of spying in Russia, arrived in San Diego after Russian authorities were persuaded to let him return home. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld announced plans to fold his highly successful NBC sitcom "Seinfeld" at the end of the current season.
Five years ago: Pope John Paul II delivered a Christmas message in which he said war had to be and could be avoided even in a world made fearful by terrorism. A major storm made for a white Christmas in parts of the U.S.; the severe weather ultimately was blamed for some two dozen deaths. Katie Hnida became the first woman to play in a Division I-A football game when she attempted an extra point following a New Mexico touchdown in the Las Vegas Bowl. (Hnida, a walk-on junior, had her kick blocked but by then she had already made history in the 27-13 loss to UCLA.)
One year ago: Pope Benedict XVI used his Christmas Day address to call for a peaceful resolution of conflicts worldwide and appealed for greater caring of [sic] the poor, the exploited and all who suffer.
Christmas Babies: Singer Tony Martin is 94. Actress Hanna Schygulla is 64. Rhythm-and-blues singer John Edwards (The Spinners) is 63. Actor Gary Sandy is 62. Singer Jimmy Buffett is 61. Football Hall-of-Famer Larry Csonka is 61. Country singer Barbara Mandrell is 59. Actress Sissy Spacek is 58. Actress CCH Pounder is 55. Singer Annie Lennox is 53. Reggae singer-musician Robin Campbell (UB40) is 53. Country singer Steve Wariner is 53. Singer Shane MacGowan is 50. Actress Klea Scott is 39. Rock musician Noel Hogan (The Cranberries) is 36. Singer Dido is 36.
Christmas Dead Babies: Clara Barton, American Red Cross founder (1821); Helena Rubinstein, cosmetics executive (1870); Maurice Utrillo, painter (1883); Conrad Hilton, hotelier (1887); Robert L. Ripley, cartoonist (1893); Humphrey Bogart, actor (1899); Cab Calloway, band leader (1907); Anwar al-Sadat, political leader, Egyptian president (1918).
In 1946, actor W.C. Fields died. He was 67. [How old? — Ed.]
In 1959, future Beatles drummer Ringo Starr got his first set of drums as a Christmas present. He was working as an apprentice engineer at the time.
In 1964, George Harrison's girlfriend, Patti Boyd, was attacked by jealous female fans at a Beatles show in London.
In 1968, singer-guitarist Eric Bloom joined Blue Öyster Cult.
In 1976, The Eagles' album "Hotel California" went platinum.
In 1977, comedian Charlie Chaplin died in Switzerland at age 88.
In 1978, Public Image Limited performed for the first time in London.
In 1981, the J. Geils Band performed a Christmas concert for the inmates at a correction center near Boston. A few days later, their "Freeze Frame" album went gold.
In 1991, Willie Nelson's 33-year-old son Billy was found dead at his home in suburban Nashville. A medical examiner ruled the death a suicide by hanging. "The Prince of Tides," directed by Barbra Streisand, opened nationwide.
In 1995, entertainer Dean Martin died of respiratory failure at his home in Beverly Hills, California. He was 78.
In 1998, guitarist Bryan MacLean of Love died of a heart attack in Los Angeles. He was 52.
In 1999, comedian Jerry Seinfeld married public relations executive Jessica Sklar in New York.
In 2006, James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul," died of heart failure in Atlanta, Georgia, at age 73.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Today's Highlight in History:
In 1814, the War of 1812 officially ended as the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium.
On this date:
In 1524, Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama -- who had discovered a sea route around Africa to India -- died in Cochin, India.
In 1851, fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington DC, destroying about 35,000 volumes.
In 1865, several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, Tennessee, called the Ku Klux Klan. [How'd that "private social club" turn out? — Ed.]
In 1943, President Roosevelt appointed General Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces as part of Operation Overlord. [Wasn't Operation Overlord the D-Day invasion? — Ed.]
In 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve television broadcast.
In 1980, Americans remembered the US hostages in Iran by burning candles or shining lights for 417 seconds, one second for each day of captivity.
Ten years ago: Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the aging revolutionary known as "Carlos the Jackal," was sentenced by a French court to life in prison for the 1975 murders of two French investigators and a Lebanese national. Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune died in suburban Tokyo at age 77.
Five years ago: Laci Peterson was reported missing from her Modesto, California, home, by her husband, Scott, who was later convicted of murdering her and their unborn son. Saddam Hussein said in an address read on television that Iraqis were ready to fight a holy war against the United States. Chinese pro-democracy activist Xu Wenli was released from a prison in Beijing and flown to the United States.
One year ago: Ethiopia sent fighter jets into Somalia and bombed several towns in a dramatic attack on Somalia's powerful Islamic movement; Ethiopia's prime minister said his country had been "forced to enter a war." Broadcasting pioneer Frank Stanton, CBS president for 26 years, died in Boston at age 98.
Songwriter-bandleader Dave Bartholomew is 87. Author Mary Higgins Clark is 80. Federal health administrator Anthony S. Fauci is 67. Recording company executive Mike Curb is 63. Rock singer-musician Lemmy (Motorhead) is 62. Actress Stephanie Hodge is 51. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, is 50. Rock musician Ian Burden (The Human League) is 50. Designer Kate Spade is 45. Rock singer Mary Ramsey (10,000 Maniacs) is 44. Actor Mark Valley is 43. Actor Diedrich Bader is 41. Singer Ricky Martin is 36. "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest is 33. [Those last two: Gay or queer? — Ed.]
Dead People Who Came to Life on This Date:
James Prescott Joule, physicist (1818)
Juan Ramón Jiménez, lyric poet (1881)
Howard Hughes, business executive (1905)
Ava Gardner, actress (1922)
Show Biz on This Date:
In 1871, Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Aida" had its world premiere in Cairo, Egypt.
In 1920, Enrico Caruso gave his last public performance, singing Jacques Halevy's "La Juive" at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
In 1951, Gian Carlo Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors," the first opera written specifically for television, was first broadcast by NBC-TV.
In 1954, singer Johnny Ace shot himself and died while playing Russian roulette backstage at a show in Houston. His song "Pledging My Love" became a hit the next year.
In 1961, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by The Tokens became the first African song to reach number one on the American pop charts.
In 1965, The Beatles earned a gold record for the album "Rubber Soul," just two-and-a-half weeks after it was released.
In 1972, police in Miami cut short a concert by Manfred Mann and his Earth Band. Fans rioted for about two hours while the band members hid in a dressing room.
In 1973, Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers was arrested in Visalia, California, for marijuana possession.
In 1978, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Faltskog of ABBA separated after seven years of marriage.
In 1984, actor Peter Lawford died. He was 61.
In 1990, actors Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman got married in Colorado. They had met while filming "Days of Thunder." They've since divorced.
In 1992, former Doobie Brothers percussionist Bobby LaKind died after a long battle with cancer. He was 47.
In 1997, the Gin Blossoms announced their breakup.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Today's Highlight in History:
In 1823, the poem "Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas" was published anonymously in the Troy (New York) Sentinel; the verse, more popularly known as "`Twas the Night Before Christmas," was later widely attributed to Clement C. Moore.
On this date:
In 1783, George Washington resigned as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and retired to his home at Mount Vernon, Virginia.
In 1805, Joseph Smith Junior, principal founder of the Mormon religious movement, was born in Sharon, Vermont.
In 1941, during World War II, American forces on Wake Island surrendered to the Japanese.
In 1947, scientists at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey demonstrated their just-invented point-contact transistor, which paved the way to a new era of miniaturized electronics.
In 1948, former Japanese premier Hideki Tojo and six other Japanese war leaders were executed in Tokyo.
In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson, on his way home from a visit to Southeast Asia, held an unprecedented meeting with Pope Paul VI at the Vatican.
In 1968, 82 crew members of the US intelligence ship Pueblo were released by North Korea, 11 months after they had been captured.
In 1986, the experimental airplane Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, completed the first non-stop, non-refueled round-the-world flight as it landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
In 1987, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, serving a life sentence for the attempted assassination of President Ford in 1975, escaped from the Alderson Federal Prison for Women in West Virginia. (She was recaptured two days later.)
Ten years ago: A jury in Denver convicted Terry Nichols of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing, declining to find him guilty of murder. Woody Allen married Soon-Yi Previn in a small ceremony in Venice, Italy.
Five years ago: Senate Republicans unanimously elected Bill Frist to succeed Trent Lott as their leader in the next Congress. A passenger plane crashed in central Iran during a flight from Turkey, killing 45 people, mostly from Ukraine.
One year ago: The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment; Iran immediately rejected the resolution. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held the first Israeli-Palestinian summit in 22 months. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger broke his leg while skiing with his family in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Today's Birthdays: Actor Gerald S. O'Loughlin is 86. Actor Ronnie Schell is 76. Emperor Akihito of Japan is 74. Actor Frederic Forrest is 71. Actor James Stacy is 71. Rock musician Jorma Kaukonen is 67. Rock musician Ron Bushy is 66. Actor-comedian Harry Shearer is 64. Actress Susan Lucci is 61. Singer-musician Adrian Belew is 58. Rock musician Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) is 51. Actress Joan Severance is 49. Rock singer Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) is 43. Actor Corey Haim is 36.
World of Show Biz:
In 1964, The Beach Boys made their first appearance on "Shindig!"
In 1967, the Rolling Stones album "Their Satanic Majesties Request" was released.
In 1969, Diana Ross began her final engagement with The Supremes in Las Vegas. The last show was a few weeks later. Ross was replaced with Jean Terrell.
In 1972, Grand Funk Railroad's rehearsal for a live album in New York was interrupted by former manager Terry Knight, two deputy sheriffs and an attorney. Knight had a court order giving him the right to seize one million dollars or equivalent assets, and he took the band's equipment after the show.
In 1982, actor Jack Webb died in West Hollywood, California. He was 62. He's probably best known for his role as Sergeant Joe Friday in TV's "Dragnet."
In 1985, two fans of Judas Priest shot themselves after listening to the band's "Stained Class" album. Raymond Belknap died instantly and James Vance died in 1988 after lapsing into a coma. In 1990, a judge decided Judas Priest did not place subliminal messages on the album. [If we ever had to listen to an entire Judas Priest album, suicide might be a viable option for us as well. — Ed.]
In 1997, Woody Allen married Soon-Yi Previn in a secret wedding in Venice, Italy.
In 2003, New York Governor George Pataki issued a pardon to comedian Lenny Bruce, 37 years after Bruce's death. Bruce was convicted of obscenity for using more than 100 words considered dirty during a concert in 1964.
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