It might look done to your untrained eye but the national monument at Mt. Rushmore is unfinished. The carvings were intended to be the heads and bodies of the 4 symbolic presidents. Work began in the 1920s with Washington finished in 1934, Jefferson in `36, and Lincoln in `37. The work ended on Roosevelt after the original artist, Mr. Gutzon Borglum (I didn’t make that up) died. His son picked up the mantle attempting to complete the project.
More importantly, the funds simply dried up today in 1941. That’s right, the budget of nearly $1 million was reached and the project was left as is. Eh, it was only supposed to be a tourist trap anyway. And it seems to have worked because it gets 2 million visitors a year.
We interrupt this blog to bring you historical coverage of an event that never actually happened. This non-existent occurrence created a wave of bona fide panic across the U.S. What really happened was a well staged broadcast of then radio talent Orson Welles depicting events borrowed from H.G. Wells novel “The War of the Worlds" (1898). Like a Halloween episode of Punk’d but in 1938.
While listeners were warned they were only hearing a dramatized re-enactment of aliens invading the earth, the production style and quality was that of a genuine news bulletin. People blamed heightened tensions due to the undeniable, ensuing world war (which really happened) but the truth was people just didn’t listen. So they fled their homes and cities, flooded police stations and hospitals, and in general felt really foolish the next day.
The broadcast lasted 1 hour. This photo is that actual depiction of what terrified a nation for a night. Wow. People can be so gullible.
If you think the capital of Kentucky is pronounced Louisville* (with an “s”) or Lou-eh-ville (no “s”), there’s no arguing that it is the birthplace of one of the most renowned boxers in history. Cassius Clay took an interest in boxing in his home town preparing him for 1 turn at the Rome summer Olympics in 1960 where he took gold in the light heavyweight division.
Today in 1960 he won his first professional bout, besting Tunny Hunsaker in 6 rounds. He went on to win another 55 of the next 60 fights predominantly with knockout victories. Amongst the contenders he conquered were Sunny Liston, Joe Frazier, and George Foreman. His fight against Chuck Wepner actually inspired the first “Rocky” movie (but not necesarily the other 12).
He took the name Muhammad Ali in 1964 only after revealing his Islamic religion and claiming the heavyweight title from Sunny Liston.
*The proper pronunciation for the capital of Kentucky is Frankfort.
Metallica may not have invented awesome, but they perfected it. Founding members Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield were seeking the dream in L.A. in the late fall of 1981. While responding to an ad claiming stage time with the already popular Iron Maiden, these two decided to collaborate and mounted a search for bandmates.
When you cameo on the Simpsons, you know you’ve hit the big time.
Claiming today as the starting point, James on vocals and rhythm guitar and Lars on drums quickly added Dave Mustaine (who later left to create Megadeth) and Kirk Hammit. Their popularity sky-rocketed. So their second album, only 3 years later, hit 5x platinum status. (That’s 5 million copies for those of you not in-the-know)
They cranked out hit after hit on smash albums. Even now you can catch them riding the lightning (sorry about that) of their own popularity playing to sold out houses through the end of the year. And you thought I was going to write about today being the anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty. How cliche!
Here’s your little known facts about New York City’s public transportation system which boasts its 106th anniversary. The subway was originally called the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) when it opened today in 1904. (When the population was only 3.5 million.) Now that NYC tops 8 milion people, the weekday traffic on the lines averages over 5 million passengers.
Go before you leave! Most of the stations do not have restrooms of any kind.
Street musicians are sanctioned by the transit authority and actually compete for stage time on the busiest platforms.
Seems like trains underground would be difficult to maintain, right? Dealing with the winter weather was decidedly worse. Agreed? Although 40% of the lines are above ground now.
The fares are now much higher than the 5¢ that it was on opening day.
But ay, that’s a lot to think about, so grab your Metrocard and let’s go get a pie from Lombardi’s.
Next time someone says there's a bridge in Arizona for sale...
For really great fudge, everyone knows to go to Mackinac Island in Lake Michigan. But a well kept secret is the best saltwater taffy comes from the London Bridge. An even better secret is that the London Bridge is located in western Arizona on Lake Havasu near the California state border.
Bridges by themselves are rarely noteworthy. But this bridge, originally constructed in 1831, was ”decommissioned” in the city of London in 1967. It was quickly sold to the City of Lake Havasu. During disassembly each brick was numbered so that during re-assembly it would fit perfectly back into place. You can still see the numbers on some of the bricks. It took three years to complete this process and opened today in 1971.
Q: How many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb?
Not that we celebrate it any more, or ever did for that matter, but October 25 is Pablo Picasso’s birthday. He was Spanish born but lived most of his life in the art world of France. Even his young life was devoted to art and art training as he showed much aptitude at an early age. He did not like formal art instruction and preferred studying on his own.
P.P. is best known for his work in modern art, specifically the awkward shaped neo-cubist, surreal design. However, some of his early work demonstrates that he had talent for realism with creative license. He was survived by a number of wives and children but I don’t know what that number is.
"Fate, it would seem, is not without a sense of irony." - Morpheus, The Matrix (1999)
Tonight would be Harry Houdini’s last successful night of cheating death. Despite years of torture chambers, water submerged crates, locked milk cans, straight jacket suspensions, and other death defying feats of human endurance. This noted magician, illusionist, escape artist and captivating performer would succumb to appendicitis landing him in the hospital shortly after this last set of stunts. He died a week later from the complications that this caused.
He was only 52 leaving behind his wife and stage assistant Bess. And though Harry (or Ehrick as he was named in his native Hungary) was from a large family, had no children of his own.
We know that the most outstanding collegiate football player gets awarded the Heisman Trophy every year. But exactly who was this Heisman fellow and how did he get a trophy named after him?
John Heisman, born today in 1869 played football, basketball and baseball (such as it was before the turn of the 20th century). He later went on to coach mostly football at Oberlin, Auburn, Clemson, Penn State, Georgia Tech, and Rice. Heard of `em?
His contributions to the game were having the center heave the ball not roll it, the quarterback calling “hike” to start a play, breaking the game into 4 quarters, and the forward pass. He died just days shy of his 67th birthday and months shy of knowing the annual collegiate football trophy would, from then on, bear his name. This Bud’s for you, John.
Mr. Chester Carlson for invented the electrophotographic image duplicator today in 1938. His years of fiddling in his kitchen and mom-in-law’s beauty salon made it possible for us to
plagiarize reference materials
copy your butt
find lost pets
copy your boobs
replicate Dilbert and Far Side comics for cubicle walls
It took almost 20 years and much refinement before the xerography (dry writing) process would be truly effective. But the xerography process was a necessary one so the company that put so much effort into this endeavor would be highly rewarded and simply called Xerox.
Suggestions: Monterey jack cheese, green onions, jalapeños, sour cream… Today is the International Day of the Nacho. It is not officially, federally recognized… YET! …Tomatoes, black olives, cilantro, queso… This day of honor is in remembrance of the inventor of this Sunday ball game essential, Senor Ignacio Anaya (get it?) of humble Mexican origin. Following his death in 1975, a statue was erected and later this day distinguished.
His simple approach of jalapeños, longhorn cheddar cheese and crispy tortillas in1943 spread like wildfire. As awesome normally does. But it has also patently evolved. …Fresh salsa, refried beans, ground beef, guacamole…
Did you think Thomas Edison’s first successful light bulb test today in 1879 was more important than this? Ha! I can eat nachos in the dark thank you. …Alfalfa sprouts, black beans, chopped onions, lettuce…
It’s early spring, Queen Elizabeth II is there, the who’s who of Australia and New South Wales are thrilled. Today in `73 was a glorious day in Sydney when people `round the globe would ask “What the hell is that supposed to be?”. The Sydney Opera House (awesome pics) became a spectacle to symbolize a continent.
To answer the question, it is reminiscent of a ship at full sail but they are occasionally accused of being shells. Either way the architect, the late Jorn Utzon of Denmark, did not attend the completion of the project or opening ceremonies due to time and budget constraints. But it was highlighted plenty in the 2000 Olympic summer games as you recall.
An average of 20 new radio stations were being established every year since 1912. There were 752 stations available by this date in 1954 when T.I. debuted the first transistor radio. This device changed the world being so self contained, compact, battery powered and all.
Since the portability and availability were so drastically enhanced, 57 new radio stations have been added each year since. Surprising since they were a whopping $49.95 and not even in stereo :`( Nevertheless it blossomed the consumer age of popular music.
Advances in technology has left this invention to little more than a collectors item. While the medium and content have obviously progressed, the style looks remarkably familiar.
Flood of beer. What's next $100 bills falling from the sky?
The time: Today, 1814. The city: London (St. Giles parish specifically). The sitch: a beer vat burst containing 135,000 gallons of beer. This affected other vats in the building causing them to also rupture. Adding another 323,000 gallons. The result: a wave of beer in the street, literally filling nearby homes and structures. Ironically damaging a pub trapping two employees.
8 people were killed in what one would deem a freak accident. It was ultimately deemed an Act of God in court. So while no charges were pressed, the brewery suffered a big loss that year. Yet continued to operate another 108 years.
Stevland Judkins a.k.a. Stevie Wonder’s album “Songs in the Key of Life” went #1 today in 1976. It stayed there for 14 weeks. Stevie was 26 trying to portray the difficulties of growing up as a minority in Motown. “Pastime Paradise” is a complex yet hopeful song on the record. You don’t hear it much any more.
Artis Ivey a.k.a. Coolio was 13 when that album became popular. With samples from Stevie’s hit, “Gangsta’s Paradise” went #1 for 12 weeks 20 years later. His rap portrays the difficulties of growing up in the harsh streets of Compton, L.A. This song was featured in the film “Dangerous Minds”, a true story portraying the difficu… you get it. You don’t hear it much any more either.
2 lessons: History is doomed to repeat itself. You can always revive a classic. Bonus: Weird Al Yankovic’s “Amish Paradise”.
In which a boy and a bear inspire a global franchise
Do stop to remember A.A. Milne’s son and inspiration, Christopher Robin, and his active imagination, but don’t forget to start again. Since the book story collection Winnie the Pooh was published today in 1926 the boy and his bear have captured the hearts of all generations since.
Oft forgotten details are that Winnie was a name borrowed from a bear at the London Zoo, who served as a mascot in WWI. (His original name was Edward.) Tigger was introduced in the next book “The House at Pooh Corner”. The “Hundred Acre Wood” is based on Ashdown Forrest near Sussex, England. Pooh bear’s first appearance in a Disney film was in 1966, 10 years after Milne died. etc.
Why are the stories so popular? Everyone can relate to at least one character:
Pooh; caring, lazy, hungry, oblivious Piglet; brave yet timid, and a true friend Eeyore; a pessimist (or a realist?) Rabbit; busy and self important Owl; wise to those around him Kanga; nurturing, loving mother Roo; too young, eager to learn and try Christopher Robin; imaginative and carefree Tigger; adventuresome, careless, inspirational Please bother to leave a comment on which character you relate to best. (and why)
According to the Farmer’s Almanac today is a good day to; start your logging, harvest your above ground crops, and pour concrete. I know that wasn’t what you had planned, but how do you ignore results that have been trusted for over 2 centuries without a single interuption?
Today was the first publication in 1792. It uses some type of scientific or folkloric methods of tracking and predicting weather with over an 80% accuracy rate. There’s other stuff about tidal movement, agricultural advice, astronomic happenings and maybe you don’t care. The coolest part of this persistent periodical is that the methods that govern what gets printed are a HUGE SECRET kept safe in a little metal box.
That’s right, this publication’s content is the literary equivalent of Coca-Cola or the Colonel’s 11 herbs and spices. In other words, the recipe for success is kept very heavily guarded and we’ll never see it.
P.S. I Don’t want you to feel foolish when you pick up your copy and ask why it has a hole in the corner. It’s so it can be hung from a string or nail in your barn or bathroom. Hey, knowledge is power!
In honor of the recent nuptials of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810, the townsfolk of Munich were invited to a horse race. What, no beer? Perhaps. It was popular enough to observe again a year later. (and again, and again…) Eventually the horse race became a full agricultural celebration including a parade and feasting. Yes, beer too. It is Germany after all. If you give a mouse a cookie…
Some wars have interrupted the normal fanfare but it is one of the most popular traditions on earth and celebrates 200 years today. It is over 2 weeks of jubilation kicked off by the tapping of a keg by the mayor of Munich, handing the draft to the president-minister of Bavaria. Sadly, the festivities are already over this year. BUT that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t don your sennerhut and lederhosen and invite me over for some kraut on wurstl with a tall Hacker-Pschorr.
Today in 1962 IBM released the IBM1440 disk storage system for “smaller businesses”. And by “smaller” they meant businesses that could easily drop 90K* on computer accessories. This washing machine sized marvel read disk-packs that weighed 10 pounds and held 2 million bytes of data. And by “2 million” I mean 1/8000th of what the cheaper iPhone 4 currently holds. Needless to say, you were in line for upgrades right away! [insert Apple customer insult here].
Since pictures of this technological breakthrough are boring, here’s an unrelated video of a kid being awesome. And by awesome, I mean already cooler than I’ll ever be.
All you needed was limos, fast women, strobe lights, copious amounts of hair spray and the most obnoxious women’s clothing money could buy and your band was going to make it. Today’s example: Whitesnake from Yorkshire, England riding the 80’s powerchord bandwagon.
While they had a number of fairly popular tunes and records, they never gained the notoriety of some of their contemporaries who simply ruled the charts. However, they had one #1 song, forever earning its place on the list of 80’s power ballads from the hair bands: “Here I Go Again”. Claiming #1 status for one week starting today in 1987. So without further ado…
That’s model/actress Tawny Kitaen that you are straining so hard to see by the way
Born in 1811, Isaac Singer had a head for invention and design. He contributed to the industrial boom of America with a rock boring drill, a wood carving machine and finally his longest standing contribution, the sewing machine.
Your assumption is correct. Mr. Singer did not originally invent the sewing machine but he did patent his design improvements today in 1855. Obviously there were some legal battles with others making similar claims at the same time. Most notably, Elias Howe who already had patented a sewing machine.
The manufacture and delivery of this modern convenience rendered Isaac quite wealthy. A noteworthy secret to his success was allowing customers to make payments so they could have hours of fun now and pay for it later. (Can I interest you in a new car today?)
Any day is a good day for a miracle. Like today in 1918 in the lovely, German-occupied forest near Chatel Chehery, France. Corporal Alvin York’s (out-manned, out-gunned) battalion was under order’s to secure German positions along the rail lines. ”There’s was not to question why…” (Tennyson reference, sorry.)
Heavy machine gun fire took out all York’s superiors and several subordinates leaving him in charge of only 7 men. Considering his orders and despite enemy fire in all directions, the brave corporal flanked the Germans, killing 36 in the process and advanced. Seeing the American’s unmitigated gall and determination, 4 German officers and 128 soldiers surrendered to York and his men.
Great poetry never dies (it runs for 18 years on broadway)
Maybe you aren’t a huge Andrew Lloyd Weber fan either, but at least he brought limelight to a clever collection of classic verse by T.S. Eliot. The poems from “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats" (c. 1939) were the basis for the characters and lyrics of the smashing success "Cats”. It opened on Broadway today in 1982 and ran until 2000 accounting for over 6,100 shows.
Every good story needs a good villain. Fortunately for ALW, Old Possum immortalized Macavity the Mystery Cat. (entire poem here) A clear reference to Sherlock Holme’s nemesis Moriarty. See the resemblence already? Obviously rhyming depravity and suavity required some poetic license with the name. Macavity reminds my generation of Keyser Söze since “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist”.
Mr. Eliot passed in 1965 long before his words were set to tune. So whether you are already familiar with this Broadway record setter or have it penciled in later, his unique poems are required reading for true appreciation. Now that I mention it, perhaps I will add this to the quiz on “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”.
111years, 182 revues, six movies and one book later, the Moulin Rouge (Red Mill) still stands as an effigy in Paris’ racy Pigalle district. It is a birthplace of many questionable activities and today is its birthday. But, considering it is $168 a seat and in a foreign country, I doubt I’ll be there for tonight’s show.
Due to the popularity of the 2001 film, (IMDb’d) the soundtrack’s cover of the 1974 hit song Lady Marmalade by the group Labelle (led by Patti LaBelle) became synonymous with the risque concert hall and show. However, the song’s French lyrics and overtones were referring to a regrettable night in New Orleans, not Paris.
Excuse me miss. Did you know that Monty Python’s Flying Circus aired from 1969 to 1974? In fact I’ll have you know that it was today that the first episode went up. Wink-wink, know what I mean? That’s right. John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, and two Terrys (Gilliam and Jones) came together (nudge nudge, get it?) to form this most historic television collective masterwork. And by that I mean the foulest, most mind-numbing drivel of all time. In fact the series was so horribletha teqwæ Ø¶±£ Vj„&ù¿ «w]=w¶ Þw ..
Right. Well. There you have it. 1969 on the BBC, 45 episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Now, go click-off.
Thank you for reading all the way to the bottom. Your reward: the Argument Clinic sketch on Youtube.
All aboard for murder, mystery, nostalgia on the Orient Express
Today marks the historic, 1883 launch of the Orient Express. The route spans from Paris through Munich to Vienna. Then through Budapest, Bucarest and finally to Istanbul, not Constantinople. (They Might Be Giants + Tiny Toons = excellent). Linking posh and intellectual western Europe to the gateway to the east.
Here it is (was) on BBC’s “50 Things to do Before You Die”. Good advice. Of course, now it’s on my “50 things I never got to do” list. #fail
The late, great Charles M. Schultz published the first Peanuts comic strip Oct. 2, 1950. We all know, love, and wax nostalgic when we watch the holiday specials.
Charles Schultz’s philosophy given in quiz form:
Name the 5 wealthiest people in the world today.
Name the last 5 Heisman trophy winners.
Name the last 5 Miss Americas.
Name 10 people who have won a Nobel Prize.
Name 6 academy award winners for best actor.
Name the last decade’s World Series champions.
Name a few teachers you liked in high school.
Name 3 friends that helped you through a difficult time.
Name 5 people who have taught you something worthwhile.
Name several people who make you feel appreciated or special.
Name 5 people you enjoy spending time with.
The lesson: “The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones who care.”
- Charles M. Schultz (1922 - 2000)
Opening exactly 11 years after DisneyWorld was Walt’s true vision: EPCOT (Environmental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). A futuristic look at a life of automation, environmentally friendly convenience, and community living. He died before either park opened.
EPCOT’s icon is the 257’ tall ride Spaceship Earth resembling a golf ball made of brushed aluminum. It’s design allows it to grow and shrink several inches based on the temperature. Sort of like my kids based on ride height requirements.
Orlando, FL today in `71 an American icon is launched. Not included in the $3.50 entrance fee were over 7 rides on opening day. (Yeah, there were 9).
Cool Fact: Cinderella’s Castle at 189’ tall, an example of forced perspective was nothing more than decoration. Later outfitted with a multi-room suite, families are chosen at random to spend a night inside the castle at the Cinderella Suite. #FTW