Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Mo Collins Tries Out Bob Newhart's New Therapy

Now I can almost hear some of you raising your hackles at Newhart's methodology, but I've been using his program for months now and I've never felt better. It's amazing, but to a hardcore neurotic just not doing those things that drive yourself and those around you crazy just never seems like an option for some reason...

Birthday wishes go out today to Mo Collins, the MADtv funny lady whose most famous creation is arguably Doreen Larkin, the screechy-voiced mother of man-boy Stuart; here, though, she's teamed up with comedy legend Bob Newhart, who trades in his normally genial persona for one more in keeping with the show's usual snarky tone.
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Pop History Moment: Howard Hughes Crashed And Burned

On this day in 1946 eccentric industrialist and zillionaire Howard Hughes nearly died when the XF-11 spy plane prototype he was piloting plummeted into a Beverly Hills neighborhood shortly after 7:20 in the evening; having developed a technical difficulty during the flight, Hughes had been aiming the doomed plane for the golf course at the Los Angeles Country Club to minimize damage to both the aircraft and surrounding properties, but fell about three hundred yards short, crashing into three nearby homes.

The first of these - at 802 North Linden Drive, belonging to Dr. Jules Zimmerman, the 'dentist to the stars' - had its red-tiled roof sheared off; the second, belonging to film star Rosemary DeCamp and her husband Municipal Justice John Astin Shidler, sustained damage to its master bedroom and lost both its garage and a row of poplar trees. The third home - at 808 North Whittier, belonging to Lt. Col. Charles A. Meyer, known for his role in the Nuremberg Trials - was destroyed by a subsequent fire (caused by the explosion of the plane's fuel tank). Amazingly, no one was killed in the accident.

It was actor Dennis O'Keefe who summoned the police and fire department to the scene, although no one had to summon the crowds of eager on-lookers who themselves came from miles around to survey the devastation. Hughes was rescued from the wreckage by Master Sergeant William L. Durkin, of the US Marine Corps, and later taken to Good Samaritan Hospital where although he survived his grievous injuries his life definitely took a turn for the worse; friends and family later cited this event as to blame for his morphine addiction and well-documented freakiness later in life.

The entire scene was re-enacted in Martin Scorsese's 2004 biopic The Aviator, in which Hughes was of course played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
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In Memoriam: Virginia Rappe

Despite her thin biography it's pretty obvious that Virginia Rappe - born on this day in 1891 - was a level-headed, mature young woman. She'd approached her career as an actress with determination, starting as a model at the age of 14 she later found work as a dress designer while rising steadily through the ranks; at the age of 26, she got her first big break in movies opposite Harold Lockwood in Fred Balshofer's Paradise Garden.

PhotobucketAll of which makes whatever she got up to in Room 1220 at San Francisco's St. Francis Hotel on one particular Labour Day weekend in 1921 all the more tragic; not only was the poised, vivacious starlet denied the chance to see her own life played through to the last reel, but today she is more remembered as a footnote in the story of a much bigger star, Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, whose career pretty much ended at the same moment her life did.

That three subsequent trials absolved Arbuckle in the death of Rappe did not satisfy the public, nor would they have satisfied Rappe, whose last words before she died a few days after a sexual assault left her fatally injured were reportedly 'Get Roscoe'. Whether or not you believe his account, Kenneth Anger paints a pretty lurid picture of Rappe's final scene inside the St. Francis in his salacious 1959 book Hollywood Babylon.
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"Shine On You Crazy Diamond" by Pink Floyd

The song Shine On You Crazy Diamond was first composed by Pink Floyd for their 1975 concept album Wish You Were Here; it was intended as a tribute to founding member Syd Barrett - whose life had gone awry thanks as much to his inability to cope with fame as to his heroic appetite for LSD - and whose struggle provided the album's thematic basis. The accompanying video is derived from the band's 1995 film Pulse. While Barrett officially left the band in 1968, he contributed with his old bandmates Roger Waters, Richard Wright, Nick Mason, and his replacement David Gilmour (et al.) on this, their first notable reunion since going their separate ways.

The phrase Wish You Were Here took on a deeper meaning on this day in 2006, which was arguably the second time Syd Barrett died; while I would never suggest to anyone that they should drop a hit of acid, I might say that if they're Pink Floyd fans they should remember him today in whatever way they feel is appropriate, and that if it involves the taking of drugs then to please use them in the least Syd Barrett-y way possible. Thanks.

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Pop History Moment: London Was Bombed (Yet Again)


Not for the first time and not for the last, on this day in 2005 London was rocked by bombs; as these things go, London gets bombed more than Phil Mitchell, and Londoners carried on with life just as they've always done. Something tells me if Hitler couldn't get the best of them by raining tons of ordnance on their heads almost every night for months, Osama's got no chance even getting a reaction out of that jaded lot with an occasional firecracker.

Terrorists Mohammad Sidique Khan*, Shehzad Tanweer, Germaine Lindsay, and Hasib Hussain targeted 3 Underground trains within 50 seconds of one another just after 8:50 AM and a bus an hour later, at 9:47 AM; two of the three bombs on the Tube were on the Circle Line with the other on the Piccadilly Line while the bus exploded near Tavistock Square. The attacks occurred over a fairly wide area just to the north of central London.

The blasts killed 52 commuters (plus the four suicide bombers) and injured 700, disrupted traffic throughout the city, and much less importantly violated just about every tenet of their religion. So much for those 72 virgins in Heaven, boys...

*Whose wife, Hasina Patel, miscarried their child the following month - leaving even more blood on his hands.

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POPnews - July 7th

[Although the US government now maintains that the strange craft seen above New Mexico on this day in 1947 was a spy balloon known as Mogul, at a press conference the following day an official with the Roswell Army Air Field referred to the materials recovered as being from 'a flying disc'; it wasn't until noted ufologist Stanton T. Friedman interviewed Major Jesse Marcel in 1978, however, that the conspiracy theories began flying almost as fast as those crazy flying saucers the kids are so wild about...]

1456 - At the insistence of France's King Charles VII Joan of Arc was acquitted of heresy by the Inquisitor-General Jean Brehal at a so-called 'nullification retrial' authorized by Pope Callixtus III; held 25 years after an ecclesiastical trial called by her English captors and presided over by Bishop Pierre Cauchon found her guilty and ordered her burned at the stake, the phrase 'too little too late' leaps immediately to mind...

1585 - The Treaty of Nemours - signed by Queen Mother Catherine de' Medici and representatives of the House of Guise - abolished what little tolerance (official or otherwise) that had once been shown toward the Huguenots of France.

1777 - During the American Revolution the Battle of Hubbardton pitted the American forces of Seth Warner, Ebenezer Francis, and Nathan Hale against the British, commanded by Simon Fraser and Baron Friedrich Adolf Riedesel of Brunswick-Wolfenb├╝ttel in the territory of the New Hampshire Grants (modern-day Vermont). Both an American strategic victory and a British tactical victory, the engagement (near the middle of the Saratoga campaign, following the withdrawal from Fort Ticonderoga) cost the Americans a commander in Francis, who died in battle, and saw Hale surrender both himself and a detachment of 70 men to the British; it did, however, convince the French to enjoin the battle on the American side, giving them and their cause a much needed boost when it mattered most.

1798 - The US Congress rescinded its various treaties with France, sparking the Quasi-War.

1807 - The Peace of Tilsit between France, Prussia and Russia ended the Fourth Coalition, marking the start of a new phase in the Napoleonic Wars.

1846 - Near the outset of the Mexican-American War American troops occupied Monterey and Yerba Buena (modern-day San Francisco), while Commodore John Drake Sloat undertook a naval blockade of the harbour at Yerba Buena - thus beginning the US conquest of Alta California.

1865 - Four of the co-conspirators in the assassination of US President Abraham Lincoln - Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold, and George Atzerodt - were hanged before an audience of more than 1,000 at the Old Arsenal Penitentiary in Washington, DC; Suratt, in fact, was the first woman in US history to be executed by the federal government.

1892 - The Revolutionary Philippine Brotherhood known as Katipunan was established; their activities would contribute to the fall of the Spanish Empire in Asia.

1898 - US President William McKinley signed the Newlands Resolution, annexing the sovereign nation of Hawaii as a territory of the United States.

1915 - A Great Gorge and International Railway trolley with an extreme overload of 157 passengers crashed near Queenston, Ontario, killing 15.

1928 - Sliced bread was sold for the first time by Missouri's Chillicothe Baking Company; described as 'the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped', this little bit of advertising hyperbole gave rise to the expression 'the greatest thing since sliced bread'.

1930 - Industrialist Henry J. Kaiser began construction of the Boulder Dam, which is now known as Hoover Dam.

1937 - During the Battle of Lugou Bridge, the Imperial Japanese Army overwhelmed China's National Revolutionary Army and invaded Beijing, provoking the Second Sino-Japanese War.

1946 - Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini was canonized by Pope Pius XII, the first American to be so honoured.

1947 - The alleged and disputed Roswell UFO Incident took place... Or did it?

1953 - Ernesto 'Che' Guevara set out on a trip through Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador... Although less well-known than the nine-month journey around South America in 1952 which later became famous when its exploits were published as The Motorcycle Diaries, the 1953 trip was equally crucial in the development of Guevara as a committed foe of imperialism and capitalism - embodied throughout this particular journey by the United Fruit Company. It was also during this trip that Che married his first wife, Hilda Gadea Acosta.

1978 - The Solomon Islands became independent from the United Kingdom.

1983 - At the height of the Cold War, Samantha Smith, an American schoolgirl, visited the Soviet Union at the invitation of Secretary General Yuri Andropov; Smith had written a letter to Andropov which captured his - and shortly thereafter the world's - attention.

2007 - Pope Benedict XVI issued an Apostolic Letter entitled Summorum Pontificum, removing restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass - all part of a modernization campaign by a hip, cutting-edge papacy*.

*Uh, yeah... Sarcasm!

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