Saturday, May 31, 2014

Classic Musical Comedy Production Number of the Month - May 2014

Yay!    A five Saturday month gives us a classic moment from a musical comedy.  And here's one I can watch over and over and over.  For obvious reasons.   It's "Bye Bye Birdie," gang.
Dinner last night:  Super Dodger Dog at the game.

Friday, May 30, 2014

If I Tweeted - May 2014

I don't, you know.  But, if I did, here's what was on my mind this month.

#LenSpeaks There is a stigma now with the word "hashtag."  Funny because I loved my grandmother's roast beef hash.

#LenSpeaks  A tweet can have too many characters.   Just like my life.

#LenSpeaks  Watching the Kentucky Derby, it was won by California Chrome.
I thought that was a West Coast search engine.

#LenSpeaks   With all the changes in our world, it's good to see that jockeys are still short.

#LenSpeaks  Obama came to California again and I was trapped two blocks from my house for ninety minutes.

#LenSpeaks   One more time, I will vote for the Presidential candidate who promises to stay away from me.

#LenSpeaks  Why do I think that the Obama kids are going to wind up with show biz careers?

#LenSpeaks  Everybody tells me they're growing up normal.   Er, normal and fucking rich.

#LenSpeaks  So, Hillary is automatically our next President just because she lost the last nomination??

#LenSpeaks  Get a load of her new glasses.  I thought they stopped making glass Coke bottles.

#LenSpeaks  Hubby Bill says Hillary was out of commission for six months due to illness.   That's not a sinus infection.

#LenSpeaks  And, if she really was out of the mix for six months, Bill must have had a good old time.

#LenSpeaks  No waitress in Pleasantville was safe.

#LenSpeaks  And, oh, Monica Lewinsky is back talking again.   Jeez, just reimburse her for the dry cleaning and be done with it.

#LenSpeaks  There's a special committee now to investigate Benghazi.   And, if it were the Republicans doing the cover-up, there would have been impeachments by now.

#LenSpeaks  The only good politician is an out-of-work politician.

#LenSpeaks  Jack Bauer is back and I only wish he were real.

#LenSpeaks  Bill Devane is the new President on 24.   He's a little confused and addled.  Essentially an improvement over the real guy.

#LenSpeaks  The best thing about my blog is that there is no season finale.

#LenSpeaks   The last time Monica Lewinsky was relevant, so was American Idol.

#LenSpeaks  So, in 13 years of Idol, they produced one real idol.   Carrie Underwood.

#LenSpeaks  California Chrome won the Preakness and I still think it's a West Coast search engine.

#LenSpeaks  In New York, I went through Grand Central Station and it now looks like that market you see in the movie "Casablanca."

#LenSpeaks  The sign at the Metro North station says "Good Service Today."   That's a little judgmental, I think.

#LenSpeaks  Downtown Yonkers is now full of lovely lofts and apartment buildings.   It's a shame you still can't walk the streets around them.

#LenSpeaks  A selling point of these properties is that they are "ghetto close."

#LenSpeaks  One of the amenities on the prospectus is "nearby hookers."

#LenSpeaks  It's official.  The City of New York can't keep up with pothole repair.

#LenSpeaks  The corner of 421nd Street and Lexington looks like a mine field.  Jesus had smoother roads in Bethlehem.

#LenSpeaks  I saw Billy Joel at the Hollywood Bowl and one of the reasons is because it might be the last time to do that.

#LenSpeaks  For him.   And, now that I think of it, for me, too.

Dinner last night:  Sandwich.


 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

THE Dumbest Thing I Have Ever Done

Isn't this a gorgeous photo?  May and October are the very best (and only) months to visit New York.   I just did and had a grand time, mixing a little business with pleasure.

Except it was not without incident.   And you would think that dislocating your own jaw by coughing would be the lone negative of a spring trip like this.   

Um, not by a long shot.   Because this excursion featured perhaps the dumbest thing I have ever done in my life.  And, for those of you keeping score on me, you know I am capable of doing dumb things.   Well, this was the pinnacle of stupidity for me.  I probably shouldn't even share it.   But, hell, my life is an open blog and you need to fill it on a daily basis.  There are no exceptions.

So, let me set the stage.   I had a great night out with an old friend.  I had dropped him off and was maneuvering my rental Jeep through some very quiet and desolate suburban streets.   All was quiet.

I had loaded some junk from my apartment in the back of the car.  I am slowly and systematically paring down the New York abode.  I had meant to dispose of it in the apartment complex dumpster, but I had forgotten to do so.

But, wait.   As I drove down a dark street, I see....a dumpster.   Obviously, at the side of the road because some nice homeowner was doing renovations that they probably saw on HGTV.  This is perfect for me.   I can do my garbage outlay right here and now.

I popped out of the Jeep and walked three steps.   I suddenly realized my mistake.   

I never put the car into "P."  I turned to see the Jeep slowly rolling down the street.

Yes, Dad, I know.   It's funny how his voice still comes in loud and clear as if they allow streaming in Heaven.

I reacted quickly.   I had left the car door open so I grabbed onto the side of the door jamb.  By the way, this is a great way to mess up the muscles in your shoulders as my personal trainer confirmed when I got back to LA.  

The forward motion of the car pulled me down and I was then being dragged on the street as I held onto the car.   By the way, this is a great way to put a gaping hole in your mesh New Balance sneakers, which had to be replaced the very next day.

Eventually, after being dragged ten or so feet, I had to let go.  The Jeep continued on its merry way.   As I rose to my feet in the middle of this loneliness, all I could do was yell "stop."   

After another thirty feet, the car surprisingly did just that.   My father also working in mysterious ways.

I was now a half block away from the dumpster so that idea lost a degree of convenience.  I got back into the car and reasoned how this could have happened.  Okay, when you drive your own car, everything becomes a reflex action.   You go through your motions without thinking.   With a different car, your habits are disrupted.   Things are in a different spot.

Oh, who the heck am I kidding?  This was the dumbest thing I have ever done.

Thanks, Dad.  Now you will excuse me while I put some more analgesic cream on my shoulders.

Dinner last night:  Sandwich and salad.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

This Date in History - May 28

Happy birthday, Gladys Knight.  We met once in an elevator.  I doubt you remember.

585 BC:  A SOLAR ECLIPSE OCCURS, AS PREDICTED BY THE GREEK PHILOSOPHER AND SCIENTIST THALES.

Was there even anybody around to verify this?

1503:  JAMES IV OF SCOTLAND AND MARGARET TUDOR ARE MARRIED ACCORDING TO A PAPAL BULL BY POPE ALEXANDER VI.

That's a lot of....oh, go ahead and finish it.

1533:  THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, THOMAS CRANMER, DECLARES THE MARRIAGE OF KING HENRY VIII AND ANNE BOLEYN TO BE VALID.

All those wives.  He was quite the player.  Even if he did look like Sebastian Cabot.

1754:  DURING THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR, VIRGINIA MILITIA UNDER THE 22-YEAR-OLD LIEUTENANT COLONEL GEORGE WASHINGTON DEFEAT A FRENCH RECONNAISSANCE PARTY.

It's hard to believe that Washington was anything but an old guy.

1830:  US PRESIDENT ANDREW JACKSON SIGNS THE INDIAN REMOVAL ACT WHICH RELOCATES NATIVE AMERICANS.

They all wound up in Cleveland.

1843:  AUTHOR NOAH WEBSTER DIES.

You can look that up.

1892:  IN SAN FRANCISCO, JOHN MUIR ORGANIZES THE SIERRA CLUB.

Hippie.

1918:  COMIC JOHNNY WAYNE IS BORN.

And, in an ironic twist, he later changed his name to Marion Morrison.

1918:  THE AZERBAIJAN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC AND THE FIRST REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA DECLARE THEIR INDEPENDENCE.

All of this happened in Glendale, California.

1934:  THE DIONNE QUINTUPLETS ARE BORN IN ONTARIO, CANADA.

Talk about your instant tax break.

1937:  THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE IS OFFICIALLY OPENED BY PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, WHO PUSHES A BUTTON TO OPEN TRAFFIC.

I'm pretty sure he was sitting down at the time.

1937:  THE VOLKSWAGEN COMPANY IS FOUNDED.

Here comes Herbie the Love Bug.

1938:  BASKETBALL STAR JERRY WEST IS BORN.

Score the goal.

1940:  BELGIUM SURRENDERS TO NAZI GERMANY.

There goes all that chocolate.

1944:  MAYOR RUDY GUILIANI IS BORN.

 And, in a way, so is the combover.

1944:  SINGER GLADYS KNIGHT IS BORN.

On that midnight train to Georgia.

1951:  THE BRITISH RADIO COMEDY, "THE GOON SHOW," IS BROADCAST ON THE BBC FOR THE FIRST TIME.

Not to be confused with live broadcasts of the British Parliament.

1952:  THE WOMEN OF GREECE ARE GIVEN THE RIGHT TO VOTE.

When will they be allowed to shave?

1957:  BASEBALL PLAYER KIRK GIBSON IS BORN.

I've seen that clip of his World Series homerun maybe two thousand times.

1964:  THE PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION IS FORMED.

And so it starts.

1977:  IN KENTUCKY, THE BEVERLY HILLS SUPPER CLUB IS DESTROYED BY A FIRE THAT KILLS 165 PEOPLE INSIDE.

I told you not to order the Cherries Jubilee.

1993:  ERITREA AND MONACO JOIN THE UNITED NATIONS.

That first country sounds like a sinus medicine.

1996:  US PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON'S FORMER BUSINESS PARTNERS IN THE WHITEWATER LAND DEAL, ARE CONVICTED OF FRAUD.

Yeah, I know.  He said he didn't do this either.

1998:  ACTOR PHIL HARTMAN IS FOUND DEAD FROM A BULLET WOUND.

I was literally three blocks away when this news broke.  Or so I told the police.

1999:  IN ITALY, AFTER A 22 YEAR RESTORATION, LEONARDO DA VINCI'S "THE LAST SUPPER" IS PUT BACK ON DISPLAY.

Which was probably longer than it took him to paint the original.

2003:  PETER HOLLINGSWORTH BECOMES THE FIRST GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF AUSTRALIA TO RESIGN HIS OFFICE AS A RESULT OF CRITICISM OF HIS CONDUCT.

If this happened in America, there would be nobody running the government.

2010:  ACTOR GARY COLEMAN DIES.

As far as life goes, he came up short.

Dinner last night:  Roast beef sandwich.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Where Did This Come From?

Holding true to my promise that I will review every movie that I go out to see, here's "The Love Punch."

I will pause now for those of you to say "what????"  

Trust me, I had no clue this film existed a week ago.  I was flipping through the LA Times movie pages and saw an ad for it.

Again, I was taken aback.  What the hell is this?

Okay, since it stars Pierce Brosnan, I mentioned it to movie buddy Djinn from the Bronx, who has seen Brosnan in everything he's ever done.   That includes about two dozen films that went straight to video.  Some didn't even stop at your DVR.   They went right to the dumpster.   

Well, Pierce-phile Djinn never heard of it either, so apparently her name fell off Brosnan's global e-mail address directory.  But it opened up the cans of worms.

"Let's go see it."

Desperate for a movie night that didn't feature either X-Men, giant lizards, and/or Adam Sandler, I agreed.   It was the equivalent of a cinematic grab bag gift at an office Christmas party.   I had no idea what I was getting.   I couldn't find more than one review or any other mention of this film in the newspapers.  How does a movie get released so silently?

Well, it comes in quietly when it's that bad.  And, surprise, surprise, it's the office grab bag gift that shows you the giver had no idea what to get you.  Instead of puzzling over how the movie got released, I should have been concentrating how it got made in the first place.

I mean, you would think that with star power like Brosnan and the always reliable Emma Thompson, you'd get a few nice moments.   And I suppose I did.   But the stars' efforts couldn't mask that the written-and-directed-by-some-nobody-named-Joel-Hopkins film is a mess from the very first frame.   With a good script, Pierce and Emma might have worked.   They showed some chemistry.  But, not with this one.  "The Love Punch" should have been called "The Sucker Punch" because it was us in the audience doubled up in pain.

At the beginning of this dreary hokum, Brosnan and Thompson are divorced with two kids in college.   She's had enough of his philandering.  But, when a Bernie Madoff-type takes over his London-based company and hightails it to France with everybody's 401K, the estranged couple join together to get back their retirement funds.   And they decide to do so by stealing the tycoon's girlfriend's very expensive diamond.  

Following me so far?  

While the set-up is interesting, the execution is ridiculous.   Pierce and Emma go off to Paris and then Cannes.  Hi-jinx ensue.  Or so they think.  The characters constantly remind us that they are old by talking about wrinkles and prostate glands.  Meanwhile, they are scuba diving in the ocean and then scaling a cliff to get into the tycoon's fortress.  

Stopped following me, right?

None of anything in "The Love Punch" makes sense.  Brosnan and Thompson wind up in one ridiculous situation after another and the peril is always heightened by her being allergic to flowers and him being allergic to cats.  If the dialogue was remotely clever, they could have gotten away with the dopey plot.  But, when it finally ends, you realize that the only heist that was successful in "The Love Punch" was the one engineered by the box office.

Chalk this one up as another Pierce Brosnan movie that should have gone straight to video.   But, miraculously and curiously, didn't.

LEN'S RATING:  One-half star.

Dinner last night:  Bacon wrapped Dodger Dog at the game.

  

  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday Morning Video Laugh - May 26, 2014

This could only come from Martin Short.

Dinner last night:  Chicken fried steak, green beans, and salad.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Sunday Memory Drawer - The Sanctity of Memorial Day

Here's a snapshot of my grandmother with her winter coat on.  Trust me.  This might have been taken at a Memorial Day barbecue. 

Or maybe, more than likely, the Fourth of July.  My grandmother would not be smiling on Memorial Day.  She took that day very seriously.

Take, for instance, this one particular May holiday.  I had been invited by a new school chum to take in a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.  I was over the moon with delight.  His family came to pick me up and I raced out of the house.  To do so, I had to scamper right through Grandma's part of the home downstairs.

"Where are you running like a crazy lunatic?"

I explained.  Baseball.  A doubleheader.   Hot dogs.  Peanuts.  Exactly what America should do on a national holiday.

"But it's Memorial Day.  You should stay home."

Huh?

Well, I didn't.  And her words bothered me all day.  I was twelve and still trying to put together the pieces of my family history.  Years later, I still have not.

We didn't talk much about it in the house.  The fact that my grandparents had sent four sons off to serve in the military during World War II and only three returned.  Three of my dad's brothers saw action.  My father fought gallantly with a Royal typewriter while stationed in an Army office somewhere in Japan.  One brother was killed exactly two weeks before V-E Day in 1945.  I was named after him.   We discussed him in this blog space before.  I've shared the sum total of information I have about him.

Yep, we almost never talked about it.

I'd ask questions of my parents and, when not reminded that I asked too many of them, got sparse information about the family member still buried in the south of France.  But, my grandmother?   Never said a word.   Oh, his name might have come up in anecdotes about the past.  But we never had a serious discussion about his loss. 

His purple heart hung in her living room.  I've seen the papers from the War Department.  I still have them in a file cabinet.  But they are just typed sentences on a now-yellowed page.  There's no emotion shown in them.   There was little emotion shown in our house. 

But, indeed, it came out in different ways.  Most notably in how my grandmother treated the sanctity of this one holiday.

Looking back, Grandma and Grandpa came from Germany probably around 1905 or 1910.  They were proud to be here in this country.  Who knows what their life must have been like over there?  But they came to America to make themselves a better life and they worked hard to do so.  Unlike the immigrants of 2014, my grandparents did their part to become true Americans.  They learned to speak English.  My grandfather could eventually read and write it.  Grandma would ultimately only be able to sign her name.

But they were Americans.   And, in little ways, I would hear how my grandmother loved the military that defended this homeland.

I'd hear it whenever there was a state funeral of some dignitary on television.  Grandma would look at the pallbearers.

"Those poor boys.  Having to carry that heavy thing up those stairs."

I'd hear it when she'd come in and I had commandeered her TV set for my own use.  I'd be watching some war movie or show.

"Turn that off.  We don't wanna see what happens to those poor boys."

Over and over and over again.   It was "those poor boys."

For years when I was a kid, Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30 without fail.  But, naturally, government workers stuck in their two cents and wanted a long weekend.  The holiday was changed to the last Monday of May.  Grandma was incensed.

"It should be May 30.  But everybody wants a free vacation.  They forget about those poor boys."

I wanted to know about one of those poor boys.  But it never was discussed.  I envision in retrospect that the days and years after 1945 had to be hard for my grandparents.  I remember one Memorial Day when Grandma actually hung in her living room window the little banner that showed our family had four people fighting in the war.  It likely hung in their Bronx window back during World War II.  She inexplicably displayed it again.   I never knew why. 

And, of course, my question was likely never answered.

Yes, Memorial Day was serious business for my grandparents.  And, as I sat at that Yankee Stadium doubleheader slurping up all sorts of ballpark treats, I wondered just what was behind it all.  I had still gone to the game that day.  And violated the sanctity of Memorial Day.

But, of course, not before I helped Grandma with the traditional national holiday ritual.

Our flag.

I've written this before, but it bears repeating in light of another Memorial Day and a memory about my grandparents.  You see, we had this flagpole in our front yard.

Do you know how to correctly fold an American flag?  Well, I do.
And it was my grandmother who taught me how.  And, on Memorial Day or Veteran's Day, it was on that flagpole in front of the house.

Yes, my grandparents were that American.

Our big honking flag pole was cemented right in the middle of the front yard. It actually stretched past our apartment on the second floor. It was as big as any you might find in front of the most important of Federal buildings. But it was all ours. Right there where my grandmother could easily see it from her first floor living room window.   

Early in the morning of every national holiday,  I would hear the hallway closet downstairs creak open. I'd envision the boxes being moved this way or that. The smell of mothballs would waft up to the second floor.   

Yep, Grandma was rooting around for the American flag again.

I'd walk around the neighborhood and not see a lot of the same patriotism on these holidays. Certainly, not an American flag being hoisted up a huge pole at the crack of dawn. But, that's what my grandparents did like clockwork.  After my grandfather died, I could no longer exist in mere passive curiosity.   

"You gonna help me now."

Okay, Grandma. I figured it was only going to be a slight diversion to my day of play. Yet, I had no idea how seriously she took this ceremony. The way in which the flag was unfolded. How it was handled with the utmost of care.

And, at the end of the day, the precise folding of the banner. Military style. To the strictest of code. My first few attempts did not go well.

"No, no, no. Not that way. This way!"

The words had a sharp tone. Grandma meant business with this. And I was treating it all like Gomer Pyle, USMC. 

 After a while, I got it. And we responded on every holiday. Grandma and I got into a neat rhythm when it was time to put the flag away. We did it as flawlessly as we could. Moreover, we did it with the proper amount of respect.

Several years later, I asked my father about that tradition. What was I missing? What was behind the flag ceremony?   

"Well, you do know that's the flag that covered your uncle's casket?"

Another small tidbit floating in the Ocean of No Information.  Oh. In this recent picture of that house years after I left it, the flagpole stands as tall as ever.
So, tomorrow is Memorial Day.  May the 26th.  Grandma would be unhappy one more time.  And I am going to a ballgame at Dodger Stadium.  Just like years ago.

I may linger a little longer over the flag that waves over the stadium.  And think again about my grandmother.  And the holiday she held so dear.  For reasons I still can only guess about.

Dinner last night:  Roast beef French Dip at BJ's.

  


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - May 2014

Forty years old this year.

Dinner last night:  Chicken lo mein from PF Chang's.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Will You Go to the Prom With Me?

It's that time of year.  Everybody, smile!
It's either the senior prom or open call for "The Lion King."
It's a courteous boyfriend who's always willing to coordinate his dress with his date's.
Explosion at the paint factory!
Hello, 1983.

Hello, Bellevue Hospital.
The junior prom at the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory.
Love is Blue.
There's a problem when your boyfriend's hair makes him look like Lucille Ball.
Pat and Lois, sans toolbelts, at the prom.
"Oh, what proudly we hail....."

Dinner last night:  Had a big lunch so just a sandwich.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Slow Simmer

Despite the fact that it's a trend that took hold over Los Angeles about five or six years ago, I have yet to sample the fare at a food truck.  Admittedly, they've been around for years to feed the gardeners and the pool cleaners of the super rich.  Those vehicles were called "roach coaches" and probably with good reason.  But, a while back, a couple of fancy chefs took to the streets and, before you know it, we have a phenomenon.

I remember being in an office where the first food trucks were making their stops.  You had to sign on to a website to find out when it would be near you.  People in my company got so excited when one food truck was on the next block.   You would think that Jesus was traveling around Galilee

Bottom line: I'd go see the Sermon on the Mount.  I might not get as excited for a Kobe beef burger.

This is the really long way to get into a movie review, but I've finally reached my creative destination.  I guess it was a matter of time before Hollywood set a movie around a food truck.   After all, I'm sure one has stopped in front of Paramount or Sony Studios by now.  And you know how quickly Tinseltown development types can jump on a band wagon.

Hence, the movie "Chef" written and directed by Jon Favreau.  Oh, yeah, and starring Jon Favreau.  I guess somebody needs to adopt the mantle of being a cinematic triple threat, given that Woody Allen is getting old and Barbra Streisand can't get her fat ass out of bed.  I've noticed that Favreau himself has also put on some pounds since his "Swingers" days.  Maybe that's why we have this focus on food and its preparation. 

Like "Swingers," the characters in "Chef" all talk at the same time and don't listen to one another.  It's a challenge to keep up with all the back story as it unfolds.  But, here's a spoiler alert.  The film is all about a chef.  Favreau plays this important culinary artist who's been running the show at a prestigious Los Angeles, likely-Zagats-rated eatery.  He was once considering cutting edge and wants to get a lot more .  But, restaurant owner Dustin Hoffman, now exclusively with a future film career as "the cranky old guy," wants him to stick only to the menu originally created a decade ago.

This becomes a problem when some food blogger reviews the place and chastises the chef for not expanding his horizons.  Favreau has a loud confrontation with the Rex Reed-like critic and it winds up on You Tube and TMZ.  The chef winds up on the unemployment line.

Meanwhile, the chef knows nothing else about life but cooking and has the ex-wife and neglected ten-year-old son to show for it.  Sofia Vergara is the former missus and, along with the staccato dialogue, you also now have the accent to deal with it.  Very quickly, the movie starts to set up a plotline that is so evident that you could see it on your phone's GPS app.  Favreau and his son go to Miami to buy a beat-up food truck from Vergara's other ex-husband (Robert Downey Jr. in an incredibly weird cameo appearance).  The truck's specialty will be Cuban sandwiches.  Chef and son bond as they drive the truck back to LA.  Junior uses the internet to get the word out.  It's a big hit.

The End.   Seriously.   That's it.

Somewhere along the way, Favreau forgot to put anything meaty into this six-reel sandwich.  At the midway point, the film literally could be called a documentary you might find on the Food Network.  Here's how you smoke a ham with mesquite.  Here's how you butter a ciabatta roll so it becomes golden brown.  Oh, and the correct order to layer the ham, the cheese, and the pickles on a Cuban sandwich.

This isn't as much a movie as an episode of "Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals." 

You keep waiting for some out-loud humor to kick in.  It never does.  You want to have the big schmaltzy moment.  It never happens.  You realize the film is in the slowest cooker ever made.

Did "Chef" hold my interest?  Yes.   Did it entertain me?  A bit.  But, at the end of the evening, it's not a satisfying dinner, but merely a snack.   And, to tell you the truth, some buttered popcorn would have done that trick.

LEN'S RATING:  Two and a half stars.

Dinner last night:  Teriyaki chicken wings at Citi Field.




Wednesday, May 21, 2014

This Date in History - May 21

I remember this like it was yesterday.  The wonderful, penultimate edition of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson happened on this date in 1992.   I still miss him to this day.

293: ROMAN EMPERORS DIOCLETIAN AND MAXIMIAN APPOINT GALERIUS AS CAESAR TO DIOCLETIAN.

I guess this is a big deal if you live in Rome during the year 203.

878:  SYRACUSE, ITALY IS CAPTURED BY THE MUSLIM SULTAN OF SICILY.

The Orangemen of Italy?

879:  POPE JOHN VIII GIVES BLESSINGS TO BRANIMIR OF CROATIA AND TO THE CROATIAN PEOPLE.

I guess this is a big deal if you live in Croatia during the year 879.

996:  SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD OTTO III IS CROWNED HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR.

So he's running a country even before he goes to the prom?

1554:  QUEEN MARY I GRANTS A ROYAL CHARTER TO DERBY SCHOOL FOR BOYS.

Well, derbys would look pretty stupid on girls.

1758:  TEN-YEAR-OLD MARY CAMPBELL IS ABDUCTED IN PENNSYLVANIA BY LENAPE DURING THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR.

The very first amber alert.

1851:  SLAVERY IS ABOLISHED IN COLOMBIA, SOUTH AMERICA.

Meanwhile, it's probably just as tough to be a free man if you live in Colombia, South America.

1856:  LAWRENCE, KANSAS IS CAPTURED BY PRO-SLAVERY FORCES.

That's an awful long way from Colombia, South America.

1863:  ORGANIZATION OF THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH IN BATTLE CREEK, MICHIGAN.

So,  when you're in their church, you don't want to sing "Eight Days a Week."

1881:  THE AMERICAN RED CROSS IS ESTABLISHED BY CLARA BARTON.

Free doughnuts!!!

1898:  BUSINESSMAN ARMAND HAMMER IS BORN.

Love your baking soda.

1901:  ACTOR SAM JAFFE IS BORN.

Man, woman, birth, death, infinity.

1904:  SINGER FATS WALLER IS BORN.

Well, his mother was pregnant.   Somebody was misbehavin'.

1917:  ACTOR RAYMOND BURR IS BORN.

Somewhere there's got to be a photo of this guy wearing a dress.

1917:  THE GREAT ATLANTA FIRE OF 1917 CAUSES $5.5 MILLION IN DAMAGE.  

Jeez, how many times did that town burn to the ground?

1918:  SINGER DENNIS DAY IS BORN.

Hi, Mr. Benny....

1924:  ACTRESS PEGGY CASS IS BORN.

To tell you the truth....

1924:  UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO STUDENTS RICHARD LOEB AND NATHAN LEOPOLD JR.  MURDER 14-YEAR-OLD BOBBY FRANKS IN A THRILL KILLING.

And, for years, I thought these were the guys who wrote "My Fair Lady."

1927:  CHARLES LINDBERGH TOUCHES DOWN IN PARIS, COMPLETING THE WORLD'S FIRST SOLO NONSTOP FLIGHT ACROSS THE ATLANTIC OCEAN.

Nazi loving shithead.

1932:  BAD WEATHER FORCES AMELIA EARHART TO LAND IN A PASTURE IN NORTHERN IRELAND, THEREBY BECOMES THE FIRST WOMAN TO FLY SOLO ACROSS THE ATLANTIC OCEAN.

Whatever became of her?  It's like she disappeared right off the planet.

1934:  OSKALOOSA, IOWA, BECOMES THE FIRST MUNICIPALITY IN THE US TO FINGERPRINT ALL OF ITS CITIZENS.

I bet their crime rate is low.

1936:  SADA ABE IS ARRESTED AFTER WANDERING THE STREETS OF TOKYO WITH HER DEAD LOVER'S SEVERED GENITALS IN HER HAND.

Well, you gotta hand it to her....

1946:  PHYSICIST LOUIS SLOTIN IS FATALLY IRRADIATED DURING AN EXPERIMENT WITH THE DEMON CORE.

Hence, the word "demon."

1952:  ACTOR JOHN GARFIELD DIES.

At the age of 39.  Now there's somebody who got cheated.

1961:  ALABAMA GOVERNOR JOHN MALCOLM PATTERSON DECLARES MARTIAL LAW IN AN ATTEMPT TO RESTORE ORDER AFTER RACE RIOTS BREAK OUT.

At some point, this will happen to our entire country if we don't pay attention.

1972:  MICHELANGELO'S PIETA IN ROME IS DAMAGED BY A VANDAL, THE MENTALLY DISTURBED HUNGARIAN LASZLO TOTH.

Well, if you have to live in Hungary, you might as well be mentally disturbed.

1979:  WHITE NIGHT RIOTS IN SAN FRANCISCO FOLLOWING THE MANSLAUGHTER OF DAN WHITE FOR THE ASSASSINATIONS OF GEORGE MOSCONE AND HARVEY MILK.

You shouldn't cry over spilled....

1988:  DANCER SAMMY DAVIS SR. DIES.

Meanwhile, his son only lasted two more years.

1991:  FORMER INDIAN PRIME MINISTER RAJIV GANDHI IS ASSASSINATED BY A FEMALE SUICIDE BOMBER.

If you've got the last name Gandhi, things never work out well, do they?

1992:  ROBIN WILLIAMS AND BETTE MIDLER APPEAR ON THE NEXT-TO-LAST JOHNNY CARSON TONIGHT SHOW.

We will never see this kind of television spontaneity ever again.

1998:  IN MIAMI, FLORIDA, FIVE ABORTION CLINICS ARE HIT BY A BUTYRIC ACID ATTACKER.

People who are pro life trying to kill.   Isn't that an oxymoron?

2000:  ACTOR JOHN GIELGUD DIES.

Sir to you.

2005:  THE TALLEST ROLLER COASTER IN THE WORLD, KINGDA KA, OPENS AT GREAT ADVENTURE IN NEW JERSEY.

You will never see me on it.

2005:  ACTOR HOWARD MORRIS DIES.

It's me, it's me, Ernest T.

2011:  BROADCASTER HAROLD CAMPING PREDICTED THAT THE END OF THE WORLD WOULD OCCUR ON THIS DAY.

Wrong!

2013:  BUSINESSMAN LEONARD MARSH DIES.

The co-founder of Snapple.   Which means May 21 should be a national holiday.

Dinner last night:  Sausage and peppers at the Met game.