Birthdays: Mary Harris a.k.a.Mother Jones, Benjamin Latrobe designer of the US Capitol, Calamity Jane, Joseph Addison, Kate Smith, Jack Paar, Joseph Heller, Rita Coolidge, Steve Cauthen, Judy Collins, Glen Ford, Ray Parker Jr., Maurice Noble, Soviet animator Fyodor Khytruk, Louis Nye, John Woo, the Batman,

Happy Birthday Eric Goldberg!

May or Maius is named for Maia, Roman god of flowers, daughter of Fauna and Vulcan.

This day Romans celebrated the LARALIA- the feast of the Lares, your personal domestic gods who watch over you and your family. Many times they included the founder of your house, a famous family member or a particular allegiance to one deity, for example Julius Caesar claimed to be descended from Venus. It’s also the Roman festival for the Bona Dea or the Good Goddess, a deity of fertility.

62BC- Publius Clodius Pulcher- The Handsome, seduced the wife of Julius Caesar by dressing like a woman and sneaking into Caesars home while the women were celebrating the secret sacred mysteries of Bona Dea. Caesar wasn’t too upset because he was sleeping around as well. Part of Greco-Roman religious mysteries was the drinking of a wine mixed with herbs approximating the effect of modern LSD. Sex, Drugs and Latin Conjugations!

1886- MAYDAY- In most of the world except the U.S. this is Labor Day. Ironically the tanks and red banners that used to parade down Tianamehn or in Havanna celebrate events that began in the United States. In 1886- The Knights of Labor- an underground movement of unions came out in the open and announced itself America's first national labor organization. On this day they called for strikes against all employers who wouldn't institute an 8 hour workday. The norm in America was 12 hours, 7am to 7pm six days a week. 500,000 people go out on 1,700 strikes and paralyze the nation's economy. The authorities crushed the strikes with violence, shootings, arrests and firings with a brutality that shocked the rest of the world. Karl Marx said: " Isn't it amazing what's happening in America ?". The 8 hour day doesn't become normal in America until 1913. In 1889- in Europe the International Socialist Congress declaring itself in sympathy with the embattled American worker designated May 1st as International Worker's Day. In 1894 American Federation of Labor, a less militant successor to the Knights, ask President Cleveland to move Labor Day from May 1st to the end of August. This was so people can have a holiday between Independence Day and Thanksgiving, but also a Labor Day free of "radical politics".

1893- The WORLD COLUMBIAN EXHIBITION opened in Chicago. A great White City topped by the first Ferris Wheel, a giant that carried passengers higher than the crown of the Statue of Liberty. Worlds Fairs then still had a certain amount of cheap sensationalist burlesque to attract customers uninterested in dynamos and new farming exhibits. This exhibition was made famous by the erotic gyrations of an hootchie-cootchie dancer named Little Egypt. It was the first example of belly dancing in America but the famous tune "In the Land of Oz Where the Ladies Smoke Cigars" was not written in Egypt but by a local songwriter named Joe Blume. Candy maker Milton Hershey inspected some new German milk chocolate machines and was inspired to build his new business around chocolate. It also displayed the World’s Largest Red Cedar Bucket, then filled with lager beer. I had the pleasure of seeing the Bucket at Mufreesboro Tennessee, minus the beer.

1898- BATTLE OF MANILA BAY- Admiral Dewey's fleet sinks the Spanish fleet when he gives the order to the captain of the USS Olympia :"You may fire when ready, Gridley:" I'm sorry, Bugs Bunny didn't say it first.

1902- Richard Outcault's comic strip Buster Brown and Tige first appeared. Outcault, the creator of the first hit cartoon the Yellow Kid was so famous that as part of his deal to do this strip he negotiated the first back-end deal for a percentage of the merchandise sales.

1914-THE BIRTH OF THE BIG BLUE- Thomas Watson got a job at a little business machine company called CTR, the Calculating, Typewriter and Regulating Company. He quickly rose to the top and renamed the company International Business Machine or IBM. When he retired in 1956 it employed 60,000 and is one of largest companies in the world.

1931- The Empire State Building in New York dedicated. For fifty years it was the worlds tallest office building and King Kong’s hangout. It’s topmost deck was designed to be a dirigible mooring post but despite several tries no zeppelin has ever been able to park there. A Goodyear Blimp attempted mooring there in 1976 but the highwinds bobbed it around like a bucking bronco. The building was dedicated during the depths of the Great Depression when business was so bad it was nicknamed the 'Empty State Building'.

1939- The first Batman comics created by Bob Kane appear on newsstands.

1941-ROSEBUD- Orson Welles film "Citizen Kane" debuted at the Paramount theater (the El Capitan) in Hollywood. At the last minute William Randolph Hearst's friend Louis B. Mayer tried to buy and destroy every print of the film and the Hearst press went crazy attacking it. Hearst spokesperson Louella Parsons threatened "A Beautiful Lawsuit" if the film was not pulled. Despite winning some Oscars the film didn't do well in it's initial release, but it remains one of the greatest films of all time. Welles said later:" The problem I've always had is my movies become classics ten years later."

1967- Elvis Presley marries Priscilla Beaulieu at the Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas.

1989- Walt Disney Feature Animation in Orlando Florida opens. It closed in 2006.

1993- The Florida Animation Union Local 843 chartered.

1997- Bebe, the dolphin who played Flipper on the television show, died at age 40.

1997- Tony Blair defeated Tory John Major to become Prime Minister of Britain.

2003-MISSION ACCOMPLISHED? President George W. Bush lands a military jet onto the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to deliver a speech declaring the war in Iraq to be officially over. In the next three years 2800 more Americans would be killed, 25,000 wounded and an untold number of Iraqis. A big banner on the carrier read Mission Accomplished. The White House said it was set up spontaneously by crewmen, but later admitted it was conceived, printed and hung by West Wing functionaries.

My best investment since Billy Carter's Billy Beer.


April 30, 2007 monday
April 30th, 2007

Birthdays: Elector Johann-Frederich the Magnanimous, Franz Lehar, Max Skladanowsky, Jaroslav Hasek, Eve Arden, Jill Clayburgh, Alice B. Toklas, Willie Nelson,Cloris Leachman,Jane Campion,Lars von Trier, Burt Young, Kirsten Dunst is 25,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BILL PLYMPTON!

Walpurgisnacht- In the Hartz Mountains of Germany the eve the Feast Day of St. Walpurga the demon chaser is a Halloween kind of party, when the Devil can romp for a night. It's the inspiration for Mussogorsky's "Night on Bald Mountain".

1900- John Luther Jones , called CASEY JONES died in a spectacular train crash near Vaughn Mississippi. Jones' freight train was running 75 minutes late so he stoked up his engine to 100 mph. Suddenly a switching error put a passenger train in his path. Jones stayed at the controls trying to stop the train while his crew jumped to safety. There was a head on collision but because of Jone’s bravery his was the only death. A brakeman later wrote the famous folksong. Union activists prefer to remember that Jones was a strikebreaker running his train recklessly in defiance of a strike to impress his employers. The union still paid his widow his $3000 dollar life insurance. Folksinger Joe Hill in his song "Casey Jones the Union Scab." tells how when he went to heaven the Angel’s Union Local #23 "fired Casey down the Golden Stair.."

1939- The 1939 World’s Fair opened in Flushing Meadows, NY. The Trylon & Perisphere presided over the gleaming Art-Deco paean to optimism, even as the world waited nervously for Hitler’s next move. With President Franklin D. Roosevelt in attendance the NBC network began regular television broadcasting. It only went to a few homes. Experts were not optimistic."It requires a darkened room and constant attention." one said.

1945- BERLIN FALLS. Sergeants Yegorov and Kantariya raise the red flag over the Reichstag as the last Nazi resistance in the capitol was stamped out. After a late supper of spaghetti and a tossed salad Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun bit down on cyanide capsules and Hitler put a revolver in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Dr. Josef Goebbels and his family took poison but secretary Martin Bormann decided to take his chances making a run for it. For years it was thought he had made it to Latin America but in the late 1980's excavations in Berlin found his skeleton under a collapsed building crouching behind a tank. Hitler even left instructions to have his Alsatian dog Blondi poisoned. The bodies were taken out to a ditch and burned with gasoline. A famous photo of a dead man with a Hitler mustache was of a double shown the Russians to throw them off the track. Today Hitlers skull is sitting in a filing cabinet in Moscow,
When Marshal Zhukov informed Soviet leader Josef Stalin by telephone of Hitler's death, Uncle Joe said:"Doigralsya, podlets!" So, that's the end of the bastard!". Soviet troops found in Hitler’s office that he did possess a large world globe like Charlie Chaplin’s film the Great Dictator. The globe had arrows drawn in red pen pointed at England and the United States with Hitler’s handwritten scribbles "Look out! Here I come!". Russians covered the Reich Chancellery building with graffiti- the most popular being "Svenia went to Berlin" a version of the American "Kilroy was Here".

1945- "Arthur Godfrey Time" debuts on CBS radio. Godfrey was a local Washington D.C.deejay who gained nationwide fame for his emotional coverage of the funeral of FDR. He then went from radio to television, hosting the first regularly successful television entertainment program.

1948- David Ben-Gurion read the declaration of independence of the State of Israel to a cheering crowd in Tel Aviv.

1952 - Mr Potato Head is 1st toy advertised on television. In 2000 Rhode Island declared itself the Mr Potato Head State. the Hasbro Toy Company is headquartered in Pawtucket, a city just outside of Providence.

1988- Tom Hanks married actress Rita Wilson.

1993- In Hamburg young tennis star Monica Seles had just completed a match when lunatic fan named Gunter Parche jumped out of the crowd and stabbed her in the back with a knife. He didn’t want Monica to overtake Stephy Graff, whom he was stalking . Monica Seles recovered and resumed competition but never again regained her world championship poise. Parche spent a little time in prison but was soon released and Stephy Graff did stay the number one seed.

1992- BERN, the Geneva particle lab where the World Wide Web was developed by Tim Berner, declared that WWW. aka the Web would be open and free to all with no restrictions or royalties to be paid to them.

1993- The Walt Disney Company announced it’s purchase of the independent film producer Miramax.

1997- In the last show of the season comedian Ellen Degenere’s character admits to Laura Dern that she’s gay. Disney cancelled the Ellen Show the following season.


Fascinating article from Variety sent to me by Karl Cohen. I recall when the controversy was about modern films done on cheaper 35mm Eastmancolor film stock needed to be rescued while classic Technicolor prints like 1939's Gone With the Wind suffered minimal deteriation. Thanks to Variety for the reproduction.

Digital proves problematic
Industry lacks method to store footage

By DAVID S. COHEN -- "Variety"

As far as movies are concerned, digital, like diamonds, was supposed to
be forever.

No more dyes to fade, no more film stocks to decay or catch fire. Just
pristine digital data, preserved for all time, and release prints as
clear and sharp as the images caught by the camera.

Just one problem: For long-term storage, digital is -- so far --
proving to be a time bomb, more permanent than sand painting but not much else.

Simply put, there's no generally accepted way to store digital
"footage" for more than a few months. After that the industry is using a hodgepodge
of improvised solutions, some rather costly, others not very reliable.

That looked like a small problem when digital filmmaking was limited to low-budget indies, animation houses and tech pioneers like James Cameron and George Lucas.

Now, though, that small problem is growing geometrically as the major
studios shift away from film to digital capture. Such recent releases
as "300," "Apocalypto," "Zodiac" and "Superman Returns" were shot on
digital. Their digital masters could be seriously degraded if the problem isn't
addressed quickly.

In fact, the problem is so severe that the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts & Sciences' Science and Technology Council warned in 2005 that within
just a few years films shot with digital cameras could be lost.

Two years on, digital is going mainstream, but "The problem is still
there," says Phil Feiner, chairman of the Acad Sci-Tech Council's archiving
committee. And those few years the council warned of are nearly up.

It's not that there's no way to store digital data. On the contrary,
there are dozens of ways to store it, most of which go obsolete in just a few
years. Remember 5" floppies and Zip disks?

And the disks that have stuck around? Not so reliable.

Data tapes are balky and can fall apart. Data DVDs and CDs have a history
of "rotting" and can't be counted on to last as long as their commercially
pressed cousins.

Plus there's no reason to expect that the computers of 20 years from
now -- never mind 100 -- will be able to plug in to today's hard disks.Some
private companies are jumping in as awareness of the problem grows, and
Feiner's committee will be launching several initiatives over the months to
come.

But the amount of digital footage that needs to be archived is growing
faster than ever.

More than one tech expert, including the Academy's Sci-Tech Council
director Andy Maltz, told Variety they had found archival tapes unreadable just
18 months after they were made.

Feiner, the former longtime prexy of Pacific Title, says when he worked
on studio feature films he found missing frames or corrupted data on 40%
of the data tapes that came in from digital intermediate houses.

The tapes were only nine months old.

"On certain pictures we had to go into the DI negative and re-scan the
data," he says. "You couldn't retrieve it. Gone."

Milt Shefter, who is a team leader on Feiner's digital archiving
committee, warns that "Long term, it's possible that we're looking going back to
the early days of motion pictures, where films are made, put out for a week
or two, then thrown away."

With acetate or polyester film, the typical approach to archiving has
been summed up as "store and ignore."

Color film can be turned into black-and-white color separations on
polyester stock. Properly stored in cool vaults at low humidity, such film can
last centuries. But there's no way to "store and ignore" digital.

Instead, digital data has to be copied, or "migrated," to new storage
every few years.

Migration, however, takes computers, an IT staff, software and a lot of
labor. In short: money.

While indies may lack the funds to do regular migration, studios are
plunging in.

Sony's VP of asset management and film restoration, Grover Crisp, says
the studio has put in a program of migrating every two to three years.

"The motion pictures and original material, those are primary assets of
the company," says Crisp. "We all want to do whatever we can to protect
those assets."

Disney's VP of production technology Howard Lukk, says as the studios'
digital archives grow, migration becomes a bigger job.

"It's like painting the Golden Gate Bridge and it getting a foot longer
every year."

Not only are more films shot digitally now, but digital filmmaking
encourages directors to shoot more footage.

Mel Gibson told Variety, "Here's the horror. In the average film, it's
900,000 feet to 1.2 million to make a film, roundabout.

"('Apocalypto') was the equivalent of 3 million feet, so it's a lot of
stuff that you don't use but it's recorded."

"The technological issues here are not going to be solved by the
entertainment industry," says Shefter. "It's going to take big
business, big science and maybe big government."

In the meantime, the Academy is stepping in to make the motion picture
industry's voice heard in any big business initiative to solve the problem.

The digital archive project is the broadest initiative launched since
the Acad decided in 2003 to fund the current incarnation of the Science &
Technology Council.

Maltz expects a report that will pin down what the industry needs to do
to be released in a few months.

Meanwhile, private industry is attacking the problem of digital archiving, too, with
at least one announcement in the field planned for NAB.

At NAB, Elektrofilm Digital Studios and Sun Microsystems announced a
service to manage and archive the vast amounts of video from feature film
production.

Many tech experts expect the studios to eventually outsource all their
archiving and migration to companies like Elektrofilm rather than try
to do it themselves. Feiner says what is happening is, in effect, the birth
of a new business: digital archiving.

He speaks from experience. Earlier this year, three companies received
Science & Technology Awards for their work on archiving. Feiner and his
Pacific Title team were among the winners.

Their solution takes the data from a digital intermediate and turns it
into three-color separation negatives.

In other words, they take the digital movie and turn it into good
old-fashioned film.


Read the full article at:
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117963533.html

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Birthdays: Emperor Hirohito, Duke Ellington , Duke Wellington, Sir Thomas Beacham, Zuben Mehta is 71, Tom Ewell, Rod McKuen, Fred Zinnemann, Jerry Seinfeld is 52, Michelle Pfeiffer is 49, Daniel Day Lewis is 50, Uma Thurman is 37

1749- In Philadelphia inventor Ben Franklin hosted a dinner party where he used his new battery to electrocute the turkeys to be roasted for the amusement of his guests. .

1771- Artist Benjamin West unveils his painting of the “Death of General Wolfe” at the Royal Academy in London. Wolfe was killed in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, which decided that Canada would be English. West’s portrayal of Wolfe in his actual uniform instead an idealized Grecian god was considered scandalously realistic and revolutionized painting.

1786- The day before his opera THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO was to premiere, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart sat down after dinner and wrote the famous overture. Friends said he liked to think while playing billiards.

1929- The film "All's Quiet on the Western Front" premiered. The world war one battlefield was constructed on a California ranch and dozens of veterans hired to be extras. When the antiwar film debuted in Germany Nazis agitators were sent out to Berlin theaters to release rats, skunks and snakes in the theaters to scare people away. The star of the movie Lew Ayres ruined his career when he declared himself a conscientious objector during World War Two.

1939- It’s strangely ironic that Adolf Hitler’s Government while murdering millions also waged campaigns against cancer and smoking. This day the Nazi Party officially banned smoking in all their offices because of health concerns. The rest of the world wouldn’t even begin to think of linking cancer with cigarette smoking until the 1960’s.

1944- Dancing Romeos, the last Our Gang comedy short was produced by MGM, which had bought the franchise in 1938 from Hal Roach.

1962- President John Kennedy hosted a dinner for a group of Nobel Prize winners at the White House. Kennedy said: “ I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

1992- THE GREAT LOS ANGELES RIOT- Los Angeleanos go berserk after an all white jury in Simi Valley acquitted the policemen who beat up drunk motorist Rodney King in the infamous videotape. 58 killed, 2500 businesses destroyed, $1.5 billion dollars in damage, 13,200 arrests and large sections of Los Angeles put under martial law. Even Rodney King, was moved to go on t.v. and proclaim: " Can't we all just get along ?" Part of the reason the disturbance spun out of control was the hotheaded police chief of the LAPD Darryl Gates was incommunicado for several hours at the beginning of the crisis. He was at a fundraising party in Bel Air to get money to fuel his quarrel with Mayor Tom Bradley -a former LAPD officer. Gates refused to answer the calls of his beleaguered precinct captains. Gates was eventually forced to retire and go on talk shows endlessly defending himself. One irony was the loot-crazed mob ran right past the L.A. County Art Museum to sack a department store on the next corner. I guess they felt that there was nothing of value in it, which is in agreement with many art critics. The Beverly Hills Police, a separate entity, announced they would keep the peace by merely arresting everyone they saw.

2001- Pioneer 10 was a space probe launched to the outer planets in 1972. After sending the first photos of Jupiter and Pluto in 1973 Pioneer 10 left our solar system and headed for deep space in 1997. It’s aimed for the Constellation Taurus. This day 7 billion miles away Pioneer 10 phoned home to say it was fine. It’s last message was received in 2003. I wonder if it asked if Richard Nixon was still president?


April 28, 2007 sat
April 28th, 2007

Birthdays: English King Edward IV (1442), President James Monroe, Lionel Barrymore, Carolyn Jones-aka Morticia Addams of the TV Addams Family, Ann Margaret is 66, Jay Leno is 57, Sadam Hussein, Jean Redpath, James Baker III, Penelope Cruz is 33, Jessica Alba is 28

1686- Sir Issac Newton published the first volume of his Principia Mathematica, outlining the Theory of Gravity. The earliest account of the apple story was in 1738. Voltaire writing about Newton claimed his niece told him the scientist had left Cambridge for the country during the Great Plague of 1666. "He observed an apple falling from a tree and fell into a deep meditation on what was this force that drew all objects in a straight line that until interrupted would continue to the center of the Earth."

1789-THE MUTINEY ON THE BOUNTY. The HMS Bounty had been sent around the world to bring back breadfruit samples to see if the plant could be a nutritional supplement for slave laborers in Jamaica and Bermuda. During the return voyage from Tahiti the crew led by first mate Fletcher Christian overpowered the Captain, William Bligh, and set him adrift in a rowboat to die. They then sail with their Tahitian families to settle permanently on an island. They choose Pitcairn Island because of it's remoteness. Squabbles arose among the British and natives and their leader Fletcher Christian was shot dead while tending his sweet potato patch. Today a majority of the islands inhabitants claim ancestry from the Bounty mutineers. One descendant was movie star Errol Flynn. Captain Bligh got to safety after navigating his little rowboat 1,500 miles to East Timor with almost no food, an unparalleled feat of seamanship. He was cleared by an Admiralty board and served with distinction in the Napoleonic Wars, although another ship mutineyed on him. On top of everything else, when Bligh got home he discovered his wife had been made pregnant by the nephew of the Duke of Wellington -'Wicked Willie' Wellesley. Like many 'famous' incidents this passed by it's time with little or no notice. What made the Mutiney on the Bounty world famous was a best selling novel written in the 1920's by two Americans, Charles Nordoff and James Norton Hall, who met when pilots in World War One's Lafayette Escadrille.

1925- T.S. Elliot landed a job at Faber & Fabers Publishing. His enabled the poet to quit his job as a bank teller at Lloyds and continue his literary career.

1937- Italy’s famed movie studio Cinecitta’ opened.

1954- Happy Birthday Godzilla!.The movie by Ichjiro Honda was inspired when a Japanese fishing boat was fatally exposed by radioactive fallout from a U.S. hydrogen bomb test. Godzilla is an Anglicized version of the Japanese Kohjira, which is a combination of Gorilla and Whale. The parallels to the Hiroshima experience reached eerie levels when the film has a long sequence of a funeral dirge sung to the dead of Tokyo as we survey the devastation. The famous roar was done by rubbing a resin-covered glove down some bass fiddle strings. The film was later released in the U.S. with American actor Raymond Burr (actually, Canadian actor..) acting in inserted scenes. The complete Japanese version of the film was not seen in North America until 2004.


April 27, 2007 friday
April 27th, 2007

Birthdays: Ulysses S. Grant, King Edward IV, Samuel Morse, Mary Wollenstonecraft, Edward Gibbon, Anouk Aimee, Sheena Easton, Sandy Dennis, Coretta Scott King, Walter Lantz, Jack Klugman

1667- Blind poet John Milton sold his masterpiece "Paradise Lost" to publisher Samuel Simmons for ten pounds. Ten years earlier under Oliver Cromwell’s patronage Milton was getting over a thousand pounds each for his poems

1884- The British government declared that Christopher Wrens 1675 observatory at Greenwich would be the central meridian point for calculating time zones. This would aid in calculation of longitudes which is crucial in navigating the worlds oceans. Starting at Greenwich they divided the world into 24 time zones each 15 longitudinal degrees apart.

1970- THE FIRST ATM- Automatic bank teller machine, opened at the Surety National Bank in downtown Los Angeles.

1981- Ringo Starr married Barbera Bach, his costar on the film 'Caveman'.UngaBunga!

1986- Investigative reporter Geraldo Rivera completed his transition from serious journalist to tabloid sillyness by hosting a primetime TV special in an old Chicago Hotel that was once a headquarters for gangster Al Capone. After wasting an hour speculating on finding buried treasure or dead mobsters, they broke into a sealed room sized vault. All they found in the empty room was some old bottles.


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