NOVEMBER 1, 1944: MAN’S BEST FRIEND IS HIS RABBIT

 MAN’S BEST FRIEND IS HIS RABBIT

Elwood P. Dowd first walked onto a Broadway stage at the 48th Street Theatre on November 1, 1944.

Elwood is a good-natured soul who has a friend no one can see – a six-foot, three-harveyand-one-half-inch tall rabbit named Harvey, the titular character in the play by Mary Chase. A film version in 1950 featured James Stewart as Elwood.

Elwood, being outgoing and a perfect gentleman, naturally introduces Harvey to everyone he meets. His sister, Veta, increasingly finds his eccentric behavior embarrassing to her and her daughter Myrtle Mae’s would-be social status. Six foot rabbits are not particularly welcome among the country club set (and since he’s invisible, no telling what color he is). Veta decides to send Elwood packing to a sanitarium to solve the giant rabbit problem, setting in motion a comedy of errors instead.

Actually, according to Elwood, Harvey is a pooka, a deft shapeshifter, able to assume a variety of forms – dog, horse, goat, goblin, and of course rabbit. These forms may be pleasing or terrifying. A good pooka is a benevolent creature with the power of human speech, able to give sound advice and steer you away from evil. The bad pooka, on the other hand, is a blood-thirsty, Donald Trump-like creature who’d just as soon eat you as look at you.  Harvey is presumably the former.

Doctors plan to give Elwood a serum that will stop him from “seeing the rabbit.” As they prepare for the injection, Veta is told by their cab driver about all the other people he has driven to the sanatorium to receive the same medicine, warning her that Elwood will become “just a normal human being.  And you know what bastards they are (stinkers, in the movie).” Veta has a change of heart and halts the procedure after which Veta and Myrtle Mae, Elwood and Harvey all ride off on the bunny trail into the sunset.

A Gallery of Other Notable Rabbits

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OCTOBER 15, 1954: I HAVE PEOPLE TO FETCH MY STICKS

I HAVE PEOPLE TO FETCH MY STICKS

Long before he debuted in his own television show on October 15, 1954, Rin Tin Tin had become an international celebrity. It was as good a rags-to-riches story as Hollywood could churn out. He was rescued rin-tin-tin_from a World War I battlefield by an American soldier who trained him to be an actor upon returning home. He starred in several silent films, becoming an overnight sensation and going on to appear in another two dozen films before his death in 1932.

Rinty (as he was known to his friends) was responsible for a great surge in German Shepherds as pets. The popularity of his films helped make Warner Brothers a major studio and pushed a guy named Darryl F. Zanuck to success as a producer.

During the following years Rin Tin Tin Jr. and Rin Tin Tin III kept the Rin Tin Tin legacy alive in film and on the radio. Rin Tin Tin IV was slated to take the franchise to television in The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, but he flunked his screen test and was shamefully replaced by an upstart poseur named Flame.

The TV series featured an orphan named Rusty who was being raised by soldiers at a cavalry post known as Fort Apache.  Rin Tin Tin was the kid’s dog. It was a low budget affair, filmed on sets used for other productions with actors frequently called upon to play several soldiers, Apaches, and desperadoes in a single episode. Although it was children’s programming, you might not guess that by the lofty literary titles of many episodes: Rin Tin Tin Meets Shakespeare, Rin Tin Tin and the Barber of Seville, Rin Tin Tin and the Ancient Mariner, Rin Tin Tin and the Connecticut Yankee.

Meanwhile, IV stayed at home on his ranch, fooling visitors into believing he was actually a TV star (and perhaps contemplating a run for President).

Rated P. G.

“Freddie experienced the sort of abysmal soul-sadness which afflicts one of Tolstoy’s Russian peasants when, after putting in a heavy day’s work strangling his father, beating his wife, and dropping the baby into the city’s reservoir, he turns to the cupboards, only to find the vodka bottle wodehouseempty.” One line from someone who had a great knack for them, which he displayed in over 300 stories, 90 books, 30 plays and musicals, and 20 film scripts. Comic novelist P.G. Wodehouse, creator of Jeeves the butler, was born on this day in 1881 in Surrey, England.

 

He had the look of one who had drunk the cup of life and found a dead beetle at the bottom.

Mike nodded. A sombre nod. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812 and said, “So, you’re back from Moscow, eh?”

I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.

She looked as if she had been poured into her clothes and had forgotten to say ‘when.’

The fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun.

Every author really wants to have letters printed in the papers. Unable to make the grade, he drops down a rung of the ladder and writes novels.

It was my Uncle George who discovered that alcohol was a food well in advance of modern medical thought.

And she’s got brains enough for two, which is the exact quantity the girl who marries you will need.

At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.

Cheap Halloween Thrills: And Then There Were 31

Like yesterday’s Night of the Hunter, these three films feature children in danger and perhaps the source of danger. Poltergeist (1982) explores the dangers of watching too much TV, especially when the TV set is possessed. “I see dead people.” Nine-year-old Cole sees and talks to ghosts in the 1999 supernatural horror film The Sixth Sense. In the 1961 psychological study The Innocents, Deborah Kerr is a governess whose two charges are outwardly little angels but whose sweet smiles may hide something quite sinister.

1 The Shining

2 The Exorcist

3 Beetlejuice

4 Invasion of the Body Snatchers

5 Ghost Story

6 Ghostbusters

7 Freaks

8 Ichabod and Mr. Toad

9 Hound of the Baskervilles

10 I Walked with a Zombie

11 Diabolique

12 Alien

13 Rosemarys Baby

14The Birds

15 Psycho

16 Phantom of the Opera

17 Nosferatu

18 Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

19 Get Out

20 Frankenstein

21 Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

22 Young Frankenstein

23 Edward Scissorhands

24 The Invisible Man

25 Dracula

26 The Wolf Man

27 Cape Fear

28 Night of the Hunter

29 Poltergeist

30 The Sixth Sense

31 The Innocents

 

OCTOBER 14, 1790: IT IT’S THURSDAY, THIS MUST BE PITCAIRN

 IT IT’S THURSDAY, THIS MUST BE PITCAIRN

When British ships arrived at Pitcairn Island in 1814, two men paddled out in canoes to meet them. Both spoke English well, impressing the officers and men of the ships with their refinement as they met on deck. Their civilized demeanor persuaded the ships’ captains that  the mutineers from the Bounty, had created a proper society (after alcoholism, murder and disease had killed most of them off), and did not merit prosecution for the takeover.

One of the two men was Thursday October Christian, son of Fletcher Christian and his Tahitian wife Mauatua. Fletcher, you will remember, was the ringleader of the mutiny that took place on the Bounty‘s voyage to Tahiti for breadfruit. Captain Philip Pipon, commander of one of the British ships, described Fletcher’s son Thursday as being “about twenty five years of age, a tall fine young man about six feet high, with dark black hair, and a countenance extremely open and interesting. He wore no clothes except a piece of cloth round his loins, a straw hat ornamented with black cock’s feathers, and occasionally a peacock’s, nearly similar to that worn by the Spaniards in South America, though smaller.”

Thursday October Christian, born on October 14, 1790, was the first child born on the Pitcairn Islands after the mutineers took refuge there. Born on a Thursday in October, he was given his name because his father wanted him to have “no name that will remind me of England,” forgetting perhaps that there are both Thursdays and Octobers in England. Captain Pipon referred to young Thursday as Friday October Christian,” because the Bounty had crossed the international date line going eastward, but the mutineers had somehow failed to adjust their calendars for this. The mutineers were living on a tropical island where everyone was running around naked. Is it any surprise that they didn’t know what day it was – or care?

As soon as Captain Pipon left, Thursday went back to his original name, not wanting to be confused with that other character from a story set on a tropical island.

 

Cheap Halloween Thrills

Robert Mitchum usually starred as a rugged, but romantic leading guy type who brought a seen-it-all disinterest to many film noir classics. In two films, however, he played men of pure evil. In Night of the Hunter (1955), he played a monstrous preacher in pursuit of two children. In Cape Fear (1962), he was the menacing rapist Max Cady (in a later remake, he played a police detective pursuing Robert De Niro’s Cady).

1 The Shining

2 The Exorcist

3 Beetlejuice

4 Invasion of the Body Snatchers

5 Ghost Story

6 Ghostbusters

7 Freaks

8 Ichabod and Mr. Toad

9 Hound of the Baskervilles

10 I Walked with a Zombie

11 Diabolique

12 Alien

13 Rosemarys Baby

14The Birds

15 Psycho

16 Phantom of the Opera

17 Nosferatu

18 Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

19 Get Out

20 Frankenstein

21 Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

22Young Frankenstein

23 Edward Scissorhands

24 The Invisible Man

25 Dracula

26 The Wolf Man

27 Cape Fear

28 Night of the Hunter

OCTOBER 13, 1917: GOD TO EARTH: SHAPE UP

GOD TO EARTH: SHAPE UP

It was an “aeroplane of light, an immense globe flying westward at moderate speed,” according to one of the many witnesses who were assembled that cloudy October 13. Many were certain they had seen amiracle-of-the-sun_cosmo-code figure within the globe — not some strange looking extraterrestrial creature, but rather a human form, a woman. Had this been the 1950s, this occurrence may have been commonplace; people were seeing flying saucers, flying doughnuts and other strange alien craft everywhere. But this was 1917, and UFOs were the stuff of speculative science fiction. Therefore, witnesses did not attribute this to an invasion from Mars or some far-off galaxy; they said it was a miracle.

The number of witnesses was rather phenomenal for a UFO sighting — some 30,000 or more descended on the little Portuguese village of Fatima. Nor had an alien invasion ever been scheduled in advance. It was three children who announced the visit of the lady. The kids had seen apparitions off and on for several months leading up to this day, apparitions bringing the message that folks upstairs were annoyed at all the war mongering that was going on and that if things didn’t change for the better, annihilation was next on the agenda. (This was not unlike the message Klaatu — as in “Klaatu barada niktu” — delivered to earthlings several decades later. It’s a message that never seems to not get through to us, however.)

Although the accounts of the appearance were wildly contradictory, leading some naysayers to suggest people saw what they wanted to see, the consensus was that it was raining when the clouds suddenly parted and the sun appeared. It was duller than usual and resembled a spinning globe as it careened toward the earth. Its lady passenger appeared to some but not all in the assembly and shot an admonishing glance before her chariot zigzagged away.

Many remained skeptical, having not seen anything themselves and suggesting that some of the others may have stared at the sun a bit too long. Nevertheless, some 13 years later the Roman Catholic Church declared that maybe it was a miracle after all. It’s official designation is now the Miracle of the Sun.

 

Cheap Halloween Thrills

Universal Pictures, knowing a good thing when they had it, cranked out horror pictures at a breakneck speed during the 30s and 40s. Along with the Frankenstein franchise and many others there were these three gems:Dracula (1931) with Bela Lugosi beginning his reign as the Count; The Invisible Man (1933) with Claude Rains as the man who wasn’t there, sort of;  and The Wolf Man (1941) with Lon Chaney Jr. as the hairy tortured soul.

1 The Shining

2 The Exorcist

3 Beetlejuice

4 Invasion of the Body Snatchers

5 Ghost Story

6 Ghostbusters

7 Freaks

8 Ichabod and Mr. Toad

9 Hound of the Baskervilles

10 I Walked with a Zombie

11 Diabolique

12 Alien

13 Rosemarys Baby

14The Birds

15 Psycho

16 Phantom of the Opera

17 Nosferatu

18 Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

19 Get Out

20 Frankenstein

21 Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

22Young Frankenstein

23 Edward Scissorhands

24 Dracula

25 The Invisible Man

26 The Wolf Man

 

OCTOBER 12, 1960: DIPLOMACY 101

DIPLOMACY 101

On the last day of the 1960 meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, Lorenzo Sumulong head of the Philippine delegation had the floor. During his remarks he took the Soviet Union to task, at one point referring to “the peoples of Eastern Europe and elsewhere which have been deprived of the free exercise of their civil and political rights and which have been swallowed up . . . by the Soviet Union.”

Nikita Khrushchev must have taken umbrage at the statement for he hied himself to the rostrum, where he begged to differ with Sumulong, suggesting that he was “a jerk, a stooge, a lackey and a toady of American imperialism.” Before returning to his seat, Khrushchev demanded that Assembly President Frederick Boland of Ireland call Sumulong to order.

When Sumulong continued to speak, Khrushchev began pounding his fist on his desk, and when that didn’t seem forceful enough, he took off a shoe (a loafer or sandal because he hated tying laces, according to Khrushchev’s son) and waved it in the air. He then proceeded to bang it on the desk, louder and louder until everyone in the hall was abuzz with shouts and jeers.

The chaos finally ended when a red-faced Boland declared the meeting adjourned and banged his gavel so hard it broke, sending the head flying through the air.

Afterward Khrushchev was said to have remarked: “It was such fun!”

Berlin is the testicle of the West. When I want the West to scream, I squeeze on Berlin. — Nikita Khrushchev

Cheap Halloween Thrills

The big daddy of all monsters is of course the one we insist on calling Frankenstein rather than Henry Frankenstein’s Monster. The big guy is featured in four of the films on our list. The first is not surprisingly Frankenstein (not Frankenstein’s monster, you’ll note), and Boris Karloff’s (billed as just Karloff) portrayal became pretty much the gold standard. The central theme, Dr. Frankenstein’s misguided attempt to create life by assembling a creature from body parts of the dead, recurs in our next three films, although with a much different approach.

With Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, the comic duo joined the Universal horror mill in the first of their many encounters with monsters and other villains. As baggage handlers delivering a couple of suspicious crates to a horror museum, they have run-ins with not only Frankenstein but Dracula, the Wolf Man, and the Invisible Man as well.

Gene Wilder is a Frankenstein grandson (“that’s Frahnkensteen”) in the hilarious 1974 Mel Brooks film Young Frankenstein. He’s joined by Marty Feldman as Igor (“that’s eyegor”), Peter Boyle as the Monster, Terri Garr, Madeline Kahn, and Cloris Leachman in a loving parody of the original movie.

Tim Burton’s 1990 film Edward Scissorhands is a romantic fantasy about an artificial man whose creator dies before his completion, leaving his with scissor blades instead of hands. While neither a parody nor a retelling of the Frankenstein story, the similarities are obvious. Johnny Depp is Edward and Vincent Price, in his last role, is his creator.

1 The Shining

2 The Exorcist

3 Beetlejuice

4 Invasion of the Body Snatchers

5 Ghost Story

6 Ghostbusters

7 Freaks

8 Ichabod and Mr. Toad

9 Hound of the Baskervilles

10 I Walked with a Zombie

11 Diabolique

12 Alien

13 Rosemarys Baby

14The Birds

15 Psycho

16 Phantom of the Opera

17 Nosferatu

18 Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

19 Get Out

20 Frankenstein

21 Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

22Young Frankenstein

23 Edward Scissorhands

 

OCTOBER 11, 1983: DON’T YANK THE CRANK

DON’T YANK THE CRANK

No, the title doesn’t refer to the Trump Administration. It refers to a movement that took place in Maine back in 1981. Movement is probably a pretty strong word for laid-back Maine where crankdemonstrators tend not to get worked up into a chanting frenzy over things. And even less so in a sleepy little town like Woodstock whose population squeaked by 1,200 a couple of years ago.

Bryant Pond is Woodstock’s largest settlement and as much of an urban center as you’re likely to find. It captured its fifteen minutes of national fame and media attention during the mid1970s when its family-owned Bryant Pond Telephone Company became the last telephone exchange in the United States to use hand-cranked phones. Then in 1981, the two-position magneto switchboard in the living room of the owners was purchased by the Oxford County Telephone & Telegraph Company, a larger company in the Maine neighborhood. The Bryant Pond Telephone Company was swallowed like so many krill off the shores of Maine.

Two Bryant Pond residents started the “Don’t Yank The Crank” movement to save their crank telephones, financed by the sale of tee shirts – a valiant effort but nonetheless futile. At a meeting in the local school gymnasium warmed by a wood stove, townsfolk spoke out. “We have the oldest pay station in the United States,” said one resident, either complaining or bragging. “You put in a nickel and wind it up.” “You are a person instead of a number.” And did they mention no robocalls?

Alas, to no avail. The last “crank calls” took place on October 11, 1983, and the beloved telephones slipped into history like so much Americana.

 

Cheap Halloween Thrills

Our list of 31 films features three silents. In the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), an insane hypnotist uses a somnambulist to commit a series of murders. This German Expressionist film had a profound influence on American horror films. Phantom of the Opera is the 1925 classic starring the amazing Lon Chaney as a badly disfigured recluse who lives in the catacombs beneath the Paris opera house. It inspired several remakes and the hit musical. Nosferatu (1929) was the first film portrayal of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (the name was changed to avoid a legal battle with the Stoker estate) and he’s a tormented soul, a far cry from the suave and sophisticated Count in the many films that followed.

The three previous films are the oldest on the list. Get Out is the most recent. Released in 2017, this much acclaimed film tells the story of a black man who discovers a terrifying secret during a visit with his white girlfriend’s family.

1 The Shining

2 The Exorcist

3 Beetlejuice

4 Invasion of the Body Snatchers

5 Ghost Story

6 Ghostbusters

7 Freaks

8 Ichabod and Mr. Toad

9 Hound of the Baskervilles

10 I Walked with a Zombie

11 Diabolique

12 Alien

13 Rosemarys Baby

14The Birds

15 Psycho

16 Phantom of the Opera

17 Nosferatu

18 Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

19 Get Out

 

OCTOBER 10, 1967: OLD DEVIL MOON

OLD DEVIL MOON

The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (commonly  known as TPGASEUOSMOCB?) is an agreement among nations that forms the basis of international space law. It entered into force on October 10, 1967, and remains in force today (although our current President wants to pull out of it – “worst treaty ever negotiated, the Moon is taking advantage of us.”).

The treaty expresses the Pollyanna notion that space  is the common

Nations are responsible for any damage done by their own space objects.
Nations are responsible for any damage done by their own space objects.

heritage of mankind and that the exploration of it shall be done for the benefit of the entire world and the nations therein.  Extra-terrestrial spokesbeings have not as yet weighed in on this declaration; it could prove amusing.

All parties to the treaty have agreed not to place nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction  in Earth orbit. Nor will they place such forbidden items on the Moon or any other celestial body (including but not limited to planets, asteroids and supermodels) or otherwise station them in outer space.  In a nod to that merry band of second amendment groupies, the NRA, AK47s, Saturday Night Specials and other weapons of not-quite-mass destruction are not forbidden.

The treaty exclusively limits the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes such as church socials,  group sing-alongs, and the jumping of cows.

 

Cheap Halloween Thrills

A haunted house can be pretty scary. Even more terrifying would be a house filled with birds, perched, waiting. Or how about a playground with birds everywhere, silently watching the children at play. Okay, you know where we’re going — a 1963 feather in Alfred Hitchcock’s cap (groan), The Birds. Even the most dedicated bird lover will find it creepy. And this would be a fine time to add that other Hitchcock masterpiece of terror, Psycho. You were getting ready to take a shower? Sorry.

1 The Shining

2 The Exorcist

3 Beetlejuice

4 Invasion of the Body Snatchers

5 Ghost Story

6 Ghostbusters

7 Freaks

8 Ichabod and Mr. Toad
9 Hound of the Baskervilles
10 I Walked with a Zombie
11 Diabolique
12 Alien
13 Rosemarys Baby
14The Birds
15 Psycho

 

 

OCTOBER 9, 1964: COLUMBUS WAS NO VIKING

COLUMBUS WAS NO VIKING

Chances are good that Lyndon B. Johnson didn’t have a scintilla of Scandinavian in him (although he was occasionally likened to a Viking). Nevertheless, in 1964 he proclaimed October 9 Leif Erikson Day in honor of the man President Calvin Coolidge in 1925 grudgingly admitted was the true discoverer of America, not that charlatan Columbus.

In 1930, Wisconsin became the first state to bestow a holiday on Erikson, son of Erik the Red, son of Thorvald the Blue, son of Knut the Orange, son of Sven the Green and so on. A year later Minnesota jumped on the Viking bandwagon. Come 1956, South Dakota, Illinois, Colorado, Washington, California and the Canadian province of Saskatchewan were also singing Leif’s praises. Las Vegas, Nevada, inexplicably made the day official in 2012.

For the country as a whole the day remains an observance not a holiday, requiring an annual Presidential proclamation. October 9 probably had no significance to Erikson (other than a time to thrown on an extra bearskin). The day was chosen because in 1825 the ship Restauration coming from Stavanger, Norway, arrived in New York Harbor beginning immigration from Norway.

Vikings, of course, are known for their raping and pillaging throughout their history and for a rather devilish sense of humor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheap Halloween Thrills

A nasty E.T. is set loose on a commercial space vehicle in Ridley Scott’s critically acclaimed science fiction thriller, Alien. But it’s just as much a horror film with the spaceship serving as a haunted house.

Rosemary and her husband move into a questionable apartment building where they’re befriended by some rather strange neighbor’s When Rosemary becomes pregnant, she becomes increasingly isolated and convinced that her baby might not be of this world. Rosemary’s Baby is a 1968 Roman Polanski film based on the novel by Ira Levin.

1 The Shining

2 The Exorcist

3 Beetlejuice

4 Invasion of the Body Snatchers

5 Ghost Story

6 Ghostbusters

7 Freaks

8 Ichabod and Mr. Toad

9 Hound of the Baskervilles

 

10 I Walked with a Zombie

11 Diabolique

12 Alien

13 Rosemarys Baby

OCTOBER 8, 1361: DOGGIE JUSTICE

Alice in Donaldland, Part 5: Of Cabbages and Queens

Read Part 1

Alice left the caterpillar thinking that the sooner it became a butterfly, the better off it would be. She walked along, her mind filled with images of the poor White Rabbit’s head, the Queen’s big hands, and the many curious things she had encountered. Then, just ahead, she spotted yet another curious pair — a Walrus and a Carpenter. She could tell the Carpenter was a carpenter by the nails sticking out of his mouth, the hammer in his hand and the word ‘carpenter’ on his hat. She could tell his companion was a Walrus because it had flippers and a big tuft of whiskers. The two of them were working on a tall wooden structure.

She watched them for a few minutes, then asked: “What are you building?”

“A wall,” said the Carpenter.

The Walrus elaborated: “A great big beautiful wall.”

“Whatever for?” Alice asked.

“To keep out rapists and murderers and other low-lifes,” said the Carpenter. “It will stretch all around Donaldland.”

“You don’t seem to have gotten very far with it,” Alice said, sitting down on a rock.

“Donaldland wasn’t built in a day, you know,” said the Walrus.

“I think it’s Rome that wasn’t built in a day,” Alice suggested.

“That’s why we’re building the wall,” snapped the Carpenter. “To keep out the Romans and rapists and murderers and other undesirables from shithole countries.”

“That’s not a very nice word,” said Alice.

“Which word?”

The second one from the — you know which word I mean. The icky one.”

“I’m afraid she’s right,” said the Walrus. “Shithole countries has been walked back.”

“Walked back?”

“The Queen has a very high IQ,” the Walrus continued. “And big hands and a big — ”

“Heart,” said Alice, having become quite familiar with the drill.

“But the Queen sometimes uses the wrong words. And so we walk them back to a point where he never said them.”

“Isn’t that revisionist?” Alice suggested.

“That’s a very big word for a very little girl,” said the Carpenter.

“Well, I’m usually a lot bigger. I’m just having a small day.”

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of other things: of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and queens.”

“Wouldn’t king make a better rhyme,” Alice asked.

“We don’t use that word,” said the Carpenter. “The Queen doesn’t like that word; it reminds him of his predecessor, and that distresses him.”

“Why?”

“In the second place, he was born in one of those places we walked back,” said the Walrus.

“In the next place, he did health care,” said the Carpenter.

“What’s wrong with health care?” asked Alice.

“Healthy people don’t need health care.”

“In the last place, he had funny ears and a funny name,” said the Walrus.

“What about first place?” asked Alice.

“If he were a horse, he’d be a horse of a different color,” the Walrus and Carpenter chimed together. “Pardon us, but we must get back to our wall or the Queen will have our heads.”

Incoming tweet: “A beautiful wall. Tall wall from C to shining C. I want my wall NOW! Infidels pouring in. Rapists, murderers. Murderers, rapists. BILD WALL!”

Part 6 Coming Thursday

Doggie Justice

A French gentleman traveling through the forest north of Paris was murdered, as French gentlemen traveling through the forest north of Paris were apt to be in 1361. His body was buried dogfightat the foot of a tree. His dog, who was traveling with him, remained beside his grave for several days until hunger caused him to quit his vigil.

The faithful dog made for Paris and presented himself at the house of a good friend of his master’s, where after being fed he carried on so much that the friend was obliged to follow him back to the scene of the crime. There, he tore at the ground until the body of the murdered man was exposed to view.

No trace of the assassin was discovered for some time, but then one day the dog was confronted with a man named Chevalier Macaire. Well, that dog immediately lost his good-natured demeanor and lunged for the man’s throat and had to be restrained at some difficulty.  It happened again on other occasions. The dog spotted Macaire in a crowd and attacked.

Since the dog was normally a gentle soul, suspicions began to be aroused. These suspicions found their way to the king of France who ordered the dog brought before him. The dog remained perfectly behaved until Macaire was brought forward and again the dog attacked. “Hmmm,” thought the king.

During this particular time of history, judicial combat was often used to settle doubtful cases, on the assumption that God would provide victory to the person who was in the right.  Amusing jurisprudence perhaps, but who was to argue with the king when he ruled that a duel between Macaire and the dog would settle the matter.

The confrontation took place on October 8.  Macaire came armed with a large stick; the dog was given a cask into which he could retreat. On being let loose, the dog immediately attacked Macaire from one side then another, warding off the man’s blows. The murderer was quickly seized by the throat and thrown to the ground, where he hastily confessed before the king and the entire court — and was hanged, of course.

It’s Always the Cow

Late one night, when we were all in bed,
Mrs. O’Leary lit a lantern in the shed.
Her cow kicked it over,
Then winked her eye and said,
“There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight!”

Who is this Mrs. O’Leary, whose cow is supposedly responsible for the Great Chicago Fire of 1871? Her legend has been kept alive for 145 years now and her name is synonymous with big fires. She was one Catherine O’Leary, an Irish immigrant, who actually had five cows. The cow named Daisy got the blame for kicking the lantern over, but since no one was in the barn to witness the event, all five cows could have had a hoof in it.

Conspiracy theorists have over the years suggested other scenarios: Naughty boys were sneaking a smoke in the barn. Spontaneous combustion. A meteor broke into pieces as it fell to earth October 8, setting off fires in Michigan and Wisconsin as well as in Chicago. Daisy had an accomplice; Daisy acted alone. A drunken neighbor started the fire. Obama may not have started it, but he should have stopped it.

 

Cheap Halloween Thrills

Although I ruled out flesh-eating zombies, I didn’t rule out all zombies. I Walked with a Zombie is a film that’s a lot better than its shlock title would suggest. This 1943 film is intelligent, atmospheric and realistic in its depiction of voodoo in the Caribbean.

Diabolique is a classic 1955 French suspense film. Set in a boarding school, it centers on a plot to kill the school’s abusive headmaster by his submissive wife and his mistress. They accomplish the deed, but become haunted by the disappearance of his corpse.

1 The Shining

2 The Exorcist

3 Beetlejuice

4 Invasion of the Body Snatchers

5 Ghost Story

6 Ghostbusters

7 Freaks

8 Ichabod and Mr. Toad

9 I Walked with a Zombie

10 Diabolique

 

OCTOBER 7, 1916: WHAT IT WAS WAS FOOTBALL

WHAT IT WAS WAS FOOTBALL

Back in the days when football was still known as that game with the pointy ball, the son of German immigrants became the coach at the Georgia Institute of Technology (known to its friends as Georgia Tech). John Heisman became the first coach in college football to be paid for his services. They got their money’s worth. He led the school to its first national championship and had a career winning percentage of .779 which remains the best in Tech history.

The most memorable — or perhaps infamous — game in Heisman’s Georgia Tech career was played on October 7, 1916, with Tech playing host to Tennessee’s Cumberland University. Talk about a nail biter! The plucky Cumberland Bulldogs got off to a bad start, losing the coin toss.  Georgia Tech returned the Bulldogs’ first punt for a touchdown. Score 7-0 in less than a minute played. Cumberland fumbled on its first play after the following kickoff. 14-0, with just seconds off the clock.   On their next possession, the Bulldogs fumbled once again on their first play.  21-0. It went pretty much the same until the game mercifully ended with a score of 222-0.  A record, of course, that still stands.

In Cumberland’s defense, it should be pointed out that the college, on the verge of bankruptcy, had eliminated its football program at the beginning of the season. The school was forced to field a team (fraternity brothers of the team’s student manager) to avoid a $3,000 forfeit fee.

Heisman, who went on to be elected to the Football Hall of Fame and give his name to the trophy for the outstanding college football player of the year, up by 18 touchdowns at the half, told his players not to relent. “We’re ahead, but you just can’t tell what those Cumberland players have up their sleeves.”

Cheap Halloween Thrills

After a movie like Freaks, a light diversion might be in order. How about a guy with no head? That should be amusing, especially when he’s terrorizing our plucky hero who was probably warned not to walk through the forest at midnight. The story is the classic by Washington Irving, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The not-so-nightmarish film version dished up by Disney is the Ichabod half of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. And if you get too scared, you can always cavort with Mr. Toad.  Another place you shouldn’t be wandering around late at night — the Moors.  Who knows what you’re liable to encounter.  The Hound of the Baskervilles, perhaps.  This 1939 Sherlock Holmes outing features Basil Rathbone as the detective.

1 The Shining

2 The Exorcist

3 Beetlejuice

4 Invasion of the Body Snatchers

5 Ghost Story

6 Ghostbusters

7 Freaks

8 Ichabod and Mr. Toad

9 Hound of the Baskervilles

As it progresses, you’ll see that it’s a highly subjective list, reflecting a few of my own biases. You won’t see Halloween Chainsaw Bloodbath on Elm Street or any movie featuring flesh-eating zombies.