Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Ginger or Mary Ann?
February 12, 2011

A Long Way From Gilligan's Island

NOT my grandmother...but it is Tatiana

On This Date in History:  If I am not mistaken, Elizabeth Carter Symon was born on this date in 1898.  My grandmother lived to see February 11, 1998.  It always amazed me that she was born in the Oklahoma Territory.  I’ve seen a photo of her and her best friend in a horse and buggy.  She and her best friend went on to marry two men who were friends as well.  They remained as such for the rest of their lives.   Think about it.  My grandmother was born in Oklahoma before it was a state, rode around in a horse and buggy and in her lifetime, the invention of the automobile, the airplane, the atomic bomb and numerous medical breakthroughs took place.  She saw her territory become a state and saw man walk on the moon.  When she began there was no radio, no phonograph, no tv and probably not too many phones or running water where she grew up.  She did go to college though, which was rare in those days for a woman.  So many other things changed during her lifetime including the notable birth of Tatiana Josivovna Chernova Blacker on this date in 1934

I Think Jonas Grumby Would Have Had a Heart Attack if he Saw This Waiting in his Hut instead of Gilligan

Tatiana was born in New York and was raised by her mother, Betty Horn, who was a fashion model.  She went by the name Tina Blacker and told her high school teacher that she was the only girl in class without a middle name.  At the age of 17, she began taking acting classes and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  At 17, she started taking acting classes and did some modeling, showing up in some old “pin-up” magazines such as Modern Man and Adam, Sir!  In 1952, Tina made her acting debut on Broadway in a Bette Davis musical revue called Two’s Company.  More Broadway shows followed as did appearances in Playboy in May 1958 and April 1959.  I guess Hef must have dug her to put her in twice.  She probably caught his attention when she gained notoriety in 1957 for her performance with future Catwoman Julie Newmar in the Broadway adaptation of Li’l Abner.  That same year, she released an album with a couple of popular tunes, “Embraceable You” and “I’m in the Mood for Love.”  I mean, 1957 alone must have screamed “Hef! Hef!” for the budding star and she seemed destined for greatness.  And you know what, she became a household name; even to this day.

As We Remember, Ginger

She had film roles in the early 1960’s as a leading lady for the likes of Robert Ryan, Richard Widmark and Robert Taylor.  She turned down a role in Operation Petticoat, which would have put her on the wide screen with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis.  She opted instead for more Broadway shows.  Then, in 1964, she teamed up with Bob Denver in a beach party movie called For Those Who Think Young.  No one remembers that movie but Tina will always remember that as the catalyst that changed her career and life.  You see, Denver was set to star in a new TV Show in 1964 and she took the role that was turned down by Jayne Mansfield.  Tina had taken as a stage name the middle name her high school teacher had given her, which was Louise.  Tina Louise starred in Gilligan’s Island as Ginger Grant.  She became unhappy with the role as she feared she would be typecast.  She was right.  But, she also became a television icon.

Cast Your Vote in the Poll

She continued her career and even had a memorable role in The Stepford Wives.   But, for all the acting credentials, playboy shoots and pinups, she will always be remembered as Ginger and be part of arguments over the question that will last forever: “Ginger or Mary Anne?”  While she generally refused to reprise the role of Ginger in any of the follow up movies related to Gilligan’s Island, she did make cameos on a few talk shows with a reunion theme.  While she may have tried to run from her role as Ginger, she couldn’t hide.  In fact, in 2005, TV Land listed her as 2nd all time in that cable channel’s top ten greatest sex-symbols of TV.  I once had a job in which I got to see all 98 episodes of Gilligan’s Island as I edited and dubbed the entire series.  I could watch every show frame by frame.  An interesting way to try to analyze the question: Ginger or Mary Ann?  And, it provided answers to other questions:  The Skipper was Jonas Grumby, the Professor was Roy Hinkley, Mary Ann’s last name was Summers and Gilligan was never given a last name, though creator Sherwood Schwartz once said that Gilligan was his last name.

Weather Bottom Line:  Believe the hype; it’s going to warm up.  The oscillation over the Arctic changed last week which had been oriented such that the North Pole has been warm all season and the continental US so cold has flipped.  It takes a little while for the change to come down stream but it will come.  The jet stream will move well north and we’ll be pushing toward 60 by the end of next week. If this shift persists, then winter is effectively over…but…it could shift back..after all it is an El Nino year so enjoy it while you can.

When Willie Nelson Smoked a Joint at Jimmy Carter’s White House
September 14, 2010

Willie Prefers an "Austin Torpedo"

Willie Prefers an "Austin Torpedo"

President CarterOn This Date In History: It’s just an odd coincidence that former presidential press secretary Jody Powell died a year ago today some 33 years after a rather interesting footnote to history that revolves around his old boss. Remember during the 1976 Presidential election how Jimmy Carter used his stellar integrity as a campaign club? Remember the famous “adultery in my heart” comment to Playboy magazine and the focus on his Southern Baptist upbringing? President Carter was extremely bright. He served honorably in the United States Navy as a Lieutenant directly under the command of Admiral Hyman Rickover aka the “father of the nuclear navy”. President Carter was known as a peanut farmer in campaign literature but the truth is he was a nuclear engineer of great ability. He and President Herbert Hoover are the only academically trained engineers to serve as President…you can draw your own conclusions. Anyway, all of this makes what happened in the middle of September 1980 all that more remarkable.

On this date in 1980, the old Red Headed Stranger was probably feeling pretty good about himself.  On the night of  September 13, 1980 President Carter hosted a concert by none other than Willie Nelson at the White House. Willie Nelson of “Whiskey River” and “Outlaw” fame. Willie Nelson on his 3rd marriage at the time. Later Nelson went on to run up an interesting rap sheet of marijuana arrests and was convicted of failure to pay his income taxes. Not one to be kept down, Willie made a new record called The IRS Tapes: Will You Buy My Dreams? A lot of people did because Willie paid back the hundreds of thousands, if not millions(I can’t remember how much it was) in back taxes.

Willie Nelson

But, I suppose to forgive is Divine, especially if you are forgiving a country music star with some good tunes. Seems President Carter liked to listen to Nelson’s music while pondering policy and other items associated with the pressures of being President. Carter told Rolling Stone magazine, “All the good things I did as president, all the mistakes I made — you can blame half of that on Willie.” Nelson, who was a public supporter of NORMAL (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws) exercised his protest right, I suppose, by lighting up what he called “a big fat Austin torpedo” while on the White House roof.   That would be a giant joint for all of you lacking in the hip verbiage of the day. According to a recent biography, Nelson has been smokin’ weed since he was 10.   Most likely, Willie did the tokin’ just prior to or after midnight which means that on this date in 1980, like in Luckenbach, Texas he was feelin’ no pain.  Carter said he never knew about it but Nelson claims the Secret Service kept a sharp eye on him while he sparked up on the Carter White House roof. Nelson has traced his lineage to the American Revolution. Perhaps he was doing his version of the Boston Tea Party as he toked away on top of the Presidential residence. As it turns out, apparently Willie wasn’t the only entertainer to spark up at the White House. Here is a list of 5 who make the claim to smoking doobs at the Executive Mansion.

Weather Bottom Line:  Through Wednesday we will be similar to what we had on Monday which is a high lurking around 90 and overnight low around 60.  Front on Thursday will try to make some rain but it better bring its own moisture because we are so dry that it won’t have much to work with. 

The Roots of Reality TV Go Back More Than 60 Years
August 10, 2010


Jimmy Johnson can thank Allen Funt for his stint on Survivor

On This Date in History:  With the success of Survivor on US airwaves in 2000, the trend for the first decade of 21st century American television has been “reality” tv.  We’ve seen everything from washed up celebrities sharing a house to Donald Trump firing people for ratings.  While Survivor seems to have been derived from a 1997 Swedish television show, the history of the genre really goes back farther than that; much farther.  While this notion may leave you scratching your head, it’s really something that even the youngest of Americans have probably heard of, even if they never saw it.

Allen Funt Was A Creative Genius in Early TV

On this date in 1948, Candid Camera debuted. Its creator, Cornell University gradutate Allen Funt, was somewhat of a prodigy.  He graduated from high school at 15 and, after graduating from Cornell, he attended Columbia University school of Business Administration and then took some art classes at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.  That led him to a job in the art department of an advertising agency and then a copywriter.  From there, he was transferred to the radio department.  His radio experience was used in his service in the US Army Signal Corps where he experimented with location recording.  The predecessor to the tape recorder was a device known as a wire recorder and the mobility of the recorder allowed him to try out several concealment techniques.  That led to a career in radio following the war when he took his skills to ABC Radio and a show he called Candid Microphone.  The budget must have been tight because Allen Funt played the roles of several different characters to set up the gags on unsuspecting people.  He played the part of a dentist or a mechanic or some other occupation to create situations in which the victim would react to some unexpected set of circumstances.   Here is a sample of a Candid Microphone episode with Bela Lugosi (part1) (part 2) He took the concept to TV but for the first season he kept the name Candid Microphone.

Candid Microphone Bits Are Still Available

Candid Camera is much catchier and made more sense for TV and it was probably pretty fortunate for Funt that he wised up.  In developing the show, Funt is credited with hidden camera style comedy programming.  At one time or another, Candid Camera was shown on all three television networks but it had its greatest success on CBS from 1960 to 1966.  After that, it lived on as a syndicated show.  There have been  several attempts to revive the show, most recently with Funt’s son as the host.  But, it never really caught the same fire it had in the past.  But, with the Internet and camera phones, the concept lives on today but in its day, Candid Camera provided some of the funniest moments in television history. If you think about it, Funt really created reality TV. So I guess we can blame him for Big Brother.  The Museum of Broadcast in Communications credits Candid Camera as “the first and longest running reality-based comedy program.”

Kids are Always Great TV

Allen Funt will forever be known for his Candid Camera antics and, after he got in front of the camera instead of behind the microphone, he became quite the celebrity.  Funt was once offered a citation for bravery from the FAA.  Seems that in the early 1970’s, he was on an airplane that was hijacked with the villains demanding that the flight be diverted to Cuba.  Now, the passengers had all seen Funt and recognized him from this successful tv show.  So, they assumed that it was a Candid Camera gag.  The passengers repeatedly broke out in laughter at the hijackers actions and, at one point, broke out in applause.  The folks on the plane were not the least bit nervous and the hijackers were totally perplexed.  Funt turned down the award saying that he was just another passenger.  The truth was, he was probably the most terrified person on the plane because he was the only one who knew that it was not a joke.  After the plane landed in Cuba, all of the passengers returned safely to the United States.  By then, the rest of the passengers realized the joke that there was no joke was on them.

Funt Used His Celebrity to Raise Money for Schools in Carmel and Big Sur

I suppose Funt was running out of family friendly material for his hidden camera but there was all sorts of areas of the human experience left to be explored.  In 1970, he produced a full length film called, What Do You Say To A Naked Lady?  The premise is to uncover the reaction of people to unexpected encounters with nudity.  In one scene,  a young nude woman casually exits an elevator in an office building.  Funt also turned the cameras on a test audience watching a preview of the film.  Some members of the audience, no doubt expecting something like the tv show, were quite indignant while others were outspoken in praise.  In the 1980’s, he went even further by producing a series of adult oriented videos called Candid Candid Camera which featured nude women in various situations and ran on the Playboy Channel.  Perhaps this little bit of trivia gives some insight as to why he was twice divorced; once in 1964 and a second time in 1978.  I suppose it may have been difficult to be living with someone who liked to set up hidden cameras all over the place.  Or maybe its just difficult to live with a genius.  His creativity really pushed television entertainment forward, which I believe is lacking today.  At the turn of the century, “reality TV” was seen as a real breakthrough by those who never considered that Allen Funt had done it about a half century before.

Weather Bottom Line:  The dewpoint is back into the mid 70’s and that is pretty soupy.  In spite of the moisture, we’ll be visting the mid to upper 90’s for the rest of the week.  The only real hope for a break will be a scattered thunderstorm as a frontal boundary flops around close enough to perhaps focus some activity in our area for the next couple of days.  Look for a better chance sometime Saturday evening with a cold front approaching area.  The front will stick around as an area of low pressure moves up along the boundary and that should enhance our prospects for rain further on Sunday into the first half of Monday.  The biggest deal about it, though we need the rain, is that it will knock out the extreme heat for a few days.  So, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

The Original Little Orphan Annie Did Not Match Her Broadway Image
August 5, 2010

The Original Little Orphan Annie Was a Far Cry From An Obnoxious Little Girl Screaming/Singing "Tomorrow"; In this Episode from the 1930's She was Rescued From Kidnapping



On This Date in History: Harold Gray had been toying with an idea he had regarding a comic strip. He had sent several to Captain Joseph Medill Patterson, who was the founder of the New York Daily News. Patterson liked one of the ideas in 1924 and called Gray into his office. The main character in the strip was a boy named Otto. While Patterson liked the concept, he wasn’t enthused with the main character and thought that Otto was a mistake.

Wonders What it would be like to be Otto

Wonders What it would be like to be Otto

Seems that there were already 40 other strips that featured a boy. Beyond that, Patterson also thought that Otto looked pretty effeminate. Now, the paper had from time to time taken to reprinting a poem by James Whitcomb titled “Little Orphan Annie.” That gave Patterson inspiration. The story goes that Patterson told Gray, “put skirts on the kid and call her Orphan Annie.” Artists don’t always succomb to management pressure when it comes to their art, but I suppose that Gray needed the gig. So, he did what Patterson suggested and on this date in 1924, the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip first appeared.   Comic strips of that time were different from today in that adventure strips ran a single story that lasted for months, if not for an entire year.  On Sunday’s a single comic might take up an entire page.  Little Orphan Annie was different too.   Little Orphan Annie is regarded by some as one of the most violent comic strips ever to hit the news pages. 

Nazi Admiral is Made to "Disappear"

Her adventures took her into the realm of crooked politicians, gangsters and do-gooders.  She even took time out to do battle with Nazis.   The “life” of Annie also was not the stuff of which the now famous song was made but instead was filled with violence.  The original Annie went months at a time without seeing her father, her house was burned down numerous times, she lived in run down flop houses, was kidnapped and even tortured.  She seemed to walk endlessly with the threat of murderer lurking behind her every move.   The strip also had a touch of the supernatural as, at times, it featured leprechauns and ghosts.  A character that appeared from time to time was “Mr. Am” who had lived for millions of years. 

Daddy Warbucks and Annie Were Often Depicted as Poor

Gray continued to produce the strip until his death in 1968. The correction of Gray’s mistake of Otto by Patterson most likely resulted in one of the longest running and most recognized comic strips of all time. For some reason, I don’t think “Little Orphan Otto” would have been so endearing as the revised version.  But, the revised version has skewed far away from Gray’s creation.  “Little Orphan Annie’ continued after Gray had died but it’s popularity faded as the writing was considered by many to be poor and lacked the creativity and relevance of Gray’s work.  The artwork also did not meet the standards set by Gray.  In the late 70’s, the Broadway play Annie had gained great popularity and so Leonard Starr revived the old strip on December 3, 1979 under the moniker of “Annie.”   However, that version of the strip was cancelled in 2010 with further plans to once again revise what is now considered a “franchise.” 

Annie Comes Upon Kids Looking for Food

Tribune Media Services, the syndicator, says that it wants  “to  go where this new base of Annie fans finds their entertainment.”  The repackaging will be an effort to make Annie to a global, cross-over audience of children and adults.  In other words, they want to be the next Harry Potter.  I wonder how Gray would like the way his little girl has changed over the years?   Seems that the message and story that made the original Little Orphan Annie so popular has now been clouded by marketers and profit motive.   Gray wrote a book, Arf! The Life and Times of Little Orphan Annie and a synopsis of Little Orphan Annie in the form of a book review draws a good picture of how far Annie has come, for better or worse.

Weather Bottom Line:  Fortunately, my great idea of there being a much better risk for rain came about on Thursday morning and even came through better than I imagined.  My sunflowers loved it.  There were some big thunderstorms on Wednesday night up near Seymour that I could see from my house.  I was called by a family member who claimed he could see the northern lights.  There has been a huge solar storm going on but reports of the Aurora being visible have mainly been from Southern Canada and the northern states.  He was disappointed when I told him the frequent flashes he saw from various spots in the sky was nothing more than a distant thunderstorm.  Well, its all behind us as are the extreme temperatures as we go into the weekend.  Look for highs in the upper 80’s on Friday and Saturday before we heat back up into the 90’s starting on Sunday.

The Grifon Did Not Sink But Peter Benchley Gains a Script Anyway
July 31, 2010

The Grifon from "The Deep" Was Real and So Was Bisset

Shaw Keeps His Eyes Forward
Shaw Keeps His Eyes Forward

On this date in 1715, the French ship Grifon survived a hurricane off the coast of Florida. “So what,” you ask?Well, first off when the Spanish came to the new world they were looking for booty and plunder. They wanted to exploit the region for its natural resources and send it back to the king in Spain. So they would gather up all of their gold and trinkets and send them back on ships, usually in a convoy to protect against pirates. The Spaniards were rather formidable in those days and so it was suicide for any marauding pirates to try and take on a fleet of ships. On this date in 1715, 10 Spanish ships and one French ship made its way through the Straits of Florida. 

Shaw wasn't making up the stuff about the Griffon

Shaw wasn't making up the stuff about the Griffon

The flotilla rounded the Florida peninsula in order to follow the Gulf Stream back to Europe.  As it made their way up the east coast of Florida,  the entire fleet ran into a hurricane. Some sources say the fleet hit the hurricane on July 30, 1715 and I suspect the difference is that the ships went down on the night of the 30th or early morning of the 31st as this account implies.    In any event, for some reason, the French ship sailed farther off the coast from the Spaniards. The Spanish ships, filled with hundreds of tons of gold and silver, sunk. Some estimate the value of the treasure in 1975 dollars was about $86 million.  But,  the French ship survived. That French ship was the Grifon.

Painting of 1715 Ship Wreck

The sinking of the Spanish fleet in 1715 was one of the worst of Spain’s New World ventures in terms of lives and treasure lost.  Over 1000 men went to the bottom with the 10 ships and the crown lost over 14 million pesos.  Maritime historians that the ultimate cause of the disaster beyond the hurricane was that the Spanish had a habit of over loading their galleons and speculation is that was the case with the 1715 Spanish fleet.   News of the disaster reached Havana and Spain quickly dispatched ships for salvage operations.  A good bit of the treasure was located in waters shallow enough for breath-holding divers to gather a large number of coins.  The salvage operations took several years to complete and the Spanish built a small store house on the edge of a small island to house the treasure until it could be taken back to Spain.  But, British freebooters caught wind of the operation and in 1716, a bunch of ships under the charge of Henry Jennings raided the island and made off with 350,000 pesos.  Undeterred, the Spanish resumed salvaging until they had gotten all that they could get in 1719. 

A Famous Scene from "The Deep"

A Famous Scene from "The Deep"

If you remember the movie The Deep then this ship is familiar to you. Its the ship that Robert Shaw decided had survived but later came back and may have sunk. I’ve provided a script from the scene below. But anyway, there are two things that come to mind from this. First is that Peter Benchley did a fabulous job of basing his fictitious tale on accurate history. I was very surprised that there really was a Grifon that really was the only ship to not sink in a hurricane. The other thing is that about 80% of that gold was recovered by the Spanish by 1719 but the rest did not come back to the surface until the mid 1960’s, which makes me wonder how much of Benchley’s script was really ficticious. Speaking of scripts, if you can take your eyes off of the photo of Jacqueline  Bisset, you can read the script from The Deep, here.

Weather Bottom Line:  Morning rain should give way to cloudy skies.  I doubt if we get to 90 today.  But, the warm front will slowly lift north and we will become hotter and more humid again.  Look for scattered showers and t-storms for a couple of days and then a big fat ridge noses up from the Southwest which will limit rain chances and take our temperatures back into the mid to upper 90’s probably beginning on Tuesday.

Elvis Presley’s 1st National TV Appearance Huge, Not On Sullivan
June 5, 2010

Elvis Began His Road to Coronation As King of Rock and Roll on the Milton Berle Show June 5 1956

On June 5, 1956 A National TV Audience Got the Full Elvis on the Milton Berle Show

On this Date in History:  I would wager that if someone asked you which TV show was Elvis Presley’s first television appearance, you would answer the Ed Sullivan Show.  That would be wrong.  His first TV appearance was on January 28, 1956 on the little remembered, Stage Show, co-hosted by Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey.  He appeared on the next 3 episodes and a total of 6 appearances.  I’m not sure if the show lasted much longer than that but the press really didn’t pay much attention.  His first national TV appearance was on April 3, 1956 on the Milton Berle Show.   Berle remembered that there were many stars on that night including Hugh Jarrett, Esther Williams, Buddy Rich and Harry James.  Milton Berle also mentioned Buddy Hackett but the rundown of those who appeared does not list Hackett.  In any event, Elvis was an unknown young performer.  Elvis’s agent, Colonel Parker (see book about Parker and Presley) had called Berle and asked him to give Elvis an audition.  Berle did and was impressed enough to book Elvis on the show.  Elvis performed “Shake Rattle and Roll,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Blue Suede Shoes.”  Of the three, Elvis wrote “Heartbreak Hotel.”

Steve Allen Came Up With a Creative Way in Which to Control Presley When He Sang "Hound Dog"

The story gets a little cloudy here because in an interview of Berle, he seems to mix two appearances into one.  Apparently, Elvis was gaining in popularity but the press still generally ignored him.  You see, it was the second appearance of Elvis on the Milton Berle Show on this date in 1956 that launched him into immortal superstardom.  On that show, Elvis performed “Hound Dog.”   For some reason, the press decided to pay attention this time.  Perhaps Elvis had not shown much style in his first appearance but I suppose he was feeling more confident the second time around because he showed off his moves.  He gyrated and shook and the kids went wild, the parents were aghast and the censors were frantic.  The New York Journal-American wrote that the young man’s “primitive physical movement difficult to describe in terms suitable to a family newspaper.”  The San Francisco Chronicle called the performance “In appalling taste.”  The New York  Daily News said that Elvis “gave an exhibition that was suggestive and vulgar, tinged with the kind of animalism that should be confined to dives and bordellos.”  Berle said that 4 days after the show he received 400,000 “pan” letters.  Not “fan mail” but “pan mail.”  People wrote to Berle and said that they would never watch his show again after he showed that disgusting young man.  Berle said that he called Colonel Parker to inform him that he had a star on his hands.  Berle recognized that if that many people took the time to write letters then he had to be on the minds of just about everyone.  All publicity is good publicity.

Sullivan Initially Said No To Elvis

Now, Ed Sullivan had vowed to never book Elvis on his show due to all of his controversial wiggling.   But, there were more shows besides Sullivan.  Three days prior to his groundbreaking second appearance on Milton Berle, Elvis showed up on Your Hit Parade and went on the show again on June 9, 1956.  The first of July found Elvis on the Steve Allen Show where he wore a tuxedo as he performed “Hound Dog” singing to a sad looking basset hound.  Allen had considered pulling him from the show after the backlash of the Berle appearance.  Instead, he took a comic approach and put Elvis in the tuxedo with the dog in an effort to control him.  Elvis went along with it.   An appearance with Jack Benny followed that.  Sullivan had turned down an offer to pay $5000 to put Elvis on his show but after Allen with Elvis destroyed Sullivan without Elvis in the ratings, old Ed promptly changed his mind.  The show was called originally called “Toast of the Town” and the guest host on September 9, 1956 was Charles Laughton of Captain Bligh fame from Mutiny on the Bounty.  Also on the show was the same Hugh Jarrett who was booked on the Milton Berle show on which Elvis made his national debut.   Sullivan wasn’t in the New York theatre as he was recovering from injuries suffered in an automobile accident so Laughton filled in.  Elvis wasn’t in the theatre either.  He was in Hollywood shooting his first movie.  So, Laughton tossed to the guest by saying “away to Hollywood to meet Elvis Presley.”  Elvis performed from a studio there.  Sullivan was happy because his show that night got boffo ratings and he must have also been relieved.  His delay resulted in Sullivan signing Elvis for 3 appearances for $50,000 which was an unheard of some in those days. 

I Think Charles Laughton in 1935 Made a Better Bligh Than the Real Bligh

By not having Elvis on sooner, Sullivan may have helped himself even though he cost himself money.  Other shows built his popularity so, by the time he made it to the biggest show on TV, the Sullivan Show, people watched in record numbers.  Myths get spread so much that often that the myth becomes the truth.  As previously mentioned, many people probably remember the Sullivan appearance as Elvis’s national TV debut.  They also probably recall that the censors on Sullivan’s show required that all shots of his performances would be from the waste up.    Well, on that first Sullivan appearance, his first song was “Don’t be Cruel” and the cameras did in fact stay from the waste up, showing The King in a very loud plaid jacket.  But the jacket was not the only thing that screamed out.  Women in the audience were screaming at something Elvis did beyond the camera range.  He then performed “Love Me Tender” which was his new song associated with his first movie of the same title.  But, the cameras gave the television audience the full Elvis for his second segment.  They showed his feet, his hips, his legs…everything wildly moving about as he performed the Little Richard song “Ready Teddy” and a couple of verses of “Hound Dog.”  So, Elvis was not really censored by Ed Sullivan. 

Plenty of Ladies Got to See Elvis Wiggle on the Sullivan Show

The myth was created by the press who noted that tight shots were used whenever he started to dance.  Perhaps it was censorship but more likely it was a director taking different camera shots.  The audience saw plenty of Elvis in action and they certainly heard the women in the audience sqeal every time Elvis grunted, crossed his eyes, moved his tongue or even just stood perfectly still.  Laughton concluded the show by saying, ”Well, what did someone say? Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast?”  On that night, Ed Sullivan’s show was seen by  82.6% of the total television audience in America.  Steve Allen didn’t even try as NBC pre-empted his show with a movie. 

It may have been Parker (left) and Not Sullivan who had the cameras show Elvis from Waist Up for just one song but the public got the "Full Elvis" on other segments. Myth Busted

Now, the last time that Elvis appeared on Sullivan’s show (by that time it was called the Ed Sullivan Show) was on January 6, 1957 and the TV camera’s did indeed only show him from the waste up as he sang the Gospel song,  “Peace in the Valley.”  Given that these close ups were for a non-rock and roll tune, many historians believe it was Parker’s idea to limit the camera shots as a way of creating publicity and not an order from Sullivan.   Elvis never performed for Sullivan again but it wasn’t because Ed was upset; he was a tightwad.  Colonel Parker had raised the fee for his star to perform on TV to $300,000 with a stipulation that the network had to agree to put him on two additional guest spots as well as a one hour special.  Parker credited the Sullivan appearances as the key to the success of the single and the movie “Love Me Tender.”  And many music and tv historians say that it was the 3 Sullivan appearances by Elvis to gain support from the parents of the kids who already loved  the king as Sullivan somehow bridged a generation gap.  Obviously, Elvis’s movements were tame by today’s standards, or lack thereof, but it was his breakthrough in his performing style that continues to influence rock stars today.

SPC Severe Outlook Saturday June 5, 2010

Weather Bottom Line:  A pretty strong cold front is sagging down from the North.  It will eventually get here but during the afternoon and early evening heating hours the focus of the attention will generally be to our North.  The SPC has put an area from near Gary, IN to Seymour IN in a moderate risk for severe thunderstorms with a 10% risk of tornadoes, a 30% chance for hail and 45% chance of high winds.  The reason for this is that there will be a little jet streak running across the region as the front sags through.  By the time the front gets to Louisville,it will be night and the heating of the day will be on the wane and the jet streak will have moved through.  However, there will be sufficient latent heat to support thunderstorms with the frontal passage.  While the slight risk of the severe weather threat is officially to the North of Louisville, do not be surprised to see some strong storms in our area on a isolated basis. 

Once the front moves through, we will get relief from the heat and humidity with highs on Sunday and Monday in the low 80’s to upper 70’s.  It will warm back up by the middle to late part of next week.  Depending on how pokey this front is, it is possible on Sunday to have some isolated, mainly elevated afternoon storms in the afternoon.
Alpha Inventions Ranking

Great American From Cinema Still Going Strong at 103
May 26, 2010

John Wayne: American

Marion Morrison on the USC gridiron

On this Date in History:  John Wayne got fired on April 5, 1931 by Fox studios.   He mainly grew up in Lancaster, CA which later became known as Glendale.  He had a dog named Duke and, for some reason, the local firefighters would see the kid and his dog and so they started calling the youngster “Duke.”    He was a star football player at Glendale High School and went to USC on a scholarship.   But, he suffered an injury while body surfing at Newport Beach, CA and his athletic career came to an end.  To help pay his tuition, the now former tackle took a job at the Fox Hollywood movie studios.  He intially did manual labor at  but,  after two years, he quit school and in 1928 signed on with Fox. I guess the honchos at Fox didn’t see much of a future for him as he had several small roles but did star in The Big Trail in 1930.  

Jimmy Stewart, John Ford and John Wayne

He had been using the name Duke Morrison, taking the name of the dog and the nickname that the firemen had given him.   A director at Fox, Raoul Walsh claims he “discovered” Wayne and suggested he use Anthony Wayne, after a Revolutionary War Hero. Fox studios thought it sounded “too italian” so Walsh suggested John Wayne.  The first movie in which “John Wayne” appeared was The Big Trail.   He had befriended John Ford early in his career and after making several lousy movies for several years for Lonestar/Monogram pictures, including parts as a singing cowboy, Ford cast him in Stagecoach in 1939. The legend of John Wayne was born.

Dern as the Notorious Longhair

Dern as the Notorious Longhair

Duke Gives Dern ("Longhair") Some Real Justice

Duke Gives Dern ("Longhair") Some Real Justice

In short, Fox blew it. But they can claim to have at least given him his final name. See, he was initially given the name Marion Robert Morrison. But his parents had another child and they wanted to call him Robert. So, they changed Marion’s middle name to Michael. Then he became Duke and finally John Wayne. I suppose Fox probably trumpets that they gave John Wayne his name and Raoul Walsh claims he “discovered” Wayne but the truth is that Fox fired a treasure, both in culture and at the box office, and John Ford created Wayne. In my book, Fox Studio chief Winfield R. Sheehan and Bruce Dern and the bartender in The Shootist are all linked together in the netherworld. Sheehan fired John Wayne, Bruce Dern shot him in the back in The Cowboys as did the bartender in The Shootist. The trio are definitely the biggest scoundrels in cinematic history!!! 

Can You Believe that Someone is Trying to do a remake of True Grit? A travesty and a mistake.

The biography says that the legend of John Wayne was born with The Big Trail.   Nevertheless, the fact is that on this date in 1907, Marion Morrison was born in Winterset, Iowa and so the man we know as  John Wayne turned 103 today. I would say that “if he were still alive” but through his films, he is still alive and always will be. He’s been dead since 1979 but his name still shows up on the top ten of movie goers favorite movie stars. On some lists, he is the only deceased star to still be a top-ten star.   However, AFI only lists him as the 13th biggest male star of all time.  What do they know?  I have been watching lots of John Wayne movies over the past few weeks. I’ve seen Chisum three times in recent weeks…like I already don’t know all of the lines.  Alot of the same guys in that movie were also in Big Jake, including Robert Mitchum’s son.  Wayne’s own son, Patrick Wayne was in Big Jake.

John Wayne Legacy Lives On in Film and the John Wayne Cancer Institute(click for profile)

Of his 175 films,  John Wayne’s character only died in 7 of them.  As I mentioned,  he was killed in the most dastardly of manners in The Cowboys and The Shootist.  He goes down as a hero as Davy Crockett in The Alamo as well as in Sands of Iwo Jima.  Wayne’s character also takes the deep six in Wake of the Red Witch, The Fighting Seabees and Reap the Wild Wind in which he is taken out by a giant squid.  But, most of the time, he played heroic figures that inspired patriotism, toughness and doing the right thing.   I think there is the implication that he went down with the ship in Sea Chase.  He dies in a few others but no one sees it.  In The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,   we see him kill Lee Marvin to save Jimmy Stewart but he’s last seen all bent out of shape because Stewart stole his girl.  I don’t count this one because we only see his coffin as he died from old age.  But still, he was a heroic, self sacrificing figure.  He did not serve in World War II but did his part at home by raising money for bonds and also performing in films showing the heroism and dedication of the American soldier.  Off screen, he was diagnosed with cancer but fought it publically.  He had part of his lung removed and continued to  make films as well as public service commercials highlighting the dangers  of smoking.  He finally succumbed in 1979 and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.  He did not serve in the armed forces but he inspired many an American in life and death. It’s probably pretty fitting that his birthday is on or near Memorial Day; a life memorial to all that America has been and can be again. 

Thursday Evening

Weather Bottom Line:  If you noticed on Wednesday afternoon there was quite a bit more vertical development of the cumulus clouds than in previous days.  That tells me that any cap that was out there has been eroded somewhat and I would think that with the approach of a frontal system on Thursday that a combination of heating and moisture with the weak front in the region would elevate our rain chances from the isolated category to scattered.  Now the front is pretty lame and so it will be slow to move through.  Most of the energy associated is well north so severe prospects would be limited.  I would think that Thursday evening will be our best chance for rain and t’storms with perhaps some gusty winds.  Because the boundary is hanging around to our south, we may get some stuff Friday afternoon with the heat of the day.  Saturday there is still somewhat of an inverted trof nosing into the Ohio Valley but I’d pretty much discount this because high pressure will be building in.  It should be a tad cooler with highs in the low 80’s and humidity levels decreased.  In short, the Memorial Day Weekend looks pretty good. 

I’m not even going to mention Invest 90. It was bogus and still is.

Good Weather For Preakness 2010; Still Attendance Questions
May 12, 2010

Click on Image For Official Preakness Site

In previous years, taking target practice with beers at guys running on port-o-cans was popular...not this year

The Preakness:  Last year I went to the Preakness and I  was looking forward to witnessing the infamous infield party that I had heard so much about.  I was told it was extremely wild. I had heard about port-o-can races in which people raced across the top of the portable bathrooms lined up in areas of the infield.  What I learned was that, not only did people race, but spectators routinely threw beer cans at the racers in a make-shift game of a shooting gallery.  When I got to the infield, it was very sparsely attended.  Apparently local officials felt that the infield, which was said to have reached numbers of 60,000, was too wild.  Last year, they disallowed attendees from bringing their own beer.  Infield tickets were priced at $50.  I thought that I saw a pack of cigarettes priced at $10.  One blogger claims that there were specials of $1 pints of beer available, but I tend to recall witnessesing something closer to the Washington Post’s  story that asserted beer was sold at $3.50 for a 16 oz beer.  They had concerts all during the races with some bands that I did not know.  There was a big stage with huge monitors pointed away from the main grandstands and away from the VIP tenst set up adjacent to the front stretch on the infield.  ZZ Top was the headliner in the afternoon.  I think I got the treat of seeing the “little old band from Texas” with about 200 other people.  Beyond the dearth of people, what else that was interesting was that how the grandstands could barely hear anything that was going out over the speakers.  Attendance was down 31%.  I believe that the number at Pimlico was about 77,000 whereas in 2008 the attendance number was about 112, 000.

Pimlico Officials are Hopeful that New Policies Will Make Last Year's Showing to be Just An Abberration

So, this year they are modifying the policy.  Infield goers still can’t bring their own beer, but the ticket price has been lowered to $40.  Also, the Washington DC NBC affiliate reports that revelers will be permitted to drink all the beer that they want after purchasing a mug for $20.   You can also bring in picnic lunches.  Sorry, no thermoses.  They are also going for bands that might be more attractive to younger patrons with the Maryland band O.A.R. as well as a country music entry, Grammy Award winners the Zac Brown Band.  The story ends with a Pimlico official as saying that ticket sales are outpacing last year.  That in itself shouldn’t be too difficult.  The real question is how much higher is the sales pace?  This blog claims that “Sanity reigns at the Preakness.”  The organizers hope that sanity still reigns on the infield because, in spite of the liberalized pricing policy, they still have rules at Pimlico.  Regardless of where you are at Pimlico to see if Calvin Borel can win the second leg of the Triple Crown, the weather will be outstanding.

SPC Severe Risk Thu AM to Fri AM well Northwest of Pimlico

Front Through Baltimore By Saturday Morning with High Pressure Building In

Preakness Stakes 2010 Weather Forecast for Pimlico:  The general pattern of disturbed weather is mainly for the Midwest and part of the Ohio Valley as there is a big trof that will be slowly moving west to east and little waves of energy will be ejecting from the Southern Plains to the Northeast.  As the trof moves East, the shower activity will move with it. However, the shortwave energy will not be rounding about as the mean trof approaches the Mid-Atlantic.  Hence, while scattered showers and t’storm will be possible for Thursday and Friday with Friday being the best chance for thunderstorms around the track, I see nothing in the data that suggest much of severe weather.  The main storm track will be well to the Northeast such that the risk for severe weather will be in the Ohio Valley and points North for Thursday into Thursday night. 

High Pressure Contnues to Build In Through Sunday Morning

The front eases through Baltimore on Saturday morning, probably before daybreak.  From that point forth, high pressure will be building in with drier air filtering in.  The NAM vertical profile suggests that in the early to mid afternoon there may be a relatively thin cloud deck at 5000 feet.  The GFS also has a layer of higher moisture at that level but does not indicate a solid deck.  Guess here is that it’s partly cloudy at best.  The high continues to build in throughout the day on Saturday from the Northwest.  I would think that there might be a breeze from the the North and then Northeast with relatively low humidity.  Preakness post time temperatures  will be running in the mid 70’s.  While there will be a risk for rain on Thursday and Friday, I see nothing that suggests anything overly excessive and the drying trend on Saturday I would think would result in a relatively fast track, certainly nothing like the mud that we saw at the Kentucky Derby.  Final hint:  Bet Big, Win Big.

Could Donald Trump Lose His Name?
March 1, 2010

Trump May Have to Fire His Name!

Surely Dad Won't Have To Kiss Ivanka Goodbye with his Name?

What’s In a Name?  Donald Trump and his casino arm, Trump Entertainment, filed for bankruptcy for a third time in February 2009.  This third bankruptcy filing is not too big of an indictment on Trump given that the economy has hurt the gaming industry nationwide.  Trump tried to flip a deal in which he would buy out the bondholders but those who owned the bonds didn’t go for it but it was announced in November 2009 that Trump and his daughter Ivanka would retain a stake in the company and take it out of bankruptcy in a new deal.  But there was a fly in the ointment.  That fly was none other than Carl Icahn who is a very prominent investor.  Seems Ichan bought a bunch of the bonds and Icahn announced a rival plan to take over the Trump casinos.

Carl Icahn Has A great Name for Investing...but a Casino?

So, now the two titans face off in bankruptcy court and the most interesting charges flying have to do with the “Trump” name.  Icahn want’s to buy the casinos and keep the name without Donald or Ivanka.  Some say that the Trump image has been tarnished by a number of financial battles in which The Apprentice star finds himself.  In fact, Icahn lawyers in court filings said that, “The Trump name may no longer be ‘synonymous with business acumen, high quality and style, a luxury lifestyle and enormous success’ as Mr. Trump asserts.”   Say what you want about Donald’s hair but there is no way that Mr. Trump would allow an attack on the family name to go unanswered.  He implied under crossexamination that Mr. Icahn’s name has been associated with some less-than-successful deals of his own saying,  “Well, Mr. Icahn has led companies into many, many bankruptcies.”

"Con" Works with Extermination Products

So the fight goes on.  Trump is arguing that Icahn does not have the right to take his name if he takes the casinos.  Icahn says that he does.  But, there’s the kicker and perhaps the ultimate insult.  A Wall Street Journal article says that the main reason Mr. Icahn wants to retain the Trump name is that it would cost $15 to $20 million to change the signs.  He says that, otherwise, the name has nothing to do with the future success of the properties.  Ouch!   In court, Trump says that Icahn should not be able to to take over the casinos at all, painting an unflattering picture of a quick buck artist, perhaps not unlike Gordon Gekko.  Trump doesn’t say that Icahn won’t spend money to rebuild the casinos and the brand name, the New York Post reported that he says Icahn is a “cheapskate” who wouldn’t spend three dollars.  Mr. Trump says, “If Carl spends $3, I’d be shocked.” 

"Con" Worked for a Movie But Not Sure if it Fits Casino

Now, who knows how this whole thing will come out in the wash.  But, the fact that anyone is saying that the only reason he wants to keep the Trump name on the buildings is becuase he doesn’t want to spend the money to change the name is amazing.  It may support Trump’s assertion about Icahn or it may be Mr. Icahn’s way of sticking it to a rival.  Either way, it seems rather odd for someone to be able to lose his name if he loses his business. I suppose it has happened before but still…a Trump named casino without a Trump?  I guess it’s better than an alternative like “Icahn Casino” which is pronounced Eye Con.  Somehow I think that there may be a bit of a difficulty in the marketing department with attracting customers to I Con Casino.  It workd for ConAir which was a ficticious movie starring Nicolas Cage and it works with bug killer..D-Con…but I’m just not certain about a Casino.  Maybe the Trump name is worth more than Icahn is letting on.

By Wed AM, all critical thickness or freezing lines are well south

GFS claims a little moisture in our area with East Coast Storm Early Wed AM

Weather Bottom Line: We did get to 41 but largely, the day was just like Sunday which was still cold and not feeling like much of a warm up.  A system is running along the Gulf Coast and will take a turn across Georgia and then off the North Carolina Coast and up the eastern seaboard.  Look for more snow stories from the Northeast this week but not as dramatic as the last couple of storms.  The bulk of this guy should stay far enough offshore as to not affect more than coastal regions with snow, but it still may be significant in some areas.  As the low passes us to the South, the long wave pattern will again adjust with the base of the trof to our South.  A couple of flurries will be possible Tuesday night or early Wednesday but the moisture will more or less be cut off by the Appalacians so it doesn’t look like a big deal.  I still think that we don’t get out of the 30’s on Tuesday or Wednesday and maybe even Thursday.  We get some sun on Friday and  move to the low 40’s before getting into the average range for Saturday…which is about 51. So don’t break out the tanning butter.  But, if we can’t have snow, I say go to 70.  This Houston-type of winter weather in the 40’s and clouds stinks.  If its gonna be cold, then lets have some exciting snow. If not, then let spring hurry up and get here and let me plant my sunflowers.  A little rain Sunday or Monday won’t be out of the question as the long wave pattern may be breaking after about 2 months of it being stuck.

Wedding of the Century
February 10, 2010

Wedding of the Century

Young General Thumb with Barnum

On This Date in History:  At the outset of the American Civil War, many people thought it would be a brief skirmish.  When hostilities initially broke out, President Lincoln asked the governors of the Northern states to provide their respective militias serve as part of just a 75,000 man army to put down the insurrection.  Presumably, Mr. Lincoln was at the very least hopeful that the violence would be of minimal duration because his initial request was for only 3 months of service.   However, it is possible that it was merely a political calculation to make an intial call for just 90 days to better assure the public and also to have the political support to raise troops.   By 1863, it was painfully obvious that the war would be much longer and destructive than many people initially thought and so he changed the objective of the war from merely preserving the Union but added the destruction of slavery as he issued his Emancipation Proclamation effective January 1, 1863.  Morale in both the North and South was low as the war dragged on and the bodies count rose.  Leave it to PT Barnum to lift the spirits of the nation with just a temporary diversion from the misery of the war news.


A Match Made in Heaven or by Barnum?

 Phineas T. Barnum was one of the great showman and promoters in American history.   He constantly was looking for new attractions, regardless of his project, but in particular for his circus.   One of his great attractions was a man named Charles Sherwood Stratton of Bridgeport, CT.  For some reason his growth became stunted at age 7 months and he eventually only rose to a height of 35 inches.  Barnum met Stratton and taught him to sing, dance and immitate historical figures.  Once Stratton had developed these skills, Barnum introduced General Tom Thumb to the world.   There is a bit of duplicity here because, clearly, Barnum was exploiting Stratton’s stature for his own gain.  But, the other side of the coin is that Stratton was rewarded handsomely.  By the time Tom Thumb was 25 years old, Barnum had made him a millionaire and Thumb determined it was a good time to retire.  So, Barnum needed a new act to promote.

Barnum American Museum 1858

Well, it just so happened that Barnum had “discovered” Lavinia Warren in 1862 and found her to be a charming and elegant woman.  He signed her to a contract, bought her jewels and clothes that was appropriate for a woman of her status and put her on display at the Barnum American Museum in New York.   Now, there were lots of elegant women in New York, so what was so special about Ms. Warren?  She was but 32 inches tall.  Barnum introduced her to Thumb who told Barnum, “That is the most charming little lady I ever saw, and I believe she was created to be my wife.”  Barnum was more than happy to oblige as he, no doubt, had the best interest of both the General and Warren in mind when he helped them arrange the wedding when cupid struck the couple.  It just so happens that the event also helped fill Barnum’s coffers.  On This Date in 1863, the dark days of the Civil War were brightened when General Tom Thumb married Lavinia Warren.

General Thumb had put on some pounds shortly before his death

The guest list included 2,000 people that included “the elite, the creme de la creme.”  The streets of New York filled with people, hoping to get a glimpse of the tiny silver wedding carriage provided by Tiffany and Co. that, of course, was highly publicized by Barnum.  The ceremony and following reception were both a smashing success.  They received extremely lavish gifts and their honeymoon was not a secret private getaway, but instead a “honeymoon tour” that included a visit with President Lincoln.  It was perhaps the wedding of the century and for a short time, the nation was able to forget the horrors of war.  The pair remained married until Thumb’s death in 1878 from a stroke.  Ten-thousand people attended his funeral so he was a star even in death and apparently thereafter, though its unclear exactly how many people had ever heard of Charles Stratton.  Barnum had died in 1891, his spirit must have been alive and well when Lavinia Warren died in 1919 and was laid to rest next to her husband in Bridgeport, CT.  Or maybe the circumstance surrounding her  final resting place had nothing to do with Barnum but instead was retribution for her marrying another man two years after Thumb’s death.   You see, Lavinia Warren’s headstone simply says “his wife.”    Either way, no one upstages Tom Thumb.

GFS claims Over 5 inches by Monday morning

GFS around an inch by Saturday Evening

Weather Bottom Line:  There seems to be some agreement on our near term future with those maginficent machines in the weather world.  We stay cold. duh. We don’t need a computer for that.  I still say that Friday morning that the clouds will be at least broken enough and the wind so light that we will get into the single digits and it’s a no brainer that if we do clear out completely or close to it only for a few hours, then we get to zero with some places below.  Either way, at those levels only your thermometer will know the difference.   Graphically we still don’t get above freezing but now there is numerical data suggesting a degree or two above freezing on Saturday or maybe Friday for an hour or two.  Again, not really significant or noticeable. 

NAM Snow about an inch by Sat. Evening

Now, what about the agreement.  I’m talking about the next snow chance.  Both the GFS and NAM only have about an inch or less for late Friday and/or  Saturday.  It’s the next one that is of interest.  Late Sunday into Monday the GFS tosses out over 5 inches.  That has been pretty consistent with this model.  The Japanese model is similar.  The NOGAPS is a US Navy tropical model and not meant for this type of thing but it has snow but not much.  The European has the same feature for Monday morning and its quite robust but the snow being tossed out is not as impressive as the feature might indicate.  Then there is the Canadian model. It has the same feature but takes it just to our south.  The point is, the feature is on every model in one form or another and the only variations in the track is just to our south which still keeps it in the ball park for being a snow producer for us.  I’d plan on snow for Sunday and or Monday with the amount being up for debate at this point.  I heard someone on the radio today claim we’ve had over 18 inches of snow this year.  But the NWS officially has us at 15.6 inches, which is about average for the entire year.  I am confident that we will go above average and maybe surpass the erroneous 18 inch mark by Monday evening.