Archive for the ‘movies’ 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.

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Worst Outlaw in the History of the American West Inspired Others
November 13, 2010

Al Jennings-Worst Outlaw in the West

Al Jennings-Worst Outlaw in the West

On This Date in History: Al Jennings was born in 1863 Virginia. His father was aTemple Houston-the one in the middle judge and Al began practicing law in the Oklahoma Territory in 1889. Al’s law-partner, brother Ed Jennings, was shot to death in October 1895 by another lawyer named Temple Houston, who was the son of famous Texan General Sam Houston. When Houston was acquitted, Al and another brother Frank vowed vengeance. They took off after Houston but never caught up to him. So, what does any good lawyer who fails at a vengeance killing do? Join a gang. He and Frank robbed a Santa Fe train with their new found friends in 1897. Well, they tried to rob a train. This may be where the scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid comes from because these guys tried to get the guy in charge of the mail car to open it up but he refused, just like Woodcock did with Butch. But, instead of blowing up the rail car, these desperados got chased away by the conductor.

Temple Houston

Temple Houston

They tried again. This time they piled up railroad ties across the tracks. instead of stopping, the engineer opened up the locomotive at full throttle and simply plowed through the obstruction. They then tried to rob an express office but a simple phone call from the office brought the town sheriff and a bunch of armed men. The would be robbers fled with nothing. Then they tried a bank but someone must have blabbed because when they arrived, the bank was surrounded by numerous armed men. The bumbling robbers left empty handed. So, they gang decided to return to what they knew best…train robbing!

CabinetSaloon

Cabinet Saloon Where Temple Shot Ed

In another probable Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid inspiration, they tried a 3rd time when they flagged down a Rock Island passenger train and tried to blow up the two safes on board in a box car. The safes did not open but they did manage to blow up the box car. They did get $300 from the passengers though. But, they got no more chances. They were caught and sentenced to 5 years in prison…except for Al, who got a life sentence for robbery with intent to kill.

Jennings Mugshot 1902

Jennings Mugshot 1902

Al goes to prison and who does he share a cell with but a guy named William Sidney Porter. After spending time listening to the tales of Jennings, Porter was released and took up the profession of a scribe, taking the pen name, O. Henry. O. Henry is considered one of the finest American short story writers of his time. Through his short stories, Henry managed to rehabilitate the image of Jennings and, On This Date in 1902, Al Jennings was released from prison after his sentence was commuted to 5 years by none other than President William McKinley. Jennings returned to Oklahoma to practice law. So, what does a lawyer who was a terrible train robber do? Why run for office. Not just any office…why not county attorney! In 1912, he ran on the promise that “when was a train robber, I was a good train robber. And if you choose me, I will be a good prosecuting attorney.” Obviously, Al had developed a politicians ability to stretch the truth and it helped because he won the nomination but lost the election. He ran for Governor in 1914 but opposition by newspapers left his campaign in third place when the votes were counted. So, where does a failed train robber and failed politician go? Why to Hollywood!

Jennings with Fatty Arbuckle's Cousin Andrew In Hollywood

Jennings with Fatty Arbuckle's Cousin Andrew

O. Henry had encouraged him to write so he went out west and ghost wrote several movies, several of which were supposedly based on his life. The westerns portrayed him as being more treacherous than Billy the Kid, robbed more men than Jesse James and was a participant in nearly 25 face to face shootouts. I would say that there wasn’t much mystery in who the ghost was behind those scripts. Al continued this sort of thing the rest of his life as he was behind many of the B-movie westerns through the 1950’s with the lame scripts that were as phony as the image Jennings created for himself. To perhaps illustrate the level of Al’s position in Hollywood, the photo to the left is not of Al with star Fatty Arbuckle, but instead Fatty’s cousin, Andrew. Nevertheless, it was an interesting and certainly long life for Al, who did not pass away, for real, until 1961. He lived through Reconstruction, the Indian Wars, the closing of the frontier, two world wars and the dawn of the space age. So much to write about yet he chose to write about…himself…and most of that was not true, except his name, Al Jennings. Here is a biography, which is really funny.

When Traveling the Oregon Trail Once (or Twice) is Not Enough
October 9, 2010

Ezra Meeker Never Got To Use His Ford Model A Covered Wagon to Once Again Travel the Oregon Trail

John Jacob Astor

John Jacob Astor

On This Date in History: I’m sure many people have heard of the Oregon Trail but probably aren’t familiar with where it is except Oregon. In the early 19th Century, Lewis and Clark gained the blessings and financial support (Probably Not Constitutional) of President Jefferson. That paved the way for commerce with John Jacob Astor leading the way in the American fur trade. Again, it was Thomas Jefferson who encouraged Astor, who formed the Pacific Fur Company. Astor sent a man named Wilson Price Hunt to establish a base of operations and in 1811, Hunt followed the trail of Lewis and Clark to the Dakotas and then cut over land through Jackson Hole and eventually to the mouth of the Columbia River. They called the place Fort Astor or Fort Astoria.

The War of 1812 broke out and the Crown sent a warship to seize the fort. The guys in the fort figured out that they were in trouble so, being good businessmen, they sold the town to their British competitors. The North West Company purchased the fort, renamed it Fort George and the British gained control without firing a shot and presumably John Jacob Astor got some money for his trouble.

Did Ogden Have a Neck?

Just before the Brits took over the fort, a group of men led by Robert Stuart left Fort Astor for St. Louis. That party in 1812 was the first follow the Oregon Trail, though they did it in reverse. About 10 years later, the Northwest Fur Company merged with the Hudson Bay Company and a hellion with the Company named Peter Skene Ogden was used as a inspector of operations in the far west. He got the position probably to keep him out of the offices because in the past, he had tried to incinerate a campanion for fun, nearly beat a company officer to death and led an entire outpost in a mutiny. Ogden ended up knowing more about the west than anyone except for mountain man Jedediah Smith. Ogden’s explorations made its way to cartographers who made maps that paved the way for settlers to emigrate west over the Oregon Trail. I suppose that Ogden Utah got its name from this rough and nasty man of the west.

Ezra Meeker 1906

So, a bunch of people went west following the Oregon Trail. One was Ezra Meeker who took his family along the trail in 1852 and moved into the Washington Territory. What makes Meeker stand out was in an attempt to keep the history of the trail alive, honor the men who blazed it and work toward improving roads out west.   Ezra Meeker got an ox and wagon and took the trail again, stopping often to give speeches and promote its importance in history. Meeker at the time was 75 years old. It was a tough trip and the ox died, but not Meeker. So enthused with his efforts, he did it again in 1910.

Ezra Meeker and Friend 1910

In 1915 he traveled the route by automobile. And on this date in 1924, Ezra Meeker once again followed the trail that he first set out on 72 years earlier. This time he was 93 years old and this time he made the 1300 mile journey like a bird. He traveled by airplane. At age 98, he attempted to travel the trail by car again with the support of Henry Ford, but he died on December 3, 1928.

Recognize This View From Kindergarten Cop?

Fort Astor is today known as Astoria, Oregon and was the setting for the movie Kindergarten Cop. Meeker had his last oxen team slaughtered and mounted by a taxidermist and can be found today on display, still hooked to the wagon, at the Washington State Historical Society Museum in Tacoma. A commemorative coin was struck in the 1920’s and 30’s to commemorate Meeker and the trail. In the 1980’s, a computer game company put out “The Oregon Trail” game and had a default feature that listed Ezra Meeker in 5th place on the all-time scorer list with a score of 2052. Why they picked that score is a mystery to me.

I’ll tell you what…in the dictionary under “obsession” should be a picture of Ezra Meeker.

Weather Bottom Line:  Our conditions are similar to what you might find in the desert.  The air is so dry that when you add in somes sunshine, even at the lower angle of fall, it heats up rapidly and when you take away the heat source (the sun going down) it cools off pretty rapidly.  So, Saturday and Sunday we will be in the upper 80’s to near 90 in the afternoons but cool off to the low to mid 50’s.  Really, the warm afternoons won’t be that uncomfortable and its likely that you can just keep the windows open and air conditioners off each day.  The same will hold true for Monday though it may be a little more humid as a cold front advances and we get a slight return flow of some moisture.  But, it won’t be sufficient to bring any rain to speak of with the frontal passage on Monday night.  Temperatures will back off though closer to seasonal levels, though maybe still a bit warmer than average, for the balance of the week.  I’ll be on Fox 41 on Sunday night.

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.

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.

Remembering Samantha Smith: The Youngest Peace Ambassador
April 25, 2010

On This Date in History:  In late 1982, the Cold War had gotten a bit chillier.  President Reagan had given a speech to the British House of Commons on June 8, 1982 that many mistakenly refer to as the “Evil Empire Speech” when in fact, Reagan never used that term in that particulary speech.  But, he did make reference a couple of times to totalitarianism.  It was not until March 8, 1983 that President Reagan actually made his “Evil Empire Speech” to the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida.  Following the death of Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev, former Director of the KGB, Yuri Andropov was elected as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on November 12 1982.  As the head of the KGB, Andropov had overseen brutal invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the repression of Soviet dissidents and was instrumental in the decision of the Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan.  It was in this atmosphere that a 10 year old girl in Maine asked her mother a question.

The little girl had seen on television numerous reports concerning nuclear weapons and missiles.  She saw a PBS show in which scientists related to the destruction of the earth in the event of a nuclear exchange and said that there were no winners in an all out nuclear war.  I can tell you from experience, that type of thing can bring great fear to a child.  I grew up my whole life just accepting that, when I grew up, I would be fighting a war.  When I saw the fallout shelter signs, I always thought of having to escape an attack by the Soviets.  This little girl felt the same fright that one morning she woke up and wondered if it was going to be the Earth’s last day.  So, she asked her mother if there was going to be a war, who would start it and why.   Her mother answered by getting a news magazine and she thought that it seemed to her that the people of America and the Soviet Union were both fearful of the other attacking.  To this little girl, “it all seemed so dumb.”   She told her mother to write a letter to Andropov to determine who was “causing all the trouble.”  Instead, her mother turned it around and encouraged her to write the letter.

Andropov Finally Answered Samantha's Letter

In December 1982, 10-year-old Samantha Smith from Manchester, Maine wrote a short letter to Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov.  She asked if he was planning on having a war, and if not, what he was going to do to prevent a war.  She concluded by saying, “God made the world for us to live together in peace, not to fight.”   She did not receive a reply.  So, she wrote a letter to the Soviet Embassy wondering why she Andropov did not answer.  The actual dates of the ensuing events are not clear.  She received a phone call from Soviet officials saying that she would be receiving  a reply.  The Soviet press agency, Pravda, published her letter. 

On Nightline With Ted Koppel-Archive Says April 25, 1983

Some sources say that, on this date in history, the letter of Samantha Smith was published in Pravda.  A website dedicated to Samantha Smith says that she received her response from Andropov on April 26, 1983.  However, the archive of ABC’s Nightline program shows an interview by Ted Koppel with Samantha Smith on this date in 1983 which means that she received the letter on this date in 1983.  In the introduction of the interview, Koppel relates the a different order of events.  In any case, the big story is that Samantha got her response from Yuri Andropov.   In it he says that the Soviet Union would never be the first to use nuclear weapons and that the Soviet Union was doing everything to prevent war on Earth.  When the Americans pledged to not be the first to use nuclear weapons, she wondered why both sides needed all of those missiles. 

Samantha with friends Natasha and Vera at Artek Camp

Shortly after she received Andropov’s response,  the Soviet Premier invited her to be his guest in the Soviet Union.  After asking her father’s permission, in early July 1983, the Smiths went to Moscow and Leningrad and visited children at the Artek Camp.  At a Moscow press conference, Smith declared that she found the people of the Soviet Union to be “just like us.”  Not only did she meet with Andropov, but also with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.   Well, the media of the 1980’s was not much different than today, except there was no reality TV yet.  Even so,  the then 11-year-old Smith became a sensation.  She was on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (twice), the Today Show and was featured on and hosted several television shows.  She interviewed a couple of presidents  and was even on co-starred in a sitcom.  She became an international peace activist.  I suspect her story was the inspiration for the movie, Amazing Grace and Chuck.  But that story had a happy ending.

Samantha Smith Soviet Memorial Stamp

On August 25, 1985 Samantha Smith and her father were killed as the small plane they were in crashed on approach to Auburn Airport in Lewiston, Maine.  Her tragic death brought the following condolence letters to her mother Jane from Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and United States President Ronald Reagan:

Samantha Smith Statue Augusta, Maine

 “Everyone in the Soviet Union who has known Samantha Smith will forever remember the image of the American girl who, like millions of Soviet young men and women, dreamt about peace, and about friendship between the peoples of the United States and the Soviet Union.”  — Mikhail Gorbachev

“Perhaps you can take some measure of comfort in the knowledge that millions of Americans, indeed millions of people, share the burdens of your grief.  They also will cherish and remember Samantha, her smile, her idealism and unaffected sweetness of spirit.”  — Ronald Reagan

Weather Bottom Line:  I left for the Kentucky Writers Festival songwriters celebration event in Lebanon,KY at about 4 pm.  As I had expected, a line of thunderstorms were developing west a Owensboro-Paducah line.  About 7:45 pm, it got to Lebanon.  I figured it was the apex of a bowing segment (which it was) but I wasn’t so sure.  The winds just picked up out of nowhere and went howling down the streets, taking street signs with it and magically opening the doors of the Oak Barrel bar and restaurant.  I dutifully retired to an interior room as I wasn’t so sure it was not the inflow into a tornado.  It was not but we got a lot more rain than my rain guage showed in Louisville.  Tragically, the day ended up as I had suspected it would with numerous super-cell thunderstorms in the northern half of the Dixie States and southern Tennessee.  At least ten perished in a long lived wedge tornado that crossed the Mississippi River (rivers like the Mississippi and Ohio do NOT protect you from a tornado) and continued on through Yazoo City, MS  and then acrosss I-55.  Here is a gallery of AP Photos from Yazoo City.   At least ten were killed.  From the damage I saw and the tree damage (some may have been denuded of their bark), my guess is that it will be classified as an EF-4 or, perhaps more likely,  EF-5 on the Enhance Fujita Scale.  Either way, it was a real big bopper and one that the only real way to be safe is to get out of its way.  I betcha it was about a mile wide.

Tree Damage Looks Consistent with At Least EF-4

The dyanmics of low level convergence and upper level divergence has shifted east and is not nearly as pronounced so I suspect the events on Sunday on the Southeast Coast of the US won’t be as spectacular.  The parent low is also lurking back in the Ohio Valley where it will provide cold air aloft that will produce clouds, showers and gusty winds after a sunny morning start on Sunday.  It’s so pokey, showers and clouds will probably be around on Monday followed by a secondary low moving through on Tuesday brining another threat of rain and showers.   It will be cool before we get some sunshine midweek and a warming trend thereafter for the rest of the week.  Next Sunday may be a time of some action, but its too far out to say for certain. Hopefully, if we do see some storms next weekend it will be after Derby.

Harry Towne: Great American Hero, Ordinary Citizen
March 19, 2010

Iwo Jima Memorial Represents the Extraordinary Effort, Courage and Sacrifice of Ordinary Americans Serving a Cause Greater Than Themselves

Joe Rosenthal's Famous Photo from Iwo Jima Feb 23 1945...but the battle was far from over

On This Date in History:  There are several small volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean.  As of June 18, 2007, one of those islands became known as Iwo To.   The name means “Sulpher” which apparently is also what Iwo Jima means.  But, according to USA Today, after the success of the Clint Eastwood Films, Flags of our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima, the Japanese decided to change the name back to Iwo To, which had been what the civilians had called it before the war.  The locals were happy that their island had been remembered, but for some reason, they didn’t like the name.  The Americans held the island until 1968 when the United States returned it to Japan and now it’s home to about 400 Japanese soldiers.  Those “locals” don’t even live there anymore. 

Over 26,000 people died fighting for this 8 sq mile island

Anyway, in 1944 the Americans had gained control of the Mariana Islands which gave them a place from which to make direct bombing raids on the Japanese mainland with B-29’s.  However, the proximity of the 8 square mile island was such that the Japanese staged several rather destructive raids on B-29 bases around the Pacific.  So, that made Iwo Jima a target for US invasion.  The small island is made up of tough, ignatious rock and features the cone of what is thought to be an extinct volcano that rises about 550 feet above sea level.  With 21,000 Japanese defenders, it made for a natural fortress.  The Americans had bombed it often from the last part of 1944 through early 1945 but the Japanese use of the island’s geography rendered much of that bombing ineffective.  So, on February 19, 1945 the US Marine Corps sent 3 divisions onto the volcanic shores following a 3 day naval bombardment. (numerous videos from History.com)

Marines Received Heavy Fire After Hitting the Beach

The battle of Iwo Jima lasted 37 days:  Over a month for 8 square miles.  The Japanese strategy involved using the deep fortified bunkers dug in the volcanic rock to withstand all of the bombs and naval gunfire  the US could muster and then called for no Japanese survivors.  In other words, defend the island to the death.  And that’s exactly what happened as the Japanese were fighting on home soil that was only 650 miles from Tokyo.  Japanese commander Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi was a seasoned and dedicated leader who called on his men to kill 10 Americans before they were killed.  The fighting was horrific and while the Americans made some headway, the going was extremely slow.  By the time it was over, more than 6000 Americans had given their lives while 20,000 of the Japanese defenders were killed. 

With Enemy Holding High Ground of Hill 362, Even Off the Front Lines Rifle and Mortar Fire Was Heavy. Towne Was on the Front Line

One of the Americans in the fight was Harry Towne of Madison, Wisconsin.  He was a corporal who, on February 27, 1945 led his Company I, Third Battalion, Twenty-Seventh Marines, FIFTH Marine Division against a fortified enemy position guarding the approach to Hill 362.  In the successful assault, squad leader Towne was wounded as he and his men negotiated the pill boxes and caves defended by men who held the high ground.  Very tough.  In the back and forth of battle, the Japanese made a strong counter attack and Towne, though wounded, directed his men with hand signals and by voice.  Towne remained exposed to withering Japanese fire and tossed grenades from his position.  He did not retreat.  For his extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, Corporal Towne received the Navy Cross as described in his citation issued by President Truman.

Catholic Chaplain Offers Communion Amidst the Battle

The citation says much about Towne but doesn’t really mention much about his wound.  But, a letter he wrote to his mother on this date in 1945 reminds us that the stories of history are filled with people.  They have dreams and hopes and loves like everyone else.  Some are allowed to go on to live thier lives while others have a destiny that ends with the final words written about them.  In this case, Harry Towne lived to tell his own story:

“Dear Mom,

I don’t know if you have heard that I was wounded or not Mom.  I asked a Chaplain to write you, so you probably know about it.

I am coming along fine now and expect to be in the States before long.  I was wounded quite badly, Mother, but the Navy Medical Corps will fix me up like new again.  In a year or less I shall be able to walk just as before.

Don’t let this be a shock to you, Mother, I will be in almost as good shape as before now that they have these new artificial limbs.  Yes, Mother, I have lost my right leg, but it isn’t worrying me a bit.  I shall receive a pension for the rest of my life and with the new artificial limb, you can hardlytell anything is wrong. 

I lost my leg on the front lines of Iwo Jima on February 27, but have been moved around so much I couldn’t write.  I would like to write to Alma, but somehow I can’t force myself to do it.  You write and tell her, Mother.  I’ll try to write to her later on.

Don’t worry, Mom, the war for me is ended and I should be see you by fall. 

Love, [Harry]” 

 (Letters of the Century: America 1900-1999. Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler, ed. Random House, New York: 1999, pg 308)

Litter Bearers Risked Their Lives to Evacuate Brave Men Like Harry Towne

While Harry Towne was trying to reassure his mother and show a positive outlook, you can hear his anguish with how he struggles in even writing about his condition.  His frequent use of “Mother” shows that he is writing much as if he were speaking to her on the phone, searching for the right words to say.   His true feelings about his fate are revealed when he admits that he cannot bring himself to write to tell Alma, whom we presume is a wife or sweetheart.  This simple note reveals that this man suffered an injury so severe that his leg had to be amputated yet he perservered under extreme conditions to serve his country and support his men.  It also shows that behind the heroic tales of the American soldier in World War II, were ordinary American citizens who, while serving a cause larger than themselves, did extraordinary things.  We owe them a debt of gratitude.  I’d like to think that all American citizens are capable of making the same sacrifice if called today.  As an individual, you will have to determine if your devotion to country could lead you to follow the example of Harry Towe if called.

What a Difference a Day Makes. No NAM Snow Sunday AM

Weather  Bottom Line:  Thursday morning the models did a huge flop…which is why a forecast can be a flop if you start chortling about snow 5 days prior to the potential event.  I probably said too much about that yesterday and did not emphasize that the variables involved were many.  There had been a consistency though for days regarding the solution.  I recognize that the same level of uncertainty remains even with though new model runs of Thursday morning were almost identical.   That variability still shows up with later runs as they have changed a bit again.

What happened to the GFS Snow Sunday Morning?

What they did was instead of digging a big trof down with a cold front and running a low up along the front to give wrap around snow behind the boundary, they made the southern low cut off from the main jet stream and the general trof lifted north.  In the later runs of the day, the kinda started inching back to their initial solution with the trof staying in place for a longer duration but just prior to the front’s arrival in the Ohio Valley, then it cut off the low and ran it up over the Ohio Valley.  In fact, the Canadian model doesn’t fully cut off the low until it’s almost on top of our area.  So..what to do.  How about wait and see what happens?  That’s really all one can do. 

Weather Dunce

All along, intuitively it seemed unlikely that we’d get snow as the air wasn’t that cold and the trof not that deep.  But…it was there.  Now, the problem is that the models suddenly shifted to a completely new solution and then followed that up with something in between.  Often, when an event is on the way, the models are set on a game plan, change it suddenly and then when it all shakes out, it ends up being what was called for in the first place. My guess is that regardless of the particulars, we will be 40’s on Sunday and Monday.  The initial scenario of 30’s is still possible but it would seem the cautious approach of not even mentioning that potential until we got closer to the day was the wise move.  I get the dunce cap for that.  After a string of victories…humility came calling.  But..whatever..Friday will be lovely with highs nearing 70 and clouds increasing Saturday will be the only damper on a day in the upper 60’s to near 70.  Rain will still be likely on Saturday night and Sunday with a possible t’storm or two.  And the temperatures will still rebound by midweek.  As for snow…we’ll just have to wait and see…just in case.

Pancho Villa and the Ides of March
March 15, 2010

Doroteo Arango Said, "Et tu, Uncle Sam" On the Ides of March

Caesar's Last Moments with Marlon Brando Looking on March 15, 44 BC

On This Date in History:   It’s March 15.  If it weren’t for William Shakespeare, most people would probably have never heard of the Ides of March.  Of course, the Ides of March is when Julius Caesar was stabbed to death my several members of the Roman Senate.  Even now, most people probably don’t even know that there are ides of other months.  Believe it or not, there have been other significant events of the day.

Doroteo Arango

In 1878, Doroteo Arango was born in Mexico.  Through his early years, he witnessed the ascent of the wealthy in Mexico and the difficulties of the poor.  Conditions have improved since Arango’s early days but, even today, the Mexico class structure is one in which nearly 25% of the population is in poverty with a 2008 per capita income of less than $10,000. (World Bank Data)  However, the unemployment rate in 2008 was just 3 percent.  To make things worse for the Arangos,   the patriarch of the family died when Doroteo was 15 and he became a sharecropper to support his mother and siblings.   In 1894, the 16-year-old Doroteo returned from a day in the fields to find the owner of the hacienda attempting to sexually assault his 12-year-old sister.  So, the teenager grabbed a pistol and shot the wealthy owner.  That sent the teenager on a life of eluding the law.

Villa Spent Much of His Life on A Horse On the Run

He went to the mountains and after a couple of years of difficult survival, he joined up with a group of bandits and he quickly became thier leader.  They stole cattle, robbed various forms of transit carrying money and generally committed crimes against the wealthy.   By giving some of the spoils of their trade to the poor, Arango and his compadres saw themselves as modern day Robin Hoods as did many in the general population.  Authorities, however, viewed them as nothing but hoods and stepped up the attempts to apprehend Arango and the banditos. 

Heroic Image of Pancho Villa

As his imfamy rose, it seemed like a good time to create an alias.  Now, some say that Arango took the name of a fellow bandit he had met along his journey.  Others say that the name Francisco Villa was a derivative of his grandfather’s last name.  But, either way, Doroteo Arango became Francisco Villa.  Since, “Pancho” is a popular nickname for “Francisco,” Franciso Villa quickly became Pancho Villa.  Now, while the authorities were not too enthused at Villa’s propensity for avoiding capture and escaping seemingly impossible odds, one group took an interest.  That would be a political group of revolutionaries who thought that Villa had the skill set to lead guerilla operations.  Porfirio Diaz was the President of Mexico and many of the poor blamed their plight on him.  His political opponent, Francisco Madero, came to the forefront on a promise of change.  He called for big changes to help the poor and, presumably, adversely affect the rich.  That seemed like a good idea to Villa so he agreed to be a leader of Madero’s revolutionary army.

End For Villa Not Pretty or Heroic

He did pretty well for a couple of years but abrutly resigned his position in 1911 following a dispute with another revolutionary commander, Pascual Orozco, Jr.  Madero became Mexican president and, not long after he resigned his position, Villa got married and tried  to settle down to a life of normalcy.  But, that was not to be.  Seems that Orozco was not included in the new president’s governmental plans so, he started his own revolution in 1912.  Villa agreed to join forces with a general in support of Madero but the general accused Villa of stealing his horse and ordered him executed.  While, Villa escaped the gallows with a reprieve, he was left in prison for 6 months until at the end of 1912 when he did what he was good at doing: he escaped.

Villa and Pershing in 1914...Before They Became Enemies

Now, this general, General Victoriano Huerta, switched allegiances and turned against Madero.  On George Washington’s birthday in 1913, Huerta killed Madero and named himself as president.  As part of the pattern, Villa joined up with another person opposed with the president.  This time it was Venustiano Carranza and Villa had a string of victories across much of North Mexico where he redistributed land and tried to stablize the economy.  I dunno…maybe Carranza got jealous or maybe he was afraid of the power his partner was gaining…but for some reason, Villa and Carranza went from friends to enemies and a Civil War between the two factions continued for a couple of years.  Enter Uncle Sam, who decided it was time to support Carranza after initially backing Villa.  Villa responded on March 9, 1916 by crossing the border and attacking Columbus, New Mexico.  Now, that old arbitor of peace and law, President Woodrow Wilson, was not about to let the first attack on American soil since the War of 1812 go unanswered on his watch.  So, on this date in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered the invasion of Mexico by 12,000 US troops led by General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing in an attempt to kill or capture Villa.

Recruiting Poster to Join US Army to Capture Villa

   As part of the American Expedition was a young George S. Patton, Jr.  After a year, the United States Army failed to capture Villa and Carranza was assassinated.  Interim Mexican President Adolfo de la Huerta negotiated a peace that involved Villa retiring to a nice hacienda in Chihuahua.  Villa enjoyed himself until in 1923, he was gunned down while sitting in his car.  They made a movie about the Death of Pancho Villa in 1974

So, you see, in the early 20th century, the United States invaded a sovereign nation to kill or apprehend an individual who had orchestrated and participated in an attack on US soil.  While history really doesn’t repeat itself, the early 20th century and the early 21st century do have some interesting parallels.

NAM calls for clearing at 700 mb by 2pm Monday

Weather Bottom Line:  Everything is pretty much running down the line.  The weekend was as gloomy as I said it was and the temperatures in the 40’s felt a little chillier now than it would have a couple of weeks ago because last week we had highs in the low 70’s.  Now, the low behaved as expected and therefore there is no reason to think that it won’t move off to the northeast with clouds over our area on Monday before things improve.  In general, we should begin to warm up slowly as the week progresses but, there is one fly in the ointment.  Midweek, both the GFS and NAM call for an upper low to drop down, cut off from the main flow, over the Ohio Valley.  Its my guess that we may be a little cooler on St. Patrick’s Day than some forecasts suggest.  Otherwise, we move toward the 60 degree mark by the end of the week.  There is some indication of a trof late next weekend that may keep us in the 30’s on Sunday and some models are trying to throw out snow…though at this point, ground temperatures won’t support much accumulation and I’m not so sure we will get cold enough for it anyway.  But, it’s something to file away.

February 12th Significant For More than Lincoln
February 12, 2010

Abe Shares His Birthday with other notables, including Nit and Wit

Nit and Wit have a Full Bag of tricks for their 14th birthday

On This Date in History:  Everyone should know that today my two cats, Nit and Wit, turned 14 today and that the day marks the 201st anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.    In years past, this would have been a holiday but Congress decided that we had too  many holidays and so when they decided to give everyone the day off for Rev.  Martin Luther King’s birthday,  they felt like that they had to eliminate one.  So, they took Abe’s birthday and General Washington’s birthday of February 22nd and combined them to form President’s day which falls between Abe’s and George’s birthdays.  But, February 12th not only marks Abe’s birthday and Nit and Wit’s birthday, but also a couple of other notables were born on this date.

All thumbs up for Bill on February 12th

President Clinton got a rebirth of sorts on this date in 1999 and again this year.  The former president is recovering very nicely after going home on  February 12, 2010 following a scare.  On the previous day, he was rushed to the hospital after suffering from chest pains.  Doctors discovered a heart problem and quickly inserted a couple of stints.  Everyone keeps saying that our healthcare system needs to be fixed but, the fact that this procedure is relatively routine and Mr. Clinton went home the next day illustrates that the health care in this country is top shelf.  It’s the payment system that has flaws.  Anyway, it’s hard to say if Mr. Clinton is more grateful today or on this date in 1999, when his impeachment proceedings ended in an acquittal following a Senate trial and subsequent acquittal.  Remember, impeachment is the charge, not removal from office and, like Andrew Johnson before him, President Clinton lived to fight another day in the White House, much as he is doing now as a goodwill ambassador teaming with George W. Bush to help bring relief to Haiti.

Fierce Rivals Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain

On this date in 1934, basketball great Bill Russell was born in Monroe,Louisiana.  Bill Russell played for the Boston Celtics for 13 years and won 11 championships.  He even won as player-coach.  He was a 5 time league  MVP.  He is credited with changing the game with his defense so his offensive statistics,while impressive, will not be found at the top of too many all-time categories.  The league did not count blocked shots when he played but there is little doubt that, if they had, he very well may have been the all-time leader, even today.  His defense was so great that he was able to be more than a match for the great Wilt Chamberlain.  But, a little recognized fact regarding Russell is that he was not the number one pick in the NBA draft.  The Rochester Royals had the first pick but chose another player because the owner wouldn’t pay the $25,000 signing bonus that Russell was demanding.  Boston’s pick was way down the list so they traded two very good players to the St. Louis Hawks for the second draft pick.  The Hawks went on to win the NBA championship that year but they handed the Celtics a dynasty that would last more than a decade. 

Then there is an old favorite, Ben Cartwright.  He was the patriarch of the family that featured 3 sons from different mothers.  When Adam left to travel the world, a hired hand took his place, Candy.  Of course this is all fiction as I”m speaking of the TV show Bonanza that aired on NBC from 1959 to 1973.  If I recall, Bonanza was promoted heavily because,in the early days, it was one of (if not the first) prime time show in color and NBC wanted to promote NBC color in conjunction with its new peacock symbol.  Canadian born actor Lorne Greene was born on this date in 1915 and, while his character was ficticious, Greene said that he based the character on a real person: his father. 

Roy Hoping Ben Will Come to the Rescue

While Greene was a star in Earthquake with Chuck Heston and later starred  in Battlestar Galactica, which was a far stretch from his days roaming about the Ponderosa, it was a vehicle to introduce him to a whole new generation of young Ameircans.  Personally, I always liked the way that he, Hoss, Little Joe, Adam and later Candy always seemed to be in Virginia City bailing out Sheriff Roy Coffee, whom I think is tied with Sheriff Micah Torrance of Northfork as the worst sheriff in the old west. In Micah’s case, it was always Lucas McCain who was coming to the rescue.  Where would Micah be without “Lucas-boy” or Virginia City be without the Cartwrights?  Where would America be without “Pa” who lived in our living rooms as the stern but kind, Ben Cartwright on Bonanza.

National Weather Service Correctly Not Tipping It's Hand Just Yet

Fri 18Z GFS Bullish with 6-8 Inches Louisville and South Thru Midday Wed

Weather Bottom Line:  We are going to get snow.  The question is how much?  That’s a good question.  I’ve seen on TV anywhere from 2 inches to 8 inches.  I would say that the former is more likely than the latter but the truth will probably be somewhere in between.  Now, I must say, I don’t see how we did it, but we nudged to 33 for a few minutes on Friday.  The sun should be absent on Saturday and Sunday and Monday so I don’t see how we get above freezing on those days, but like before, if we do it won’t be by much or for long.  Early Saturday morning there may be some light snow showers or flurries. No big deal but it may be enough in some areas to create some slick spots Saturday morning. 

12Z Fri NAM Had 3-5 inches by Monday Evening but...

Now, this next guy is a little clipper system.  Typically, an “Alberta Clipper” is an area of low pressure that forms in Alberta, Canada and then moves pretty quickly down through the flow.  It usually moves quickly and since it originates over the land, doesn’t have a huge amount of moisture to work with.  The heaviest snow associated with a clipper is in a relatively narrow band just to the left of the track of the low.    So, the trick will be the track.  There are no models that take this low north of Louisville so that is why I know we will get some snow.  But, if it tracks too far south, then we get a little.  If it comes just right, then we get heavier snow.  There is no way to know for certain.  Some models want to have the narrow band of 4-6 inch totals down around E-town.  Others put it over Louisville.  I’ve seen some try to bring up to 8 inches by the time this is all over with on Tuesday or early Wednesday but its tough to get that much snow out of a system like this.   

Fri 18Z NAM Shifted Heaviest Snow Well South

The idea for  the bigger totals would be an inch on Saturday, 1-2 inches on Sunday and 4-6 on Monday.  I say nonsense to that.  We will probably get well below an inch on Saturday and the snow doesn’t get going again with the clipper until Sunday night.  I would think the most anyone gets would be 3-4 inches on Monday with perhaps a total of an inch for Monday night through Tuesday into Wednesday morning in the form of snow showers or flurries.  I don’t see how we get above freezing again until Thursday in advance of another system that may bring some messy rain/ice/snow for the end of next week.   But, we’ll deal with that later.

Bogus Movie Is Considered One of Greatest; Really a Scam
February 8, 2010

Idiotic Scene From "Historic" Birth of a Nation

Idiotic Scene From "Historic" Birth of a Nation

On This Date in History: First, on an interesting note relating to baseball and Bonds as well as a recent post, I found out that Hank Aaron’s birthday was February 5. The man he passed as the all time home run king, Babe Ruth, celebrated his birthday on February 6. That’s kinda unusual. Then, I got to thinking…which is dangerous…I had a post regarding the Great Baltimore Fire on Feb 7-8 1904. Speculation is that it started from a carelessly tossed cigarette or cigar. Now, Ruth would have just celebrated his 9th birthday and his father’s bar is located close by to where the fire started. I don’t think that Ruth had been sent away to St. Mary’s Orphanage when he was 9, so what about the possibility that the fire was started by the juvenile delinquent George Herman Ruth!

Griffith's KKK Saves The South from Reconstruction...Nonsense

Griffith's KKK Saves The South from Reconstruction...Nonsense

That would make a good story line for our feature of the day…Kentuckian David Wark Griffith.   He was born not far from Louisville in La Grange and became famous for the first full length feature film, Birth of a Nation. The film opened on this date in 1915 and Birth of a Nation is  widely regarded as historic and monumnetal and such. I could never figure out why because it’s stupid and it’s biased and racist and inaccurate. I believe that the notorieiity comes, not due to the content, but instead for the techniques that Griffith used and pioneered that gives the film its place in history.

Griffith was born in 1875 to an Ex-Confederate. Now, much of the nation today thinks of Kentucky as being in the South. But, when I moved here, I couldn’t believe I was moving so far north. I thought I was in Yankeeland. Kim Stevens is from Alabama and she married a guy from Louisville. Her family said that they thought they could accept that she was marrying a “Yankee.” People who are really in the South don’t think of Kentucky as being in the South. Oh…the anger I get from people about that. I tell people to move to Jackson, Mississippi if they want to find out what the South is like. I point out that about 25,000 served in the Confederacy from Kentucky while over 130,00o served in the Union. I point out that Louisville was home to the

Griffith's KKK Saves The Ladies! More Foolishness

Griffith's KKK Saves The Ladies! More Foolishness

Army of the Ohio and 75,000 Union Troops who were invited into the state by the legislature in late 1861. I point out that Louisville averages over 15 inches of snow a year and often gets below zero. I point out that St. Louis is exactly 250 miles due west, was a major city in a border state yet no one calls them the South. My thesis had to do with Loiusville’s true roots being with the North but that they purposely realigned themselves with the South for economic reasons after the war. That’s where the myth of the Kentucky Colonel comes from. Louisville had the only working railroad into the South after the war and wanted to capitalize economically for the rebuilding south and so they basically said, “why, we wuz with ya all the time boys!! Do business with us, not them Yankees!” Never mind that Braxton Bragg came into the state with an Army of 45, 000 hoping to get Kentuckians to join the Confederate cause. Kentuckians declined, leaving Bragg to refer to Kentuckians as a bunch of “shuffling middlemen.” Now, there were no book burnings, but Kentuckians simply left out all references to the North when they wrote the history of the state, specifically the Memorial History of Louisville to 1896. They had a whole section on the Southern Exposition but said not one word about the National Industrial Exposition that lasted twice as long. They made no reference to a huge event that became national in scope in 1885 celebrating the birthday of US Grant. It’s on Grant’s Tomb in the form of a plaque but is found nowhere (except my published article…Ohio Valley History Fall 2008… and thesis) because they wanted no one to find out about it. It messed up their story.

Protesters Were Pretty Close To the Mark

Protesters Were Pretty Close To the Mark

Well, DW Griffith was part of the mythmaking when he made Birth of a Nation. For the first month of its release, it was called The Clansmen and was a biased view of the Civil War and Reconstruction. It portrayed African Americans in an awful light and as evil and bad. It created the illusion of the Ku Klux Klan as some heroic figures. Now, US Grant had crushed the Klan in the 1870’s. But, not long after Griffith’s stupid movie, the Klan re-emerged to be a scurge on the land for decades to come. There is little doubt that Griffith’s film helped sway public support toward the reborn group that became “anti” all sorts of things, not just African Americans. It’s an idiotic film. It was censored in some cities and sparked riots in many northern cities. The newly formed NAACP tried to have it banned. Griffith did agree to cut out some particularly offensive scenes. But, the film itself is largely historically a fraud and I suppose it set the stage for historic movies to come as most Hollywood historically based films are not accurate…don’t believe everything you see.

Fairbanks, Pickford, Chaplin and Griffith: Founders of United Artists in 1919

There are some interesting things about the film though was that Griffith began the idea of feature length films. He also was the first to make actors rehearse before shooting scenes, thus increasing the quality of the acting. Griffith helped pioneer the use of zooms and close ups and panning camera shots. He also had breakthroughs in editing techniques that are still used today. His work with the actors helped launch the big careers of people like Mary Pickford, Lionel Barrymore and Lillian Gish. He later went on to form United Artists with Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. So, Griffith does have a place in film history….just don’t buy his work of propaganda and foolishness AS history…its nonsense.

12Z GFS Called For over 5 inches through Wed

I Told You So! (at least I think so)

Weather Bottom Line:  Well, I’m breaking out Colonel Klink because this is pretty close to an “I told you so” as I’ve had in awhile.  Then again, maybe I should wait until this event actually happens before I claim victory because it’s still not a slam dunk.  But, I like Werner Klemper so there you go.  What am I prematurely crowing about?  First off,  I’ve been saying for days that I didn’t see how we were going to get above freezing today or any other day this week.  At 5pm we touched 31 in Louisville.  Hmmm…I suppose it’s still possible that we move warmer but at this point I claim victory. Then, I’ve been telling you since last Wednesday that we could see a pretty decent snow on Tuesday and Wednesday.   Then, I let you know that some data was trying to bring in rain in between the snow, thus decreasing our snow total.   Well, the morning run from both the GFS and NAM both call for all snow and run something more than 5 inches.  OK, now the reason why I may be jumping the shark with Colonel Klink. 

12Z NAM called for over 4 inches of snow

The storm coming has some similarities to the one  a few days ago in that we have a southern and northern stream somewhat in sync.  The southern system though is farther south and it is driving the warmer air farther north.  Graphically, almost every model almost every run since last Wednesday has put the 500mb to 100omb thickness line south of the area, but close at times. Yet, numerically, the past several days both the GFS and NAM were insisting on some snow followed by rain and then closing with snow.  But, the 12Z run of both models both kept Louisville as all snow and both came in with an excess of 5 inches.  Now, the 18Z NAM is backing off with just under 3 inches.  I’ve been thinking all along that we would get all snow but the rain/snow line will be close…say around E’town and that’s not far from Louisville. 

18Z NAM Snow backed off to about 3 inches

So, I say the same thing I’ve said all along. Plan on snow beginning after midnight early Tuesday morning and continuing with perhaps 3-4 inches.  Then, things should back off but then pick up again lightly for Tuesday night into the first part of Wednesday as the northern system behaves more as an upper low to the parent southern low; again very similar to last week.  I would think that this secondary guy may bring an additional inch or so.  An obvious fly in the ointment would be if that rain/snow line drifts just a shade farther north.  The earth is 25, 000 miles around and so a difference of just 30 miles is a small fraction of the world’s surface but is a huge difference regarding snow totals.  If we do in fact get a little rain between periods of snow.  Not only will Colonel Klink have egg on his face but also the driving conditions will be more difficult as icing may become an issue. 

Chuck Knows Snow, but he's not tellin'

The other potential problem with a 5-6 inch snow would be in the event we stay all snow but there are big thunderstorms along the Gulf Coast, that may serve to limit some of the moisture coming up from the South.  And you know what?  The  Storm Prediction Center does indeed call for possible thunderstorms from East Texas to south Mississippi through Tuesday morning.  So, it’s not that far fetched.  They don’t have a severe risk but I’m telling you, some decent storms are possible and I would have concern that it messes up our snow potential even if the rain snow line behaves itself and stays south.  Now, if those storms don’t materialize (the probably will to some degree) and we do stay all snow, then maybe we’d get more than 5 inches…but I doubt that will happen.  The other issue is temperatures.  I’ve seen some national forecasts call for highs above freezing on Friday through the weekend.  I don’t get it.  Well, I suppose that they are coming around and have lowered that high on Friday to 32 but they have teens for Friday morning then mid 30’s for highs through the weekend. I still don’t get it.  I just don’t see how we get above freezing through Sunday.  And, I’ll tell you what…the Wednesday winds should have backed off by Friday morning and if we get clearing for that night..even partial clearing…it will be colder than the teens.

Regardless, its still a very difficult forecast and there will be great differences in snow totals between the southern part of Kentuckiana and the northern part.  Somewhere in between is the rain snow line and to say for certain exactly where it will be is above my pay grade and I believe above that of any human….except maybe Chuck Heston and he’s not tellin’.