Archive | May 2015

Big Ben

May 31st Celebrates Big Ben

The Elizabeth Tower (previously called the Clock Tower), named in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II in her Diamond Jubilee year, is more popularly known as Big Ben and on May 31st 1859, it went into full operation.

Despite being one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions, the interior of the tower is not open to overseas visitors, though United Kingdom residents are able to arrange tours (well in advance) through Members of Parliament.

However, the tower has no lift, so those escorted must climb the 334 limestone stairs to the top, so if you’re interested in taking the climb. I hope you’re in good shape before you start.

The clock and dials were designed by Augustus Pugin set inside an iron frame, which supports 312 pieces of opal glass, rather like a stained-glass window. Some of the glass pieces may be removed for inspection of the hands. The surround of the dials is gilded. At the base of each clock dial in gilt letters is the Latin inscription: DOMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM PRIMAM, which means, “O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First.”

The clock’s movement is famous for its reliability. The designers were the lawyer and amateur horologist Edmund Beckett Denison, and George Airy, the Astronomer Royal. Construction was entrusted to clockmaker Edward John Dent; after his death in 1853 his stepson Frederick Dent completed the work, in 1854, but the tower was not complete until 1859.

The pendulum is installed within an enclosed windproof box beneath the clock room, and weighs in at 660 pounds and beats every 2 seconds.

In 2008 a survey of 2,000 people found that the tower was the most popular landmark in the United Kingdom. It has also been named as the most iconic film location in London, but how did Big Ben arrive at its nick name?

The origin of Big Ben’s name is probably rooted to a fellow by the name of Sir Benjamin Hall. Hall was reportedly a large man (6 ft. 4 in. or 1.93 m, with a girth to match) and over saw the construction of the clock tower.

On the side of the great bell there was also supposedly the inscription “Sir Benjamin Hall MP Chief Commissioner of Works” in his honor, so the workers and others took to calling the bell, “Big Ben”.

Another possibility in the parliaments of our time could have been a fellow by the name of Benjamin Caunt, a very popular heavyweight boxing champion in the 1850s in London, who was also nicknamed “Big Ben”.

As to why the clock tower was built in the first place, in 1834, a fire destroyed the Palace of Westminster then the seat of the British government leaving only a few parts of the palace standing. The next year, with reconstruction well on its way, Parliament opted to include a clock tower in the redesign.

In lieu of the today’s story, one of my favorite clock quotes is from an anonymous author, “Unlike clocks, hours have no reverse motion.”

In other words, it’s not the future your afraid of when time creeps in, it’s repeating the past that makes you anxious, which holds no reverse motion to change things around in your favor, which means stop looking at the clock and enjoy your life while you can.

Written and Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio


Madison Square Garden

May 30th Celebrates Madison Square Garden

On May 30th 1879, William Vanderbilt renamed New York City’s Gilmore’s Garden to Madison Square Garden.

Before we go on with today’s story, let’s take a peek at who William Vanderbilt was.

Do you remember during the 1970’s when Gloria Vanderbilt came out with her designer jeans?

Gloria Vanderbilt, born on February 20th 1924, is an American artist, author, actress heiress and socialite, and is member of the Vanderbilt family of New York, and is the mother of CNN television anchor Anderson Cooper.

The Vanderbilt family with its Dutch origin was prominent during the Gilded Age. Their success began with the shipping and railroad empires of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the family expanded into various other areas of industry and philanthropy.

William Henry “Billy” Vanderbilt was an American businessman and philanthropist. He was the eldest son of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. Cornelius Vanderbilt built his wealth on building and designing the Harlem Rail Road, the Hudson River Rail Road, and Grand Central Terminal, since his forte was on shipping.

Since the Vanderbilt’s were already established in New York, is why the City of New York, allowed William Vanderbilt to rename Gilmore’s Garden to Madison Square Garden, but why was it called Gilmore’s Garden in the first place?

In 1876 the open-air arena was leased to band leader Patrick Gilmore, who renamed it “Gilmore’s Garden” had presented flower shows, beauty contests, music concerts, and the first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show to New York City.

Who was Patrick Gilmore?

Patrick Gilmore was an Irish-born American composer who lived and worked in the United States. Gilmore wrote the lyrics to the song called, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” which was published under the name Louis Lambert.

The next to lease the space was W. M. Tileston, who was an official of the dog show. He attempted to attract a more genteel crowd with tennis, a riding school and an ice carnival.

After the death of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who owned the site, his grandson William Henry Vanderbilt took back control and announced the renaming of the arena to “Madison Square Garden” on May 31, 1879, the reason it was called Madison Square Garden, is because the property was located at East 26th Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan.

In lieu of today’s event, I pretty much covered everything, which gives you a ball park eye’s view on how this historical monument became what it is known today.

Written and Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio

Tom Bradley

May 29th Celebrates Tom Bradley

On May 29th 1973, Tom Bradley was elected as the first black mayor of the City of Los Angeles, but who was Tom Bradley before he became mayor of Los Angeles?

Tom Bradley was born on December 29th 1917, and was the son of sharecropped and grandson of slaves. He moved away from the South when he was about seven years old to Los Angeles, because Los Angeles was considered the, “Promise Land,” providing the hope for a better life, from lynching’s and urban riots that were forced upon Negro’s in the South.

The city of Los Angeles offered Bradley the possible dream of a life filled with hope, and enduring belief that he could change the impossible in how white people felt about blacks.

Raised by a single mother, Tom Bradley challenged every obstacle placed in his way. He was an ambitious student, attended UCLA, became a record-breaking track star and team captain, and was one of a small group of athletes that broke the color barrier in college sports.

He served as a Los Angeles Police officer for 21 years, reaching the rank of Lieutenant, the highest position an African American could achieve at that time.

When covert racism prevented him from advancing his career, Bradley attended Southwestern Law School at night, passed the bar the first time, and became an attorney. With his law degree in hand, he resigned from the LAPD.

While he was a police officer, Bradley became actively involved in politics, notably the Democratic Minority Conference and the California Democratic Council, a progressive, liberal reform group with a racially mixed membership.

In the 1960s, America was polarized by race and mired in increasing social and political turmoil. A conservative reaction led to the election of Sam Yorty as Mayor of Los Angeles in 1961.

Four years later in 1965, the Watts Riots in South Central Los Angeles ignited a wave of large-scale unrests throughout the nation and signaled an alarm that change was needed.

In 1968, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy were assassinated within months of each other; anti-Vietnam war demonstrations escalated; and more than 20,000 students in five East LA schools walked out, protesting racial inequality.

It was in this atmosphere that two-term City Councilman Tom Bradley decided to challenge Sam Yorty in 1969 for Mayor of Los Angeles.

In 1973, the paranoia in America was no longer at a fever pitch as violent uprisings and protests subsided. Voters put aside their fears and handed Tom Bradley a solid victory. Tom Bradley made history as the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city with a white majority.

He was successful because he continued to build upon his trans-racial coalition – the most durable and significant in American modern history, and when he won, it opened up a new future for race relations nationwide.

In 1992, Los Angeles exploded into three days of civil unrest and shattered the illusion that a black mayor could end inequality and hopelessness. Bradley did not seek a sixth term and announced his retirement in 1993. Three years later, he suffered a stroke, which left him partially paralyzed and unable to speak for the rest of his life. In 1998, he died of a heart attack. Tom Bradley was 80 years old.

In lieu of today’s story one of my favorite quotes from the late Tom Bradley is when he said, “The only thing that will stop you from fulfilling your dreams is you.”

Don’t stop dreaming, because some day your dreams might change the way people think about this world we all live in, have a wonderful weekend.

Written and Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio

Weird Al Yankovic

May 28th Celebrates Weird Al Yankovic

On this day May 28th Weird Al Yankovic left his job as a mail clerk, after signing a contract for his first album.

Alfred Matthew Yankovic known as Weird Al Yankovic was born on October 23rd 1959, in Downey California, but was raised in the city of Lynwood.

Where did the last name Yankovic come from?

Alfred’s father was born in Kansas City Missouri, and was of Yugoslavian descent, and began living in California after serving in World War II, his father believed “the key to success,” was doing a living in whatever makes you happy, and often reminded his young son Alfred of his philosophy in life.

Alfred’s mother Mary who was Italian of English decent had come to California from Kentucky and gave birth to Alfred ten years later, after meeting his father.

Yankovic began kindergarten a year earlier than most children, and he skipped second grade. “My classmates seemed to think I was some kind of rocket scientist so I was labeled a nerd early on,” he recalls.

Yankovic first accordion lesson, which sparked his career in music, was on the day before his sixth birthday. A door-to-door salesman traveling through Lynwood offered the Yankovic parents a choice of accordion or guitar lessons at a local music school.

Yankovic claims the reason his parents chose accordion over guitar was “they figured there should be at least one more accordion-playing Yankovic in the world”, referring to Frankie Yankovic, to whom he is not related directly too.

Frank John “Frankie” Yankovic was a Grammy Award-winning polka musician. Known as “America’s Polka King,” Yankovic was considered the premier artist to play in the Slovenian style during his long career.

After Yankovic graduated in 1975 from Lynwood High he was also valedictorian of his senior class.

After high school, he went on to attend California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo where he earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture.

During Yankovic sophomore year as an architecture student at Cal Poly, he became a disc jockey at KCPR the university’s radio station. Yankovic said he had originally been nicknamed Weird Al by fellow students and “took it on professionally” as his persona for the station.

Trying to make ends meet during his sophomore year, he became a mail clerk, and in the mid 1970’s, shortly before his senior year, “My Sharona” by The Knack was on the charts and Yankovic took his accordion into the restroom across the hall from the radio station to take advantage of the echo chamber acoustics and recorded a parody titled, “My Bologna.”

Today’s YouTube clip brought to you by user name Weird Al Master 27, is the recorded version of Weird Al Yankovic playing the song, “My Bologna,” in the bathroom.

Yankovic sent the recorded tape and sent his song to the popular radio show called, “The Doctor Demento Show,” who played Yankovic tape on the air.

After getting an overwhelming response, Yankovic met The Knack after doing a show at his college, and introduced himself as the author of “My Bologna”.

The Knack’s lead singer, Doug Fieger who sang the song, “My Sharona,” said he liked the song “My Bologna,” and suggested that Capitol Records vice president Rupert Perry release it as a single, which is when Yankovic left his job as mail clerk, to purse his new career as a songwriter, parodist and the rest is history.

Written and Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio

The Ball Point Pen

May 27th Celebrates -The Ball Point Pen

Guess who invented the ball point pen, give up?

A fellow by the name of Laszio Biro patented the ball point pen on May 27th 1943, but who was Laszio Biro?

Laszio was editor of a paper in Budapest called, “Hongrie-Magyarország,” in Hungary, and he also was interested in painting and sculpture.

One day while working with several tiny balls, he accidentally spilled a bottle of ink. Watching the balls track the ink across the table gave him the idea for his invention.

When the ink spilled onto a newspaper he noticed the ink dried quickly, leaving the paper dry and smudge-free. He tried using the same ink in a fountain pen but found that the tip didn’t flow correctly, as it was too viscous. Working with his brother György a chemist, he developed a new tip consisting of a ball that was free to turn in a socket, and as it turned it would pick up ink from a cartridge and then roll to deposit it on the paper.

Biró continued working to design an ink of the right consistency, first assisted by his brother György, and later in workshops owned by the firm of Goy and Kovalszky he reduced the size of the ball, so the pen could be used for writing. He first presented his pens at the Budapest International Fair in 1931.

In 1943 both brothers moved Argentina and filed another patent on June 10th and were later called, the Biro Pens of Argentina, also known as the birome.

The new pen design along with his new name caught the attention of Royal Air Force crews who used the pen and realized it worked much better than a fountain pen at high altitudes.

Today’s YouTube video clip from user name Stuff of Genius from the popular television series called, How Stuff Works, gives you an idea how the ball pen evolved through history.

The new design of the pen was licensed for production in the United Kingdom, and it 1945 Marcel Bich who owned a factory in Paris brought the patent from the two brothers, which soon became the main product of his Bic Company.

Alas all is not forgotten in who really designed the pen. Laszio Biro died in Buenos Aires in 1985; Argentina’s Inventors Day has always been celebrated on his birthday, which is September 29th.

So the next time you steal office supply at work, remember this little story how the ball pen came about by accident, and how one’s my vision took that little accident and made into something we all use on a daily basis.

Written and Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio


May 26th Celebrates Dracula

The first copies of the classic vampire novel Dracula, by Irish writer Bram Stoker, appear in London bookshops on this day in 1897.

Stoker was bedridden with an unknown illness until he started school at the age of seven, when he made a complete recovery. A childhood invalid, Stoker grew up to become a football (soccer) star at Trinity College, Dublin. After graduation, he got a job in civil service at Dublin Castle, where he worked for the next 10 years while writing drama reviews for the Dublin Mail on the side.

In this way, Stoker met the well-respected actor Sir Henry Irving, who hired him as his manager. Stoker stayed in the post for most of the next three decades, writing Irving’s voluminous correspondence for him and accompanying him on tours in the United States. Over the years, Stoker began writing a number of horror stories for magazines, and in 1890 he published his first novel, The Snake’s Pass.

Stoker would go on to publish 17 novels in all, but it was his 1897 novel Dracula that eventually earned him literary fame and became known as a masterpiece of Victorian-era Gothic literature. Written in the form of diaries and journals of its main characters, Dracula is the story of a vampire who makes his way from Transylvania a region of Eastern Europe now in Romania to Yorkshire, England, and preys on innocents there to get the blood he needs to live.

Today’s YouTube film clip shared by user name Hotau Slayers Channel is the movie created by Francis Ford Coppola from the Bram Stroker book adaption of Dracula.

Upon its release, Dracula enjoyed moderate success, though when Stoker died in 1912 none of his obituaries even mentioned Dracula by name. Sales began to take off in the 1920s, when the novel was adapted for Broadway. Dracula mania kicked into even higher gear with Universal’s blockbuster 1931 film, directed by Tod Browning and starring the Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi. Dozens of vampire-themed movies, television shows and literature followed, though Lugosi, with his exotic accent, remains the quintessential Count Dracula.

In lieu of today’s story, find something you can sink your teeth. Now that you know how the fictional character Dracula had came about.

Written and Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio

Mike Myers

May 25th Celebrates Mike Myers

Who remembers the famous words from the character named Doctor Evil, I’ll give you a hint, “I’ve been frozen for thirty years, okay? Throw me a frickin’ bone here! I’m the boss! Need the info.”

Today’s info is about the remarkable man of mystery who created the character of Doctor Evil, known to all as Mike Myers.

Mike Myers was born on May 25th 1963, in Scarborough, Ontario, the son of English-born parents Eric Myers an insurance agent, and his wife, Alice E. Hind an office supervisor and a veteran of the Royal Air Force.

Myers began performing in commercials at age two, then at age ten he made a commercial for British Columbia Hydro Electric, with Saturday Night Live cast member Gilda Radner playing his mother.

“Yeah Baby!”

Smitten for Gilda Radner a few months later, according to Myers, his brother was teasing him about his “girlfriend” Linda Radner being on some stupid American Show called, “Saturday Night Live.”

Myers swore that one day he also would be on that show called Saturday Night Live, to his brother, after doing a slew of commercials and comedy shows.

The original 1975 cast of “Saturday Night Live,” officially known on-air as “The Not Ready For Prime-Time Players,” which included Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris and Chevy Chase.

In 1989, Myers auditioned for the popular comedy show Saturday Night Live and quickly won over the show’s creator Lorne Michaels. He joined the cast as a featured player that same year, working alongside such other comedic talents as Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman and Kevin Nealon.

He later gained success and fame as a central cast member of Saturday Night Live, creating such characters as Linda Richman and Sprockets.

Today’s YouTube video clip shared by user name, Melissa Biddle is the character Mike Myers created named Linda Richman. A talk show host from Long Island New York called, “Coffee Talk.”

Myers left SNL after the 1994-95 seasons. For a few years, he worked on a new idea. Not long after, he incorporated the swinging 1960s and spy thrillers of England to create Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.

Mike Myers father was an important influence on Myers. He shared his love of British comedy with his sons, by waking them up late at night to watch episodes of Monty Python or Benny Hill, which is how he came up with the idea for Austin Powers.

In lieu of Mike Myer’s birthday one of my favorite quotes from Mike Myers is when he said, “My father was always a straight up funny guy. He was silly. He was inspiration.”

Celebrate today’s man of mystery by remembering one of the characters Mike Myers portrayed, which made you laugh and forget all your troubles, as we wish Mike Myers a Happy Birthday.

Written and Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio