Archive | June 2015

Lena Horne

June 30th Celebrates Lena Horne

Does anyone out there remember Lena Horne?

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born on June 30th 1917, and was an American singer, dancer, actress, and civil rights activist.

Horne joined the chorus of the Cotton Club at the age of sixteen and became a nightclub performer before moving to Hollywood, where she had small parts in numerous movies.

The Cotton Club was a New York City night club located first in the Harlem neighborhood on 142nd St & Lenox Ave from 1923 to 1935. If you’re not familiar with what was the Cotton Club.

The club was a whites-only establishment even though it featured many of the best black entertainers of the era including: musicians Cab Calloway, Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, and Fats Waller.

Lena Horne was born in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn; both sides of her family were a mixture of European American, Native American, and African-American descent.

Her mother, Edna Louise Scottron daughter of inventor Samuel R. Scottron, was an actress with a black theatre troupe and traveled extensively. Scottron’s maternal grandmother, Amelie Louise Ashton, was a Senegalese slave. Her father had gambling problem and left Lena’s life when she was three years old.

After joining the Cotton Club, Lena’s Horne’s career took off, because she had a way of grabbing her audience by the way she sung.

Today’s YouTube video clip from user name PBS News Hour remembers Lena Horne, as it unravels a short bio on this legendary icon.

Lena Horne was rock in real life, and lost her father, husband and son in the same year.

She was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6282 Hollywood Boulevard; and for Motion Pictures at 6250 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

She was a lifelong liberal Democrat who was active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. She worked with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on anti-lynching laws and during the John F. Kennedy administration she was a frequent guest at the White House.

As you remember Lena Horn today, one of my favorite songs from her which is her signature trademark is the song called, “Stormy Weather.”

However I liked to end this story tribute of her birthday by sharing one of my favorite quotes from Lena Horne, which is;

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio


The Remote Control

June 29th Celebrates The Remote Control

Do you remember the old days where you had to get up from the couch and turn on the television set?

Well if you haven’t figured it out yet?

“This blast from the past intro,” is about on June 29th 1964, the remote control to the television was invented.

Serious electronics connoisseurs like myself, have a dozen remotes scattered all over the house. There’s one that goes to VCR, the DVD player, the stereo, and one I can’t seem to remember where it goes too?

The practical television remote controller first entered the American home, as far back as 1893; a remote control for television was described by Nikola Tesla in U.S. Patent number 613809, but wasn’t on the market yet for consumers to buy.

However the Germans used remote control motorboats during WWI. In the late 1940’s the first non-military uses for remote controls appeared for example, automatic garage door openers.

The Zenith Radio Corporation created the very first television remote control in 1950 called “Lazy Bone.” The Lazy Bone could turn a television on and off, and change channels, hence the name for not leaving the couch.

The Lazy Bone remote control was attached to the television by a bulky cable. It turned out that consumers did not like the cable because it was accident waiting to happen because of so many people tripping over the cable.

There were other remote controls came out from different television companies but none of them seemed user friendly to the consumer.

Today’s YouTube video clip shared by user name shaggy locks, show you a television commercial from 1961 introducing the television remote to the consumer.

So, if you can imagine the great fanfare during that time, in all its black and white glory, the video exhibits the grandeur of this bulky looking remote control meant to make life so much easier!

Where did the term couch potato come from?

When I explored the history of vegetable metaphors, it leads me to the story about a man named Tom Iacino, the man credited with coining the phrase couch potato.

The phrase came up originally to phone call he made to his friend in the early 1970’s.

When his girlfriend’s friend answered the telephone, he asked, “Hey is the couch potato there?”

And the rest is history, as this vegetable metaphor reminded people of the fact, what one looks like stationed in front of the television set for many hours.

In lieu of todays story, when you surf the channel’s today without getting up from your sitting. If you’re a baby boomer like me you’ll remember the days where you had to get up and change the channels. Among other things like moving the rabbit ear antennas around to get a clear picture.

As we remember the good ole days, we celebrate this wondrous invention called the remote control.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio

Public Enemies

June 28th Celebrates Public Enemies

In the 1930’s, during a booming crime wave, of The Great Depression, the FBI tried to take down American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd.

Essentially when this movie “Public Enemies,” came out in 2009, it was a story about John Dillinger during his heyday, and death.

Johnny Depp is superb as Dillinger, Christian Bale a thoroughly convincing Melvin Purvis, his taciturn but determined G-Man nemesis.

On June 28th 1902, John Herbert Dillinger was born in the Oak Hill section of Indianapolis, Indiana.

According to some biographers, his grandfather, Matthias Dillinger immigrated to the United States in 1851 from Metz, in the region of Lorraine, then under French sovereignty.

Dillinger’s older sister, Audrey, was born March 6, 1889. Their mother died in 1907 just before his fourth birthday. Audrey married Emmett “Fred” Hancock that year and they had seven children together. She cared for her brother John for several years until their father remarried in 1912 to Elizabeth “Lizzie” Patel.

As a teenager, Dillinger was frequently in trouble with the law for fighting and petty theft; he was also noted for his “bewildering personality” and bullying of smaller children.

He quit school to work in an Indianapolis machine shop. Although he worked hard at his job, he would stay out all night at parties. His father feared that the city was corrupting his son, prompting him to move the family to Mooresville, Indiana, in 1921.

Dillinger’s wild and rebellious behavior was resilient despite his new rural life. In 1922 he was arrested for auto theft, and his relationship with his father deteriorated.

His troubles led him to enlist in the United States Navy where he was a Fireman 3rd Class assigned aboard the battleship USS Utah, but he deserted a few months later when his ship was docked in Boston. He was eventually dishonorably discharged.

Dillinger then returned to Mooresville where he met Beryl Ethel Hovious. The two were married on April 12, 1924. He attempted to settle down, but he had difficulty holding a job and preserving his marriage the marriage ended in divorce on June 20, 1929.

Not able to fit in with society he became one the infamous ruthless bank robbers in history.

Today’s YouTube video presentation brought to you by user name, Movie Clip Classic Trailer, of Johnny Deep in Public Enemies portraying John Dillinger.

Dillinger’s body was displayed to the public at the Cook County morgue after his death. An estimated 15,000 people viewed the corpse in the day-and-half circus. As many as four death masks were also made which was made from an original mold, and eyebrow hair, on display at the Crime Museum in Washington, D.C.

In lieu of today’s story, in the words of Carlos Castaneda, when it comes to choosing what type lifestyle whether its gangster like John Dillinger, “The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.”

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio

Captain Kangaroo

June 27th Celebrates Captain Kangaroo's Birthday

Bob Keeshan, who gently entertained and educated generations of children as television’s walrus-mustachioed Captain Kangaroo was born on June 27th 1927, in Lynbrook, New York.

Keeshan’s “Captain Kangaroo” premiered on CBS in 1955 and ran for 30 years before moving to public television for six more. It was wildly popular among children and won six Emmy Awards, three Gabriels and three Peabody Awards.

He would visit with puppet animals, like Bunny Rabbit, who was scolded for eating too many carrots, and Mr. Moose, who loved to tell knock-knock jokes. A favorite sketch involved Mister Moose dropping Ping-Pong balls on the Captain’s head.

Today’s YouTube presentation brought to you by user name, Allen Jackson of that famous episode of Mr. Moose dropping a 100 ping pongs balls coming down on Captain Kangaroo’s head.

The show revolved about the grandfatherly Captain Kangaroo, whose name was inspired by the kangaroo pouch-like pockets of the coat Keeshan wore.

“I was impressed with the potential positive relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, so I chose an elderly character,” Keeshan said.

His first television appearance came in 1948, when he played the voiceless, horn-honking Clarabell the Clown on the “Howdy Doody Show,” a role he created and played for five years.

“Captain Kangaroo” debuted on Oct. 3, 1955. After the PBS show ended in 1992, he continued to play the role for a time in videos and public appearances.

Keeshan suffered a severe heart attack on July 13, 1981, which pushed the start of a revamped version of his show back to at least mid-August. Keeshan suffered the heart attack just moments after stepping off a plane at Toronto International Airport. He had come to the city to accept a children’s service award.

Keeshan underwent triple-bypass surgery and received an estimated 5,000 get-well wishes from fans.

In 1987, Keeshan and former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander co-founded Corporate Family Solutions, an organization that provided day-care programs to businesses around the country.

Keeshan believed children learn more in the first six years of life than at any other time and was a strong advocate of day care that provides emotional, physical and intellectual development for children.

Keeshan lived on Melbury Road in Babylon Village, Long Island, New York before moving to spend the last 14 years of his life in Norwich, Vermont.

Keeshan died in Windsor, Vermont, on January 23, 2004 at age 76. He was survived by three children, Michael Derek, Laurie Margaret, and Maeve Jeanne. His wife of 45 years, Anne Jeanne Laurie Keeshan, died February 25, 1996.

Keeshan’s grandson, Britton Keeshan, became the youngest person at that time to have climbed the Seven Summits by climbing Mount Everest in May 2004. He carried photographs of his grandfather on that ascent, and buried a photo of the two of them at the summit.

I was aviate watcher of Captain Kangaroo show, and I wish there were more televisions shows like that on the air today.

In lieu of today’s story, as wish Captain Kangaroo a BIG howdy do on his birthday!

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio

Rat Catcher’s Day

June 26th Celebrates Rat Catcher’s Day

Move over Orkin, you have some competition today, because on June 26th 1284, the Pied Piper got rid of rats in Hamelin Germany, which is known today as Rat Catchers Day!

Commemorating the myth of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the date the Pied Piper led the children out of the town, while the poem by Robert Browning regarding, “The Pied Piper of Hamelin,” came out on July 22nd 1376; Rat Catcher’s Day is stated to be celebrated on both days.

According to lore, residents of the German town of Hamelin hired a strangely dressed man to rid their village of rats by playing his pipe. But when he finished the task, the townsfolk refused to pay so the Pied Piper returned while they were in church and disappeared with their children.

Some foreign calendars mark Rat Catcher’s Day as June 26, coinciding with St. John and Paul’s Day, a holy day when “130 people left from Hamelin to Calvary and were led into all kinds of danger to Koppen and vanished,” according to a cryptic window inscription in a Hamelin church.

Past legends aside, rat infestations today can be a serious problem. Rats get a bad rap, but they are actually fairly intelligent animals.

Did you know? Mice and rats are fastidiously clean animals, grooming themselves several times a day. In fact, rats and mice are less likely than dogs or cats to catch and transmit parasites and viruses.

Mice and rats are highly social animals. They communicate with each other using high-frequency sounds that we can’t hear without instrumentation. Mice have even been recorded “singing” like birds but at ultrasonic frequencies. They play together, wrestle, and love sleeping curled up together. Much like us, if they do not have companionship, they can become lonely, anxious, depressed, and stressed.

Mice and rats have complex systems of communication. They can communicate by touch, by smell, and by sound at frequencies that we can’t hear.

After engaging in sex, male rats sing at frequencies beyond the range of human hearing, at around 20 to 22 kHz.

A female rat can mate as many as 500 times with various males during a six-hour period of receptivity a state she experiences about 15 times per year. Thus a pair of brown rats can produce as many as 2,000 descendants in a year if left to breed unchecked. (A rat matures sexually at age three to four months.)

A rat can tread water for three days and survive being flushed down the toilet. (And it can return to the building via the same route.) There is approximately one rat per person in the United States.

Rat baiting, a popular sport in 19th-century London, pitted a man or a dog against hundreds of rats. Jacko, a 13-pound bull terrier, set the record in 1862 when he killed 100 rats in 5 minutes, 28 seconds, but where did so many rats come from?

Today’s YouTube video clip shared by Pixar Films on the history of rats, shared by user name International School History, we find out where rats originally came from?

In India a Hindu temple is dedicated to the rat goddess Karni Mata in Deshnoke, housing more than 20,000 rats. Many people travel far to pay respect to the rats, which are believed to be reincarnations of Karni Mata and her clansmen.

If you were born in 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, or 1996, then you’re a rat, according to Chinese astrology. This would make you quick-witted, resourceful, and something of a fashionista. Exactly like a rat, except for the clothes bit.

Rats don’t have gallbladders or tonsils, but they do have belly buttons.

In lieu of today’s story as I button up today’s story with you, if you’re not into rats, and you don’t give rat’s ass about this story.

As smart as rats are, be glad we live in a technology that can get rid of a rat infestation, without calling up some guy to play a pipe to get rid of the rats for you, and if you skip out on paying the bill to services rendered. He’ll steal your kids.

Here’s to fractured fairy tales, and psychotic folklore fables, may they never condole with true life experiences, as I wish you a rat free happy weekend.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio

The Omen

June 25th Celebrates The Omen

The Omen film series is a British-American horror film franchise beginning in 1976. The story was originally written by David Seltzer, who chose not to continue the series after the first novel.

The second novel was then written by Joseph Howard; the third novel was done by Gordon McGill. After the third film was produced, a fourth and fifth were made-for-television in an attempt to revive the series, but they were received by mixed reviews.

On June 25th 1976, “The Omen” premieres in the US as the series centers on Damien Thorn, a child born of Satan and given to Robert and Katherine Thorn, before being passed along the Thorn families as a child. It is revealed among the families that Damien is in fact meant to be the Antichrist, and as an adult is attempting to gain control of the Thorn business and reach for the presidency.

Gregory Peck portrayed Damien’s father Robert Thorn, and the Lee Remick played Damien’s mother.

“The Omen” is just really good. It was released the same year as Exorcist if I’m not mistaken Gregory Peck gives a fine performance.

I dug up some interesting trivia on the movie called, The Omen, so I’m hoping you’re familiar with the movie, to what I want to share with you below.

Did you know, to make the baboons attack the car in the Windsor Zoo park scene, an official from the zoo was in the back seat of the car with a baby baboon, but the baboons had no response at all. They then took the head of the baboons, and the baboons outside went crazy. Lee Remick’s terror as the baboons attack the car was real.

According to at least one biography of Gregory Peck, took this role at a huge cut in salary (a mere $250,000) but was also guaranteed 10% of the film’s box office gross.

When it went on to gross more than $60 million in the U.S. alone, The Omen (1976) became the highest-paid performance of Peck’s career.

One of the reasons why Gregory Peck accepted the role of a tortured father, conflicted with guilt, was because he hadn’t been around when his son Jonathon committed suicide in 1975.

As part of its pre-release publicity campaign, and to point out the significance of “the three sixes” as The Sign of Satan, the movie was sneak-previewed nationwide in the USA on June 6th 1976.

While audiences inside the theatres were being scared witless by the film, theatre employees were out front, busily putting up specially made posters declaring: “Today is the SIXTH day of the SIXTH month of Nineteen-Seventy-SIX!”

Hokey thought it was the gimmick but worked quite well, as many a theatre patron literally “freaked-out” upon seeing those posters as they left the previews.

In lieu of today’s story, The Vatican was very opposed to the making of the film, claiming it was being made solely “towards ends absolutely consumerist and economical” but what scary film it was just the same!

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio

Mary Pickford

June 24th Celebrates Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford born on April 8, 1892, was a Canadian-American motion picture actress, co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, known as, “America’s Sweetheart.”

Mary Pickford was born Gladys Louise Smith in 1892. She was of English and Irish descent.

Pickford began in the theater at age seven. Then known as “Baby Gladys Smith”, she toured with her family in a number of theater companies. In 1907, she adopted a family name Pickford and joined the David Belasco troupe.

Stage producer David Belasco gave Mary her stage name in 1908, Pickford switched from plays to acting in motion pictures.

At the time, they were referred to as “flickers,” and the typical film was only eight to twelve minutes long.

The films were shown in “Nickelodeon” theaters, where a person could see an average of five “flickers” for the cost of a nickel.

After making eighty films, Pickford made thirty-five films with Carl Laemmie’s IMP Company, during which time she was named in the credits of her films and gained great fame.

In 1916, Pickford signed a contract with Zukor to become his partner. Pickford’s films were from then on produced by the Pickford Film Corporation and released under Artcraft Pictures.

On June 24th 1916, silent screen legend Mary Pickford was the first female to receive a million dollar contract.

Today’s YouTube video presentation below is shared to you by Women’s History Minute: “Mary Pickford”

In 1919, Pickford co-founded United Artists with her future husband Douglas Fairbanks, D.W. Griffith, and Charlie Chaplin to distribute the films they produced. This organization gave actors more artistic control and a share in the enormous profits.

By 1921, Pickford was virtually in control of the finished product of her films. She acted in, helped direct and produced an average of one film per year. In 1927, she acted in her last silent film.

For many years, Pickford continued to stay active on the Board of the United Artists and produced several films.

In 1937, she married her third husband to whom she remained married to for the rest of her life. In 1943, they adopted two children and Pickford spent more time at home.

In 1956, she sold her shares in United Artists and turned to charitable work, establishing the Mary Pickford Foundation.

In lieu of today’s story Mary Pickford may have appeared in many silent films, but one thing for sure she wasn’t silent about her was being a savvy businesswoman who helped shape the film industry as we know it today.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio