July 29th, 2009


Schott's Miscellany 22 July 2009

"Public enemy number 1" John Dillinger was gunned down by FBI agents outside a Chicago theater (1934)


Premiere magazine and the Writers Guild of America West and East named the "101 Greatest Screenplays of All Time" in the magazine's May 2006 issue. Their top 10:

Casablanca (1942)--Julius J. & Philip G. Epstein & Howard Koch
The Godfather (1972)--Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola
Chinatown (1974)--Robert Towne
Citizen Kane (1941)--Herman Mankiewicz & Orson Welles
All About Eve (1950)--Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Annie Hall (1977)--Woody Allen & Marshall Brickman
Sunset Boulevard (1950)--Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, & D.M. Marshman Jr.
Network (1976)--Paddy Chayefsky
Some Like It Hot (1959)--Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond
The Godfather Part II (1974)--Francis Ford Coppola & Mario Puzo

Childhood is Last Chance Gulch for happiness. After that, you know too much.
Tom Stoppard (1937-)
  • Current Music
    "Get Back" by the Beatles

Schott's Miscellany 23 July 2009

Forty-three people died in the 12th Street Riot in Detroi (1967)


The navel, umbilicus, omphalodium, or belly button is the round cicatrix (scar tissue) protuberance located on the abdomen where the umbilical cord was originally attached. Since the dawn of time, the navel has been the focus of a reflective form of philosophical contemplation known as omphalopsychism. This might be because the navel literally represents the location of birth, or perhaps because it is where the eye lazily falls when one is reclining naked. A number of omphalopsychite groups have existed through history--perhaps the most famous of which were the Hesychasts, a sect of quietists who (from c.1050 CE) practiced gazing at the navel to induce a hypnotic reverie. The Hesychasts believed that through a rigorous regime of asceticism, devotion, and deep contemplation of the body, a mystic light--no less than the uncreated divine light of God--could be seen. The question of whether Adam and Eve had navels (given that they were created by God) is one that has vexed theologians for some times. Incidentally, a number of artists, not least Albrecht Dürer and William Blake, have chosen to depict Adam and Eve with omphalodia.

The color of my soul is iron gray and sad bats wheel about the steeple of my dreams.
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
  • Current Music
    "Romeo & Juliet" by Dire Straits

Schott's Miscellany 24 July 2009

South American revolutionary Simón Bolivar born (1783)


In bullfighting, an indulto is a pardon granted toa bull by the presidente of the fight for demonstrating extraordinary bravery. Some of the toros célebres (famous bulls) granted the indulto include: Algareño, Civilón, Gordito (who killed 21 horses during a fight in 1869), and Jaquéton--whose name is given as a nickname to other bulls considered to be brave.

Progress was all right; only it went on too long.
James Thurber (1894-1961)
  • Current Music
    "Funky Cold Medina" by Tone-Loc

Schott's Miscellany 25 July 2009

English inventor George Stephenson first demonstrated the steam engine (1814)


The origin of the classic game of rock, paper, scissors has been the subject of much debate. It is possible that a version of the game was played by Roman soldiers using water, fire, wood (water extinguishes fire, which burns wood, which floats on water). However, no record of the hand signals has been discovered. The Japanese call the game jan-ken-poh or janken, and they use it as a method to choose the dealer in card games, who will serve first at tennis, and so on. (Hasami is scissors; kami is paper; ishi is stone.) Some version of the game employ four possible hand shapes. For example, French schoolchildren nowadays play with rock (caillou), well (puits), paper (feuille), and scissors (sciseaux). Here, scissors fall down the well, which is covered by apper, which is cut by scissors, which are smashed by rock, which also falls down the well. And there is an ancient Abyssinian variation with eight signs: needle, sword, scissors, hammer, imperial razor, sea, altar, and the sky.

Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.
Hector Berlioz (1803-69)
  • Current Music
    "Six-Blade Knife" by Dire Straits

Schott's Miscellany 26 July 2009

Eva Perón died (1952)


Literary website lulu.com undertook research into what makes a successful book title. By analyzing 700 titles from The New York Times bestseller lists over 50 years, Dr. Atai Winkler, the statistician who led the project, was able to pinpoint the common attributes of top-selling titles. According to Winkler's model, metaphorical titles are more popular than literal ones, and the length of title seems not to affect sales. The survey concluded that the following books had the most successful titles:

Sleeping Murder--Agatha Christie
Something of Value--Robert Ruark
Looking for Mr. Goodbar--J. Rossner
Presumed Innocent--Scott Turow
Everything's Eventual--Stephen King
Rising Sun--Michael Crichton

Men will confess to treason, murder, arson, false teeth, or a wig. How many of them will own up to a lack of humor?
Frank More Colby (1865-1925)
  • Current Music
    "Put the Oak Ridge Boys in the Slammer" by the Austin Lounge Lizards

Schott's Miscellany 27 July 2009

A pipe bomb exploded at Centennial Park during the Atlanta Olympics, killing one person (1996)


Construction of the White House, designed by Irish-born architect James Hoban, was started in 1792 and completed in 1800, when President John Adams moved in. Until Theodore Roosevelt officially named the building in 1901, the White House was known variously as the President's Palace, the President's House, and the Executive Mansion. According to White House records, the building has 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels in the residence; 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators. And President Nixon would no doubt have been interested to learn that it takes about 570 gallons of paint to whitewash the White House.

AMBILÆVOUS--left-handed on both sides; clumsy
"Peter the painter was clearly ambilævous."
  • Current Music
    "Chester Woolah" by the Austin Lounge Lizards

go, team Kenshikai! (Komen Race for the Cure)

For the second year in a row, I will be joining my fellow karateka to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, a 5K run/walk in Central Park to be held on Sunday 13 September 2009 to help raise money for breast cancer research to, as they put it, run breast cancer out of town.

If you wish to make a donation, click on this link for the Team Kenshikai page or here for my personal page. Either way, please support this worthy cause.

I'm setting the same goal I set last year: to raise $500.
  • Current Music
    "Red Alert" by Warp 11