Happy Mad Hatter’s Day

The Mad Hatter wore a top hat on the front of which a slip of paper with reads "10/6." The 10/6 refers to the cost of a hat — 10 shillings and 6 pence, and later became the date and month to celebrate Mad Hatter Day. (Except since the Mad Hatter lived in England, 10/6 might refer to June 10th - but I'm not going there.)

The idiom “mad as a hatter” was around long before Carroll started writing. Colloquially used to describe an eccentric person, “mad as a hatter” is based on a problem that arose in the 1800s when hat companies used lead in the hat-making process. The lead got into their systems and they went insane, hence the term “mad as a hatter”.

October 6, 1927 -
Good, bad or indifferent to it, The Jazz Singer (the first feature-length movie with audible synchronized dialogue), premiered in NYC on this date.

Although The Jazz Singer is often cited as one of the turning points in cinema, Will H. Hays, president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA), claimed in his memoirs that the earlier release of Don Juan caused a far greater stir in Hollywood upon its release. The latter motion picture was the first feature-length film to have synchronized sound effects and a musical soundtrack but not audible dialogue.

In the late 40s through the 50s, the CIA led a top secret campaign, called Militant Liberty that encouraged studios to insert the theme of freedom into Hollywood movies. Alfred P. Sloan (think about the name and it will come to you) the recently retired head of of General Motors from 1923 to 1946, was recruited to head the cause. Sloan hired George Stewart Benson, president of Harding College to produce a series of cartoons to promote anti-Communist, pro-free enterprise themes.

Make Mine Freedom, which premiered on this date, was one of the first. At least three Warner Bros. cartoons during the period, Heir Conditioned, By Word of Mouse, and Yankee Dood It were probably produced under this program. And the famous Duck and Cover as well as Disney's Our Friend the Atom have the fingerprints of the program all over them. (We don't even have time to discuss the CIA's involvement with the live action studios during the time.)

October 6, 1960 -
Stanley Kubrick's gladiator spectactular, Spartacus, starring Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, and Tony Curtis, premiered in New York City on this date.

Peter Ustinov joked about his daughter, born at the beginning of production, being in kindergarten by the time this movie was finished. When asked what her father did for a living, she would answer, "Spartacus".

October 6, 1963 -
The wonderful adaption of the classic 18th Century novel, Tom Jones premiered in NYC on this date. (Bizarre piece of trivia: this was the last film that John F. Kennedy saw before his assassination.)

It took two nights to film the sequence in which Squire Western chases after Tom. The second night, Hugh Griffith managed to undo the wiring on his riding crop, and actually hit Albert Finney with it, drawing blood. In character, Finney turned on Griffith and said, "I can't abide to be whipped, Squire," then punched him in the face. Each stalked off the set, swearing never to work with the other again.

October 6, 1965 -
The Supremes single I Hear a Symphony went to No. 1 on this date.

You won't hear a full symphony orchestra in this song, but there is a prominent string section, arranged by Paul Riser, that implies it. Otherwise, the instrumentation is more typical, with a saxophone section and piano (played by Funk Brother Earl Van Dyke). The song evokes classical music in its structure though, building throughout to a kind of crescendo

October 6, 1969 -
The Beatles release a double A-side single Something and Come Together on this date. It was the only song written by George Harrison released as a single by The Beatles.

George Harrison wrote this during a break while The Beatles were working on The White Album. It was not recorded in time for the album, so Harrison gave the song to Joe Cocker, but Cocker didn't release it until late in 1969 on his second album, Joe Cocker!, which came out about a month after The Beatles issued it on Abbey Road.

John Lennon was sued for stealing the guitar riff and the line "Here comes old flat-top" from Chuck Berry's You Can't Catch Me. The lawsuit did not come from Berry, but from Morris Levy, one of the music industry's most infamous characters. He owned the song along with thousands of other early rock songs that he obtained from many poor, black, and unrepresented artists. Levy sued the Beatles, or more accurately, John Lennon, over the song around the time the Beatles broke up.

For years, Lennon delayed the trial while he and the Beatles tried to sort out all the legal and business problems that plagued Apple Records. Finally, in an attempt to avoid the court room as much as he could (Lennon felt like he was appearing in court more often than not), he settled with Levy. Lennon agreed to record his Rock N Roll album, which was just a series of cover songs, including three songs Levy owned (including You Can't Catch Me) on the tracklist.

0ctober 6, 1966 -
The Star Trek episode The Enemy Within, first ared on this date.

In it, a transporter mishap divides Captain Kirk into two versions of himself, one good and one evil, but neither is able to function separately for long.

The episode marks the first use of the line, “He’s dead, Jim.”

October 6, 1973
Cher's single, Half-Breed, went to No. 1 on the Billboard Charts on this date. (Sorry for the earworm.)

Cher was born Cherilyn Sarkisian in El Centro, California, to an Armenian American father and an Arkansas-born mother with English, German, Irish, French, and Dutch ancestry. Around the time Half-Breed was released, Cher claimed she was also 1/16th Cherokee on her mother's side.

October 6, 1976 -
The song, Disco Duck by Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots received a gold record on this date. The song was featured in the movie Saturday Night Fever but was not included on its soundtrack album.

Rick Dees wrote this song in one day at his apartment. In 1975, he released a single that was released on the local Fretone label. That one tanked, but Disco Duck got some attention in the South, so Dees pitched it to the major labels, finding a taker in RSO. The song took off, but Dees wasn't allowed to play it on the air because station management feared that would violate FCC conflict-of-interest rules. On October 11, 1976, WMPS fired him for mentioning the song on his show; it reached #1 on the US Hot 100 five days later.

October 6, 1978 -
Alan Parker's harrowing drama, Midnight Express starring Brad Davis, Randy Quaid and John Hurt, premiered in the US on this date.

In an attempt to really get into character, John Hurt stopped bathing for most of the 53-day schedule, and reeked so badly at times, most of his colleagues avoided being close to him.

October 6, 1992 -
30 years ago, R.E.M. released their eighth studio album, Automatic for the People, on this date.

The album title was inspired by Weaver D's soul food diner in Athens, Georgia. When you ordered food there, they answered by saying "automatic." They had a sign that said "Delicious Fine Foods - Automatic For The People."

Another ACME Safety Film

Today in History:
Today is Armed Forces Day in Egypt (we'll get back to Armed Forces Day in a moment but it's not in celebration of the Elvis Costello album) and Ivy Day in Ireland. (Ivy Day is not a horticultural celebration. The date marks the anniversary of the 1891 death of Irish nationalist Charles Stewart Parnell;

Irish favoring home rule traditionally pin a bit of ivy to their lapels in his honor.

Ivy Day should not be confused with I.V. Day, celebrated only by drips.)

Aeschylus was the first Greek playwright to produce tragedies as we would know them today, but that's not important to our story today.

According to legend, Aeschylus died when an eagle, mistaking his bald head for a stone, dropped a tortoise on it, killing him instantly on this date in 456 BC (that was tragedy for Aeschylus but it's comedy to us.)

October 6, 1014 -
Czar Samuil of Bulgaria died of a heart attach after an army of 15,000 of his men returned, blinded by his enemy Emperor Basil of the Byzantine Empire. One out of every hundred of his men was permitted to keep one eye, such that they were able to return home.

For this victory Basil earned the title Bulgaroctonus, slayer of Bulgars.

I guess we shouldn't complain.

October 6 is the anniversary of one of the greatest moments in the history of literary criticism. It was on that date in 1536 that William Tyndale was recognized for his important contribution to world literature, the first translation of the New Testament into English - by being tied to the stake, strangled, and his dead body then burnt.

Ah, when men were men, women were women, and critics were murderous, torch-wielding fanatics!

October 6, 1961 -
President John F. Kennedy advised American families to build bomb shelters to protect them from atomic fallout in the event of a nuclear war, on this date. In raising Cold War civil defense issues, Kennedy said the government would soon begin providing such protection for every American.

Many Americans did prepare for nuclear war by buying up canned goods and building backyard bomb shelters. Also at the time many home builders offered a bomb shelter as part of new home packages.

October 6, 1966 -
LSD was declared illegal in the US on this date.

Hopefully you timed your intake accordingly.

October 6, 1973 -
In a surprise attack on the Jewish highest holiday of Yom Kippur - Syrian and Egyptian armies invaded Israel on this date, starting, what became known as, the Yom Kippur War. The US came to Israel's aid, but as Israel began winning the war, Israel wouldn't back down from the siege brought on by the Egyptian troops to the south.

The Soviet Union threatened to intervene on Egypt's behalf, causing high tensions between the US and Soviet Union that caused lasting damage to the relationship between two. Eventually, all parties came to a peace agreement.

October 6, 1976 -
During a televised debate on this date, President and candidate Gerald Ford asserts that there was 'no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe'.

Ford lost the election. (I believe the previous White House was trying to use the corollary, 'there was no Russian collusion in the election', from his playbook.)

October 6, 1981 -
During Armed Forces Day (commemorating Egypt's participation in the Arab-Israeli War,) armed gunmen leapt from a truck and began shooting into the reviewing stand at Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

The assassination had been approved by Omar Abdel-Rahman, a cleric later convicted in the US for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

October 6, 2007 -
Jason Lewis completed the first human-powered circumnavigation of the globe. Using a pedal boat, roller blades, bicycles, kayak, and his feet, the adventurer and sustainability campaigner finished the harrowing journey in a little over 13 years.

in the process of completing his ‘Expedition 360’, Lewis also became the first person to cross North America on inline skates, and the first to cross the Pacific Ocean by pedal power. Together with Stevie Smith, Lewis completed the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean from mainland Europe to North America by human power. He successfully ended his 4,833-day expedition, having travelled 46,505 miles (74,842 km)

And so it goes

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