Christian Egenolff, the Elder

An early printer and publisher, Christian Egenolff, the Elder was born on July 26, 1502.

Plate from “Herbarum, arborum, fruticum, frumentorum ac leguminem” published by Christian Egenolff (1502-1555)
Title page of “Herbarum, arborum, fruticum, frumentorum ac leguminem” published by Christian Egenolff.

Pee Wee Reese

Major League Baseball shortstop for the Brooklyn and LA Dodgers, Harold Peter Henry “Pee Wee” Reese was born July 23, 1918 in Ekron, Kentucky.

Pee Wee Reese displayed in a trading card manufactured by the Bowman Gum Company, 1954.

Maria Spelterini

Stereoscopic image of Maria Spelterini Crossing Niagara Falls, 1876. Photographed by George Curtis. Science Source / New York Public Library

Italian tightrope walker Maria Spelterini became the first and only woman to cross the Niagara gorge on a tightrope. Her first crossing was on July 8, 1876 as part of a U.S. Centennial celebration, and crossed again on July 12th, 19th, and 22nd, backwards with a paper bag over her head and wearing peach baskets on her feet, blindfolded, and with her ankles and wrists manacled respectively.

Marie-Madeleine d’Aubray

French aristocrat  Marie-Madeleine d’Aubray, Marquise de Brinvilliers, born July 22, 1630. In 1676, she was tried, convicted, and executed for murdering her father and brothers to inherit their estate. François-Adrien Boieldieu wrote a popular opera based on her life called La marquise de Brinvilliers.

July 16th: Night of the Living

Zombies as portrayed in the movie Night of the Living Dead (1968)

George Romero died July 16, 2017. He made Night of the Living Dead. I guess those zombies are supposed to look scary, but to me, they just look like a horde of stepdads heading for the fridge in the middle of the night. And what’s with the one on the left? Did he just get back from a toga party?

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in the film Roberta (1935)

Born on July 16th: Saint Clare of Assisi, 1194. Her feast day is August 11th and her patronage includes eye disease, goldsmiths, laundry, television, embroiders, gilders, good weather, and needleworkers.

Also poet Susan Wheeler, 1955; actress and dancer Ginger Rogers, 1911; and farmer and popcorn extraordinaire Orville Redenbacher, 1905. Also artist Charles Sheeler, 1883; journalist and civil rights activist Ida Wells, 1862; and elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver, 1925. When she was twenty years old, she worked at the Empire State Building. On July 28, 1945, what was to be her last day of work with her fiance was returning home from the war, she survived an elevator crash that dropped her 1,000 feet. She was working on the 80th floor when a B-25 bomber accidentally crashed into the building on the 79th floor.  The blow caused the elevator car cables to snap and sent her into a 1,000-foot free fall. This plunge is still listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Although she never returned to regular work at the Empire State Building, five months later, she returned to the building and rode the elevator to the top.

The engine and part of the wing of a B-25 bomber are seen protruding from the Empire State Building after it crashed into the 79th floor of the structure in New York, July 28, 1945. (ERNIE SISTO/AP Photo)

For today: Interestingly, the 16th card in the tarot deck is The Tower, which the above AP photo kind of reminds me of. The card shows a tower being hit by lightning, and on fire, sometimes with people falling from it. The card is supposed to symbolize sudden destruction and violent change but like all tarot cards, and sudden change come to think of it, does not have to be an altogether sinister card.

As far as what the 16th tarot card means for you, I predict you could and should soon have in your possession piles of exploding kernels that will truly teach us to not resist the idea that violent change could lead to something so much better, provided you also have butter. Hopefully, this will occur with one or more zombie movies in queue.

July 13th: The Rose Mary Stretch

Peony by Wenceslaus Hollar 

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, today is an excellent day to have dental care, harvest aboveground crops, and to pick fruit.

The start of the first conference on artificial intelligence took place on July 13, 1956.

On July 13, 1973 Alexander Butterfield blew the lid off the existence of Nixon’s Oval Office tapes to the Senate Watergate Committee. One of my favorite Watergate factoids is the implausible explanation of the missing 18.5 minutes of tape, also known as the “Rose Mary Stretch.”

Glastonbury Abbey Lady Chapel c1900.jpg

Julius Caesar was allegedly born today circa 100 B.C. Alchemist John Dee was born on July 13, 1527. Illustrator Wenceslaus Hollar was born on July 13, 1607. Folklorist Margaret Murray was born on July 13, 1863. Children’s author Marcia Brown was born on July 13, 1918. She wrote Stone Soup.

For today: Put on some stretch denim and then get ready to stretch reality, be it through virtual reality, sorcery, alchemy, chemistry, or outright lies (pst –the last one is by far the easiest.)

July 11th: An Artic Icarus

In an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to reach the North Pole by hydrogen balloon, engineer and aeronaut Salmon August Andrée, accompanied by engineer Knut Frænkel, and photographer Nils Strindberg took off from Spitsbergen, Norway on July 11, 1897. They flew for 65 hours, but a series of unfortunate events including flying directionless into heavy storms, they crash-landed onto pack ice in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.

The Eagle sailing north, photographed from Danes Island

They had flown about 495 km, and spent the next three months attempting to head back over frozen terrain, eventually landing on the deserted Arctic island of Kvitøya sometime in October. The three of them died there and their whereabouts were a mystery until 1930 when their bodies (and Strindberg’s photo plates) were found by chance. It is said that Andree ignored many potential flaws in his plan, including that the balloon had come from Paris directly after being made, had never been tested, and was showing serious signs of leaking. He also ignored concerns that his devised method of steering the balloon with a series of weighted ropes might not be as effective as he claimed (which turned out to be true).

Two Horse, One Horse, No Horse 

The Lumière brothers demonstrated their invention of the cinématographe, the all-in-one camera, developer, and projector on July 11, 1895.

Their first film is 46 seconds and is called Sortie de l’Usine Lumière de Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory in Lyon).

This video shows all three versions, released about a year apart, in 1895, 1896, and 1897 respectively. Each version is often referred to by the number of horses seen in the shot.

Magician Harry Kellar was born July 11, 1849.  Apparently, he was known as the “Dean of Magic,” and specialized in illusions that involved the use of apparatuses. Also, he talked Harry Houdini out of attempting to catch a bullet. He wrote in a letter: “Don’t try the damn bullet catching trick, no matter how sure you may feel of its success. There is always the biggest kind of risk that some dog will ‘job’ you.” Also if you click on that link, there is a picture of the two of them that makes Kellar look an awful lot like Houdini’s ventriloquist dummy.

Night Scene, Paris 1913. Boris Grigoriev

Illustrator H.M. Brock was born July 11, 1875; followed by astronomer and author of Astronomy for Young Folks Isabel Martin Lewis in 1881; Russian painter Boris Grigoriev, in 1886; and writer E.B. White, in 1899. I trust you own The Elements of Style, yes?

Writer Alexander Afanasyev was born July 11, 1826. He published eight volumes of Russian fairytales and folktales.

Chester Gilette murdered Grace Brown on July 11, 1906, inspiring Theodore Dreiser‘s An American Tragedy. Also on July 11; Big Ben rang for the first time in 1859, and Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in 1804. Remember back before there was a musical, and we all knew about those two was from the milk commercial?

Affirmation for your morning: It’s a wise dog that scratches its own fleas.

Hair of the dog that bit you: sheepdog

Number of horses in the shot: 1

For today: horse betting?

a slightly different version of this was first published July 12, 2018 at www.theanatomyofmelancholy.com

July 10th: In Search of Lost Time


In Search of Lost Time First galley proof of A la recherche du temps perdu: Du côté de chez Swann with handwritten revision notes by Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922).

In Search of Lost Time

Born on July 10th: Painter Camille Pissarro, in 1831; creator of the daguerreotype, Louis Daguerre, in 1851; physicist Nikola Tesla, in 1856; writers Marcel Proust, in 1871 and Alice Munroe (one of my personal favorite writers), in 1931; and musicians Béla Fleck, in 1958 and Jelly Roll Morton, in 1941.

Photo: Laurent Lecat/Electa/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

July 10th is the birthday of Nancy Drew mystery writer Mildred Benson. She was born in 1905 and was the first of several writers who wrote under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene for the young adult mystery series.

On July 10, 1938, Howard Hughes began a 91-hour (3 days, 19 hours, and 17 minutes)  flight around the world that set a new world record.

On July 10, 1925, Meher Baba began his 44 years of silence, which lasted until his death in 1969.  July 10th is known as Silence Day to those that follow his teachings.

On July 10, 1913, the atmospheric temperature in Death Valley, California hit the highest ever recorded on Earth: 134 °F (57 °C), measured at Furnace Creek. According to the 2010 Census, Furnace Creek has a population of 24. In case you are curious, the interests of the residents of Furnace Creek are represented by Republicans for both the state and federal legislature:  Senator Tom Berryhill, guilty of money laundering in 2014;  the clearly engaged Congressman Paul Cook; and state assembly member Devon Mathis, who has allegedly been seen drunk on the job by former staffers, and much more troubling, accused of sexual assault. He seems like a real charmer worthy of holding public office.

Sounds like we have stumbled across the actual hell on earth.

For today: Nothing matters.  Be quiet and eat a madeleine.

a slightly different version of this post was first published July 10, 2018 at theanatomyofmelancholy.com

July 9th:  On Miasma and Contagia

Cholera “Tramples the victors & the vanquished both.”
Seymour, Robert, 1798-1836, artist

Physician and anatomist Friedrich Gustav Jakob Henle was born on July 9, 1809. He is credited for discovering the renal tubule that bears his name known as the Loop of Henle. His essay On Miasma and Contagia survives as an early argument for germ theory. Before bacteria and viruses were understood, diseases were thought to be caused by miasma, or “bad air.” The word comes from Greek mythology, where miasma seems to have been a cross between an infectious force and karma. Henle published works on the structure of the lymphatic system, the integumentary system, and their connection to the formation of mucus and pus.

The formation of pus is an immune response, creating a fluid of mostly dead white blood cells called neutrophils. Have you ever seen macrophages engulf bacteria? Or if you really want to shudder, you could watch this video of things magnified under an electron microscope.

The Strange Death of President Zachary Taylor

Speaking of miasma, Zachary Taylor, 12th President of the United States, died July 9, 1850, from cholera morbus, or what those in my house call the squirts. His condition was surely not helped by the treatment of his White House physicians, who treated him with a combination of ipecac, calomel, opium, and quinine. In spite of a 1991 exhumation, no conclusive evidence was found to indicate he was purposely poisoned. Washington D.C. had open sewers at the time, and it is most likely he ate something contaminated at a July 4th celebration, where they were also fundraising for the Washington Monument, under construction at the time

Also speaking of miasma, July 9th is the birthdate of O.J. Simpson, Courtney Love, and Donald Rumsfeld.

Coming back into the light, July 9th is the birthdate of painter David Hockney, photographer Minor White, neurologist Oliver Sacks, and poet June Jordan.  Physicist John Wheeler was born July 9, 1911. His work is too vast to sum up here, but my favorite is his hypothesis of a one-electron universe. Murphy Anderson was born on July 9, 1926. He worked at DC comics for many years, on strips such as Superman, Batgirl, Zatanna, and Buck Rogers. Does anyone else remember the early 1980’s television incarnation of Buck Rogers? What a strange time to be alive.

July 9th is the feast day of Our Lady of Itatí, also known as the Virgin of Itatí. It’s also national sugar cookie day, a waste of an official day if ever I’ve heard one. Since July 9th has been overfilled with all of that bad air and pus, I think it is time that hypochondriacs have their day. It takes stamina to run from that black cloud day in and day out, and they deserve a shout-out. More than the goddamned sugar cookie at least.

There is a new moon tonight. Plan accordingly.

The author looking into the camera with what we can only assume is the 4 -year-old’s version of “WTF?” after unwrapping a metal Buck Rogers lunch box in December 1981.
[To clarify, I have never and will not ever express very much interest in science fiction, especially when asked for gift ideas. Note that I only said I remembered the Buck Rogers television show, not that I liked it].

a slightly different version of this post was published July 9, 2018 at www.theanatomyofmelancholy.com