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 7th: Stranger in a Strange Land

Belgian artist Félicien Rops was born on July 7, 1833. Also Belarusian poet Yanka Kupala, in 1882 and poet Margaret Walker, in 1915. Otto Rohwedder was born on July 7, 1880. He invented the first automatic bread slicing machine. The Chillicothe Baking Company sold the first loaves on July 7, 1928, on Rohwedder’s 48th birthday. Satchel Paige was born on July 7, 1906. Science fiction author Robert Anson Heinlein was born July 7, 1907.

The Human Parody, Félicien Rops circa 1881

Actress Shelly Duvall was born on July 7, 1949. Anyone else see The Shining way too young? That movie, along with the fear of hell’s eternal fire, and this wallpaper gave me many sleepless nights, staring into the abyss.

Yours truly, center, and my childhood version of The Yellow Wallpaper

There are a litany of symbols and superstitions around the number 7. But I am feeling very lazy so I will give you a list of the Seven deadly sins and wrap this up. Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. The deadliest for today: (I took care of sloth for you) Pride.

Today’s meditation: I mean is sliced bread really that great?

For today: Play a game of Chutes and Ladders.

July 6th: Helkavirsiä & the Wheel of Fortune

Anatomist Albert von Kölliker was born in July 6, 1817 in Switzerland. That’s his hand in Röntgen’s 1896 x-ray. Also artists Frida Kahlo and Marc Chagall were born on July 6th, 1907 and 1887 respectively. Finnish poet Eino Leino was born July 6, 1878.

Eino Leino Helkavirsiä 1903 cover by Pekka Halonen.
X-ray of Kölliker’s hand, made by Röntgen on January 23, 1896.

Also born today:

Ballet dancer Francisco Moncion in 1918, First Lady Nancy Reagan in 1921, Merv Griffin, creator of the Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, in 1925; and actress Janet Leigh in 1927.

Frida Kahlo

Technically the tarot card for today is the 6th Major Arcana card, The Lovers, but in honor of Merv Griffin’s birthday, I am calling it the Wheel of Fortune, the 10th card. It is a card that symbolizes big life questions, turning points, karma, and fate. I will assume you are looking for heads or tails on some of life’s big questions, so

The Wheel of Fortune Tarot Card Meaning in Readings: the Unpredictable

peanut butter & jelly: peanut butter

bread & butter: bread

fish & chips: chips

bricks & mortar: mortar

crime & punishment: crime

salt & pepper: pepper

birds & bees: bees

lost & found: lost

slip & slide: slip

gin & juice: juice

forgive & forget: forgive

May 13th: Communism is Just a Red Herring

The Improbability of Vampires

Communism is Just a Red Herring

The Pajama Game opened on Broadway today in 1953. I am not entirely clear of the plot with my exhaustive 60 second scan, but something about a pajama factory and demands of a seven and a half cent raise. Sounds topical. There are unions involved, so I can say with 100% certainty my father would not like it. Communists. (I can’t believe I have worked in two quotes from the movie Clue in four blog posts. Prodigious).

In 1958, Ben Carlin became the one and only person to travel around the globe in an amphibious vehicle. It took him ten years, 11,000 miles at sea and 39,000 miles by land.

A photograph of w:Ben Carlin and Boye de Mente aboard their craft Half-Safe in Tokyo in late 1956. Unknown photographer.

In Australia, the Great Comet of 1861 was discovered by John Tebbutt, the same day that Pakistan’s first railway opened to the public today in 1861. In Milan in 1909, the first annual Giro d’Italia was underway. And hey, guess what, Lance Armstrong is trying to gum up the works of that one too.

Born today

Russian prince turned saint Alexander Nevsky was born in 1221. Danish physician Ole Worm (I really need to keep a list of perfect names) was born in 1588. According to his Wikipedia biography, he also went by his Latin name Olaus Wormius because of course, he did. The small bones that stitch the larger structures of the skull are named after him. And those would be called the wormian bones. He seems to have been an odd duck, known for his cabinet curiosities, and his pet auk bird. Yet for all his whimsy, he did spend a considerate amount of time in his studies to determine that unicorns are not real, and were likely narwhals. Killjoy.

Only known illustration of a Great Auk drawn from life, Ole Worm’s pet received from the Faroe Islands, which was figured in his book Museum Wormiamum, 1655.

Also born today mathematician, geophysicist Alexis Clairaut in 1713. Also painter Georges Braque in 1882. American treasure Bea Arthur was born in 1922, and author Francine Pascal in 1938. She wrote The Sweet Valley High books. Take my word for it, she created a stunning and urbane teen series. I read all of them when I was twelve and once as an adult, I stayed at someone’s camp and found a whole box full of them that I read over a weekend. They held up.

Actor Robert Pattinson was born in 1986. Speaking of teen book series, researcher Costas Efthimiou mathematically established the impossibility of vampires a few years back, so you should probably put that screenplay away and get back to work.

Wow, we are just crushing dreams left and right. So I’ll just push through the death summary here. Actor Gary Cooper died today in 1961; painter Franz Klein died in 1962; and musician Chet Baker in 1988.

So how should I sum up today? May 13th seems to comprise labor and study; reflection and skepticism. You must own your burdens, put some improbable conclusions to rest, and, for fuck’s sake, can someone tell Lance Armstrong he’s not on the list?

Originally published at theanatomyofmelancholy.com on May 13, 2018.