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.

June 30th: Carry Moonbeams Home in a Jar

Would You Like to Swing on a Star? from the 1976 album Sunday Street by Dave Van Ronk. I would very much prefer it if you listen to this while you read about June 30th.

June 30th is the birthday of singer Lena Horne, musician Stanley Clarke, folk singer Dave Van Ronk; and Lithuanian poet Czesław Miłosz. Also born on June 30th: Engineer and inventor of the modern hot air balloon Ed Yost; magician Harry Blackstone Jr, and sports broadcaster Harry Wismer.

Dave Van Ronk at Newport Folk Festival, 28th July 1963. (Photo by John Byrne Cooke Estate/Getty Images)

Today I will just send my sincerest congratulations along with an anecdote about Wismer as told by sportswriter George Plimpton: “He was an odd man. He used to say ‘Congratulations’ to many people he met, on the grounds that they had probably done something they could be proud of.”[18]

Publicity photo of sportscaster Harry Wismer. Public domain.
One For My Baby (and One More for the Road), Lena Horne, 1957

June 26th: Lies, Lies, and More Lies

June 26th is the 1819 birthday of Civil War General Abner Doubleday. He has long been rumored to have invented baseball, though he never claimed this, and it is actually not true. I thought he did too until today, though apparently it has been widely debunked for quite some time, but I spent a good deal of time on the doubledayfield.com photo gallery because though I don’t particularly care about baseball, early photographs of baseball players are inexplicably one of my most favorite things.

I was thinking this morning a fatal flaw of mine is that I almost invariably assume people are telling me the truth unless there is some direct evidence to prove otherwise. And even then, it’s not so much that I will believe anything, but I will let us hover in a delusion if it is the easier and/or merciful thing to do.

For example, after we both listened to a co-worker outright lie about the status of a work project, knowing full well she was lying, and knowing full well she knew we knew she was lying, a friend of mine observed that both of us listened to the bold-faced absolute insanity of the explanation without blinking an eye and without a single challenge because we both grew up around addicts, and learned to navigate within a world of denial. I think this is probably true.

I don’t consider myself an especially honest or dishonest person (though I am probably better than most at compartmentalizing). My father has said all of his daughters are masterful at telling half-truths, leaving out the critical and objectionable details when it serves us, but I am of the mind that this is just a crucial survival skill.

I can think critically about books, journalism, marketing, and whatnot, but if someone is speaking to me one-on-one, I will accept almost anything at face value. Given that it’s estimated that we lie about 1/5th of the time every single day, even to ourselves, I wonder about the amount of missing or outright false information each of us is working with every day.*

Anyway, June 26th is also the date of birth of mathematician Leopold Löwenheim; Lebanese painter Daoud Corm (also a mentor to writer Khalil Gibran); Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia; inventor Yoshiro Nakamatsu; astronaut Pavel Ivanovich Belyayev; French poet and activist Aimé Césaire; and British-French secret agent Violette Szabo who was unfortunately captured and executed by Germans in 1945.

The Madonna of Bikfaya, Daoud Corm
Violette Szabo c.1944

June 26th is the Feast Day of Jeremiah, the weeping prophet and Christian martyr Pelagius of Córdoba, patron saint of torture victims, the abandoned, the city of Castro Urdiales, and Spain.

I am feeling kind of blue today, so I don’t have any recommendations or predictions for your day, but here is a link to listen to fiddler Kenny Baker, who was born today in 1926. Maybe listen to this while you journal about what crucial information you have been keeping from yourself and/or others and why that might be.

And here is a link to my favorite astrologist Free Will Astrology if you are looking for a horoscope.

*I did feel the need to at least lookup and confirm that estimate, given the overall subject matter, and found some interesting links.

May 10th: A Guide to the Scientific Knowledge of Things Familiar and Dictionary of Phrase and Fable


E. Cobham Brewer from the 1922 book Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

Ebenezer Cobham Brewer — A Guide to the Scientific Knowledge of Things Familiar, 38th edition. Photographed by User:GDallimore.

Heat, an Introduction: Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, author of A Guide of Scientific Knowledge of Things Familiar, was born in 1810. He also wrote a favorite of mine, the Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, and Sound and Its Phenomena. A true collector and man of my own heart.

Actress Mae Murray ca. 1917

God Save the Queen

Also born on May 10th: German mathematician Wilhelm Killing in 1847; Actress Mae Murray in 1885; Fred Astaire in 1899, and Sid Vicious in 1957.

“That call from J. Edgar Hoover was for me.”

Can anyone else rectite the screenplay from the 1985 movie Clue largely from memory?

In 1924 J. Edgar Hoover was appointed Director of the FBI. Also on this day in 1940, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. And on May 10, 1774, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette ascended the throne in France. So, in short, to celebrate May 10th, you still have few hours to appoint yourself head of something, or promote yourself to inhabit and nap in tucked away office, or perhaps beat someone at checkers, which, let’s face it, is as close as most of us are going to get to a crown? Or at the very least, lie and say you did. To quote Sir Winston Churchill: “Perhaps we have been guilty of some terminological inexactitudes.”

photo credit: Yousuf Karsh

Originally published at theanatomyofmelancholy.com on May 10, 2018.