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Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday links

March 22nd is William Shatner's birthday: here he is in 1978 'singing' Rocket Man, plus a Star Trek/Monty Python mashup. Related: a 1968 memo to Gene Roddenberry re Shatner's disappearing wigs from Star Trek set.

A meteor exploded over Earth with 10 times the energy of Hiroshima's atomic bomb. Nobody saw or was even aware of the fireball that exploded above the Bering Sea on December 18, 2018 -- until now.

Where Did the Phrase 'Red Herring' Come From?

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include making ice cream 2,000 years ago, how sound effects are made in movies (and in old-time radio), when women started wearing makeup, and the test NASA gave potential astronauts in 1958.

It's William Shatner's birthday: here he is in 1978 'singing' 'Rocket Man', plus a Star Trek/Monty Python mashup

William Shatner (wiki) was born in Canada on March 22, 1931 - he is definitely not the man you think he is at home.

The Star Trek/Monty Python mashup:


1968 memo to Gene Roddenberry re Shatner's disappearing wigs from Star Trek set.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

1968 memo to Gene Roddenberry re Shatner's disappearing wigs from Star Trek set, bonus Monty Python

Fellow Star Trek fans will appreciate this - the UCLA Library Special Collections Blog has this 1968 Desilu Productions Inc. memo from show producer Robert Justman to show creator Gene Roddenberry which documents the high value of wigs and hair pieces used on the show to the show’s actors. Where did they go? And, were they ever returned?

Zoomable image here.
Another Gene Roddenberry post I saw recently is this, from The Oatmeal: It's Going To Be OK. I highly recommend it.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Monday links

Why Did Women Start Wearing Makeup?

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include the Ides of March, a couple who have eaten at the same restaurant six nights a week for 15 years, Saint Patrick’s Day origins, seat belt history, and Spring cleaning in the 19th Century.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

It's the birthday of Wilfred Owen, the best of the WWI "War Poets"

I've always wondered what he would have been capable of if he hadn't died in the line of duty at the age of 25. Here's a harrowing excerpt from one of Owens' anti-war poems, the final stanza of "Dolce Et Decorum Est": 

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sack of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gurgling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues -
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Here's the whole thing.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in the attack on the Fonsomme Line on October 1st/2nd, 1918. On the company commander becoming a casualty, he assumed command and showed fine leadership and resisted a heavy counter-attack. He personally manipulated a captured enemy machine gun from an isolated position and inflicted considerable losses on the enemy. Throughout he behaved most gallantly.

~ Citation for the award of the Military Cross to Wilfred Owen, 30 July 1919

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori is a line from the Roman poet Horace's Odes (III.2.13). The line can be roughly translated into English as "It is sweet and fitting to die for your country." Kenneth Branagh reads the poem here:

March 18 is the anniversary of the birth of English "war poet" Wilfred (Edward Salter) Owen (1893-1918) (wiki) (online archive) (BBC History), whose verse forms much of the text of the celebrated War Requiem (wiki) of Benjamin Britten*. Born in Oswestry and raised in Shrewsbury, Owen became the "lay assistant" to a vicar in nearby Dunsden in 1911 and later tutored English in France.

After the outbreak of World War I, he returned to England to enlist and eventually served on the Somme. Severely "shell-shocked," he was invalided home in May 1917 then returned to active duty in France in August 1918. Owen was awarded the Military Cross posthumously for gallantry in an action two months later, but he was killed, at the age of 25, by German machine-gun fire while leading an attack on the Sambre-Oise canal just a week before the Armistice in November 1918. 

A BBC production on Owen's life entitled Wilfred Owen: A Remembrance Tale:

Here's a live television broadcast of Benjamin Britten conducting his own War Requiem in 1964:

Parts of the text above is adapted from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email - leave your email address in the comments if you'd like to be added to his list. Ed is the author of Hunters and Killers: Volume 1: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1776 to 1943 and Hunters and Killers: Volume 2: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1943.