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Category: History

Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) / Z-View

Posted in History, Movies, and Z-View

Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Director: Frank Lloyd

Screenplay: Talbot Jennings & Jules Furthman and Carey Wilson based on the book by Charles Nordhoff        and James Norman Hall

Stars:  Charles Laughton, Clark Gable and Franchot Tone

The Pitch: “Let’s turn Robert C. O’Brien’s novel into a movie!”

Tagline: Clark Gable as the daring mutineer in the screen’s most exciting adventure story!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

The classic tale of Fletcher Christian’s mutiny against the sadistic Captain Bligh!


How Much Did McDonald’s Cost in 1972?

Posted in History, and Trivia

MeTV asks How Much Did McDonald’s Cost in 1972?

As you can see above, I got six out of ten correct.  Not great, but not too bad.  We didn’t eat out much when I was a kid.  A McDonald’s hamburger and shake was a real treat.  The cost seems pretty cheap by today’s prices but you have to remember minimum wage was $1.60 an hour!

9 Things You May Not Know About the Declaration of Independence

Posted in History, and Trivia

Elizabeth Harrison and present 9 Things You May Not Know About the Declaration of Independence.  Here are three of my favorites…

1. The Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on July 4, 1776.
On July 1, 1776, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, and on the following day 12 of the 13 colonies voted in favor of Richard Henry Lee’s motion for independence. The delegates then spent the next two days debating and revising the language of a statement drafted by Thomas Jefferson. On July 4, Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, and as a result the date is celebrated as Independence Day. Nearly a month would go by, however, before the actual signing of the document took place. First, New York’s delegates didn’t officially give their support until July 9 because their home assembly hadn’t yet authorized them to vote in favor of independence. Next, it took two weeks for the Declaration to be “engrossed”—written on parchment in a clear hand. Most of the delegates signed on August 2, but several—Elbridge Gerry, Oliver Wolcott, Lewis Morris, Thomas McKean and Matthew Thornton—signed on a later date. (Two others, John Dickinson and Robert R. Livingston, never signed at all.) The signed parchment copy now resides at the National Archives in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, alongside the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

8. The Declaration of Independence spent World War II in Fort Knox.
On December 23, 1941, just over two weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the signed Declaration, together with the Constitution, was removed from public display and prepared for evacuation out of Washington, D.C. Under the supervision of armed guards, the founding document was packed in a specially designed container, latched with padlocks, sealed with lead and placed in a larger box. All told, 150 pounds of protective gear surrounded the parchment. On December 26 and 27, accompanied by Secret Service agents, it traveled by train to Louisville, Kentucky, where a cavalry troop of the 13th Armored Division escorted it to Fort Knox. The Declaration was returned to Washington, D.C., in 1944.

3. When news of the Declaration of Independence reached New York City, it started a riot.
By July 9, 1776, a copy of the Declaration of Independence had reached New York City. With hundreds of British naval ships occupying New York Harbor, revolutionary spirit and military tensions were running high. George Washington, commander of the Continental forces in New York, read the document aloud in front of City Hall. A raucous crowd cheered the inspiring words, and later that day tore down a nearby statue of George III. The statue was subsequently melted down and shaped into more than 42,000 musket balls for the fledgling American army.

Better Dead: A Nathan Heller Thriller by Max Allan Collins

Posted in Authors, Books, Crime, History, and Z-View

Better Dead: A Nathan Heller Thriller by Max Allan Collins

Publisher: Mysterious Press

First sentence…

I was there when the Commies took over.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…



Better Dead is actually two interconnected novellas.

In the first Nathan Heller is hired to find evidence to exonerate Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, a married couple sentenced to die for providing Russia with secret information on how to build nuclear bombs.  Senator Joe McCarthy, who is leading the hunt for American Commies, wants Heller to serve as a double agent and provide him with whatever information Heller learns about the Rosenbergs.  Before long Heller is on the wrong side of government agents and gangsters and a possible death sentence of his own.

In the second story, Heller learns about government-funded mind control experiments on unknowing subjects from a scientist who has a change of heart.  When the scientist turns up missing, Heller knows that he’s next up unless he can figure a way out.

I’m a huge fan of Max Allan Collins’ Nate Heller series.  Heller is a fictional detective who finds himself in the middle of real crimes.  Heller ages as the series progresses and fiction is mixed with extensive research and historical fact.  It’s fun watching Heller interact with famous (and infamous) folks right out of our history books.  Equally enjoyable is Collins’ take on the crimes and what may have really happened (if it is not as we’ve been taught).

In Better Dead Heller interacts with Joe McCarthy, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Roy Cohen, Bettie Page, Bobby Kennedy and others.  I also like that Heller in these outings is a bit more hardboiled.  Perhaps it’s the decade.

Better Dead is another great addition to the Nate Heller legacy.  I’m hoping for more!


Mike Tyson vs. James ‘Buster’ Douglas: An Oral History of Boxing’s Most Remarkable Upset

Posted in Celebs, History, and Sports

If you’re a boxing fan you won’t want to miss Eric Raskin’s excellent Mike Tyson vs. James ‘Buster’ Douglas: An Oral History of Boxing’s Most Remarkable Upset.

Mike Tyson, Buster Douglas, Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant, the fighters’ trainers and others all weigh in on the events and fight that was the greatest upset in boxing and perhaps sports history!


The Murder of Rasputin: The 100th Anniversary of a Mystery That Won’t Die

Posted in Crime, and History

Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin was murdered in the very early morning hours on December 30, 1916.  If you know the name Rasputin, then my bet is you know the circumstances of his death.

Rasputin was said to have healing powers, a hypnotic effect on men and woman, was a known womanizer whom some said was a saint while others claimed him to be the human incarnation of Satan.

Prince Felix Yusupov, who confessed to killing Rasputin details how Rasputin ate poisoned treats with no effect…

…Rasputin relaxed, eating multiple cakes and drinking three glasses of wine, Yusupov waited. And waited. The “Mad Monk” should have been dead in seconds, but the cyanide seemed to have no effect. Growing worried, Yusupov excused himself to the other room. He returned with a gun, promptly shooting Rasputin in the back. The other accomplices drove off to create the appearance that their victim had departed, leaving Yusupov and Purishkevich alone at the mansion with what appeared to be Rasputin’s corpse.


A strange impulse made Yusupov check the body again. The moment he touched Rasputin’s neck to feel for a pulse, Rasputin’s eyes snapped open. The Siberian leapt up, screaming, and attacked. But that wasn’t the worst part. As Yusupov wrote in 1953, “there was something appalling and monstrous in his diabolical refusal to die. I realized now who Rasputin really was … the reincarnation of Satan himself.”

According to legend Rasputin was poisoned, shot repeatedly, beaten, bound and dumped into a river to drown.  When his body was found its condition supported the account of Rasputin’s murder and unnatural ability to survive…

…Two days later, a search party found a body trapped beneath the ice of the frozen Malaya Nevka River. It was Rasputin: missing an eye, bearing three bullet wounds and countless cuts and bruises.

Rasputin’s daughter wrote in her book, My Father, that when Rasputin’s body…

…was found, his hands were unbound, arms arranged over his head… Maria claimed this was proof Rasputin survived his injuries, freed himself in the river, and finally drowned while making the sign of the cross.

Most of us know the story of Rasputin and his supernatural ability to survive attacks that would have killed mortals.  Yet all we know, may not be the whole story.  Perhaps Rasputin didn’t have supernatural powers.

Andrew Lenoir presents an explanation based on research and historical facts to explain The Murder of Rasputin: The 100th Anniversary of a Mystery That Won’t Die.

Source: Mental_Floss.

America’s First Theme Park Was All Santa, All the Time

Posted in History, and Trivia

Anyone know where Santa Claus lives?

North Pole, right?  Yeah, that’s a correct answer, but so is Santa Claus, Indiana!

I can vouch that Santa Claus, Indiana exists because I visited it as a kid back in the 1960’s.  Of course then it was called Santa Claus Land (or at least that’s what my grandparents called it when they took me).

When I asked my grandparents about Santa living in our home state and not the North Pole, they explained that Santa did live at the North Pole with the elves and reindeer but sometimes the jolly ole fellow liked to escape the cold.

If you’d like to learn more about Santa Claus, Indiana, Erin Blakemore and Mental_Floss have the full story in America’s First Theme Park Was All Santa, All the Time.

10 Less Than Heroic Stories Of Survival From The Titanic

Posted in History, and Trivia

Mark Oliver and Listverse present 10 Less Than Heroic Stories Of Survival From The Titanic.

While it is hard to predict how we’d act in a life or death situation, if you check out the piece above you’ll learn about…

  • the man who said he accidentally tripped and fell into a lifeboat…
  • the man who dressed up as a woman to get into a lifeboat…
  • the millionaires who bribed crew to get their own lifeboat…
  • the man who told his wife the boat was sinking and to gather up the children and then left before they got topside on a lifeboat…
  • the baker who got drunk and went down with the ship but survived!

Ken Meyer, Jr.’s Ink Stains 3: Steranko, Cockrum, Fujitake, Smith and More!

Posted in Art, Comics, and History

If you’re a fan of fanzines, then you’ve got to check out Ken Meyer, Jr.’s monthly column Ink Stains.  Each month Ken (who is an amazing artist) posts… well, let’s let Ken explain…

I have a collection of over 200 fanzines from the 60’s-80’s that I plan to scan and talk about, one at a time. I hope to have some of the participants answer a few questions. Many of those participants are established comics professionals now, while some have gone on to other things. I will show a few snippets from each zine and give you a link to download a pdf of the whole thing, which I hope all of you will do!

For Ink Stains 3, Ken took a look at Fantastic Fanzine #10 from 1969 published by Gary Groth (who later went on to publish the long-running month magazine, The Comics Journal) and Alan Light (who later went on to publish the long-running weekly newspaper the Comic Buyers Guide).  The issue featured an Jim Steranko / Joe Sinnot cover as well as art by Dave Cockrum, Barry Smith, Bill Everett, Bill Black and Dennis Fujitake.  That’s Fujutake’s splash posted above.  I always like DF’s work and wished there was more around!

All, the glory days of fanzines.  Thanks to Ken Meyer, Jr. for making these available!

Our Hurricane Matthew Wrap-Up

Posted in History

Hurricane Matthew hit the Volusia County coast of central Florida as a level three hurricane and thankfully not a level 4 as had been predicted.  Everyone I know received some house, yard or car damage.  I was lucky in that our damage was minor.  Some of our soffits came down and some limbs came off our backyard tree.  The soffits are up and the limbs removed.

My son, Mike lost a tree and shingles on his roof.  The tree is being removed and the shingles can be replaced.  My mom’s house lost some shingles.  My buddy, John Beatty had a hole punched in his roof, and more.

Thankfully no one I know was injured by the storm.

If you read my earlier post about Hurricane Matthew coming, you know my son Mike (and daughter-in-law, Erin) and son Chris  worked a Hurricane Shelter.  I ended up being called in to work a shelter as well.  Two days in a shelter isn’t fun for anyone, but it is nice knowing that we were able to provide refuge to people in need.

Power is back on (in most places) and clean-up and repair is underway (in most places).  School for students and teachers will resume on Wednesday (at least it looks that way at this point).

Thanks to everyone who asked about things and for sending out positive thoughts and prayers.

We now return to our usual nonsense.

Matthew is Coming and He’s Packing a Punch!

Posted in History

In 2004, I was a high school Assistant Principal at a school that served as an evacuation shelter during hurricanes.  In the span of a month we opened the shelter three times.  It’s hard to believe that our area was hit with that many hurricanes in that small time frame.  The damage done to our area was bad, but not as terrible as it could have been.

Today Hurricane Matthew is on track to slowly move up the coast of Florida as a level 4 (4!) hurricane.  Those in the know say that Matthew will easily be in the top 5 worst U.S. hurricanes of all time.  In our county the beach side is under a mandatory evacuation.  We’ve opened 12 schools as shelters and have more on standby.  My son, Mike, is helping to run one of those shelters.  My school is on alert should we be called.

Our hope is that the storm will take a turn to the east and keep going.  If you look at the photo above you can see that the prediction is Matthew will ravage the coast of Florida then along the coast of Georgia and the Carolinas and then loop back.  Let’s hope not.  Once is more than enough.

To all readers in the path of Matthew, stay safe.