What I See ~

Washington’s Sweet Lips

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February 22, 1732: Washington’s Birthday… (psssst, it’s the wrong day)

In honor of Washington’s birthday, I’ve collected a few details about George you may not have known.

First off, he was not born on February 22, 1732. He was actually born on February 11, 1731. When the colonies switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar his birthday was moved eleven days.

GW had a Crush on Canines

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Painting of one of Washington’s dogs, name unknown

During the battle of Germantown the Continental army was getting beaten against the strong British advance. Some of Washington’s soldiers found a small dog on the front lines. When they discovered the dog was wearing a collar indicating it belonged to the British General Howe, they immediately brought it to Washington.

Remarkably, instead of using the dog in some way to his army’s advantage, he cleaned and fed the hungry animal and ordered a cease-fire. He then saw that the dog was returned to its owner with this note:

“General Washington’s compliments to General Howe. General Washington does himself the pleasure to return to him a dog, which accidentally fell into his hands, and, by the inscription on the collar, appears to belong to General Howe.”

Representation of Sweetlipps

Representation of Sweet Lips

The British Commander called the incident, “an honorable act of a gentleman”. Howe seemed to dampen his harsh pursuit of the Continental Army. His soldiers continued to win battles but he showed restraint in crushing Washington’s army despite having opportunities to do so. When The Crown gave him an order to “show little compassion to the rebels,” Howe resigned his position.

Washington bred hound dogs that he treated like members of the family. He loved naming his dogs which attests to his love for his four legged friends. Here are a few:

Countess, Doxey, Droner, Dublin, Dutchess, Forrester, Hearkwell, Jupiter, Lady, Mopsey, Music, Pluto, Ragman, Ringwood, Rober, Rockwood, Rover, Searcher, Shingas, Singer, Sweetlips, Truelove, Venus and Vulcan.

He personally owned more than 50 dogs during his lifetime!wahing

The Big Guy

Washington was a big man at six feet, two inches tall and 200 pounds, he was one of our biggest presidents.

Lack of Education

Washington started school when he was six and left school at 15. He was largely self-taught in various disciplines and was so good at math, he became a paid surveyor at age 16!

Favorite Foods

Some of Washington’s favorite foods were:

Cream of peanut soup, mashed sweet potatoes with coconut, and string beans with mushrooms.

Sweet potato and coconut

Sweet potato and coconut

Cream of peanut soup

Cream of peanut soup

Beans and mushrooms

Beans and mushrooms

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Washington’s favorite breakfast was hoecakes – simple pancakes made with cornmeal, served with butter and honey.

Hoe cakes

Hoe cakes

A Sickly Guy

He was one of our sickest presidents in history. Through-out his life he suffered many ailments including: diphtheria, tuberculosis, smallpox, dysentery, malaria, quinsy (tonsillitis), carbuncle, pneumonia, and epiglottitis.

Toothaches bothered him for years. At age 57 he had all his teeth pulled and wore dentures. Contrary to legend his dentures were not made of wood. They were made of carved animal bone and human teeth.

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Washington’s teeth

That was his real hair, not a wig. It looked white because he powdered it.

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He may have died from medical malpractice.

On the day of his death he went through four rounds of bloodletting.

From the New York Times:

On Washington’s fateful day, Albin Rawlins, one of his overseers and a bloodletter, was summoned. Washington bared his arm. The overseer had brought his lancet and made an incision. Washington said, ”Don’t be afraid.” That day, Rawlins drew 12 ounces of blood, then 18 ounces, another 18 ounces and a final 32 ounces into a porcelain bleeding bowl.

Greeting the President as “Mr. President” was his idea.

He was so strong that he could crack walnut shells between his thumb and forefinger.

George-WashingtonHe was widely acknowledged as the best horseman in the 13 Colonies.

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Washington owned a whiskey distillery.

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He installed a distillery at Mount Vernon in 1798 and made aproxitmaly 12,000 gallons of liquor a year. George was one of the most successful distributors in the country. His state of the art distillery also made rye whiskey, apple brandy and peach brandy. The distillery has been restored and is now open to the public.

Rabbit Of Seville

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February 20, 1816: Barber of Seville Premiers

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Rossini

Gioachino Antonio Rossini’s now famous opera, The Barber of Seville, premieres at the Teatro Argentina in Rome this day in 1816. The Barber of Seville is an opera buffa in two acts. ”Opere buffe” is an informal description of Italian comic operas.

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Teatro Argentina

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Teatro Argentina stage

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Teatro Argentina from the stage

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The Test of Time

Imagine surviving over 200 years of popularity. Rossinui’s Barber is one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy and music… Bugs Bunny attests to it’s popularity

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Rabbit of Seville is a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon released in 1950.

It was directed by Chuck Jones and written by Michael Maltese with musical arrangements by Carl Stalling. The cartoon’s music focused on Rossini’s overture to The Barber of Seville.

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Stalling’s arrangement is remarkable in that the overture’s basic structure is kept relatively intact; some repeated passages are removed and the overall piece is conducted at a faster tempo to accommodate the cartoon’s standard running length. In 1994 it was voted #12 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. [1]

Click on pictures to enlarge

[1] Wikipedia

Where Have You Seen This Face?

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January 31, 1606: The Death of Guy Fawkes

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Guy Fawkes

Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators wanted to blow up the House of commons… they especially hated King James I. It was a religious thing, with the King being Protestant, Fawkes and his cohorts wanted to restore a Catholic monarch to the throne. It was a bit more complicated that that but hopefully you get the gist.

Initially they rented a house near the Parliament and meant to tunnel underneath it where they would fill the cavern with gunpowder. After weeks of tunneling Fawkes discovered that a filthy unused room was available for lease directly below the chamber where Parliament was to meet.

m3NXdakxjpM3Cvd7SoUMBqAThe schemers secretly brought in 36 barrels of gunpowder with Fawkes in charge of guarding it. He was also the guy chosen to light things off.

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The night before the general parliamentary session was scheduled to begin, Sir Thomas Knyvet, a justice of the peace, found Guy Fawkes lurking around the cellar of the Parliament building. He was detained and while searching the premises, found nearly two tons of gunpowder hidden behind firewood in the cellar.

Initially Fawkes was defiant and did not hold back his plan. When asked by one of the lords what he was doing in possession of so much gunpowder, Fawkes answered that his intention was “to blow you Scotch beggars back to your native mountains.”1 He gave a fake name, John Johnson, and would not give up his collaborators.

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A contemporary engraving of eight of the thirteen conspirators, by Crispijn van de Passe. Fawkes is third from the right

After four days of torture Fawkes finally gave it up.

Fawkes was quickly processed through a brief trial and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. The gruesome executions were popular events in London so a huge crowd had gathered to see Fawkes hang. On January 31, 1606 he was lead up the stairs of the hanging platform but suddenly jumped from the ladder breaking his neck, dying instantly.

A 1606 etching by Claes (Nicolaes) Jansz Visscher, depicting Fawkes's execution

A 1606 etching by Claes (Nicolaes) Jansz Visscher, depicting Fawkes’s execution

Brits began celebrating November 5 as the day the Gunpowder Plot was foiled, preventing King James I death. Originally Guy Fawkes Day was very anti-Catholic, but today is has a much lighter tone and is mostly an excuse to watch fireworks, make bonfires, drink and burn effigies of Guy Fawkes and whoever the current politicians and celebrities trending that people love to hate.

So now you know. But did you also know that Guy Fawkes kind of looks like…

Vincent Price

Vincent Price

Or maybe…

Leonardo DeCaprio

Leonardo DeCaprio

This guy…

Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert

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1Wikipedia

I Yam What I Yam

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January 17, 1929: Popeye First Appears in a Cartoon

Initially Popeye was a minor character created by E. C. Segar for the Thimble Theatre comic strip. He was a sailor hired by Olive Oyl’s current boyfriend, Harold Hamgravy. He was never meant to continue but readers took such a huge liking to the oddball sailor that he was quickly brought back.

First Comic

First Comic – click to enlarge

E. C. Segar

E. C. Segar

Segar had been doing the strip for ten years but after Popeye’s arrival he became the main focus of the cartoon. Popeye the Sailor was one of the hottest properties for King Features during the 1930’s. King Features is a print syndication company owned by The Hearst Corporation.

In 1933 Popeye received a foundling baby in the mail. He adopted him and named him “Swee ‘Pea”. Of course a favorite character was J. Wellington Wimpy who was always on the hunt for a hamburger today that he would gladly pay for Tuesday.

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Click to enlarge

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One of the more unusual characters was Jeep the yellow dog-like animal from Africa with magical powers. In Segar’s strip Bluto made only one appearance and spinach use was rare. Popeye got his power from rubbing the head of Bernice the Whiffle hen.

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Popeye with Bernice the Whiffle hen – click to enlarge

Looking back, Popeye was more than a quirky sailor with bad grammar, weird arms and “a face like a hatchet” (Popeye’s self-description). He was rough but not a bully. He wasn’t very smart… and I mean that in a good way.  He held himself accountable, and put himself in jail a few times when he realized he had screwed up. He admits when he’s wrong and tries to make it right. He’s man enough to face his mistakes.

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Click to enlarge

As Segar himself said: “Popeye is much more than a goofy character to me… He represents all of my emotions, and is an outlet for them. I’d like to cut loose and knock the heck out of a lot of people, but my size and good judgment hold me back.”

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In 1933 Fleischer Studios adapted the cartoon to an animated series. Popeye the Sailor became one of the most popular cartoons of the ‘30’s and continued production to 1957.

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Fleischer’s first Popeye cartoon

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man,

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.

I’m strong to the finich

Cause I eats me spinach.

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.

I’m one tough Gazookus

Which hates all Palookas

Wot ain’t on the up and square.

I biffs ‘em and buffs ‘em

And always out roughs ‘em

But none of ‘em gets nowhere.

If anyone dares to risk my “Fisk”,

It’s “Boff” an’ it’s “Wham” un’erstan’?

So keep “Good Be-hav-or”

That’s your one life saver

With Popeye the Sailor Man.

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man,

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.

I’m strong to the finich

Cause I eats me spinach.

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.

Popeye’s theme song, “I’m Popeye The Sailor Man” was  composed by Sammy Lerner in 1933 for Fleischer’s first Popeye the Sailor cartoon and has become forever associated with the sailor.

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The Night Jazz Broke Out in America

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January 16, 1938: Carnegie Hall Sold Out

Carnegie hall sold out at $90.00 a seat. Actually it was $2.75 but in today’s money that’s about $90.00.

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Click on picture to enlarge

Ah yes, Carnegie Hall… Piano Concerto in B-flat by Arthur Bliss… Violin Concerto by Benjamin Britten… Intermezzo from Vanessa by Samuel Barber… Symphony in Three Movements by Igor Stravinsky…

Wild ass jazz…

What?! Wild ass jazz… at Carnegie Hall?! Unheard of !

Carnegie Hall, known for sophisticated, cultured, prestigious classical music, was suddenly put on its ear with toe tapping swing.

Goodman with Lionel Hampton and Gene Krupa

Goodman with Lionel Hampton and Gene Krupa

Benny Goodman and his band which included the legendary Harry James on trumpet, Lionel Hampton on vibraphone and the insane drums of Gene Krupa had Carnegie sold out for weeks prior.

Martha Tilton

Martha Tilton

The concert began with, “Don’t’ Be That Way”, “Sometimes I’m Happy” and “One O’Clock Jump”. The band was smokin’! Things livened up even more as Goodman’s band and quartet hit stride with some of their famous tunes and Martha Tilton’s singing provoked 5 curtain calls.

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1938 Carnegie Hall

Goodman ended with the incredible “Sing, Sing, Sing” featuring solos by Goodman, tenor sax man Babe Russin and Harry James all backed by mad drummer Gene Krupa. Unexpectedly Goodman highlighted pianist Jess Stacy. Music critic David Rickert wrote of Stacy’s jam:

“Used to just playing rhythm on the tune, he was unprepared for a turn in the spotlight, but what came out of his fingers was a graceful, impressionistic marvel with classical flourishes, yet still managed to swing. It was the best thing he ever did, and it’s ironic that such a layered, nuanced performance came at the end of such a chaotic, bombastic tune.”

Goodman’s concert at Carnegie Hall is regarded as one of the most significant moments in jazz history. Taking jazz to the masses and having it accepted by mainstream America.

If you’ve got a couple minutes listen o this. “Sing Sing Sing” Benny Goodman and his band at Carnegie Hall. This is so sweet and Gene Krupa, are you kidding me!

Carnegie Hall set list

  1. Don’t Be That Way
  2. Sometimes I’m Happy
  3. One O’Clock Jump
  4. 4Sensation Rag
  5. I’m Coming Virginia
  6. When My Baby Smiles at Me
  7. Shine
  8. Blue Reverie
  9. Life Goes to a Party
  10. Honeysuckle Rose
  11. Body and Soul
  12. Avalon
  13. The Man I Love
  14. I Got Rhythm
  15. Blue Skies
  16. Loch Lomond
  17. Blue Room
  18. Swingtime in the Rockies
  19. Bei mir bist Du schön
  20. China Boy
  21. Stompin’ at the Savoy
  22. Dizzy Spells
  23. Sing Sing Sing (With a Swing)

Encore:

  1. If Dreams Come True
  2. Big John’s Special

Happy Birthday Albert

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Albert Schweitzer Born January 14, 1875

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A Grand Adventure

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January 11, 1908

What is 277 miles long…

- – – – – 18 miles at it widest point…

- – – – – – – – – - four miles at its narrowest point…

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – - and 6000 feet deep?

trenvpic53Today, January 11, 1908, President Teddy Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a National Monument.  Environmental conservation was a major component of Roosevelt’s presidency.  Here was a New Yorker who could not deny his affection and respect for the Canyon and the American West.

When he dedicated the Grand Canyon he declared:

“Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”

View from Mohave Point of the Colorado River flowing through the Grand Canyon

View from Mohave Point of the Colorado River flowing through the Grand Canyon

Native Americans lived in the Canyon as early as the 13th Century. The Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and his crew first sighted it in 1540.

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The Hualapai tribe still inhabit a 100-mile stretch along the pine-clad southern side of the Grand Canyon. The Havasupai have been living in the area near Cataract Canyon since the beginning of the 13th century, occupying an area the size of Delaware.

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Geologist John Wesley Powell gets credit for first calling it the Grand Canyon. In 1869 he led a group of 10 men along the length of the 277 mile gorge…

…in four rowboats!!

Noon rest in Marble Canyon, second Powell Expedition

Noon rest in Marble Canyon, second Powell Expedition

Scientists still don’t agree on how it formed

(Credit: Grand Canyon National Park)

There is still debate over how the canyon was formed. Evidence shows that the Colorado River broke out of the west end of the canyon somewhere between 5 and 17 million years ago. But that is the only constant (if you can call that a constant).

Diagram showing the placement, age and thickness of the rock units exposed in the Grand Canyon.

Diagram showing the placement, age and thickness of the rock units exposed in the Grand Canyon.

Was there an ancient gorge waiting for the young river? Did the river carve the canyon all at once? A recent study found eroded and exposed rocks at the surface from 70 million years ago!

We do know the Colorado continues to erode and form the canyon… it’s happening right now. How ‘bout we all go take a look?

The snakes are pink

(Credit: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

Of the six species of rattlesnake that inhabit the canyon one has an unusual pink hue that matches the local rocks. The Grand Canyon pink rattlesnake is the most common snake in the park.snake15

The Grand Canyon  reveals 40 percent of Earth’s history

(Credit: USGS)

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Schist layers

The Colorado River cuts through schist, a type of metamorphic rock that is 1.75 billion years old. That’s nearly half the age of the Earth (which is 4.5 billion years old).

The FAA was created because of a plane crash in the canyon

In the 1950’s plane flights would pass over the canyon to get a great view. On June 30, 1956 two planes flying from LA to Chicago collided killing everyone on board. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was created in 1958 as a result of the crash.

Severed tail of the TWA plane

Severed tail of the TWA plane

Did you know…

… that the whole Grand Canyon is tilted: the northern rim is 1200 ft. higher than the southern rim?

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…the canyon includes approximately 70 species of mammals, 250 species of birds, 25 types of reptiles and five species of amphibians?

A California condor in flight, photographed from Navajo Bridge at Marble Canyon, 2008. Wild condors are numbered to aid wildlife researchers. As of April 2009, there were 172 wild California condors known.

A California condor in flight, photographed from Navajo Bridge at Marble Canyon, 2008. Wild condors are numbered to aid wildlife researchers. As of April 2009, there were 172 wild California condors known.

… there aren’t any dinosaur fossils at the Grand Canyon? The explanation is that the rocks here are far older than the dinosaurs. Therefore, the fossils you find are simple prehistoric creatures such as corals, sponges, and trilobites.

International Space Station image of the Grand Canyon and surrounding area

International Space Station image of the Grand Canyon and surrounding area

… it takes 5 hours to get from one side of the canyon to the other, I know this from personal experience. There is no bridge across the canyon, the North Rim and South Rim are about 10 miles apart straight across. So you will have to drive all the way around the canyon to get from one side to the other, 215 miles.

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Ah Chris… That’s Not a Mermaid

article-pic-manatee-mermaidBack in 1493 on this day, Christopher Columbus and his mates described seeing mermaids near what is now the Dominican Republic.

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Ah Chris… you guys have been at sea bit too long.

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He mentioned they weren’t as pretty as they have been described, saying they were, “not half as beautiful as they are painted.”

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What he and his crew saw of course were most likely manatees.

Manatees are slow moving gentle creatures with human like eyes and bulbous faces. Their ancestry is most likely shared with elephants.

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Though not the smartest fish in the tank they are capable of understanding discrimination tasks and show signs of complex associative learning similar to dolphins, particularly in acoustic and visual studies.

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As you’ve probably heard, the main cause of death for manatees are human-related issues. Hearing on a higher frequency than you’d expect for a large marine mammal the low frequency of a large boat propeller confuse the animal. Studies show that when a boat that has a higher frequency sound approaches, they scatter.

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It’s a Wonderful Life Premiers

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December 20, 1946: It’s a Wonderful Life Opens

It’s a Wonderful Life premiered at the Globe Theatre in New York on December 20, 1946.

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Considered one of the most popular and beloved films in American cinema, it was produced and directed by Frank Capra based on a short story, “The Greatest Gift” written by Phillip Van Doren Stern in 1939.

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Although it didn’t do well at the box office, the film was nominated for five Academy Awards winning the Technical Achievement award for the development of a new method of simulating falling snow on motion picture sets.

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The movie is recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made placing 11th and would place number one on its list of most inspirational American films of all time. Capra stated that is it his personal favorite of all the films he has directed and screens it for his family every Christmas.

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Jimmy Stewart claimed that of all the movies he’s made, It’s a Wonderful Life is his favorite.

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Frank Capra

Frank Capra

Wonderful Life wasn’t made as a Christmas staple but became so decades after its release. This was a “wonderful” surprise to Frank Capra and the others involved in the production. Capra told the Wall Street Journal in 1984, “It’s the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen. The film has a life of its own now, and I can look at it like I had nothing to do with it. I’m like a parent whose kid grows up to be president. I’m proud… but it’s the kid who did the work. I didn’t even think of it as a Christmas story when I first ran across it. I just liked the idea.” He described the theme as “the individual’s belief in himself”.

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On a side note, even in 1946 the movies used product placement. Mr. Grower’s drugstore gives us a peek at what was its_a_wonderful_life14trending in 1946. Some of the products include Coca-Cola, Peterson tobacco pipes, La Unica cigars, Camel cigarettes, Lucky Strike cigarettes, Chesterfield cigarettes, Sweet Caporal cigarettes (there is a sign that says “Ask Dad he knows” that will play a role in the plot), Vaseline hair tonic, Penetro cough syrup, Pepto-Bismol, Bayer Aspirin (“for colds and influenza”), and The Saturday Evening Post.

It’s A Wonderful Life – Final Scene, Tell me you can watch this without your eyes glassing up…

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What Do Sinatra and Neil Young Have in Common

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December 19, 1960: Ring-a-Ding-Ding!

Sinatra wanted freedom. Total artistic freedom to record what he wanted to record and how he wanted to record it; arrangements, mixes, complete artistic autonomy. He wanted to own his work, screw the labels retaining his art. So he created his own label, Reprise Records, and began recording his first sessions today on December 19, 1960.

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logo_Large_90224One of the company’s founding principles under Sinatra’s leadership was that each artist would have full creative freedom and eventually complete ownership of their work, including publishing rights. Hell, he was Chairman of the Board… he made the calls. How do you think he got the nickname, “Chairman of the Board”?

Frank called on his Vegas pals, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. to work with him. Others joined, the original roster from 1961 to 1963 included: Bing Crosby, Jo Stafford, Rosemary Clooney, Esquivel and stand-up comedian Redd Foxx.

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Sinatra’s first album released on Reprise was Ring-a-Ding-Ding!

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Consider Reprise’s roster which grew to include:  Jimi Hendrix

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Early Joni Mitchell recordings

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Neil Young

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The Electric Prunes ~ Lee Hazlewood ~ Arlo Guthrie ~ Tiny Tim ~ Ry Cooder ~ Captain Beefheart ~ Frank Zappa and The Mothers

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Nancy Sinatra ~ Gram Parsons ~ Emmylou Harris ~ Nico’s Desertshore ~ The Fugs ~ Jethro Tull ~ T. Rex ~ The Meters ~ John Cale ~ Little Feat ~ Gordon Lightfoot ~ Richard Pryor ~ Al Jarreau ~ Fleetwood Mac ~ The Beach Boys, and others.

Sinatra eventually sold the label to Warner Bros and in 1976, the Reprise label was deactivated. All of its roster was moved to the main Warner Bros. label except for Sinatra and Neil Young. Sinatra wanted to be the only artist on Reprise and Young refused to agree to change labels.

Today, in addition to Young, it is home to such artists as Devendra Banhart ~ Green Day

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Deftones ~ Michael Bublé ~ Iyaz ~ Enya ~ Mastodon ~ Eric Clapton ~ Fleetwood Mac ~ Serj Tankian ~ Josh Groban ~ Charice ~ Cavo ~ Taking Back Sunday ~ HIM (also on Sire) ~ My Chemical Romance ~ Disturbed. Reprise was also the North American label for British bands Depeche Mode and Oasis.

Sinatra’s first album on Reprise was Ring-a-Ding-Ding! The initial concept was “an album without ballads” that included only up-tempo swing numbers. Ring-A-Ding-Ding! managed a 35 week stay on the charts.

Track listing:

  1. “Ring-a-Ding Ding!” (Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn)
  2. “Let’s Fall in Love” (Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler)
  3. “Be Careful, It’s My Heart” (Irving Berlin)
  4. “A Foggy Day” (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin)
  5. “A Fine Romance” (Jerome Kern, Dorothy Fields)
  6. “In the Still of the Night” (Cole Porter)
  7. “The Coffee Song” (Bob Hilliard, Dick Miles)
  8. “When I Take My Sugar to Tea” (Irving Kahal, Sammy Fain, Pierre Norman)
  9. “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” (Berlin)

If you’re wondering who Esquivel is, “he was sometimes called “The King of Space Age Pop” and “The Busby Berkeley of Cocktail Music.” Esquivel is considered one of the foremost exponents of a style of late 1950s-early 1960s quirky instrumental pop that became known (in retrospect) as “Space Age Bachelor Pad Music”.[1]

[1] Wikipedia

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