Archive for October, 2008


6.5 million singular sensations

One of my favorite stage musicals, A Chorus Line, opened on Broadway today in 1975. It ran for eight years, won nine Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize for drama, and introduced about 6.5 million people to Mike, Bobby, Sheila, Bebe, Maggie, Kristine, Al, Mark, Gregory, Diana, Don, Richie, Judy, Connie, Val, Cassie, and the demanding director, Zach.

If you never heard the origins Broadway recording, do yourself a favor and borrow it from the library or buy it for your collection. It’s an amazing — and sometimes almost frightening — theatrical example of what happens when people get real with each other about their lives, their drives, and the barriers that become stepping stones.

What a show!


Barrels of watery fun

It takes a special kind of person to ride a barrel over Niagra Falls. And on this day in 1901, a 63-year-old widow made history (briefly) by doing it first.

In search of fortune and fame (yes, in that order — hopes of money overshadowed visions of popularity), a retired schoolteacher named Annie Edson Taylor strapped herself into an old pickle barrel, had herself towed to the middle of the Niagra River, and then floated and flew across Horseshoe Falls.

She survived, but her fame didn’t. After a brief round of photographs and a few speaking engagements, she faded from popular memory.


Celebrating a variety of loud birthdays

Wear some ear protection today, because this day in October really brings the “loud and creative” out of people.

Today we celebrate a variety of sound-related birthdays, including:

  • Jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993)
  • Rock musician Manfred Mann (68)
  • Blues and rock guitarist Steve “Share” Cropper (67)
  • Rock musician and Chicago band member Lee Loughnane (62)
  • Rock singer Julian Cope (51)
  • Rock musician and Toto band member Steve Lukather (51)
  • Rock musician Che Colovia Lemon (38)
  • Rock musician Nick Oliveri (37)
  • Rock musician and Jars of Clay band member Charlie Lowell (35)

Shifting to a different sort of sound, we also celebrate the birthday of Swedish chemist Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833-1896). Nobel invented dynamite, refined the manufacturing process for nitroglycerine, and ran the Bofors company (shifting it from iron production to armaments). Concerned in his later life that he would be remembered only for weapons and implements of destruction, Nobel donated most of his fortune to the creation of the Nobel Prizes for peace, literature, science, and other pursuits.


Feeling better about feeling older

My firstborn turned 18 over the weekend, and that’s enough to give anybody pause for a day or two. I’m past all of that now (it’s been the requisite couple of days), but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m starting to notice moments when random body parts simply don’t work as well as they once did.

Perhaps that’s why the tale of a temporarily older reporter and a 6-figure sports car brought a smile to my face. Continue reading ‘Feeling better about feeling older’


Lincoln invents Thanksgiving

Okay, maybe he didn’t exactly the concept, but he did specify the date. On this day in 1864, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, establishing the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving. Here’s the original proclamation text:

Continue reading ‘Lincoln invents Thanksgiving’


A football fact that even I enjoyed

On this day in 1920, the Decatur Staleys played their 1st NFL game, winning 7-0. Founded in Decatur, Illinois, in 1919, the club moved to Chicago in 1921 and changed its name to the Chicago Bears.

Of the teams that started at the dawn of the NFL, only the Bears and the Arizona Cardinals remain in action today.


Two stories, with plenty of stairs

On this delightful day back in 1888, the Washington Monument opened its doors (well, it’s door) to the general public. Visitors could go inside, look around, and climb. And climb. And climb some more.

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October 2008
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