Friday, April 29, 2016

Oklahoma court: Sodomy Law not applicable when victim is unconcious. What could possibly go wrong?

Just when you think Oklahoma couldn't get any more stupid, they surprise you.  Sometimes, it's more shocking than surprising.  Oklahoma's highest court ruled:

"...the state's forcible sodomy law doesn’t apply when the victim is intoxicated or unconscious."


The ruling came from a court case in which a 16 year-old girl was at a party where people were smoking marijuana and drinking in 2014.  Her blood alcohol level was later determined to be 0.341, which is more than 4 times the legal limit.  A boy at the party gave her a ride home, but she was so drunk, she was taken to the hospital (by whom?)  When she came to, the staff at the hospital were conducting a sexual assault investigation.  The boy's DNA was found on her leg and around her mouth. The boy said she agreed to oral sex but the girl didn't remember anything.

Tulsa County prosecutors charged him with rape but the trial judge dismissed the case.

“Forcible sodomy cannot occur where a victim is so intoxicated as to be completely unconscious at the time of the sexual act of oral copulation,” the decision read.

What could possibly go wrong?  Yesterday, I was afraid of just being shot.

"Godzilla vs Mothra" released 1964

"Godzilla vs Mothra", released April 29, 1964, pitted the G-Man against Mothra who made her movie debut in 1961.  Based on the success of the movie, Toho released a second Godzilla movie, "Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster" in December the same year.  "Godzilla vs Mothra" was the third of nine (so far) appearances by Akira Takarada, who starred in the original Godzilla movie and most recently the American version released in 2014.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Oklahoma passes open-carry-no-licensing handgun law: What could possibly go wrong?

Thanks to the Oklahoma House and Senate, you can now carry a handgun in public openly, without training or a license to carry it.  The good ol' boys and gals in the legislature like to keep instilling fear into the general populace that the federal government is coming to take your guns away.  As if.  So, they strike a blow for the NRA in supporting the Second Amendment against a non-existent threat. 

Those proud, painfully right-winged conservatives don't have to listen to the likes of public safety officials, academic leaders (they be too edumicated) or even the Oklahoma City Thunder.  It's a great idea to have people openly carrying weapons to church, school, restaurants and bars.  What could possibly go wrong?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Beethoven writes "Für Elise" in 1810

April 27, 1810, Ludwig van Beethoven wrote Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor, more commonly known as "Fur Elise", one of the most popular piano pieces ever written.  The identity of "Elise" is not known for certain but it could have been Therese Malfatti von Rohrenback zu Dezza or Countess Therese von Brunswick.  We probably will never know.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Book review - The Widow's Tale by Margaret Frazer

And she’s back!  In my review of “The Bastard’s Tale” last week, I theorized there were two people writing as Margaret Frazer.  One likes to write exciting murder mysteries while the other likes the more subtle, intrigue-laden stories.  “The Widow’s Tale” was written by the first writer, which means it moves at a much faster and therefore, must better pace.

The novel focuses on a young woman who loses her husband to an untimely and unidentified illness.  After his death, his greedy cousins immediately move in, taking over his manor and its holdings.  They kidnap the widow Cristiana and cart her off to a nunnery for “penance”, telling the nuns many lies and forbidding anyone to talk to her. Of course, the nunnery turns out to be St. Frideswide and soon Dame Frevisse is up to her eyeballs in a new mess.  When Master John Say, a close associate of Cristiana “rescues” her, Domina Elisabeth and Frevisse are obligated to go with her.

The future of Cristiana and her daughters is caught in a tug-of-war between Say and Cristiana’s cousins-in-law.  Fortunately, Frevisse can watch from the sidelines and not get sucked into the middle of everything.

Until her cousin Alice de la Pole, duchess of Suffolk, charges her with finding a traitor among the household.  The real murder mystery doesn’t begin until three-fourths of the way through the novel.  Still there is enough action to keep the reader interested but this pattern of alternating slow-fast stories, one can predict how the next book will read.

Ella Fitzgerald, the First Lady of Song, born 1917

Ella Fitzgerald, the First Lady of Song and probably the most popular jazz singer ever, was born in Newport News, Virginia April 25, 1917.  She sold over 40 million albums and won 13 Grammys, the latest in 1990, for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for "All That Jazz".  She recorded over 200 albums by the time of her passing in 1996.  She got her Star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame February 8, 1960 and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

Listen to this recording of "Summertime" for just a sample of why she was so beloved.

Happy birthday, Londo Mollari!

Peter Jurasik, born April 25, 1950, is probably best known for his role as Londo Mollari in "Babylon 5".  He appeared in the 1982 movie "Tron" with Bruce Boxleitner although they never had any scenes together.  He has appeared in every sitcom from "Family" to "M*A*S*H" to "Third Rock from the Sun."

Here, in "The Geometry of Shadows" Season 2, Episode 3, Mollari confronts a Technomage (played by the excellent Michael Ansara) with chilling results

Sunday, April 24, 2016

"Godzilla Raids Again" released 1955

Following on the heels of the success of "Godzilla", Toho managed to film and release "Godzilla Raids Again" in less than six months after the original release. It would be May 1955 before American audiences would get to see it as "Gigantis, the Fire Monster". WTF?

It is the only film in which Godzilla's spines do not glow while he is releasing his radioactive breath.  It is also the only Godzilla film in which George Takei (Lt. Hikaru Sulu from Star Trek) appears.

Friday, April 22, 2016

First Oklahoma Land Run April 22, 1889

The first of five Oklahoma Land Runs started at noon April 22, 1889.  On March 3, 1889 President Benjamin Harrison declared 1.9 million acres, the present day counties of Canadian, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Logan, Oklahoma and Payne, would be open for settlement at noon April 22.  No one was supposed to jump the gun.  People started lining up seven weeks before the date, and by the start date 50,000 "Boomers"  were camped at the borders.

A gun was fired precisely at noon and by nightfall, the towns of Norman, Oklahoma City, Kingfisher, and Guthrie had sprung up.  Some people had entered the area before the gun was fired and cases against  these "Sooners" clogged up the courts for years.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Venus is hotter and colder than Earth

The European Space Agency's Venus Express reached the second rock from the sun back in 2006 and spent 8 years exploring the planet from orbit.  It far outlasted its expected life of 500 days, sending back a wealth of data before burning up in the atmosphere.  One of the most surprising finds is the polar regions of Venus are much colder than previously thought.

In a technique known as "aerobraking", the Venus Express used Venus' atmosphere to slow down and take measurements at the same time.  The spacecraft orbited at 130-140 km above the polar regions, which had never been explored before in this manner.  Temperatures in this area are as low as -170° C, colder than anywhere on Earth, while temperatures at the equator are over 850° F.

Apollo 16, 5th moon landing, 1972

Apollo 16 crew: Thomas Mattingly, John Young, Charles Duke

Apollo 16, the fifth and next to last manned mission to the moon, touched down on the lunar surface April 21, 1972. The crew consisted of Commander John Young, Command Module Pilot Thomas Mattingly and Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke.  Young and Duke put almost 27 kilometers on their lunar rover exploring the Descartes region of the moon, which includes the Cayley formation and the Kant Plateau.  They remained on the moon's surface for almost three days before returning to the lunar module on April 24.  They splashed down on April 27.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Happy birthday, Sulu!

Everyone's favorite helmsman (now Captain) Hikaru Sulu, George Takei was born April 20, 1937 in Los Angeles.  He was only 4 years old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and spent the next four years with his family in several internment camps.  He's starred in both "Hawaii Five-O" series and he married his partner Brad in 2008.

"Murders in the Rue Morgue" first detective story published 1841

What is considered to be the first detective story, "Murders in the Rue Morgue" was published by the master of horror, Edgar Allan Poe, April 20, 1841.  The detective Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin, who solves a series of bizarre murders in Paris, is credited with inspiring great fictional detectives such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and Dame Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot.  Because Poe wrote the story, he is recognized by the Edgar Awards given annually by the Mystery Writers of America.

Poe's story has been brought to the screen numerous times.  Here is the trailer for the 1932 version starring Bela Lugosi.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

We will never forget April 19, 1995

At 9:02am CDT April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh and co-conspirator Terry Nichols detonated a 5000lb diesel fuel-ammonium nitrate bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City.  The blast, heard 55 miles away, killed 168 people, injured almost 700, destroyed or damaged 324 buildings with in a 16 block radius and caused an estimated $652 million in damages.  The explosion came on the two-year anniversary of the Waco siege on the Branch Davidian compound.  It remains the deadliest attack of domestic terrorism in US history.

Nineteen of the victims were babies and children.  Although McVeigh said he didn't know about the daycare, he had scouted the interior a few months before, so he had to have known about it.  Seven children were made orphans by the explosion.  A picture of firefighter Chris Fields holding fatally injured Baylee Almon taken by Charles Porter won the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography in 1996.

An elm tree which survived the attack, the Survivor Tree, has become the emblem of the Oklahoma City Memorial, dedicated by President Bill Clinton exactly 5 years after the bombing.

The Oklahoma City Memorial

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Book review of "The Bastard's Tale" by Margaret Frazer

Sometimes I think Margaret Frazer is actually two people writing, both with expert knowledge of fifteenth century England but with different ideas for mystery. One writes an exciting, fast-paced story where Frevisse’s intellect is put to the test.  The other puts more emphasis on scandal and intrigue in the courts of King Henry VI and his noblemen.

“The Bastard’s Tale” is one of the latter.  Frevisse is called to wait on her cousin, Alice de la Pole, who is married to the duke of Suffolk.  The duke is in a power play for the king’s favor with the duke of Gloucester.  Whoever the king favors controls the king. 

Frevisse would much prefer to stay at St. Frideswide where the quiet days and nights are structured with the Offices and the duties and tasks assigned to the sisters.  However, since she has no choice, she is drawn into the intrigue surrounding King Henry VI and the suspicious death of the duke of Gloucester.

Joliffe, the performer with whom Frevisse has worked before, is present but this time his actions suggest he’s up to much more than performing.  And Frevisse is worried.

Joliffe and Frevisse befriend the duke of Gloucester’s illegitimate son Arteys.  The duke had never shunned Arteys and neither had his wife, who had been arrested and imprisoned by the king.  They were hoping Henry will grant her freedom, but tragedy strikes.

One thing that sets “The Bastard’s Tale” apart from Frazer’s earlier novels is the finale.  I won’t put any spoilers here but Frevisse does something she’s never done before.  My jaw dropped.

This one started out slow but the last third of the book was a page-turner!



Friday, April 15, 2016

Elizabeth Montgomery born 1933

Beautiful and blond Elizabeth Montgomery would have been 83 today had she  not passed away in 1995 from colon cancer. She was an activist for women's rights and gay rights throughout her life and served as grand marshal with Dick Sargent (her "Bewitched"  husband) for the 1992 LA Gay Pride parade.  According to an entry in, Elizabeth Montgomery and Lizzie Borden were sixth cousins, once removed both having a common ancestor, John Luther.

Before "Bewitched", Elizabeth starred in  an episode of "The Twilight Zone" with a pre-"Death Wish" Charles Bronson.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Oklahoma's Brain Drain

Okie Funk's Doc Hoc reported on his blog yesterday teachers and other intellectuals are leaving the state in droves since they're being laid off, can't find jobs or are being paid rock-bottom wages.  This brain drain is a result of the conservative policies that have produced a whopping $1.3 billion budget shortfall.  They've given the oil and gas industry major tax breaks while slashing education's budget.  Now even people in the oil and gas industry are being laid off.  My cousin who is a first year teacher in OKC has no confidence that his job will be renewed in the fall.

This November, Oklahoma will vote to approve State Question 779 which would raise about $615 million annually for schools and universities.  It is being championed by former governor David Boren.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Handel's "The Messiah" World Premiere 1742

George Friedrich Handel

Rather than during the Christmas season, George Friedrich Handel debuted his oratorio masterpiece during Lent, April 13, 1742 in Dublin, Ireland.  About 700 people attended the premiere.  Gentlemen were asked not to wear their swords (probably a good idea for a host or reasons) and ladies not to wear hoops so they could get as many people in the concert hall as possible.

"The Messiah" was well-received in Dublin but not so much in London.  Despite its initial cool reception in London, "The Messiah" is a Christmas staple.  An amazing feat, since Handel took a little over two weeks to compose the entire piece.

The London Symphony Orchestra performs "For Unto Us a Child is Born".  Handel has been redeemed. 

Apollo 13 suffers near-catastrophic failure 1970

Commander James A. Lovell Jr., Command Module Pilot, John L. Swigert Jr; Lunar Module Pilot Fred W. Haise Jr.  Swigert replaced Thomas Mattingly Jr. right before the flight.  (I suppose you had to have 'Jr.' in your name to be an astronaut on this mission?)

Apollo 13 launched on April 11, 1970, as NASA's third manned mission to the moon, but two days later, April 13, an oxygen tank exploded causing another tank to fail.  This led to a loss of electrical power.  James Lovell, John Swigert and Fred Haise had to abort their landing mission, getting to orbit the moon only once before heading back to Earth.

Against staggering odds, the Apollo 13 crew splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on April 17.

This video from the Smithsonian Channel says the explosion happened on the 14th but NASA's website confirms it was April 13.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

First Space Shuttle Launched 1981!

The launch of the first space shuttle, Columbia, took place April 12, 1981, with Commander John Young and Pilot Bob Crippen on board.  They orbited the earth 37 times in just over 2 days.  By coincidence, Columbia was launched on the 20th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's historic spaceflight in Vostok 1. 

Tom Clancy born in 1947

Tom Clancy, born April 12, 1947, is the author of 17 best-selling novels, including "The Hunt For Red October" and "The Sum of All Fears".  He was born and raised right here in Baltimore.  Unfortunately, he passed away October 1, 2013 from undisclosed causes.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Happy birthday, Jason Voorhees!

Everyone's favorite hockey-masked, maniacal, most prolific serial killer Jason Voorhees, celebrates his birthday today.  Kane Hodder, the man behind the mask, was born April 8, 1955.  He played Voorhees from Friday the 13th, Part 7 to Part 10.  In Part 7: New Blood, Hodder not only played the main character but was the stunt coordinator, as well.  How many leading men can say that?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

"King Kong" released in 1933

The original motion picture "King Kong" was released April 7, 1933 to record crowds, essentially bringing RKO back from the edge of bankruptcy. It grossed $90,000 its first weekend, which was a record at that time.

Over time, the movie has been edited to delete some clips, but most of them have been restored.  All except one: the man-eating spiders.  When the movie was first released, the scene where King Kong knocks sailors off a log and into a ravine where they are eaten alive by giant monsters upset many of the movie-goers and many left the theatre.  The director Merian C. Cooper removed the clip the very next day.  This clip has never been found.  For the remake in 2005, Peter Jackson recreated this scene magnificently. 

Here is Jackson's recreation:

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

ABBA wins Eurovision Song Contest in 1974

April 6, 1974, ABBA bursts on to the global scene when they won the Eurovision Song Contest for "Waterloo".  The win launched ABBA's tremendously successful music career.  Actually, it is the only time the song contest winner has gone onto having international stardom.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Oklahoma House Bill Targets "Underperforming" Schools

The overwhelmingly Republican House of Representatives of Oklahoma is showing their level of education and lack thereof.  They are considering a bill to "take over" underperforming schools.  Originally, the bill called for firing the principal and at least half the staff, closing the school or re-opening it as a charter school.  Fortunately, that has been removed but the state will still step in.  The underperforming legislators have cut funding for education so much that soon all schools in Oklahoma will be considered underperforming.

Happy birthday, Agnetha Faltskog!

Agnetha Faltskog, the beautiful blond singer from ABBA, was born April 5, 1950 in  Jönköping, Jönköpings län (I'm not even going to try to pronounce that), Sweden.  Her legacy with ABBA is still felt today.  Our cruise two weeks ago even had an ABBA evening in one of the clubs!  That's staying power!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Cassini flies by Titan today


The Cassini spacecraft flies by Saturn's moon Titan today!  Instruments will determine the composition of Titan's atmosphere. NASA posted a video of a computer simulation of the flyby.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Happy birthday, Yeoman Rand!

Grace Lee Whitney, born April 1, 1930, was probably best known for her role as Yeoman Janice  Rand in the original Star Trek series.  Unfortunately, she left us in May 2015.