Thanksgiving is, for better or worse,
a holiday identified with abundance. It's only appropriate,
then, that the week leading up to Turkey Day is chock-a-block with events,
anniversaries, and just plain oddities. But what are we waiting for? Let's go!
We begin Monday with a couple of icons of the 1930s. In 1899, composer Hoagy Carmichael was born. Though musically untrained, Carmichael became enamored of ragtime and jazz at an early age, and went on to write such standards as "Stardust," "Georgia On My Mind," "The Nearness of You," and "Heart and Soul."
In 1980, Mae West died at the age of 87.
West was an actress who specialized in a shocklingly overripe and aggressive sexuality - and was, in fact, arrested in 1927 on morals charges
for her Broadway play, Sex. To her dying day, she insisted that she
was as sexually alluring as ever, even
starring as an octogenarian sex symbol in 1978's Sextette.
On the opposite end of the sexual spectrum was the gentle and avuncular Fred Rogers, who donated one of his Mister Rogers' Neighborhood sweaters to the Smithsonian Institution on this date in 1984. There's no report on what happened to his sneakers.
Perhaps they were stolen by one of the host of shady characters we'll note over the next two days.
For example, Monday is the anniversary of the 1718 death in battle of Edward Teach - better known as the notorious pirate Blackbeard, who terrified the West Indies.
If not Teach, perhaps the culprit was Henry McCarty (aka William Bonney), who terrorized the American West as the thieving Billy the Kid (born November 23, 1859).
Or maybe it was William Marcy "Boss" Tweed,
the uber-corrupt boss of Tammany Hall who ran New York City in the 1850s and '60s,
and was arrested and returned to
Manhattan in 1876 after fleeing to Europe.
If one were of such a mind, one might see the death of Blackbeard or the jailing of Tweed as evolutionary "thinning of the herds;" an appropriate thought, since Monday is the 141st anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's book, On the Origin of Species.
Darwin's ideas are pretty deep, and are best contemplated by either a Rhodes Scholar or a comics geek – both of whom are in luck Monday, as not only will the 2010 Rhodes Scholarships be announced, but (following a computer meltdown earlier this month), tickets for next summer's San Diego Comic-Con will go on sale. If history is any indication, they'll sell out within minutes, so you've probably already missed your chance.
If that's the case, you may want to salve
your hurt feelings with some television, perhaps even sinking to watching
tonight's premiere of Skating with the Stars.
(Because there's nothing we need more than another eccentric actress falling on the
ice in another phony reality competition.)
On a serious note, for those of us of a certain age, November 22 will always signify the 1963 death of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. Forty-seven years later, most of us still remember where we were when we heard the news.
- Hoagy Carmichael - an American original.
- Treasures of American Television - hi ho! It's where Kermit the Frog ended up.
- Crime Museum: Henry McCarty: "Billy the Kid" - the true history.
- San Diego Comic-Con - maybe you can still get a ticket.
- National Archives: JFK Assassination Records - official documents related to the case.