An Arctic Icarus

General Discomfort

In an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to reach the North Pole by hydrogen balloon, engineer and aeronaut S. A. Andrée, accompanied by engineer Knut Frænkel, and photographer Nils Strindberg took off from Spitsbergen, Norway on July 11, 1897. They flew for 65 hours, but a series of unfortunate events including flying directionless into heavy storms, they crash-landed onto pack ice in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.

They had flown about 495 km, and spent the next three months attempting to head back over frozen terrain, eventually landing on the deserted Arctic island of Kvitøya sometime in October. The three of them died there and their whereabouts were a mystery until 1930 when their bodies (and Strindberg’s photo plates) were found by chance. It is said that Andree ignored many potential flaws in his plan, including that the balloon had come from Paris directly after being made, had never been tested, and was showing serious signs of leaking. He also ignored concerns that his devised method of steering the balloon with a series of weighted ropes might not be as effective as he claimed (which turned out to be true).

Two Horse, One Horse, No Horse 

The Lumière brothers demonstrated their invention of the cinématographe, the all-in-one camera, developer, and projector, to scientists July 11, 1895

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Harry Kellar’s “Levitation of Princess Karnac” poster, Strobridge Lithography Co., 1893.

Boris Grigoriev ______ ___________ __________ Tutt'Art@ (8) (1).jpg

Night Scene, Paris 1913. Boris Grigoriev

Their first film is 46 seconds and is called Sortie de l’Usine Lumière de Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory in Lyon). This video shows all three versions, released about a year apart, in 1895, 1896, and 1897 respectively. Each version is often referred to by the number of horses seen in the shot.

Magician Harry Kellar was born July 11, 1849.  Apparently, he was known as the “Dean of Magic,” and specialized in illusions that involved the use of apparatuses. Also, he talked Harry Houdini out of attempting to catch a bullet. Also if you click on that link, there is a picture of the two of them that makes Kellar look an awful lot like Houdini’s ventriloquist dummy.

Illustrator H.M. Brock was born July 11, 1875; followed by astronomer and author of Astronomy for Young Folks Isabel Martin Lewis in 1881; Russian painter Boris Grigoriev, in 1886; and writer E.B. White, in 1899. I trust you own The Elements of Style, yes?

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from The Elements of StyleStrunk & White, 1918

Writer Alexander Afanasyev was born July 11, 1826. He published 8 volumes of Russian fairytales and folktales.

Chester Gilette murdered Grace Brown on July 11, 1906, inspiring Theodore Dreiser‘s An American Tragedy. Also on July 11; Big Ben rang for the first time in 1859, and Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in 1804. Remember back before there was a musical, and we all knew about those two was from the milk commercial?

Okay, I have to wrap this up, it isn’t even July 11th anymore.

Affirmation for your morning: It’s a wise dog that scratches its own fleas.

Hair of the dog that bit you: sheepdog

Number of horses in the shot: 1

Tasks: settle a kitten war, or two, or three and watch a trip to the moon

Radar Men From the Moon

General Discomfort

The Days Before Twitter (does that make me sound really old, or only medium old?)

Nineteen-year-old German aviator Mathias Rust landed in Moscow’s Red Square today in  1987. Flying in from Helsinki, Finland with diplomatic intentions, he was detected several times by Soviet air defense systems but was never intercepted.  As you can imagine, his landing set off a global media spectacle.

Speaking of the Soviets, writer Ian Fleming was born in 1908.  He created James Bond. I love that he chose the character name because it was the most boring name he could think of.

Marco Rubio is 47 today if you want to send him a happy birthday, or a send him a present. My youngest sister won the worst birthday gift story in our family.  Her father was known as something of a junk hunter, and for her 13th birthday, he gave her a six foot tall, 50-pound mirror he found in the dumpster behind J.C. Penney’s. She is a ways off from her next milestone birthday, but it just occurs to me we should probably start planning now to top that.

Eck, it’s also Rudi Giuliani’s birthday, if you believe he was indeed born and not the undead.

So for today, find someone you wish the universe would take back, and give them a shitty gift they can’t return.  xoxo

(Also, I just realized one could surmise I am bundling my sister in with those who I wish the universe would absorb into black silence. This is very much not the case. Only the politicians).