Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This Day in History: Oct 31, 1517: Martin Luther posts 95 theses

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

On this day in 1517, the priest and scholar Martin Luther approaches the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nails a piece of paper to it containing the 95 revolutionary opinions that would begin the Protestant Reformation.

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

In his theses, Luther condemned the excesses and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church, especially the papal practice of asking payment—called "indulgences"—for the forgiveness of sins. At the time, a Dominican priest named Johann Tetzel, commissioned by the Archbishop of Mainz and Pope Leo X, was in the midst of a major fundraising campaign in Germany to finance the renovation of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Though Prince Frederick III the Wise had banned the sale of indulgences in Wittenberg, many church members traveled to purchase them. When they returned, they showed the pardons they had bought to Luther, claiming they no longer had to repent for their sins.

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Luther's frustration with this practice led him to write the 95 Theses, which were quickly snapped up, translated from Latin into German and distributed widely. A copy made its way to Rome, and efforts began to convince Luther to change his tune. He refused to keep silent, however, and in 1521 Pope Leo X formally excommunicated Luther from the Catholic Church. That same year, Luther again refused to recant his writings before the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of Germany, who issued the famous Edict of Worms declaring Luther an outlaw and a heretic and giving permission for anyone to kill him without consequence. Protected by Prince Frederick, Luther began working on a German translation of the Bible, a task that took 10 years to complete.

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

The term "Protestant" first appeared in 1529, when Charles V revoked a provision that allowed the ruler of each German state to choose whether they would enforce the Edict of Worms. A number of princes and other supporters of Luther issued a protest, declaring that their allegiance to God trumped their allegiance to the emperor. They became known to their opponents as Protestants; gradually this name came to apply to all who believed the Church should be reformed, even those outside Germany. By the time Luther died, of natural causes, in 1546, his revolutionary beliefs had formed the basis for the Protestant Reformation, which would over the next three centuries revolutionize Western civilization.

taken from: [31.10.13]

This Day in History: Oct 31, 1926: Houdini is dead

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

Harry Houdini, the most celebrated magician and escape artist of the 20th century, dies of peritonitis in a Detroit hospital. Twelve days before, Houdini had been talking to a group of students after a lecture in Montreal when he commented on the strength of his stomach muscles and their ability to withstand hard blows. Suddenly, one of the students punched Houdini twice in the stomach. The magician hadn't had time to prepare, and the blows ruptured his appendix. He fell ill on the train to Detroit, and, after performing one last time, was hospitalized. Doctors operated on him, but to no avail. The burst appendix poisoned his system, and on October 31 he died.

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

Houdini was born Erik Weisz in Budapest in 1874, the son of a rabbi. At a young age, he immigrated with his family to Appleton, Wisconsin, and soon demonstrated a natural acrobatic ability and an extraordinary skill at picking locks. When he was nine, he joined a traveling circus and toured the country as a contortionist and trapeze performer. He soon was specializing in escape acts and gained fame for his reported ability to escape from any manacle. He went on his first international tour in 1900 and performed all over Europe to great acclaim. In executing his escapes, he relied on strength, dexterity, and concentration—not trickery—and was a great showman.

In 1908, Houdini began performing more dangerous and dramatic escapes. In a favorite act, he was bound and then locked in an ironbound chest that was dropped into a water tank or thrown off a boat. In another, he was heavily bound and then suspended upside down in a glass-walled water tank. Other acts featured Houdini being hung from a skyscraper in a straitjacket, or bound and buried—without a coffin—under six feet of dirt.

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

In his later years, Houdini campaigned against mediums, mind readers, fakirs, and others who claimed supernatural talents but depended on tricks. At the same time, he was deeply interested in spiritualism and made a pact with his wife and friends that the first to die was to try and communicate with the world of reality from the spirit world. Several of these friends died, but Houdini never received a sign from them. Then, on Halloween 1926, Houdini himself passed on at the age of 52. His wife waited for a communiqué from the spirit world but it never came; she declared the experiment a failure shortly before her death in 1943.

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

Taken from: [31.10.2013]

This Day in History: Oct 31, 1993: River Phoenix dies

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

On this day in 1993, the 23-year-old actor River Phoenix, who appeared in such films as Stand by Me and My Own Private Idaho, dies of a drug overdose outside a Hollywood nightclub. At the time of his death, Phoenix was considered one of the most promising actors of his generation and had received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in 1988’s Running on Empty.

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

Phoenix, who was born River Jude Bottom on August 23, 1970, had an unconventional childhood. His parents were members of a religious cult and worked as missionaries in South America. Phoenix began acting professionally as a teenager and made his big-screen debut, along with Ethan Hawke, in 1985’s Explorers. Phoenix gained fame in 1986’s Stand by Me. Based on a Stephen King novel, the film was directed by Rob Reiner and co-starred Jerry O’Connell, Corey Feldman and Wil Wheaton. Phoenix went on to appear in such movies as The Mosquito Coast (1986), which co-starred Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren; A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon (1988), in which he played the title role; and Little Nikita (1988), with Sidney Poitier. Also in 1988, Phoenix appeared in Running on Empty, about a family on the run from the FBI for an anti-war bombing the parents had participated in years earlier. The movie was directed by Sidney Lumet and co-starred Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti. Phoenix, who played the couple’s teenage son, lost the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award to Kevin Kline for A Fish Called Wanda.

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

Phoenix played the young Indy in 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and later starred in the acclaimed independent films My Own Private Idaho (1990), which was directed by Gus Van Sant and co-starred Keanu Reeves, and Dogfight (1991), with Lili Taylor. Phoenix also appeared in the 1992 thriller Sneakers with Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier. In the early hours of October 31, 1993, Phoenix collapsed from a drug overdose outside the Viper Room, a night club partially owned at the time by the actor Johnny Depp and located on the Sunset Strip.

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

Phoenix’s younger brother Joaquin is also an Academy Award-nominated actor; his movie credits include Gladiator (2000), Walk the Line (2005) and We Own the Night (2007).

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

Taken from: [31.10.2012]

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

This Day in History: Oct 30, 1991: Perfect storm hits North Atlantic

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On this day in 1991, the so-called "perfect storm" hits the North Atlantic producing remarkably large waves along the New England and Canadian coasts. Over the next several days, the storm spread its fury over the ocean off the coast of Canada. The fishing boat Andrea Gail and its six-member crew were lost in the storm. The disaster spawned the best-selling book The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger and a blockbuster Hollywood movie of the same name.

 Andrea Gail
 Dicky Hayes

On October 27, Hurricane Grace formed near Bermuda and moved north toward the coast of the southeastern United States. Two days later, Grace continued to move north, where it encountered a massive low pressure system moving south from Canada. The clash of systems over the Atlantic Ocean caused 40-to-80-foot waves on October 30—unconfirmed reports put the waves at more than 100 feet in some locations. This massive surf caused extensive coastal flooding, particularly in Massachusetts; damage was also sustained as far south as Jamaica and as far north as Newfoundland.

 The storm continued to churn in the Atlantic on October 31; it was nicknamed the "Halloween storm." It came ashore on November 2 along the Nova Scotia coast, then, as it moved northeast over the Gulf Stream waters, it made a highly unusual transition into a hurricane. The National Hurricane Center made the decision not to name the storm for fear it would alarm and confuse local residents. It was only the eighth hurricane not given a name since the naming of hurricanes began in 1950.

Meanwhile, as the storm developed, the crew of the 70-foot fishing boat Andrea Gail was fishing for swordfish in the Grand Banks of the North Atlantic. The Andrea Gail was last heard from on October 28. When the boat did not return to port on November 1 as scheduled, rescue teams were sent out.

The week-long search for the Andrea Gail and a possible cause of its demise were documented in Junger’s book, which became a national bestseller. Neither the Andrea Gail nor its crew—David Sullivan and Robert Shatford of Gloucester, Mass.; William Tyne, Dale Murphy and Michael Moran of Bradenton Beach, Fla.; and Alfred Pierre of New York City—was ever found.

All six of the crew were lost at sea.

Taken from: [30.10.2012]

This Day in History: Oct 30, 1938: Welles scares nation

Orson Welles causes a nationwide panic with his broadcast of "War of the Worlds"—a realistic radio dramatization of a Martian invasion of Earth.


Orson Welles was only 23 years old when his Mercury Theater company decided to update H.G. Wells' 19th-century science fiction novel War of the Worlds for national radio. Despite his age, Welles had been in radio for several years, most notably as the voice of "The Shadow" in the hit mystery program of the same name. "War of the Worlds" was not planned as a radio hoax, and Welles had little idea of the havoc it would cause.

The show began on Sunday, October 30, at 8 p.m. A voice announced: "The Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations present Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater on the air in 'War of the Worlds' by H.G. Wells."

Sunday evening in 1938 was prime-time in the golden age of radio, and millions of Americans had their radios turned on. But most of these Americans were listening to ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy "Charlie McCarthy" on NBC and only turned to CBS at 8:12 p.m. after the comedy sketch ended and a little-known singer went on. By then, the story of the Martian invasion was well underway.

Welles introduced his radio play with a spoken introduction, followed by an announcer reading a weather report. Then, seemingly abandoning the storyline, the announcer took listeners to "the Meridian Room in the Hotel Park Plaza in downtown New York, where you will be entertained by the music of Ramon Raquello and his orchestra." Putrid dance music played for some time, and then the scare began. An announcer broke in to report that "Professor Farrell of the Mount Jenning Observatory" had detected explosions on the planet Mars. Then the dance music came back on, followed by another interruption in which listeners were informed that a large meteor had crashed into a farmer's field in Grovers Mills, New Jersey.


Soon, an announcer was at the crash site describing a Martian emerging from a large metallic cylinder. "Good heavens," he declared, "something's wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now here's another and another one and another one. They look like tentacles to me ... I can see the thing's body now. It's large, large as a bear. It glistens like wet leather. But that face, it... it ... ladies and gentlemen, it's indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it, it's so awful. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is kind of V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate."


The Martians mounted walking war machines and fired "heat-ray" weapons at the puny humans gathered around the crash site. They annihilated a force of 7,000 National Guardsman, and after being attacked by artillery and bombers the Martians released a poisonous gas into the air. Soon "Martian cylinders" landed in Chicago and St. Louis. The radio play was extremely realistic, with Welles employing sophisticated sound effects and his actors doing an excellent job portraying terrified announcers and other characters. An announcer reported that widespread panic had broken out in the vicinity of the landing sites, with thousands desperately trying to flee. In fact, that was not far from the truth.

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Perhaps as many as a million radio listeners believed that a real Martian invasion was underway. Panic broke out across the country. In New Jersey, terrified civilians jammed highways seeking to escape the alien marauders. People begged police for gas masks to save them from the toxic gas and asked electric companies to turn off the power so that the Martians wouldn't see their lights. One woman ran into an Indianapolis church where evening services were being held and yelled, "New York has been destroyed! It's the end of the world! Go home and prepare to die!"

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When news of the real-life panic leaked into the CBS studio, Welles went on the air as himself to remind listeners that it was just fiction. There were rumors that the show caused suicides, but none were ever confirmed.

The Federal Communications Commission investigated the program but found no law was broken. Networks did agree to be more cautious in their programming in the future. Orson Welles feared that the controversy generated by "War of the Worlds" would ruin his career. In fact, the publicity helped land him a contract with a Hollywood studio, and in 1941 he directed, wrote, produced, and starred in Citizen Kane—a movie that many have called the greatest American film ever made.

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Taken from: [30.10.2012]