Almanac – August 13

August 13 is designated International Lefthanders Day by Lefthanders International. It was first observed 13 August 1976, and as its name suggests, it is meant to promote awareness of the inconveniences facing left-handers in a predominantly right-handed world. It celebrates the uniqueness and difference of between seven to ten percent of the world’s population.

1876 – The first complete performance of Richard Wagner‘s Der Ring Des Nibelungen opera cycle took place…or, rather, it began – it continued on the 14th, 16th and 17th. I dont know what happened on the 15th, but I guess everyone needs a day off.

1899 – Alfred Hitchcock born.  English film director and producer.

Over a career spanning more than half a century, Hitchcock fashioned for himself a distinctive and recognisable directorial style. He pioneered the use of a camera made to move in a way that mimics a person’s gaze, forcing viewers to engage in a form of voyeurism and  framed shots to maximise anxiety, fear, or empathy, and used innovative film editing. His stories frequently featured fugitives on the run from the law alongside “icy blonde” female characters. Many of Hitchcock’s films have twist endings and thrilling plots featuring depictions of violence, murder, and crime, although many of the mysteries function as decoys or “MacGuffins” meant only to serve thematic elements in the film and the psychological examinations of the characters. Hitchcock’s films also borrow many themes from psychoanalysis and feature strong sexual undertones.

1930 – Three large meteorites plunged into dense Amazonian jungle near the border of Brazil and Peru. Fishermen reported “large balls of fire that fell from the sky like thunderbolts,” and a Catholic missionary wrote: “The Sun became blood-red and darkness spread over everything almost as if a thick cloud had intercepted the Sun’s rays.”

1946 – H. G. Wells died.   English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games. Together with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback, Wells has been referred to as “The Father of Science Fiction”, although actually most of his novels had nothing to do with science fiction. Some described lower-middle class life (Kipps; The History of Mr Polly), leading him to be touted as a worthy successor to Charles Dickens, but Wells described a range of social strata and even attempted, in Tono-Bungay (1909), a diagnosis of English society as a whole. Wells also wrote abundantly about the “New Woman” and the Suffragettes (Ann Veronica).

1964 – The last executions in the UK took place – Peter Allen was hanged in Liverpool, Gwynne Evans in Manchester. They were both executed at the same time, so neither can be claimed as the absolute last.

Mr. Frankenstein

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