Tag Archives: Fritz Lang

Almanac – January 10

1654 – Nicholas Culpeper died. English botanist, herbalist, physician, and astrologer. His published books include The English Physician (1652) and the Complete Herbal (1653), which contain a rich store of pharmaceuticaComplete Herbal l and herbal knowledge, and Astrological Judgement of Diseases from the Decumbiture of the Sick (1655), which is one of the most detailed documents we have on the practice of medical astrology in Early Modern Europe.

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1776 – Thomas Paine published his pamphlet Common Sense, anonymously , signed “Written by an Englishman“, and it became an immediate success in the early days of the American Revolution.

 In relative proportion to the population of the colonies at that time, it had the largest sale and circulation of any book published in American history. Common Sense presented the American colonists with an argument for freedom from British rule at a time when the question of seeking independence was still undecided.

Paine wrote and reasoned in a style that common people understood. Forgoing the philosophical and Latin references used by Enlightenment era writers, he structured Common Sense as if it were a sermon, and relied on Biblical references to make his case to the people. He connected independence with common dissenting Protestant beliefs as a means to present a distinctly American political identity.

Historian Gordon S. Wood described Common Sense as “the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era”.

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1927 – Fritz Lang‘s  German expressionist science-fiction film Metropolis released in Germany. The film was met with a mixed response upon its initial release, with many critics praising its technical achievements while deriding its simplistic and naïve storyline.

Due both to its long running-time and footage censors found questionable, Metropolis was cut substantially after its German premiere; large portions of the film were lost over the subsequent decades.

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1961 – Dashiell Hammett died. American author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories, a screenplay writer, and political activist. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), and the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse).

In addition to the significant influence his novels and stories had on film, Hammett is now widely regarded as one of the finest mystery writers of all time  and was called, in his obituary in The New York Times, “the dean of the… ‘hard-boiled’ school of detective fiction.

Time magazine included Hammett’s 1929 novel Red Harvest on a list of the 100 best English-language novels published between 1923 and 2005.

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1976 – Howlin’ Wolf died. American blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player. With a booming voice and looming physical presence, Burnett is commonly ranked among the leading performers in electric blues; musician and critic Cub Koda declared, “no one could match Howlin’ Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.

A number of songs written or popularized by Howling Wolf—such as “Smokestack Lightnin'”, “Back Door Man”, “Killing Floor” and “Spoonful”—have become blues and blues rock standards.

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Almanac – December 05

1830 – Christina Rossetti born.  English poet who wrote a variety of romantic, devotional, and children’s poems. She is perhaps best known for her long poem Goblin Market, her love poem Remember, and for the words of the Christmas carol In the Bleak Midwinter.

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1890 – Fritz Lang born. Austrian-American filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional film producer and actor.[3] One of the best known émigrés from Germany’s school of Expressionism, he was dubbed the “Master of Darkness” by the British Film Institute.  His most famous films include the groundbreaking Metropolis (the world’s most expensive silent film at the time of its release), and M, made before he moved to the United States, which is considered to be the precursor to the film noir genre.

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1899 – Aleck “Rice” Miller born – better known as Sonny Boy Williamson II.  American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter.  He is acknowledged as one of the most charismatic and influential blues musicians, with considerable prowess on the harmonica and highly creative songwriting skills. He recorded successfully in the 1950s and 1960s, and had a direct influence on later blues and rock performers. He should not be confused with another leading blues performer, John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson, who died in 1948.
His year of birth is open to question – 1908 and 1912 are other possibilities.

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1932 – Little Richard born.  American singer, songwriter, musician, recording artist, and actor, considered key in the transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll in the mid-1950s. He was also the first artist to put the funk in the rock and roll beat and contributed significantly to the early development of soul music.

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1933 – Prohibition in the United States ended. Utah became the 36th U.S. state to ratify the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution, thus establishing the required 75% of states needed to enact the amendment (this overturned the 18th Amendment which had made the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcohol illegal in the United States).

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1945 – Flight 19, five US navy bombers and their crews, mysteriously disappeared on a training flight over the area of ocean that became known as the Bermuda Triangle.

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1952 – Great Smog of 1952: A cold fog descends upon London, combining with air pollution and killing at least 12,000 in the weeks and months that followed.

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2007 – Karlheinz Stockhausen died.  German composer, widely acknowledged by critics as one of the most important but also controversial composers of the 20th and early 21st centuries, also described as  “one of the great visionaries of 20th-century music”.  He is known for his ground-breaking work in electronic music, aleatory (controlled chance) in serial composition, and musical spatialization.

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