February 18, 2020
Day 49 of 366
February 18th is the forty-ninth day of the year. It is Wife’s Day (Konudagur) in Iceland, which traditionally falls on the first day of Góa according to the old Icelandic calendar.
Historical items of note:
- In 1791, Congress passed a law admitting the state of Vermont to the Union, effective on March 4th. Of course, the state had already existed for fourteen years as a de facto independent largely unrecognized state.
- In 1861, Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as the provisional President of the Confederate States of America in Montgomery, Alabama.
- In 1878, the Lincoln County War began in Lincoln County, New Mexico after John Tunstall was murdered by the outlaw Jesse Evans.
- In 1885, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain was published.
- In 1930, Elm Farm Ollie became both the first cow to fly in a fixed-wing aircraft and the first cow to be milked in an aircraft.
- In 1931, Toni Morrison was born. She was an American novelist, editor, and Nobel Prize laureate.
- In 1950, Cybill Shepherd was born.
- In 1954, John Travolta was born.
- In 1968, Molly Ringwald was born.
- In 1977, the Space Shuttle Enterprise test vehicle was ferried on its maiden “flight” on top of a Boeing 747.
In 1950, filmmaker John Hughes was born.
John Hughes began his career by selling jokes to performers like Rodney Dangerfield and Joan Rivers. After several copywriting jobs, he landed as an author of satirical essays for National Lampoon magazine. His first story was “Vacation ’58”, which was inspired by his family trips as a child and became the basis for the film National Lampoon’s Vacation.
His first credited screenplay, National Lampoon’s Class Reunion, was written while he was at the magazine, and it became the second major flop that tried to duplicate the success of National Lampoon’s Animal House. Undaunted, Hughes wrote Vacation and Mr. Mom, earning him a three-film deal with Universal Pictures.
His directorial debut was Sixteen Candles in 1984 and was considered a refreshing look at adolescence and high school life in comparison to raunchier Porky’s-inspired films. He continued his “teen movie” style with The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Some Kind of Wonderful. All of these films became iconic of the early to mid-1980s.
He branched out in 1987 with a wider style, including Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Uncle Buck, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and Curly Sue. That last film was his final directorial effort, capping an era of filmmaking that wasn’t nearly as popular as his teen films. I’m in the minority in that regard.
He also served as writer and/or producer on a long list of films, including The Great Outdoors, the first three Home Alone films, Career Opportunities, the first two Beethoven films, Miracle on 34th Street, Maid in Manhattan, 101 Dalmatians, and Flubber.
John Hughes retired in 1994. He died of a heart attack on August 5, 2009, at the age of 59.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.