The Thing About Today – May 13

May 13, 2020
Day 134 of 366


May 13th is the 134th day of the year. It is Abbotsbury Garland Day in Dorset, England. The celebrations have taken place since the 19th century and involve the making of garlands by local children.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Crouton Day, National Frog Jumping Day, National Apple Pie Day, National Fruit Cocktail Day, National Receptionists’ Day, and National Third Shift Workers Day. The last two are typically observed on the second Wednesday in May.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1780, the Cumberland Compact was signed by leaders of the settlers in the Cumberland River area of what would become the State of Tennessee. The agreement provided for a democratic government and a formal system of justice.
  • In 1861, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom issued a “proclamation of neutrality” with respect to the American Civil War. It recognized the Confederacy as having belligerent rights.
  • Also in 1861, the Great Comet of 1861 was discovered by John Tebbutt of Windsor, New South Wales, Australia.
  • In 1880, Thomas Edison performed the first test of his electric railway in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
  • In 1888, the Empire of Brazil abolished slavery with the passage of the Lei Áurea (“Golden Law”).
  • In 1912, the Royal Flying Corps was established in the United Kingdom. It was the forerunner of the Royal Air Force.
  • In 1922, actress Bea Arthur was born.
  • In 1937, author and poet Roger Zelazny was born.
  • In 1946, author Marv Wolfman was born.
  • In 1949, actress Zoë Wanamaker was born.
  • In 1950, singer-songwriter, pianist, and producer Stevie Wonder was born.
  • In 1951, the 400th anniversary of the founding of the National University of San Marcos was commemorated by the opening of the first large-capacity stadium in Peru.
  • In 1964, actor, comedian, and late-night talk show host Steven Colbert was born.
  • In 1977, actress and director Samantha Morton was born.
  • In 1995, Alison Hargreaves, a 33-year-old British mother, became the first woman to conquer Mt. Everest without oxygen or the help of sherpas.


In 1950, director and effects artist Joe Johnston was born.

Johnston began his career as a concept artist and effects technician on the first Star Wars film and was the art director on one of the effects teams for the sequel. His association with George Lucas would later prove fruitful when he became one of four to win an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for Raiders of the Lost Ark by Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

He continued to work in film as an effects expert and was an associate producer on Willow and production designer on the two Ewok television films in the mid-1980s.

In 1984, George Lucas offered Johnston a paid sabbatical with tuition to attend the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Johnston left the school after a year, saying he “was asked not to return” because he “broke too many rules”.

Johnston made his directorial debut with 1989’s hit comedy Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. His next two films, The Rocketeer and The Pagemaster were commercial failures, but he followed those with the cult classic Jumanji.

Although he was slated to direct Hulk, he dropped out and picked up more personal dramatic fare with October Sky. He followed that with Jurassic Park III, Hidalgo, and (after a six-year break) the 2010 remake of 1941’s classic The Wolfman.

Because of his experience with The Rocketeer, Marvel Studios tapped him for 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. He then went to Not Safe for Work and reshoots for director Lasse Hallström on The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

Joe Johnston is still active in the industry today.


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.




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