The Thing About Today – January 14

January 14, 2020
Day 14 of 366


January 14th is the fourteenth day of the year. It is National Forest Conservation Day in Thailand.

In the United States, it is “celebrated” as National Dress Up Your Pet Day, National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day, Ratification Day, and Shop for Travel Day. The last one is typically celebrated on the second Tuesday in January.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1539, Spain annexed Cuba.
  • In 1639, The Fundamental Orders were adopted in Connecticut. It was the first written constitution that created a government, thus leading to the state’s nickname.
  • In 1911, Roald Amundsen’s expedition made landfall on the eastern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.
  • In 1919, Andy Rooney was born. He was an American soldier, journalist, critic, and television personality well-known for his “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney” segment on 60 Minutes from 1978 to 2011.
  • In 1943, Franklin Roosevelt became the first President of the United States to travel by airplane while in office. He flew from Miami to Morocco to meet with Winston Churchill in the Casablanca Conference during World War II.
  • In 1944, journalist Nina Totenberg was born.
  • In 1952, Today premiered on NBC. The morning show would later be known as The Today Show.
  • Also in 1952, journalist Maureen Dowd was born.
  • In 1960, the Reserve Bank of Australia was established. It is the country’s central bank and banknote issuing authority.
  • In 1973, Elvis Presley’s Aloha from Hawaii concert was broadcast live via satellite. It set and record as the most-watched broadcast by an individual entertainer in television history.
  • In 1976, The Bionic Woman premiered on ABC. It later moved to NBC.
  • In 1977, Fantasy Island premiered on ABC.
  • In 1990, Grant Gustin was born. He portrayed Barry Allen on The Flash.


January 14th marks the Feast of the Ass, a medieval Christian observation of the Flight into Egypt.

As told in the Gospel of Matthew and New Testament apocrypha, an angel appeared to Joseph (the father of Jesus) in a dream. The angel warned Joseph to flee into Egypt with Mary and the infant Jesus because King Herod sought to kill the child. According to the story, King Herod initiated the Massacre of the Innocents – the execution of all male children two years of age and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem – but failed to kill the child since Egypt was outside of his dominion and part of the Roman Empire.

The Feast of the Ass was celebrated primarily in France and honored the donkey that ferried the family to Egypt. Historians consider it an adaptation of Cervula, the pagan feast celebrated on the kalends (first day) of January. The Christian version was celebrated as early as the 11th century but disappeared in the latter half of the 15th century along with the Feast of Fools.


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.



The Thing About Today – January 13

January 13, 2020
Day 13 of 366


January 13th is the thirteenth day of the year. It is New Year’s Eve for countries operating on the Julian calendar, as well as a day of sidereal winter solstice’s eve celebrations in South and Southeast Asian cultures.

In the United States, it is “celebrated” as Korean American Day, National Peach Melba Day, National Rubber Ducky Day, National Sticker Day, and National Clean Off Your Desk Day. The last one is typically celebrated on the second Monday in January.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1830, The Great Fire of New Orleans began.
  • In 1888, the National Geographic Society was founded in Washington, DC.
  • In 1919, actor Robert Stack was born. I know him best from years of watching Unsolved Mysteries as a kid.
  • In 1926, Michael Bond was born. An English soldier and author, he created Paddington Bear.
  • In 1942, the first use of an aircraft ejection seat was conducted during World War II by a German test pilot flying a Heinkel He 280 jet fighter.
  • In 1943, actor Richard Moll (Bull from Night Court) was born.
  • In 1949, Indian commander, pilot, and astronaut Rakesh Sharma was born.
  • In 1968, Johnny Cash performed live at Folsom State Prison.


January 13th also marks Stephen Foster Memorial Day, a day that celebrates the life of “the father of American music” on the anniversary of his death.

Stephen Collins Foster was born on July 4, 1826. He wrote more than 200 songs, many of which are considered classic American music including “Oh! Susanna”, “Hard Times Come Again No More”, “Camptown Races”, “Old Folks at Home” (also known as “Swanee River”), “My Old Kentucky Home”, “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”, and “Beautiful Dreamer”.

Many of his songs were included in blackface minstrel shows. To that end, his music is considered to be disparaging to African Americans. His work is often considered childhood songs since they are typically included in elementary curricula, and most of his original manuscripts have been lost over time.

Foster came down with a fever in January 1864. He fell in his hotel and accidentally cut his neck. He died three days later at the age of 37.


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.



The Thing About Today – January 12

January 12, 2020
Day 12 of 366


January 12th is the twelfth day of the year. It is National Youth Day in India and Memorial Day in Turkmenistan.

In the United States, it is “celebrated” as National Curried Chicken Day, National Kiss a Ginger Day, National Marzipan Day, National Pharmacist Day, and National Sunday Supper Day. The last one typically occurs on the second Sunday in January.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1866, the Royal Aeronautical Society was formed in London.
  • In 1876, American novelist and journalist Jack London was born.
  • In 1895, the National Trust was founded in the United Kingdom.
  • In 1908, a long-distance radio message was sent from the Eiffel Tower for the first time.
  • In 1930, Tim Horton was born. A Canadian ice hockey player and businessman, he was the founder of the Tim Horton’s coffee chain.
  • In 1932, Hattie Caraway became the first woman elected to the United States Senate.
  • In 1958, journalist Christiane Amanpour was born.
  • In 1966, Batman debuted on ABC.
  • In 1967, Dr. James Bedford became the first person to be cryonically preserved. He remains preserved at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation with the intent of future resuscitation.
  • In 2004, RMS Queen Mary 2 made its maiden voyage. It is the world’s largest ocean liner.


In 1962, Joe Quesada was born. He was the editor-in-chief of Marvel Entertainment from 2000 to 2011 before being promoted to Chief Creative Officer.

Quesada was born in New York City to Cuban-born parents. The first comic book of which he was an ardent fan was The Amazing Spider-Man. He graduated with a BFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in 1984 and began working with DC Comics in 1990. He worked on NinjakSolar, and Man of the Atom at Valiant Comics, and co-created the updated Ray and Azrael with DC Comics.

In 1998, he worked on the Marvel Knights line, including Daredevil, Punisher, The Inhumans, and Black Panther. Two and a half years later, he moved up to editor-in-chief and helped to establish the Ultimate line which appealed to new readers by stepping outside of continuity. He moved to the Chief Creative Officer role in June 2010, becoming a prominent member of the Marvel Studios Creative Committee. This also included creative oversight over Marvel’s various divisions.

In 2019, Quesada took the role of Marvel Entertainment’s Executive Vice President and Creative Director.


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.



The Thing About Today – January 11

January 11, 2020
Day 11 of 366


January 11th is the eleventh day of the year.

It is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the United States. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide – targets are subject to force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor, including prostitution – regardless of age, race, gender, and nationality. Language barriers, fear of law enforcement, and fear reprisal from the traffickers keep victims silent and the crime hidden. Developing awareness and understanding of key indicators can help identify victims and save lives.

In the United States, it is “celebrated” as National Arkansas Day, National Milk Day, National Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friends Day, and National Vision Board Day. The last one typically occurs on the second Saturday in January.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1569, the first recorded lottery in England occurred.
  • In 1755, Founding Father, Federalist Papers author, and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, was born in Charlestown, Nevis, British Leeward Isles.
  • In 1759, the first American life insurance company was incorporated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • In 1787, William Herschel discovered Titania and Oberon, two moons of Uranus.
  • In 1805, the Michigan Territory was created.
  • In 1908, the Grand Canyon National Monument was created.
  • In 1922, the first recorded use of insulin to treat diabetes in a human patient occurred.
  • In 1935, Amelia Earhart became the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California.
  • In 1949, KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania went on the air. The signal connected east coast and midwest television programming, creating the first networked television broadcasts.
  • In 1964, the landmark report Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States was published by Surgeon General of the United States Dr. Luther Terry, MD. This was the report declaring that smoking may be hazardous to health, sparking national and worldwide anti-smoking efforts.
  • In 1986, the Gateway Bridge, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia was officially opened.


In 1923, Jerome Bixby was born. He was the editor at Fiction House for Planet Stories, Jungle Stories, Action Stories, Two Western Romances, and Two Complete Science-Adventure Books in the early 1950s. His 1953 short story “It’s a Good Life” was adapted as a teleplay for The Twilight Zone, was revisited in the 1983 Twilight Zone film, and was parodied by The Simpsons in their 1991 Halloween episode.

His best-known television works are for the original Star Trek series. In particular, he introduced the mirror universe with “Mirror, Mirror”. He also wrote “Requiem for Methuselah”, “Day of the Dove”, and “By Any Other Name”.

He conceived the idea behind 1966’s Fantastic Voyage. He wrote the original screenplay for 1958’s It! The Terror from Beyond Space, which was the inspiration for the 1979 classic Alien. His final work, a screenplay called The Man from Earth, was started in the early 1960s and completed on his deathbed in 1998. It was filmed in 2007.

“The Emperor’s New Cloak”, the seventh season mirror universe episode for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was dedicated to his memory.


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.



Culture on My Mind – Hans Zimmer Has No Time to Die

Culture on My Mind
January 10, 2020


This week, the thing that I can’t let go of is Hans Zimmer joining No Time to Die, the twenty-fifth James Bond film.

No Time to Die, Daniel Craig’s fifth (and final?) outing as secret agent 007 is due to theaters on April 10th. Surprisingly, according to Variety, the production team has replaced composer Dan Romer (Beasts of No Nation) with Hans Zimmer. The ever-popular Hollywood chestnut of “creative differences” was cited as the reason for the divorce.

According to the Variety piece, Zimmer has a full plate at the moment, including Wonder Woman 1984, Top Gun: Maverick, and Dune. That means that he might need help, to get No Time to Die done before mid-February to meet production deadlines, possibly from collaborators like Benjamin Wallfisch or Lorne Balfe.

I don’t see Hans Zimmer as the typical Bond composer. While I enjoy his work, it usually strikes me as synthy (Broken Arrow, The Rock), percussion-heavy (the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Gladiator, Crimson Tide, The Dark Knight Trilogy), or downright experimental (Inception, Interstellar). In fact, The Lion King (both versions), Hidden Figures, and A League of Their Own stand out among his more “traditional” scores, and none of those is really on pace with something like a James Bond film.

No, I’m not forgetting his work in the DC Comics Snyderverse films.

When I think of Bond, my mind goes to David Arnold (who got very synth-heavy at times) and the late John Barry (who scored eleven Bond films). Thomas Newman did well with his two outings, but his scores weren’t my favorites.

Understandably, the shoes of a Bond composer are hard to fill after 58 years of action. If I were driving the Aston Martin, I would have sided with Michael Giacchino, John Powell, Alan Silvestri, Christopher Lennertz, or Rachel Portman.

Portman stands out, especially since the industry needs more female film composers.

Hey, you know, even if Lorne Balfe gets the job from Zimmer, his work on Mission: Impossible – Fallout was solid enough for me. In the end, Hans Zimmer wouldn’t have been my first choice, but April 2020 will be a good opportunity to see if he does right by the 007 legacy.

At least it’s not Goldeneye all over again, right?


Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.



The Thing About Today – January 10

January 10, 2020
Day 10 of 366


January 10th is the tenth day of the year. It is Traditional Day (also known as Fête du Vodoun, Vodoun Festival, and Traditional Religions Day) in Benin, which celebrates the nation’s history surrounding the West African religion of Vodoun.

In the United States, it is “celebrated” as National Bittersweet Chocolate Day, National Cut Your Energy Costs Day, National Oysters Rockefeller Day, and National Save the Eagles Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 9 AD, the Western Han dynasty came to an end when Wang Mang claimed that the divine Mandate of Heaven called for it. He immediately replaced it with his own Xin dynasty.
  • In 1776, Thomas Paine published his pamphlet Common Sense, which advocated independence for the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain.
  • In 1863, the Metropolitan Railway opened between Paddington and Farringdon. The stretch of rail is the world’s oldest underground railway and marked the beginning of the London Underground.
  • In 1904, Ray Bolger was born. He portrayed the Scarecrow and farmhand Hunk in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz.
  • In 1920, the Treaty of Versailles took effect, officially ending World War I.
  • In 1927, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis was released in Germany. It was among the first feature-length science fiction films.
  • In 1946, the first General Assembly of the United Nations opened in London, representing fifty-one nations of the world.


In 1967, majority rule was gained in The Bahamas for the first time.

The Bahamas became a British Crown colony in 1718 during the suppression of piracy in the region. After the American Revolution, the Bahamas saw an influx of British loyalists, solidifying the colony’s connections to the crown. Nearly two hundred years later, the Bahamas started moving toward independence. After World War II, local political parties started to form and by 1964 a new constitution was enacted that granted more local autonomy for citizens.

Assembly elections were held on January 10, 1967. The Progressive Liberal Party and the ruling United Bahamian Party both won 18 seats, and Labour MP Randol Fawkes sided with the Progressive Liberal Party to enable majority rule for the first time in Bahamian history. To commemorate the event, Majority Rule Day was made into a public holiday in 2014 to symbolizing the promise of equality, a level playing field, and fair play for all Bahamians.

It stands alongside emancipation from slavery in 1836 and gaining independence from Great Britain in 1973 as one of the country’s most important historical events.


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.



The Thing About Today – January 9

January 9, 2020
Day 9 of 366


January 9th is the ninth day of the year. It is Non-Resident Indian Day in India.

In the United States, it is “celebrated” as National Apricot Day, National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, and National Static Electricity Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1349, the Basel Massacre took place. As part of the Black Death persecutions of 1348-1350, the Jews of Basel were accused of having poisoned the local wells with the plague due to their perceived lower mortality rates. The population of 600 Jews, including the community’s rabbi, were burned at the stake. Adding further insult to injury, 140 Jewish children were forcibly converted to Catholicism.
  • In 1788, Connecticut became the fifth state to ratify the United States Constitution.
  • In 1909, Ernest Shackleton planted the British flag 112 miles from the South Pole. It took place during the Nimrod Expedition and was the farthest anyone had ever reached at that time.
  • In 1935, actor Bob Denver was born. He would later become legend for a certain three-hour tour. (A three-hour tour…)
  • In 1939, actress Susannah York was born. She portrayed Kal-El’s mother Lora in 1978’s Superman and two sequels.
  • In 1955, actor J.K. Simmons was born (to play J. Jonah Jameson in several Spider-Man films).
  • In 1956, Imelda Staunton was born. Among so many other roles, she was Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films.
  • In 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the original iPhone at the Macworld keynote in San Francisco.


In 1992, Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail made the first discoveries of extrasolar planets.

The planets are located around pulsar PSR B1257+12 (previously PSR 1257+12), also known as Lich. The pulsar is 2,300 light-years from our Sun in the constellation of Virgo. The planetary system has three known planets: Draugr (PSR B1257+12 A), Poltergeist (PSR B1257+12 B), and Phobetor (PSR B1257+12 C). Poltergeist and Phobetor were the first two planets discovered while Draugr was discovered two years later.

The grouping has roots in undead and beastly mythology – A lich is a fictional undead creature known for controlling other undead creatures with magic, the name draugr refers to undead creatures in Norse mythology, a poltergeist is a supernatural being that creates physical disturbances (German for “noisy ghost”), and Phobetor (from Ovid’s Metamorphoses) is one of the thousand sons of Somnus (Sleep) who appears in dreams in the form of beasts. – and Draugr is the lowest-massing planet yet discovered by any observational technique. In fact, it has less than twice the mass of Earth’s moon.


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.