1951 – “When Worlds Collide” premieres

George Pal was the producer of some of the most famous science fiction movies of the Fifties – Destination Moon, War of the Worlds, The Time Machine and, of course, When Worlds Collide.

Based on a Philip Wylie novel from 1933, When Worlds Collide has a ludicrous plot involving the evacuation of the planet Earth when another planet is on a collision course with it. The ludicrous part is that the citizenry is evacuated to the world on the collision course, which always seemed to me to be kinda frying pan to the other side of the frying pan.

Still, the film won an Oscar for its special effects, and remains a classic of Fifties sci fi, and considering that genre, the silliness of the plot is probably a good part of the reason why.

Referenced in:
Science Fiction Double Feature — Rocky Horror Picture Show original cast

2001 — Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, is arrested

Gary Ridgway is one of the most prolific serial killers in American history. He was convicted of 48 separate counts of murder – but he has confessed to a total of 71, and some authorities believe that he may have murdered more than 90 people, almost all of them women. Favouring strangulation as his method of murder, Ridgway dumped the bodies in forested areas of King County, Washington state or in the Green River – it was the latter which led to him being dubbed the Green River Killer.

The murders took place over a span of about twenty years, beginning in 1982. Although no murders have been confirmed later than 1998, it is believed that Ridgway may have committed more murders between 19998 and his arrest in 2001. Ridgway’s arrest was as a result of DNA evidence gathered in 1987 – he had been a suspect for some of his killings since at least 1983.

Referenced in:
Deep Red Bells — Neko Case
Green River — Church of Misery
Skeletons in the River — Divine Pustulence
The Green River Murderer (He’s Still Out There) — Macabre

2007 — Evel Knievel dies

One of the greatest – and definitely one of the nest known – daredevils of all time, Evel Knievel (born Robert Craig Knievel, but far better known by his stage name), was most famous for his motorcycle jumps – he attempted more than 30 between 1965 and 1980, the peak of his career. A staunch patriot, his standard costume was white leathers with red, white and blue trim in a stars and stripes motif. But it the was man himself who became the icon.

Knievel was 69 years old and long since retired at the time of his death. He had broken 35 bones in the course of his career (earning the Guinness Book of Records citation for most bones broken in a lifetime), and endured numerous surgeries. But his death came as a result of diabetes and pulmonary fibrosis, albeit complicated and worsened by the strain he had placed on his body over the years.

Referenced in:
The Skycycle Blues — B. Dolan

1965 — Ben Stiller born

Ben Stiller is one of the world’s most well known actors, starring in (among others) Zoolander, Tropic Thunder, the Night at the Museum series and the Madagascar series. Unlike many actors, he’s actually using his real name in his career, not a stage name – his parents, Jerry Stiller and Anne O’Meara, are also actors, and Stillers junior and senior have frequently appeared together on screen.

Stiller is the acknowledged leader of the “Frat Pack” group of actors, and career wise, is pretty much at the top of his game as a writer, director and actor right now.

Referenced in:
The Chanukah Song (Part III) — Adam Sandler

November 30, 2349 BCE — Noah builds an ark

So one day, God, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, got pissed off at basically everyone. I mean everyone.

Except for this one guy, Noah. And Noah’s family and their families. And all but two of each different kind of animal. God told Noah that he was planning to flood the entire planet and drown, well, everyone. He further instructed Noah to build an ark of the dimensions 300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits, to carry those whom God, in his infinite mercy, had deemed worthy of salvation.

Admittedly, no one’s quite sure exactly how big a cubit is – it’s based on the length of one’s forearm, but of course, no two forearms are exactly the same size either. What is fairly certain is that there’s no way that any such creation could be large enough to fit two of every animal, even allowing for excluding fish.