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War of the World… and Costumes!

Let’s start out Our Monday Blog with two costume pictures from the past that make me laugh. Ultimately, for some reason, I am posting four pic o’s of Halloween costumes. And they all make me laugh!

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and these costumes are the greatest! Right?

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Let me squeeze in a quick blog before posting our last two pic o’s. I take us to a “This-Day-in History” from the History Channel.

On October 30, 1938, Orson Welles caused the nation to go into an absolute panic with his radio broadcast narration of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds”. Listeners thought that the United States was being invaded by Martians.(Wikipedia of the book) (Wikipedia of the radio program)

The Mercury Theater company decided to do a radio version of  H.G. Wells’ 19th-century science fiction novel War of the Worlds. At the time, Despite only being 23-years-old, Welles had been in radio for several years. He had “the pipes”, as they say.

Prior to this broadcast, he was known as the radio voice of “The Shadow”, a mystery program of the same name. “War of the Worlds” was not planned as a radio hoax, and Welles had no idea what was about to happen across the nation.

The radio show began on Sunday, October 30, at 8 p.m. A voice announced: “The Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations present Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater on the air in ‘War of the Worlds’ by H.G. Wells.”

It is hard to imagine now, but Sunday evening in 1938 was considered prime-time listening, as millions of Americans gathered around their radios. History tells us that during this broadcast, a majority of Americans were listening to ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy “Charlie McCarthy” on NBC. That even seems crazier that a ventriloquist would be a radio show, although no one was going to complain whether he was moving his lips!

Over on CBS, Welles introduced the play and then an announcer read a weather report. Then, as part of the broadcast, the announcer “took” the listeners to “the Meridian Room in the Hotel Park Plaza in downtown New York, where you will be entertained by the music of Ramon Raquello and his orchestra.”

Unbearable dance music began to play. Then the scare began.

An announcer broke into the report with “Professor Farrell of the Mount Jenning Observatory” had detected explosions on the planet Mars. Then the horrible dance music came back on, followed by another interruption where listeners were informed that a large meteor had crashed into a farmer’s field in Grovers Mills, New Jersey.

Soon, an announcer from the “scene of the crash site” was describing a Martian that was emerging from a large metallic cylinder. “Good heavens,” he declared, “something’s wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now here’s another and another one and another one. They look like tentacles to me … I can see the thing’s body now. It’s large, large as a bear. It glistens like wet leather. But that face, it… it … ladies and gentlemen, it’s indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it, it’s so awful. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is kind of V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate.”

The announcer continued to describe the invasion. This included Martians firing “heat-ray” weapons at the people gathered around the crash site. The Martians also annihilated a force of 7,000 National Guardsman, and then released a poisonous gas into the air. The radio broadcast included sound effects with the voice actors portraying terrified news announcers. Another radio news announcer then reported that widespread panic had broken out, including other sites where Martians were also landing in major cities.

That’s when the true nationwide panic set in. There were traffic jams in New Jersey as people were attempting to escape the invasion. People began contacting local police departments to beg for gas masks to save them from the toxic gas. It was reported that one lady ran into an Indianapolis church during the evening service and yelled, “New York has been destroyed! It’s the end of the world! Go home and prepare to die!”

During the CBS broadcast, news of the real-life panic was conveyed to Orson Welles. He went on air as himself to remind listeners that the broadcast was just fiction. But full-scale panic was already in effect.

Over the course of the following weeks, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigated the program, but found no law was broken. There was widespread outrage that a network program could cause such havoc.

One of the show’s producers later described what happened,

Our actual broadcasting time, from the first mention of the meteorites to the fall of New York City, was less than forty minutes,” wrote Houseman. “During that time, men traveled long distances, large bodies of troops were mobilized, cabinet meetings were held, savage battles fought on land and in the air. And millions of people accepted it—emotionally if not logically.”

The power of persuasion of the media or just a gullible nation?

And now back to our pic o’ day costumes:

With a nod toward the Redskins/Cowboys game yesterday, I post an old costume picture where a creative kid was dressed as Tony Romo. I understand that Cowboy fans might not be humored.

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And finally, I know it’s not Swordfish Almondine… but Lobster Pup makes me laugh! All great costumes for our pic o’ day(s):

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Reverend Innocent Johnson

Starfish have no brains.  How’s that for a blog starter?

Now, here’s some nonsense: I received the following email a few days ago that I post in part:

Attention Customer,

 You have received this email because you are a Customer of Western Union Money Transfer.

 I have been trying to get in-touch with you on phone before I traveled. I have handed over your funds of $ 2,500.000.00 USD to the new Director here Rev. Innocent Johnson. I have remitted the first payment of $5,000 with the help of my working partner Rev. Innocent Johnson to you and here is the information. Money Transfer Control Number MTCN: 5519104405 Sender’s First Name: PETER Sender’s Last Name: CHUKWU Text Question: RIGHT

Answer: NOW

 I told him to keep sending you $ 5,000 USD daily until the payment of $ 2,500.000.00 USD is completed and again forward them your Telephone number, Full Name, Your Country and address so that they will be sure. Please, contact: Rev. Innocent Johnson with the below details:

 Noted: If there is any problem with the transfer, do contact Rev. Innocent Johnson and he will solve it for you. The care of the funds is under his custody now.

 Regards,

Justin Larry

There’s just something about this email that doesn’t seem true! Although, I do enjoy the names. How can you argue with a Reverend name Innocent, or a fellow named Peter Chuckwu?

The point of this blog is basically… where is the truth? Come on. Why can’t some people be real.

I promise not to get started on insurance ads or political campaigns. So, I will just leave it at that. Why the nonsense? Because they think we are starfish?

And for pic o’ day:

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BOOM!

National Honesty, Really?

      The story goes that sometime in 1899, four reporters found themselves in a Denver railroad station. It was Saturday night and Al Stevens, Jack Tournay, John Lewis and Hal Wilshire considered themselves competitors. They each worked for a different Denver newspaper.

     All four had the assignment of writing “scoop” for their Sunday papers. As a result, they were there like the paparazzi of the day, hoping to spot some celebrity arriving by train. Unfortunately, on that night, no celebrity came and they left  struggling without a story and an impending deadline.

     Al Stevens suggested that they make up a story. The others laughed. Before long, though, they all agreed and decided that they would come up with such an incredible story that no one would question it. Plus, with all four reporters writing about it, it would be more believable.

     A local story could present problems because it could easily be fact checked. The four agreed that they would write about some place far away. They agreed to do a story that was supposedly happening in China. One of them suggested that they report on American engineers who had been dispatched to China, to bid on a major job for the demolition of the Great Wall. No one would really know where to even check on the truth about fake engineers.

     They decided that they would cite the motivation for such a demolition of the Great Wall, as  China wanting to show international goodwill and to encourage foreign trade. By 11PM, the four reporters had “gotten their stories” in sync and the “Sunday Times” headline read: “Great Chinese Wall Doomed! Peking Seeks World Trade!”

     Amazingly, the story was taken seriously and soon ran in newspapers all across the country and even internationally. When the citizens of China heard about these engineers from America  supposedly coming, they became enraged. Already, there was a state of unrest because of imperial expansionism that had initially been suppressed by the Manchu Qing Dynasty.

     Moved to action by this news story, twelve thousand troops from six different countries, working together over a period of two months, invaded China to help protect their countrymen.  They attacked foreign embassies and even began attacking missionary compounds, because they suspected that these “foreigners” were actually spies.  Hundreds of missionaries were killed.  

     The bloodshed and violence of that time was later traced to the journalistic hoax that was created by those 4 Denver reporters. The course of events in China later became known as the Boxer Rebellion.   

     April starts out with April Fool’s Day, a day of “lying”. It ends with National Honesty Day. Its goal is to encourage people to to honor the honorable. It is also to recognize honesty traits from such individuals as our former Presidents, Washington and Lincoln and to emphasize honesty in our government.

     With the invention of the Internet, now anyone sitting in their basement can go on a rampage and attack someone. Lawyers are bringing more lawsuits because of defamation. The power of the written or spoken word has torn down nations and ruined individual lives.

     One final thought on how a small thing like a spoken word of dishonesty, can be destructive. In 1871, Catherine O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern (allegedly) while being milked. As a result, a fire that was started in her barn  spread over 3 1/2 miles of Chicago. The fire lasted two days and killed over 250 people.  All that damage from the now infamous Chicago fire was caused by a milk bucket

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