CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 27, 2016 — This week belongs to the Democrats and some other trivia to stir your imagination.
1. Democratic conventional wisdom: The party was created in 1794 by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and others. The purpose was to counter the Federalist Party led by Vice President John Adams and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamiltion.
The Jefferson/Madison alliance believed their opponents were leading the country in the wrong direction with a government run by rich merchants and wealthy land owners.
Today, with roughly 72 million registered voters, the Democratic Party is the largest in the United States. Historically it has championed farmers, laborers, labor unions and religious and ethnic minorities.
The first Democratic National Committee (DNC) came into existence in 1848 for the purpose of raising funds, developing election strategies and overseeing the establishment of the Democratic platform.
The source of this year’s controversy between Bernie Sanders supporters and leaked e-mails was born in 1984 with the creation of superdelegates. The idea was to give the party “establishment” a voice in the nomination process.
As a general rule, in the past, superdelegates served primarily as a safety net, but with the popularity of Sanders in the primaries in 2016, the superdelegates played a major role in the nomination of Hillary Clinton.
2. Caligula’s party ships: After the six month honeymoon was over for the Roman Emperor known as Caligula, he became a tyrant possessed with incredible cruelty, sadism, sexual perversity and extravagance during the 1st century AD.
One of the little known “pleasures” Caligula created for himself were two massive ships that plied the waters of Lake Nemi in Italy. The larger craft was built as a floating palace complete with large quantities of marble, mosaic floors and baths with heating and plumbing.
Both vessels featured amenities that many historians had considered to be modern technological inventions until the Nemi ships were salvaged from the lake in 1929.
Caligula had been influenced by the lavish lifestyles of the Hellenistic rulers of Syracuse and the Ptolemaic Egypt.
Local fishermen had long known of the existence of the sunken ships thanks to artifacts that had been recovered using grappling hooks and other technologies that were available during a given era.
The remains were found on the lake floor at a depth of approximately 60 feet. Lake Nemi itself, which is situated about 19 miles south of Rome, has a surface area of slightly more than a half square mile and a maximum depth of about 108 feet.
Salvage operations proved unsuccessful until Benito Mussolini ordered Guido Ucelli to drain the lake in 1927 to recover the ships. An ancient Roman underground water conduit was reactivated by military, industry and private individuals to reclaim Caligula’s party ships.
Though the largest ship, the prima nave, was rescued by 1931, the project to save the second ship was abandoned due to technical difficulties. Another attempt was made in 1932 and the seconda nave was reborn.
Only a year after their launch, the ships were intentionally sunk following the assassination of Caligula.
A museum was built in the mid-1930s to house the naval artifacts, but they were destroyed by enemy fired during World War II in 1944.
3. Fun movie facts: In recent years Clint Eastwood has become better known for his directing skills than acting. Eastwood had an epiphany while shooting the musical “Paint Your Wagon” in 1969.
Both Eastwood and Lee Marvin sang in the picture. Not well, but, then again, it was Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin. Eastwood claims that the experience of singing the words “I talk to the trees, but they don’t listen to me” was the reason he began producing and directing his own films.
If Clint never sings again it will “make your day” too.
Anthony Quinn owns the record for the shortest performance ever to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. In 1956 Quinn played artist Paul Gauguin in “Lust for Life” and was only on screen for eight minutes.
Actress Beatrice Straight tops that however by winning Best Supporting Actress for “Network” in 1976. Her performance lasted a mere five minutes and 40 seconds.
We all know the line “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” from “Gone with the Wind.” (1939) David O. Selznick was fined $5,000 for leaving the line in the film and the Catholic Legion of Decency gave it a B rating because it was said to be “morally objectionable in part for all.”
Finally, “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) may have been the best movie ever for midgets. (No disrespect intended for little people). There were 124 diminutive actors playing roles as the Munchkins.
There was one near tragedy that thankfully had a happy ending. One of the actors fell into a studio toilet and was trapped there until someone found him and set him free.
Needless to say the actor was embarrassed and somewhat “flushed.”
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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