Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 45, 2018

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“East Germany opens the Berlin Wall” on November 09, 1989

“East Germany opens the Berlin Wall” on November 09, 1989

East Germany opens the Berlin Wall: East German officials today opened the Berlin Wall, allowing travel from East to West Berlin.

The following day, celebrating Germans began to tear the wall down. One of the ugliest and most infamous symbols of the Cold War was soon reduced to rubble that was quickly snatched up by souvenir hunters. The East German action followed a decision by Hungarian officials a few weeks earlier to open the border between Hungary and Austria. This effectively ended the purpose of the Berlin Wall, since East German citizens could now circumvent it by going through Hungary, into Austria, and thence into West Germany.

The decision to open the wall was also a reflection of the immense political changes taking place in East Germany, where the old communist leadership was rapidly losing power and the populace was demanding free elections and movement toward a free market system.The action also had an impact on President George Bush and his advisors. After watching television coverage of the delirious German crowds demolishing the wall, many in the Bush administration became more convinced than ever that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s statements about desiring a new relationship with the West must be taken more seriously.

Unlike 1956 and 1968, when Soviet forces ruthlessly crushed protests in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, respectively, Gorbachev actually encouraged the East German action. As such, the destruction of the Berlin Wall was one of the most significant actions leading to the end of the Cold War.

History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica /Berlin.de / Berlin Wall (YouTube search) video

“Kristallnacht”, or “The Night of Broken Glass” on November 09, 1938

“Kristallnacht” (“Night of Crystal” ), or “The Night of Broken Glass” on November 09, 1938

The Night of Broken Glass: This day in 1938 saw the organized destruction of Jewish businesses and homes in Munich, as well as the beating and murder of Jewish men, women, and children.

It was an exercise in terror that would be called “Kristallnacht”, or “the Night of Broken Glass”, because of the cost of broken glass in looted Jewish shops.

After the countless smashed windows of Jewish-owned establishments, left approximately 100 Jews dead, 7,500 Jewish businesses damaged and hundreds of synagogues, homes, schools and graveyards vandalized. An estimated 30,000 Jewish men were arrested, many of whom were then sent to concentration camps for several months; they were released when they promised to leave Germany. Kristallnacht represented a dramatic escalation of the campaign started by Adolf Hitler in 1933 when he became chancellor to purge Germany of its Jewish population.

The Nazis used the murder of a low-level German diplomat in Paris by a 17-year-old Polish Jew as an excuse to carry out the Kristallnacht attacks. On November 7, 1938, Ernst vom Rath was shot outside the German embassy by Herschel Grynszpan, who wanted revenge for his parents’ sudden deportation from Germany to Poland, along with tens of thousands of other Polish Jews. Following vom Rath’s death, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels ordered German storm troopers to carry out violent riots disguised as “spontaneous demonstrations” against Jewish citizens. Local police and fire departments were told not to interfere. In the face of all the devastation, some Jews, including entire families, committed suicide.

In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, the Nazis blamed the Jews and fined them 1 billion marks (or $400 million in 1938 dollars) for vom Rath’s death. As repayment, the government seized Jewish property and kept insurance money owed to Jewish people. In its quest to create a master Aryan race, the Nazi government enacted further discriminatory policies that essentially excluded Jews from all aspects of public life.

Over 100,000 Jews fled Germany for other countries after Kristallnacht. The international community was outraged by the violent events of November 9 and 10. Some countries broke off diplomatic relations in protest, but the Nazis suffered no serious consequences, leading them to believe they could get away with the mass murder that was the Holocaust, in which an estimated 6 million European Jews died.

History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica /United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.org / Kristallnacht: Night Of Broken Glass (YouTube search) video

“THE OLD OUTFIT” - “Written By a World War Two Sailor”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“THE OLD OUTFIT” - “Written By a World War Two Sailor”


“Written By a World War Two Sailor”

Come gather round me lads and I'll tell you a thing or two,

about the way we ran the Navy in nineteen forty two.

When wooden ships and iron men were barely out of sight,

I am going to give you some facts just to set the record right.

We wore the ole bell bottoms, with a flat hat on our head,

and we always hit the sack at night. We never “went to bed”.

Our uniforms were worn ashore, and we were mighty proud.

Never thought of wearing civvies, in fact they were not allowed.

Now when a ship puts out to sea. I'll tell you son - it hurts!

When suddenly you notice that half the crews wearing skirts.

And it's hard for me to imagine, a female boatswains mate,

stopping on the Quarter deck to make sure her stockings are straight.

What happened to the KiYi brush, and the old sa lt-water bath?

Holy stoning decks at night- cause you stirred old Bosn's wrath!

We always had our gedunk stand and lots of pogey bait.

And it always took a hitch or two, just to make a rate.

In your seabag all your skivvies, were neatly stopped and rolled.

And the blankets on your sack had better have a three-inch fold.

Your little ditty bag . . it is hard to believe just how much it held,

and you wouldn't go ashore with pants that hadn't been spiked and belled.

Oh we had our belly robbers - but there weren't too many gripes.

For the deck apes were never hungry and there were no starving snipes.

Now you never hear of Davey Jones, Shellbacks Or Polliwogs,

and you never splice the mainbrace to receive your da ily grog.

Now you never have to dog a watch or stand the main event.

You even tie your lines today - back in my time they were bent.

We were all two-fisted drinkers and no one thought you sinned,

if you staggered back aboard your ship, three sheets to the wind.

And with just a couple hours of sleep you regained your usual luster.

Bright eyed and bushy tailed- you still made morning muster.

Rocks and shoals have long since gone, and now it's U.C.M.J.

THEN the old man handled everything if you should go astray.

Now they steer the ships with dials, and I wouldn't be surprised,

if some day they sailed the damned things- from the beach computerized.

So when my earthly hitch is over, and the good Lord picks the best,

I'll walk right up to HIM and say, “Sir, I have but one request -

Let me sail the seas of Heaven in a coat of Navy blue.

And unfilled shadows heaven casts.

Like I did so long ago on earth - way back in nineteen-forty two.”

~ Lt. J.G Don Ballard joined the U.S. Navy in 1935 when he received $21.00 per Month. What the author says in his words is true. In 1935 only 13 men joined the Navy (from Tennessee) and Don was one of them.

Proudly copied from Lt .Ballard USN Retired, April 13, 2002 , who loved the Navy and all the men he served with in all of World War Two.

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“You can’t undo the past…

but you can certainly not repeat it.”

~ Bruce Willis

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Life moves pretty fast.

If you don’t stop

and look around once in a while,

you could miss it.”

~ Ferris Bueller

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“If at first you don’t succeed,

try doing it the way mom told you to

in the beginning.”

“Never say

or put in writing

what you wouldn't want your mom to hear or read.”

~ Anonymous

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Airline Passengers’ Ears And Noses Bleed After Pilots ‘Forgot’ To Pressurize Cabin

Airline Passengers’ Ears And Noses Bleed After Pilots ‘Forgot’ To Pressurize Cabin

Jet Airways is apologizing for “the inconvenience”.

The Mumbai-Jaipur flight, which took off around 6am, had to turn back mid-air as low cabin pressure caused several passengers to bleed and suffer headaches.

Several passengers on a Jet Airways Mumbai-Jaipur flight suffered nose and ear bleeding on Thursday morning as the pilots forgot to switch on the system to maintain cabin pressure, the DGCA said.

“The 9W 697 Mumbai-Jaipur flight was turned back to Mumbai after take off as, during the climb, crew forgot to select switch to maintain cabin pressure. This resulted in the oxygen masks dropping. Thirty out of 166 passengers experienced nose and ear bleeding, some also complained of headache”, Lalit Gupta, deputy director general, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), said.

The crew has been taken off duty and Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) has started an investigation, DGCA added. Ministry of Civil Aviation has requested DGCA to file its report immediately on the issue.

In a statement, Jet Airways said the B737 aircraft landed normally in Mumbai. “All guests were deplaned safely and taken to the terminal. First aid was administered to few guests who complained of ear pain, bleeding nose etc. The flight’s cockpit crew has been taken off scheduled duties pending investigation. The airline is making alternative flight arrangements for guests on this flight. Jet Airways regrets the inconvenience caused to its guests.”

First-Ever Observation of Higgs Boson Decay Opens New Doors for Particle Physics

Several passengers posted images from inside the plane, that showed that oxygen masks had been deployed due to the low cabin pressure.

“Panic situation due to technical fault in @jetairways 9W 0697 going from Mumbai to Jaipur. Flt return back to Mumbai after 45 mts. All passengers are safe including me.”

#jetairways #9w697 emergency landing at Mumbai. Stranded with no information. @jetairways @timesofindia @htTweets.

@jetairways Flight 9W 697 made an emergency landing back in Mumbai. Airplane lost pressure immediately after taking off...scores of passengers including me bleeding from nose....no staff to help...no announcement on board to wear the oxygen mask.passengersafety completelyignored

News agency ANI reported that the flight will take off from Mumbai for Jaipur at 10:15 am.

Hindustan Times (09/20/2018) video

Why Do Supreme Court Justices Serve for Life?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Why Do Supreme Court Justices Serve for Life?

There are few political appointments quite as important as a nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Unlike a cabinet secretary or an ambassador, justices serve for life. In the modern era, that often means more than three decades on the court—thanks to increased lifespans, justices appointed in the next century are expected to sit on the Supreme Court for an average of 35 years, compared to the average of around 16 years that judges served in the past. Because of this shift, some scholars have begun to question whether lifetime appointments are still appropriate, as the definition of “for life” has changed so much since the constitution was written.

The U.S. Constitution doesn’t exactly specify that justices and the court are in a “’til death do us part” relationship. Article III says that judges (of both the Supreme Court and lower federal courts) “shall hold their offices during good behavior”. So technically, a judge could be removed if they no longer meet the “good behavior” part of the clause, but there are otherwise no limits on their term. In practice, this means they have their seat for life, unless they are impeached and removed by Congress. Only 15 federal judges in U.S. history have ever been impeached by Congress—all lower court judges—and only eight have been removed from office, though some have resigned before their inevitable removal.

The only Supreme Court justice Congress has tried to impeach was Samuel Chase, who was appointed by George Washington in 1796. Chase was an openly partisan Federalist vehemently opposed to Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican policies, and he wasn’t afraid to say so, either in his role as a lower court judge or once he was appointed to the Supreme Court. In 1804, the House of Representatives, at then-president Jefferson’s urging, voted to impeach Chase, accusing him, among other things, of promoting his political views from the bench instead of ruling as a non-partisan judge. However, he was acquitted of all counts in the Senate, and went on to serve as a Supreme Court justice until his death in 1811.

The point of giving justices a seat on the bench for the rest of their lives (or, more commonly nowadays, until they decide to retire) is to shield the nation’s highest court from the kind of partisan fighting the Chase impeachment exemplified. The Supreme Court acts as a check against the power of Congress and the president. The lifetime appointment is designed to ensure that the justices are insulated from political pressure and that the court can serve as a truly independent branch of government.

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Why Do Supreme Court Justices Serve for Life?

Justices can’t be fired if they make unpopular decisions, in theory allowing them to focus on the law rather than politics. Justices might be nominated because a president sees them as a political or ideological ally, but once they’re on the bench, they can’t be recalled, even if their ideology shifts. Some data, for instance, suggests that many justices actually drift leftward as they age, no doubt infuriating the conservative presidents that appointed them.

The lack of term limits “is the best expedient which can be devised in any government, to secure a steady, upright and impartial administration of the laws”, Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist No. 78. The judiciary, he believed, “is in continual jeopardy of being overpowered, awed, or influenced by its coordinate branches”, and “nothing can contribute so much to its firmness and independence, as permanency in office”. Without lifetime job security, he argued, judges might feel obligated to bow to the wishes of the president, Congress, or the public, rather than confining their work strictly to questions of the Constitution.

While lifetime appointments may be a longstanding tradition in the U.S., this approach isn’t the norm in other countries. Most other democracies in the world have mandatory retirement ages if not hard-and-fast term limits for high court judges. UK Supreme Court justices face mandatory retirement at age 70 (or 75 if they were appointed before 1995), as do judges on Australia’s High Court. Canadian Supreme Court justices have a mandatory retirement age of 75, while the 31 justices of India’s Supreme Court must retire by the age of 65. Meanwhile, the oldest justice now on the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is currently 85 and kicking. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., the oldest justice in U.S. history, retired in 1932 at age 90.

Though the U.S. Supreme Court has never had term limits before, there have recently been serious proposals to implement them. Term limits, advocates argue, could combat partisan imbalances on the court. Presidents wouldn’t get to appoint justices purely based on whether someone died while they were in office, and the stakes for political parties nominating a justice would be slightly lower, possibly leading presidents and Congress to compromise more on appointments. One popular suggestion among political analysts and scholars is to impose an 18-year term limit, though critics note that that particular plan does bring up the potential that at some point, a single president could end up appointing the majority of the justices on the court.

In any case, considering such a change would likely require a constitutional amendment, which means it’s probably not going to happen anytime soon. For the foreseeable future, being on the Supreme Court will continue to be a lifetime commitment.

Encyclopedia BritannicaMental FlossSupreme Court.govWikipediaUnited States Supreme Court (YouTube) video

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang - U.S. Navy

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

B1RD: Pronounced: Bravo One Romeo Delta. Nomenclature used to identify a bird to boot sailors. Similar to CGU-11.

Baby Beater: A small sledge hammer.

Baby Birdfarm: A helicopter carrier/amphibious assault ship.

Baboon Ass: Corned beef. The nickname is based on its color and flavor. See also Monkey Butt.

Back Alley: Card game of trump played by 2 to 4 players (mostly "snipes").

Players are first dealt 1 card each then 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13, 13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Players bid on the number of tricks to be taken, trump is determined by draw.

Score is kept by awarding 3 points for bids made and taken and 1 point for each additional trick.

A player unable to make their bid goes set 3 X the bid.

Game can be played by partners.

Just for MARINES - The Few. The Proud.

Just for you MARINE

Back on the Block: Behaving like a civilian.

Bag Nasty a.k.a. “Box Nasty”: A-ration brown-bag meal issued to Marines (usually recruits or those in-field): it often contains a sandwich, a boiled egg, fruit, potato chips, juice or milk.

BAH a.k.a. “bee ay aych” - Basic Allowance for Housing: Supplemental pay for living off-base; previously known as Basic Allowance for Quarters (BAQ).

BAMCIS: A mnemonic For military tacticians: Begin the planning, Arrange reconnaissance, Make reconnaissance, Complete the planning, Issue orders, Supervise. It is also used as an exclamation of success or accomplishment.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Patrol Squadron Four (VP-4) - nicknamed the “Skinny Dragons”
United States Navy - Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Washington - Established July, 1 1943

Where Did That Saying Come From

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Frog in the throat”

Frog in the throat:”  Meaning: Temporary hoarseness caused by phlegm in the back of the throat.

History: 'A frog in the throat' is an American phrase that entered the language towards the end of the 19th century. The expression doesn't have a fanciful derivation but comes directly from the fact that a hoarse person sounds croaky - like a frog.

The expression must have been in popular use in the USA by 1894, when it was used in an advertisement as the name of a proprietary medicine for sore throats, in The Stevens Point Journal, November 1894:

The earliest reference I can find to the expression is from How to be Man, which was an improving 'book for boys', written by the American clergyman Harvey Newcomb in 1847. Newcomb encouraged the youngsters to resist the temptation of 'improper diversions' [the nature of which I will leave to your imagination]:

“Now let me beg of you to learn to say NO. If you find a 'frog in your throat,' which obstructs your utterance, go by yourself, and practise saying no, no, NO!”

The expression must have been in popular use in the USA by 1894, when it was used in an advertisement as the name of a proprietary medicine for sore throats, in The Stevens Point Journal, November 1894:

“The Taylor Bros. say that 'Frog in the Throat' will cure hoarseness. 10 cents and box.”

Interestingly, a reference to the phrase was printed just four weeks later in the English newspaper The Hastings and St Leonards Observer, in an article about 'Yankee advertising'. The Observer journalist describes how a local chemist had adopted an American advertising window display in order to sell the imported 'Frog in Your Throat' lozenges. The display consisted of artificial frogs dressed up as English peasants and arranged in a variety of tableaux titled 'Merrie England in Ye Olden Time'. In order to lend some zest to the sales campaign, the advertising agents for the importers invented a back story which claimed that 'a frog in the throat' was 'an old English expression, once in common use, but now forgotten here'. That story is as fake as the stuffed frogs - the expression is certainly American and only became widely used in England when Taylor Bros. began selling their lozenges.

It is easy to find websites that claim 'a frog in your throat' derives from the belief that 'in medieval times physicians thought that the secretions of a frog could help heal a sore throat'. That's true, they did have that belief, but any link between that and the phrase 'frog in the throat' is one of the pieces of folk etymology that appear to float around the Internet and enjoy apparent immortality, despite having no basis in truth and no supporting evidence. Holding a live frog in a child's mouth until the frog died was thought, in the 17th century, to be a cure for thrush (a viral infection of the mouth). No one at the time used the phrase 'a frog in the/your/ones throat', which isn't known until the late 19th century.

As a general rule, any explanation of the origin of a phrase that begins with 'In medieval times...' should be treated with suspicion.

Phrases.org UK

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Why Do Book Pages Turn Yellow Over Time?

Why Do Book Pages Turn Yellow Over Time?

If you look at old newspaper clippings, aging paper documents and books that are past their prime, you'll notice that they likely have a yellow tinge. But why do old paper products turn this golden hue?

It's not that books would rather be blond, but rather that paper is made from components that yellow over time - at least when they're exposed to oxygen, Susan Richardson, a chemistry professor at the University of South Carolina, says.

Most paper is made from wood, which largely consists of cellulose and a natural wood component called lignin that gives land plant cell walls their rigidity and makes wood stiff and strong. Cellulose - a colorless substance — is remarkably good at reflecting light, which means we perceive it as being white. This is why paper - including the pages of everything from sheet music to dictionaries — is usually white. [Why Is Cow's Milk White?]

But when lignin is exposed to light and the surrounding air, its molecular structure changes. Lignin is a polymer, meaning it's built from batches of the same molecular unit bonded together. In the case of lignin, those repeating units are alcohols consisting of oxygen and hydrogen with a smattering of carbon atoms thrown in, Richardson said.

But lignin, and in part cellulose, is susceptible to oxidation — meaning it readily picks up extra oxygen molecules, and those molecules alter the polymer's structure. The added oxygen molecules break the bonds that hold those alcohol subunits together, creating molecular regions called chromophores. Chromophores (meaning “color bearers”, or “color carriers” in Greek) reflect certain wavelengths of light that our eyes perceive as color. In the case of lignin oxidation, that color is yellow or brown.

Oxidation is also responsible for a sliced apple browning when it's abandoned on the kitchen counter. Oxygen in the air enters the fruit’s tissue, and enzymes called polyphenol oxidase (PPO) oxidize polyphenols (simple organic compounds) in the skin of the apple, Lynne McLandsborough, a professor of food science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told Scientific American. This process yields chemicals called o-quinones that then produce brown-colored melanin — the dark pigment present in our skin, eyes and hair.

Typically, paper manufacturers try to remove as much lignin as possible by using a bleaching process, according to Richardson. The more lignin that's removed, the longer the paper will remain white. But newspaper - which is made cheaply - has more lignin in it than a typical textbook page, so it turns a yellow-brown color faster than other types of paper, she said.

Interestingly, the producers of brown paper grocery bags and cardboard shipping boxes take advantage of lignin because it makes their products sturdier. These paper products aren't bleached, leaving them much browner than a typical newspaper, but also stiff enough to give a bag carrying a milk carton and other groceries its strength.

According to Richardson, theoretically, you could preserve your high school yearbookin pristine condition, provided you kept out both oxygen and light indefinitely.

“Oxygen is the enemy”, she said. ”Keep the book in a perfectly sealed box and replace the oxygen with nitrogen, argon or another inert [meaning it doesn't readily undergo chemical reactions] gas, and you're set.”

But while oxygen-rich conditions are bad for paper, sunlight and high-moisture levels can also negatively impact paper preservation, Richardson noted. For instance, any book that's surrounded by oxygen will yellow, even if it's kept in a dark room. “Sunlight just speeds up the oxidation process," she said.

Ensuring that our newspaper clippings stay crisp and legible is one thing, but preservationists, archivists and librarians wage a constant war against paper degradation and oxidation. Preserving important historical documents — anything from a nondigitized will to the Emancipation Proclamation - requires an awareness of what environmental factors can damage paper products.

Live Science (09/10/2018) video

© CEASAR CHOPPY by cartoonist Marty Gavin - archives Ceasar Choppy's Navy! “© CEASAR CHOPPY” by Marty Gavin


“Bohemian Rhapsody” - Queen 1975

“Bohemian Rhapsody” - Queen
Album: A Night At The Opera
Released 1975 video

Freddie Mercury wrote the lyrics, and there has been a lot of speculation as to their meaning. Many of the words appear in the Qu'ran. “Bismillah” is one of these and it literally means “In the name of Allah”. The word “Scaramouch” means “A stock character that appears as a boastful coward.” “Beelzebub” is one of the many names given to The Devil.

Mercury's parents were deeply involved in Zoroastrianism, and these Arabic words do have a meaning in that religion. His family grew up in Zanzibar, but was forced out by government upheaval in 1964 and they moved to England. Some of the lyrics could be about leaving his homeland behind. Guitarist Brian May seemed to suggest this when he said in an interview about the song: “Freddie was a very complex person: flippant and funny on the surface, but he concealed insecurities and problems in squaring up his life with his childhood. He never explained the lyrics, but I think he put a lot of himself into that song.”

Another explanation is not to do with Mercury's childhood, but his sexuality - it was around this time that he was starting to come to terms with his bisexuality, and his relationship with Mary Austin was falling apart.

Whatever the meaning is, we may never know - Mercury himself remained tight-lipped, and the band agreed not to reveal anything about the meaning. Mercury himself stated, “It's one of those songs which has such a fantasy feel about it. I think people should just listen to it, think about it, and then make up their own minds as to what it says to them.” He also claimed that the lyrics were nothing more than “Random rhyming nonsense” when asked about it by his friend Kenny Everett, who was a London DJ.

The band were always keen to let listeners interpret their music in a personal way to them, rather than impose their own meaning on songs, and May stated that the band agreed to keep the personal meaning behind the song private out of respect for Mercury.

The backing track came together quickly, but Queen spent days overdubbing the vocals in the studio using a 24-track tape machine. The analog recording technology was taxed by the song's multitracked scaramouches and fandangos: by the time they were done, about 180 tracks were layered together and "bounced" down into sub-mixes. Brian May recalled in various interviews being able to see through the tape as it was worn so thin with overdubs. Producer Roy Thomas Baker also recalls Mercury coming into the studio proclaiming, “oh, I've got a few more 'Galileos' dear!” as overdub after overdub piled up.

Queen made a video for the song to air on Top Of The Pops, a popular British music show, because the song was too complex to perform live - or more accurately, be mimed live on TOTP. Also, the band would be busy on tour during the single's release and thus unable to appear.

The video turned out to be a masterstroke, providing far more promotional punch than a one-off live appearance. Top Of The Pops ran it for months, helping keep the song atop the charts. This started a trend in the UK of making videos for songs to air in place of live performances.

When the American network MTV launched in 1981, most of their videos came from British artists for this reason. In the December 12, 2004 issue of the Observer newspaper, Roger Taylor explained:

“We did everything we possibly could to avoid appearing in Top Of The Pops. It was one, the most boring day known to man, and two, it's all about not actually playing - pretending to sing, pretending to play. We came up with the video concept to avoid playing on Top Of The Pops.”

This was Queen's first Top 10 hit in the U.S. In the UK, where Queen was already established, it was #1 for 9 weeks, a record at the time.

At 5:55, this was a very long song for radio consumption. Queen's manager at the time, John Reid, played it to another artist he managed, Elton John, who promptly declared: “are you mad? You'll never get that on the radio!”

According to Brian May, record company management kept pleading with the group to cut the single down, but Freddie Mercury refused. It got a big bump when Mercury's friend Kenny Everett played it on his Capital Radio broadcast before the song was released (courtesy of a copy Mercury gave him). This helped the single jump to #1 in the UK shortly after it was released.

In an interview with Brian May and Roger Taylor on the Queen Videos Greatest Hits DVD, Brian said:

“What is Bohemian Rhapsody about, well I don't think we'll ever know and if I knew I probably wouldn't want to tell you anyway, because I certainly don't tell people what my songs are about. I find that it destroys them in a way because the great thing about about a great song is that you relate it to your own personal experiences in your own life. I think that Freddie was certainly battling with problems in his personal life, which he might have decided to put into the song himself. He was certainly looking at re-creating himself. But I don't think at that point in time it was the best thing to do so he actually decided to do it later. I think it's best to leave it with a question mark in the air.»

A Night At The Opera was re-released as an audio DVD in 2002 with the original video included on the disc. Commentary from the DVD reveals that this song had started taking shape in the song “My Fairy King” on Queen's debut album.

Roger Taylor (from 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh):

“Record companies both sides of the Atlantic tried to cut the song, they said it was too long and wouldn't work. We thought, 'Well we could cut it, but it wouldn't make any sense,' it doesn't make much sense now and it would make even less sense then: you would miss all the different moods of the song. So we said no. It'll either fly or it won't. Freddie had the bare bones of the song, even the composite harmonies, written on telephone books and bits of paper, so it was quite hard to keep track of what was going on.” Kutner and Leigh's book also states that, the recording included 180 overdubs, the operatic parts took over 70 hours to complete and the piano Freddie played was the same one used by Paul McCartney on “Hey Jude”.

Ironically, the song that knocked this off the #1 chart position in the UK was “Mama Miavideo by Abba. The words “Mama mia” are repeated in this in the line “Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia let me go.”

In an interview with Q magazine March 2011, Roger Taylor was asked if this seemed like a peculiar song when Mercury first suggested it? He replied:

“No, I loved it. The first bit that he played to me was the verse. 'Mama, just killed a man, dah-dah-la-dah-daah, gun against his…' All that. I thought, 'That's great, that's a hit.' It was, in my head, a simpler entity then; I didn't know it was going to have a wall of mock Gilbert and Sullivan stuff, you know, some of which was written on the fly. Freddie would write these huge blocks of mass harmonies in the backs of phone books.”

Queen official site / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Ultimate Classic Rock / Queen

Image: “A Night At The Opera (album)” by Queen



● For what artistic reason were many males castrated in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries?


● This southern Russian republic declared its independence several years ago, but had to defend itself against Russian military troops this year in bloody fighting. Which region is this?


● How would the number 70 (in base 10) be represented in base 3?


● If you were this dog, you would have the best eyesight and fastest running speed of any dog (up to 45 miles per hour). Which one would you be?



A Test for People Who Know Everything

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THAT'S COLD, MAN” ($200):

“Relax, calm down, this 5-letter word 'out', dude”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Urban Dictionary

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THAT'S COLD, MAN” ($600):

“Stiff or formal, it also precedes "-aire" in an appliance brand.

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Urban Dictionary

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THAT'S COLD, MAN” ($800):

“It's slang for an isolation cell in prison; Alaska was 'Seward's'.

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Urban Dictionary

Answer to Last Week's Test

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “OPERATION” ($200):

“Overlord: launched in this month, 1944.”

● Answer: June. History

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “OPERATION” ($400):

“Eagle Claw: abortive 1980 attempt to free hostages in this country.

● Answer: Iran. The Atlantic

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “OPERATION” ($1,000):

“Chromite: the surprise 1950 U.S. landing at this Korean port.

● Answer: Inch'ŏn. Encyclopedia Britannica

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

“Eli's Dirty Jokes - The Sloppy Drunk”

“Eli's Dirty Jokes - The Sloppy Drunk”

“A Plane Was Taking Off From DFW Airport”

Joke of the Day

A Plane Was Taking Off From DFW Airport

A plane was taking off from DFW Airport. After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight 1608, nonstop from Dallas Fort Worth to New York City.”

“The weather ahead is good and therefore we should have a smooth and uneventful flight. Now, please sit back and relax... AAHHHHH! ....DAMMIT!”

The passengers sat in silence, waiting for terrible news.

Then, the captain came back on the intercom and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier, but while I was talking, the flight- attendant brought me a cup of coffee and spilled the hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!”

A passenger in Coach said, “That's nothing. You should see the back of mine!”