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March 21st

On this day in 1844 Jesus Christ was supposed to pop down to earth for a bit of a second coming according to religious nutjob William Miller. Funnily enough, he did not.

 

This failed to materialise. What a shocker.

William Miller was, what we’d call today, an Adventist. He was all about feeling the spirit and waiting for Jesus to turn up, tell him he was a godly man and spread the good news to him and his followers that they’d all got it right, Armageddon was about to take place but they, the good people, would all be going to heaven with Jesus.  So how did he come to the notion that he knew when Jesus was coming back to visit him and his mates?

 

Miller was born a Baptist, lost his faith for a while and became a Deist. What’s one of them? Deism is a philosophy that basically says that the creator (God) can only be known through reason and observation of the natural world, that the creator does not interfere in his creation and that manifestations and miracles are to be viewed with the utmost scepticism. In short, they’re almost atheists except for the fact that they do believe in a creator. Miller remained a Deist for many years, but after the war of 1812 (the Anglo-American one, Miller was an American) and the deaths of members of his family he got all caught up in considering what the afterlife might be and started edging back to his Baptist roots. He finally became a full on Baptist again, but because his deist friends were being all “What now? Miracles and shit? Do me a favour Willie, tell us how you can believe all that stuff and nonsense. You big git!” he started to read the whole bible not moving on from any one chapter until he felt he clearly understood it. It was while doing this that he came to the conclusion that the bible contained the prophecy of the second coming and its actual date.

The prophecy he found was in Daniel 8:14 where it says “la, la, la unto two thousand and three hundred days then shall the sanctuary be cleansed”. To you and I that means the square root of sweet F.A., to Miller it meant that Jesus was coming back and that instead of in 2,300 days in 2,300 years and those years should be counted from 475B.C.  I know, it seems that his notion of understanding the bible was to make it up as he went along, but there you go. That’s what Miller saw and for the next twenty-odd years (he came to this “understanding” in 1818) he based his life, his religion and his teaching on this fact. For years he was just a local oddity, but as it got closer to the second coming, Millerites (as they were imaginatively called) grew in number and were all well looking forward to going up to heaven with their man J.C.

To be fair to William, he was a little vague about the date, but his time limit was from somewhere between 21st March 1843 and 21st March 1844. As you may have guessed those days came and went and there was no sign of Jesus. William went back to his calculations and came back to tell his followers not to worry “I got it all mashed up” he said, “I was being all Gregorian calendar like a big dick and not using the Karaite Jewish calendar. It’s okay. Jesus will be here a bit later than expected on April 18th. He was not. By this time people were getting a bit pissed off with getting all dressed up for Jesus and  him not turning up, as you would be, but there was one more date to be considered. Another bloke, Samuel Snow, got involved and said “It’s fine, I’ve had a look and what’s happening is that he’s turning up on the tenth day of the seventh month of this year of our Lord 1844. No, that wasn’t the 10th July because Sammy was also using the Karaite calendar. It was October 22nd.

And lo, it came to pass that Jesus still failed to turn up. By this time most people were sick to the back teeth of the whole thing and felt slightly foolish about believing any of it in the first place. Some nutters continued to believe it. Of these some thought that they hadn’t been childlike enough so they began to act like children. Others thought they just needed to talk Jesus down off a big white cloud in the sky. But mostly everyone took the piss out of Willy, Sammy and their bunch of miserable mentalists. The end was nigh, but not for the world, just for Millerism.

By the way there was a name for this whole failure of Jesus to come down to earth and take this bunch of nutters back to heaven with him. It was called “The Great Disappointment”. Bless their deluded little socks.

 

Today was the birthday of noted tit-man and director, Russ Meyer. It’s hard to talk about Meyer without talking about tits, so I’m not even going to try. Meyer liked them big, bouncy and gravity-defying. That said, he also liked them on women who seemed like they might kill you with said tits if you looked at them just a little bit funny. One of his most famous films was Faster, Pussycat! Kill!

The man himself

Kill! which is the exact phrase I use to my own dear George if I suspect the presence of burglars. (That said, last night the little bitch scared the bejasus out of me when she got into the bathroom sink and managed to catch hold of the light cord and turn the light on and off again and then jump down and stand in the doorway looking at it like “Oh dear mum, what made that happen!” Whore)

 

He collaborated with Roger Ebert on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls which he saw as the epitome of his style and some reviewers saw as “as funny as a burning orphanage and a treat for the emotionally retarded.” I think the critics were too harsh and the only thing wrong with the film is not enough sex. For all Meyer’s obsession with the female form, his films were very much on the soft side and yet even with the rise of rampant pornography he made a good living and retired a very comfortable man.

Since his death at the age of 82 in 2004 (his gravestone bears the legend “King of the Nudies” and who can argue with that) Fox Searchlight have been negotiating the rights to make a biopic of his early years. I see a part for Johnny Depp on the horizon.

Happy birthday Russ, baby. I hope that the afterlife has provided you with many a bouncy bosom for a pillow.

 

Meyer's idea of heaven, aka one for the boys.

 

 

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February 6th

Raffles looks pleased with himself as he prepares to rob a safe

On this day in 1819 Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore. He had actually found it just over a week previously and thought it would be a nice place to build a hotel and invent the Singapore Sling, so he spent a while finding out who could let him have it and eventually signed a few documents on 6th which made it his. Unfortunately he had to leave the very next day to continue travelling around the Malay Peninsula to see if he could find any other nooks and crannies that the Dutch hadn’t bagsied. This proved difficult and there were a few fist fights along the way before he headed back to Singapore, built a hotel and some schools, and perfected the Singapore Sling after a brief foray into the Staten Island Ferry which he realised was just silly as the Staten Island Ferry didn’t even exist at that point in history.

Much as he loved Singapore, Raffles could not hang around for long as he had to go back to England and take up his other career, that of a gentleman burglar. He continued to rob the rich for shits and giggles for a few years before dying at the age of 44 when he got stuck in a cat flap whilst trying to get into Buckingham palace and suffered apoplexy. He left his fortune to his partner in crime Harry “Bunny Wailer” Manders and their seven children.

Today is the birthday of legendary top bloke and rather wonderful actor, Rip Torn. Torn has appeared in many films in a career spanning over 50 years and also famously sued the arse of legendary cry baby Dennis Hopper in 1994. Hopper had appeared on the Jay Leno show and claimed that Torn had pulled a knife on him back when they were about to start filming Easy Rider. (Torn pulled out of the film and was eventually replaced by Jack Nicholson). Torn brought the lawsuit on the basis that while there had been a fight, it was Hopper who pulled the knife. The full story is even funnier. Hopper pulled a steak knife on Torn who disarmed him.

Rip Torn. One of the coolest men alive.

Hopper then went off on a drunken rant saying he had a buck knife and did Torn want a knife fight outside? Torn told him to bring his knives, his guns and his pals and went outside to wait for him. Hopper shat it and never showed. Torn was awarded nearly half a million dollars in damages and when Hopper whined about the unfairness of it all, another judge doubled the amount. No one messes with Rip Torn!

As Patches O’Houlihan didn’t quite say, this man is way more useful than a cock-flavoured lollipop. He’s had his bad moments, including a few too many run-ins with the police due to his fondness for the sauce, but nobody’s perfect, not even Rip.

Happy birthday, Mr Torn, you’re a helluva man!

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