This week in Literature and Arts

August 7, 1934: The U.S. Court of Appeals upholds the lower court’s ruling that James Joyce’s novel Ulysses is art, not pornography, and eligible for sale in the United States.


August 8, 1969: At roughly 11:30 a.m. as a constable held traffic, photographer Iain Macmillan climbed a stepladder, focused his Hasselbad camera’s 50 mm lens closed down the aperture to f22 for great depth, and firing the shutter at 1/500th of a second shot six pictures of The Beatles walking away from EMI Studios crossing Abbey Road. The fifth exposure became the album cover.

Linda McCartney on the sidelines shot her own pix of the event.


Happy 90th birthday to actor and writer Robert Shaw, born August 9, 1927, in Westhoughton, Lancashire, England. One of the great screen villains of 70s movies—with a little bit of early Bond thrown in—Shaw had the ability to appear restrained and polite while remaining fully menacing. Neat trick.

Solid in From Russian With Love; The Sting; The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3; Robin and Marian, and numerous others, but undoubtedly Shaw is best remembered as the vengeance-driven shark hunter in JAWS.

Addicted to drinking, Shaw, alas, died in 1978 only three weeks after turning 51. Farewell and adieu.


August 10, 1984: Director/writer John Milius’s Red Dawn becomes the first Hollywood release to garner the Motion Picture Association of America’s newly minted PG-13 rating—the MPAA somehow deemed Red Dawn excessively violent (did these bozos ever see The Wild Bunch or Taxi Driver?).

Frankly, the film is more silly than bloody—a cadre of high school jocks & nerds morph into guerrillas kicking the Commie asses of Soviet/Cuban forces invading the U.S. The nastiest ouch in the film is a Russkie getting shot in the keister with an arrow. Sporting a watchable cast—Ben Johnson, Powers Booth, Harry Dean Stanton, Patrick Swayze, Lea Thompson, and pre-debauched asshole Charlie Sheen (his first film)—Red Dawn is the guiltiest of guilty pleasures: dumb as shit but entertaining as hell.

Despite the MPAA rating, which easily could have negatively impacted the film’s box office, Red Dawn turned profit and has developed a cult following. A 2012 remake—also PG-13—tanked.

Wolverines, bitches!


Happy 70th birthday to Ian Anderson, born August 10, 1947 in Dunfermline, Scotland. Back in Jethro Tull’s heyday Ian looked like a wildman, now he looks like Mitch Miller. Oy!


Monster kids, Star Wars geeks, and Holmes heads let us remember our friend Peter Cushing, who passed August 11, 1994.


Michael Rogers (mermsr@optimum.net) is a Jesse H. Neal Gold Award-winning freelance writer, editor, reviewer, and photographer. He is also former Media Editor and audiobook reviewer at Library Journal.

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