Someone Left Richard Harris in the Rain

Richard HarrisOn this day in 1888, the card magic innovator Charles Jordan was born. I have long known him because of the “Jordan Count,” which is a way of counting four cards while only showing three of them. It is the logical opposite of the “Elmsley Count.” That is to say that performing an Elmsley Count followed by a Jordan Count will return the cards to the original order. The Elmsley Count hides the third card from the top and the Jordan Count hides the bottom card. What I didn’t know until today is that he lived in Penngrove and then later in Vallejo, both towns close by me. It is also interesting that when I was a kid, the local Society of American Magicians meeting was in Penngrove, despite the fact that it is a tiny (population roughly 2,000) town.

Actor James Whitmore was born in 1921. He did a lot of acting work, but I remember him from his one-man shows. I still think such things are about the best kind of theater. Action doesn’t especially work live. But a guy just standing on stage telling stories works remarkably well—at least for me. I love stories as stories. Whitmore was great in Will Rogers’ USA, Give ’em Hell, Harry!, Bully. Unfortunately, none of them are available on DVD. Here he is as Truman:

Jimmy Carter is 89 today. It is easy to look back on his presidency very fondly. He was so much better than everyone who came after him, how can one not? Just the same, he was the leading edge of the New Democratic movement. He was the first Democratic president we got who was much more conservative than we deserved. Look at the men we’ve elected: Carter, Clinton, and Obama. Each one of those elections were going to be won by a Democrat. All the major factors were in the Democrats’ favor. Yet we elected conservative Democrats (moderates in a general sense) and what did we get? Reagan, the end to welfare (as we knew it), and a Republican healthcare plan that is more a giveaway to the insurance industry than anything. Still, Carter is a decent man. Democrats can look back fondly on our recent presidents. Republicans hate the last three of four, and the other they’ve turned into an idol. I’m pleased to call myself a Democrat (even if I am a disgruntled one).

Other birthdays: Golden Age Dutch painter Nicolaes Pieterszoon Berchem (1620); pianist Vladimir Horowitz (1903); historian Daniel J. Boorstin (1914); actor Walter Matthau (1920); and actor Julie Andrews (78).

The day, however, belongs to the actor and singer Richard Harris who was born on this day in 1930. He was quite a good actor. I enjoyed him in Camelot and he was even better in the later years of his career. But I am featuring him today because he sang the most maligned song in history, “MacArthur Park”:

Happy birthday Richard Harris!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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