Thursday, November 19, 2009. Twenty years ago today, the US national soccer team qualified for the World Cup tournament, for the first time in forty years. Paul Caligiuri's goal, which won the match for Team USA, quickly became known as "the shot heard 'round the world," and it changed the way Americans looked at soccer.

Click here for a YouTube clip which shows the ESPN SportsCenter coverage of the match, including Caligiuri's goal.

Direct download: 20yearsago_164_111909.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:55am EDT

Sunday, October 18, 2009.  Anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area who owned a Far Side page-a-day calendar would have found the cartoon for twenty years ago today prescient -- and downright creepy.  I describe that cartoon, and talk about some of the big changes that happened to San Francisco and Oakland's transportation infrastructure as a result of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Direct download: 20yearsago_163_101809.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:00am EDT

Saturday, October 17, 2009.  5:04 pm.  Twenty years ago today, the Loma Prieta earthquake struck northern California, changing lives and landscapes forever.  I share my memory of the moment the quake struck, and what happened a few minutes later that taught me a very important lesson -- being in the midst of history as it's happening isn't always an adventure.

The SFGate website, online home of the San Francisco Chronicle, has a special section devoted to those fifteen seconds that changed everything.
Direct download: 20yearsago_162_101709.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:04pm EDT

Episode #161 -- Scott O'Dell Thursday, October 15, 2009. Twenty years ago today, author Scott O'Dell died at the age of 91.  I talk about O'Dell, his most famous book, and how his writing (and that of my other favorite books as a kid) influenced my reading interests -- and, by extension, helped inspire this podcast.

Direct download: 20yearsago_161_101509.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:50pm EDT

Sunday, October 11, 2009.  "It Was 20 Years Ago Today" returns with a recollection of the story that Times Herald-Record columnist Mike Levine published twenty years ago today.  The story, and the problem it illuminates, could have easily been written today.

Mike Levine went on to become the executive editor of the Times Herald-Record before dying far too young in January 2007.  His family and colleagues established a journalism education scholarship in his name, and the first Mike Levine Workshop was held this past spring.
Direct download: 20yearsago_160_101109.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:41pm EDT

Episode #159 -- Batman Tuesday, June 23, 2009. Twenty years ago today, the movie Batman was released, bringing the famous comic book hero to a whole new generation of fans.  I talk about the movie and my own experiences and impressions of Batman, from the Superfriends to "The Killing Joke."

One of the earliest episodes of this show was about this same Batman movie, commemorating the date when the first draft script was written.  Fellow Bat-fanatics who haven't been following this show since day one might enjoy checking it out!

Direct download: 20yearsago_159_062309.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:36am EDT

Episode #158 -- Star Trek V Tuesday, June 9, 2009. Twenty years ago today, the movie Star Trek V: the Final Frontier was released.  I share a few facts about the fifth of the Trek movies, and relate my experience of watching it for the first (and almost last) time.  I don't remember seeing the poster design depicted here back in the day, but I couldn't resist showing it now, because my answer to the question it poses would most likely be, "To keep the audience from getting up and walking out."

I also refer to a version of the movie given the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" treatment.  This isn't the RiffTrax commentary, but rather a fan film with a Joel, robots and everything, including one unforgettable song, by Seattle filmmaker Ryan K. Johnson.  More information can be found on Ryan's website.

Direct download: 20yearsago_158_060909.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:28am EDT

Thursday, June 4, 2009. Twenty years ago today, the Chinese government moved to crack down on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing's Tienanmen Square.  I talk about the crackdown on that day, and the efforts of the Chinese government to prevent its people from even knowing about what really happened in Tienanmen Square twenty years ago.

Direct download: 20yearsago_157_060409.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:27am EDT

Episode #156 -- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Tuesday, May 26, 2009.  "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" was released twenty years ago today. (Technically, it was released on the Wednesday before, May 24 -- my mistake!)  I talk about the third film in the "Indiana Jones" series, why I think it worked so well, and why the fourth film, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls," which we'd waited almost twenty years to see, just didn't work.

Direct download: 20yearsago_156_052609.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:17am EDT

Episode #155 -- Gilda Radner Wednesday, May 20, 2009.  Gilda Radner died twenty years ago today.  I share a few memories of the actress and comedienne, who was one of the original (and still the best, to my mind) Not Ready For Prime Time Players.

I apologize for the less-than-stellar vocal quality of this episode.  I'm a bit under the weather, but I didn't want to miss out on this event.  To recall another of Gilda's famous phrases, it's always something, isn't it?

Direct download: 20yearsago_155_052009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:06am EDT

Tuesday, May 12, 2009.  Twenty years ago today, the last graffiti-covered subway car on the New York City system was retired from service.  I talk about the efforts to clean up graffiti on the NYC subways in the late 1980s, and how that changed the image of the subways (and the city itself) for people like me who knew about "The Big Apple" from nothing but TV shows.

Direct download: 20yearsago_154_051209.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:13am EDT

Episode #153 -- Sergio Leone Thursday, April 30, 2009. Twenty years ago today, film director Sergio Leone died at the age of 60.  I talk about the achievements of the man who defined the "spaghetti Western," and how I first came to see his movies.

Direct download: 20yearsago_153_043009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:41am EDT

Episode #152 -- Hillsborough Disaster Wednesday, April 15, 2009.  Twenty years ago today, 96 people lost their lives in a human crush at Hillsborough, a football (soccer) stadium in Sheffield, England.  I talk a little about the worst disaster in the history of English sport, and about the part we all have to play in keeping the memory alive -- even people like me who didn't learn about the disaster until many years after it happened.

The picture at the left is of the memorial to the victims of the Hillsborough disaster at Anfield, the home stadium of Liverpool Football Club.  LFC has never forgotten the tragedy that took the lives of 96 of their supporters, and their website is a great place to begin learning more about the human cost of the Hillsborough disaster.

Direct download: 20yearsago_152_041509.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:04am EDT

Episode #151 -- Sugar Ray Robinson Sunday, April 12, 2009. Sugar Ray Robinson, considered by many to be the greatest boxer of all time, died twenty years ago today.  I talk a little about this remarkable fighter, as well as sharing my own thoughts about being a boxing fan.

Direct download: 20yearsago_151_041209.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:14am EDT

Monday, April 6, 2009.  Twenty years ago, the Polish Round Table Agreement was signed, setting the stage for the end of Communist government in the nation of Poland.  I give a brief description of the agreement, as well as a glimpse of some of the events yet to come in 1989, which together spelled the end of the Iron Curtain in Europe.

This is the 150th episode of "It Was 20 Years Ago Today."  It's a little hard for me to believe that there have been 150 shows over the last two and a half years.  I want to thank all of my listeners and supporters.  Whether you've just started listening recently, or have been here since the beginning, your downloads and support mean a lot.  Many thanks.

Direct download: 20yearsago_150_040609.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:52am EDT

Episode #149 -- The Satanic Verses Saturday, April 4, 2009. Twenty years ago today, Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses was in the top spot on the New York Times fiction bestseller list.  I take a look at the controversy surrounding the book, and talk about all the things I didn't understand about that controversy -- from twenty years ago to this day.

Direct download: 20yearsago_149_040409.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:27am EDT

Thursday, March 26, 2009.  Twenty years ago today, citizens of the Soviet Union went to the polls in the first multi-party elections in that nation in over seventy years.  I take a look at that election, some of its results, and ponder the changes in the world, where for many of us, the Soviet Union has never even existed.

I've also included a promo for the Forgotten Classics podcast, a show where you can find out more about famous books of an even older vintage than I might talk about here.

Direct download: 20yearsago_148_032609.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:36am EDT

Thursday, March 19, 2009. Twenty years ago today, the New York Times printed an article about the practice of balancing eggs on their ends on the occasion of the spring equinox.  I look at the idea that you can only balance an egg on its end on the equinox -- which is a folktale -- as well as the idea of urban legends in general.

This episode was inspired in large part by a well known article on the Bad Astronomy website.  My favorite reference site for rumors and urban legends is

Direct download: 20yearsago_147_031909.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:31am EDT

Sunday, March 8, 2009. Twenty years ago today, Ashley Michelle Bond-Peters was born.  I never knew Ashley -- I learned about her from a website created by her mother as a memorial.  I talk about Ashley and about the way the Internet has changed the ways we relate to one another, in communities and memorials online.

Direct download: 20yearsago_146_030809.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:36am EDT

Friday, March 6, 2009.  The issue of Time magazine dated twenty years ago today featured an article about the exapansion of Pay Per View television.  I talk about that article and about PPV-TV, then and today.  Remarkably, it's one technology that really hasn't changed much in twenty years.

Direct download: 20yearsago_145_030609.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:07am EDT

Sunday, March 1, 2009. Twenty years ago today, the provisions of the Berne Convention came into effect in the United States.  I talk about the Berne Convention, copyright law (from the point of view of an interested layperson, not a lawyer) and share a story about how Joe and I got caught up in the complexities of copyright, about a decade ago.

Direct download: 20yearsago_144_030109.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:31am EDT

For Tuesday, February 24, 2009. (Apologies for the delay in posting!)  Twenty years ago today, the state funeral for Emperor Showa was held.  I talk about the man who was known as Hirohito during his lifetime, and about the nation he had led for over sixty years.  Japan was a dominant force in the world during the 1980s, for more reasons than one.

Direct download: 20yearsago_143_022409.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:36am EDT

Sunday, February 22, 2009. Twenty years ago today, Senator Mark Warner read George Washington's Farewell Address on the floor of the Senate, in keeping with a Senate tradition going back to the 19th century.  I talk about the traditions of the Senate, both present and past, and my own fascination with those traditions.

Direct download: 20yearsago_142_022209.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:51am EDT

Episode #141 -- Total Lunar Eclipse Friday, February 20, 2009.  Twenty years ago today, a total lunar eclipse visible through much of North America occurred.  I share some memories of eclipses and other celestial phenomena I've been fortunate enough to witness.

The picture at the right is of the last total lunar eclipse that was visible in North America, which took place just over a year ago.  I found it on Maryland Weather, a fascinating blog about all sorts of weather and sky phenomena, written by Baltimore Sun reporter Frank Royce.

Direct download: 20yearsago_141_022009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:30am EDT

Sunday, February 15, 2009. Twenty years ago today, the last Soviet troops left Afghanistan.  It was the end of the occupation, but not of the war.  I look at the fighting in Afghanistan, and consider the effects of the Cold War on a country which has been in conflict and turmoil for three decades or more.
The historical analysis offered here is strictly my own opinion, based on the sort of material any average American of my age would have access to: newspapers, TV documentaries, and perhaps a few books.  I make no claim to expertise in this (or any other subject I talk about in this podcast), and I have no ideological ax to grind.  Take it for whatever it's worth to you.

Direct download: 20yearsago_140_021509.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:47am EDT

Episode #139 -- Barbara Clementine Harris Wednesday, February 11, 2009.  Twenty years ago today, Barbara Harris became the first woman to be ordained bishop in the Episcopal Church.  I talk about the Rt. Rev. Harris, and my own perspectives on Christianity -- I belong to the Episcopal Church also.

Direct download: 20yearsago_139_021109.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Episode #138 -- Osamu Tezuka For Monday, February 9, 2009.  Twenty years ago today, Dr. Osamu Tezuka died at the age of 60.  I talk about the man who is known as one of the greatest comic artists of all time, and about my connections to Japanese comics and animation.

The official Osamu Tezuka website can be found here.  At the time of posting, the English language portion of the site is listed as still under construction -- for an excellent English language companion, check out Tezuka In English.

Direct download: 20yearsago_138_020909.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:45pm EDT

Episode #137 -- The Cat Came Back Monday, February 2, 2009.  "It Was 20 Years Ago Today" returns with new episodes, beginning with the final day of the third Los Angeles International Animation Festival, at which "The Cat Came Back" won two awards.  I talk about this, one of my favorite cartoons, and about my fondness for animation going back to childhood.

It is frequently possible to see "The Cat Came Back" via YouTube; I suggest going to the site and searching the title.

Direct download: 20yearsago_137_020209.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:37am EDT






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