Dec 5, 2013 thurs
December 5th, 2013
Question: Where is the Hellespont?
Yesterdays Question Answered Below: In Hollywood’s Golden Age, many of the top studio moguls were Jewish. Only one was not. Who was it? (hint: It was not Walt Disney, because his studio was not considered a major studio till the late 1950s.)
History for 12/5/2013
Birthdays: Pope Julius II, Martin Van Buren, Walt Disney, Fritz Lang, Eugene Debs, George Armstrong Custer, Little Richard Penniman, Strom Thurmond, Otto Preminger, Lin Piao, Calvin Trillin, Joan Didion, Jim Plunkett, Jose Carrerras, Margaret Cho is 46
1212-THE WONDER OF THE WORLD.- Fredrick II Hohenstaufen became Holy Roman Emperor of the German Nation at 18. The son of Henry VI the Lion, Freddy was called "stupor mundi et immutator mirabilis” The Marvelous Transformer and Wonder of the World.
1349- People in Europe were at a loss to explain why the Black Death plague was killing everyone. So they settled on their age old answer- It must be the Jews fault! This day in Nuremberg 500 Jews were killed by rioters.
1484- Pope Innocent VIII raises the practice of Witchcraft from a minor sin to a major heresy. Included in the definition of witchcraft is any remaining vestiges of local animist customs, herbalism or treating illnesses with home grown medicines. He ordered the Holy Office of the Inquisition to look into all cases. From 1484 to 1750 maybe 200,000 people died in Europe and America. As late as 1784 a woman in Belgium was executed for bewitching a child. The last burning of the Spanish Inquisition was in 1817.
1492- Christopher Columbus, still looking for Japan, now discovered Haiti.
1502- Columbus last voyage was hit by a hurricane. For twelve days his ships were battered by wind and waves. At one point Columbus saw a waterspout in the ocean near them. He read a Rite of Exorcism at it and made the sign of the Cross with his sword. Tradition says it then went away.
1560- King Francis II of France died at age 16. His mommy Catherine de Medici didn’t fret, she had more sons. She made her next son Charles IX king at age 10.
1704-In Hamburg towards the end of the opera Cleopatre composer Georg Frederich Handel and soloist Johann Mattheson start bickering over who should bow and receive the audiences applause. As the curtain came down and the cheers rang out Handel and Mattheson started furiously wrestling over the harpsichord. They then rushed out into a snowy public square and fought with swords. The audience followed them and cheered on this unique encore. Neither was hurt in the end, and they even made up over their next opera.
1766- London auction house Christies held it’s first auction.
1791-MOZART DIED- The 35 year old composer was slaving away on a commission for a Requiem Mass when he died of scarlet fever and kidney failure complicated by exhaustion and alcoholism ( he didn't work in animation ) Mozart was buried in a pauper's grave and when his wife came to mourn him a few days later nobody could recall where he was buried.
The theories about Antonio Salieri poisoning him out of jealousy or the FreeMasons doing him in began only a few years later. Schiller wrote a play in 1817 called Mozart & Salieri where he has Salieri doing the dastardly deed. In 1827 one of Beethoven's pupils wrote the Maestro about going up to the sanitarium to visit the ancient composer: "Salieri is in one of his fits again, shouting “I killed Mozart! Mozart forgive me!”"
1791- First Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton presented his Report on Manufactures to Congress. This was considered a revolutionary document because here was this illegitimate snob telling his half wild nation of farmers and trappers with dead raccoons on their heads, that their future lay in developing heavy industry closely regulated by a strong centralized government. Thomas Jefferson among many others thought it was a big mistake, but modern scholars declare The Report on Manufactures as the true beginning of the US economy.
1804- The Presentation of the Eagles- Part of Napoleon’s reforming of the French Army after becoming Emperor was to standardize the battle flags. The old tattered flags of the Revolution were collected and a red, white and blue flag with gold trim was distributed, each surmounted by a brass Eagle patterned on an ancient Roman design. In 1807 the flag was standardized as the modern French tricolor we know today. Also given out was an emerald green flag with golden harps to the Irish Volunteer brigade. Jacques Louis David did a beautiful painting of the event but the truth be told it was a lousy rainy day and there was a lot of confusion.
1837- Hector Berlioz chorale Requiem premiered.
1854- Aaron Allen of Boston patented the theater chair that folded up so you could exit.
1865-The steel industry is transformed when Sir Henry Bessemer received an American patent for the Bessemer Steel process, which made steel harder with less impurities.
1912- New York Hat directed by D.W. Griffith premiered. The first movie script written by Anita Loos, then 19. She became one of the finest Hollywood screenwriters ,who penned films like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
1933- Prohibition is repealed in the U.S. Interestingly enough the final state to ratify the repeal amendment was Utah. My grandmother recalled a parade of beer trucks going down Broadway being cheered like Lindbergh's return. She jumped on the running board of one to hoist a stein with young congressman Fiorello Laguardia and Al Smith.
1941- Marshal Zhukov commenced the first Soviet counterattack since the Nazis invasion began in June. As the Red Army pushed them back from the outskirts of Moscow the Germans first came up against the new Soviet T-34 Stalin Tank. German tankman Heinz Guderian said to a colleague” I have just seen a most amazing tank, and if the Russians are mass producing them, we may lose the war!”
1941- Admiral Halsey moved his carrier fleet- USS Lexington & Enterprise out of Pearl Harbor to go on maneuvers. They would not be there for the Japanese attack on Pearl. This is why Admiral Yamamoto was disappointed with the battle’s final results.
1945- Flight 19, a routine training patrol of 5 Navy Avenger torpedo bombers took off from Fort Lauderdale at 2:00PM and flew into the Bermuda Triangle. Two hours later the commander radioed that his compass and backup compass had failed and his position was unknown. The 14 men and their planes were never seen again. In the next few months hundreds of planes and ships searched the waters for some signs of wreckage but nothing was ever found.
1951- Shoeless Joe Jackson died. The most powerful baseball batter of his age, he taught Babe Ruth how to hit. But he was implicated in the Black Sox scandal of 1919 and permanently banned from baseball. He spent the rest of his life running a hardware store near his rural Georgia home.
1952- The Abbott and Costello Television Show premiered. Where’s Hilary, Mr Fields and Stinky? “ Niagara Falls! Slooowwlly I turn! Step by Step! Step by Step!”
1953- Josef Stalin died. He was in a coma after a stroke but his doctors were too terrified to treat him. Before he died he was preparing a new purge aimed at doctors.
1953- Russian Composer Sergei Prokoviev died, but the news was overshadowed by the death of Stalin.
1974- The Seattle Seahawks football team formed.
1974- The BBC aired the last Monty Python show.
Yesterday’s Question: In Hollywood’s Golden Age, many of the top studio moguls were Jewish. Only one was not. Who was it?
Answer: Twentieth Century Fox’s Daryl F. Zanuck. His people were Dutch-German Calvinists.
Dec. 4, 2013 Weds
December 4th, 2013
Question: In Hollywood’s Golden Age, many of the top studio moguls were Jewish. Only one was not. Who was it? (hint: It was not Walt Disney, because his studio was not considered a major studio till the late 1950s.)
Yesterday’s Question answered below: In ancient times, there was a people who called themselves Hellenes. What do we call them?
History for 12/4/2013
Birthdays: Chief Crazy Horse, Samuel Butler*, Thomas Carlyle, Lillian Russell, Vasilly Kandinsky, Buck Jones, Wink Martindale, Max Baer Jr.,Robert Vesco, Charles Keating, Wally George, Deanna Durbin, Pappy Boyington, Horst Bucholtz, Rainer Maria Rilke,, Jeff Bridges is 64, Marisa Tomei is 49, Tyrah Banks is 40, Johnny Lyon- 1948 of the band Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Jay-Z is 44, Fred Armisen is 47
*"Life is one long process of getting tired."- Samuel Butler.
963AD- Pope John XII was beaten to death by the husband of a woman he was sleeping with. In Nominae Patrie- OUCH!..Et Filiae..OUCH!…Et Spitritu Sanctam..OUCH!
1154- Nicholas Breakspeare elected Pope Adrian IV, so far the only Englishman ever made pope of the Roman Catholic Church.
1534- Ottoman Turkish Sultan Sulieman the Magnificent occupied Baghdad.
1655- Jews had been expelled from England since 1291. This year Oliver Cromwell convened a conference at Whitehall to consider re-admittance of Jews. Cromwell’s Puritans had great sympathy for “God’s chosen People” and one Roundhead legislator even proposed moving the Sabbath Day back to Saturday. But there was still too much anti-Semitic resistance to make the re-admittance official. Despite the failure of the government to make a decision, from this time on Jewish families began resettling in England. They were allowed their own Jewish Burial Ground in 1657. In 1715 Solomon Medina became the first Jewish person to receive a knighthood.
1657-Old Painter Rembrandt van Rijn was evicted from his home. He was kept out of debtor’s prison, when his daughter and son-in-law auctioned most of his possessions to pay off his creditors.
1674- HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHICAGO! French missionary Jacques Marquette dedicated a mission house and trading post that will eventually become Fort Dearborn, then the Windy City. But who invented deep-dish pizza?
1777- Ben Franklin and the American commissioners in France were in despair. Nothing but bad news about British victories, and the French government was complaining about American privateers attacking British ships in French waters. Even sympathetic French newspapers called the American Revolution lost.
Today with playright-spy Pierre DuBeaumarchais in attendance, a courier from across the sea arrived. Jonathan Austin delivered the news of the Battle of Saratoga. That British General Burgoyne and his entire army were defeated badly and captured. Immediately the French, Dutch and Spanish governments started calling the Americans “our friends”, and began discussing an alliance.
1783- WASHINGTON'S FAREWELL- The American Revolution now ended, George Washington bid farewell to his officers he shared 8 years of war with at a dinner at Fraunces Tavern in New York. Creole cook Samuel Fraunces "Black Sam' was later invited by Washington to become the first presidential chef. The tavern is still there on the corner of Water and Pearl Streets and still serves food and ale.
1791- The London Observer, called the oldest continually published newspaper in the world, first published. True, the Times was begun in 1788 but it had a spotty release it’s first few years while it’s publisher would be thrown in prison for libel.
1829- The British in India abolished the custom of suttee- that a widow throw herself on her husbands funeral pyre and die also.
1875- William Marcy “Boss Tweed” escaped Ludlow Street jail and fled to Cuba. He had been the corrupt boss of New York City politics throughout the 1860s and 70s. He was rearrested in Spain by a Spanish policeman who spoke no English. When asked by American diplomats the Spaniard said he saw a newspaper cartoon by Thomas Nast of Tweed in prison garb with his hands on two young boys so he thought he was a kidnapper! Tweed was brought to justice by the one crime he probably never did.
1881- First issue of the Los Angeles Times.
1909- The first Canadian Football League championship the Grey Cup, U of Toronto defeated Toronto Parkdale 26-6
1915- HENRY FORD'S PEACE SHIP-The great industrialist was a livelong pacifist and was horrified by the carnage of the Great War. On this day he equipped a large yacht with neutral diplomats and other famous personages like Thomas Edison and sailed to Europe. Pundits had fun mocking his homespun naiveté' and local lunatics like Urban Ledoux, aka Mr. Zero, jumped into New York Harbor and swarm alongside the ship "to ward off hostile torpedoes." Ford docked in Oslo harbor hoping to use his influence to get the Kaiser, Czar and the other crowned heads to a bargaining table like some kind of board of directors negotiation. Nobody would meet with him. Young N.Y. politician Fiorello LaGuardia noted: "The only boy he managed to save from the trenches was his own son!"
1916-RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK KILLED-( Dec 24th Old Style). Several Russian noblemen resolve to rid their country of this Siberian peasant mystic who held such power over the Tsar and his family that he could dismiss government ministers at will. He once had an entire army offensive redirected because he was negotiating to buy the real estate they planned to fight over. A first cousin of the Czar, cross dressing Prince Youssuppov invited Rasputin to a late night party. He had a record player with Yankee Doodle playing in another room to convince the monk that a party indeed was in progress. Youssuppov gave Rasputin a glass of cyanide laced vodka. Rasputin drank it and finished the bottle. Then the conspirators rushed out, emptied a revolver into him, beat him with chains and heavy silver candlesticks, rolled him up in a rug and stuffed him into the ice clogged Neva River.
The official coroner's report said he had drowned. Shortly before his death Rasputin wrote a prediction in a letter to the Czar saying that 'if the peasants, my brothers, kill me, then you, Czar of Russia, have nothing to fear. But if your relatives kill me, not you nor any one of your family will remain alive longer than two years." Rasputin's prediction was off by about four months. Nicholas II and his 400 year old dynasty fell ten weeks later and the entire Imperial Family were murdered in July 1918.
1919- President Woodrow Wilson left the US by battleship for Europe to help chair the Versailles Peace Conference ending the Great War. Once there he surprised people by refusing to visit the battlefields and tour the horror and devastation. He said:” They want me to see red as they do. But I feel at least one of us should remain impartial.”
1927- The Cotton Club opened as a speakeasy nightclub in Harlem. Owners were New York gangsters Owney “The Killer” Madden and George “Big Frenchy” DeMange. Duke Ellington’s orchestra highlighted the opening night. When other gangsters tried to open a rival The Plantation Club, Owney had his hoods firebomb the place. The Cotton Club was one of the great centers of the Harlem Renaissance, but African Americans were banned from eating or drinking at the tables. Even W.C. Handy was turned away.
1931- James Whale’s macabre masterpiece film “Frankenstein” opened at the Mayfair theater in NY. English actor William Henry Pratt renamed Boris Karloff played the monster.
1932- “Good Evening Mr & Mrs North and South America and All the Ships at Sea! Let’s Go To Press!” Newspaper columnist Walter Winchell began his famous radio broadcasts on the NBC Blue Network. Winchell became one of the most powerful voices in American society and politics for 23 years.
1941- As Admiral Nagumo's carriers approached Pearl Harbor, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox assured the press : "No matter what happens, the US Navy will not be caught napping !"
1941- film "Mr. Bug Goes to Town"-opened. Max Fleischer's last gamble to keep up with Walt Disney and keep his studio alive. Songs written by top pop song writer Hoagy Carmichael. However the events of Pearl Harbor three days later not only sink the American Navy, but also Hoppity's box office and puts Max out of business.
1948- “Hey...Stella !! A Streetcar Named Desire opened on Broadway with Marlon Brando and Jessica Tandy.
1950- President Truman gives General MacArthur in Korea direct orders not to open his big mouth and make any more public statements about the conduct of the war, without checking with Washington first ! MacArthur was used to being on his own during World War Two and as proconsul of occupied Japan. He didn't fret about being his own diplomatic corps as well as general. But now everything Dugout Doug said got him into trouble. He had been making statements in press that the U.S. should expand the Korean War into Communist China and Russia, and he warned the Chinese that if they didn’t quit he planned to rain Atomic Fire upon their cities.
1952- Smog in the London area kills 2,000 and sickens 8,000. London bans the use of coal, peat and wood fires to heat homes. A deadly smog covered Los Angeles in 1956. This accelerated the development of unleaded gasoline.
1955- French mime Marcel Marceau appeared on American TV for the first time.
1958- Cocoa Puffs cereal invented.
1961- Someone at the Museum of Modern Art in NY noticed that they had hung Henri Matisse’s painting Le Bateau upside down. It had been that way for two months and until now nobody had noticed.
1963- The first Instant Replay camera used at a football game. It was an Army-Navy game.
1978- After the murder of Mayor Robert Mosconi, Dianne Feinstein was sworn in as the first female Mayor of San Francisco.
1985- The first Cray X-MP Supercomputer booted up.
1988- Actor Gary Busey almost died in a motorcycle accident on Olympic Blvd. In Los Angeles. He was not wearing a helmet and suffered massive head trauma. He later claimed to have an out-of-the-body experience at the scene.
1993- Rocker Frank Zappa died of prostate cancer at age 52.
Yesterday’s Question: In ancient times, there was a people who called themselves Hellenes. What do we call them?
Answer: The Greeks. The word Greek is of Roman origin.
Dec. 3, 2013 tues.
December 3rd, 2013
Question: In ancient times, there was a people who called themselves Hellenes. What do we call them?
Yesterday’s Question answered below: We know it’s bad to be decimated, but what does it actually mean?
HISTORY FOR 12/3/2013
Birthdays: French King Charles VI the Well-Loved 1380, Gilbert Stuart, Sven Nykvist, Joseph Conrad real name Josef Korzeniowski, Jean Luc Godard, Nino Rota, Jim Backus, Maria Callas, Larry Parks, Charles Pillsbury, Mitsuo Fuchida the Japanese pilot who led the attack on Pearl Harbor, Darryl Hannah is 53, Katerina Witt, Brendan Fraser is 45, Julianne Moore is 53, Andrew Stanton is 48, Amanda Seyfried is 28
Happy Ozzy Day! Ozzie Ozbourne is 64- ”I never set out to be a businessman. I just wanted to have fun, f—k chicks and do drugs.”
749AD- This is the Feast of Saint John Damascene. He’s the saint who’s called the Father of Christian Art, because he theologically argued a way for artists to avoid the “Graven Images “ hitch in the Ten Commandments and make paintings of Jesus and the Saints.
1557- The Scottish Covenant- In Edinburgh Scotland a group of anticlerical noblemen Argyll, Glencairn, Morton, Lorne and Erskine signed the First Scottish Covenant- pledging to reform the religion of the land.
1591- The first fire insurance contract was written in Hamburg.
1775- The first official U.S. flag hoisted aboard the USS Alfred. It was thirteen stripes with a cross of Saint George and Saint Andrew in the corner.
1800-Battle of Hohenlinden- French whip the Austrians, but it wasn’t done by Napoleon but by a different general, so Nappy asks us to overlook his competition.
1818- Illinois became a state with its first capitol at Kaskaskia.
1838- THE SECRET GUILD of the SACRED HUNTERS OF THE EAST. Another goofy attempt by the U.S. to conquer Canada. On this day a force of 500 disaffected Canadians, Yankee opportunists and Polish revolutionists cross over from Detroit and capture Windsor Ontario. (why do we always invade Canada in the winter? ) They are led by the uncle of writer Ambrose Bierce, Lucius Verus Bierce. They call themselves the Secret Guild of the Sacred Hunters of the East and their intention was no less than liberating Canada from the hated British yoke !
Well nobody supported them, and while they were standing around trying to think of what to do next the British army quickly rounded them up. Those that weren’t hanged were shipped to New Zealand. Lucius Bierce escaped back across the Detroit River in a canoe where he was promptly arrested for violating U.S. neutrality laws. He later devoted his time and money to abolition and financed John Browns’ anti-slavery campaign in Kansas.
1845- Britain wages the First Sikh War.
1868- Preliminary hearings open into the treason trial of Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederate States. Radical republicans wanted someone punished for the Civil War, but many were worried that a master lawyer like Davis would use the opportunity to prove the Constitutional basis for states legally seceding from the union. Indeed Davis himself welcomed the trial to prove just that point. But presiding judge Chief Justice Salmon B. Chase had by prior arrangement with President Andrew Johnson a plan to stall the trial until Johnson's amnesty for all confederates went into effect on Feb 15th.
1881- In Africa, explorer Henry M. Stanley founded the town of Kinshasha , which they called then Leopoldville after the King of the Belgians.
1890- A small British army marches into Buganda and camping on a hilltop called Kampala informs the local chief Mwanga that he is now part of the British Empire, whether he likes it or not. The British officer even made Mwanga sign the treaty twice because he felt his first ink splotch was done insincerely. Uganda remained a British colony until after World War Two.
1919- Impressionist painter Pierre August Renoir died of old age. Suffering from arthritis that left him unable to paint with his hands, Renoir used a bit that held the brush in his teeth.
1925- GEORGE GERSHWIN PLAYS CARNEGIE HALL. Gershwin always wanted to be taken seriously as a composer and not just a Tin Pan Alley pop-song writer. While in Paris he met Maurice Ravel, but instead of giving him advice Ravel said: "You make HOW much from your songs? Maybe I should learn from you!" When he asked to be Arnold Schoenberg's pupil, Schoenburg told him :" Why do you want to be a bad Schoenburg when you're already such a good Gershwin?"
1931- Happy Birthday Alka Seltzer!
1934- Lee Blair, Disney artist and brother of Preston Blair, Disney artist, married Mary Browne Robinson, Disney artist. She became the most famous of them as Mary Blair.
1941- After clandestine diplomatic initiatives to raise the U.S. oil and steel embargoes fail, The Japanese High Command radios it's carrier fleet out in the Pacific: "Climb Mount Niitaka". This code meant go forward with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Admiral Nagumo orders resumption of radio silence and turns his fleet South-SouthWest towards Hawaii.
1944- A Nazi newspaper published on this day features a photo of a young Austrian S.S. officer with his commander in Greece. After the war the commander was hanged as a war criminal. The young man became Secretary General of the United Nations, President of Austria, and winner of a Nobel Peace Prize- Kurt Waldheim.
1956- British and French forces evacuate Egypt, where they had been since 1799.
1965- The Beatles release the album Rubber Soul.
1967- Dr. Christiaan Barnard of Capetown performed the first heart transplant.
1968- Elvis Presley opened in Las Vegas to rave reviews and packed houses. It marks the beginning of his comeback and his transition from thin, black leather-jacketed youth to fat, rhinestone jumpsuit, half tinted sunglasses, karate-swinging middle age.
1974-A 40 foot long inflated pig broke away from its’ tether at a Pink Floyd photo shoot and became a hazard to civil aviation. The AeroPork was lost to radar at 8,000 feet.
1984- An accident at a Union Carbide facility in Bhopal, India filled the air with poison methyl isocynate gasses that killed 10,000 people and blinds or otherwise injured a further 200,000. Saint Mother Theresa shows a controversial side of her nature when she publicly encouraged Indians to accept the disaster as God’s Will. No one from Union Carbide was ever tried or convicted for the tragedy. Even today the ground around the closed facility is considered too deadly for inhabitation.
1991- Hulk Hogan defeated Undertaker to become WWF champ for the 4th time.
1997 – 56 year old Darlene Gillespie, an original member of the Mickey Mouse Club, was busted in LA for a securities fraud scheme.
1997-Basketball star Latrell Sprewell lost his $32 million contract with the Golden State Warriors for trying to strangle his coach P.J. Carlesino.
2004-The Ukranian Supreme Court ruled the recent presidential election invalid. Moscow and hardline Kiev Gov’t supported Victor Januscowicz followers committed widespread acts of voter fraud, then suppressed any news reports.
The story was revealed to the world by a heroic sign language translator for the deaf. While the state approved news anchor reported the elections on the evening news the translator, Nataliya Dmytruk, signed “EYERYTHING YOU HAVE JUST HEARD IS A LIE! YUSCHENKO IS OUR TRUE PRESIDENT! THIS IS PROBABLY THE LAST TIME YOU WILL EVER SEE ME..” The word spread spawned weeklong mass demonstrations and international pressure that compelled the government to redo the election. Ms Dmytruk survived and is today considered a national hero.
2008- Conservative Episcopalian churches in the U.S. and Canada announced they were leaving the main Episcopal communion to found a new church- the New Anglican Church of North America. These theologians objected to the Church nominating gay priests and bishops.
Yesterday’s Question: We know it’s bad to be decimated, but what does it actually mean?
Answer: It was the most severe punishment the ancient Roman army could do. When a legion was mutinous or cowardly, they were decimated. That meant every tenth man in the legion would be killed. This rarely happened, because training and equipping a legion was very expensive.
Dec 2, 2013
December 2nd, 2013
Question: We know it’s bad to be decimated, but what does it actually mean?
Yesterday’s Question answered below: What was the Bonfire of the Vanities? ( Besides a flop movie).
History for 12/2/2013
Birthdays: George Seurat, Charles Ringling, Julie Harris, Gianni Verasce, Ray Walston, Monica Seles, Cathy Lee Crosby, Lucy Liu is 45, Britney Spears is 32
1254- Manfred, The bastard son of the German Emperor Frederick II Hohenstaufen, came into Italy with an army and routed Papal forces near Foggia.
Ever since the Pope had crowned Charlemagne, the argument was whether Popes or Emperors were top dog. The German Emperors wasted two centuries fighting the independent Italian City states trying to consolidate a reborn Roman Empire. The Popes fought them like any other independent landowner who didn’t want to yield their property.
Emperor Manfred didn’t accomplish much in Italy, but he liked to sing and write poetry. Dante said “There was not his like in the world when it came to playing string instruments.”
1494-BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES Now that the Medici Dukes were driven out, mystical monk Savonarola proposed to the people of Florence that they create a Republic ruled by God’s Law. Savonarola ruled Florence like a Christian Ayatollah. He led big public spectacles where in large bonfires Florentines burned “vanities” like makeup, wigs, art and books and tried to live a religious life. Even the artist Botticelli burned one of his own paintings. Eventually, it all got so boring they burned Savonarola instead, and recalled the funloving Medicis.
1644-THE FIRST GREAT EUROPEAN SUMMIT- The various combatants of the Thirty Years War began a peace conference at Westphalia. France, Spain, Sweden, The German Empire, Saxony, Holland, the Papacy Hungary, Denmark and a multitude of German and Italian small states try and end the seemingly endless war. It took them four years to hammer out a deal. While Central Europe was ravaged by six armies that depopulated the countryside, plague broke out and peasants rose in revolts flying black banners, diplomats wasted six months arguing the order of how they entered the conference chamber, how they addressed one another and who had precedence. The Peace Treaty of Westphalia was signed and the war ended in 1648.
1697- Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London reopened. It was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren after being destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666.
1723- Phillipe D’Orleans died of an apoplectic seizure at 49. He ruled France as regent for the boy King Louis XV. Even when Louis attained his manhood, he didn’t mind if his Uncle Phillipe continued to run the country. Phillipe D’Orleans was an able minister but extremely corrupt and sexually promiscuous. The City of New Orleans was founded in his name.
1804- NAPOLEON CROWNED EMPEROR OF FRANCE .The 35 year old little corporal from Corsica who spoke French with an Italian accent, had piercing gray eyes and if he liked you showed his affection by giving your ear a tug, crowned himself Emperor of the French. He had the Pope brought up from Rome to Notre Dame for legitimacy, but in a moment of planned theater Napoleon took the crown from his hands and crowned himself.
European liberals like Goethe and Beethoven who had thought Napoleon would be a strong force of reform in Europe were now disillusioned that he turned out to be just another usurper. Beethoven scratched off his dedication of his Third Symphony (Eroica) to him. Napoleon's mother, an old guerrilla named Madame Letizia, thought her son was making a fool out of himself and boycotted the ceremony. When David was doing the official painting of the event Napoleon ordered him to paint his mother in anyway.
1805- THE SUNRISE OF AUSTERLITZ- At a small village in what is now the Czech republic, Napoleon defeated the Tsar of Russia and Emperor of Austria in one spectacular battle. Tolstoy called it the Battle of the Three Emperors. As much as he was a strategist and tactician Napoleon was a great analyst of human character. Based on his opinion of his opponent’s personalities, he predicted exactly how the battle would go two weeks before he drew them into it. The defeat of the Allies was total, French artillery blew holes in a frozen lake the Russians were trying to escape over, drowning hundreds. Within days they sued for peace and the war was ended. Napoleon's take on events: "Ah, que Belle Journee'."What a nice day it's been."
1823- U.S. President James Monroe published the Monroe Doctrine, saying all the European empires then coveting lands in the Western Hemisphere should butt out or the Good Ole U.S. of A would have something to say about it! Shortly afterwards Britain extended its claim on Western Canada and seized the Falkland Islands, France entered Mexico, and Russia pressed it's claim on Alaska.
1834-Battle of Ndondakasuka- Csetshwayo and his Zulu Impis (regiments) defeat his rival Mbulazi to become King of the Zulu Empire. Csetshwayo's descendants are now the leaders of the Inkatha Freedom Party in modern South Africa.
1845- President James K.Polk re-affirmed the Monroe Doctrine and announced it would be the policy of his administration to get Texas and California from Mexico and Oregon from the British. He called such continental expansion America’s “Manifest Destiny.”
1854-Napoleon III was Napoleon's nephew and since 1848 legally elected President of the Second French Republic. But he decided that he wanted to be an Emperor like his uncle so he seized dictatorial power on the anniversary of Austerlitz and arrested all dissenters like Victor Hugo, Alex DeTocqueville and cartoonist Honore' Daumier (gotta watch them cartoonists...)
1859- John Brown was hanged. He said nothing on the scaffold but left a prediction on a slip of paper :".. I now believe that the sins of this nation have become so great that the cannot be excised but by a great spilling of blood.." Witnessing the event were Col. Robert E. Lee, Captain Jeb Stuart, and part time reservist John Wilkes Booth.
1863- The dome of the U.S. Capitol completed as the Goddess of Freedom is hoisted up into place.
1877- Camille Saint Saens opera “Samson & Dalila” premiered in Weimar.
1896- We remember Wyatt Earp as the marshal of Dodge City and gunfighter of the 1881 OK Corral gunfight. He was better known to his people of his own generation as the referee of the Fitzsimmons-Sharkey Heavyweight Championship prizefight. After leaving Tombstone Arizona, Wyatt Earp drifted to San Francisco where his skills as a fight referee were called upon for this last of the big bare-knuckle bouts.
He enraged the public when he declared the fight for Sharkey in the 3rd round after Big-Bob Fitzsimmons couldn't stop bleeding. More people were out to kill him over this decision than were ever out to get him when marshal of Dodge City. He quickly pulled up stakes and went to the Yukon for the gold rush. He was all but forgotten until a cheap book called Wyatt Earp Frontier Marshal published in 1920 made him famous. He died in Los Angeles in 1929 selling real estate and advising movie companies on how to shoot their westerns.
1901- Mr. King Gillette invented the safety razor.
1935- Animator Marc Davis first day at Walt Disney Studios. He retired in 1978.
1938-The first executions in California by gas chamber.
1942- THE FIRST CONTROLLED NUCLEAR CHAIN REACTION.-The concept of a fission reaction had been theorized by Einstein and Bohr in 1939. Under a squash court at the University of Chicago a team of physicists led by Enrico Ferme began a chain reaction in a uranium pile and stopped it again, producing a few watts of energy. To celebrate they produced a bottle of Chianti and some paper cups. No toasts were made to man's entrance into the Atomic Age. Tennis courts are still there and the Regenstein Library was built on the site. To this day the lowest basement registers off the scale on Geiger counters.
1954- Senator Joseph McCarthy’s fall from power became complete. The Senate voted to censure him for Misconduct Unbecoming a Senator. He died of alcoholism in 1957.
1956- Fidel Castro with 88 followers trained in guerrilla style fighting, landed on the beach in Cuba and melted into the mountains. This group would be the core of a revolution that by 1959 would topple the US backed regime of dictator Fulgensio Batista and upset the world balance of power. The ramshackle boat Fidel, Che and his buddies made the crossing over from Mexico in was called the Granma.
1980- During El Salvador’s civil war four American churchwomen, three catholic nuns and a lay worker, were raped and murdered by government soldiers backed by the U.S..
1993- NASA astronauts do a series of space walks from their shuttle to adjust the Hubble space telescope. The Hubble cost billions of dollars but was sent into orbit with a flaw in its lenses. It was nearsighted. The spacewalk in effect gave the Hubble a set of glasses to see better the furthest details of deep space.
1994- LA jury found Heidi Fleiss ‘The Hollywood Madam” guilty of running a prostitution ring.
Yesterday’s Question: What was the Bonfire of the Vanities? ( Besides a flop movie).
Answer: See above- 1494
Dec 1, 2013 sun
December 1st, 2013
Question: What was the Bonfire of the Vanities? ( Besides a flop movie).
Yesterday’s Question Answered Below: Did Beethoven have any children?
History for 12/1/2013
Welcome to Decembrius, month number 10 to the Romans who only had ten months in their original calendar. It’s the same Latin root as Decimate, Dime, Decimal and Dixie.
Birthdays: Richard Pryor, Mary Martin, Cyril Ritchard, Dick Shawn, , Lee Trevino, Charlene Tilton, Lou Rawls, Marshal Gyorgi Zhukov, Admiral Stansfield Turner, Rex Stout the author of Nero Wolfe, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Colombian DrugLord Pablo Escobar, Treat Williams, Woody Allen is 78, Bette Midler is 68, Sarah Silverman is 43
Happy Roman Festival of Neptune.
WORLD AIDS DAY- established by the UN in 1987. The lights on Broadway and in Washington D.C. will be dimmed tonight to mark the occasion.
659 AD-Today is the feast day of Saint Eligius of Limoge, a goldsmith and mint master to Merovingian King Dagobert, who started the art of Limoge enamels.
1521- Pope Leo X died after getting overheated attending celebrations of the defeat of French forces in Milan. He was 45. Some thought he was poisoned, but he probably caught the malarial fever prevalent in Rome at the time. Leo was one of the great art patrons of the Renaissance. He spent lavishly. “ God has given us the Papacy, so let us enjoy it” As soon as the Pontiff was cold Cardinals and bankers looted the Vatican treasury for all the money he borrowed from them, sending the Church into one of the worst financial crises in its’ history.
1641- THE GREAT REMONSTRANCE- Parliament sent English King Charles 1st a long list of everything that annoyed them about being his subjects. They demanded Parliament to be the supreme authority in the realm, to sit in permanent session, the right to select and dismiss royal ministers and to reform the Protestant Church of England to a more Calvinist purity. 'God's Blood ! You ask of me things one would never ask of a king !"-sayeth King Charles. This little spat would become the English Civil War by next June.
1805-THE MIDNIGHT CAMP AT AUSTERLITZ- The night before the big battle between French, Austrian and Russian armies on a cold little field in what would be the Czech Republic. Napoleon went on a midnight inspection of his troops. His tour turned into something akin to a homecoming football rally. The French soldiers cheered, lit torches, sang and partied around bonfires all night. Across the hills the enemy generals mistakenly thought all the activity meant Napoleon was breaking his camp to run away.
1835- Hans Christian Andersen published his first book of fairy tales.
1869- A Sir William MacDougal was sent by Ottawa to take over the administration of Prince Rupertland, now called the new Canadian province of Manitoba. His problem was the whole population of French trappers, Indians and half-breeds had already declared themselves the independent Metiz Republic under their leader Louis Riel. MacDougal had to sneak across the border from the U.S. at midnight. Avoiding Metiz patrols his party stopped at an abandoned Hudson's Bay trading post where they raised the Union Jack in the darkness and MacDougal read his Royal Proclamation to an audience of seven aides and two hunting dogs. Then they crept back over the border to the U.S. to a healthy dose of razzing from Yankee cowboys. The British Army arrived next spring and established order but by then MacDougal had been recalled.
1879-Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic opera HMS Pinafore opened. Sullivan conducted the orchestra while Gilbert was a chorister. “So Stick to your desk and never go to sea, and you will be the leader of the Queen’s Navy..”
1887- The first Sherlock Holmes mystery by Arthur Conan-Doyle "A Study in Scarlet" first published in Beatty’s Christmas Gazette.
1909- The Pennsylvania Trust Company invented the Christmas Club account.
1917- Father Flanaghan opened Boys Town west of Omaha Nebraska. A retreat for homeless boys and in 1979 girls as well.
1934- Josef Stalin's close confidant Sergei Kirov is assassinated in a Kremlin hallway by Lenoid Nikolayev. Stalin orders the GREAT PURGES of the thirties to begin. Later it came out that Stalin had ordered Kirov assassinated as an excuse. Exact figures are debatable but it is estimated millions were arrested and died. Stalin even had the wandering poor blind storytellers of the Ukraine rounded up and shot for fomenting anti-revolutionary ethnicity. Recently declassified private papers of Stalin revealed he admired Czar Ivan the Terrible and tried to learn from his example.
1938- In Moscow legendary filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein released his film of Russian patriotism ALEXANDER NEVSKY, with soundtrack provided by Sergei Prokoviev.
1941-Anticipating imminent hostilities with Japan, The U.S. Navy withdrew it’s fleet of Yangtze River gunboats. As the gunboats steamed out into the South China Sea, they were surrounded by large Japanese warships, who held their fire to let them pass.
1943- FDR, Churchill and Stalin conclude their first meeting in Teheran, Iran. The western allies passed supplies to Russia via the Persian Gulf through Iran. Roosevelt discussed the occupation zones of a defeated Germany by drawing lines in pencil on a map torn out of an old National Geographic magazine he found on a table.
1944- Bela Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra premiered by the Boston Symphony and Serge Kousevitsky
1947- Alastair Crowley died. Called the “wickest man in the world” he fused several occult theologies like Bavarian Illumanism, Gnosticism and Numerology into his Abbey of Theleme. His own mother nicknamed him “the Great Beast.” In 1968 Alastair Crowley was portrayed on the cover of the Beatles Sgt. Pepper album.
1949-Chunking, the last Nationalist capitol fell to Mao Tse Tung's People’s Liberation Army.
1951- MIT scientists booted up Project Whirlwind, the TX-0 Computer. Called the Tixo, it was as large as a bus and was the first computer that could do more than one program at a time. It also had the first computer screen and first light pen. It calculated everything from synchronizing the gunfire of battleships to how much icing to put in an Oreo cookie.
The TX-2 was used to write the first animation program Sketchpad, and the first interactive game Spacewar, both in 1962.
1953- Ex- Esquire magazine art director and frustrated cartoonist Hugh Hefner published the first issue of Playboy Magazine. It featured a nude centerfold of actress Marilyn Monroe. She joked to the press “ I had nothing on but the radio!” Hefner assembled the layout of the magazine on his kitchen table and borrowed money from his mother-in-law to pay for the printing. The first Playboy had no number or date, because Hef was certain he couldn’t afford to make an issue number two.
1955- ROSA PARKS, a black seamstress in Montgomery Alabama, refused to give up her seat on a crowded bus and was arrested for violating the segregation laws. She was fined $10. At the time she said she was unaware that she was breaking the law, she was actually seated in the first row reserved for Colored passengers, but since the bus was crowded the driver insisted she give up her seat for a white man. This incident and the subsequent boycott is the spark of the great Black Civil Rights Movement of the 50's and 60's.
1963- The NASA space facility at Cape Canaveral Florida was changed to Cape Kennedy in honor of slain president John F. Kennedy. The same day the Kennedy Family moved out of the White House so Lyndon Johnson could move in. Jackie Kennedy only returned to the White House once more in her life in 1971 and on the condition that it be in secret and no press be present. She even would tell D.C. taxicabs to avoid streets where she might accidentally get a glimpse of it.
1963- According to recently unclassified documents, today was supposed to be the day a staged coup would overthrow Fidel Castro in Cuba. The CIA had hired Mafia hitmen to shoot Fidel as he drove in an open jeep to his beach home. Then the head of the Cuban army, Juan Almeida would then seize the government. But John Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas suspended all such plans.
1964- DR.MARTIN LUTHER KING MET J. EDGAR HOOVER- Dr. King and Rev Ralph Abernathy were on their way to Oslo for Dr. King to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In Washington they were invited to meet with the legendary head of the FBI. Hoover sat them down and proceeded to lecture them for over two hours, calling them "boys" and hinting that they better not cause him trouble because he had tapes of Dr. King's sexual encounters. King and Abernathy left insulted and enraged. Hoover always believed that Dr. King and the entire NAACP were Communists. Later when Dr. King came out publicly against the Vietnam War, one of these sextapes was mailed to his wife- anonymously.
1982- Dr. Barney Clark receives the first Artificial Heart. Part of the research development was credited to Paul Winchell, puppeteer and cartoon voice who created Jerry Mahoney, Knucklehead Smith, Dick Dastardly and a plastic heart valve. At first it was hoped these plastic valves could take the place of real hearts, but today they are mostly used for temporary relief until a human donor heart can be found .
1990- The tunnelers digging below the English Channel from France and England break through to meet in the middle and shake hands. A tunnel under the English Channel had been a dream since Napoleon in 1802.
Yesterdays Question: Did Beethoven have any children?
Answer: Not any we know of. He never married, but acquired custody of his brother’s son Karl to raise. It was a miserable relationship, and Karl even tried to kill himself.