Dec 18, 2014 thurs
December 18th, 2014

Quiz: Which TV Christmas Special was first? A) A Charlie Brown Christmas, B) Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol, C) The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, D) Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Yesterday’s Quiz Answered Below: When some speak of an earthly paradise, the say Xanadu. Where is Xanadu?
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History for 12/18/2014
Birthdays: Antonio Stradivari, Karl Maria Von Weber,Ty Cobb, George Stevens, Ozzie Davis, Diane Disney-Miller, Anita O’Day, Paul Klee, Betty Grable, Willy Brandt, Keith Richards is 72, Leonard Maltin is 64, Alyssia Sanchez-Vaccario, Ray Liotta is 60, Katie Holmes is 36, Brad Pitt is 51, Steven Spielberg is 68

1679- THE ROSE ALLEY AMBUSCADE- Writer and critic John Dryden was walking in the Rose Alley in Covent Garden when a group of thugs jumped him and beat him up. They had been hired by The Earl of Rochester, because of a Dryden published a satirical essay making fun of him. Other writers like Voltaire suffered similar attacks from powerful aristocrats who couldn’t take a joke.

1757- Frederick the Great’s army besieged the Fortress city of Breslau in Silesia. The Austrian garrison’s commander General Sprecher posted placards throughout the town threatening with death anyone who breathed a word of surrender- then he surrendered.

1783- The American Revolution now over, George Washington appeared before Congress in Philadelphia to resign his army commission, and go home to Mount Vernon. This moment was when George Washington parts company with most conquerors like Cromwell, Napoleon and Castro. He had power, and then walked away.

Kings George III and Louis XVI were amazed when they heard the news: That Washington, the great generalissimo, the most powerful man in the Americas, would give up his office so lightly, to return to his farm like the legendary Roman -Cincinnatus. George Washington came out of retirement five years later to be the first U.S. president.

1787- New Jersey named the third state.

1812-NAPOLEON'S RETREAT FROM MOSCOW ENDS -Napoleon reached Paris by sled after racing ahead of his shattered army to prop up the tottering government.

Of Napoleon's 600,000 troops that invaded Russia less than 60,000 frozen wretches came out. Insanely brave Marshal Ney was the last invader to recross the border. Alone with bullets whistling past his ears, he calmly crossed the burning Neiman River bridge stopping to pick up abandoned muskets to fire them at the Russians. After he fired a last shot he threw the empty rifle at them.

When Napoleon got to his palace at Saint Cloud he was so dirty from the trip the guards didn't recognize him, and wouldn't let him in. His first official acts after the public announcement of the disaster was ordering the Paris ballet dancers to dance barelegged instead of in the customary tights. While that topic dominated gossip, his second act was to give the French people a big tax cut. Watching Louis XVI lose his head in the Revolution gave Nappy a healthy, if cynical, respect for the anger of the average citizen.

1812- The first volume of stories Children’s and Household Tales by the Brother Grimm came out, The world learns of Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.

1890-The first electric powered subway train opened in London. This allowed the subways to be built in closed tunnels (or tubes) under buildings. The older steam engine tube trains operating since 1863 needed an open trench for the coal smoke to be let out.

1912- THE PILTDOWN MAN- An announcement was made, of a find, in a peat pit, in England, of the remains of a human ancestor between ape and man, the so-called "Missing Link". The skull had canine teeth like an animal but it had an enlarged cranium like a man and was buried with primitive tools. This find was made at the time Darwin’s Evolutionary theories were being hotly debated. The authenticity of the Piltdown Man was thrown into question in 1949. When modern dating techniques were perfected, by 1953, the Piltdown Man was officially declared a hoax. The remains were too modern to be ancient and the canine teeth had filed down by tiny files. It is generally believed that a practical joker named Martin Hinton at the British Museum of Natural History may have been the perpetrator.

1916- The terrible Battle of Verdun ended. It had been raging since February. German General Von Falkenhayn wanted to draw France into a meatgrinder battle and 'bleed her white'. After hundreds of thousands of casualties, he had done the same damage to his own side. He lost his job. The Verdun cemetery contains 100,000 bones of Unknown soldiers. Even today in Verdun there are areas you cannot walk for fear of unexploded shells.

1919- in France Composer Cole Porter married divorcee Linda Thomas. They stayed together all their long lives even though she knew from the outset that he was gay .

1931- Gangster Jacky "Legs" Diamond had a penchant for recovering after being shot repeatedly by pistols and shotguns. It was said he had so much lead in him he could attract a magnet. Today someone finally shot him down and he didn't get up.

1937- Mae West does a comedy routine on national broadcast radio with Don Ameche about Adam and Eve that was considered so racy CBS banned her from their network.
At the same time she got fined by the networks for joking about ventriloquist puppet Charlie McCarthy:" Hmmm…he’s all wood and a yard long!"

1939-Max Fleischer's animated classic “Gulliver's Travels”.

1940- Adolf Hitler and his generals promulgate the plans for Directive 21, the invasion of Soviet Russia. They name it Barbarossa after a legendary German Emperor, a contemporary of Richard Lionhart, who fought back the Eastern Slavs.

1941- The Japanese overwhelm the island post of Guam. 641 marines against 5,000 Japanese.

1944- MOE BERG AND THE NAZI EINSTEIN. Head of the German atomic program, Prof. Werner Heisenberg gives a lecture on S-matrix physics in Zurich, Switzerland. In the audience was Moe Berg, allied spy, amateur physicist and catcher for the Washington Senators (sounds ridiculous but true). Before the war Berg and Heisenberg were both friends with Danish physicist Neils Bohr, hence his invitation. The U.S. intelligence officers gave Berg a pistol and instructed him to stand up and shoot Heisenberg dead on the spot, if he felt from the talk that the Nazis were close to finishing their Atomic Bomb. Moe Berg coolly schmoozed Heisenberg at the reception afterwards, and even walked him home, but did nothing. In the 1950's Berg was a frequent contestant on quiz shows.

1956- Japan is admitted into the UN

1956- TV Game show To Tell the Truth made its debut. Bud Collier hosting, and panelists like Kitty Carlisle, Bennett Cerf, Orson Bean and Dorothy Killgallen as panelists.

1960- A young eccentric man named Jerry Garcia was dishonorably discharged from the army. He had done things like drive a tank into a field then walk away and had been AWOL 8 times in one year. After leaving the army Jerry Garcia became a hippie musician in San Francisco and in 1966 formed the rock band the Grateful Dead.

1961-" In the Jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps to-night…a winoweh, etc. " this song by the Tokens goes to #1 in pop charts.

1964- DePatie-Freleng’s The Pink Phink, the first Pink Panther cartoon short.

1966- Chuck Jone's 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' premiered.

1970- An atomic leak at a Nevada weapons stockpile caused hundreds to flee.

1972- President Nixon announced that despite all the war protests he would continue to carpet-bomb North Vietnam and Laos until he got a negotiated settlement.

1975- Rod Stewart announced he was leaving the band Faces for a solo singing career.

1978- SAG strikes Hollywood again for residuals. (again...)

1984- Christopher Guest married Jamie Lee Curtis at Rob Reiner’s house .

1984- Pixars first short The Adventures of Andre and Wally-B premiered at Siggraph Minneapolis. Directed by Alvy Ray Smith and animated by John Lasseter.

1997- Saturday Night Live Comedian Chris Farley was found dead in his Chicago apartment in the John Hancock Tower, surrounded by empty food containers and porn magazines. The chubby 31-year-old had been partying for 17 straight hours doing cocaine, heroin, vodka and crystal-meth. His last words were to an exhausted prostitute:" Please don’t leave me.". Farley idolized the late John Belushi, who had also died of drugs and hard living at age 31. One writer recalled Farley drunk turned to him and asked innocently:" Do you think Belushi is in heaven?"

1998- Dreamworks feature cartoon the “Prince of Egypt”, or, as it was known in Hollywood," The Zion King".

2003-Gary Ridgeway, "The Green River Murderer" was sentenced to life in prison. In the 1980’s Ridgeway murdered 48 women in the Seattle area. "I murdered mostly prostitutes because I figured nobody would miss them."

2009- A massive blizzard buried the U.S. east coast. Washington D.C. got 24 inches, the most December snow since the 1920s.
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Yesterday’s Question: When some speak of an earthly paradise, the say Xanadu. Where is Xanadu?

Answer: The English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote the poem The Rubyait of Omar Khayam, that began “ In Xanadu did Kubilai Khan a pleasure dome decree….”
It’s theorized Xanadu was his word for Shangdu, the summer palace of Kubilai Khan.


Dec 17, 2014 weds
December 17th, 2014

Quiz: When some speak of an earthly paradise, the say Xanadu. Where is Xanadu?

Yesterday’s question answered below: What was the first song to become a hit on the Country, R&B and Rock & Role charts simultaneously?
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History for 12/17/2014
Birthdays: Paracelsus (otherwise known as Nicholas Paracelsus Theophrastus Bombastus Von Hohenheim) the father of modern medical diagnosis, Antonio Cimmarosa, William Lyon Mackensie-King, Arthur Fiedler, Bob Guccione, William Safire, Cal Ripken Sr., Ford Maddox-Ford, Erskine Caldwell, Tommy Steele, Pope Francis I, Bill Pullman is 61, Eugene Levy is 68, Giovanni Ribisi is 40, Arman Muehler-Stahl is 84, Wes Studi, Sean Patrick Thomas, Mila Jovovich is 39, Bart Simpson is 25

ROMAN FESTIVAL OF SATURNALIA-Today is the festival of Saturn, the biggest holiday to the ancient Romans, one of the roots of Christmas. On this holiday no business was conducted, Roman families ate together, masters served their slaves and gave them a day off. People gave each other gifts in pretty colored wrappings. Romans also decorated the outsides of their houses with wreaths and lights (oil lamps). Christians began using the Saturnalia as the birth festival of Jesus as early as 335AD. It was made official by the Pope in 885 AD. So at sunset shout "Io, Io, Saturnalia!" Greek for Hail Saturn!

1596- In a warning of what his son Charles Ist would face in England, this day Scottish King James VI was chased out of Edinburgh by his pushy Presbyterian Parliament. James responded with an economic blockade of his capitol by withholding royal grants and contracts until by New Years the populace was clamoring for his return.

1777-VALLEY FORGE- When Lord Howe’s British Army called the Christmas Truce and beds down in Philadelphia, George Washington’s army made camp at Valley Forge. The severe winter and poor conditions made Washington’s Army lose as many men as if there had been a battle. 2500 out of 10,000 colonials did not survive to see Spring. Meanwhile the local farmers sold their food to the British, who paid better.

1793 -Battle of Toulon begins. The French Revolutionary army tried to retake the Mediterranean seaport whose royalist population had invited in an occupation fleet of English, Spanish and Piedmontese. The commanding French generals were nervous about failure, because to first magistrate Robespierre failure meant the guillotine. So they yielded the initiative to a pushy 23-year-old artillery major with a funny Italian name- Napoleon Bonaparte.

1843- Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story for Christmas" first published. In the 18th century and earlier the Christmas celebration was a more rowdy affair with public drinking, marching around in costumes “mummery” and mayhem more like today’s Mardi Gras. This is why the Pilgrims tried to ban it. The popularity of Dickens story of Scrooge, Marley and Tiny Tim did much to help Victorians change the nature of the Christmas celebration to a more intimate and pious observance among centered on the family. Dickens said he wrote the story to make some money capitalizing on the new fashions for family Christmas celebrations around the tree.

1862- GRANT'S GENERAL ORDER #11- When Union army troops occupied large parts of Confederate Tennessee southerners wondered what kind of retribution the angry U.S. government would wreak upon their heads. They were amazed when the commander of the Union troops, Ulysses Grant, issued an order expelling all Jews from East Tennessee! His reasoning was that drygoods salesmen and were cheating his men. Lincoln was shocked. "Isn't our country divided enough?!" The order was countermanded by the White House and Grant ordered to apologize. Grant later admitted the criticism of his hasty order was justified and he “should not have legislated against any one particular sect.”

1865- Schubert's Unfinished Symphony (#8) received it's world premiere. In 1822 Schubert wrote the first two movements and 8 measures for the 3rd (Scherzo), then forgot about it when he died in 1828. A friend kept the manuscript in a closet for 43 years.

1892- Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker” premiered at the Imperial Ballet in Saint Petersburg. One child dancer playing a candy cane in that first performance was a Georgian boy named Gyorgi Balavadajze- later American choreographer George Balanchine..

1902- THE VENEZUELA CRISIS- Kaiser Wilhelm threatened Venezuela with naval blockade and invasion if she did not pay her international debts. US President Teddy Roosevelt sent Admiral Dewey with 23 battleships to the Caribbean and threatened war. Der Kaiser backed down and war was avoided. This incident was kept secret for seventy years. It’s when Teddy first said:” Speak softly and carry a big stick!”

1903- THE AIRPLANE- Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. For one minute a powered heavier than aircraft flew. Orville finished the day with a telegram to their father minding the bicycle shop back in Dayton Ohio: “ Success. Four Flights Thursday Morning against twenty-one mile an hour wind.. Inform press home for Christmas.” The news failed to get into most national newspapers.

The Wrights themselves maintained a strict secrecy because they knew rivals like Glen Curtis, the French and Smithsonian professor William Langley were all close to inventing an airplane as well. The sensation of the airplane didn’t really become widespread until the Wrights demonstrated their plane in France in 1908 and around New York Harbor in 1909. In 1913 Curtis took Langley’s flying machine the Aerodrome out of storage and flew it to prove to the Smithsonian that the Wright Brothers were not the first. The bitter disputes lasted the length of their lives.

1917-HAPPY BIRTHDAY THE KGB! Lenin created the first Communist Secret Police, the Cheka, led by Felix Derszhinsky:” My thoughts induce me to be without pity.” In a few months the Cheka executed more people than the Czars’ police the Okrana did in all of the XIXth Century. The Cheka in Stalin’s time was called the OGPU, then NKVD, his executioners in the Great Purges. After Stalin, their name was changed to the KGB, the great spy and Secret Police operation set to bedevil their counterparts in the west- the CIA and MI5. The KGB was disbanded in 1991. Russian Premier Vladimir Putin had been a KGB agent.

1928- Under orders from Josef Stalin, the Central Committee of the Soviet Union first declared that rural land belonged to the community. All landowners were enemies of the state. This began the War on the Kulaks- the name for middle class peasants who owned some farmland. The purges of Kulaks, and famine from forced collectivization killed millions.

1934- First test flight of the Donald Douglas' DC-3, the most widely used airplane in aviation history. Unchanged for almost 50 years the two engine DC-3 was the backbone of most of the world's first passenger airlines and with the military name C-47 (the Gooney Bird) it became the workhorse cargo plane of from World War Two until Vietnam. There are still some DC-3's in service in many small countries.

1939- THE GRAF SPEE- The world media in the opening weeks of World War II were dominated by news of an epic sea duel between the British Navy and a German battleship. The British pursued the Graf Spee across the Atlantic into Montevideo Harbor in neutral Uruguay. This day while the sun was setting radio broadcasters stayed on the air live and 250,000 spectators lined the shoreline to see if the Graf Spee would come out and fight. Instead the tropical quiet was rent by a huge explosion. Kapitan Zur See Langersdorf had scuttled his own ship.

British intelligence had done a masterful job of fooling Kapitan Langersdorf into believing heavy naval reinforcements including the aircraft carrier Ark Royal were closing in on him, while in actual fact they were nowhere in the vicinity. All there was to try and stop the German battleship was three badly shot up light cruisers. After sinking the Graf Spee, Langersdorf wrapped himself in a German flag and shot himself. Interestingly he didn't use a Nazis swastika flag but wrapped himself in the old German Imperial Navy ensign. He also refused to give the stiff arm Nazis party salute.

1941- As if he hadn’t put his foot in his mouth badly enough already Charles Lindbergh does it again today. After earlier in the year railing on about the “International Jewish Conspiracy pushing America into war” today in a speech Lucky Lindy denounced the war with Germany:” The only real threat to America is the threat of the Yellow Race. Japan and China are united against the white race. And our only natural ally is Germany”. Secretary of the Treasury Robert Morgenthau told President Roosevelt: “I am convinced this guy is a Nazi”.

1944- the MALMEDY MASSACRE- The largest documented atrocity committed on U.S. troops in Europe in World War Two. During the Battle of the Bulge Nazi Waffen S.S. troops rounded up a large group of U.S. prisoners and machined gunned them all. 87 men of Battery B, 285th Field Artillery died. The atrocity stiffened U.S. resistance to the Nazis advance. The furor over President Reagan's laying a wreath at the Bitburg cemetery in 1985 was that some of the guilty SS of Malmedy were buried there. The commander of the massacre, Major Otto Wolf, did some prison time after the war and lived quietly until 1967, when he was found shot to death in his burning house, a smoking rifle in his hands like he was defending himself. Obviously someone had not forgotten.

1944- As the extent of the German offensive in the Ardennes became clear, General Eisenhower declared the Belgian town of Bastonge would be the key. He ordered the 82nd and 101st Airborne to go there and hold the town at all costs.

1944- The U.S. War Department issued Public Proclamation 21, stating that all Americans of Japanese ancestry could leave their internment camps and finally go home.

1955- Carl Perkins awoke in the middle of a bad nights sleep and wrote Blue Suede Shoes, the first song to be a hit in Country, R&B and Rock n’ Roll charts simultaneously, especially when sing by Elvis Presley” Well you can knock me down, step on ma face, etc.”

1962- The Beatles first hit "Love Me Do" enters the U.K. pop charts.

1969- Tiny Tim, the campy, ukulele strumming crooner, married his Miss Vicky, or Victoria Budinger live on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

1969- The US Air Force terminated Operation Blue Book, the investigation of UFO phenomena.

1969- Walt Disney re-released Fantasia, and it was embraced by hippy stoners who liked to get high during screenings, Disney did a black-lite poster for it. It was the first time Fantasia ever made a profit.

1971- After the last Pakistani forces surrender East Pakistan to invading Indian armies, East Pakistan is declared the independent nation of Bangladesh.

1989- Communist dictator Nicholas Cercescu ordered the Romanian Army to open fire on democratic protesters in Timisoara. Two thousand were killed. This incident pushed elements of the Army to turn their guns on the government. The Romanian Revolution was the most violent of the Communist regime changes of Eastern Europe.

1989- After appearing in some interstitial shorts on the variety Tracey Ullman Show, The Simpsons first premiered as a regular TV series.

1999- The film Stuart Little premiered.

2001- Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of the Haliburton Corporation, was awarded a ten-year no-bid contract to provide the U.S. Army with everything from firefighting to building bases to serving meals. Soldiers won’t dig latrines, because KBR port-o-pottys will be there. A soldier couldn’t wipe his face with a towel that didn’t have a KBR logo on it. Vice President Cheney was a senior stockholder of Haliburton.

2010- The Arab Spring- Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26 year old peddler in Tunisia, had his pushcart confiscated for being unable to pay a fine. He protested by standing in front of a police station and setting himself on fire. As Bouazizi died, Tunisians rose in massive protests and overthrew their longtime President Ben Ali. The pro-democracy protests quickly spread to Egypt, then Bahrain, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Syria and all over the one party states of the Middle East.
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Yesterday’s Question: What was the first song to become a hit on the Country, R&B and Rock & Role charts simultaneously?

Answer: Blue Suede Shoes. See above, 1955.


December 16, 2014
December 16th, 2014

Quiz: What was the first song to become a hit on the Country, R&B and Rock & Role charts simultaneously?

Yesterday’s Quiz answered below: Back to Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, who was the next pharaoh over after his death?
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History for 12/16/2014
Birthdays: TA-TA-TA-TUMMMMMM!!! Ludwig Van Beethoven, Catherine of Aragon (Henry VIII's wife number one), Marshal Gerbhard von Blucher, Lenoid Brezhnev, Jane Austen, Margaret Mead, Noel Coward, George Santayanna, Liv Ullmann is 73, Steve Bochco, Leslie Stahl. Quentin Blake- dean of British illustrators favored by Roald Dahl, Arthur C. Clarke, Miranda Otto is 47.

1773- THE BOSTON TEA PARTY- The British Parliament had angered the colonists of New England by disallowing any tea to be imported except by British vessels and then a heavy tax to the Crown was to be paid on its purchase. As New England women began to develop alternatives from grass and dandelions-what we now call Herbal Teas- the men of Boston threatened violence on any merchant who dared sell English tea.

On Nov 28th the good ship Dartmouth anchored at Griffith's Wharf with 144 tons of tea to be cleared of customs by December 17th. A mob gathered at the Old South Meeting House to discuss what to do. The call was made for 'The Mohawks!" In the crowd were Paul Revere and artist Jonathan Trumbull. At 6:00 p.m. men disguised as Indians boarded the Dartmouth overpowered the crew and tossed crates of loose tea into the harbor.

British Admiral Montague watched the mischief from his warship across the harbor, but didn't take any action "for fear of civilian casualties." He well remembered the political repercussions a few years earlier, when His Majesties troops fired into a snowball throwing crowd and the radical Yankees called it the Boston Massacre.
Next morning all of Boston developed mass amnesia. No one knew who did the deed. One man waited until he was ninety-three years old and the Revolution long over before he named who was there that night.

1777-The Comte’De Vergennes, the foreign minister of the King of France informed Ambassador Benjamin Franklin that France was now willing to recognize the United States and help her in her war against Britain.

The previous year, British Prime Minister Lord North declared in Parliament that he doubted any crown in Europe would ever support the American rebels. "They would be laying the foundation for an American empire, whose forces would missionary a radical form of democracy around the world."

1796-THE YEAR OF THE FRENCH-Wolf Tone, sort of the Irish Malcolm X, convinced Revolutionary France to send an army of 14,000 troops to help the Irish revolt against Britain. The French fleet that set out was beset with problems from the beginning. The French ships did so many maneuvers to avoid the British Navy that they got lost, their Admiral got mixed up in a fog and some ships struck rocks. Finally the whole expedition gave up and went home within sight of the Irish Coastline. WolfTone wrote bitterly:" I could have hit the shoreline with a biscuit!”

1811- First of the New Madrid earthquakes, est 7.5 Richter, hit the Mississippi valley.

1824- PUBLISH AND BE DAMNED! - Was the response of the Duke of Wellington to a Mr. John Stockdale, who wrote him that he intended to publish the reminiscences of one of London's most notorious courtesans named Harriet Wilson. The beautiful Miss Wilson had slept with most of the leading men of London society. She intended to name Wellington as one of her frequent customers during the period 1805-1808, unless of course he chose to have his name removed- for 200 pounds. But such was the Iron Duke's famous answer.

1826-Benjamin Edwards rode into Nacogdoches Texas and tried to declare it the free, Republic of Freedonia. None of the other Yankee settlers knew what he was talking about. As soon as regular Mexican troops arrived to arrest him, Edwards fled. He presaged future events in Texas. The only other thing it did was give the Marx Brothers a good name for their fictional country in the 1936 movie Duck Soup.

1835- THE FRENCH FOREIGN LEGION FORMED- After numerous revolts in Paris streets since 1789, Napoleon’s elderly friend Marshal Soult came up with a novel idea: Take all those street ruffians who made "Le Miserables" so colorful, put them in uniform and send them to the Sahara and hopefully they'll all get killed. The Foreign Legion has fought France’s wars from Madagascar to Mexico. To this day the Legion Etrangere' takes anyone from any nation from 16 to 40, no questions asked. Their motto- "March or Die”.

1835- The Great Fire of New York City. A fire started at 9:00PM in the a small shop on Merchant St. Because of the cold, fire hydrants and hoses froze and the rival volunteer fire departments argued over who got there first. The fire quickly grew out of control. It raged for four days- consumed 700 buildings over thirteen acres. Four hundred Philadelphia firemen had to come to the rescue.

1838- THE BATTLE OF BLOOD RIVER- Dutch-German Boers of South Africa had piled into their laager wagons and embarked north on the Great Trekk to get away from British authority in Capetown. When they crossed into the territory of the Zulu king Dingane their leaders went to make a pact with him to settle in his territory. Dingane welcomed the Vortrekker leaders into his camp, then killed them and pounded wooden stakes into their eyes. On this day the Boers exacted a terrible vengeance on the Zulu, shooting up their tribe and burning their abandoned capitol. They found the remains of their dead leader Piet Restiv with the signed covenant still in his bag. For years afterwards White Afrikaners celebrated this day as Covenant Day, or Dingane Day.

1863- The first of the Union wounded from the battle of Fredericksburg began to trickle into Washington DC. The organizer of the hospital suppliers, then called the Sanitary Commission was Frederick Law Olmstead the designer of New York’s Central Park. Writers Louisa May Alcott and Walt Whitman volunteered and served as nurses for the sick. Whitman had tried several odd jobs and had published a thin quarto of poems entitled the Leaves of Grass, which polite society considered vulgar.

1871- BOSS TWEED INDICTED- William Marcy Tweed as New York City Commissioner of Public Works was behind one of the most corrupt city governments in U.S. history. Tweed mobilized poor and immigrant voters into political power and bought and sold Mayoral building projects. The cost overruns to build a simple courthouse cost more than the total cost to build the British Parliament in London- $13 million dollars. For example He billed the city $14,000 for 11 thermometers.

The press tried to expose him, but it was really Thomas Nast’s cartoons in Harper’s Weekly who helped bring the Tweed Ring down. Boss Tweed said: "I don’t mind the newspaper articles since most of my voters can’t read, but those damn pictures!" Tweed once offered Nast half a million dollars to go to Europe and "study art". Nast refused. Boss Tweed ended his life in the Ludlow Street Jail, which he himself built.

1900 -EARLY ANIMATED FILM "ENCHANTED DRAWINGS', James Stuart Blackton was a New York World cartoonist who used to do a vaudeville act in drag. He came to do an article on Thomas Edison then Edison put him on the payroll. He created this and several other trickfilms. It doesn’t move much more than his vaudeville lightning drawing act, His 1906 film Humorous Phases of Funny Faces is considered the first animated cartoon.

1905- Variety magazine born.

1907- THE WHITE FLEET- Pres. Teddy Roosevelt sent a big badass fleet of US Navy battleships all painted white on a round-the-world cruise. It was billed as a goodwill tour, but in an age when battleships were the viewed like nukes are today, the message to other world powers was obvious. That the US was now a serious player in world affairs.

1913- Young English music hall actor named Charlie Chaplin got a job at Keystone Studios in Hollywood. His first film he would play a villain.

1935- Hollywood movie star Thelma Todd found dead in her car in her garage in Malibu She was 30. She was a sexy comedienne who starred with Laurel & Hardy, Buster Keaton and the Marx Brothers and loved to party so much she was nicknamed"Hot Toddy". She knew New York mobster Lucky Lucciano. Was she done in by the mob, her jealous director boyfriend, was it a suicide or did she just pass out drunk in her car garage with the motor running? The mystery’s never been answered.

1944- Big Band Leader Glen Miller's plane disappeared over the English Channel. In 1988 ,a retired RAF engineer admitted he may have jettisoned some leftover bombs above the entertainer's plane while returning home from a bombing run.

1944- THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE- In his last gamble, Adolf Hitler scraped together his remaining army reserves armed with new King Tiger tanks and launched them in an attack through the center of the allied armies. The Nazis panzers were spearheaded by a group of commandos in G.I. uniforms trained by one eyed Otto Skorzeny in American slang and baseball scores to confuse communications. They calculated to launch their offensive during a heavy snowstorm when the superior Allied air forces would have to be grounded.

After chasing the Germans across France to the Rhine, the Americans had come to consider the Krauts a defeated enemy. So they were taken completely by surprise. One US POW noted as he was brought to the rear, seeing hundreds or Germans in fresh uniforms and new tanks. General Eisenhower had just gotten his fifth general's star and was attending the wedding of his orderly Rickie in Versailles when he got the news. Rickies bride was Pearlie.

The German attack was so successful that Franklin Roosevelt wanted to drop the first atom bomb on them. The offensive eventually stalled and was beaten back at the cost of 70,000 U.S. casualties; the most Americans killed and wounded in any single battle in history.

1948- A top Truman Presidential aide named Alger Hiss was indicted for perjury for lying to a Federal Grand Jury about passing secrets to a Communist turncoat agent named Whittaker Chambers. Chambers told so many lies that he was discredited as a witness but Hiss was convicted on circumstantial evidence like microfilm found hidden in a pumpkin- The Pumpkin Papers.
The case of such a high ranking US official being a spy stoked the anti-commie paranoia of the 1950’s. Even decades later with the principle players dead, Communist Russia gone and the KGB files open, the scholars continue to argue.

1966- New York Police raid the offices of Bernard Spindle, a freelance surveillance expert who bugged the phones of the rich and powerful. They carted off all his tapes and records; including tapes he claimed proved Marilyn Monroe’s sexual hijinks with President John Kennedy. He was later informed all his tapes were lost. Spindle’s career was the inspiration for the movies The Conversation and the Enemy of the State.

1966- The Jimi Hendrix Experience released the song ‘Hey Joe’.

1971- Don McClean released the long version of the song ‘American Pie’.

1973- O.J. Simpson became the first NFL player to rush for 2000 yards in a season.

1978- The Disney short The Small One, directed by Don Bluth.

1980- Colonel Harland Sanders, the Kentucky Fried Chicken founder, died.

1988- Shockjock Howard Stern is fined $100,000 by the FCC for having on his radio show a man who could play the piano with his penis.

1993- Aaron Spelling fired Shannon Dougherty off the TV soap Beverly Hills 90210.

1999- Julie Andrews, star of Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music, sued New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital for destroying her singing voice during a routine throat operation.

2009- Roy E. Disney died, the Walt Disney nephew who oversaw the animation resurgence of the 1990s.
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Yesterday’s Quiz: Back to Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, who was the next pharaoh over after his death?

Answer: King Tut. His name was originally Tut-Ankh-Aton, but was changed to Tut-Ankh-Amon under pressure to return Egypt to the old religion of Amon Ra. Tut didn’t live very long, and probably was murdered. The general Horemheb married his widow, became pharaoh, and in a deal with the High Priests, re-established the old gods and banned monotheism.


Dec 15, 2014
December 15th, 2014

Quiz: Back to Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, who was the next pharaoh over after his death?

Answer to yesterday’s question below: When people talk on and on at length, people say you drone on. Why?
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¬History for 12/15/2014
Birthdays: Roman Emperor Nero, Roman Emperor Lucius Verus who was known for little else but his really swell haircut, Gustav Eiffel, J. Paul Getty, Jeff Chandler, Alan Freed, Ernie Pintoff, Tim Conway is 81, Helen Slater, Don Johnson is 65, Julie Taymor is 62

214BC, Hieronymous, the Greek tyrant of Syracuse was assassinated in the street.

1790- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has a farewell dinner for Franz Josef Haydn who was going to London for two years. Amadeus said:" Farewell Papa, I think we shall not see each other again in life. " Mozart was 34 and Haydn was 67, so he probably assumed Haydn would go first. Mozart died a year later at 35, and old Haydn lived another fifteen years, dying in his 80s.

1791-The BILL OF RIGHTS was ratified and added to the U.S. CONSTITUTION- It was the brainchild of James Madison, who felt the Constitution was a bit vague on basic civil rights. Even so Patrick Henry thought it was still too weak.

1792- FOUNDING FATHERS SEX SCANDAL- In the dead of night George Washington's Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton (that guy on your ten-dollar bill) was visited by a delegation sent by his political enemy, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson (that guy on your nickel). They included future president James Monroe and First Speaker of the House of Representatives Felix Muhlenberg.

They accuse Hamilton of having an extramarital affair with a Mrs. Reynolds, and that he had her husband sent to prison to get him out of the way! Hamilton admitted it all, but said he was being blackmailed by the Reynolds. The accusers took pity and by “Gentleman's Agreement" for four years the scandal was hushed up.

When at last it was made pubic in 1797 by a tabloid newspaper, it helped drive Hamilton from government office and discredit the Federalist Party, who lost the White House to Jefferson's democrats. Alexander Hamilton was so furious that his secret was out that he challenged James Monroe to a duel. The duel was solved peacefully by an arbiter, Aaron Burr, who himself would shoot Hamilton in a duel eight years later. Aaron Burr later became Vice President, and Burr even got to sleep with Mrs. Reynolds too!

1815- Giacomo Rossini received the commission to write a new opera based on Beaumarchais the Marriage of Figaro- The Barber of Seville.

1840- Napoleon's remains were removed from his grave on Saint Helena and brought home to France where it was re-interred in the Invalides in Paris. He had wished to have his ashes sprinkled on the Seine but instead his body is sealed in a tomb of red marble donated by the Czar of Russia. The French Bourbon King Louis Phillipe had to quietly endure this massive outpouring of Bonapartist nostalgia.

1859- For those of you who speak Esperanto, Happy Zampenhoff Day!

1864- Battle of Nashville. The Yankee army of Gen. George Thomas destroyed the Confederate force of John Bell Hood so completely that Confederate military operations in the West of the Blue Ridge effectively cease. Thomas was being so tardy and cautious in ordering the attack, that General Grant had already dispatched another general to replace him.

1874- Hawaiian King David IV Kalakaou visited the White House and was received by President Grant.
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1890-SITTING BULL KILLED by government employed Indian agents. They had come to arrest him when they learned he planned to join the Ghost Dancers at Wounded Knee. The Ghost Dance was a spiritual revival movement but the authorities overreacted in fear of a true-armed uprising. As Sitting Bull was led out of his cabin other Sioux tried to stop the Indian police and in the scuffle they shot Bull dead. In a macabre twist Bull's pony, who was a gift from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, reared up and started doing circus tricks when he heard the shots.

1893-Czech composer Anton Dvorak premiered a symphony he wrote while living in the Minnesota. The New World Symphony.

1899-Battle of Colenso-More Boer Woer. Britain had had so many early reverses in South Africa that Kaiser Wilhelm annoyed Prince Edward by saying:" You English are renown for your sense of good sportsmanship. Why don't you admit you're beaten and make the best of it? Rather like last year when the Australians beat you at cricket." Comments like this didn’t help Anglo-German relations. The British won the Boer War in 1901.

1911- King George V of England moved the capitol of India from Calcutta to Delhi and laid the foundation stones for a new Imperial City, New Delhi.

1939- The gala premiere of Gone With The Wind at the Loews Grand Theater in Atlanta Georgia. Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh flew out from Hollywood and the Governor of Georgia declared it a state holiday.

1941- The American Federation of Labor announced there would be no strikes or other labor actions for the duration of World War II.

1941- Lena Horne recorded her signature tune “Stormy Weather.”

1943- In Harlem jazz great Fats Waller died of alcoholism and heart failure. He was 39.

1950- President Harry Truman declared a State of National Emergency over the deteriorating situation in the Korean War. When Congress asked what it meant and why not ask Congress first instead of unilaterally declaring it, Truman lost his temper. “We must remember that we are the Leader of the Free World, and as such have an obligation to meet!”

1952- British Fashion photographer George Jorgenson has the first sex change operation in Denmark and becomes Christine Jorgenson.

1954-“Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter” starring Fess Parker was featured on the Walt Disney TV show for the first time. The show created a mania for little kids, all wanting coonskin caps. “ Born on a mountaintop in Tenn- Ah- See..”

1964- Canada adopted the Maple Leaf flag. It did not completely replace the Dominion Flag until 1979.

1966-Walt Disney died at age 65. He was alone in the room at Saint Joseph's when he died. His last words were scribbled on a piece of paper in his lap- Kurt Russell. A heavy cigarette smoker- his favorites were Malboro and French Gitanes- he suffered from lung cancer and respiratory failure. Contrary to the legend that he's cryogenically frozen in a room in the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland, he was cremated and interred at Forest Lawn.

1967- Beverly Hills police chief C.H. Anderson assured the public that there are "No Hippie Pads in Beverly Hills". Chief Andersen said many oddball types arrested on the Sunset Strip and West L.A. are sent to Beverly Hills municipal courts for trial, but inhabitants need not fear an outbreak of longhaired, hopped up, psychedelic speed freaks.

1973- The American Psychiatric Association reverses its earlier position and announced the homosexuality was not a form of mental illness. Before that, being gay meant your family could legally have you institutionalized and even lobotomized or electro-shocked.

1984- Gangster Paul Castellano had taken over the largest Mafia family in New York after the Godfather Carlo Gambino died. But he was having problems with his unruly lieutenant John Gotti. This day he was getting out his limo on a midtown Manhattan street to go to Sparks Steakhouse when he was shot dead by hitmen sent by Gotti. Instead of the dead of night on a lone wharf, it was done out in broad daylight and the killers just melted into the countless masses of lunch hour foot traffic on 5th Avenue. John Gotti took control of the Gambino family and ruled as the Dapper Don, until sent up the river for life in 1992.

1985- Sylvester Stallone married model Birgit Neilsson. This was after he divorced his first wife Sasha who had shared his years of privation up to stardom. She worked as an usher at the Crown movie theater in NY to support Sly while he went to acting school.

1989- Colombian drug cartel leader Gonzalo Rodriquez Gacha “El Mexicano” was shot down in a furious gun battle with police. He had waged a war of terror with the Colombian authorities, bombing an Avianca airliner and blowing up the police headquarters in Bogota.

2008- Outgoing President George W. Bush made a farewell tour of Iraq, ostensibly to receive the thanks of the Iraqi people for freeing them. During a speech in Baghdad, Iraqi journalist Muntather Zaidi rose up and threw his shoes at the presidents’ head, shouting “Here’s your thanks, you dog!” He made Bush duck. NY Yankees owner Glen Steinbrenner commented” His first throw was low and inside, the second a bit high, but both were pretty good.”

2011- The official end of the 2nd Gulf War, as the last US units case their colors and leave Baghdad. Of course, the fighting is still going on.
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Yesterday’s question: When people talk on and on at length, people say you drone on. Why?

Answer: When you play a Scottish bagpipe, the pipe that you blow in and finger is called the Drone. So droning on means to go on endlessly in an annoying manner.


Dec 14, 2014 sun
December 14th, 2014

Question: When people talk on and on at length, people say you drone on. Why?

Yesterday’s Question Answered Below: What does it mean when you are didactic?
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History for 12/14/2014
Birthdays: 1553-King Henry IV of Navarre*, Tycho Brahe, Nostradamus -Michel de Notre Dame-1503, English King George VI-1895, Spike Jones the bandleader, Morey Amsterdam, Charlie Rich, Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, Lee Remick, Patty Duke, Adult film star Ginger Lynn, Clark Terry- trumpeter. Cecil Pay, Saxophonist. Chanteuse Jane Birkin "Je t'aime moi non plus" is 67.

*Henry of Navarre 1555-1610 was one of Frances most beloved kings. When he was born his father Duke Antoine du Bourbon rubbed garlic on his lips and gave him wine to be strong. One of Frances horniest kings, even as an infant, his suckling dried up 8 wet nurses!

Welcome to the first day of what is referred to as the HALCYON DAYS. The seven days prior to and after the Winter Solstice, a time of tranquility and peace. Supposedly, no storms happen. In 1867 Walt Whitman wrote a poem about the Halycon Days in "Leaves of Grass", using it as a metaphor for the time in the winter of one's life, when contentment replaces the "turbulent passions" of younger years.

1575- The Parliament of the Polish Commonwealth had a strange system of electing foreign princes to be their king. This day they invited Transylvanian Duke Stefan Bathory to come be king. Bathory turned out to be an okay king. He destroyed Russian Czar Ivan the Terrible’s armies in battle, frustrating his efforts to gain access to Western trade.

1776-After chasing George Washington's miserable little rebel army from New York to Philadelphia, British General Lord William Howe announced the customary Christmas truce and beds his army down for the winter. His subordinate Lord Percy wrote home:” It’s just about over with those people. We shall be home shortly.” Back in occupied New York City, Lord Howe took as a mistress the wife of his Boston superintendent of prisons a Mr. Loring, who grew rich enough on army contracts to not mind. A rebel poem of the time said: "Sir William He, snug as a Flea, lay in his bed a Snorring. Nor thought of Harm, as he lay Warm, in bed with Mrs......"

1782- British troops evacuate Charleston South Carolina, in preparation for the final peace treaty ending the American Revolution.

1798-David Wilkinson of Rhode Island patented a machine that made the new inventions metal screws, nuts and bolts.

1799- GEORGE WASHINGTON DIED. 67 year old Washington had retired to Mount Vernon after his last presidential term in 1796. On Dec. 12th he went riding five hours during a sleet storm and caught the flu. Another theory was a viral infection of the epiglottis.
He might still have survived had it not been for modern medicine. Doctors bled him of four pints of blood, while applying leeches, mustard sulfur packs and laxatives to purge him of the ill humors. He developed pneumonia and died swiftly. Because coma was so little understood, people had a dread of premature burial. Washington left instructions that his body be left out several days to make sure he was dead before being sealed in a tomb. After assurances put his mind at ease his last words were:" Tis well." No priests or religious last rites were performed. Washington turned away a priest who offered.

The US government wanted to place his tomb at the center of the planned dome in the capitol building, but Washington’s wish was to be in a simple tomb in Mt. Vernon. He also freed all his 137 slaves and sent them each off with a pension.

1819- Alabama was separated out from Mississippi territory and made a new state. Under Spanish rule Alabama was known as West Florida.

1861- Albert the Prince Consort, husband of Queen Victoria, died at 42. Even though he died of typhoid fever, which was common in those times, Victoria blamed her son Bertie (Edward VII)'s sexual escapades as causing her beloved husband's heartbreak. One of Albert’s last acts was to tone down the diplomatic response to the Trent Affair, which avoided war with the United States.

Victoria wore mourning for the rest of her long life. She withdrew from formal politics for 12 years. She had Albert's rooms at Balmoral and Osborne kept like he was still there. Every single night for 40 years the servants would lay out his clothes and a basin of warm water like for some invisible user. She kept the cast of his hand on her night table at night so she could reach out to touch it for reassurance. When she died in 1901 after reigning 64 years her last words were "Albert..."

1863- Battle of Bean’s Station. Confederates in Tennessee defeated Yankees.

1871- Verdi's opera "Aida" debuts in Cairo.

1894- Socialist union leader Eugene Debs was sentenced to six months in jail for organizing sympathy actions for the railroad workers striking the Pullman company. Debs young lawyer handling his first case was Clarence Darrow.

1901- The first Ping-Pong tournament held in London.

1911- Norwegian explorer Roald Ammundsen and four others first reached the South Pole, winning the race against Captain Robert Falcon Scott.

1913- Cartoonist Johnny Gruelle entertained his dying daughter by making up stories involving her rag dollies. After her passing, friends urged Gruelle to publish them. The RAGGEDY ANN & ANDY stories are born.

1924- Ottorino Respighi ‘s stirring rhapsody the Pines of Rome premiered.

1927- Charles Lindbergh does one last flight with his famous monoplane the Spirit of Saint Louis, from Washington to Mexico City. This is at the request of American Ambassador Dwight Murrow who wanted to improve Mexican-American relations. Lindbergh would not only improve relations but also marry Murrow's daughter Anne. To make the flight a challenge Lindbergh took off at night in a rainstorm to prove air travel was safe. The President of Mexico and 150,000 people greeted him in Mexico City.

When flying he noticed many Mexican towns had a sign named 'Caballeros' in their railroad stations. He reasoned Caballeros must be a popular name for a town.

1934- March of the Wooden Soldiers, the Hal Roach version of Babes in Toyland with Laurel & Hardy opened.

1944- Hollywood starlet Lupe Velez, the "Mexican Spitfire' committed suicide. She had taken an overdose of sleeping pills and laid herself out in a beautiful negligee of her own design to be found radiant in repose. But instead of dying immediately, the pills made her sick and she was found dead with her head in the toilet. In her prime she counted Gary Cooper, Anthony Quinn and Johnny Weissmuller among her lovers. When Weissmuller was filming 'Tarzan' the studio complained to her that their lovemaking was so...err.. athletic? exhuberant?....that she was leaving fingernail scratch marks all over his back. The makeup department complained of all the effort to cover them.

1944- The film National Velvet premiered, making a star out of 12 year old Elizabeth Taylor.

1945- Nazis camp guard Josef Brodsky “The Beast of Belsen”, was hanged .

1947- The National Association of Stock Car Racing or NASCAR formed.

1953- Young pitcher Sandy Koufax was signed by the Dodgers. He became one of their most famous pitchers of all time.

1957- Hanna Barbera's first TV cartoon "Ruff and Ready" premieres.

1962- Mariner II reached the planet Venus. The first manmade probe to reach another planet. Although it stopped working, it’s still up there in orbit between Venus and Mercury.

1967- Greek generals overthrow King Constantine II and rule by junta led by General George Papadapolos.

1970- George Harrison’s single My Sweet Lord went gold.

1972-THE LAST MAN LEAVES THE MOON. Apollo 17 blasts off. We all remember the first man on the moon, but do you remember the last? Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt. President Nixon annoyed NASA by saying he doubted that men would return to the moon in the Twentieth Century, but he was right.

1977- DISCO! The movie Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta and the music of the Bee Gees make the Disco dancing scene a national craze.

1979- STUDIO 54 RAIDED- The Internal Revenue Service busted the worlds most notorious disco club. Formerly the hangout of Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger, Truman Capote and other “Beautiful People”, now the Feds were on to them. The IRS seized doctored account books, cocaine and undeclared cash, landing the owners in jail and bringing the celebrity playlands days to an end.

1983- Disney Studio released the short film Frankenweenie, done by a young artist named Tim Burton.

2012- Emotionally disturbed man Adam Lanza shot up a kindergarten school in Newtown Conn, killing 27 including his mother and 20 children.
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Yesterday’s Question: What does it mean when you are didactic?

Answer: Someone fond of teaching others or telling stories with an intended message.


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