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Blog Posts from November 2007:

November 30th, 2007 friday.
November 30th, 2007

Question: Sam Clemens called himself Mark Twain. Why?

Answer to yesterday’s quiz below: Why is the South Eastern US known as Dixie?
History for 11/30/2007
Birthdays: Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain, Winston Churchill,Jonathan Swift,Gordon Parks, G. Gordon Liddy, Alan Sherman, Abbie Hoffman, Virginia Mayo, Ephram Zimbalist Jr, Richard Crenna, Robert Guiliame, Rex Reason, Mandy Patinkin, Luther Ingram, Ridley Scott is 70, David Mamet, Ben Stiller is 42, Shuggie Otis, Billy Idol, Joan Ganz Cooney the creator of Sesame Street, Dick Clark is 79

1750- Marshal Saxe died. The one-eyed old general was given the beautiful French chateau of Chambord by Louis XV as his retirement home. An illegitimate son of Polish King Augustus the Strong, Saxe spent the summer nights camping out Cossack style and letting wild steppe ponies gallop the castle grounds. An old ladies man, he died after an all night "interview" with eight actresses. The king's physician wrote as the cause of death on the Death Certificate; "Une surfeit des femmes."- an overdose of women.

1776- As George Washington’s minuteman army retreated across New Jersey to escape the pursuing British Army a third of his troop’s enlistment’s were up. In a cold rain two thousand New Jersey and Maryland militiamen quit and walked home. Writer Thomas Paine was serving General Nathaniel Greene as a secretary and was moved by this pitiful sight to write the pamphlet: “The Crisis.”:”These are times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will shrink in this crisis from the service of his country. But he that stands now deserves the love and thanks of both man and woman. “ Washington called his downcast soldiers together and had the pamphlet read aloud to them.

1782- On a dark snowy day in an upstairs room on the Rue Bonaparte on Paris’ Left Bank, The United States and Britain signed the first of several protocols leading up to the full peace treaty ending the American Revolution in 1783. John Adams, John Jay, Benjamin Franklin and Richard Lawrence signed for America, a parliamentary delegation led by Lord Oswald signed for the Crown. On British diplomat said:” The Americans are the greatest quibblers I have ever dealt with, and I pray never to again in the future!”

1886- Paris’ famed naughty nightclub the Follies Bergere opened. The home of the Can-Can, Toulouse Lautrec, Josephine Baker, Brickttop, Maurice Chevalier.

1900- Oscar Wilde died of meningitis in a hotel in Paris. His last words; "This wallpaper is appalling! Either it goes or I do."

1922- The great actress Sarah Bernhardt made her last performance in Turin Italy. She was still considered sexy despite advanced age and a wooden leg.

1924- The first fax message sent. A photo of the Prince of Wales was wired across the Atlantic by radio transmission.

1939- Soviet Russia attacks Finland. The gallant Finns fought back fiercely with skiing hit and run attacks, and gasoline bottle bombs nicknamed for Stalin's Foreign Minister, Vachyescav Molotov, the "Molotov Cocktail".

1940-actress Lucille Ball married Cuban band leader Desi Arnaz. Together they pioneered the new art of Television. They divorced in 1960.

1968- “Love Child” by Diana Ross and the Supremes hit #1 in the pop charts.

1970- First day shooting on William Freidkin’s film The French Connection.

1974- In a dry gully in Ethiopia Dr Dennis Johannsen discovered the perfect skeletal remains of one of the earliest human ancestors, a homonid ape that walked upright named- Australiopithicus Afranencis. Johannsen liked the Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds so he named the ape Lucy.

1979- ESPN, the 24 hour sports channel began broadcasting.

1982- Nova Pictures is founded, but due to conflict with a PBS t.v. show of the same name they change theirs to TriStar Pictures. In 1994 TriStar was merged into SONY Pictures.

1985-Punk band The Dead Kennedys released their album Frankenchrist.

1991- Battered wife Mrs Omeima Nelson killed her abusive husband, dismembered his body and ate him. “I did his ribs just like in a restaurant.” she said.

1993- President Clinton signed the Brady Handgun bill into law. The bill was named for Reagan press secretary James Brady, who received a debilitating head wound in the assassination attempt on Reagan in 1981.President Bush allowed the law to expire.

1999- Seattle protestors trying to disrupt the World Trade Organization battle riot police and turn the downtown area into a retro-sixties battle zone. For the next several years wherever the WTO met they were surrounded by hundreds of thousands of protestors, although the mainstream media tends to pooh-pooh their message.

2003- Roy Disney Jr, the last member of the Disney family, was forced to resign from the Walt Disney Company. It was claimed to be the mandatory retirement policy but more likely he was forced out by the exec he hired to run the company in 1984- Michael Eisner. In 2005 after compelling Eisner to leave, Roy Disney was restored to an emeritus consultant position.
Yesterday’s Question: Why is the South Eastern US known as Dixie?

Answer: In the early days of the United States, states minted their own currency until the Dollar became standard. Because some much of the new nations good came through the Port of New Orleans, merchant got used to the Louisiana currency with the French words printed on it. The most common was the ten dollar bill, with the French for ten- DIX on each bill. So it was Dixie money, or money from Dixie.

click on an image to enlarge.

I had a wonderful time last tuesday in New York City giving the Distinguished Alumni Lecture at the School of Visual Arts. For those who don't know about it, SVA was formed as the Cartoonists and Illustrator's School in 1949 by Burne Hogarth, Tom Gill, Bill Gallo and Silas Rhodes. It changed it's name to Visual Arts in the 60s and got their accreditation in 1973. In the early 70s after Cal Arts and Sheridan, SVA was once of the few places to offer regular classes in cartooning and animation. Graduates include such names as Keith Haring, Paul Davis, Bill PLympton, John Dilworth, Barry Caldwell, Russell Calabrase, Yvette Kaplan,Kevin Petrilak, Drew Freidman, Harvey Pekar, Bat Lash, Art Speigelman, Alex Kuperschmidt and yours truly. Our teachers included Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, Gil Miret and Howard Beckerman- see below. Even Ralph Bakshi and R.O. Blechman once taught there.

The amphitheater was packed with eager young minds ready to be corrupted by my subversive rants. I showed things new and old,even some sneaks of things to come. I think a good time was had by all. Mark Hamill once told me that any time the audience doesn't rush up on stage and try to kill you, it was a good crowd. Afterwards I went with a few mates to toss a pint and damn all kings at the Molly Malone Pub on Third Ave. Glocca Morra is gone, Amy's PIta Burgers is gone, Connolly's Bar and Once Upon a Stove are but a memory, but Mollys is still there unchanged as she was thirty years ago.

Thanks to Candy Kugel, David Setlow, Paul Lepelletiere and all my other old and new friends who wasted a perfectly good evening to hear me talk. Thanks to Elaine Chow, Reeves Lehman and the SVA Alumni Society for putting this together.
My flyer up on the SVA 23rd St, Elevator. Yes, that crummy little elevator is still the only way to get up and down that building. Remember when it was one of the last manually operated elevators left requiring a fulltime operator? One was an elderly security guard who was a veteran of the U.S. incursion into Soviet Russia in 1919!

everyone's favorite pedagogue, Howard Beckerman, still sexy at 75

Quiz: Why is the South Eastern US known as Dixie?

Yesterday’s Question below: Why are checks, theater and color in Britain spelled checques, theatre and colour?
history for 11/29/2007
Birthdays: Gaetano Donizetti, Busby Berkeley, C.S. Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, Chuck Mangione, Vin Scully, Gary Shandling, Cathy Moriarity, Don Cheadle, Joel Coen, French President Jacques Chirac, Kim Delaney, Howie Mandell, Susee “Chapstick” Chafee

1864- Colorado militia kill over 300 Cheyenne in the "Sand Creek Massacre." Col. John Chivington was depressed that he was not back east winning glory in the Civil War so he attacked a peaceful Cheyenne village, killing 150. He later held a victory parade in Denver displaying the scalps of the Indians, most of whom were non-combatants -women, old men and children. Chivington eventually resigned from the military and his actions sparked a needless Indian war that raged for years afterwards.

1887- The US Navy received permission from the Hawaiian king to lease land for a base at Pearl Harbor. They had been landing there since 1864.

1890- The first Army-Navy football game held at West Point. Midshipmen beat the cadets 24-0.

1913- John Randolph Bray's "Colonel Heeza Liar in Africa" cartoon. Bray adapted Henry Ford's assembly line system to making animated cartoons, creating positions of layout, background painters, inkers, cel painters, checkers and camera. Before this one artist like Winsor McCay and an assistant did everything. Paul Terry, Walter Lantz, Max & Dave Fleischer and Shamus Culhane all got their start at Bray's.

1929- Commander Richard Byrd radioed he'd made the first airplane flight over the South Pole. Commander Byrd had flown over the North Pole in 1926 with his friend Floyd Bennett but Bennett had since died and when Byrd made it over the South Pole he dropped a small American flag weighted with a stone from Bennett’s grave.

1942- U.S. declared coffee would be rationed along with sugar, gasoline and rubber. And lots more. People put their cars up on blocks "for the duration". Gas Ration cards were listed as C, B & A. The C card meant essential war worker, police & fire so they had unlimited access to gasoline. A cards were the least important.

1944- A Detroit man named Malcolm Little was busted for larceny. He later reformed his life around the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Malcolm X.

1959-The Second Grammy Awards broadcast for the first time on television. Bobby Darins’ rendition of Mack the Knife won top honors.

1963- After the Kennedy assassination comic Vaughn Meader announced he was giving up his act impersonating the slain president. Meader’s comedy album The First Family sold 7.5 million copies in 1962, but now it wasn’t funny anymore and Meaders career collapsed. He died of emphysema in 2004. When Lenny Bruce first took the stage after the Kennedy assassination he opened with a long sigh and a puff on his cigarette:” ….Man. Vaughn Meader is really screwed!”

1967- Robert MacNamara, who was Secretary of Defense under Kennedy and Johnson , resigned to become president of the World Bank.

2001- former Beatle guitarist and composer George Harrison died of cancer.

Yesterday’s Question: Why are checks, theater and color in Britain spelled checques, theatre and colour?

Answer: Noah Webster (1758-1843) wrote the The American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828, at a time when the United States was undergoing a conscious effort to create it’s own culture distinct from Mother England. Federal architectural styles tried to move away from British taste, the Church of England in American renamed itself the Episcopal Church of America. So Webster decided to create distinctions in American English from the Queens English.
So words that had been influenced in Britain by Norman French, Webster changed to the Spanish spellings, color and favor instead of colour and favour, check instead of cheque., theater and center instead of theatre and centre. His dictionary made spelling words so popular, they started a new kind of contest in schools called Spelling Bees.

November 28th, 2007 wednesday.
November 27th, 2007

Question: Why are checks, theater and color in Britain spelled checques, theatre and colour?

Answer to yesterdays question below: Why is a bunch of tubs of food along a wall where you serve yourself, called a buffet meal?
History for 11/28/2007
Birthdays: Jean Baptiste Lully, William Blake, Frederich Engels, Stefan Zweig, Ernst Roehm, Brooks Atkinson, Berry Gordy the founder of Motown Records, Randy Newman, Anton Rubinstein, Gary Hart, Vern Den Herder, Paul Warfield, Hope Lange, Ed Harris, Paul Schaefer, Laura Antonelli, Joe Dante, Michael Ritchie, Anna Nicole-Smith, John Stewart is 44

885 A.D. est. date that the VIKINGS ATTACKED PARIS-Viking warchief Ragnar Lothbrocks, or Ragnar Hairy-Legs decided the Parisians would get a big surprise if he rowed his dragonships down the Meuse, pulled them out on rollers and lowered them back into the Seine to attack Paris. The Parisians under Duke Bernard put up a stout resistance from the city walls until French King Charles the Fat sent help.
The Vikings seldom bothered with besieging big walled cities, preferring quick raids in the countryside. Paris at the time had shrunk from it's Roman splendor to just the Isle de la Cite' the island in the middle of the Seine River.

1815- After Waterloo and a prisoner on the island of St. Helena, Napoleon Bonaparte for the first time put away his uniform and appeared in civilian clothes. It was his tacit admission that after more than twenty-five years at war his career was now indeed over.

1870- Painter Jean Bazille was shot and killed while serving in the French Army fighting the Prussians. He was only 29. He had been one of the leaders of the new Impressionists painters. Had he lived he might have produced many masterpieces and would’ve been as famous as Degas, Monet or Cezanne.

1895- The GREAT CHICAGO RACE- first American auto race. Two electric and four gas powered cars raced from Chicago to Evanston and back 54 miles despite several inches of snow on the ground. The winner Number 5 driven by inventor Charles Duryea reached a top speed of 7 miles an hour! Only one other car finished, the rest broke down. Duryea won $2000 and a good cold.

1911- The Chevrolet Automobile Company founded by the brothers Chevrolet.

1919- Lady Astor became the first woman elected to the British Parliament. She was the political as well as verbal nemesis of Winston Churchill who said "Mr. Churchill, if I were your wife I'd put poison in your coffee!" To which Churchill replied:" Madame if I were your husband I would drink it !"

1925- First radio broadcast from the Grand Ol' Opry in Nashville.

1926- California oil tycoon Edward Doheny went on trial for his role in the Teapot Dome scandal. That he and Harry Sinclair bribed the Secretary of the Interior to lease them U.S. strategic oil reserves. And like most millionaires he was acquitted.

1942- THE COCOANUT GROVE FIRE-The U.S. public was distracted for awhile from war news by reports of a terrible disaster in Boston. A fire broke out at a popular nightclub called the Cocoanut Grove and killed 492 people in only twelve minutes. The clubs decorations caught fire and created carbon monoxide gas and there were only two exits. Among the dead was western movie star Buck Jones. The tragedy created the first mandatory laws requiring public buildings to have fire exits opening outwards and safety testing of decorative materials.

1947- Disney's cartoon "Chip and Dale".

1948- Hopalong Cassidy premiered on television.

1953- Frank Olson, a US government employee, jumped out a window of the New York Statler Hotel. In 1975 it was revealed Olson was given LSD by Dr Sidney Gottleib given as part of a government “mind-control” experiment.

1981 - Moviestar Natalie Wood drunkenly toppled off her yacht near Catalina Island and
drowned. Her husband Robert Wagner friend Christopher Walken, were onboard having an argument and unaware of her predicament. Wood had once confessed to a friend that she had a horror of drowning.

1994 –At the Columbia Penitentiary in Portage Wisconsin mass murderer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer was beaten to death with a broomstick by inmate Christopher Scarver while cleaning the prison bathroom. Scarver also killed a third man on their work detail and told prosecutors God told him kill them both. Dahmer’s brain was preserved in formaldehyde but his mother ordered it’s destruction in 1995.
Question: Why is a bunch of tubs of food along a wall where you serve yourself, called a buffet meal?

Answer: One version is that the French definition of a sideboard is a Buffet, but the origin of the word is not clear.
The version I like is when the notorious Pope Alexander VI Borgia was Pope, he staged orgies at the Vatican with his children Cesare and Lucretzia Borgia. So the guests wouldn’t be slowed down in their sexual escapades by having to break for a sit-down dinner, the Pope had all the food lined up along the wall. This way the participants could take a quick time out for a snack, then jump back into the pile.

The cook of the French ambassador to the Vatican thought this was a neat idea.
His name was Pierre Buffet.

Genii aka Robin Williams walks the line

Gang, those of you who want to help the WGA writers in their strike, now is the time when they can really use your support. When the hububb and publicity is gone, when no settlement seems near, when picketers start to despair and turn on each other. Now if you see a picket line of WGA, go over and lend a hand. Shoulder a sign for awhile, or just wish them good luck. I've walked the pavement on a couple of picket lines. You'd be surprised how those good wishes go a long way.

QUIZ: Why is a bunch of tubs of food along a wall where you serve yourself, called a buffet meal?

Answer to yesterday’s question below: What is the oldest snackfood known to mankind?
History for 11/27/2007
Birthdays: Cornelius Vanderbuilt, Jimi Hendrix would have been 66, Bruce Lee- real name Lee Jun Fan would have been 67, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg is 51, James Agee, Chaim Weizmann, Alexander Dubcheck, David Merrick, Marshal Thompson, Robin Givens, Judd Nelson, Buffalo Bob Smith

43BC-THE SECOND TRIUMVERATE- Marc Anthony, Octavian Caesar and Marcus Lepidus compel the Roman Senate to declare them The Board of Three with Consular Powers for the Organizing of the State. This legitimized what they were in fact anyway, the real rulers of the Roman Empire. They used this new pact to hunt down the killers of Julius Caesar, and they published a list of "Proscribed Persons". People who they declared enemies of the state. An estimated 4,000 Roman politicians and noblemen were executed including the philosopher Cicero.

176 AD- Marcus Aurelius named his son Commodus as co ruler and heir to the Roman Empire. Romes second Golden Age of Peace and prosperity called the Augustan Age ends. The Augustan Age was successful because the Emperors, who were mostly gay or bi-sexual, would adopt the best man for the job of emperor instead of picking a family member. So Rome enjoyed a series of excellent leaders- Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. But Marcus Aurelius spoiled the whole system by letting his natural son Commodus succeed him. Commodus turned into another sicko-tyrant like Nero and Caligula. It was rumored Commodus wasn’t even Marcus’ son but the Empress Faustina sired him with a gladiator, thus his fondness for their profession.

221AD- Today is the Feast Day of Saint James Intercisus, or Saint James 'Cut up into tiny pieces", which leaves but little speculation about the method of his martyrdom.

1519- Martin Luther squared off with Catholic scholar Dr. Johann Eck in a grand public debate in Liepzig. Audiences sat in bleachers and cheered like a sports match. The debate about Luther’s new Protestant views would go on until July 8th. Luther won the audience with his superior eloquence and logic but Eck succeeded in getting Luther to publicly speak heresy against Rome. The Reformation now moved from a small local argument about indulgences to a major challenge to the authority of the Vatican to rule the Christian world.

1582- William Shakespeare 27 married Ann Hathaway 25. They had a son who died and two daughters. In 1585 Shakespeare left his wife in Stratford on Avon, and by 1591 was known as an actor in London. He invested in land in Stratford and in 1616 retired to the country to spend time with his daughters and grandchildren but he never went back to Ann. It’s been speculated that she was a Puritan while Shakespeare enjoyed making fun of Puritans in Comedys like "Twelfth Night"."Just because thou art Virtuous thinks there shall be no more Cakes and Ale?"

1868- THE GREAT BATTLE ON THE WASHITA -as it was called in those days. Generals Sherman and Sheridan had had enough of chasing small bands of Indian warriors all over the prairie. They now ordered George Armstrong Custer to introduce to the plains their style of "Hard War"- that burned Atlanta and brought the Confederacy to it’s knees.
With the sound of a band playing " Gary Owen" shattering the pre-dawn quiet Custer and his 7th Cavalry surprise attacked the village of Chief Black Kettle. One name Indians had for Custer was Son of the Morning Star, not for poetic effect, but because his preferred time of attack was an hour before sunrise when everyone was still asleep. The warriors were out foraging anyway, so they mostly killed women and children. They even shot the Indian’s ponies. Chief Black Kettle had recently signed a peace treaty with the white-eyes and felt so safe he flew a U.S. flag over his teepee. Black Kettle had survived a similar attack in 1864 called the Sand Creek Massacre. The excuse for the attack was that a white woman homesteader kidnapped by renegade Cheyenne may have been deposited for awhile at Black Kettle's encampment. The Victorian horror over inferred sexual outrages committed on Christian maidens goaded the troopers to ruthless fury, however after the battle Custer freely encouraged his officers to divide up the prettiest squaws for themselves.
One legend says Custer took a mistress named Meotzsi who bore him a child. So when Custer died at the Little Big Horn the reason his body was not scalped and mutilated like the others was the Cheyenne considered him family.

1910- New York’s Penn Station opened.

1921- English writer Alastair Crowley proclaimed himself Outer Head of the Order Templeis Orientalis- or Order of the Temple of the East. Alastair Crowley had spent years studying and mastering various occult devotions- Freemasons, Rosicrucians, Gnosticism, Iluminati in order to fuse them into his own form of black magick devotion- Thelema he called it based on the satires of the 1500’s French poet Rabelais. He boasted often that he wanted Crowleyism to eventually replace Christianity. He sold virility pills to men that contained a drop of his own semen in the formula. His own mother called him:"The Wickedest Man in the World".

1924- The First Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. The marvel of the parade were large displays that moved down the street thanks to small automobiles concealed under them. They seemed to "float",so they are called parade floats today. The huge balloons were added in 1934. Originally after the parade the balloons were let go to float away into the sky. Macy’s offered a bounty to people who found them after they landed, sometimes in rural New Jersey.

1933- Former Terrytoons animator Art Babbitt, now at Disney's, writes to fellow animator Bill Tytla encouraging him to move to California. "Terry owes you a lot and Disney has plans for a full length color cartoon!"

1936- Max Fleischer's cartoon featurette, "Popeye meets Sinbad the Sailor".

1941-While Admiral Yamamoto’s carrier fleet was getting it’s final orders to put to sea, at Pearl Harbor the U.S. army commander General Short got a top secret coded message from Washington: " Negotiations with Japan seem at an end for all practical purposes...future moves unpredictable but hostile action possible at any moment. If hostilities cannot be avoided the United States desires that Japan commit the first overt act...Measures should be carried out so as not to alarm the civilian population or disclose intent."

1942- Admiral Laborde had received orders from Vichy to put the French fleet at the Nazis disposal so they attack the Allied beachheads in North Africa. Instead Laborde scuttled the French fleet in Toulon Harbor.

1950- THE CHOSIN RESEVOIR- In Korea this day the US First Marine Division and British Commando 411 was cut off and attacked on all sides by massed Red Chinese armies. Commander Chesty Puller, a veteran of Guadalcanal, when told he was surrounded replied: "That just simplifies our problems of finding these people and killing them." The Marines slowly fought their way the trap in subzero cold across the frozen ice bringing out most of their wounded and some POWs. Survivors of the epic march refuse to call their campaign a retreat, they said they merely attacked in another direction. They called themselves "The Chosin Few" and the "Frozen-Choisin".

1953- Playwright Eugene O'Neill died of pneumonia and Parkinson's Disease at 65. He had been writing on cardboard laundry shirt boards because he needed something large to write on because his hands trembled so violently. When O’Neill realize his end was near he tore up six plays he was writing because he wanted no one else to complete them. He was staying at the Shelton Hotel in Boston. As his father was an actor his family traveled frequently. O'Neill's last words were : "I knew it! Born in a hotel room and G-ddammit I'm dying in a hotel room! "

1960 – Gordie Howe becomes the first NHL player to score 1000 goals.

1967- The Beatles release Magical Mystery Tour.

1973- According to the X-Files this was the night Fox Mulder’s sister Samantha was abducted by aliens.

1975- Ross McWhirter, publisher of the Guinness Book of World Records, was killed by the IRA.

1985- Steven Speilberg married Amy Irving. They later divorced.
Quiz: What is the oldest snackfood known to mankind?

Answer: Popcorn. Kernels of Popcorn have been found in Ice Age graves and campsites in the Americas.

November 26th, 2007 monday
November 26th, 2007

Quiz: What is the oldest snackfood known to mankind?

Answer to yesterday’s question below: What is the origin of the word Okay, or OK?
History for 11/26/2007
Birthdays: John Harvard 1607(founder of Harvard University), Bat Masterson, Eugene Ionesco, Tina Turner, Charles "Sparky" Schulz, Cyril Cusak the father of John and Joan Cusak, Eric Severaid, Rich Little, Wendy Turnbull, Robert Goulet

311 A.D. -Saint Peter of Alexandria, known as the last saint to be martyred before Roman Emperor Constantine lifted the ban on Christianity in 312.

1716- In Boston the first African lion ever seen in America was put on exhibit.

1825-Kappa Alpha of Union College NY is established. The first college fraternity house.

1832- In New York the first public transportation began, a streetcar pulled along iron rails by a team of horses. A ticket cost 12 pennies. The last horse car bus stopped in 1926.

1865- Lewis Carroll sent a copy of the completed manuscript of his fantasy Alice in Wonderland to his12 year old friend and inspiration Alice Liddell. Carroll later published the book with his own money. This is one of the first books written solely to amuse children, and not to educate, scare or discipline them.

1868- The first baseball game played in an enclosed field. It was in San Francisco at Folsom & 25th St..

1896- AA. Stagg of University of Chicago invented the football huddle.

1913- THE DISAPPEARANCE OF AMBROSE BIERCE- Ambrose Bierce was one of the more popular U.S. writers of the late 19th century . A savage wit and social critic , a combat veteran of the Civil War, he pioneered sardonic anti-war fiction long before Kurt Vonnegut. But by 1913 the 71 year old curmudgeon found himself alone, ill, his creative powers failing and not looking forward to old age. So on November 6th he announced his intention to travel to Mexico at the height of the revolution there and hopefully get killed: “Ah, to be an old gringo stood up before a Mexican firing squad, now that is Euthanasia!” This day he gave his last known newspaper interview in Laredo Texas, then disappeared forever. A niece claimed he sent her a letter from Chihuahua on Dec. 26th but that letter has never been found. The popular story is that he was executed by Pancho Villa but Villa and his people never recalled meeting Bierce. Plus Villa was followed around by so many American news correspondents that a person as famous as Ambrose Bierce there was sure to be noticed. Other theories abound- that he volunteered to spy for the State Dept.; he faked the Mexico story so he could quietly kill himself in the recesses of the Grand Canyon, even that he was carried off by a demon who wanted men named Ambrose, which is why nobody names their kids Ambrose anymore! As he planned, Ambrose Bierce has the last laugh. “I want no one to find my bones!” And no one ever has.
In 2007 inventor and aviator Steve Fossett pulled off a similar disappearing act. I wonder if it was for the same reasons?

1926- Potato Chips, or Crisps in the UK, were invented in the 1880’s and served in restaurants and fairgrounds. I remember in Brooklyn the Dugan’s Bakery Truck delivering potato chips in a large tin container. This day Ms Laura Scudder was the first to put potato chips in a bag and sold them as a handy snack food. She sold them out of the back of her pickup truck until the business picked up. She ran her own company until 1959.

1939- The first Woody Woodpecker Cartoon, "Knock-Knock.'.

1945- Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis recorded Ko-Ko, the first true BeeBop Jazz single. The pianist at the session didn’t have his New York union card so after his riff Miles Davis dropped his trumpet and did the piano backup to Birds’ solo. The term Bop came from an earlier Lionel Hampton hit “Hey-Bop-A-ReBop”.

1975- Former Charles Manson follower Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme is convicted of trying to assassinate President Gerald Ford with a starters pistol.

1976- Sex Pistols Punk single “Anarchy in the UK” released.
Answer to yesterday’s question: What is the origin of the word Okay, or OK?

ANSWER: Martin Van Bueren , President 1837-41, was a master political tactician and backroom dealer, under President Andrew Jackson. Van Bueren was born in Kinderhook New York. Whenever there was a delicate political or diplomatic tangle that needed fixing, you never had to worry if “Old Kinderhook” was on the job- it was “OK”, one theory of the origin of the phrase.