March 11th 2007 sun
March 11th, 2007

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The American Jewish Historical Society will be hosting a special discussion of the newly published anthology series Jews and American Popular Culture. This will be at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th St in New York City on March 14th at 7:00PM. Contribitors to the work include Harvey Pekar, who wrote an original section. I wrote the chapter on Jews in Animation. I will not be able to attend the event myself, but present to discuss the work will the series editor Paul Buhle, Senior Lecturer of Political Science at Brown University. For more info call 212-294-6160 or order your own copy on, and do a search under Paul Buhle's name.
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Birthdays: Torquato Tasso, Marius Pretipa, Raoul Walsh. Rupert Murdoch, Charlie Ruggles, Lawrence Welk, former British PM Harold Wilson, Rev. Ralph Abernathy , Bobby McFerrin, Douglas Adams, Jerry Zucker, Vanavar Bush- MIT scientist who oversaw the construction of the first electronic computers and pioneered Hypertext .

In ancient Rome this was the Festival of Hercules.

1818- Mary Shelly's great novel "FRANKENSTEIN, or the Modern Prometheus" first published. It’s considered the first true science fiction novel. The heroes are not knights or kings but modern scientists. Whether you believe 21 year old Ms. Shelly invented the story one dark and stormy night in 1816 while smoking opium with her homeboys Percy Shelly and Lord Byron is a matter of conjecture, still it's a good story.

1829- BachMania!-The Rediscovery of Johann Sebastian Bach-. Bach was little known in his time and after his death in 1750 was soon forgotten. Even his son Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach though his dad’s music farty and old-fashioned. But a century later the stirrings of German nationalism led to the re-examination of this obscure organist. This night at the Singadakademie in Berlin musical superstar Felix Mendelsson performed The “St. Matthew Passion” and other Bach works. The musicians performed for free. The concert caused a sensation and Bach is soon being played all over Europe and influencing everyone from Berlioz to Wagner. Goethe and Hegel declared him a genius. Albert Einstein's brother said:" Bach is the only thing that could make me a Christian."

1890- Orange County carved out of L.A. County.

1927- The first Roxy Theater opens at 50th st. & Seventh Ave. in New York. Roxy was a nickname of theater owner Samuel L. Rothaphel who pioneered the movie palace and is called the father of De-Luxe presentation.

1933-THE LONG BEACH EARTHQUAKE rocks L.A.. This was the last superquake scientists measured against when scientists said Southern Cal. is overdue. At least until 1994. The first recorded earthquake in this area was 1726. In 1857 Tejon, L.A. had an 8.5

1943- The Broadway musical team of Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein opened their first collaboration “Away We Go!”

1971- Philo Farnsworth died of pneumonia at 64. As a young man he had invented a television set in 1922, but by the 1960’s he was forgotten, broke and addicted to painkillers. The only recognition he got was as a contestant on the quiz show I Got a Secret. He won an $80 check and a carton of Winston Cigarettes. Today Farnsworth is considered one of the true inventors of Television, along with Logie-Baird, DeForrest and Zworkin.

1977- Film director Roman Polanski (Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown) was arrested for having sex with a 13 year old girl in Jack Nicholson’s home after he got her stoned on quaaludes. Polanski was charged with statuatory rape. He jumped bail and fled Hollywood for exile in Paris.

March 10, 2007 sat
March 10th, 2007

The news is currently filled with stories how the FBI was spying on average Americans without permission. This kind of stuff was done in the 1960s and 70s until the FBI was reigned in by the Sen Frank Church Committee. We have heard since of famous celebrities like John Lennon and Charlie Chaplin had dossiers kept on their activities. In animation we know that even the voices of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Bill Scott and June Foray, appeared on President Richard Nixon's White House Enemies List for their anti-war views. I don't know why President Nixon was concerned what Rocky & Bulwinkle thought about him. This strange little distinction is something they were very proud of for years afterwards.

Birthdays: Lorenzo da Ponte -libretist of Mozart's operas the Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni who finished his life living in New Jersey, Barry Fitzgerald, Claire Booth Luce, Heywoud Hale Broun,, James Herriot, Pablo de Sarrasate, Chuck Norris is 67, Shannon Tweed, Sharon Stone is 49;if alive, Osama Ben Laden is 50

1842-Vigilantes of Virginia City, Montana hang a tough desperado named Jack Slade. Accounts say Slade was "More feared than God, but all in all a good citizen." (?)

1862- FIRST U.S. GREENBACK PAPER DOLLARS ISSUED- "Dollar" is a corruption of Jacobsthaler- named for silver coins minted in St. James valley in Czech lands, which became 'Thalers' then 'Dollars'. They were first issued as coins in the 1793, replacing Continentals, Eagles and American Pounds. By 1862 a plan was made to change temporarily to paper currency. President Abe Lincoln was originally annoyed that Secretary of the Treasury Samuel Chase put himself on the one-dollar bill while he was on the five. Lincoln thought Chase wanted some cheap advertising for a presidential bid in '64. Lincoln made him Supreme Court Justice to get him out of the way. The money was printed with green ink because it was cheap and plentiful. Union troops when issued the new money instead of silver or gold specie promptly rioted. People nicknamed the fat bills “Chases Shinplasters” but got used to them. After the civil war when the U.S. Treasury tried to recall the paper currency and stick to coinage people complained again that they were now used to the stuff.

1935- The First Smokey Stover comic strip ( notary sojac).

1947- Ronald Reagan becomes President of the Screen Actor's Guild after President George Montgomery and V.P. Franchot Tone resign to become independent producers. In the violent gangster-ridden atmosphere of Hollywood unions in those days Reagan took to wearing a .32 Smith & Wesson in a shoulder holster under his coat.

1954- In a letter to studio heads director Elias Kazan worried that young actor James Dean was “too odd” and unpredictable to star in his movie “Rebel Without a Cause”.

1954- First day of shooting on Stage 3 of the Giant Squid battle on Walt Disney’s production of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

1988- Andy Gibb of the BeeGees overdosed on drugs and died at age 30.

March 9th 2007 friday
March 9th, 2007

I speak in praise of old animators who never achieved the fame of a Chuck or Frank & Ollie. I always admired the work of animators such as Rod Scribner, John Sibley, Hicks Lokey, Bill Littlejohn, Bobe Cannon, Burney Wolf, Virgil Ross, Irv Spence and many more.

Well might we say as the First Century Roman writer Pliny told his friend Tacitus:"So let us continue along the path we have chosen. For if it lifts few to the full light of fame, it lifts many from the shades of obscurity..."
Birthdays: Amerigo Vespucci, Eddie Foy Sr., Yuri Gargarin, Samuel Barber, chess master Bobby Fischer, Mickey Spillane, Vita Sackville-West, Raul Julia, Vacheslav Molotov -Stalins' foreign minister for whom the Molotov Cocktail is named, Juliet Binoche, Linda Fiorentino,, Lil’ Bow-Wow

1907-Former Edison animator J. Stuart Blackton starts "Moving Picture World" an early movie fanzine.

1935- The Looney Tune Cartoon "I haven’t Got a Hat" premiered. This cartoon gave birth to the first permanent Warner Bros. Cartoon star- Porky Pig. Daffy Duck came in 1937 and Bugs Bunny in 1940.

1954- Edgar R. Murrow does a "See It Now" television broadcast detailing the life of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, the champion commie-chaser. The obvious contradictions and gross opportunism in McCarthy's record when laid out to a nationwide audience destroyed his career and took the steam out of the "Red Scare" of the 50's. It is probably television journalism's finest moment. For the lowest ? Well, what's on tonight ?

1955- Actor James Dean’s film East of Eden premiered today,.

1959-The first "Clutch Cargo" show.

1974- Lieutenant Hiru Onada came out of the Philippine jungle and surrendered, at last made to understand that World War Two had been over for thirty years. Even after he captured a radio he thought the news of American troops in Vietnam and Korea was just propaganda. He was finally convinced after Japanese researchers produced his elderly retired Major who read over a bullhorn the surrender orders he first gave in 1945.

1984- Roy E. Disney Jr. resigned from the central board of the Walt Disney Company, setting in motion a series of takeover bids and maneuvering that by August would leave him in control of the company. Disney' Studios at the time was 14th in box office receipts. The joke was "Some people work for Disney, others work in film." Roy Disney and his partner Frank Wells brought in Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg from Paramount and in two years Disney was the #1 box office earner.

1989- Artist-photographer Robert Maplethorpe died of AIDS.

1997- Gangsta-rap singer Christopher Wallace , who was known as the Notorious B.I.G. and also called Biggie Smalls, was shot and killed by a gangsta-style drive by. His last album was entitled Life After Death. Notorious BIG could never shake the accusation that he was involved in the similar murder of singer Tupac Shakur.

March 8th 2007 thurs
March 8th, 2007

Wisdom to live by:

Johann Sebastian's son, composer Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach, was a musician even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart admired. CPE Bach once said:" If you do not sing from within your soul, but rely on technique and tricks to solve everything, then you are not an artist(musician) but a trained monkey!"

{b]NOTE[/b]Dutch animator Paul Driessen will make a rare Los Angeles area appearance next week, on Friday March 16th.

Driessen will do a Q & A at the UCLA James Bridges Theatre following a screening of some of his best work. The program begins at 7pm and there will be a reception after the screening. The whole evening is free (though parking is $8.00 in Lot 3 and you may need to RSVP). Paul is a wonderful artist, very articulate and a very good friend. He will be well worth seeing. See you there!

Birthdays: Sophocles, Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach, Hannah Hoes Van Bueren- the First Lady for Martin Van Bueren, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., Alan Hovhannes, Kenneth Grahame the author of the Wind in the Willows, Cyd Charisse, Charlie Pride, Mickey Dolenz, Alan Hale Jr., Jim Rice, Aiden Quinn, Freddy Prinze Jr, Jim Bouton- baseball player, author, and inventor of Big League Chew bubble gum

1886- SHERLOCK HOLMES- A small time doctor in Portsmouth England named Arthur Conan-Doyle had been trying his hand at writing fiction. He had sold a few stories to magazines and tried to publish a novel “Firm of Girdlestone” with lackluster results. This day he began a new novel “ A Tangled Skein” which had a new character named at first Sheridan Hope, then Sheringford Holmes. By the time he finished his story month later, he had changed the title to “A Study in Scarlet” and the main protagonist name had become SHERLOCK HOLMES. Conan Doyle was an admirer of the American writer Oliver Wendel Holmes who was touring Britain that year. No one is sure where he got the name Sherlock. Conan Doyle’s professor in Edinburgh college Dr Joseph Bell excelled at deductive reasoning and had an assistant named Dr Watson.

1933- As a result of President Roosevelt's Nationwide Bank shutdown, Hollywood Studios go into a cash panic. MGM, RKO and the others ask for 30-50% salary cuts from their stars and artists. At one point they announced the salary cuts at the Oscar banquet (betchya that made for a real fun party!) Louis B. Mayer, tearful and unshaven pleaded his case to his contract-stars, who reluctantly accepted the cuts. Lionel Barrymore called out "We're with ya. L.B. !" Afterwards Mayer winked to his secretary and giggled:”So how’d I do?” Production chief Darryl Zanuck quit Warner Bros. over the cuts and went on to build Twentieth Century Fox.

1941- Writer and playwright Sherwood Anderson dies from pterioteritus- internal bleeding- after swallowing a toothpick at a cocktail party.

1941- The National Television System Committee set up by the FCC to standardize television technology recommended an industry standard of 525 scan lines at 30 frames a second- what we now call after their name- NTSC. England later adopted the PAL (Phase Alernation Line) of 625 lines, 25 frames per second and France the SECAM System (Systeme Electronique Couleur Avec Memoire).which is also a 625 line, 25fps system. This is why British t.v. shows like the Prisoner always looked so grainy on American sets and American shows look so garish on British sets. By garish I mean the color, not the content. It also speeds up the film during video from 24 frames to 25fps (i.e. 4%)...which is why in England and the rest of Europe all movies are 4% shorter and the voices of your favorite actors all sound a little squeaky. The way to remember NTSC is "Never-The-Same-Color'.

1961-The Frito company merges with potato chip makers H.L. Lay company to form Frito-Lay. The recipe for Fritos corn chips was bought by milkshake salesman Elmer Doolin from a Mexican fry cook in Texas.

1973- Paul McCartney was fined 100 pounds for growing marijuana on his farm Mull of Kintyre.

1980- H&B’s “Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels’ show.

in the interests of full disclosure, I did some assistant animation work on this show. God forgive me!

1994- Don Ku invented the little black wheeled suitcase with collapsible handle that bumps into your legs at airports today.

1998- In Ladson South Carolina, the brother of Abortion Clinic bomber Eric Rudolph- Daniel Rudolph, videotaped himself cutting off his own hand with a power saw. He said he intended this as a message to the FBI and the Media…?

March 7th, 2007 weds
March 7th, 2007

Birthdays: Maurice Ravel, Piet Mondrian, Roman Emperor Geta, Luther Burbank, Tammy Fae Baker, Willard Scott, Lynn Swann, Franco Harris, Daniel D. Travanti, Rachel Weisz is 36, Michael Eisner is 65, Wanda Sykes is 43, Peter Saarsgard.

322 BC- the Greek philosopher Aristotle died of indigestion.

161AD- The death of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus became Emperor. Aurelius named his brother Lucius Verus as co-emperor but Verus died after a few years. Marcus Aurelius became famous as the philosopher-emperor, ruling justly and leaving behind his Meditations, one of the great books of western philosophy.

1862- BULLETHOLE ELLIS- Rebel Guerrilla leader William Quantrill and his raiders shoot up the Kansas town of Aubrey. During the raid Quantrill fired his Colt revolver at a man in a second story window named Abraham Ellis. The bullet was slowed by smashing through the windowsill and embedded in the man’s skull, but just missed touching his brain. Quantrill apologized to Ellis. Ellis had helped him get a teaching job before the war. The raiders left him for dead, but Abe Ellis recovered. Old Bullethole Ellis lived to a ripe old age, just with a large round dark hole in the center of his forehead.

1988- 300 pound Female Impersonator Harry Milstead, better known as Divine in the John Waters films, died of sleep apnia.

1999- Famed film director Stanley Kubrick died just five days after completing his final film Eyes Wide Shut.