February 20, 2007 Fat tuesday
February 20th, 2007

Birthdays: Honore' Daumier, Nancy Wilson, Ansel Adams, Sidney Poitier, Cindy Crawford, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Robert Altman, Roger Penske, Jennifer O’Neill, Mike Leigh, Lili Taylor

Happy Mardi Gras - Fat Tuesday- The day before Ash Wednesday ushering in the Catholic season of Lent is the cause for wild parties in many cultures- Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Venice, Quebec and other cities. Carne-Vale is Latin for Goodbye to Meat., the Lenten fast. The Mardi Gras custom in America started in Mobile Alabama around 1708 then went to New Orleans. It died out in more somber Victorian times but was renewed after the Civil War- so-' Lesse Le Bon Temps Rolle’! “Let the Good Times Roll!”Have you seen the Voodoo King?

1816- "Fee-Garr-Row! Fig-Ar- Roww- Figaro-Figaro,Figaro,Figaro"- Giacomo Rossini's opera 'The Barber of Seville' premiered. Rossini endured bad press and heavy criticism at the time because the another opera of the Marriage of Figaro had just been premiered by Paisiello, an inferior composer who was much more popular than he.

1845- The Battle of the Cahuenga Pass-Angry Spanish Californians led by Vaquero Juan de Alvarado clashed with the regular Mexican governor Miguel de Micheltorena. The only casualty was a mule. The story of Alvarado may be one of the origins of Zorro.

1925- Willis O’Brien’s silent movie the Lost World premiered. The stop motion animation of dinosaurs and exploding volcanoes issued in a new era of special effects films.

1936- The film “Follow the Fleet” premiered, with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers tripping the light fantastic.

1962- "God Go with You, John Glenn !" Mercury -7 sends the first American into orbit. His first words upon emerging from the space capsule were:”It was hot in there.” Glenn later became a Democratic senator and in his 70’s went into space a second time on a space shuttle in 1998. John Glenn was a combat Marine pilot, test pilot and astronaut but even he sometimes got the willies. In 1968 while traveling with the Robert Kennedy for President entourage their chartered plane hit turbulence. Bobby Kennedy undid his seat belt, stood up and said to the cabin “ I have an announcement- Colonel Glenn is Scared!”

1986- The Soviets launch the first permanent orbiting space station, Mir, which means Peace. After a long career in which 7 US astronauts among many others spent time there in 2001 it finally was brought down to burn up in orbit.

2006- The animated film Wallace and Gromet: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, won the British Academy Award (BAFTA) for the best British Film of the year. It beat out the Constant Gardner, and Pride & Prejudice.

February 19, 2007 Monday
February 19th, 2007

Just got back to LA after meetings in Boston and NY. Man, it was cold! Sleet storms and windchills near zero. Then I flew back to Hollywood where the temperature was near 85. Of course, we learn here not to brag, because when we do we get hit with an earthquake.
Birthdays:,Copernicus, Luigi Boccherini, Smokey Robinson, Andre Breton, Lee Marvin, Sir Cedric Hardwicke. animator Paul Terry, Paul Krause, Merl Oberon, Amy Tam the author of the Joy Luck Club, John Frankenheimer, Jeff Daniels, Benicio Del Toro is 40, Hilary Duff is 21

1878- Thomas Edison patented the phonograph.

1913- Crackerjacks start putting toy prizes in every box. The name Crackerjack for the caramel corn was named for the reaction of someone trying it for the first time- These are Crackerjack!

1942-PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT signed Executive Order# 9066- The JAPANESE INTERNMENT ACT- All along the Pacific Coast first and second generation Japanese-Americans were uprooted from their homes and property and with what only they could carry were shipped off to camps in the desert. America remembered how effective German agents were in the First World War, when bombs going off on Boston and New York waterfront docks was common. Throughout the Second World War no act of Japanese-American sabotage was ever recorded. Apologists would say it was because of the act. Although the F.B.I. kept tabs on German and Italian agents in U.S. and pro-Fascist groups like the American Bund flourished in the 30’s nothing like what happened to Japanese Americans occurred to them. Less than 10,000 of them were rounded up, as opposed to over 100,000 Japanese Americans. Among the internees was Disney artist Chris Ishii and future Scooby Doo creator Iwao Takamoto.

Iwao Takamoto in 1945, courtesy of Berkeley/edu

1944- Writer John Steinbeck asked that his name be taken off of the credits for the Alfred Hitchcock film version of “Lifeboat”. “In view of the fact that my script for the picture was distorted in production.”

1951-Poet philosopher Andre Gide died in Paris. Several things were quoted as his last words, my favorite is " Before you quote me, please make sure I'm conscious."

1954- The prototype Ford Thunderbird auto completed.

1960 - Bill Keane's "Family Circus" cartoon strip debuts.

1968- “ It’s a beautiful day in the Neighborhood…” Mister Roger’s Neighborhood debuted on National Education Television, later called PBS. Ordained Presbyterian minister Fred Rogers had been doing children’s shows similar in Pittsburgh and Canada since the 50’s but today was the start of his show that would run unchanged for thirty five years.

1985 - Mickey Mouse welcomed in China.

1995- Pamela Anderson married rocker Tommy Lee. On their honeymoon on Lake Powell they shot that video.

Gong Hai Fat Choi! Happy Chinese New Year, the Year of the Golden Piggie!
Birthdays: Queen Mary I Tudor -Bloody Mary, Pietro Guarnieri, Harry Grover- Seeley one of the founders of Paleontology, Louis Tiffany, Andre Segovia, Wendell Wilkie, Billy de Wolfe, Enzo Ferrarri, Yoko Ono, Jack Palance, Milos Forman, Bobby Bachman of the Bachman Turner Overdrive, Gahan Wilson, Johnny Hart, Matt Dillon, John Travolta, John Hughes, Dr. Dre

1861- JEFFERSON DAVIS elected first, and only, President of the Confederate States of America. His vice president was Georgian Alexander Stephens, a tiny man with a sharp wit. During a debate when a senator yelled at him: "You little Pipsqueak! I can swallow you whole!!" Stephens cooly said: " Then you would have more brains in your stomach than you ever had in your head!" No wonder Stephens is the origin of the term “Smart-Aleck”.

1885-Mark Twain's 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' published.

1950- First Mr. Magoo cartoon "Ragtime Bear".

1953- First 3-D movie "B'wana Devil" starring Robert Stack.

1970- The Chicago 7, Yippie leaders of the anti-war rioting in front of the Democratic presidential convention of 1968 were found innocent of all charges. David Dillinger, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale, Tom Hayden and the other guys. One of their offenses was trying to get a 250 pound pig onto the floor of the Convention so they could get it nominated for President.

1972- President Richard Nixon and Pat Nixon land in China. They were met by Mao's right hand Premier Cho En Lai. Chou was known for his sense of humor. When Nixon asked once: " What do you think would have changed in the world had Lee Harvey Oswald shot Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev instead of John Kennedy ?" Cho En Lai responded: " Well, all I know is I doubt Aristotle Onassis would have married Mrs. Khruschev. "

You may have noticed I like to write historical trivia. That got me to thinking, what is the origin of the word trivia? See Below.
Birthdays: Roman Emperor Constantine, Montgomery Ward,, Red Barber, Michael Jordan, Marian Anderson, C'haim Potok, Margeret Truman Daniel, Jim Brown, Rene Russo, Michael Bay, Cybil Shepard, Denise Richards is 36 and Paris Hilton is 26

3,201BC- According to Sumerian records from today in the month of Hilu to the month of Eshil-March 30th occurred the GREAT FLOOD, that the story of the flood of Noah in the Bible was based on. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the 1920’s theorized that the Great Flood was the tidal backwash caused by the sinking of the lost continent of Atlantis.

1865- Gen. Sherman burns Columbia, S.C. The POPULARITY OF THE CIGARETTE- Everyone knew the Civil War was almost over, yet try and reason with Uncle Billy. Sherman's army fresh from burning Georgia spread a wide path of destruction through the Carolinas. When Sherman's men reached the capitol of South Carolina they took special revenge in destroying the city where the first vote to secede took place. Yankee's sang "Hail Columbia, Happy Land; If I don't burn you I'll be damned!" Cigarettes were gaining popularity in Spain and Latin American while in the U.S. tobacco was taken chiefly in cigars, pipes and chaw. A South Carolina planter in Durham had just finished developing the perfect mild blend of cigarette tobaccos, Bull Durham, when Sherman's bluecoats arrived to loot and torch the factory. Instead of tragedy things worked out well for the fellow. After the Civil War the Yankees went home to towns from Maine to California and talked of the good smoke they had in Carolina. Soon it was a national passion. Hey man, you got any papers?

1876- The invention of canned sardines.

1906- In a White House wedding ceremony President Teddy Roosevelt saw his eldest daughter Alice married to Congressman Nicholas Longworth of Ohio. Alice was as free spirited as her father, Once when confronted about her escapades Teddy remarked " I can run the country or control Alice, but I cannot do both."

1911- General Motors installed in their Cadillacs the first automatic starters, replacing the handcrank. It was developed by Charles Kettering, the reason he did it was because a friend of his stopped to assist a young lady's who's engine had stalled. When he tried to get the engine started again using the hand crank, it kicked back and hit him in the jaw, breaking it and eventually causing gangrene, which eventually killed him.
Kettering spent many years at GM and started the Delco brand of auto parts. He also was responsible for fast drying paint which allowed a car to be painted in almost instantly on an assembly line instead of days. He sold the idea to an unbelieving client by having his car taken from the parking lot, painted and returned over a long lunch.

1912- THE NEW YORK ARMORY SHOW-Mabel Dodge and Gertrude Stein introduce Post expressionist modern art to the U.S. public. The first U.S. showings of Picasso, Matisse, Duchamp and the Italian futurists. The show was denounced as a "chamber of horrors" and Matisse was burned in effigy in Chicago. Marcel Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircase" was described by an art critic as "an explosion in a shingle factory". Duchamp was highly gratified, I believe.

1925- First issue of Harold Ross’s The New Yorker magazine.

1942- Ernst Lubitsch’s screwball comedy about the Nazis "To Be , Or Not To Be"debuted. Adolf Hitler enters a room and after everyone "Seig Heil" salutes him, he replies "Heil Myself!" But the film flopped because it’s female star Carole Lombard died tragically in a plane crash shortly before the premiere.

1958 – Johnny Hart’s comic strip "BC" 1st appears

1967 – The Beatles release "Penny Lane" & "Strawberry Fields"

1979- A Prairie Home Companion radio show starring Garrison Keilor was first broadcast nationally. It was a feature on Minnesota Public Radio since 1974.

1987- Soviet premiere Mikhail Gorbachev reveals President Ronald Reagan's preoccupation with space aliens: "At our meeting in Geneva, the U.S. President said that if the earth faced an invasion by extraterrestials, the United States and the Soviet Union would join forces to repel such an invasion. I shall not dispute the hypothesis, though I think it's early yet to worry about such an intrusion..."

1989- "Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure" premiered starring the most excellent Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. Whoah-Dude!

ANSWER: In ancient Rome where three roads intersected the Romans built a rest station for travelors. Many stopped to rest, water their horses, swap gossip and news, and leave little notes for other travellors coming down the same road. This practice of leaving little bits of information was soon named for the intersection of three roads, in Latin TRE-VIA, or trivia.

I got this from my friends Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers, whom I had just finished visiting in Snowy Boston. And boy, did we exchange trivia! More goodies like this in a book collection of puzzlers are available at their Car Talk website.

February 16, 2007 friday
February 16th, 2007

I had a great visit with the students of NYU and SVA in cold and snowy New York City.
After many weeks, my DRAWING THE LINE book tour is finally winding down. No Pulitzers or movie deals in my mailbox yet, but the sales have been good and the overall response to it has been very gratifying. I'd like to thank all the wonderful people I met and had a chance to talk to in New York, LA, San Diego and San Francisco.

-Thank you to ASIFA/Hollywood, ASIFA San Francisco and ASIFA*East. Zeum, The Cartoon Museum, The Southern Cal Cartoonists Society, The Creative Talent Network, the Animation Guild Local 839, the NCS and Hollywood Heritage.

- Thank you too, to all the schools that have welcomed me-USC, UCLA, Cal Arts, Cal State Northridge, Loyola Marymount, Cal St Fullerton, Cal Poly-Pomona, Glendale College, The Acme On Line Program, The Bishops School in LaJolla, The Art Institute of San Francisco, The Laguna College of Design as well as the aforementioned NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SVA.

Thanks to all the teachers and students who made it possible.

I'll probably have more signings at the Comicon and SIGGRAPH this summer. If anyone else needs a lecturer to waste an evening hawking books, I'm still available. I just need to be watered and fed on occasion.
Birthdays: The Great Elector Frederick William of Brandenburg,Charles Taze Russell founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Edgar Bergen, Sonny Bono, John MacEnroe, animation voice actor Frank Welker who did Porky and Jabberjaws, John Schlesinger, anim director Faith Hubley, Katherine Cornell, Levar Burton is 50, Ice-T is 49

Today is the feast of St. Juliana, who was tortured by both her father AND her boyfriend
I know a lot of you girls out there can relate to that. She also liked to wrestle winged devils in her spare time.

1923- Bessie Smith made her first recording-"Downhearted Blues".

1978- The first computer bulletin board goes on live. Ward Christensen and Randy Seuss's Computerized Bulletin Board System was an S-100 motherboard and CP/M, and a Hayes 300 baud modem. It still runs to this day, but the Internet has taken the place that BBS's used to have

1985-"Family Dog" episode on Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories show. The first direction by Brad Bird.

1994- Apple announced the introduction of the digital camera, the first camera that needed no film but could load images directly into a computer.