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May 18, 2012 Friday
May 18th, 2012

QUIZ: What popular children’s book was written in 1957 in hopes of replacing books like the Dick and Jane elementary school primers?

Yesterday’s Quiz answered below: The Anglo-Saxons became the English, and the Franks became the French. Who are the Magyars?
History for 5/18/2012
Birthdays: Pope John Paul II, President Grover Cleveland, Ezio Pinza, Tsar Nicholas II, Omar Khayam, Walter Gropius, Reggie Jackson, Margot Fonteyn, Robert Morse, Perry Como, Dwayne Hickman aka Dobie Gillis, Big Joe Turner, Richard Brooks, Miriam Margolyes, Chow Yung Fat is 57, Tina Fey is 42

331 B.C. -ALEXANDER THE GREAT DIES IN BABYLON. By age 31 he had conquered most of the known world and was planning a campaign to Arabia and western Europe when he fell ill. When asked "To whom do you leave your empire? He replied- "Hoti to Kratisto- To the Strongest". Some historians speculate he actually meant :"Hoti to Kratero" to Craterus, one of his trusted companions, but the generals in the room had their own ideas and didn't want to hear that.

They carved up his Empire into their own kingdoms-Ptolemey became Pharoah of Egypt, Seleucus king of Syria and Antigonus One-Eye & Cassander divided up Greece. They started fighting with each other almost immediately. Alexander grimly joked: "There will be great games at my funeral". The Successor kings even fought over his corpse, carrying it around with the army in a huge rolling shrine, until Ptolomey brought it to Alexandria and embalmed it in a solid block of honey. Caesar and Marc Anthony were able to gaze upon Alexander’s face three hundred years later.(imagine today being able to look at the undecayed face of George Washington! )The final fate of the honey-pickled corpse is unknown.

323BC- Diogenes the Cynic philosopher died his 90s. He once met Alexander the Great. Alexander came up to him seated upon the ground, stood over him and said "I am Alexander the King of Macedon". Diogenes countered:" And I am Diogenes the Dog". Alexander said:" If there is anything in the world you desire of me, just ask and I shall do it!" Diogenes replied:" yes, get out of my sunlight."

257 a.d.- Today is the Feast of Saint Venantius. Little is known of him except his endurance record for being martyred. His persecutors flogged him, burned him with torches, hanged him upside down over a fire, knocked his teeth out, broke his jaw, and threw him to the lions, who merely licked his feet. Then they threw him off a cliff, and finally cut his head off.

1291- The Last Christian stronghold in Middle East, St. Jean D'Acre fell to the Mamelukes under Al Khalil. The official end of the Crusades.

1512- IRON HAND- German knight Gotz von Berlichingen spent his 81 years fighting and raiding throughout Germany. When his hand was blown off by a cannonball he had a mechanical one built for him out of metal. This day Gotz and one legged Hans von Selbitz raided 55 Nuremburg merchants and carried off their gold. Goethe and other German writers made Gotz into a Robin Hood type folk hero.

In answering a challenge to personal combat, Iron Hand was credited with uttering the famous epithet "Er aber sag seinem Herren, er kann mich im Arsche lecken!" Go tell your master he can lick my ass!"

1565- THE SIEGE OF MALTA BEGINS. Turkish Sultan Suleimann the Magnificent attacked the island stronghold of the Knights of St.John. The knights had formed in Jerusalem during the Crusades and ran a hospital when not chopping people, so they were called Hospitalers. Later after their victory they became the Knights of Malta. Their symbol, four barbed arrowheads forming a cross is called the Maltese Cross. Today they still run a medical service called St. John's Ambulance.

1642- Huron village of Hochelaga was rededicated as the city of Montreal.

1778-THE MESCHIANZA- Before the British Army evacuated the rebel capitol of Philadelphia they threw a grand farewell ball. Beautiful American loyalist girls and dashing young redcoat officers danced the night away under a spectacle of fireworks. There was a waterborne parade, medieval tournament and a huge dinner.

Nothing this lavish had ever been staged in the American Colonies. One of the belles was Peggy Shippen, who would marry General Benedict Arnold and turn him from the American patriot cause. That night her dance partner was Major John Andre’, who art directed and designed the event. He even designed Peggy’s costume. The men had costumes as Knights and the women as Turkish damsels, symbolizing the civilizing influence of art on barbaric peoples.

The next day the British began their withdrawal to New York and abandoning Philadelphia to Washington’s army camped at Valley Forge. Two years later Major Andre hanged by George Washington as a spy.

1781- The last fighting king of the Inca, TUPU AMARU II was executed by the Spanish conquistadors. They tried to tear him apart with horses, but he was too pliable so they cut him up. Inca resistance to the Spaniards didn't end when Pizzarro left. They abandoned Cuzco and fled deeper into the Andes and continued to struggle for another 150 years.

The Inca believed the world periodically is overthrown and another takes it's place, so the European invasion was seen as a part of this cycle. The Inca word for earthquake also means revolution. In the 1980s the rebels fighting the Peruvian government forces called themselves the Tupu-Amaru Liberation front.

1795- Col. Robert Rogers died in poverty in London. During the French and Indian War Rogers’ colonial militia called Roger’s Rangers was the most daring unit fighting for England. But by the American Revolution George Washington didn’t trust his loyalty and refused him a command. He formed a Tory unit but it was undistinguished except for ratting out Nathan Hale. Despite the obscurity of his death, Rogers wrote down a manual of his tactics that are considered the basis of all special ops -Move Fast, Hit Hard.

1804- French senate votes Napoleon the title of Emperor of the French. This act disappointed many European liberals like Beethoven who had seen Napoleon as the strong wind of reform blowing through the dusty corridors of Monarchy. Sometimes you may see the word "parvenu" in a story. The term was coined during this time to mean brand new synthetic royalty instead of ancient noble families.

1832-CLIMAX OF THE MAY DAYS- The closest England ever came to a full French style working class Revolution. The Whig party under Lord John Russell and Lord Grey ( Earl Grey Tea ) had introduced three bills in Parliament asking for voting rights to be extended to the middle classes and parliamentary allocations reformed to better represent the large city populations like Manchester and Birmingham. This would forever shatter the tight hold on power possessed by the gentry and peers. Naturally the conservatives like King William IV (Victoria's uncle) fought it tooth and nail. Every time the bill passed in the House of Commons it was defeated in the House of Lords. The Commons in retaliation refused to let the Tories form a government.

Starting with the bills third defeat on May 7th England was convulsed by rioting, looting, general strikes and boycotts . The King was hit in the face with a stone, the Horse Guards were called out and the elderly Prime Minister the Duke of Wellington had so many rocks thrown at his house in Hyde Park he had steel shutters installed on the ground floor. On this day Lord Grey told the King if he didn't sign the reform act and create a dozen new liberal peers to the Lords, anarchy and revolution would result ! Lord Lionel Rothschild reported the economy was at the point of collapse.

The king backed down, reform went through and real two party voting resulted, although the working classes would have to wait 86 more years until they could vote. King William IV has come down to us called William the Reformer, although it sounds like a title he would have liked to do without....

1896- The US Supreme Court in the decision Plessy Vs Ferguson upheld the concept of Separate-But-Equal facilities and laws. This racial separation called Segregation or Jim Crow, was not reversed until the 1950’s.

1904- In Paris 12 nations sign an international agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Trade. The United States did not sign.

1905- MORROCCAN CRISIS OF 1905- A Moroccan desert sherif, El Raisuli, kidnapped a small Greek-American businessman named George Pedicaris. He did this for ransom, and because he wanted someone new to play chess with. Pedicaris was ransomed, but not before the incident became a major international showdown between with Germany, Britain, France and the U.S.. The incident was romanticized in the John Milius film "The Wind and the Lion", with Raisuli played by Sean Connery and Pedicaris turned into the beautiful Candice Bergen.

1911- Composer Gustav Mahler died of heart disease shortly before his 51st birthday. He had completed his Ninth Symphony with dread, because he knew Beethoven, Schubert and Bruckner had never lived beyond nine symphonies. On his table were preliminary sketches for his tenth.

1926- L.A. evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson shocked the nation when she mysteriously disappeared on a beach near Venice Cal. After an exhaustive search she turned up a month later with a lame story of being kidnapped. Truth was she ran off with a boyfriend to party in Monterrey. Haleileiuyah!

1931- Japanese pilot Seiji Yoshihara attempted to be the first pilot to fly alone across the Pacific Ocean. But he crashed and was rescued by a passing ship.

1933- President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Tennessee Valley Authority. The TVA created massive public works bringing electric power to much of the Appalachians and deep South.

1943- Battle of Monte Cassino. A Ninth Century mountaintop abbey filled with German troops held back the allied armies advancing up from Naples. In order to capture the fortress the allies had to heavily bomb it from the air, destroying many priceless paintings by Piero della Francesca and Giotto.

1944- Stalin's revenge- a million Crimean Tartar people are herded up and sent into exile in Central Asia because Stalin felt they collaborated with the Nazis. In the 1990s they were allowed to return to their ancestral homeland.

1976- The filming of Francis Ford Coppolla's Apocalypse Now was disrupted when the Philippines was hit by a major typhoon. Francis rides out the storm cooking pasta, smoking pot and listening to records of La Boheme.

1980-Mt. St. Helens explodes in Washington State. The volcano was always thought to be safely extinct but Mother Nature had other plans. I was in Toronto thousands of miles away and noticed volcanic ash floating in Lake Ontario. The eruption and earthquake killed 57 people and destroyed 24 square miles around the mountain. A lone eccentric named Harry Truman refused to be evacuated and stayed in his home. He was interviewed by Sixty Minutes and other programs. After the explosion Truman disappeared and is assumed killed.

2001- Dreamworks animated SHREK opened. The voice of Shrek was originally planned to be Chris Farley but the obese comedian died of a drug overdose and was replaced by Mike Myers. I’m serving Waffles!

Yesterday’s Quiz: The Anglo-Saxons became the English, and the Franks became the French. Who are the Magyars?

Answer: The Hungarians.