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July 6th, 2012 Friday
July 6th, 2012

I'm pleased to announce that my next book will be published by MIT Press.

Tentatively titled THE CG STORY, FROM MIT TO ANDY'S ROOM. it will be the first concise oral history of computer animation for a general audience. Not just Pixar and George Lucas, but military flight simulators, experimental filmmaking with oscilloscopes in the 1950s, interactive games, the great commercial studios of the 1980s and more.

Available for pre-order this December. I'll post more as the date draws closer.

Quiz: What does Sherlock Holmes associate Dr. Watson have in common with Osama Ben Laden?

Yesterday’s questions answered below: Only one of these people is fictional. Who is it? Calamity Jane, Ma Barker, Carrie Nation, Jane Eyre, Typhoid Mary.
History for 7/6/2012
Birthdays: John Paul Jones, Czar Nicholas Ist, Frida Kahlo, Della Reese, Bill Haley,
Nancy Reagan is 91, Sylvester Stallone is 66, Merv Griffin, Janet Leigh, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sebastian Cabot, James Bordrero, The Dalai Lama, LaVerne Andrews of the Andrews Sisters, Geoffrey Rush, Ned Beatty is 75, Former President George W. Bush is 66, 50 Cent is 37, Jennifer Saunders is 54.

Happy St. Fermin's Day, the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Remember when running the trick to it is keeping ones self directly in front of the bull’s head. This area between his eyes is his blind spot.

83 B.C. Sulla the Dictator stormed Rome and defeated the supporters of Marius. This first civil war amongst powerful Roman factions is known as the" Wars of Marius & Sulla" or “the Social Wars”. Sulla published lists of hundreds of political enemies called the Proscribed. If you were on that list anybody could kill you without trial or appeal.. Sulla had on his staff a kid who recently changed sides. His name was Gaius Julius Caesar.

1190- Death of Henry II, King of England and the Angevin Empire – he ruled a territory almost as great as Charlemagne but his reign was marred by the martyrdom of
Thomas à Becket and quarrels with his family. Henry had pledged to go on Crusade to liberate Jerusalem and after his death his Crusade was taken up by his son Richard the Lionhearted. In the end Henry was so disgusted by the feuds and rebellions of his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine and sons Richard, Geoffrey and John Lackland, that his dying breath was a curse on his own family.

1480- The hunchback Duke of Gloucester was crowned King Richard III. He is referred to as the Last Plantagenet, meaning the last of the bloodline of Geoffrey of Anjou and Richard the Lionhearted. He was defeated and killed by Henry VII of the House of Tudor. Whether he was as bad a guy as Shakespeare and Hollingshed portrayed him, was even a hunchback or the last real native English king is a matter for scholars to argue over. Shakespeare was writing plays for the granddaughter of the man who killed him so that would obviously color his interpretation of events.

1495-Battle of Fornovo- King Charles VIII of France begins a new round of European kings invading Italy by marching on Naples and defeating a combined army of the Italian city states. This invasion caused Leonardo DaVinci to beat it out of Milan while Charle's troops used his huge equestrian clay statue of Duke Ludovico Sforza for target practice.

The warrior king Charles of France eventually died back home by banging his head on low doorway. That's my favorite warrior-king's-death story besides Pyrrhus the Great of Greece was killed by a pisspot thrown at him by an old lady from a rooftop.

1560-The Treaty of Edinburgh- after a small war victorious Scottish Presbyterian rebels compel Mary Queen of Scots dismiss her French troops from Scotland and declare freedom to worship, which meant Scotland was going Protestant. Representatives of Queen Elizabeth of England also demanded Mary renounce forever her claim to the throne of England. Mary’s mother was King Henry VIII’s sister. Mary refused that.

1685- THE BATTLE OF SEDGEMOOR AND THE BLOODY ASSIZES.-The illegitimate son of King Charles II, the Duke of Monmouth, tried to overthrow his Catholic uncle King James II with the help of many Protestant Englishmen, angry that the Catholic monarch was planning to subvert the liberties won by Cromwell in the English Civil War. This day Monmouth hightailed it for the hills while his army was cut to pieces in battle.

After the battle the punishment of the rebels under Judge Jefferies was so brutal it was nicknamed the Bloody Assizes. An assize was another name for circuit court. Hundreds were beheaded, tongues cut out, limbs branded with hot irons then transported as slaves to the Bahamas and Barbados to cut sugar cane. White sugar was a new delicacy sweeping the nation. To this day many white skinned Bahamians can claim descendant from these condemned rebels. In the 1890s Rafael Sabatini wrote a novel about one slave who escaped to become a pirate named Captain Blood, later made into an Errol Flynn movie.

180-? THE IMMORTAL BELOVED LETTERS.- Composer Ludwig van Beethoven never married but not for want of trying. The bad tempered loner loved several women but never had a serious relationship. After his death several love letters were found. The letters written this day were of a supremely passionate nature where he begged some unknown woman to keep an appointment with him at some unstated rendezvous in Hungary. “Though still in bed my thoughts go out to you, My Immortal Beloved…” The letters were never sent and have no addresses or names. Who is this Immortal Beloved Beethoven yearns for?

1809-Battle of Wagram- Napoleon defeated the Austrian army of Archduke Charles. The Austrian soldiers wore white uniforms, so the French called them: "Soldats de la creme'". Napoleon planned this battle out so well that as soon as he was satisfied the enemy was toast, even though fighting still raged all around him he took a nap on a leopard skin rug.

1853- In Ripon, Wisconsin Free-Soil Whigs and other lefty radicals form the new Republican Party. They were called the Anti-Nebraska Men, then Black-Republicans for awhile because of their strong anti-slavery stance.

1885- Louis Pasteur gave the first inoculation to cure rabies.

1886 - Horlick's of Wisconsin offers the1st malted milk to public. It began as an attempt to create a new type of baby formula.

1895- A businessman named William Sydney Porter returned from Honduras where he had fled after being indicted for embezzlement. He had returned because he had learned of the illness of his wife. Porter was sent to prison and while there began writing little stories which he later published under the name O. Henry.

1906- THE GREAT FUNERAL OF JOHN PAUL JONES- The heroic sea captain of the American Revolution died a bitter old man in Paris in 1792. Ill and forgotten, he had no friends. Writer Thomas Carlyle said Jones “resembled an empty wineskin.” The few mourners at the little Paris cemetery were he was interred were all admiring Frenchmen and children he had given coins to on the street during his walks through the Luxembourg Gardens. The American ambassador skipped his funeral because of a dinner party he didn’t want to miss. A Frenchman named Simonot had embalmed Jones in brandy in a lead sealed coffin because he figured the American government wanted to take him home. He was amazed when they were too cheap to cover the transport fees. Jones’ sword and medals were pawned to pay for the funeral.

A century later America had become a great power. Scientists set about to look for John Paul Jones remains. They discovered the lead casket in Paris’ Old Protestant Cemetery. The brandy embalming kept him so well preserved they could do an autopsy on the body. Jones had died of bronchial pneumonia and kidney failure at age 45. President Teddy Roosevelt shared Jones’ dream of a powerful US Navy. He used the occasion to stage a grand re-internment in Annapolis Naval Academy.

So on his birthday rows of battleships booming salutes and mile-long processions of marching US Marine and French honor guards gave John Paul Jones the grand funeral he always felt he deserved, just 113 years late.

1917 – As Lowell Thomas’ news reel cameras rolled, Lawrence of Arabia and Bedouin Sheik Ouda Abu-Tai captures the Red Sea Port of Aqaba from Turkish troops. The battle was dramatized in the 1962 David Lean epic Lawrence of Arabia.

1928- The film "The Lights of New York" premiered at the Strand theater on Broadway. 1927's the Jazz Singer popularized sound movies while still being half silent. This film was the first with an all dialogue track.

1938- THE EVIAN CONFERENCE- No, it wasn't about bottled water. Before Hitler started putting all Jews and political undesirables into concentration camps, he was happy to see them leave the country. Since1933, the refugees fleeing the Reich grew to tens of thousands. President Franklin Roosevelt called for a summit of Western powers at Evian France to discuss the issue of the rising numbers asking asylum in the democracies. The conference turned into a parade of diplomats making excuses. It accomplished nothing. From 1938 to 1944 only half the quota for U.S. visas allowed were ever filled. The rest were held up by red tape while the Holocaust raged. Also the British Mandate authority bowed to Arab anger to restrict immigration to Palestine. Saudi Prince Ibn Saud said:” Why should we be punished for the sins of Europe?” The only nations on Earth who accepted unrestricted Jewish immigration from the Nazis were Holland and Denmark. Young delegate and future Israeli leader Golda Meir was asked what she hoped to get out of the conference. “All I want to see before I die, is for my people to get something else beyond Expressions of Sympathy.”

1944- A fire broke out in the main tent of Ringling Bros Circus during a children’s matinee in Hartford Connecticut. The big top had been waterproofed with a paraffin solution thinned with gasoline and now that mixture engulfed the tent in flames. 168 died and 682 more were injured, mostly children. In 1950 a deranged arsonist named Robert Segee admitted setting the Hartford Circus Fire.

1957-Chuck Jones short "What’s Opera, Doc?" debuts. “Kill da wa-bitt, kill da wa-bitt..."

1957-16 year old John Lennon first met 15 year old Paul McCartney at a church picnic near Woolton, England. Lennon invited McCartney to join his first band called the Quarrymen, but MacCartney missed their first engagement because of a boy scout trip.

1964 - Beatles' film "Hard Day's Night" premieres in London. The bands iconoclastic, antics portrayed by Richard Lesters surreal free style direction set the style for the music videos of the future.

1965- TV sitcom F-Troop premiered. Shortly after the series began production it was learned that lead actress Melody Patterson (Wrangler Jane) was actually underage- 16 years old. She kept her part, but the writers had to tone down any sexual innuendo in the scripts.

1965 - Rock group "Jefferson Airplane" formed.

1967- The state of Biafra tried to win it’s independence from Nigeria. In the Civil War that followed a million of it’s citizens died of malnutrition and the images shocked the world.

1974- The first broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keilor’s ode to a small town in Minnesota. Brought to you by Powdermilk Biscuits.

1998- French workers at Disneyland Paris theme park went on strike for better pay and not having to smile all the time like Americans do.
Yesterday’s Quiz: Only one of these people is fictional. Who is it? Calamity Jane, Ma Barker, Carrie Nation, Jane Eyre, Typhoid Mary.

Answer: Jane Eyre was a fictional character created by author Charlotte Bronte.’