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I'm in New York City for a few days to mix episode 3 of the CarTalk Show. Unusually warm for January, lots of abandoned xmas trees piled up on the curb by high rise buildings. Will try to catch Jerry Beck's Cartoon Dump and the Comix club tonight.

ASIFA San Francisco has revamped their website. Check it out;

Tom Cruise's United Artists Studio signed a deal with the WGA. Take that Sumner Redstone! While the employers are hoping more writers scab and go back to work, the writers meantime are getting more companies to break ranks and sign their own deals. After all, who says the companies can only negotiate as a group. They never act together at any other time.

At the Academy over the weekend I saw again Sony's Surf's Up. If you never saw it, it's a very clever, witty movie, very well animated! Great dialogue ( Jeff Bridges and Shia LeBoeuf, Zooey Deschanel) and I liked the hand-held documentary style camerawork. Bravo to Chris Buck, Ash Brannon and their team. It did not deserve the disappointing box office it got -$59 million. Sony made a tragic mistake to release it not even six months after Oscar winning Happy Feet ($198 million), another spoof using penguins. The audience was confused, and stayed away. The film deserved a better fate.

QUIZ: Why do we say God Bless You, when someone sneezes?
Answer to yesterdays question below.
History for 1/8/2008
Birthdays: Elvis Presley would have been 73, Robert Schumann, Jose Ferrer, Shirley Bassey, Peter Arno, Yvette Mimieux, Larry Storch is 85, John Nierhardt, Bruce Sutter, Charles Osgood, Gen. James Longstreet, publisher Frank Doubleday, Steven Hawkings is 66, Saheed Jafray is 79, Soupy Sales, real name Milton Supman is 82, David Bowie is 61

871- Battle of Ashdown- English warriors of Wessex defeated a large force of Vikings led by Halfdan the Black, Bacsecg and Ivar the Boneless. On the English side second in command under his brother King Ethlered was future king Alfred the Great.

1297-MONACO FORMED- Francois the Cunning was the leader of the Grimaldis, a prominent Genoese clan. On this day he disguised himself as a monk and sneaked into Monaco castle where he stabbed the guards, then opened the gate for his troops. The Grimaldis became Princes of Monaco in 1659. In 1851 Prince Charles III Grimaldi opened the first gambling casino. In gratitude of it's success, the people named the hill town they lived in Mount Charles, or Monte Carlo. The Grimaldi family still rule Monaco today under their present Grimaldi- Prince Raynier II.

1642- Astronomer Galileo Galilei died at 77 of 'slow fever'. After being forced by the Holy Inquisition to recant his support of the theories of Copernicus in 1616 he lived under a loose house arrest. He became blind but he played his lute and still published scientific papers smuggled out to be printed in Holland. Other great thinkers like English poet John Milton could visit him. The Church admitted in 1837 that he may have been right about the Earth going around the Sun. The Vatican originally refused to allow him to be buried in consecrated ground, but relented in 1727 and he was moved to the Church of Santa Croce in Florence. During the move someone cut off three of his fingers for souvenirs. Two of the fingers were eventually recovered and his middle finger is displayed in the Florentine Museum of Science. It is displayed in the upright position.

1654- Hetman of the Ukraine Bogdan Khmeilnitski pledged his loyalty and the loyalty of all Cossacks to the Russian Czar in Moscow. There was originally no one race of Cossacks. The wild steppeland between the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Tatars of the Crimea and the Turkish Ottoman Empire was a refuge for criminals, runaways and fringe folks much like the American West or the Australian Outback. Cossacks formed communities adopting Turkish and Mongol dress and horsemanship and a fierce sense of independence. Khemilnitski tapped into this independent streak to unite these disparate groups and used them to drive out the Polish Catholic overlords. He ruled the Ukraine like Oliver Cromwell in England. After several major wars maintaining a balance between the Poles, Turks and Russians Khmeilnitski decided to throw in his lot with the Czar.
After Bogdan’s death the furious Poles dug up his grave and threw his bones to the dogs but the deed was done. The Ukraine and the Voivode of Ruthenia (Moldova-Byloruss) would stay a part of Russia until 1989. In 2004 much of the opposition in Viktor Yuschenko’s Orange Revolution began in the Cossack community.

1790- George Washington starts a custom of the President delivering an annual speech reporting on the nation's progress in the past year, later known as the State of the Union Address.

1814-"In Eighteen Fourteen we took a little Trip. With Colonel Andy Jackson down the Mighty Missa-sipp" BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS.
The Last engagement of the War of 1812 and the last battle fought between England and the United States was actually fought AFTER the peace treaty had been signed. Then it took two months to cross the Atlantic with the news, too late to stop the conflict. A large British invasion force composed of Wellington’s veterans was ordered to capture New Orleans and choke off American commerce on the Mississippi River. General Andrew Jackson ( the fellow on your twenty dollar bill ) had a pathological hatred of anything English. When he heard of their landing he roared: "By Eternal God I will not have them sleeping on our soil!" He told the terrified New Orleanaise -still more French than American, that he would defend their city to the last, then burn it to the ground. At Chalumette plantation the redcoats were met by Jackson's ragtag force of regulars, militia, Jean Lafittes pirates and slaves dug-in in a dry canal. Interestingly enough, the slaves proved to be the deadliest shots. Many slave families were denied meat for their diet but one or two men a family were allowed to keep a bird rifle to bring home small game. To them bullets were precious so they learned to make every shot count. At Chalumette they were given Kentucky long rifles with a range accuracy 300 yds. to the British "Brown Bess" musket 's 150 yds. The British grand assault never got within range before they were annihilated. It was all over in half an hour.

1856- Borax discovered in the California desert by Dr John Veatch. Now where’s that 20 mule team?

1889- Herman Hollerith received a patent for the electronic counting machine. The machine fed numbers onto punch cards and was used extensively in the U.S. census of 1890. In 1896 Hollerith founded the Tabulating Machine Company, which later was renamed International Business Machines or IBM.

1904- Pope Pius X banned women wearing low cut dresses in front of clergy.

1962- The Mona Lisa traveled to America and went on display today at the National Gallery in Washington. It was loaned in a deal brokered by Jackie Kennedy and French interior minister Andre Malreaux

1964- President Lyndon B. Johnson declared his War on Poverty campaign.

1965- NBC TV premiered Hullabaloo, a Rock & Roll dance show with lots of mini-skirted go-go girls.

1973- Carly Simon got a gold record for "You’re So Vain".

1992- BARF! President George Bush Sr. projectile vomited on the lap of Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone in front of press cameras at a state dinner in Tokyo.

2002- Pres George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law.
Yesterday’s Quiz: Who are these women? Brenda Chapman, Lorna Cook, Yvette Kaplan, Vicky Jenkins, June Falkenstein?

Answer: Hollywood directors of animated feature films.