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April 10, 2008 thurs
April 10th, 2008

Quiz: Why were Medieval peasants annoyed when their liege lords claimed jus primae noctis?

Yesterday’s Quiz answered below: What was the original purpose of an Olympic torch runner?
History for 4/10/2008
Birthdays: Josef Pulitzer, Lew Wallace, George Arliss, Omar Sharif is 76, Harry Morgan, Max Von Sydow is 79, Ken Griffey Sr, Claire Booth Luce, Chuck Connors, John Madden, “Dandy”Don Meredith, Paul Theroux, David Halberstram, Steven Segal is 56, Orlando Jones is 40, Mandy Moore is 24, Haley Joel Osment is 20

Last day of the Roman Megaleasian festival in honor of Lunus the Moon god.

1500- The Renaissance Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza , was betrayed by his Swiss mercenaries to his enemy the French King Louis XII. This one time employer of Leonardo da Vinci was thrown in a dungeon to rot at the castle of Loche, dying in 1508. He asked for nothing to take with him except his copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

1741- Battle of Mollwitz- King Frederick the Great's first victory. His big battalions of Prussian-disciplined infantry defeated the Austrians even after his cavalry had been driven off the field with the King swept along in the rout. He thought he had lost. He was drinking his sorrows away in a pub, when he got the news of his victory. The international fame of Frederick’s Army created an unexpected side industry. A Coburg toy maker named Andreas Hipert began selling mass market sets of toy soldiers modeled on his men. Flats made of lead and brightly painted, they were a big hit. Toy soldiers go back at least as far as the Romans and Medieval princes owned little replicas of knights, but Hipert created toys for average people.

1836- THE HELEN JEWETT MURDER- Helen Jewett was a beautiful, well-bred woman. But bad luck had brought her down to prostitution on the mean streets of New York. This night at a brothel at 41 Thomas St, she was murdered with an axe. Her partner shop clerk Richard Robinson was charged with the murder, but there was not enough evidence for a conviction. The Helen Jewett Case was the first Media-Sensation Crime in the US. The emerging mass media held the public spellbound for weeks with salacious details and lurid descriptions of the sad end of this Soiled Dove.

1849- Walter Hunt invented the safety pin. Hunt sold the pattern for $100 bucks.

1866-The ASPCA founded.

1906- O'Henry's story " The Gift of the Magi " first published.

1912- The White Star oceanliner RMS Titanic sailed from Southhampton on her maiden voyage. The loading ramp supposedly was crowned with a banner which read "The Ship that God could not Sink!" but that is a legend. Other hints of sinister premonition was the fact that for some reason the Titanic was launched but never christened. Whitestar was the shipping line millionaire J.P. Morgan set up to compete with British Cunard and be tied into his railroad monopolies. He wanted you to go from San Francisco to London or Bremen all on his transportation. Although White Star had other large ships that had excellent sailing records like the Olympic, the Titanic disaster and subsequent public hearings caused the White Star Company to eventually fail.

1923- Peeps invented. The sweet Easter marshmallow confection that is shaped like a yellow baby chick and can stick to most surfaces.

1925- F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" published by Scribners.

1947- THE FBI PAY A VISIT to Screen Actor’s Guild president Ronald Reagan and actress-wife Jane Wyman. They accuse them of belonging to Communist Party front organizations. Ronnie agrees to become an informer on his own guild, and fink on just about everyone else in Hollywood. Jane Wyman soon divorced him.

1952-ELIA THE FINK-Film director Elia Kazan ( On the Waterfront, East of Eden,etc.) saved his career but earned the lasting hatred of Hollywood by testifying to the House Un American Activities Committee. He named 8 of his friends as Communists, including famed writer Clifford Odets. Unlike others who were forced to testify Kazan never expressed any regret for the pain he caused. Many see the irony of 'On the Waterfront' that it's hero is a guy who does the right thing by turning informer. The film was written by Bud Schulberg, who also named names. In 1999 the Academy gave him an honorary Oscar and caused a new firestorm of protest, when Kazan stood next to visibly uncomfortable Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorcese. I was there, and I estimate atleast 40% of the audience did not rise or applaud. I heard later that on television it seemed louder. That year the American Film Institute preferred to confer it’s lifetime achievement award on Roger Corman, director of Attack of the Giant Crab Monsters.

1953- The Vincent Price film The House of Wax premiered. The first hit film in 3D.

1961- Singer Joan Baez entered the Greenwich Village club called Folk City and was accosted by a funny young man with a nasaly twang ;”Joan Baez! Here, I wrote a song for you!” His name was Bob Dylan. Baez and Dylan became friends and together changed the image of folk music.

1962- DON'T TRY TO DOUBLECROSS JFK ! The U.S. Steel Corporation had made a deal with the Kennedy Administration that if the feds leaned on the steelworkers union for a favorable labor settlement U.S. Steel promised not to raise wholesale prices which would hurt the U.S. economy. On this day chairman Roger 'Ben' Blough told John Kennedy they were reneging on the deal and raising prices anyway. Kennedy exploded- " My father always warned me that all businessmen were sons of bitches but I never believed him until now!" The Kennedy administration made things so hot for U.S. Steel that they cancelled the price increase a month later.

1962- Stuart Sutcliffe was the bass guitarist of the Beatles until creative differences and a marriage made him drop out of the band in favor of George Harrison. This day Sutcliffe died of a brain hemorrhage at age 21.

1962- The Los Angeles Dodgers play their first game at their new Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine. They lost to the Cincinnati Reds 6-3.

1969- Radical students of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) protesting the Vietnam War storm the administration buildings of Harvard. It takes 400 riot police and 197 arrests to drive them out.

1971- Rob Reiner married Penny Marshall.

1985- A new singer named Madonna began her first tour, the Virgin Tour.

1992- Raunchy- comedian Sam Kinison was killed in a head on collision with a truck on the road to Las Vegas. Ironically the comedian who had glorified the wild sex, drugs and rock& roll lifestyle was sober at the time and the truck driver was drunk. Kinison was a former evangelical minister who was banned from NBC in 1986 for making jokes about Jesus’ Crucifixion on Saturday Night Live. Paramedics at the crash site claim they heard Kinison shortly before his death having a conversation with an invisible presence.

Others believe Kinison’s last words were “Oh, OOh –AAAUUUUGGHHHH!!!”

1997- The Jerusalem Post announced the birth of a red heifer at a kibbutz near Haifa. The birth of a red heifer is supposed to be the prerequisite for the coming of the Messiah and the End of the World. In 2003 the cow became brisket.
Yesterday’s Quiz: What was the original purpose of an Olympic torch runner, besides being a magnet for protestors?

Answer: In ancient times, heralds with torches ran through the countryside to signal all the Greek city states that war was forbidden as a sacrilege during the Olympian Games. So the herald was a kind of Time-Out referee, letting everyone know to put down the swords and knock it off for ten days, otherwise Zeus would be really pissed at you! The first Olympic torch run in the modern games was for the 1936 Berlin Olympics.