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Pat and I just got back from Lisbon Portugal where we were guests of the Animatu Festival. I'll report more after a good night's sleep.

The show I directed last season, CLICK & CLACK"S AS THE WRENCH TURNS, is now available on DVD on Amazon. Check out this review-

Question: In 1770, the largest city in the British Empire was London. What was the second largest?

Yesterday's question answered below: What is a redoubt?

History for 10/21/2008
Birthdays: Katushika Hokusai, Dizzy Gillespie, Whitey Ford, Alfred Nobel, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Carrie Fisher, Patty Davis (Ronnie Reagan's daughter), Benjamin Netanyahu, Sir Malcolm Arnold, Manfred Mann, Sir Georg Solti, Angus MacFadyen

Today is the FEAST OF SAINT URSULA AND THE ELEVEN THOUSAND VIRGINS, one of the sillier medieval legends. Supposedly on the way back from a pilgrimage to Rome the saintly daughter of a Mercian (English) king had spurned the attentions of the King of the Huns so he massacred her and all eleven thousand of her handmaids. Earliest accounts of the incident say she had only ten servants.

1492- San Salvador. Christopher Columbus writes on this day in his diary about the new land he is exploring: " We must have found Eden. I think men shall never see this place again as we have seen it." Within 50 years of Columbus's discovery, the Indian tribe that welcomed him on the beach, the Taino, were all but extinct.

1520- Fernan' de Magellan sails into the Straights named for him to the Pacific.

1600- BATTLE OF SEKIGEHARA The final battle of Japan's feudal civil wars- Warlord Ieyasu Tokugawa defeats the Toyotomi faction and becomes paramount leader under the Emperor, called the Shogun. Ieyasu later died from eating too much tempura, but the Tokugawa family closed off Japan from all contact with foreigners and missionaries and ruled as Shoguns until 1868.

1797- The 44 gun frigate USS Constitution launched. Nicknamed Old Ironsides, it is the oldest commissioned warship in the US Navy. It saw active service until 1861, remained a training vessel and is still entertaining tourists in Boston Harbor today. In 1997 it took a spin around the harbor to show it still had what it takes.

1805- TRAFALGAR- Admiral Nelson destroyed Napoleon's naval power in one huge battle off the southwestern coast of Spain. Trafalgar is a vulgarization of the Arabic " Al-Taraff Al-Agharr" or " The Fair Point.” Nelson began the day raising the signal flags "England expects every man to do his duty." One of Nelson's toughest captains, Sir John Collingwood said: "What the devil is Nelson about ? We already know that!" In the heat of the battle the one-eyed, one armed Lord Nelson strode up and down the poop deck in his full dress uniform to inspire his men. He loved medals, he even had one that spun around. He not only inspired the English Tars but also the French sharpshooters who shot him down. He received the news of the victory as he lay dying and said:" The day is ours, kiss me Hardy." Hardy was captain of the flagship HMS Victory. French admiral Villeneuve, whom Napoleon goaded into fighting by threatening to courts-martial him as a 'Coward, Idiot and Traitor" left the service and later committed suicide. When they took Nelson's body back to England they bent it into a brandy barrel for preservation, which has since been incorrectly called a rum barrel. Which is why rum is known as "Nelson's Blood". Shiver me Timbers!

1879- Thomas Edison announced the invention of the Light Bulb. After experimenting with dozens of different type filaments in a vacuum Thomas Edison perfected the light bulb with carbonized cotton. He and his crew stared at the glowing bulb for 40 hours to make sure it was really worked.

1932- The film Red Dust premiered. It made stars out of Clark Gable and Jean Harlow.

1937- A quack medicine called sulfalitimide sold in stores poisoned dozens of people including children. It was found to have the same ingredients as antifreeze. The incident sparked the first Food and Drug legislation in the U.S. preventing medicines being released to the public without first being tested.
Darn those federal regulations stifling business!

1959- Six months after the death of Frank Lloyd Wright his last creation, the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, opened.

1972- Curtis Mayfield’s soundtrack theme to the movie “Superfly” debuted at Number #1 in the Billboard charts.

1975- The Cinncinnatti-Boston World Series-Carleton Fisk's 12th inning homer keeps the Boston Red Sox hopes alive against Johnny Bench and the 'Big Red Machine".

1985- San Francisco Mayor George Mosconi and openly gay City Supervisor Harvey Milk are shot dead by clerk Dan White. White got off on an insanity plea using the "Twinkie Defense" that junk food raised his blood sugar to such an extent that he went nuts. He served a 5 years in prison, moved to Orange County and committed suicide, which some say is redundant.

2003- The Great California Brush Fires. Hot dry wind and a lost hunter ignited the worst brush fires in California history. Ten fires from Ventura County to Tijuana Mexico burned hundreds of thousands of acres for two weeks, destroyed 3000 homes and killed 20. The smoke clouds were visible from outer space.

Yesterday’s question: What is a redoubt?

Answer: From the 1600s to 1916, French generals like Vauban and Turenne made military fortifications an art form. West Point recruits like Robert E. Lee all wanted to be engineers first. A redoubt is a heavily fortified strongpoint in a defensive line.
To call someone redoubtable is to mean they can be depended upon to be a bulwark against adversity.