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Blog Posts from February 2012:

Feb 4, 2012 Sat
February 4th, 2012

Question: What is a Janissary?

Answer to yesterday’s question below: What was a berserker?
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History for 2/4/2012
Birthdays: Francois Rabelais, Big Bill Haywood, Fernand Leger', Charles Lindbergh, the Agha Khan, Betty Friedan, Rosa Parks, Erich Liensdorf, Alice Cooper is 64, Dan Quayle, Ida Lupino, Conrad Bain, McKinlay Kantor, George Romero, Lisa Eichhorn, boxer Oscar De La Hoya, Clyde Tumbaugh amateur astronomer who discovered the Pluto in 1930.

211 AD Roman Emperor Septimius Severus died, despite praying every night to a line of statues that included Zeus, Apollo, Mithras, Moses and Jesus. This guy wasn’t taking any chances!

1536- Henry VIII’s Parliament was presented with a Black Book cataloging all the supposed abuses and corruption of England’s monasteries and convents. They voted the Kings wish to close the monasteries and appropriate all Church wealth to the crown.

1703- THE 47 RONIN- A Japanese story that has inspired hundreds of play novels and films.The Lord of Ako, Asano Nagori quarreled with Kiru, the chief of protocol for the Shogun, and struck at him with his sword. To attack a representative of the Shogun was an insult no matter how justified, so Nagori was ordered to commit suicide (seppuku) and his samurai declared Ronin, or discharged freelancers.

The Ronin banded together to plan their revenge. They ambushed Kiru, and placed his severed head on the grave of their master. Then they sat in his house to quietly await judgement. After consulting several Shinto bishops, the Shogun could see no dishonor in what they did. So instead of executing them as criminals, on this day they were allowed to commit suicide, which they did unquestioningly. Today their gravesite is a popular shrine in Japan as a model of total dedication to duty.

1775- MR. PITT’S PLAN- Legendary British statesman William Pitt the Elder, was Prime Minister during the French and Indian War (the Seven Years War) and called "the Architect of the British Empire" . Today he came out of retirement to try to solve the American Crisis before violence could break out. With the support of Whigs like Lord Shelburne, Edmund Burke, Rockingham and Charles Fox and with his friend Benjamin Franklin attending, Mr. Pitt proposed in the House of Lords that Britain legitimize the American Congress and give it seats in Parliament. He stated “The Britons in America are only doing what we Britons in Britain should be doing, namely, demanding our rights.”

But Mr. Pitts’ plan was voted down by Lord North and the government party, who passed a bill instead allocating more money to hire German mercenary troops to crush the malcontents. Ministers now placed bets on how soon they would burn Boston.
It’s intriguing to think how history would have changed had Pitt's solution been adopted, for at this time most Americans like George Washington were not yet interested in a complete break from Mother England. The hard core radicals like John and Sam Adams worried that if America did win Parliamentary seats, that the momentum for independence would be lost.

1776- General Washington took the cannon captured from Ft. Ticonderoga and had his men drag them up Dorchester Heights overlooking British occupied Boston. The British were taken unawares because it was done in a terrible winter snowstorm. Staring up into the mouths of these large guns they knew they had been outmaneuvered by these amateur soldiers. They soon evacuate the city by sea.

1783- Britain declared a formal cease fire with it's former colonies the United States,
ending the American Revolution.

1826- James Fenimore Cooper’s novel “The Last of the Mohicans” was published. The character of wild frontiersman Natty Bumpo called Hawkeye has been referred to as the first American superhero.

1861- Delegates of the several Southern states meet in Montgomery Alabama to declare themselves the Confederate States of America. They decide to move the rebel capitol to Richmond, Virginia to insure that the Old Dominion State will join their cause.

1861- At the same moment in Washington D.C. a group of Virginia politicians led by old former President John Tyler arranged a covert peace conference between the slave states and free states in one final attempt at compromise. Despite long talks in a backroom of Willards Hotel they emerged more divided than before.

1861- The Apache Wars began. The U.S. Army arrested Apache chief Cochise for raiding his neighbors. Cochise escaped and declared war on the white man. The conflict would rage off and on until 1886 and involved all the various Apache tribes as well as their cousins the Navajo.

1871- Ms. Victoria Woodhull testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the subject of women's voting rights. She was the first woman to testify before Congress, the first woman to run for President and the first woman to own a stock brokerage on Wall Street. Yet she is not as well known a figure as Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cadie Stanton. The mainstream suffragette movement was shocked of her open advocacy of Free Love, Spiritualism and Socialism. Thomas Nast caricatured her as Mrs. Satan, Harriet Beecher Stowe lampooned her as Mrs. Avaricious Dangereyes.

1894- Dr. Richard Weatherill discovered the first signs of the Basket Maker culture.

1940- Soviet dictator Josef Stalin had Nicholai Yezhov, the Commissar of Internal Affairs and leader of the NKVD, the secret police, arrested and shot. Nikita Khruschev said Yezhov was an alcoholic drug addict who got what he deserved.”

1945-YALTA- Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin meet to map the postwar world. In an unguarded moment Roosevelt told Stalin that America only intended to stay in Europe two more years. Later in the month a courier plane flying over Germany to Russia is shot down. Maps showing the agreed occupation zones of postwar Germany fall into the hands of the Nazis. Knowing how much mercy they could expect from Stalin most of the top officials of the Third Reich arrange to be captured in the American Zone. Albert Speer had Wilhelm Furtvangler and the entire Berlin Philharmonic shipped by train to an American sector after one more Wagner concert. They played "Twilight of the Gods" from Gotterdammerung as the bombs rained down.

1961- United Artists released the Misfits, the last film of stars Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift. John Huston directed and Arthur Miller wrote the screenplay. The film flopped in its initial run but has since gained classic status.

1968- Old beatnik Neal Cassady was found dead in Mexico. Cassady was not an intellectual but his wild non-conformist lifestyle was the inspiration for his companion author Jack Kerouac to write his greatest novel " On the Road'. While Kerouac disliked hippies, Cassady drove the first Hippie Bus filled with LSD advocates like Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters.

1983- Pop singer Karen Carpenter died of anorexia-nervosa. She was 32 and weighed only 77 pounds. Her death brought to national prominence how the societal pressure to stay thin could lead to this deadly condition.

2003-Legendary rock and roll producer Phil Spector shot his girlfriend B-Movie actress Lana Clarkson at his LA mansion. Spector created the Wall of Sound concert technique and produced for the Beatles among many others.
The few days before, Phil Spector said to the British Daily Telegraph, “. I would say I'm probably relatively insane, to an extent. I take medication for schizophrenia, but I wouldn't say I'm schizophrenic. I have a bipolar personality, which is strange.”

2004-Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Chris Hughes launch the social networking site called Facebook.
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Question: What was a berserker?

Answer: A name for Viking warriors who become so crazed in the heat of hand-to-hand combat that they black-out while fighting. Later they couldn’t remember what they did. This was considered a Holy state of Odin. Some Beserkers brought on their condition by eating Magic Mushrooms. They could be seen chewing the tops of their shields waiting for the chance to fight.


Feb 3, 2012 fri.
February 3rd, 2012

Quiz: What was a berserker?

Answer to Yesterdays Question below: Why did Sam Clemmons call himself Mark Twain?
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History for 2/3/2012
Birthdays- French King Charles VI the Mad –1380, Felix Mendelson-Bartoldy, Horace Greely, Gideon Mantell 1790-pioneer British fossil hunter that named the Iguanadon, Pretty Boy Floyd, Gertrude Stein*, Norman Rockwell, James A. Michener, Joey Bishop, Shelley Berman, Bob Griese, Fran Tarkenton, Victor Buono, Blythe Danner is 69, Morgan Fairchild is 62, Nathan Lane is 56

Today is the Feast of St. Blaise, patron saint of sore throats and sick cattle.

1238- The Mongol horde under Genghis’ grandson Batu Khan burned the Russian city of Vladimir-Suzdal.

1547- Czar Ivan the Terrible married Anastasia Romanova. Her young death may have pushed his sanity over the edge.

1690- The first paper money issued in the New World, by the Massachusetts Colony.

1780- EARLY AMERICAN SERIAL KILLERS- For those who think this kind of crime is a symptom of our sick Secular-Humanist modern society: In rural Connecticut Revolutionary War veteran Barnett Davenport was rooming at the farm of Mr. Caleb Mallory. This day for no apparent reason Davenport murdered Mallory, his wife, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, using his musket and farm tools. The incident was widely reported in the young nations press and was quite sensationalized.

At about the same time the Harpe Brothers went about the hills of Kentucky nabbing hapless travelers & farmers. Their favorite prank was to torture their victim with pig sticks, then disembowel the unfortunate, fill the corpse with stones & chuck it into the nearest watercourse. Finally the community raised a posse and chased the brothers to some remote place. One of them escaped while a musket ball split the spine of the other, unhorsing him.

As he fell to the ground, one of the pursuers leapt onto him and began to saw at the Harpe's neck with his hunting knife; “ you're a damned rough butcher, but cut on and be damned” cried Mr. Harpe. The hunter “wrung off his head as one would a hog”.

They put the head in a bag & set off for home, but it was now winter & as hunger set in, they cooked & ate it, nailing the bleached skull to a tree, from where it grinned down on frightened travelers for years after. Our Forefathers.

1781- After declaring war on Holland over their support for the Revolutionary War, Admiral Rodney with a British fleet captured the Dutch Caribbean island of Saint Eustachius ( now the Virgin Islands ). The island was a major trading center of covert military aid to the Yankee rebels. Rodney looted the city and flew the Dutch flag over the harbor for several more weeks to surprise incoming Dutch and American ships. But while he made neat headlines in the Caribbean he and his fleet would have been more helpful saving Lord Cornwallis who’s army was being trapped at Yorktown Virginia.

1783- The Kingdom of Spain recognized the independence of the United States.

1846- The US Army captured the pueblo town of Taos New Mexico from hostile locals and Indians by battering the town with cannon fire. Lt. Sterling Price then hanged the hostile leaders for treason, even though these Indians hadn’t even seen an American until recently. New Mexico had just been conquered by US forces for a few weeks.

1862- President Lincoln received a message from the King of Siam offering him Siamese war elephants to help him win the Civil War. He politely passed on the offer.

1865- The Confederate government made the first overtures to Washington for peace talks to end the Civil War. Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens secretly met with Abe Lincoln on board a riverboat in the James River to discuss terms. However no agreement was reached. One point that became a deal-breaker was the Lincoln’s offer of pardons and amnesties to Rebels who retook the Oath of Allegiance to the US. Stephens angrily replied that the South had a legal right to secede so had committed no crimes needing pardon. So the Civil War continued on for two more bloody months

1889-THE BANDIT QUEEN- Today outlaw Belle Starr was shotgunned out of her saddle by an old boyfriend. She usually shot them first. Originally named Myra Belle Shirley, she pursued a career as an outlaw and had two children, one by Cole Younger, another by a member of the James Gang. Rustler, gunfighter, prostitute, sideshow performer-she said: "Let's just say I'm a woman who's seen a lot of the world."

1912- The rules governing U.S. football are revised. The playing field was shortened to 100 yards; a touchdown counted as six points instead of five; four downs are allowed instead of three and the kickoff point was moved from midfield to the 40 yd. line.

1913- Federal Income Tax Amendment ratified.

1920- The play Beyond the Horizon premiered. The first hit of a young man who tried to drink himself to death, but instead became a playwright- Eugene O’Neill.

1930- Roy Disney signed a deal with M. George Borgfeldt Co. of New York to sell figurines of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Disney merchandising is born!

1943- Four Chaplains Day. This day a German U-Boat torpedoed and sank the troopship USS Dorchester, with the loss of 600 lives. Four army chaplains gave their life jackets to others to be saved, and so drowned in the icy Atlantic. Congress declared Feb 3rd thereafter Four Chaplains Day.

1945- General MacArthur began the battle to liberate Manila. The fighting lasted a month, fierce fighting house to house with some Japanese troops killing Philippine civilians as they withdrew.

1945- Walt Disney’s the Three Caballeros premiered.

1948- The first Cadillac’s with big rear tail fins were produced.

1953- Jacques Cousteau, inventor of the Aqua Lung published the Silent World, and later made a film version of the book with Louis Malle.

1959 "The Day the Music Died" The first Rock & Roll tragedy. Top pop stars Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. "Big Bopper" Richardson died in plane crash. They were on tour and Holly chartered the small plane so they could get to Fargo, North Dakota in time to get his shirts cleaned. Waylon Jennings was supposed to join them but he gave up his seat to Richardson because Richardson was running a fever and didn’t want a long cold bus ride. As they left Richardson teased Jennings:” Hope your bus doesn’t freeze.” And Jennings joked:” Hope your plane doesn’t crash.” The plane was called the American Pie, which inspired a Don McClean’s hit song “Bye, Bye Miss American Pie.”

1962- John F. Kennedy signed the trade embargo act against Cuba, banning all trade with Fidel Castro’s regime. White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger recalled how the night before JFK had him go around Washington DC and buy up all the Havana cigars (Monte Cristos) he could for the White House humidor. It’s still in effect today.

1966- Russia soft lands a probe on the Moon- Lunik-7. The Soviets took the first photos of the Dark Side of the Moon with Lunik –2 as part of their Space Race with the US.

1973- Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law.

1986- Steve Jobs bought the George Lucas Film Graphics Division, now under their new name Pixar Inc.

1989- Swiss firm L'Oreal/Nestle bought animation studio Filmation from Westinghouse and shut it down laying off 229 artists the day before a new federal regulation requiring a company give it's employees 60 day notice before closing went into effect.

1998- Near Trento Italy a low flying Marine jet on maneuvers tangled snapped a cable on a ski tram, sending 20 people 300 feet down to their deaths.

1998- Female murderer Karla Faye Tucker executed by lethal injection at Huntsville State Prison, Texas. She had chopped up two people with an axe in 1983.
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Yesterdays Question: Why did Sam Clemmons call himself Mark Twain?

Answer: Feb 3, 1863- MARK TWAIN- It was a long custom in American newspapers for columnists and critics to publish under pseudonyms. Author, riverboat pilot and ex-Confederate militiaman Samuel Clemens invents for himself the pseudonym for which he would become famous. This day in the Virginia City Territorial Register newspaper was an article authored by someone calling himself - 'Mark Twain'. Mark Twain was the Mississippi River pilot's term for when a steamboat is in two fathoms of water or more, in other words, safely enough away from shallows to proceed at full speed.




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Feb 2, 2012 thur
February 2nd, 2012

Quiz: Why did Sam Clemmons call himself Mark Twain?

Yesterdays question answered below: What do these people have in common- Zane Grey, Paul McCartney, Julie Andrews, Tommy Smothers, Tom Hanks, Pete Townshend..?
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History for 2/2/2012
Birthdays: Tallyrand, Charlie Halas a co-founder of the NFL, James Joyce, Ayn Rand, Fritz Kreisler, Jascha Heifitz, Abba Eban, Farrah Fawcett, Garth Brooks, Christie Brinkley, Tommy Smothers, Stan Getz, James Dickey, Liz Smith, Elaine Stritch is 87, Brent Spinner is 63, Shakira is 35

Happy Groundhog Day. This morning if Paxatawney Phil sees his shadow, it means 6 more weeks of winter.

In ancient Rome it was the day for the lesser Eleusinian Mysteries. Part of the ceremony was you were given a bowl of wine with certain herbs in it. After drinking it you saw the gods. It was experimenting to find the nature of these ancient herbs in 1946 that led Dr. Albert Hoffman to discover LSD.

961 A.D. -Otto I Hohenstaufen crowned, The HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE of the GERMAN NATION declared, the First Reich. Otto was one of the first rulers to win wars with armored knights on horseback instead of the Roman Legion style infantry, setting the tone for the Middle Ages.

At 45 he was crowned Emperor by Pope Stephen VI, who was 19. This event created the unusual connection between the German Empire and the Italian states. Italian states like Florence and Venice considered vassals of the German Emperor even though they acted independently and he almost never crossed the Alps to check up on them. A German Emperor was called King of the Romans until crowned by the Pope.

In 1477 the Emperors did away with kissing up to the Pope and left the Imperial selection to a court of electors meeting in Frankfurt. Holy Roman Empire hung around until about 1809. To quote Voltaire “ It wasn’t much of an Empire, wasn’t Roman and most certainly wasn’t very holy either.”

12-1300's-In the middle Ages this was the day of the Winter Reysa- when Crusader Knights of the Teutonic Order would venture into the Lithuanian forest, find a village of pagans, and chop them up for the Christian Faith. There were two expeditions a year, this one and in the summer. The Prussian Knights ran a sort of Club-Med for northern knights who wanted to crusade but not risk the dangerous journey to Palestine.

1536- The City of Buenos Aires founded.

1565- CZAR IVAN THE TERRIBLE exhibited the first signs of mental unbalance. Without warning, he abandoned his capitol Moscow in December. It took several weeks for the Russian court to find him at a little village named Alexandrov, 350 miles away. A procession waving incense and icons came out to beg him to return. He said he would return only if he were allowed to deal with his enemies ruthlessly.

This day he returned to the Kremlin with a private army called the Oprichina, 6000 criminals and peasants dressed as monks to help Ivan torture people. When once asked if a group of Jews from Lithuania could settle in Muscovite lands, Ivan explained his opposition: “ Jews would bring strange herbs into our realm and lead astray Russians from Christianity.”

1709- William Dampier was a reformed buccaneer who wrote books about his travels. This day while cruising the South Seas he rescued a man named Sir William Selkirk, who had been marooned on an otherwise uninhabited island for two years. It seems Selkirk had gotten into an argument with the captain of a Chilean schooner who left him there. Upon returning to London Capt. Dampier mentioned the incident to his friend writer Daniel DeFoe, who used it to create his most memorable novel- Robinson Crusoe.

1811- Fur traders establish Fort Ross, just north of Spanish San Francisco. It was the deepest Russian settlement into North America. In1845 the Russian Fur Trading Company sold it to American John Sutter. Today there is a reconstructed facsimile of Fort Ross on the site.

1848- TREATY OF GUADALUPE HIDALGO signed, which ended the U.S.-Mexican War. Ambassador Nicholas Trist was given the dangerous assignment of finding the Mexican Government fleeing the American assault on Mexico City, then convincing them to sign away California and the Southwest, approximately 40% of their national territory.

Just when negotiations in the little village of Guadalupe Hidalgo were about to conclude successfully, he got a message from Washington to break off talks and return. President Polk had changed his mind and now wanted the complete annexation of Mexico down to the Yucatan! Trist knew if he did this, the war party in Mexico would keep up a guerrilla war for decades afterwards. So he ignored the message, signed for the U.S. and fixed our southern border.

When Trist got home, instead of thanks, he was arrested for treason. But President Polk couldn't convince his war-weary people to continue the war. So the treaty was upheld. The French tried conquering Mexico twenty years later and got the Mexican national uprising Trist avoided. Nicolas Trist was released from prison, but he never got his back pay until President Lincoln awarded it to him on his deathbed 16 years later.

1852- London’s first public toilet was dedicated- near 95 Fleet St.

1870- Samuel Clemens also known as Mark Twain, married Olivia Langdon or Livy.

1870-The first international news agency. Reuters, Havas and Wolf News Agencies agree to pool their resources to cover the world.

1876- The National Baseball League founded.

1890- Ten months before the massacre at Wounded Knee11 million acres of Sioux land in South Dakota went on sale to white homesteaders. The Sioux were removed to a smaller reservation and the money raised from the sale was supposed to go to them, but it all disappeared into the pockets of middlemen.

1910- D.W. Griffith's' In Old California', sometimes called the first Hollywood film.

1912- New York’s Grand Central Station opened.

1920- Admiral Kolchak, leader of the anti-communist (White) Russian armies in the civil war that followed the Bolshevik Revolution, was shot by firing squad and chucked into a dry canal. For a year Kolchak was defacto dictator of all Russia from the Ural mountains to the Pacific.

1922- the novel "Ulysses" is published. James Joyce had finished the book months earlier but delayed publishing until his birthday, when it would be 2/2/22, which he considered lucky.

1922-Twenty one year old Walt Disney founds Newman's Laff-O-Grams in Kansas City.

1925- IDITEROD- THE SERUM RUN COMPLETED- Nome Alaska at this time was a town totally depended upon supplies from the outside world traveling in by sled dog teams. When a serious epidemic of diptheria threatened the population the call went to the ‘Outside” as Alaskans called the rest of the world, for help. It normally took a musher 18-20 days to cover the 650 miles from the coast to Nome, now a relay of 20 teams in short sprints would attempt to do it in 5 days in the depth of winter.

One musher reported blizzard conditions so bad he couldn’t see the end of his team. While the press kept the world waiting breathlessly on this day Charlie Evans and his malamute team led by his lead dog Balto got into Nome with the serum in a metal cylinder wrapped in fur. At one point two of his dogs froze to death in harness and Evans took up their place himself and ran alongside the dogs the balance of the trip. It took 5 days and 7 hours. The epidemic was limited to five deaths.

The 20 men and their teams were hailed as heroes. Although the dog Balto got most of the credit and has a statue and a movie about him, experts say a 48 pound Siberian husky named Togo did the greatest exertion, going 200 miles in the first leg. The Iditerod sled race is today run in commemoration of this event. The last surviving musher of the original race, Edgar Nollner, died in 1999 at 94 years old

1940- Soviet dictator Stalin had famed futurist theater director Vselevod Meyerhold shot.
At the time of his arrest Meyerhold’s wife Zinaida was stabbed to death. Neighbors who heard her screams assumed they were rehearsing a new play.

1957- Elizabeth Taylor married producer Mike Todd. Todd was killed in a plane crash a year later. Despite her famous association with Richard Burton, Taylor later said Mike Todd was the only one she ever truly loved.

1961- In a little Greenwich Village nightclub called the Blue Angel a young stand up comic got his first debut. His name was Woody Allen

1963- In England, singer Helen Schapiro was on tour. On the lower end of her program card was a new band called the Beatles.

1966- Woody Allen married Louise Lasser.

1971- After a coup toppled legal President Milton Obote, former British colonial sergeant Idi Amin was inaugurated as president of Uganda. He declared himself Conqueror of the British Empire, led his little army in mock invasions of Israel, even though it was thousands of miles away, and he was surrounded by hostile nations. He played drums in his own rock band, wrestled crocodiles, and once reputedly killed and ate one of his sons.
He was kicked out by the Tanzanian Army in 1979.

1979- Lead singer for the punk band Sid Vicious found dead of a drug overdose. The 21 year old was awaiting trial for the stabbing death of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen.

1982-President Hafiz al-Asad ordered the destruction of Syrian city of Hama after its occupation by a Muslim fundamentalist group who sought to create an Iranian-style theocracy. Maybe as many as 25.000 were killed. Today his son Bashir Al Assad is doing equally horrible things to Syrian people.

1985- O.J. Simpson married Nicole Brown Simpson.

1997- Nationally known sportscaster Marv Albert allegedly had an evening of sex and porn with a prostitute. At one point he bit the lady on the back. He was tried for lewd behavior and his career tanked.

2006-The Cartoon Riots. A Danish newspaper printed a political cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad with his turban shaped like a bomb. This so offended the Moslem world that rioting broke out in Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jakharta and European capitols. Grenades were thrown at Danish embassies and Danish nationals made to flee.
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Yesterdays question: What do these people have in common- Zane Grey, Paul McCartney, Julie Andrews, Tommy Smothers, Tom Hanks, Pete Townshend..?

Answer: The all produced animated films.


Feb 1, 2012 weds
February 1st, 2012

Quiz: What do these people have in common- Zane Grey, Paul McCartney, Julie Andrews, Tommy Smothers, Tom Hanks, Pete Townshend..?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: Who first coined the term Wardrobe Malfunction?
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History for 2/1/2012
Birthdays: Victor Herbert, Langston Hughes, Renata Tebaldi, Clark Gable, John Ford, George Pal, Terry Jones, Jim Thorpe, Sherman Helmsley, Lisa Marie Presley, Garrett Morris, Boris Yeltsin, Pauly Shore, Sherilyn Fenn is 47, Michael C. Hall is 41

Welcome to February from Februarius, named for Februus, a Sabine god of the underworld called the Purifier. Another theory is this month is named for Febis, the Latin for fever, this being a time in the Roman climate when fevers were most common.

570 AD- Today is the Feast Day of Saint Brigid, an Irish saint who gave beer to the poor.

1733- Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland died. Described as Half-Bull- Half Cock, he could break horseshoes with his bare hands and drink everyone under the table. He wasted his kingdom’s treasury indulging his vices and filling his palace at Dresden with bejeweled treasures and porcelains, which make it such a cool tourist destination today. One of the horniest monarchs of Europe, his reputation for fornication would be unbelievable, had he not left behind scores of illegitimate children. His dying words were “My entire life has been one long act of Sin.”

1790- First U.S. Supreme Court Session. It was held in the former Royal Exchange Building, a converted barn on Broad Street in lower Manhattan. The John Jay Court at first acted like a circuit court traveling around arbitrating local issues until a permanent home was fixed in the new capitol city.

1865- U.S. Chief Justice Salmon Chase admitted John Rock to be the first black lawyer to practice before the Supreme Court. Besides being a Boston attorney Rock was a dentist, orator and spoke French and German fluently.

1887- California land Developer Harvey Wilcox takes out a county deed for a new ranch he calls 'Hollywoodland' after the name of an estate his wife admired back in Connecticut. It gave its name to the new Los Angeles town- Hollywood.

1893- In New Jersey Thomas Edison and his engineer W. K. Dickson built the FIRST MOTION PICTURE STUDIO in New Jersey. It was covered with black tar paper and nicknamed"The Black Mariah" because that was the nickname of police paddy wagons that it resembled. It's debatable how much of the inventing effort was more Dickson than Edison. Edison was only marginally interested in the movies. He was more concerned with how to extract New Jersey iron ore from rocks using magnets. Dickson worked himself into the hospital to make the studio work, and resenting Edison’s apathy started experimenting on his own. When Edison found out he fired him.

1896- Puccini's opera "La Boheme" debuts in Turin. It was based on Prosper Merimee’s popular book Bohemian Sketches. Puccini's old roommate Piero Mascagni (Cavaleria Rusticana) with whom Puccini and he once lived like Bohemian artists, tried to sue because he was writing a Boheme' also. The suit failed and Mascagni released his rival version but it didn't hold up in comparison with Puccini's.

1898- The Travellers Insurance company issued the first auto insurance policy. It was to protect a Buffalo car enthusiast from being sued by irate horse owners in his neighborhood.

1901- Outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with prostitute Hedda Place, sometimes referred to as Mrs. Sundance, escape the law back in Wyoming and arrive in New York City to relax. After a month of sightseeing they take a ship to Bolivia.

1908- King Carlos Ist of Portugal and his son were assassinated in the streets of Lisbon. In 1910 his other son was deposed and a republic declared under Teofilo Braga. King Edward VII of England attended a requiem Mass in their memory. It marked the first time in 220 years that an English King attended a Roman Catholic service.

1915-The Fox Film Company formed (Later Twentieth Century Fox).

1926- Gen. Billy Mitchell resigns from the army after a court-martial censors him for shooting his mouth off in favor of building an independent U.S. Air Force and other such newfangled notions. After World War Two proved all of Mitchell’s arguments about air power correct he was reinstated an honorary Major general- posthumously.

1943- At his headquarters at the Wolf’s Lair in East Prussia, Adolf Hitler received the news of the Nazi army surrender at Stalingrad. Hitler was furious. Not that he lost 250,000 of his best men but that their commander Field Marshal Von Paulus surrendered instead of committing suicide.” This hurts me so much that the heroism of so many soldiers was nullified by one single characterless weakling.”

Then Hitler said in a foreshadowing of his own fate:” When the nerves break down, there is nothing left but to admit one can’t handle the situation and to shoot oneself.”

1944- The U.S. Marines invade Japanese held Kwajelein, the world's largest atoll.

1960- Four Negro college freshmen sit down at a "whites-only" lunch counter at the Woolworth's in Greensboro, North Carolina. When they left or were arrested four more sat down. Then four more. The Civil Rights sit-in campaigns begin.

1964- Indiana Governor Matthew Walsh declares that the Rock & Roll song “Louie-Louie” by the Kingsmen was pornographic and should be banned. The FCC investigated and their conclusion was that the “lyrics are unintelligible at any speed”. The song remained a major hit. In the 1980’s several schools in Northern Cal held Louie-Louie Marathons-96 straight hours of Louie-Louie played by Punk bands, polka bands, string quartets, folk trios and marching bands. Whoah whoah, Me gotta go-yo,yo yo yo.

1968- During the Vietnamese Tet Lunar Offensive-as cameras rolled South Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan put a snub nosed pistol to the head of a Vietcong prisoner and pulled the trigger. The photo of the young mans death grimace became one of the more haunting images of the 1960’s.

1979- The Ayatollah Khomeni took over Iran.

1990- Siegfried & Roy open their exclusive show at the Mirage Casino in Las Vegas. They and their white tigers have performed for Hollywood stars, presidents and Pope John Paul II. One Vegas columnist notes: “When Elvis performed in Vegas there were some empty seats. But there are nothing but full houses when Siegfreid & Roy perform.” The act was finally ended by Roy’s throat being slashed by a tiger in 2003.

2003-“ Columbia this is Houston on UHF, Houston, Columbia on UHF…” NASA’s first spaceshuttle- the Columbia, broke up and disintegrated upon reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere. All seven astronauts were killed. The Columbia had flown 26 missions since 1981. On board was the first woman astronaut born in India and the first Israeli in Space, Col. Llan Ramon.

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Yesterday’s Quiz: Who first coined the term Wardrobe Malfunction?

Answer: Feb 1st, 2004- At a Superbowl live halftime show pop star Justin Timberlake pulled the bra cup off of singer Janet Jackson exposing her right breast with a starburst stud on it. She explained it as a “the Wardrobe Malfunction”. The incident sent America into another one of its periodic paroxysms of mindless Puritan censorship.


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