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I just learned that legendary animator-director Bill Melendez died at age 91.

courtesy of Bill Melendez Productions

Bill was the director of the 1965 classic A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, considered by many the finest animated TV special ever made. It's been run every year for 53 years since it's debut. Bill once told me he himself animated the opening scene, of all the children ice skating in pairs to Vince Guaraldi's carol " Christmas Time is Here." He did it all straight ahead, on one level, a downshot, about 30 feet worth.
He was very proud of it.

Bill was funny, opinionated, big-hearted, a teller of tales. We spent many a lunch at Mussos, the Valley Inn or Petit Chateau, talking about the old lefty days. Bill came of age during the MAD-MEN era of lunch meetings. So downing three vodka martinis and going back to work was no problem for him. I however, struggled to keep up.

Born Cuatemoc Jose Guillermo Melendez, the son of an officer in the regular Mexican Army, who named him for the last fighting Emperor of the Aztecs. Bill said his father and the local priest argued over the baptismal font because the priest didn't want to use a pagan name like that. So as he said, his life began with a fight. Guilliermo ( William) was added as a compromise. Bill's family sent him to LA for college in 1934 and he attended Choiunard. Bill first joined Walt Disney Studios in 1938 as an Assistant Animator. He was very active in the Great Strike of 1941. He was kicked out of the Magic Kingdom for being a troublemaker, and thought his career over.
But it was just beginning.

Bill Melendez became a terrific animator at Warner Bros for Bob Clampett on shorts like THE GREAT PIGGYBANK ROBBERY and BOOK REVUE. He also worked at UPA on GERALD MCBOING-BOING and MADELEINE. And rejoined Clampett for Beany & Cecil.

I always loved the way Bill kept to the essence of Schulz drawing style, while keeping the animation fresh.

But it was as the creator of the Charlie Brown specials and features that he is well known. He did 75 more Peanuts films over the years. His studio was the final holdout of the old Cartoonist Guild Local 852. Those who read my book DRAWING THE LINE will have read about the feud between that union and the IATSE local that lasted until 1979. Bill joked with me that he could never come into an IA local.

Me interviewing Bill for ASIFA a few years back.

Many will keep their special memories of Bill Melendez. My memories will be of his activism, his passion for the rights of animators to be treated right. As Guild president Bill argued with Walt Disney about wage increases for artists, tried to save Norm Ferguson's job from being cut when he was past his prime, argued with HUAC henchman Roy Brewer over the alleged Red infiltration into the Guilds. Bill loved to show me how Leon Schlesinger could fake having a heart attack rather than raise your pay.

Bill Littlejohn, Bill Hurtz, Art Babbitt and Bill Melendez, all past Presidents of the Cartoonists Guild, were my personal inspiration when I became union president. Their example led me past the pinstripe suit, pinky ring, Tony Soprano-type union hacks to see the original activists, and to yearn to fight for the same things they fought for.

I noticed something curious when interviewing old animators who gave in and crossed picket lines or went back on their brother and sister artists. Many of them wouldn't look you in the eye when explaining themselves. Their gaze would drop to the floor-"You don't know what it was like back then... etc."

Bill Melendez always looked you straight in the eye. I could see he regretted nothing. His little black dot eyes sparkled when he recalled how they made the studio heads crazy.

That is a goal in life almost as satisfying as having a fulfilling artistic career. That when it's over, you never have to look away, you can look people in the eye with pride, and say at least I did my best.

To never stoop to selling out your friends, to live your principles as well as your dreams, is the best way I can think of honoring the life of Cuatemoc Jose Bill Melendez.

Via Con Dios, Companero!

Quiz: What is the Riddle of the Sphinx?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: Who said: “ an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, set in a question..” and what was he/she referring to?
History for 9/4/2008
Birthdays: Darius Mihlaud, Anton Bruckner, Chateaubriand, Craig Claiborne, Dick York, Richard Wright, Nigel Bruce, Mary Renault, Tom Watson, Mitzi Gaynor, Damon Wayans is 48, Paul Harvey is 90, Beyonce' Knowles is 27

218BC- Hannibal’s army with elephants reached the summit of the Alps.

1781- HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LOS ANGELES. Royal Governor of New Spain Gaspar de Portola and Franciscan monk Fra Junipero Serra with twelve soldiers, some free black families and Indians, about 44 in all, dedicated a new town, one days ride north of San Pedro. The 63 year old Serra had been stung by a scorpion but ignored it, so he hobbled around dragging his swollen leg. Fra Serra named the town after St. Francis of Assisi's first church in Italy- St. Mary of the Angels, so El Pueblo Nuestra Senora Santa Maria Reina de Los Angeles de Porcuincula. Like totally knarly dude!

1781- Benedict Arnold, the American Colonial general turned traitor, led a force of British redcoats to burn his own home town of New London, Connecticut. Who says you can never go home?

1833 –The New York Sun hired young boys to sell their papers on street corners. The first newsboy was ten year old Barney Flagherty. Now go peddle your papers, kid.

1884-Thomas Edison proves he could replace gas streetlights with electricity by illuminating one square New York City block (around Pearl st.) with his new dynamo. J.P. Morgan's bank on the corner of Wall and Broad streets is the first private business to be lit solely by electricity.

1888-George Eastman patents the roll film camera. The word "Kodak" is supposedly the sound the shutter made. Another story on the origin of the word was that George wanted a word pronounced the same in all known dialects. So after some research (Rochester lore has it that he did all of this himself) he concluded that only k and x qualified as sounds uttered the same way in all languages. Thus Eastman Kodak. Years later the Rochester based Haloid company, which had for years manufactured photographic paper for Kodak, invented a dry copying process and renamed their company Xerox, following the same convention.

1893- Writer and illustrator Beatrix Potter sent a letter to a sick child: " I don't know what to write you so I shall tell you the story of four little rabbits. Their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter." The Peter Cottontail stories born.

1904 – The Dali Lama signed the first treaty allowing British commerce in Tibet. Tibet had been a closed society forbidding any contact with the outside world.

1934- Young filmmaker Leni Reifenstahl was contracted by the German Propaganda Ministry to film the 1934 Nazis Party Congress held in Nuremburg. While they were expecting a routine documentary-" They would have been happy if I just kept ze camera on Hitler for 90 minutes.." Leni Reifenstahl instead created the film THE TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, who’s darkly hypnotic images would make film history.

1940- The Columbia Broadcast Service or CBS network started up their first television station.

1957-Ford Motor Company introduced the Edsel, named for Henry Ford's son. Touted as "the dream car of the decade". Ford spent more to promote it than any other car in history. Only 200,000 were sold and after complaints like the steering and brakes failing and dashboards unexpectedly bursting into flame the car was discontinued. Ford lost $250 million. Edsel became the synonym for corporate failure.

1972- American swimmer Mark Spitz won his 7th gold medal in Olympic competition in Munich. He also spawned a cottage industry selling the poster of him wearing his medals, tiny Speedos and that’s about it. This image and the swimsuit poster of Farrah Fawcett, were two of the more famous images of the 1970’s. Phelps! Make a poster deal, FAST!

1976- College party boy George W. Bush was busted for drunk-driving close to his family home in Kennebunkport, Maine. He later applied for a brand new Texas State driver’s license, which came with a clean record with no report of the arrest. As President delivering the commencement at Harvard in 2002 he joked:” In the motorcade, seeing all those police cars behind me with their lights flashing… kinda brings me back to my college days…”

Yesterday’s Quiz: Who said: “ an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, set in a question..” and what was he/she referring to?

Answer: Winston Churchill, in a radio address in October 1939, after Soviet Russia joined Hitler’s Germany in crushing Poland. “ I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, set inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest."

Sept. 3rd, 2008 wed
September 3rd, 2008

Quiz: Who said: “ an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, set in a question..” and what was he/she referring to?

Yesterday’s question answered below: What film had the awesome line- “ The Dude Abides…”?
Birthdays: Alan Ladd, Irene Papas, Memphis Slim, Eddie Stanky, Mort Walker the creator of Beetle Bailey, Mitzi Gaynor, Richard Tyler, Eileen Brennan, Valerie Perrine, Charlie Sheen is 42

1592- Retired London actor Richard Green wrote a letter to his fellow actors complaining of a newcomer becoming popular in their midst "A new upstart crow filled with Bombast" - Master William Shakespeare.

1777- In a small skirmish with British redcoats near Cooch, Maryland, the American rebels raise their new Stars & Stripes banner for the first time in battle. They are quickly defeated.

1833- The New York Sun began publication, the first mass circulation newspaper in the U.S..

1886- Geronimo gives up to the U.S. Army for the fourth and last time. He and his Chiracaua Apaches were promised no retribution would befall them. After they were disarmed they were packed up into railroad cars and shipped to prison in Ft. Myers, Florida to die in the malaria infested swamps. Geronimo in his time had as many Apache enemies as cavalry. The White Mountain Apaches helped guide the US cavalry in their pursuit. After Geronimo's Chiracaua's were exiled the White Mountain Apache were rewarded by also being transported to the Florida everglades. Geronimo survived all and after his release he retired to Santa Fe where he died in 1910.

1912- Los Angeles attraction Frazier's Million Dollar Pier destroyed by fire.

1930- The first issue of the Hollywood Reporter.

1937- Orson Welles Mercury Theater of the air produced its first play on nationwide radio- an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Mierables.

1939- Britain and France declare war on Nazi Germany over the invasion of Poland, World War Two results.

1939- British Prime Minister Chamberlain's war announcement interrupts a Disney Cartoon "Mickey's Gala Premiere" showing on the nascent BBC television service. Television shuts down for the duration.

1944- During World War Two, U.S. pilots shot down by the Japanese were rescued by submarines. The submariners called the pilots Zoomies. This day, off the coast of Ichi Jima, the submarine USS Tampico plucked out of the ocean a Zoomie who would one day be President of the United States. Second Lieutenant George Bush Sr.

1946- After the War, the BBC television service resumes and an announcer says:" Well now, where were we?" They continue the Mickey cartoon from where it was interrupted in 1939. World War Two probably held back for a decade the development of television.

1950- Mort Walker's "Beetle Bailey" comic strip first appeared.

1960- The Hanna-Barbera show 'Lippy the Lion and Hardy-Harr-Harr" premiered.

1967-Last broadcast of the game show What's My Line. Host John Daley led a panel of NY columnists and socialites in witty banter- Bennett Cerf, Dorothy Kilgalen, Kitty Carlisle-Hart, Bill Cullen and Henry Morgan. Well....I'm going to turn over all the cards now...

2003- Two crooks in Detroit hijacked a Krispy Kreme truck and tried to hold three thousand donuts hostage.
Yesterday’s Quiz: What film had the awesome line- “ The Dude Abides…”?

Answer: Why, the Coen Bros cult classic, The Big Lebowski, of course! It was over the line, Donny!

Sept. 2nd, 2008 Tues
September 2nd, 2008

Quiz: What film had the awesome line- “ The Dude Abides…”?

Yesterday’s Quiz Answered Below: Considering Sarah Palin’s husband is of Alaskan Innuit (Eskimo) ancestry. Has there ever been a US President that was Native American?

September 2nd, 2008
Birthdays: The last monarch of Hawaii,Queen Liliuokalani, Yang Tsu Ching leader of the Taiping Rebellion, Cleveland Amory, Alfred Spaulding 1850, founder of Spaulding sports equipment, Martha Mitchell, Mark Harmon, Peter Uebberroth, Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Connors, Selma Hayek is 40, Keanu Reeves is 44, Marge Champion-famed dancer who was once married to Art Babbitt and was the live action model for Snow White and the Blue Fairy, is 89 today!

1609- HAPPY BIRTHDAY NEW YORK CITY. Henry Hudson and his Dutch ship "Half Moon" entered New York Harbor. Twenty canoes of Indians rowed out to welcome the strange looking craft. The French under Cartier and English under Cabot had cruised by decades earlier but had not bothered to settle there. Hudson sailed 100 miles up the Hudson looking for China but found just more river and forest. He reported home this "Great River not unlike the Rhine and this Great Natural Bay Wherein a Thousand Ships may Ride tranquilly in Harbor." New Yorkers are proud to point out that while other cities like Boston and Philadelphia were founded as great experiments in religious living, the Dutch founded New York to make a buck. And its been that way ever since.

1666- THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON- started in the bakery shop of Thomas Farynor on Pudding Lane. The Lord Mayor was woken up at 3:00AM. At first he was not impressed.:"Tosh, an old woman might piss it out!" Actually it burned down the city, including Old St.Paul's Cathedral. 200,000 Londoners were left homeless. King Charles and his brother James (James II) pitched in personally as firefighters. After several days struggle it was finally put out. Samuel Pepys climbed up the steeple of Old St.Brides and recorded his eyewitness account in his diary. It was a tough time to be a Londoner because shortly before the Great Fire was the Great Plague. But the great architect Christopher Wren rebuilt St. Pauls and other London monuments into the beautiful images we know today.

1795- Happy Birthday Cleveland. A group of Connecticut businessmen buy a tract of land on Lake Erie and lay out a new settlement. Their agent and project supervisor Moses Cleveland, names the place for himself.

1814- A landing party from the British warship HMS Hermes visited the Louisiana pirate Jean Lafitte in his lair at Barataria Island in the swamps near the Bayou St. Jean. They offered him a captaincy in the Royal Navy and $30,000 dollars in gold if he would aide the British in capturing New Orleans. Lafitte dismissed them with a promise to think about it, then passed on all he knew to Louisiana Governor Claiborne and the American authorities. It was the first warning the Americans had that the British planned to invade in force at the mouth of the Mississippi.

1864- "Luki Lock the Door! The Yankees are coming!" Sherman’s army entered Atlanta.

1901- In a speech Teddy Roosevelt said the U.S. should " Speak softly and carry a big stick!"

1909- On the three hundredth anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery New York City held a grand birthday party. Hundreds of ships and public spectacles capped off with Wilbur Wright flying his new aeroplane around the Statue of Liberty. Thomas Edison illuminating the entire skyline with the new electric bulbs- the first time a city was illuminated at night by electricity.

1923- Harold Lloyd’s comedy short "Why Worry?" released.

1930 - 1st non-stop airplane flight from Europe to US –only 37 hrs.

1931-Young new singer Bing Crosby sang for the first time on CBS radio.

1935- A huge hurricane submerged the Florida Keys, killing 443. They didn’t have names yet.

1945- WORLD WAR TWO OFFICIALLY ENDS. The Grand Surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay on board the U.S.S. Missouri. The Imperial Japanese forces sign the surrender documents before the representatives of the great powers. General Douglas MacArthur presided and his normally corny Victorian speaking style seemed appropriate for this historic moment:" These proceedings are now concluded. The most tragic era in human history has drawn to a close. We hope that future generations will not resort to war to resolve their problems."

The only glitch in the ceremony was the Canadian representative signed the surrender in the space reserved for the Japanese ambassador, and MacArthur brought his own pens which he collected back for himself for souvenirs. General Claire Chennault, the leader of the Flying Tigers had an ego almost as big as MacArthur's. He was the American general most under enemy fire, but he was not invited to the ceremony because the top brass considered him a pain in the ass.

1946- "The Iceman Cometh" by Eugene O’Neill premiered at the Martin Beck Theater on Broadway.

1963 - CBS & NBC expand network news from 15 to 30 minutes. CBS names a new reporter to star in their broadcast with the title "news anchor" Walter Cronkite.

1964- Ten months after his brother’s assassination, Robert Kennedy resigned his post as attorney general of the United States to run for Senator of New York. Bobbie Kennedy and new president Lyndon Johnson hated one another. Johnson said he felt snubbed by that "Pipsqueak and his Massachusetts Mafia." Bobbie Kennedy referred to the President and First Lady as "Colonel Cornpone and the Little Piggy". Johnson’s decision not to run for re-election in 1968 in part was because he felt he would have to put his popularity up against Bobby’s, the first politician to flash a two fingered peace sign credibly.

1973- J.R.R. Tolkein died at age 81.He once said after completing his Lord of the Rings books-My only regret is that I did not write more...

1985- A team of French and American oceanographers led by Dr. Robert Ballard discovered the final resting place of the HMS Titanic, which sank in 1912. Ballard would go on to discover the German battleship Bismarck, the WWII carrier USN Yorktown and JFK’s ship, the P.T. 109.

Yesterday’s Quiz: Considering Sarah Palin’s husband is of Alaskan Innuit (Eskimo) ancestry. Has there ever been a US President that was Native American?

Answer: Charles “Goodtime Charlie” Curtis, was the Vice President under Herbert Hoover 1929-1933. His grandmother was a Kaw Indian, and he liked to play up his Native American Ancestry for political advantage. He entitled his campaign biography- From Kaw Teepee to Capitol.

Sept. 1st, 2008 Mon
September 1st, 2008

Hi Shipmates.

I hope you are having a pleasant Labor Day. In case you are curious "where does Sito get all this stuff?" I thought I'd tell you my current reading habits.

I am working on a new book project on CGI History, so I am reading THE PIXAR TOUCH by David A. Price, SOLDIERS OF REASON: THE RAND CORPORATION AND THE RISE OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE and the late Bill Moritz' bio of Oscar Fischinger. I also relax with my Sunday New York Times and Kevin Starr's excellent anecdotal history THE DREAM ENDURES: California enters the 1940s.

Where else could you get a personal anecdote about C. Aubrey Smith returning to his old Cricket Club back home in Old Blighty? ( C. Aubrey Smith was the deep voiced, walrus-mustachioed old English actor, who did roles in many Hollywood films in the 1930s, and unofficially presided over the British ex-patriate commune in Tinseltown.

Okay, okay....So it's not Harry Potter, but I enjoy it!

The Hollywood Cricket Club in 1936. C. Aubrey Smith is the big man in the striped jacket and pipe seated down front. Seated on the far left with pipe is Errol Flynn, and seated next to him is Nigel Bruce. Courtesy of

Quiz: Considering Sarah Palin’s husband is of Alaskan Innuit (Eskimo) ancestry. Has there ever been a US President that was Native American?

Yesterday's Question Answered below: What is a Stoic?
History for 9/1/2008
Welcome to Septembrius, After August the Romans ran out of names for the months. Septembrius is from the Roman number 7, March being the first month.

Birthdays: Joachim Pachebel, Gentleman Jim Corbet, Sir Roger Casement, Seiji Ozawa, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Walter Reuther founder of the United Auto Workers, Englebert Humperdinck- the 19th century composer, Conway Twitty, Jack Hawkins, Leonard Slatkin, Seiji Ozawa, Yvonne DeCarlo, Gloria Estefan, Mike Lah, Boxcar Willie, Richard Farnsworth, Lily Tomlin,

338B.C. -BATTLE OF CHAERONEA- Phillip of Macedon, with his son Alexander the Great, defeated the combined armies of the independent Greek city states. . The Macedonian victory united Greece for the first time under one rule but ended the citystates individual rule. By this time Athens and Sparta had fallen from their once powerful positions and the Greek states that fought King Phillip were led by Thebes ( the Greek city of Theseus is often confused with the similarly named Egyptian city Thebes) Even among the hard drinking Macedonian warriors King Phillip was considered a partyguy. It was said that night he went out on the battlefield and danced on the bodies of the slain. The elite corps of the Greek Theban army was the Sacred Band, a unit where every warrior was married to the man next to him. This way you are less likely to run away from a battle if your lover is next to you rather than a stranger. The system worked, no one ran, the Sacred Band fought and died to the last man. Gays in the Military.

1159- Pope Adrian IV died. The only English Pope, his original name was Hildebrand.

1642- THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR BEGINS- Charles I of England, tired of arguing with his Parliament over money, religion and legislative power, set up his standard at Nottingham and called for the nobles of the Realm to bring troops to put down his saucy subjects. Charles once said “Democracy is a Greek drollery purporting the foolish notion that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.” The Royal flag was raised in a summer rainstorm and was soon blown down. This date is kind of a symbolic beginning of the conflict. Civil War was not a new thing in England- The War of the Roses, The Wars of Stephen and Matilda, Harry Hotspur, Simon de Monfort, Thomas Wyatt, Monmouths Rebellion, etc. But this is considered by historians the biggest English conflict.

1661- King Charles II introduced England to a sport he picked up in Holland, Yacht racing. Yacght is Dutch for little ship. This day in front of the court the King and his brother James raced each other down the Thames.

1715- French King Louis XIV, the Sun King, died at 76. He said:"Idiots! Did you think I would live forever?" later " Hmmm, I thought dying would be harder." His mistress Madame DeMaintenon once complained to the Archbishop that the king still insisted on sex every day and at 68 she was tired. He replied :"It is all our duty to obey the king."

1730- Benjamin Franklin marries Deborah Regan, the supposed mother of his illegitimate son William. William nursed a lasting hatred of his father for his shoddy treatment of him. When the revolution broke out William Franklin was the Royalist Governor of New Jersey. When Ben Franklin died he left nothing in his will to his son: " It is as much as he would have left me were the roles reversed."

1775- British King George III asks Czarina Catherine the Great for 20,000 Russian troops to put down the American rebellion . She declines but later said:"If I were my cousin George, rather than give up my American colonies I would sooner put a pistol to my head."The British crown did buy mercenaries from the Elector of Hess, the famous Hessians for ten pounds ten penny a man. The elector became very rich exporting his subjects, he received an extra charge whenever one was killed or wounded. Frederick the Great of Prussia charged cattle tax when they were transported over his territory. The Rothschild Bank was founded to handle the expenses. Of the 15,000 Hessians sent to America, only 5,000 returned. The rest weren't all killed, most decided to stay and become Americans.

1785 - Mozart publishes 6 string quartet opus 10 in Vienna

1799 - The Manhattan Company chartered. This was a clever bit of maneuvering by Aaron Burr to move in on the banking trade dominated by Alexander Hamilton’s rival The Bank of New York. The Manhattan Company was proposed as a concern to finance the building of new sources of fresh water. New York City’s mushrooming population was constantly beset by diseases of poor sanitation- yellow fever, typhus. Hamilton ruled the New York State Legislature but saw nothing wrong in building aqueducts. So the company was granted a charter. Deep in the companies boiler plate text was an amendment allowing it to open a bank as well. Much to Hamilton’s chagrin the Manhattan Bank opened. The Manhattan Bank in 1840 dropped it’s water projects and united with the Chase Bank to form the Chase Manhattan Bank. Burr and Hamilton would settle their rivalry with pistols in 1804 but Chase Manhattan is still around today.

1802 – The Aurora, a scandalous newspaper, first accused President Thomas Jefferson of having an 'improper relationship' with his slave Sally Hemmings. “Dusky Sally” was the child of Jefferson’s own father in law and his slave that Jefferson had inherited. When they met in 1786 he was in his late forties and she around fourteen. Friends said they lived together like man and wife for 38 years. The Aurora editor James Callander had also accused Alexander Hamilton of affairs, he called John Adams a “pernicious hermaphrodite” and even made fun of George Washington- calling him “the Dalai Lama of America.”. In August 1803 Callanders body was found floating face down in the Potomac. No murder enquiry was ever made. In 1998 DNA testing of descendants proved Jefferson indeed created offspring with his servant Ms. Hemmings, although outraged Jefferson apologists are still trying to blame it on another relative.

1836- In Jerusalem Rabbi Judah Hasid began to build his synagogue and his reform movement- Hasidim.

1852-The Hot Dog or Frankfurter was invented by a group of butchers in Frankfurt, Germany. It didn't catch on in the U.S until it was served at the opening the Coney Island Exhibition in 1894 where it was billed as a Vienna Sausage. Dog was one newspaper's speculation upon the origins of the meat. It was first served at a baseball game in 1910.

1859- The first Pullman sleeping car train went into service.

1864- After Sherman threatened his last escape route at Decatur rebel General John Bell Hood finally abandoned the City of Atlanta to the Yankees. By now the 34 year old Texas born General Hood had his arm amputated at Gettysburg and a leg blown off a Chickamagua. He required straps to hold him up in his saddle. Yet he survived the Civil War, became a US senator and fathered nine children. Eyewitnesses at this time said while on horseback his prosthetic leg stuck out at an odd angle and you had to duck to avoid being struck in the face by it as Hood rode by.

1870- THE BATTLE OF SEDAN. French Emperor Napoleon III lost his entire Empire losing to the Prussians and gets captured to boot. He had allowed himself to be bottled up in a fortress and pounded on all sides by new long distance German steel cannon. French general LaCroix wrote: " We are caught in a chamberpot and here comes la merde." When it came time to surrender the generals couldn't bear the humiliation so they sent LaCroix out to do the honors.

1885- Mrs. Emma Nutt became the first telephone switchboard operator. At first telephone companies used telegraph errand boys to connect calls, but switched to women after customers complained of the boys saucy wisecracks and rude attitude on the phone.

1897- The Boston T-train opened. First subway line in the U.S.

1901 - Construction began on the modern NY Stock Exchange.

1905-The Canadian territories of Prince Rupertland become the Provinces of Alberta and Sashkatchuan.

1913 - George Bernard Shaw’s play "Androcles & the Lion," premieres in London.

1916- The Keating-Owen act banned child labor from interstate commerce.

1919- Pat Sullivan's 'Feline Follies" cartoon staring Felix the Cat. Felix is the first true animated star, not depended on a previous newspaper comic strip. His body prototype, a black peanut shape with four fingers, will be the standard for years to come and copied for characters like Oswald and Mickey Mouse. By 1926 he was the most popular star in Hollywood after Chaplin and Valentino. Lindbergh had a Felix doll in his plane and it has been speculated that Groucho Marx copied his famous strut. The first television image broadcast by scientists in 1926 was of a Felix doll.

1923- Tokyo and Yokohama are destroyed by the largest earthquake recorded in the twentieth century. 100,000 died.

1928- Paul Terry premiered his sound cartoon RCA Photophone system for a short called "Dinner Time". Young studio head Walt Disney came by train out from Los Angeles to see it. He telephoned his studio back in L.A." My Gosh, Terrible! A Lot of Racket and Nothing Else!" He said they could continue to complete their first sound cartoon "Steamboat Willie".

1932-Mayor Jimmy Walker resigned as Mayor of New York. The corrupt but colorful Walker was a former vaudeville hoofer who wrote a hit song "Will you love me in September like you do in May.?" and flouted his chorus girl mistress at social functions. The man who served out Walker’s term was John P.”Boo-Boo” O’Brian, another Tamany machine politician who was so inept that when a reporter asked who he planned to name as the new Sewer Commissioner O’Brian said “A decision hasn’t been given me yet..”

1939- FIRST CANNES FILM FESTIVAL- The premiere film event in Europe had been the Venice Film Festival but western democracies tired of the bias of the judges for Fascist and Nazi films. For example Walt Disney was annoyed his Snow White, the box office and critical champ of 1938, lost out to Leni Reifenstahl's Olympia. So the little French Riviera city was chosen as the site for a new festival. Two days after opening World War Two was declared and the festival shut down until 1946.

1939- WORLD WAR TWO BEGAN. The Nazi Army blitzkreigs into Poland. Britain and France declared war two days later. Blitzkreig meant Lightning War- heavy motorized tanks and troops moving at full speed into an enemies interior while the airforce destroyed most of the Polish airforce still on the ground. The outdated Polish Army still fought with cavalry. The Nazis propaganda Ministry rigged up a border incident to claim Polish troops had fired first. They put dead concentration camp victims in German uniforms in a plan called Operation Canned Goods. So all through the massive invasion the operation was referred to in the German media as the “Counter Offensive”

1939- Hitler ordered the mentally ill sent to concentration camps.

1939 – The Physical Review published the 1st paper on a celestial phenomena called "black holes".

1941- Hitler passed a law ordering Jews in Nazis occupied countries to wear yellow stars on their clothing for identification. The King of Denmark reacted by wearing a yellow star.

1955- Phillip Loeb was a TV star, playing Papa on the show The Goldbergs on radio and television. But the book Red Channels listed him as a Communist. He was blacklisted and the show dropped by CBS and NBC. This day Loeb checked into the Hotel Taft and swallowed a bottle full of sleeping pills..

1956- Elvis Presley bought his momma a pink cadillac.

1969- Col. Mohammar el Khaddafi seized power in Libya after deposing King Idris.

1972 - Bobby Fischer (US) defeats Boris Spassky (USSR) for the world chess title.
The young eccentric genius Fischer was the Tiger Woods of chess and for a time a pop icon. He would after a few years of fame drop out of competition at the height of his powers and go into seclusion.

1978 - Last broadcast of "Columbo" on NBC TV

1979 - LA Court orders retired TV star Clayton Moore to stop wearing his Lone Ranger mask in public appearances. Paramount was pushing a bad remake the Legend of the Lone Ranger starring Klinton Spillsbury and so wanted the old man to stop competing for the spotlight. But today that movie is forgotten while everyone remembers the TV show,

1982 - Max US speedometer reading mandated at 85 MPH.

1995 – The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame opens in Cleveland Ohio

1998- THE STARR REPORT- The full text of independent Special Counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation into the sexual wrongdoings of President Bill Clinton with his intern Monica Lewinsky was released on-line. It was the first major news story reported on the Internet first, a full day before the other media could get it. Twenty million log on’s occurred in one days time. It caused huge internet user jams and sparked a furious response from millions of Americans, all on electronic mail. Americans learned of their Presidents many uses for his cigar and Monica snapping her thong underwear at him. Many felt the salacious details ranked as soft-core pornography but it was sent out without any child-proof guards anyway, championed by conservative politicians who normally cry for media censorship. Pornography publishing tycoon Larry Flynt jokingly offered Kenneth Starr a job.”Heck, any man who could get that much porn into 50 million homes so quickly should be working for me!”
Yesterday's Question: What is a Stoic?

Answer: Ancient Greek Philosophy developed by Zeno. It was so called because he taught his lessons outside on the Painted Porch (Stoa) of the Athenian Agora. Stoics taught that customs and superstitions are unnecessary; Virtue and Morality are an end in themselves, because they harmonized with Nature. That a person could be poor but rich in goodness, or locked in prison, but if your mind was free, you were free. Your self-control can never be disappointed, since things occur as destiny would have it and so it too is part of nature.
Marcus Aurelius and Seneca were Stoics, and it’s been theorized that Saint Paul admired its moral precepts, perhaps he worked some of them into his letters.
Today to be called Stoic, it means strong willed and resolute in the face of adversity.