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July 13, 2009 monday
July 13th, 2009

Quiz: What is chiarroscurro?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: Question: Where is the Isthmus of Darien?
History for 7/13/2009
Birthdays: French Admiral Bailly de Suffren, Cheech Marin, Father Flannagan, Cameron Crowe, Woye Solenka, Dave Garroway, Jack Kemp, Chef Paul Prudhomme, Michael Spinks, Film special effects artist Jim Danforth, Dr. Erno Rubik inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, Patrick Stewart is 68, Harrison Ford is 66, Tom Kenny the voice of Spongebob is 47

1704- BLENHEIM-the great battle in Bavaria where the Duke of Marlborough destroyed the French army of Louis XIV. In the three centuries since Agincourt the reputation of English arms had faded in Continental Europe, preoccupied as they were by their internal Wars of the Roses and English Civil Wars. While the British Navy's reputation was growing, on land King William III trusted his Dutch generals more than his British. Blenheim changed all that.

In one day Britain became the dominant powerbroker in Europe. John Churchill the first Duke of Marlborough was the great ancestor of Winston Churchill.

1787-THE NORTHWEST ORDINANCE PASSED- This unprecedented plan masterminded by Tom Jefferson stipulated that as new territory passed into the United States, their populations could organize their own government and enter the union as a state, an equal partner of the original older states. So Utah would have as much political power as Pennsylvania. Nothing like this had ever been imagined much less implemented. Before The Northwest Ordinance the states of Virginia and Pennsylvania were claiming all the land west of them to the Mississippi as their territory. Virginia even claimed the jurisdiction of Bermuda and Nassau in the Caribbean!

1798- Poet William Wordsworth visited Tinturn Abbey and was inspired to write his famous elegy on the ruins.

1832- Geologist Henry Schoolcraft discovered the source of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca, Minnesota.

1865- P.T. Barnum’s American Museum in New York City burned down in a spectacular fire. Barnum rebuilt but after that one burned as well, he got the idea of getting into the circus business. In his American Museum , more a sitting menagerie and sideshow than a museum as we know it, Barnum invented the idea of advanced hype and created kiddie matinees.

1925- Walt Disney and Lillian Bounds marry. Lillian was one of the first female animation ink & paint artists.

1930- Six thousand people in formal evening wear crowded into London’s Albert Hall to hear a special message from Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle. It was extra special because everyone knew Conan-Doyle had died just five days ago. Arthur Conan-Doyle was an advocate of spiritualism. He declared if anyone could get a message through from beyond the grave, he would. An empty chair was placed on stage in hopes of his apparition would take a seat. Hymns were sung and after long embarrassing silences, a clairvoyant medium claimed she could see Sir Arthur. Others saw nothing and thought it was all a big humbug.

1930 – David Sarnoff the head of the NBC radio network said in the NY Times that " The new invention of Television would be a theater in every home". Sounded crazy back then. Critics said it would require one room of the house be darkened, and they doubted people would just sit still that long.

1939- Frank Sinatra recorded his first album, this one with the Harry James Orchestra.

1949- Hollywood Studio exec David O. Selznick left his first wife Esther, the daughter of Louis B. Mayer, to marry actress Jennifer Jones.

1960- Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts nominated for President by the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. The day continued with rounds of fierce backroom deals to decide the running mate. Although the Kennedys wanted Sen. Stuart Symington of Missouri it finally was decided to go with Lyndon Johnson. He was the powerful Senate leader from Texas. Johnson had asked his Texas mentor Cactus Jack Garner if he should accept the job. Cactus Jack was Franklin Roosevelt’s Veep for his first two terms. The 90 year old Garner said:” Lyndon, the Vice Presidency ain’t worth a bucket a warm spit!” Bobby Kennedy considered offering Lyndon the Vice Presidency a token gesture to mollify his anger at losing the nomination. But he was surprised when Johnson accepted. Before going to Ciro’s with Frank Sinatra to celebrate the nomination, Presidential aide Kenny O’Donnell recalled JFK making the best of it:” The Vice Presidency doesn’t mean anything. I’m forty three and I don’t plan to die in office….”

1963- Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers was shot and killed in front of his home. His murderer Byron Daley Beckwith was not convicted until 1995.

1966- In Chicago psycho killer Richard Speck broke into a woman’s dormitory hotel where he raped and murdered 8 nurses as they came home from work. He spent the rest of his life in prison. Richard Speck became a posterboy for the death penalty. On a smuggled video recorder he bragged about how much fun he was having in prison at public expense, getting all the sex and drugs he wanted. Just before his death in 1999 he was asked if he had any remorse about the horrible things he did to those nurses. All he would say was “I guess it wasn’t their night.”

1977- The Great New York City Blackout of '77. For the second time in 20 years the whole darn East Coast power grid breaks down. Unlike the 1964 Blackout it was much longer, much hotter, and there was no full moon to illuminate the city. My wife Pat remembers being in the Bronx on the phone to her boyfriend in Hoboken, when her lights went out. She told him and he raced to the Jersey shore just in time to see the Skyline of Manhattan blacking out a section at a time like a huge set of dominoes. The next day posh Eastside clubs had guys drive to Jersey for ice so they could offer a cold cocktail on the sidewalk for $25 each. There was some looting and other civil disturbances and at the same time the lunatic serial killer the Son of Sam was on the prowl. No wonder they called it Fun City!

1985- A cancerous growth was removed from President Ronald Reagan’s colon. Comic Paul Rodriguez said:” Reagan is amazing: He got cancer in his nose, he got cancer in his butt, he got shot full of bullets- he’s like the Terminator President..”
Yesterday’s Question: Where is the Isthmus of Darien?

Answer: It is the old name for part of Panama that is narrowest in between the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean.