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November 13, 2007 tues.
November 12th, 2007

Quiz: What was the name of Abraham Lincoln's dog?

Answer to yesterdays' question below: Who was the original Goodtime Charlie?
History for 11/13/2007
Birthdays: Saint Augustine 354 AD, King Edward III of England, Robert Louis Stephenson, Edwin Booth, Oskar Werner, Jean Seberg, Erte'*, Jack Elam, Judge Louis Brandeis (the first Jewish U.S. Supreme Court Justice), Alexander Scourby, Eugene Ionesco, Garry Marshall, Whoopi Goldberg- original name Karen Johnson, Joe Mantegna is 60, Chris Noth is 47, Jimmy Kimmel is 40

*Erte’ the great art deco designer was from a very old Russian military family. Their names were the Tschichagoffs. A Tschitchagoff had fought Napoleon in 1812 and all had been generals and admirals under the Tsar. But young little Emelyan Tschitchagov didn’t want to be an admiral or general, he wanted to design ladies clothes! So he moved to Paris to seek his fortune. When there, impresario Serge Diaghilev suggested he change his name to something non-Russians could pronounce, he gave the same advice to Gyorgi Balanchivadze- or George Balanchine. So Emelyan Tschichakov adopted as his name his initials E.T. - in French "Erte’".

In Ancient Rome, today was Epulium Jovis, or the Feast of Jupiter Reclining.

1789- Ben Franklin wrote " Nothing is certain except Death and Taxes."

1842- Lewis Carroll noted in his diary today:" Began writing the fairy tale of Alice. Hope to be done by Christmas.." His real name was Charles Dodgeson, The Oxford mathematics don invented the nom de plume as a fictional Renaissance writer Ludovicus Carolus, or Lewis Carroll.

1861- THE TRENT AFFAIR- All through the American Civil War Abe Lincoln's biggest fear and Jefferson Davis’ greatest hope was direct intervention of the great European powers. With England in Canada and France in Mexico and the British Navy ruling the seas this was a real possibility. The British and French thought nothing of intervening in conflicts all over the world like the Greek Revolution or the war between Argentina and Uruguay. Almost as soon as the guns of Fort Sumter rang out Emperor Napoleon III of France and the German Elector of Baden were offering their services as impartial mediators. On this day a U.S. Navy frigate fired on the British ship HMS Trent and removed from her passengers two Confederate diplomats. Mason and Slidell were being sent as ambassadors to the Court of Saint James. They claimed immunity as diplomats, the U.S. said they were rebellious citizens. London reacted to the insult to her flag with an explosion of war talk General Garnet Woolsey volunteered to raise new regiments for an invasion of New York State from Canada. Lincoln's comment was "One War at a time." He apologized profusely and offered reparations. On the other side Prince Albert helped keep the peace.

1868- Giacomo Rossini died at 68. He retired at 31 from active life and lived on royalties. It was said he became so lazy he layed about in bed all day. One day when writing a concerto his score dropped to the floor as he leaned over to fill his wine glass. Rather than bend down to pick it up, he took a fresh sheet and wrote a sonata instead.

1874 -At the sesquicentennial celebrations of the University of Pennsylvania Robert Green invented the Ice Cream Soda.

1914- Clothing designer Carez Crosby took two handkerchiefs and some ribbon off some baby bonnets and invented the Brassiere.

1917- THE RUSSIAN CIVIL WAR- After Lenin’s Communist Party seized power in Saint Petersburg disaffected officers and businessmen fled to the edges of the Russian Empire to organize resistance to the new regime. This day some "White" soldiers under General Krasnoe skirmished with some of Trotsky’s Red Guards. These were the first shots of a bloody Civil War that would rage for 4 years and kill millions. After just completing a World War and two Revolutions, when she heard this news one Russian poet exclaimed : "Oh God, you mean its not over?!"

1921- Premiere of the silent classic "The Sheik" introducing young actor Rudolph Valentino. Valentino’s wife Alla Nazimova made sure his image was pure male sex appeal. " Rudy looks best when he’s naked."

1940- Walt Disney's 'Fantasia' opened. as Walt put it, "this'll make Beethoven!" Disney conceived the idea during a dinner with Leopold Stokowski at Chasen's Restaurant in Beverly Hills. Frank Lloyd Wright's opinion was 'I love the visuals, but why did you use all that old music?" Of all the composers used, Igor Stravinsky was the only one still living. He was approached for the rights to his "The Rites of Spring". He was told if he refused, his Russian 1910 copyright was invalid in the U.S. because Russia never signed the international copyright pact of 1905, so they could use it anyway, ya bald commie! Stravinsky gave permission. When he saw the final result, publicists said he "Speechless with Admiration!" In actual fact he told Vanity Fair in 1960 that he thought Stokowski's orchestration was "execreble" and the visuals "imbecillic". But his opinion didn't stop him from selling Disney the rights to two more works, Renard and the Firebird.
The film was meant to be seen in Fantasound, a stereo sound system so advanced most theaters couldn't run it. To develop early components of the sound system, Disney gave a contract to two young Stanford engineers just starting out- Hewlett & Packard.

1953- An Indiana Judge ordered his local school district to remove any school books with references to the character Robin Hood. All the "take from the rich and give to the poor" it was obvious to the judge that the medieval rogue of Sherwood Forest was a Communist.

1969- President Richard Nixons’ Vice President Spiro Agnew accused the national news media of bias and partisanship. He excoriates them as "Nittering nabobs of Negativism" and gains a reputation for pithy use of the language. In reality Nixon speechwriters William Safire and Pat Buchanan wrote all of Spiros’ best lines. Up to then White House reporters were a pretty compromising bunch, winking at John Kennedy’s bimbos and Franklin Roosevelt’s wheelchair. But Nixon’s paranoia led him to declare the press his enemy. So the press reacted in kind. You can date the birth of the modern rapacious, scandal obsessed press corps from this speech.

1971- ABC TV. movie "the Duel" premiered. It starred Dennis Weaver as a hapless motorist on a lonely freeway menaced by an unseen truck driver . The film first brought fame to a young director named Steven Speilberg.

1974- Atomic plant worker Karen Silkwood was the first person to expose lax safety practices at the US nuclear power plants. For this she was rewarded with demotion, harassment, lawsuits. Even a radioactive isotope was put under her car seat. On this night she was finally killed in a car accident. She was on her way to talk to a New York Times reporter and it’s been alleged her car was deliberately run off the road. The files she was going to hand over to the press disappeared from the car. The crash was ruled an accident.

1978- Mickey Mouse gets his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

1986- President Ronald Reagan attempting to explain the festering Iran Contra Scandal said on nationwide TV:" We did not and I repeat did not…trade weapons or ransom for hostages or would we ever." Of course we now know that was exactly what we were doing.

1986- John Huston and Woody Allen denounced the fad of computer colorizing classic Black & White films like the Maltese Falcon. Supposedly one of the last things Orson Welles said on his deathbed was "Keep Ted Turner and his crayons away from my movies!"

1991- Disney's animated film Beauty and the Beast opened, the first animated film ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
YESTERDAY'S QUESTION: Who was the original Goodtime Charlie?

ANSWER: Republican President Herbert Hoover's vice president was Charles Curtis, called by writers of the time " fat as a pastry and the apotheosis of mediocrity". He got the label Goodtime Charlie because when the Stock Market crashed and the Great Depression was putting millions of Americans out of work, VP Curtis was photographed going from one all night whoopee party to another. He didn't seem to think there was anything wrong and made speeches that things were fine. During the election of 1932 he actually argued with protesting unemployed workers, saying they were all "too damn dumb" to understand economics.
Hmmm...a conservative Republican Vice President who says things that infuriate people...gosh! I'm glad that doesn't happen today!