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June 20th,2008 fri.
June 20th, 2008

Question: Sometimes the followers of a famous person are called Myrmidons. Who were the Myrmidons?

Yesterdays Question answered below: What is a Pom-Pom Gun?
History for 6/20/2008
Birthdays: Wolf Tone, Jacques Offenbach, Lillian Hellman, Errol Flynn, Audie Murphy,
Andre Watts, Cyndee Lauper, Bob Vila, Chet Atkins, Stephen Frears, Brian Wilson, Robert Rodriquez, John Goodman, Josh Lucas, Nicole Kidman

1218- Simon De Monfort, Leader of the Crusade against the Albigensian heretics of southern France, was squished by a catapult stone whilst besieging Toulouse. Legend says the lucky catapult shot that nailed Simon was fired by the women & children of Toulouse who knew they could expect no mercy from him. In his brutal crusade in Albi, for the first time, the order heard about how to tell Heretics from True-Believer,“ Slay them All and God will know His own.”

1756- THE BLACK HOLE OF CALCUTTA- Bengal Rajah Siraj ud Daula stuffed 146 captured British officers in a cell the size of Dilbert’s cubicle. Most died of asphyxiation by morning. 23 survived. It's a phenomenon discovered here as well as during the London Blitz of 1940 in crowded shelters that if you pass out in a perfectly upright position you may die because the blood literally drains out of your brain. Ick!

1789- THE TENNIS COURT OATH- French King Louis XVI got annoyed with his parliament or Estates General for constantly asking for permanent power and the right to rule by laws. So this day he tells them to disband. Of the Estates three divisions the First Estate- Nobility and the Second Estate – Clergy quietly obey and go home. But the Third Estate -the common folk- refused and when they were turned out of their meeting hall by the guards they reconvened in the Royal tennis court. There the members pledged not to disband until Liberty was established. "Go tell your master that here the People rule!"- Said Mirabeau to the royal herald.

1837-QUEEN VICTORIA-Upon the death of her uncle King William IV, little, 19 year old Princess Victoria becomes Queen of the British Isles. She will rule until 1901 and give her name to the era, Victorian. She came to the throne when veterans of the American Revolution and Waterloo were still alive and she lived to use electric lights, telephones and was the first monarch to watch a movie. Before Victoria, the British Royals were never considered examples of morality. It was said her grandfather George III was insane, her Uncle George IV a bigamist, her other uncle, William IV, a glutton and her mother the Duchess of Kent was living openly with an Irish adventurer named James Conroy. If you wanted to meet the great men of the nation you had to look in the gambling houses or brothels. Victoria changed all that. She and her husband Prince Albert made the pursuit of Morality and family the highest standard of polite society. My favorite Victoria story was this: it had to be explained to her exactly what a lesbian was, after which she dismissed the concept saying: "Women do not do that sort of thing." Another Queen Victoria story undercuts her prudish reputation just a bit: Apparently, there was an admiral whose passion was restoring old ships. He was boring Victoria to death with a long story about his latest project in drydock. To change the subject, Her Majesty inquired as to the health of his wife. The admiral, who was hard of hearing, replied, "Well, Mam, next we are going to turn her over and scrape her bottom." Reportedly, Victoria laughed ‘til tears rolled down her face.

1900- THE BOXER REBELLION- In Beijing, the Chinese Boxer Rebellion traps the foreign diplomatic corps in their compound in the Forbidden City. The Chinese mobs were led by martial arts societies like the I Ho Chu Huan- The Righteous and Harmonius Fists. Their goal was to drive out the hated foreigners who were ruining China the way they had carved up Africa and India. The German ambassador Baron Von Kettler was shot down in the street and the Japanese ambassador was pulled out of his sedan chair and beheaded. Women in western clothing were doused with gasoline and set ablaze. The Chinese Manchu Empress Zhou Chi permitted the regular Chinese Army to support the Boxers. At first the besieged delegations didn't get along well, the British and Japanese didn't trust the Russians, the Germans were cut off from their big new brewery in Tsing-Tao, yeah, the same. And nobody liked the Americans with their constant preaching that they weren't out to annex new colonies while their gunboats and Marines prowled the Yangtze. But under the leader ship of British attache , Sir Archibald MacDonald, the diplomats soon learned to work together. They held out until an international force rescued them- the "55 days in Peking".

1910- Longtime President of Mexico, Porfirio Diaz, unsuccessfully tried to stop the Revolution breaking out by declaring martial law and arresting hundreds.

1940- Thirty thousand people gather at the Hollywood Bowl and the surrounding hills for an America First rally. There they listened to isolationist celebrities like Lilian Gish and Charles Lindbergh and leading Republicans protest President Franklin Roosevelt’s plans to aid Britain and get us into World War Two.” It is obvious that Britain will lose the war…. It is not freedom when one fifth the country can drag four fifths into a war it does not want!” –quote Lucky Lindy. Students like future President Gerald Ford were in the crowd.

1940- Artist Alberto Vargas signs a contract with Esquire Magazine to paint the ‘Vargas Girls’ pin ups that made the magazine famous. He replaced artist Richard Petty who was demanding $1500 a week. Vargas was paid $75 a week. Today an original Vargas goes for $200,000.

1941- Two days before Hitler’s invasion of Russia, Richard Zorga, a Russian spy in the German Embassy in Tokyo, sent home to Moscow microfilm with complete information on the attack. He even revealed it’s codename- Operation Barbarossa. A Russian agent in Hungary, code-named “Lucy”, and the Chinese agents of Mao Tse Tung confirmed the information. Yet despite this warning Soviet leader Josef Stalin refused to believe it. On June 22 Stalin and the Red Army were taken completely by surprise.

1941-Disney's "the Reluctant Dragon" premiered with cartoonist's pickets around the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. Police actually have to close part of Hollywood Blvd. out of concern for what the rampaging animators might do. Future UPA producer Steve Bosustow drove up in a limo and picketed in tuxedo and top hat. His chauffeur was Maurice Noble, the designer of the RoadRunner cartoons. Ironically the movie was part documentary about how wonderful life was working at the Disney studio.

1947- Benjamin Bugsy Siegel, the mobster creator of Las Vegas, was murdered while reading his evening paper in his Beverly Hills home. He had bought the mansion from opera singer George London for his girlfriend actress Virginia Hill. The order to whack Bugsy was probably given by his old friend Mayer Lansky. The Mafia syndicate back east was fed up with Bugsy’s Las Vegas’ cost overruns. The second owner of his Flamingo casino Moe Greenberg had his throat cut with a butcher knife. Still, the Flamingo Hotel & Casino and the Las Vegas Strip went on to become a great success.

1948- The Ed Sullivan Show "Toast of the Town" later to be “the Ed Sullivan Show” premiered. Sullivan's show was the showcase that brought new acts like Elvis Presley, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones into the average American living room. Prior to this, Mr. Sullivan was a columnist and radio show personality who co-authored "Red Channels", a book accusing dozens of his compatriots as Communists. His “really, really Big Shewww” may have been given to Sullivan to make him lay off.

1972- In the first reaction to the news of the Watergate Break in, Nixon Presidential spokesman Ron Zeigler dismissed it: “It is not for the White House to comment on the investigation of a third-rate burglary”. The Third-Rate Burglary drove Richard Nixon from office in 1974.

1972- THE SMOKING GUN- All through the Watergate scandal the big question was how involved was President Richard Nixon? A conversation in the Oval office was taped this day between Nixon and his aide H.R. Haldeman. Whatever was said on this tape it took two years of lawsuits and a Supreme Court ruling to get Nixon to surrender it. This tape for June 20th had 18 missing minutes. Experts say five separate manual erasures caused the gap. After a feeble attempt to blame it on the fumble fingers of Nixon’s secretary, Rosemary Woods, it’s generally believed ,although never admitted ,that Nixon himself probably erased the incriminating parts of the tape. It was called the “smoking gun”. Three days after the tape was made public in 1974 President Nixon resigned. If Nixon had simply popped this tape into the White House incinerator he would have finished his presidency with honor.

Yesterdays’ Question: What is a Pom-Pom Gun?

Answer: During World War Two the four barreled antiaircraft machine gun used on US aircraft-carrriers and other ships made a distinctive “Pom-POM” as it fired.