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August 09, 2008 Sat.
August 9th, 2008

Quiz: What is an Epicurean?

Answer to yesterday’s question below: Who created the voice of Woody Woodpecker?
History for 8/9/2007
Birthdays: King Henry V of England, John Dryden, Sir Issac Walton-author of the Compleat Angler, Melanie Griffith, Whitney Houston, David Steinberg, Deion Sanders, Bob Cousy, Jill St. John, Robert Shaw, Robert Aldrich, Sam Elliot is 64, Gillian Anderson is 40, Pamela Lyndon Travers –the creator of Mary Poppins, Eric Bana is 40, Audrey Tautou is 30

378A.D. HADRIANOPLE-The "Custer's Last Stand' of the Roman Empire.
The Emperor Valens and his legions were wiped out by a horde of Goths led by Fritigern the Visigoth. This battle is considered the last battle of the ancient world and the beginning of the Medieval superiority of armored horsemen -which was the way the Goths fought. Valens co-emperor Valentinian gave him the Empire of the East because it was the easier of the two theaters and Valentinian was confident even a dummy like Valens couldn't mess it up. The Nordic peoples migrations into western Europe we call the Barbarian Invasions the Germans called "Die Volkvanderung-the Wandering of the People".

1588- Queen Elizabeth I visited the camp at Tilbury to inspect the troops that would defend England from a landing by the Spanish Armada. The Armada had been driven off ten days ago but they were still somewhere in English waters so it still seemed like a good idea to visit. She thrilled the men by delivering the most famous speech of her career: “ I know that I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, Aye, and of a King of England too!”

1854- Henry David Thoreau published “Walden”, the first great work about nature conservation.

1910 - Alva Fisher patents the electric washing machine.

1929- Hollywood theater mogul Alexander Pantages was convicted of assaulting a young woman in a broom closet. The conviction was later overturned. It was the first successful defense case of attorney Jerry Geisler, who became famous for getting movie stars and other Hollywood hoi poloi out of trouble with the law. The word in the studios when a movie star was naughty was “Get Geisler!”

1930- Max Fleischer's cartoon "Dizzy Dishes" introduces Betty Boop. A singing star named Helen Kane sued Fleischer claiming that they stole her distinctive Boop-Ooop-a-Doop from her, but the case was thrown out when it was revealed Kane had stolen it herself from another singer. Betty was supposed to be a dog character to match her male couterpart Bimbo. But Animator Grim Natwick had done a lot of drawing of girls in Paris and New York and turned the character into a saucy little flapper.

1936- Jesse Owens wins four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics. Host head of state Adolf Hitler refused to shake hands with him.

1941- One of the more legendary British air aces in the Battle of Britain was Wing Commander Douglas Bader. He was all the more novel because he was had no legs. This day Bader’s Spitfire was finally shot down by the Luftwaffe over Belgium. Bader bailed out and was captured. But the German pilots were so impressed with this handicapped ace that they treated him like a rock star, touring him around airfields where other pilots could wine and dine him. Bader’s tin legs were damaged when his plane went down so the RAF dropped a substitute pair over a German airfield for him. But later as a POW he tried so many times to escape the German commandant of his prison camp took away his legs. “I wish all my prisoners were so easily manageable.”

1942- Walt Disney's "Bambi" premiered.

1944- Antoine Du Saint-Exupery, the author of the Little Prince, died when he crashed his fighter plane. He was not shot down by the Germans, he was just a terrible pilot. The main protaganist of the little prince is an aviator who crashes his plane.

1945-NAGASAKI- the second Atomic Bomb "Fat Man" was dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. The B-29 bomber "Boxcar” was plagued by a violent thunderstorm and they wasted precious fuel searching for their target. When they made it back to base after the 14 hour flight two of their four engines had run out of gas. Nagasaki was the second choice target. The first Kokura, was so fogged in scientists couldn't study the bomb's effect. 63,000 people killed was one effect.

1945- At the same time President Harry Truman was reporting to Congress and the nation about his trip to Potsdam and plan for post war Germany. He said among other things that it was vital for democracy in Germany to break up the huge centralized corporations and foster the rights of workers to form unions. Hmmm…we could use a plan like that in the US today….

1947 -The British government in an attempt to bolster revenue for their shattered postwar economy, announced a 300% import tariff on Hollywood films. The Big Eight-Hollywood studios retaliate by stopping the export of movies to Britain. The British film industry has a heyday and Disney starts producing films locally in Britain like 'Rob Roy Highland Rogue' and such.

1960- Near Cuernavaca Mexico, Harvard professor Timothy Leary took some magic mushrooms and experienced his first hallucinogenic trip. He called it “ a conversion.”

1963 - Britain's rock & roll TV show, Ready Steady Go, premieres.

1967 - Joe Orton, English actor/playwright (Leaf, Murdered), died at age 34.

1969-HELTER SKELTER- Charles Manson's cultists murder pregnant actress Sharon Tate and several houseguests of her husband/director Roman Polanski. One other guest killed was socialite Jay Sebring, who made cocaine fashionable and invented the 1970's blow-dry hair style for men. A Polish tourist named Dominic Frykowski who had the misfortune to be visiting that night was shot twice, bludgeoned and stabbed 51 times. Kill the Pigs was scrawled on the wall in blood. Charles Manson had a messianic concept that he could lead the Apocalypse devolving out of a race war if his followers first killed celebrities to advertise their cause. Manson had a hit list that included Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen and Liz Taylor. The California spawned Hippy-Flower-Child culture lost it’s innocent fun after Manson.

1974- “KNEEL WITH ME, HENRY.” Richard Nixon, aka Tricky Dick, resigned and left the Presidency of the United States in disgrace. New President Gerald Ford of whom Lyndon Johnson once said "Sometimes I think Jerry played football once too often with his helmet off" assumed office.
Tricky Dick, courtesy of the Guardian UK
I recall hearing the news, while I was sitting in the offices of Penthouse Magazine, where I was trying to sell some spot cartoons. I had already worked for Playboy under Harvey Kurtzman, so I thought I could diversify. That night I went to my girlfriend's house in Queens and her dad and I drank many toasts and laughed, as Nixon teared up and blubbered his resignation speech. Life was good then.
Afterwards, Nixon moved to New York City. His logic was: In NY, no one likes each other there, so I'll blend in." Today President Bush's popularity is lower than Richard Nixons.

1995- THE HIGH TECH BUBBLE- Netscape first appeared on the stock market. The 15 month old company started by a Silicon Graphics exec and a 22 year old college senior immediately shot up to $1.07 billion dollars in value. This IPO signaled the beginning of the gold rush in high tech stocks which five years later came crashing down as violently. Stocks like Lucent Technology which sold at $84 dollars a share in 1998 dropping to 39 cents a share in 2001.

1999- The US Government tax people closed Nevada’s Mustang Ranch, the most famous legal house of prostitution in the US.
Quiz: Who created the voice of Woody Woodpecker?

Answer: In 1940 Mel Blanc initially created the voice of the famous bird, then Walter Lantz’s wife Gracie assumed the job until her death in the 1985.