Sept 26, 2016
September 26th, 2016

Quiz: In Lord of the Rings, Gandalf says to the Balrog “You Shall Not Pass!” But this statement was a famous phrase known to Tolkien. Who coined the phrase first?

Yesterday’s question answered below: ” Born with a silver spoon in his mouth?”
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History for 9/26/2016
Birthdays: George Gershwin, T.S. Elliot, John Chapman (also known as Johnny Appleseed)-1774, Winsor McCay-1869, Theodore Gericault -1791, Olivia Newton-John, Cheryl Tiegs is 68, Marty Robbins, Linda Hamilton, Pope Paul VI, Jack Lalanne, Melissa Sue Andersen, Phillip Bosco, James Cavaziel, Surena Williams, Linda Hamilton is 60.

303AD. Feast of Saints Damian & Cosmas . The Syrian twin doctors were nicknamed 'The Moneyless". They were martyred by being crucified, stoned, shot full of arrows, beheaded, and they had to read their own prescriptions.

1370- Battle of Nicopolis- During a pause in the Hundred Years War with the English , Count Egguerand de Coucy led the cream of French knighthood in one last Crusade to help the king of Hungary defeat the Turks. Instead their army was defeated and captured. Sultan Bajazet (nicknamed Ilderim- Lightning) was so fed up with crusaders, knights and chivalry that he refused to ransom them, but had them all beheaded.

1529- Sultan Sulieman the Magnificent lays siege to the city of Vienna. At one point he told his troops that if they didn't capture the city he would fill the moat with their genitals. (ouch!) The goal of the Ottoman Empire was the "Completion of the Crescent" . Starting in Turkey the southern side swung out through Palestine, Egypt to the Atlantic. Now the Northern arm must go through Hungary and Austria through France to Spain.

1560- A Spanish expedition under Don Pedro de Ursua left Peru for the deep Amazon. Lost in the limitless rainforest almost all his men die or go mad. The expedition at one point is taken over by a deranged conquistador named Aguirre who declared himself 'Emperor of the Kingdom of El Dorado'! The incident is the subject of Werner Herzog's famous 1972 movie "Aguirre the Wrath of God".

1575-Writer Miguel de Cervantes was captured by Barbary Pirates and held a slave for five years until his family ransomed him. He wrote Don Quixote in 1604.

1579- Sir Francis Drake in his ship the Golden Hind entered Plymouth Harbor England, after sailing around the world for 33 months. He raided Panama, Peru and visited a strange new place they called Nova Albion and we call California. The Golden Hind was kept in dry-dock in a place of honor for years, until it finally fell to pieces from dry rot.

1687- The Ancient GREEK PARTHENON WAS BLOWN UP during a minor Venetian raid on Turkish held Athens. A random shell ignited a gunpowder magazine the Turks had been storing inside of it. For two thousand years the Greek masterpiece had survived mostly intact. Later on in 1801 English Lord Elgin will back up his frigate to the shore and pry off the frieze marble sculptures for his collection.

1739- THE WAR OF JENKINS EAR- A small war between England and Spain started when a Spanish warship stopped an English merchant ship and cut off the ear of the captain named Jenkins. Jenkins ran around Parliament loudly calling for war and waving his ear in a bottle of spirits. He wore his hair long so some doubted that it was his ear in that bottle.

1820- In Defiance Missouri 85 year old frontier scout Daniel Boone died of acute fever and indigestion from eating too many yams. He did all of his exploring without a compass. Someone once asked him - Didn't you ever get lost? He replied, No, but I was once bewildered for three days...

1835- Donizetti’s opera Lucia De Lammermoor premiered.

1863- In a secret meeting, several Confederate generals agree to petition President Jefferson Davis to have their army commander Baxton Bragg, sacked for incompetence. Despite his just winning a victory- Chickamagua. Private soldiers like memoirist Sam Watkins reported that most of Bragg’s army hated him. But Pres Davis was the only man in the Confederacy who liked Bragg, and kept him in command. Bragg humiliated the mutineers and the rest of his staff refused to talk to him. His top cavalry leader, Nathan Bedford Forrest, once got angry enough to pull his sword on him. Baxton Bragg’s next battle, Missionary Ridge, was a decisive defeat.

1887- Emile Berliner patented the gramophone, rejecting Thomas Edison's cylinder in favor of a flat disc record on a turntable.

1892- The John Philip Sousa Band makes it's first public appearance.

1914- The Federal Trade Commission, or FTC created.

1918- THE MEUSE ARGONNE OFFENSIVE- To the rally cry of Marshal Foch “Everyone to the Battle!” the Allies began the final mass offensive from Belgium to Switzerland to finish the Germans and end World War I.

The Big Breakout was done by the fresh American divisions thrown forward by Pershing into the Argonne forest. Led by colorful officers like Douglas MacArthur, the Boy Colonel, who led his men calmly across No-Man's Land without a helmet or gun, and dressed in his West Point varsity sweater and cane. After fierce resistance the exhausted German lines finally caved in. The Offensive had started off in a dense fog. A whole Yank battalion got lost and surrounded by Germans. After being rescued they were hailed as the "Lost Battalion".

1926- Bullock's Wilshire department store opened. The Tea Room quickly became the in place for Hollywood Society to see and be seen in.

1937- "Queen of the Blues" Singer Bessie Smith died after a car accident in Mississippi. She crashed her Packard into a parked car. She was 43. One account said she died because she was refused treatment in a segregated hospital but the truth was she was treated by a white doctor at the scene and sent to the nearest hospital, which was a black one.

1939- Nazi scientists led by Rudolph Heisenberg met to discuss how the fission of uranium could be used to create a super bomb. Meanwhile in America Hungarian scientist Dr. Leo Szilard was warning the US government that they better start an atomic program fast.

1941- Max Fleischer's "Superman" cartoon debuts. They were much more expensive that the usual short cartoons- $90,000 to the usual $40,000, but Paramount wanted them.

1955- Eddie Fisher married Debbie Reynolds.

1957- The musical West Side Story opened. The legend goes composer Leonard Bernstein was in the hospital to be operated on for a deviated septum. While recuperating he ran into lyricist Steven Sondheim, who was also recovering from an operation. To pass the time while convalescing they started talking about the idea of an updated Romeo and Juliet set to music in the slums. One early title was Gang Way!

1960-THE NIXON-KENNEDY TELEVISED DEBATE. The first televised presidential debate that really ushered in the era of the "media-candidate". People who heard the debate on radio thought Vice President Nixon had won because he scored more points on issues. But far more who saw it on Television lauded Kennedy because of his cool, calm Presidential bearing as opposed to Nixon's pale sweaty-lipped nervousness.
As he watched the debate on TV, Nixon’s running mate, Senator Henry Cabot-Lodge III, murmured “ We’re gonna lose…” For years Nixon put down his electoral defeat to the fact that he refused stage makeup before going on camera.
One New York Times analyst recently referred to Kennedy & Nixon as the Roadrunner & Wile E. Coyote of American politics.

1961- Nineteen year old folk singer Bob Dylan made his debut in a Greenwich Village coffee house Gerde’s Folk City.

1961- Fidel Castro gave a speech to the United Nations that lasted 4 and 1/2 hours.

1962- The Beverly Hillbillies debuts. The story goes that CBS mogul William Paley disliked farm-humor type shows and this was premiered behind his back while he was on vacation.

1964-The premiere of Gilligan’s Island. The good ship Minnow was named for Newton Minnow, the FCC Chairman who first called television “A Vast Wasteland”.

1983- Filmation's "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe". The popular toy was originally supposed to be a product tie -in to the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Conan the Barbarian, but toy maker Mattel balked at the films R rated violence, so changed the toy's name. I Have The Powerrrrrr!!!

1987- A market research group called Q-5 tried to use a bank of computers number-crunching demographic surveys to design the ultimate safe, wholesome, politically-correct children's show. They came up with "The Little Clowns of Happytown"-. Of the 26 children's series in syndication it remained dead last in ratings, He-Man, Jem and G.I. Joe on top. The people have spoken.

1990- The Motion Picture Association changed the rating for the naughtiest movies from X to NC-17.

2001- While the ruins of the World Trade Center were still warm, Pres. George W. Bush asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to draw up military plans to attack Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks.

2004- Florida gets hit with its fourth hurricane in six weeks. Hurricane Jean killed 6 and caused billions in damage. The last time Florida was hit by that many hurricanes was in 1886.
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Yesterday Quiz: ” Born with a silver spoon in his mouth?”

Answer: In the Victorian Era in well-to-do families, the godparents of a newborn would celebrate the child by sending a gift of a spoon made of solid silver, for baby to have its first meal. So being born with a silver spoon came to mean being born with all the advantages.


Sept 25, 2016
September 25th, 2016

Quiz: What is the origin of the phrase ” Born with a silver spoon in his mouth?”

Yesterday’s Question Answered below: In the Fundamental Laws of the United States, only one person was forbidden by law to ever have his name on any statue or monument. Who is that?
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History for 9/25/2016
Birthdays: William Faulkner, Jean Phillipe Rameau, Mark Rothko, Dmitri Shoshtakovich, Sergei Bondarchuk, Phil Rizzutto the Scooter, Bob MacAdoo, Heather Locklear is 54, Scotty Pippin, Christopher Reeve, Mark Hamill is 65, Glen Gould, Barbera Walters is 87, Red Smith, Aldo Ray, Will Smith is 48, Michael Douglas 72 & Catherine Zeta-Jones-47

1066-Battle of Stamford Bridge -the last great Viking raid. The king of the Northmen Harald the Dragon landed an army at the old Roman city of Eboracum, now called in Norse Yoorvik or York. There he was met by the Anglo-Saxon army of King Harold Goodwinson. "Give us land." The Vikings said." We'll give you as much land as is needed to cover your bones!" said Harold, then defeated the Vikings in a huge battle. Harald the Dragon went down fighting as did his English ally Earl Tostig.
Almost as soon as the fight was over the Saxons learned a new invasion force had landed in the south near Dover, the Normans under Duke William of Normandy. King Harold having to fight in north England then rush by forced marches down to the south to fight another big battle, was a factor in his eventual defeat at Hastings.

1493- Christopher Columbus sailed from Cadiz for the New World on his second trip, this time with seventeen ships. He had been named Governor General of the Indies and Admiral of the Ocean Seas.

1513- Vasco Nunez de Balboa emerged from the Panamanian rainforest to view the great expanse of the western ocean. He calls it "Pacific" the "Peaceful Ocean."

1525- THE PEACE OF AUGSBURG- German Emperor Charles V wanted his rebellious people to knock off all this Protestant Reformation stuff and stay Catholic like him. But they fought him all over Germany in the Schmalkalden Wars. Even his own sister joined the new faith. Finally Charles made a peace. All could have religious toleration- well, not really. It just said whatever your local prince said was the official religion. This was the first official state acknowledgment that more than one Christian faith now existed.

1690- The first American newspaper published in Boston; " Publick Occurances Both Foreign and Domestick, Issue Number One" There was no number two because the Lord Governor of Massachusetts colony promptly closed it down.

1775- American patriot leader Ethan Allen was captured by the British while attempting an assault on Montreal. He was sent to England for prison, but exchanged for prisoners two years later.

1777- British Lord Howe after defeating Washington's army CAPTURED THE AMERICAN CAPITOL OF PHILADELPHIA. The rebel congress had picked up their Declaration of Independence and hightailed it for Harrisburg.
It was the American's luck that at this time the colonies were so loosely knit and decentralized that losing the "nation's capitol" wasn't very important to anyone except Philadelphians. Town Loyalists had a field day routing out rebel sympathizers. Because the Quakers espoused non-violence everyone thought they were on the other side, so they were singled out for especially rough treatment- pelted with stones, tar & feathers, etc.

Lord Howe complained to London that by now he had defeated the American army several times and captured it's capitol, yet the Rebellion showed no signs of dying out. America only had four major cities, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Charleston and they all had been captured by His Majesties forces at one time or another. Except for little pirate John Paul Jones and a ship or two, they had sunk most of the American Navy. But the Yankees wouldn’t give up. Obviously a military solution to the American problem was not the answer." I can only pacify the colonies if I had two soldiers for every colonist." London responded by replacing Lord Howe.

1789- James Madison proposed a series of ten amendments be added to the new Constitution guaranteeing basic personal freedoms, the BILL OF RIGHTS. This day it was approved by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.

1828- The September Conspiracy. Simon Bolivar the Liberator was confronted by assassins sent by his own vice president to kill him. He escaped death thanks in part to his mistress, Manuela Saenz.

1840- By order of the Mexican Government, Slavery was outlawed in California- except.....Indian children were bought and sold for another ten years.

1887-The first Sears Catalog published.

1888- The beginning of the Sherlock Holmes adventure the Hound of the Baskervilles.

1890- Spurred on by the writings of John Muir and John Wesley Powell, Congress created Yosemite National Park in California.

1911- Groundbreaking in Boston for Fenway Park.

1917- After the Von Richtofen, the Red Baron, Germanys greatest air ace was Werner Voss. He shot down 48 enemy planes. Today Voss died on one of the most spectacular dogfights in aviation history. Alone in his baby-blue Fokker Triplane, Voss took on 8 British planes, all aces like himself and fought them all to a standstill. Shortly before Voss went down, the British saw his propellor stop turning. Did he run out of gas, or was his so badly wounded he could no longer control the engine? No one is sure. He was 20.

1918- Brazil declared war on Austria. This was seen as purely ceremonial, the Great War was just about over.

1933- Young writer John Huston was driving drunk on Sunset Blvd when he struck and killed a pedestrian. His father Walter Huston was a top movie star, so to avoid scandal MGM head Louis B. Mayer paid $46,000 to cover it up. John Huston went on to become a great Hollywood director and screenwriter.

1953- Alfred Hitchcock wrapped filming on his only 3D film, Dial M for Murder.

1957- President Eisenhower sends the bayonet wielding 101st Airborne to enforce the integration of Central High School in Little Rock Arkansas after the governor refused to use the National Guard. Three days earlier the Guard stood by doing nothing when a mob almost lynched a 15 year old girl trying to enter the school. She was saved by a sympathetic white friend. Eisenhower was not exactly colorblind himself, but the Supreme Court ordered school desegregation, and to the old general, orders were orders. Escorted by troops, nine black students entered the school through hordes of jeering whites. One girl was spit on so many times she had to wring her dress out in a sink afterward.

1965- The Beatles cartoon show premiered.

1980- John Bonham of Led Zeppelin was found dead of alcohol poisoning.

1984-THE RUBBERHEADS STRIKE- Disneyland workers including the actors who stroll the park in big Mickey and Goofy heads go on strike.

1988 – Former President Jimmy Carter’s brother Billy died. Billy Carter was one of the more embarrassing presidential relatives- he used his influence as a paid lobbyist for Khaddafy’s Libya and produced BillyBeer, undoubtedly the worst beer I ever tasted.
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Yesterday Quiz: In the Fundamental Laws of the United States, only one person was forbidden by law to ever have his name on any statue or monument. Who is that?

Answer: Benedict Arnold. This was a personal wish of George Washington himself. He wanted no credit and no memory of his treason to survive their generation. At Saratoga, Arnolds greatest victory, there is one statue. Not of him, but to his wounded leg with no name enscribed.


Sept 4, 2016
September 24th, 2016

Question: In the Fundamental Laws of the United States, only one person was forbidden by law to ever have his name on any statue or monument. Who is that?

Yesterdays Quiz: In the 1950s, cars with big heavy chrome bumpers were nicknamed a Dagmar. Why?
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History for 9/24/2016
Birthdays: Roman Emperor Vitellius, Duke Albrecht Wallenstein, Chief Justice John Marshall, Francis Scott Key, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Raft, Chief Joseph, Sheila MacCrae, Anthony Newley. Phil Hartman, Mean Joe Greene, Billy Bletcher the voice of Pegleg Pete, Pedro Almodovar is 66, Jim Henson, Brad Bird is 59.

768 A.D. The two sons of Pepin the Short, Carloman and Charles, inherited the kingdom of the Franks, or France. Carloman then conveniently died, so Charles goes on to become Charlemagne- Charles the Great. The Franks had the strange custom of inheritance. Instead of primogeniture- eldest son inheriting all, they divided all their lands among all their male siblings evenly, who would immediately start fighting one another. Carloman supposedly died of food poisoning, but getting rid of rivals with poison was common in those days.

1561- Mary Queen of Scots first met Presbyterian reformer John Knox. The beautiful young monarch, reared in Catholic France, attempted to win the sour old preacher to her side. Unfortunately Knox was not impressed by Mary’s personal charm and howled against her entire reign. He thought women as rulers were “an abomination in the sight of God.” When she was deposed and imprisoned in England he wrote Queen Elizabeth Ist constantly urging Mary be beheaded. John Knox also called Queen Elizabeth a beast and whore.

1688- King Louis XIV of France declared war on Germany and moved his armies towards the Rhine. This had the unexpected consequence of deciding who became King of England. Dutch Prince William of Orange was waiting for the opportunity to invade and overthrow his father-in-law King James II Stuart, who many English despised for being a Catholic. But William would never have dared such a move if Louis and his large French Navy, who were allies of James, were watching him. Once Louis turned his attention eastward, William crossed the Channel with no trouble. William overthrew James in short order and became King William III of England.

1789- Congress passes the First Judiciary Act, which calls for an Attorney General and a Supreme Court. John Jay was first Chief Justice. When Washington formed the first cabinet, Thomas Jefferson asked if he could be Attorney General as well as Secretary of State, because representing a little country with no foreign policy was boring and had nothing to do.

1805- LE GRANDE ARMEE- Napoleon’s army had been cooling its heels for weeks on the beach at Boulogne waiting to invade England. This was not likely since the British Navy kept sinking the French Navy. While waiting in camp, Napoleon took the time to drill his troops to an efficiency far superior to any other army of the period. England meanwhile had subsidized Russia and Austria into declaring war on France.
This day Napoleons Grand Army turned around and began an epic march in 5 separate columns across Europe from the English Channel to suddenly appear in Czechoslovakia. No one had ever moved troops so fast. Napoleon left Paris that evening with his Imperial Guard. There was a rainstorm and his famous felt hat got waterlogged and drooped around his ears like a black sombrero. Napoleon moved his Guard veterans like motorized infantry of the future by piling them into farm wagons.

1806- The North German Kingdom of Prussia gave Napoleon’s France an ultimatum to get out of Germany or else! Prussia at the time was considered the most superior military power in the world, but the army of Frederick the Great was now a ghost of it’s former self ruled by a timid king. Napoleon destroyed it and overran Prussia in 6 weeks. Prussia later became the kingdom German unified around in 1870.

1869- BLACK FRIDAY- A scheme by robber barons Big Jim Fisk and Jay Gould to corner the US gold market backfired into a major financial panic. The two tycoons had thought they had convinced the gullible President Ulysses Grant into halting sale of government bullion. The night before Gould tried to bribe Grants brother-in-law James Corbin with $100,00 to ensure the President wouldn’t change his mind.
But Grant smelled a rat and ordered millions in Federal gold put on the market to bring the prices down. Gold hoarders saw their investment shrink overnight. This day the value of gold dropped in three hours from $160 an ounce to $34. Up in the special part of the N.Y. Stock Exchange nicknamed the Gold Room, dozens speculators were ruined. One investor ran up and down shouting “Shoot Me! Someone Shoot Me!” “Let each man drag out his own corpse.”-Gould later testified.
Jay Gould recovered and died in 1892 worth $70 million. In 1872 Big Jim Fisk was shot dead in the lobby of the Grand Central Hotel by a jilted suitor of Fisk’s mistress actress Josie Mansfield. And Grant the Civil War hero was labeled a financial dunce by Washington insiders.

1890- Under pressure from the US Government before getting statehood for Utah, the Mormon Church officially renounced polygamy.

1906- Teddy Roosevelt designated Devils Tower Wyoming as our first national monument. Teddy’s desire to preserve natural resources was blocked by Congressmen lobbied by rich developers. So he circumvented Congress and by Presidential Executive order declared them national monuments.

1934- Stanford graduate Frank Thomas’s first day as a Walt Disney Animator.

1936- Babe Ruth's last appearance in a baseball game. Yankees lost to Boston 5-0.

1936- Noel Coward's play 'Private Lives' opened.

1938- Bob Clampett's cartoon "Porky in Wackyland" ( Foo!)

1938- Tennis champion Dan Budge won the US Open in Forrest Hills. Budge became the first person to win all four major tennis meets in one year- Wimbledon, French Open now called Roland Garros, Australian Open and the US Open.

1941- This day the Japanese Consul in Honolulu was instructed by the Imperial War Ministry in Tokyo to quietly begin gathering information about the US Fleet in Pearl Harbor.

1944- President Franklin Roosevelt had been criticized by Republicans for wasting money in needless wartime excesses. This day he defeated his critics with humor when they accused him of sending a Navy destroyer to the Aleutian Islands just to retrieve his pet Scottie dog Fallah. He said in a speech” Now I am used to personal attacks, My family is used to personal attacks, but Fallah- isn’t. (laughter) He’s Scottish, you know….and, well, he hasn’t been the same dog since.” (laughter)

1953- US Army scientist Frank Olsen jumped out of a NY hotel window to his death after getting high on LSD given him as part of a CIA monitored program. Olsen’s widow sued twenty years later when she finally found out the circumstances of her husbands death.

1953-UPA's "Unicorn in the Garden" directed by Bill Hurtz, based on the cartoon style and story by James Thurber.

1953- The movie "The Robe" premiered, the first movie in CinemaScope. It's success was part of a wave of 'Sword & Sandal" epics and fostered many imitation wide screen processes- Superama,VistaVision, Dynarama, WarnerVision, TotalScope-etc. There had been earlier experiments with wide screen - Abel Gance's 1925 Napoleon, which used three 35mm images shown simultaneously, and Cimarron 1930, which was a true wide screen 70mm film starring a very young John Wayne. It was superseded by 1967 by the more advanced Panavision lens. For many years in Hollywood we called a wide screen picture a "Scope" picture.

1955- President Eisenhower suffered a major heart attack while playing golf. While he recovered, Secretary of State Allen Foster Dulles and other White House staffers run things without bothering to tell anyone, even Vice President Nixon.

1960- the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise is launched.

1960- The "Howdy Doody Time" children's show canceled after thirteen years. The show remains a pivotal memory in the minds of thousands of American baby-boomers who grew up in the fifties. As the last song and the last credits rolled by, just before the cameras switched off, Clarabell the mute clown goes up to the lens and in a haunting voice said; "Goodbye, Kids."

1968- T.V. show "60 Minutes" debuts. Mike Wallace was pared with Harry Reasoner. The show was originally aired Tuesday nights at 10PM and fared poorly in the ratings. When it was moved to Sundays at 7:00PM it became a weekly institution.

1977- The TV series “The Love Boat “debuted.

1988- The Godfather of Soul Music James Brown got a little crazy sometimes. This day he burst into his office complex in Georgia waving a pistol and shotgun and demanded everyone stop using his washroom! After locking the bathrooms he led police on high speed chase through Georgia and South Carolina, only stopping when the cops shot out his tires. He rode the rims till they collapsed. James Brown did 2 years for being under the influence of drugs. Hay!

2006- Tom Sito began adding a trivia question to his daily history e-mails.
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Yesterday’s Quiz: In the 1950s, cars with big heavy chrome bumpers were nicknamed a Dagmar. Why?

Answer: Dagmar was an blond starlet famous for her prominent bust line, augmented by the pointy brassieres fashionable then. Cars with bumpers with pointed additions were called Dagmars.


Sept 23, 2016
September 23rd, 2016

Quiz: In the 1950s, cars with big protruding chrome bumpers were nicknamed a Dagmar. Why?

Yesterday’s Question Answered Below: Who was Uriah Heep? ( hint: not the 70’s rock band)
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History for 9/23/2016
Birthdays: Euripides-484BC, Victoria Woodhull, Walter Lippmann, Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Mickey Rooney, Julio Inglesias, Walter Pidgeon, Louise Nevelson, Jason Alexander is 56, Mary Kay Place, Harry Connick Jr, Bruce Springsteen is 67, William McGuffey*

*McGuffey was the educator and author of "the McGuffey Readers", a standard school textbook so successful, that by 1860 the U.S. had an 80% literacy rate.

480BC- THE BATTLE OF SALAMIS- Themistocles and the Athenian fleet defeated the giant armada of Xerxes the Great King of Persia and threw back his invasion. Xerxes was so angry he had his top Phoenician captains beheaded. This battle assured the Golden Age of Greek culture would flourish uninterrupted with democratic Athens at its’ center. The playwright Aeschylus fought in the ranks and Sophocles led the chorus of nude boys dancing and singing in the victory celebrations. Themistocles laid the foundation for Athenian power by insisting she built a large navy rather than an army and concentrate on trade rather than territorial conquest. But Themistocles liked to make money too, and used his offices to pad his fortune, which eventually got him exiled. But not before in another moment of originality he set himself up histories first known foreign bank account as a private slush fund. Aeschylus in his old age was supposedly killed by an eagle who dropped a turtle upon his head, mistaking his bald skull for a rock. Ouch.

Greek Chronicles tell us that also on this same day in 480 BC- Glycon of Syracuse defeated the huge Cathaginian host of Hamilcar and saved Sicily for Greece. Hamilcar spent the battle burning up animal sacrifices to the Gods for good omens. When he saw he was losing Hamilcar threw himself on the fire. Not a bad solution, because Carthage’s tradition was to crucify generals who lost battles.

1326- Queen Isabella the "She-Wolf of France" and her lover Edmund Mortimer invade England to overthrow her openly gay husband, King Edward II. Sounds like a soap opera, doesn't it ?

1568- English merchantman John Hawkins and his 3 slave trading ship were blown by a hurricane into the harbor of San Juan de Ulua, the staging area for the fabulous treasure fleets that carry the gold of Peru to Spain. The Spanish and English worked out a temporary peace but on this day the Spanish Viceroy ordered his men to attack and kill the English heretics. Only two ships got away, and one carried a young clergyman's son from Devon who from then on nursed a grudge against Spain - Francis Drake.

1642- The first commencement ceremony at Harvard College.

1779- "I HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO FIGHT !" Captain John Paul Jones on the U.S.S. BonHomme Richard defeated the larger British H.M.S. Serapis in an epic sea duel off Cape Falmouth, England. The two ships grappled each other side by side, pounded away with heavy cannon and fought hand-to-hand. The ships were so close that men could jump through the gun portals from one ship to another. At one point Bonhomme Richard was burning from stem to stern, sinking and all her guns out of action. But John Paul Jones refused to give up. The American crew thought their pint-sized Scots captain had lost his mind. When gunnery Ensign Grubb tried to haul down the Stars & Stripes, Jones knocked him down with a pistol butt. English Captain Pearson overheard Jones arguing with his officers about surrender and called aloud "Sir, do you strike your colors, sir?" That’s when John Paul Jones shouted his famous retort: "I have not yet begun to fight!"

To make matters worse the other American ship in the area the USS Alliance was manned by a jealous captain named Launnay. He ordered a broadside fired into the Bonhomme Richard! Launnay hoped that by helping the Englishman kill Jones he could then finish off the Briton and take all the credit for the victory. Jones personally ran over to a ten pounder cannon whose crew had been killed, loaded it and fired it himself, bringing down the Serapis’ mainmast.

Finally it was English Captain Pearson who gave up. The BonHomme was so shot to pieces it sank so the victors had to ride home on the Serapis. The point of the battle for Jones was trying to raid a British merchant convoy, and the convoy got away, but the symbolic victory to Americans and French was significant. John Paul Jones became a legend on the English Channel. In 2002 the wreck of the Bonhomme Richard was discovered 7 miles off the English coast and is being explored.

1780-"TREASON MOST FOUL !" General Benedict Arnold, fed up with being ignored for promotion by the American high command, planned to change sides by betraying West Point to the British. This was the huge American fortress that would give Britain control of the Hudson River and so split the rebellious colonies in half.

Major John Andre' of British intelligence had a meeting with Arnold and was passing back through the lines when he was apprehended by some Yankee militia. These rascals skulked between the armies robbing anyone who chanced their way but when they discovered incriminating documents in his boot, they turned Andre over to the authorities. This morning Benedict Arnold found out Andre had been arrested and the jig was up, just as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Lafayette were riding over for breakfast !

Arnold escaped to the warship HMS Vulture waiting down river while his wife Peggy stalled Gen. Washington’s party in their parlor. When Washington learned of Arnold's treason and freaked, Peggy feigned a fit of hysterics. Disheveled, with her baby at her breast, she shrieked at the horrified Washington :"They're putting hot irons in my Head! Hot irons in my Head!!". She was put to bed and later slipped away to safety. It wasn't known until 1930 when British Army Intelligence documents were made public that loyalist Peggy Arnold was not only deep in the scheme but had been the chief inspiration of Arnold's changing sides. Major Andre was hanged as a spy. When Peggy died in London of old age, a locket containing the picture of Major Andre was found around her neck..

1803- Battle of Assaye- The Maharatta Rajahs of the Deccan are defeated by a young British general named Arthur Wellesley who Napoleon would meet twelve years later as the Duke of Wellington at a place called Waterloo. Wellington in retirement said Assaye was still his toughest fight.

1806- LEWIS and CLARK RETURN to St. Louis, their starting off point, after two years exploring the West to the Pacific. In all that time they only lost one man to disease and almost never fired their guns in anger.

1845- After only six weeks of U.S. rule, angry Los Angeleanos attack Commodore Stockton's home. The War with Mexico hadn't broken out yet but American and Mexican paramilitary expeditions (called Filibusters) angled for power in California due to the loose and confused control from Mexico City. Mexican-Californian rancheros themselves frequently defied the government authorities, giving rise to the Zorro stories.

1846- The planet Neptune discovered by Johann Gottleib Gala.

1862- writer Leo Tolstoy married Sophie Behrs.

1862- Battle of Wood Lake- Minnesota militia put down the Great Santee Sioux Uprising led by Chief Little Crow. The Sioux had set up an ambush in the tall grass on either side of a road but the hungry Army troops steered their wagons right into the fields to look for left over potatoes. The Indians had to reveal their position and fire before they were run over.

1889- The Nintendo Company started in Kyoto, They began by making hand-painted playing cards. In 1956 they transitioned to electronics, and in the 1980s invented Donkey-Kong, Gameboys and The Legend of Zelda.

1908- Giants batter Fred Merkle hit the winning run in a pennant game with the Chicago Cubs. But in running the bases he neglected to touch second base so his run was disallowed and the game was declared a tie. They replayed the game the following day and the Cubs won the pennant. Thereafter Merkle's nickname became Bonehead Merkle.

1912- "Cohen Collects a Debt" Max Sennet's first film comedy featuring the Keystone Kops.

1915- The German submarine U-9 shows the world the power of submarines by sinking three big British battle cruisers all in one day. HMS Hogue, Aboukir and Monmouth were torpedoed and sent to the bottom.

1921- The Band-Aid self-adhesive bandage introduced. A scientist at Johnson &Johnson invented it for his wife who kept cutting herself in the kitchen. Supposedly the skin tone color, which never seemed to match anybodies skin, was her skin coloring.

1933- At a dedication ceremony Adolf Hitler broke ground for the construction of Germany’s Autobahn system- 1400 miles of modern freeway. One story says Hitler himself conceived the idea since he was a lifelong auto enthusiast. But that is untrue. German designers as early as 1913 were inventing the road features common to today’s motorists- the Blending Lane and Clover Leaf, Fast Lanes and meridian divided roads.

1939- At the World’s Fair in New York a time capsule was buried not to be opened until the year 6939. It contains a Bible, a mail order catalog and newsreels of President Franklin Roosevelt. I hope they include a description of what film was….

1939- Sigmund Freud died at age 83. Suffering from inoperable cancer of the jaw, he had his doctor euthanize him with a lethal shot of cocaine.

1942- Erwin Rommel the Desert Fox left his his Afrika Korps at El Alamein and flew home to Germany to be treated for acute diphtheria. He missed most of the battle, but returned when things were going badly.

1942-Dr. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Grove start the "Manhattan Project", the building of a "cosmic-super bomb" (the A-Bomb). Hungarian Professor Leo Szilard had been pestering the U.S. government since 1938 to do something before the Hitler made one first. Finally the War Dept. gave the go ahead to collect the finest physicists in the free world to create a super bomb. Scientists like Richard Fenyman and Enrico Ferme would arrive for work at an office in downtown Santa Fe and be immediately whisked out the back in a sealed truck to the top secret lab complex at Los Alamos.

The project was so secret that they were warned if they breathed a word about it the government would make sure they "disappeared' for at least ten years ! Vice President Truman had no idea of the project until he was told the night Roosevelt died. Leo Szilard was never asked to join the team because the F.B.I. considered him 'politically suspect', yet we now know at least two scientists there were Soviet spies, Dr. Karl Fuchs and Ted Hall.

1952- The "CHECKERS" SPEECH- Young Senator Richard Nixon saved his career as Eisenhower's running mate by going on nationwide T.V. and explaining away allegations of accepting improper gifts while a congressman. Included is a dog "checkers" for his kids. "He’s a good dog, and we’re gonna keep him." "My wife doesn't own a mink coat, she has a good Republican cloth-coat." Eisenhower was close to dumping the embattled senator from the ticket but the popular outcry of support after this speech but Nixon back on top. In effect he four-walled Ike into keeping him on the ticket.

1962- H& B's show The Jetsons' premiered. It was the first ABC show to be presented in color. Jane! Stop this Crazy Thing! Jane!

1964- Marc Chagalls’ paintings on the ceiling of the Paris Opera House unveiled.

1969- the film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" premiered. Written by William Goldman and directed by George Roy Hill. It made fortunes for stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford, who later started and independent film festival called Sundance.

1984-Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Frank Wells met the Disney Animation Dept. and are pitched storyboards for the film Basil of Baker Street, later called the Great Mouse Detective. Up to now their thinking had been to dismantle the animation department and earn income from the licensees of the existing library. Roy Disney was instrumental in insisting the animation division remain. Eisner dictates memos to start the television animation division.

1994- Quentin Tarentino’s masterpiece Pulp Fiction premiered.
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Yesterday’s Question: Who was Uriah Heep? ( hint: not the 70’s rock band)

Answer: Clue. He was a character in Charles Dickens David Copperfield. The character is notable for his cloying humility, obsequiousness, making frequent references to his own "humbleness". An insincere sycophant.


Sept 22, 2016
September 22nd, 2016

Question: Who was Uriah Heep? ( hint: not the 70’s rock band)

Answer to yesterday’s question below: When a grandson asked Louis Rothschild how many countries there are in the world, he replied” There are only two groups. There is your mishpouche, and there is everybody else. What is a mishpouche?

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History for 9/22/2016
Birthdays: Anne of Cleves 1515- Henry VIII’s fourth wife. Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggins, Mafioso Joe Valachi, Michael Farraday, Meryl Streep is 65, John Houseman, Joanie Jett, Erich Von Stronheim, Tom Lasorda is 89, Paul Muni, Debbie Boone, Scott Baio is 56

480 BC. Themistocles and the Athenian fleet of 300 faced the 1,200 warships of Xerxes the Great King of Persia in the Bay of Salamis. This night at a war council the Greek admirals voted not to try to fight such mighty host, but run. Themistocles finding himself outvoted was so confident in their ability to win, that he took a risk that could have cost his life. He sent a spy to Xerxes to tell him the Greeks were planning to flee. So he should maneuver his fleet around them and cut off any hope of retreat. Xerxes fell for it and forced the engagement. The victory of Salamis assured the Golden Age of Athens.

287 AD THE THEBAN LEGION-One of the celebrated myths of the Middle Ages. A Roman general Maximian Herculius recruited an entire army unit from Christians in upper Egypt. In Gaul with the imperial army the Emperor Maximian orders sacrifices to the gods for victory. The Theban Legion refused to participate in the pagan ritual. The emperor had every tenth man executed (to "decimate") and still they refused. Soon all 1,500 were executed. So much time and money was invested by the state in the training of veteran soldiers that it is unlikely that the practical Romans would massacre an entire legion, still, it's a good story.

1692- Seven more witches were hanged in Salem, Mass. When the daughter of the Royal Governor of the Massachusetts Colony was accused, the Governor finally stepped in and stopped the madness. He overturned the decisions of the Salem court and ordered it's disbandment. These were the last witch executions in America.

1761- King George III’s coronation in London. Unlike his two George forebears who clung to their German Hanoverian roots, George III spoke English without an accent. All the great men of the day were there like Pitt the Elder, Edmund Burke and Dr. Samuel Johnson. In the crowd in front of Westminster Abbey, dazzled by all the pomp and circumstance, was a young colonist from America named John Hancock. Presented at court, he received from his sovereign’s hands a silver snuffbox. Ironically this was the very same Hancock whose bold signature would one day adorn the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

1776- Nathan Hale was hanged as a spy by the British in occupied New York City. The Connecticut schoolteacher had only been a spy for nine days until he was ratted out by Colonel Robert Rogers, the French & Indian War hero, who was now a Tory Loyalist. One account later by a English officer named Montrose was that Hale’s last words were a quote from Addison’s play Cato: ”I regret that I have but one life to give for my country….”

1777- General John Burgoyne was considering falling back with his British army to Canada after being stopped at Saratoga New York. But this day he changed his mind after getting a message from General Henry Clinton who said he was marching north from New York City to rescue. Clinton didn’t get much further than White Plains, and the delay proved fatal to “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne and his army.

1792- The French Revolutionaries declare the Kingdom of France a Republic.

1828- SHAKA ZULU, The "Black Napoleon" assassinated. Shaka took the Zulu tribe from obscurity and created the largest centralized empire in sub-Saharan Africa. He created military units, tactics and societal structures that enabled the Zulu to take on the Boers and later the British Empire. In his old age Shaka's rule became increasingly harsh and arbitrary, so his brother Mbulazi killed him. Shaka's descendants run the Inkatha Freedom Party in South Africa today.

1910- 15 year old button sewer Bessie Abramowitz led the Great Chicago Garment Workers Strike.

1925- Lon Chaney’s horror classic film the Phantom of the Opera premiered.

1927- The Dempsey-Tunney championship fight. Tunney wins in the famous 'long count', meaning the referee delayed the count because Dempsey wouldn’t return to his neutral corner. The extra time allowed Tunney to recover his wits and continue the fight to victory. Jack Dempsey was world heavyweight champion for ten years but retired a year later.

1947- A C-54 Skymaster flies over the Atlantic using the first automatic pilot control.

1963- Davy Crockett at the Alamo with Fess Parker premiered on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color TV show.

1964- The T.V. series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. premiered. “ Open Channel D Please..”

1964- Jerome Robbins’ “The Fiddler on the Roof “ opened on Broadway. Based on the story “Tevye and His Daughters” by Scholom Alecheim in 1894. In 1953 Jerome Robbins had named names to the HUAC committee to save his career. Now in Fiddler he had to use blacklisted actors like Zero Mostel and Beatrice Arthur who despised him.

1967- Farewell voyage of the Queen Mary, in service since 1936.

1975- A emotionally unstable FBI worker named Sarah Jane Moore tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford in front of the Saint Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Her gun arm was deflected at the last second by a man named Bill Sipple. In the subsequent media attention, Sipple was outed as a gay man and his career was damaged. “I can’t see what my sexual orientation had to do with saving the President’s life!”

1976- TV show Charlie’s Angels premiered. It made a star out of Farrah Fawcett.

1979-Hanna Barbera's Super Globetrotter's Show, featuring Multi-Man, Sphere Man, Gizmo-Man, Spaghetti-Man and Fluid-Man.

1980- Proctor & Gamble announced a recall of millions of tampons following several deaths from a rare infection called Toxic Shock Syndrome.

1984- Michael Eisner named CEO of the Walt Disney Corporation.

1994- Friends TV show premiered.

1996- Seymour Cray, genius engineer who designed the most powerful supercomputers for the Control Data Corporation and Cray Computers, was killed in a car accident. He was 71.

2011- Scientists at the CERN accelerator claimed to make a particle go faster than the speed of light, something Einstein said could not be done.
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Yesterday’s question: When a grandson asked Louis Rothschild how many countries there are in the world, he replied” There are only two groups. There is your mishpouche, and there is everybody else. What is a mishpouche?

Answer: It is the Yiddish word for family.


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