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Blog Posts from June 2007:

June 30, 2007 Sat
June 30th, 2007

Birthdays: Buddy Rich, Lena Horne is 90, Czeslaw Milosz, Susan Hayward, Mike Tyson is 41, Deanna Durbin, Howard Hawks, Ron Swoboda, William Goldman, Martin Landau, David Alan Grier, Vincent D’Onofrio, Monica Potter, Rupert Graves

1559- King Henry II of France is warned by a weirdo named Michel de Nostre Dame or Nostradamus, to beware of lances. Henry laughed it off because nobody fought that way anymore. However to celebrate a dynastic marriage and peace treaty with Spain part of the Rue Saint Antoine in Paris was closed off for a joust with blunt lances–kind of a Renaissance version of a "Medieval Times" party. Forty year old King Henry jousted with the Dukes of Guise and Savoy and knocked them down. He complained they let him win and ordered his Scottish body guard Montgomery to lay on for real. In a freak accident on impact Montgomery’s lance splintered and shot through the king’s gold helmet visor and through his brain, killing him. Nostradamus was quickly put on the royal payroll.

1643- In Paris the son of an upholsterer named Jean Coquelin signed a contract to establish the Ilustre Theatre. Jean also took on a stage name- Moliere .

1841- The never-explained day it rained fish over Boston.

1856- Charles Dickens does his first public reading from his works in London.

1859- Daredevil Emile Blondin crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

1894 - London Tower Bridge opened.

1896 - W S Hardaway patented the electric stove.

1908-A mysterious explosion occurs in remote Tunguska Siberia with the estimated strength of several atom bombs. No meteorite remains was ever discovered. Soil at the epicenter had been turned to glass. It was speculated as a comet hit or a UFO crash but has never been completely explained.

1914 – A young English trained Indian lawyer named Mohandas K. Ghandi was arrested for the first time, trying to win equal rights for non-European citizens in South Africa. Years later in India he would earned the name the Mahatma, or the Great Soul.

1933- A group of actors meet in secret at Frank (the Wizard of Oz) Morgan and form the Screen Actors Guild. The secrecy was because studios threatened to blacklist anyone who so much as breathed the word union. Among the founding members that night are James Cagney, Groucho Marx, Joan Crawford, Franchot Tone, Frederic March, Robert Montgomery and Boris Karloff.

1936- Margaret Mitchell's bestseller 'Gone With the Wind" first published.

1937- Congress voted to shut down the Federal Theater Program, the division of the government funded WPA that produced plays for Depression wracked poor people. The FTP produced cutting edge works of Orson Welles, Clifford Odets and Eugene O’Neill and at it’s height reached 25 million people. But conservative senators thought it had become too radicalized by lefties for a government program. Theater actors working in L.A. on a hit production of Pinnochio held a mock funeral for the puppet. Over it’s casket was the headstone FTP: Born 1934, Killed by an Act of Congress, June 30th 1937.

1940- Cartoonist Dale Messick takes over the Brenda Star comic strip and adds the trademark sparkles.

1948- Bell Laboratories announced the Transistor, a possible substitute for radio-vacuum tubes.

1953- The first Chevy Corvette rolled off the assembly line. Only three thousand were made, all white with red interior selling for $3500.

1975 - Cher, just 4 days after divorcing Sonny Bono married rocker Gregg Allman.

1996 - Margaux Hemingway, actress and considered the first modern Supermodel, committed suicide at 41. Her grandfather Ernest Hemingway committed suicide, and his father before him.

1997- Britain gave the colony of Hong Kong back to China upon the completion of the 99 year lease settled by the Second Treaty of Peking in 1898. While much was being made of a democratic state being turned over to a totalitarian regime, Hong Kong only had direct elections of it's own officials since 1991.

JUNE 29TH 2007 FRI.
June 29th, 2007

Birthdays: Bernard Hermann, Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle, Slim Pickens, Nelson Eddy, Gary Busey, John Hench, Little Eva, Harmon Killabrew, Antoine de Saint Exupery, Anna Sophie-Mutter, Leroy Anderson, Maria Conchita Alonso, Robert Evans, Ray Harryhausen is 86

1801- Composer Ludwig van Beethoven confessed to a friend that he was going deaf.

1935- Disney’s short “Who Killed Cock Robin?” Disney animators considered this film a breakthrough for them in the development of realistic personality acting in animation . Around this time Disney artists forbade the use of black exclamation marks popping out of the characters heads to express alarm like they are used in print comics.

1936- Pope Pius X published the encyclical warning of the evils of Motion Pictures. “They glorify Lust and Lascivious behavior.”

1940 – ROBIN THE BOY WONDER- According to Batman Comics, this day mobsters rubbed out a circus highwire team known as the Flying Graysons, leaving their son Dick an orphan. He was taken in by millionaire Bruce Wayne so Batman could have his Robin. As early as 1954 with the Kefhauver Committee on Comics and Juvenile Delinquency there were accusations that Batman and Robin were gay. The proof set out in the book The Seduction of the Innocent was that whenever Batman and Robin weren’t fighting crime there were always panels depicting Dick sitting up in bed with Bruce sitting at his bedside wearing a silk robe!
Hello, Commissioner Gordon? Can you score us two tickets to MammaMia?

1940- First day shooting on the film Citizen Kane.

1950- The Hollywood Ten are given jail sentences for contempt of Congress.

1956- President Eisenhower signed the Interstate Highways Act, allocating millions of dollars to build a system of interstate freeways connecting all the major U.S. cities. Ike was an engineer in the 1920s and saw the deplorable condition of American roads and during World War Two he saw the Germans use autobahns to move heavy mechanized units quickly Many innovations for smooth traffic transitions like the cloverleaf intersection and blending lane were first developed by German Bauhaus engineers for the autobahn.
The Interstate System had at first a definite Cold War logic to it. The Interstates would be commandeered in time of war and every few miles there had to be a five mile straitaway at least so planes could use them for an emergency landing.

1956- Marilyn Monroe married writer Arthur Miller.

1967-Actress Jane Mansfield and her dog are decapitated in a car crash when their car slammed into a parked tractor-trailor. Her children include Marisa Hargitay.

1968 - "Tip-Toe Thru' The Tulips With Me" by Tiny Tim peaks at #17.

1978- Actor Bob Crane, best known as the star in the television series Hogan’s Heroes, was found beaten to death with an electric cord around his neck in a Scottsdale Arizona hotel room. Around his body were pornographic literature and a large library of home made porn tapes.
I hear Nothing! I zee Nothing!

1989- Don Johnson married Melanie Griffith.

June 28th, 2007
June 28th, 2007

Birthdays: English King Henry VIII, Luigi Pirandello, Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Dillinger, Mel Brooks is 81, Richard Rogers, Gilda Radner, Cartoonist George Booth, Mary Stuart Masterson is 41, Kathy Bates is 59, John Cusack is 41

1868- Artist Claude Monet was broke and so depressed he jumped in the Seine River. After splashing around for a while, he decided its silly to drown himself so he swam to the riverbank and went for a drink. He outlived all the Impressionist painters of his generation, dying in 1926.

1914-WORLD WAR ONE STARTS- commenting on 40 years of European peace, Otto Von Bismarck had said:" The next European war can only happen if some damn fool thing happens in the Balkans." The Austro-Hungarian Empire was muscling the little kingdom of Serbia. Austria had already annexed Bosnia in 1909 and Serbia claimed it as theirs. The heir of the Austrian throne, Archduke Franz-Ferdinand went on a provocative tour of the Bosnian town of Sarajevo in an open limousine. One terrorist Nedjelko Cabrinovic, hurled a bomb at the car but the driver avoided it and took another route. The Archduke stopped at city hall where he and the mayor got into an argument. The mayor claimed:”This city is absolutely safe!”
The motorcade proceeded until it was stopped by traffic at an intersection. Then 18 year old Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princeps stepped out of the crowd and fired his pistol. The first bullet hit the Archduchess Sophie Chotek who slumped lifeless over her husbands lap. Franz Ferdinand cried out: "Mama don't die! For the children!" when another bullet killed him. The bullet holed car and uniforms are still preserved in Vienna today. Austria and Germany and Turkey declared war on Serbia and Russia and France and England. Later the whole world joined in the lunacy, about 58 nations and 22 million deaths, the last declaration was Honduras declaring war on Germany two months before the armistice. Gavrilo Princeps died of tuberculosis in an insane asylum in 1918, unaware that he had set the world on fire.

1928- Louis Armstrong & Earl Hines recorded West End Blues.

1969-THE STONEWALL UPRISING- New York City Police got a false tip about a stabbing in a mob owned transvestite bar in Greenwich Village. When they raid the Stonewall bar without warning the patrons fight back. Poet Allen Ginsburg said it was marvelous that the first to openly battle for Gay rights were the Drag Queens. In the 60’s era of social revolution and liberation movements the fight caused three days of unrest and a new movement, the Gay Pride Movement, was born.

1971- Mobster Joe Columbo tells a Italian/American Unity Day rally in Columbus Circle, NY that the term "Mafia" is a myth invented to insult people of Italian ancestry. A minute later hitmen sent by "Crazy Joe"Gallo, whack him on the speakers platform.

1971- The Supreme Court overturned the conviction of prize fighter Mohammed Ali for draft evasion.

1997- Heavyweight prizefighter Mike Tyson was banned from boxing and fined $3 million bux for biting off a chunk of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a match.

A Reading from the First Book of Dino-

take THAT, Evolutionists! duuhh....WHAT THE...?

The above is from an online alternative encyclopedia that attempts a creationist explanation of dinosaurs. Google Jesus-dinosaur and you'll find them. When shown fossils by Ben Franklin, contemporary scholars in England believed the creatures were animals who perished in Noah's Flood when they missed the boat- the Arc that is.
Check out-Jesus and the Baby Raptor.
Then go to my links page and check out the site for Randy Olsen's film FLOCK of DODOS discussing the Darwinian side of the argument, featuring animation by Yours Truly.

This month I have an article in Animation Magazine about memories of past Annecy Festivals. Some fun images and stories. Check it out!
Birthdays: Helen Keller, Norma Kamali, Bob" Captain Kangaroo" Keeshan, Emma Goldman,Isabella Adjani, Lauren Hill, Alice McDermott, Tobey McGuire.

1542- Juan Cabrillo set sail from Mexico to explore the unknown California Coast. He was told he might find a magic kingdom of Califa, a land of brown amazons with golden swords. One reader said he must have arrived in West Hollywood for the Halloween Parade.

1787-English historian Edward Gibbon completed his most famous work-"The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire". The massive history ran thousands of pages and took twenty years to write. When he presented the first volume bound in gold to mad King George III, the King said: -" What's this? Another damn big, black, square book, eh Mr. Gibbon? Scribble, Scribble!! "

1905- Big Bill Haywood banged a board on the table to call to order the First Meeting of the I.W.W.-the International Workers of the World. Mother Jones, Dorothea Parsons, Eugene Debs, Emma Goldman and Fighting Bob LaFollette were also present. The I.W.W. nicknamed the Wobblies, was a labor movement that sought to unite all working people into one big international organization. Their romantic message of labor brotherhood, carried by poor folksingers like Joe Hill, was popular among miners and farmworkers. But their radical politics terrified big business. When they came out against U.S. participation in World War One the government violently suppressed them.

1922 - Newberry Medal 1st presented for kids literature, the first winner was Hendrik Van Loon.

1949 - "Captain Video & His Video Rangers," debut on DUMONT-TV.

1966- TV soap opera Dark Shadows premiered, starring Barnabas Collins the Vampire.

1973- Senior White House Counsel John Dean testified to the Watergate committee that President Richard Nixon maintained an Enemies List. The list ran from Senator Ted Kennedy to journalists like Daniel Shore to June Foray who did the cartoon voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel.

1984- Hollywood introduced the PG-13 rating to indicate graphic violence, invented for the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

1995- Boyishly proper British actor Hugh Grant is busted for soliciting sex from a Sunset Blvd. street hooker named Divine Brown. Grant had just released a film called the Englishman " Who went up a Hill and Came down a Mountain". Pundits had fun changing the title to "The Englishman who went to L.A. a Hugh and Came Back a John."

2007- Youthful but controversial British Prime Minister Tony Blair stepped down after ten years. His first nickname in office was Bambi.

June 26th , 2007 Sabotage!
June 26th, 2007

sour grapes? I smell a rat..?

I read on Jim Hill Media and yesterday a report that Disney artists are demoralized by the success of Pixar and some are secretly hoping for Ratatouille to fail. This idea seems bizarre to me, because I keep in close touch with a lot of my old colleagues at Disney Animation and everyone I know are a lot happier since Catmul and Lassiter assumed command. Jim Hill is a pretty cool guy and his site is very dependable, so where could this disonant chord have come from?

To quote the article, the origin of this story was " A Disney Executive." Well, there it is. Some suit has sour grapes about the new changes at Disney, maybe one of the myriad of useless business majors cluttering the production offices that John got rid off his first weeks there. So this saboteur picked the perfect time to plant some bad buzz, just four days before the opening. It's an old Hollywood tactic against someone you want to get back at.

I have not seen Ratatouille yet, but I have talked to four separate comrades in animation who did, all of whom are pretty big names. These folks seldom agree, but without reservation all four loved it. I asked them:" Between Incredibles, Nemo and Ratat, which did you like best? Without hesitation they said:" Ratatouille!" Which surprised me. One said:" It moves forward the Art of Animation, it is the best animated film in years!" Another chimed in" Forget about the Annie and Oscar competitions, just give it all to them now!"

Now, I myself has no vested interest in it's success. I don't plan to return to the Mouse anytime soon. But I would like to know that the Art of Animation is indeed moving forward. So I know where I shall be this weekend, on line at my local multiplex.

The way Hollywood rates success nowadays is to count the opening day Friday box office, the Saturday box office, and a projection about Sunday. THAT is the number they use to declare a film a hit or flop. A film can earn a hundred million afterwards, but if that weekend it's labeled a flop, a flop it remains. So if you want Ratatouille to be successfull, take my advice and go this friday or sat.

I wish Brad Bird, the Pixar Gang and Ratatouille every success!
POSTSCRIPT: The same IMDB reports that former Disney Animation CEO Tom Schumachers first production on Broadway, the Musical Tarzan, is flopping. It's closing July 9th after a run of only a few weeks. " I plan to lose a lot of money this summer"- quote Tom.

Birthdays: Peter Lorre -real name Laszlo Lowenstein, Pearl Buck, Abner Doubleday, Babe Deidrickson-Zacharias, Willy Messerschmidt, Claudio Abbado, Woolie Reitherman, Gregg LeMond, Vittorio Storaro, Colonel Tom Parker, Pat Morita, Chris Isaak, Richard Lewis, Chris O’Donnell, Sean Hayes

1906- The first Grand Prix automobile race was held at Le Mans, France. The winner was Hungarian Ferenic Szisz with a top speed of 63 miles an hour! Szisz also was sporting those newfangled rubber tires on rims, which change faster than regular wood wheels.

1924 - The Ziegfeld Follies opens on Broadway.

1925- Charlie Chaplin has a lavish Hollywood premiere for his new film the Gold Rush. He had edited the film in secret in an upstairs hotel room in Salt Lake City to keep away from the public and his wife∂s bill collectors.

1926- From his London flat John Logie Baird invented television. The Boob Tube has no one single Tom Edison-like inventor, but many claimants. The Englishman joined the ranks of others who claimed to have invented TV first, including Richard Farnsworth, Vladimir Zworkin, Dr. Lee DeForrest and Deutsches Kino.

1927- The Cyclone Rollercoaster ride debuted at Coney Island Amusement Park. It was built on the site of the Switchback Railway, the first modern rollercoaster. The Cyclone is still thrilling and scaring people today.

1961- John F. Kennedy makes his "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" speech at the Berlin Wall. He electrifies and inspires all Europe despite " ein berliner" also meaning a local brand of little jelly donut. The proper way to say I am a Berliner is "Ich bin Berliner”. I guess "The Proudest boast a free man today can say is, I am a little jelly donut!" has a certain cachet for some folks. The crowd smiled but was polite. Today in tourist shops on the Unter Den Linden you can buy a plastic donut with JFK’s speech coming out from a hidden computer chip.

1964 - Beatles release "A Hard Day's Night" album.

1965-"Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man " by the Byrds hits number one on the US pop charts. Bob Dylan wrote the lyrics. William Shatners version became the most well known.

1977 - Elvis Presley does his last public performance. This one in Indianapolis.

2000- THE GENOME- Scientists announce they had cracked the human gene code and now had a rough sketch of how our DNA is assembled. Custom drugs could now e developed matching the DNA of an individual patient. It is called the biological equivalent of the landing on the moon.

2003 - Lenin said the Workers Must Control the Means of Production. Today a group of strippers bought the San Francisco bar the Lusty Lady.