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RIP Bob Hoskins
April 30th, 2014



Remembering Bob Hoskins, our Eddie Valiant on Roger Rabbit. He was a delightful man, with that wonderful working-class British actors ethic " It's just a job", so different from our stuck-up Hollywood types. This photo is from our Roger Rabbit Xmas Party, Bob and his wife came and had a lovely time chatting with us. Bob would offer you one of his cigarettes in his native cockney " Fancy a ciggee? "

Bob was a natural mime. He acted so well against the imaginary rabbit, that after awhile he didn't need the stand in doll or a stick with an eye-sight line. When you worked with his footage, he really looked like he was looking someone in the eye. You just had to match his eye direction with the character.

In the scenes of him doing an end-over-end handstand, that is not a stunt double. That is really Bob. He was a circus tumbler as one of his odd-jobs before stardom. At one point he was so poor he lived in his Vauxhall sedan parked outside his agents office.

Besides Eddie Valiant, I loved his work in The Long Good Friday, The Cotton Club, Mona Lisa, Zulu Dawn, Michael, Hook. He stole every scene with his rascally rough smile and twinkle in his eye.

RIP Bob. You were one of a kind.


April 30, 2014 weds
April 30th, 2014

Quiz: What is meant by something being Ersatz? Like ersatz coffee?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: Who wrote the famous work De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543?
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History for 4/30/2014
Birthdays: Elector Johann-Frederich the Magnanimous, Franz Lehar, Joachim Von Ribbentropp, Max Skladanowsky, Jaroslav Hasek, Eve Arden, Jill Clayburgh, Alice B. Toklas, Isaiah Thomas, Cloris Leachman, Jane Campion, Al Lewis, Bill Plympton is 68, Lars von Trier, Burt Young, Willie Nelson is 82, Kirsten Dunst is 32

WALPURGISNACHT- In the Hartz Mountains of Germany the eve the Feast Day of St. Walpurga the demon chaser is a Halloween kind of party, when the Devil can romp for a night. It's part of the inspiration for Mussorgsky’s "Night on Bald Mountain".

535 A.D. STRANGULATION OF ARMALASUNTHA, queen of the Ostrogoth’s. One hundred years after the fall of Rome the nomadic Gothic peoples had settled in Southern Europe. The West-Goths or Visigoths across southern France and Spain, the East Goths or Ostrogoth’s across central Italy under their leader Totila.

But Totila had now died and his Vandal wife Armalasuntha was trying to fend off rivals to her throne. She had concluded and alliance with the Byzantine Emperor Justinian just before she was overthrown and killed by Totila’s brother Witimer. She was supposedly strangled in her bath, the latest fad among barbarians (baths I mean, they always had strangulation).

Justinian used her death as the pretext to invade Italy and try and get back the western half of the old Roman Empire. The Ostrogothic nation was at last destroyed by the Byzantine general Narses, who was a eunuch-little person. But the Roman Empire was not recovered and stayed fallen.

1524- The Chevalier Bayard, called the Knight without Equal and above Reproach, was killed covering the French rearguard after the battle of Romagnano. Bayard was considered the last of the great Knights of the Realm. France uses his death to count as the End of the Middle Ages. Fittingly the armored knight was shot by a rifle- a harquebus to be exact. When the fatal bullet struck him Bayard drew his sword and kissed the handle skyward as a sign of the Cross.
As the Chevalier’s remains were brought out of Italy to Grenoble, simple peasants came out to carry the coffin aloft from hand to hand for miles. At a time when nobles were despised, Bayard was beloved of all people.

1598-Conquistador Don Juan de Onate claims for Spain all of "New Mexico", a province comprising all of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and California. He began an aggressive colonization policy among the Pueblo Indians.

1789-FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES-wearing a suit of Connecticut homespun and a sword on his hip, George Washington was inaugurated on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York as the first President.

John Hancock and John Adams were always annoyed that they weren't made first president before him. Thomas Jefferson originally thought the position of elected ruler ridiculous "So they've saddled us with a Polish King." (The Kings of Poland at the time were elected figureheads with little power). Jefferson was made first Secretary of State and felt the position was so useless since we had no foreign policy he asked to also be made attorney general so he could do something to pass the time. Alexander Hamilton wanted to be first Secretary of the Treasury so he could manipulate it into something resembling a Prime Minister. This was the way the Exchequer had evolved in England. At the same time Vice President Adams was hoping for the same kind of power.

But Washington had his own ideas. His animosity with Adams may explain why the Vice Presidency evolved into the useless position it is. And Congress set up the Ways and Means Committee to curb the autocratic methods of Hamilton's Treasury Department. It's amazing that despite all this intrigue the system worked out the way it did....

1803- THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE - Spain had governed Louisiana since the French defeat in the Seven Years War. At first Napoleon dreamed of rebuilding France’s colonial empire, but after his naval defeats and the long war against rebels in Haiti he soured on the project. He had duped the King of Spain into giving him back Louisiana in exchange for the Italian Duchy of Parma. The King of Spain’s only stipulation was that should France ever wish to unload Louisiana it must come back to Spain. Napoleon said:" Trust Me!" then figured he could do the British most damage by selling it to the Yankees. Spain never did get Parma either.

The US wanted to buy New Orleans from France the way they bought Alabama from Spain and Maine from England. America's nightmare was England taking Louisiana from France the way they took away Canada in 1759. Then American expansion would be permanently confined to the east coast and the U.S. would be a one time zone country. Napoleon decided not jut to sell them The Big Easy but the entire Deep South and Midwest up to Montana ! At the stroke of a pen the land mass of the United States doubled. Such a deal!

Napoleon later wrote: "I have confirmed the might of the United States and in her raised a Rival to England, that will one day Humble her Pride !"

1859- CAMARONE DAY- National Holiday of the French Foreign Legion.
It commemorates a battle during the French Empire in Mexico. 175 legionaries were attacked at a little ranchero called Camarone by thousands of Juaristas. The legionaries fought until only 12 were left alive with no more bullets. When the Mexican commander called upon them to surrender Capt. Danjou ordered "Fix bayonets and Charge!"

Today the wooden hand of Capt. Danjou is a relic at the Legions headquarters outside Marseilles. Since then to do a gutsy action in Legion parlance is a Camarone. In 1951 in Korea when the Foreign Legion rose from their trenches to fight hand to hand with human wave attacks of Red Chinese, their war cry was "Camarone! Camarone!"

1897- The Discovery of the Electron. English Professor J.J Thompson discovered a subatomic particle 100 times smaller than a proton. He called it a 'corpusle' but later changed it to 'electron'.

1900- John Luther Jones, called CASEY JONES died in a spectacular train crash near Vaughn Mississippi. Jones' freight train was running 75 minutes late so he stoked up his engine to 100 mph. Suddenly a switching error put a passenger train in his path. Jones stayed at the controls trying to stop the train while his crew jumped to safety. There was a head on collision but because of Jone’s bravery his was the only death. A brakeman later wrote the famous folksong.

Union activists prefer to remember that Jones was a strikebreaker running his train recklessly in defiance of a strike to impress his employers. The union still paid his widow his $3000 dollar life insurance. Folksinger Joe Hill in his song "Casey Jones the Union Scab." tells how when he went to heaven the Angel’s Union Local #23 "fired Casey down the Golden Stair.."

1905- At Evansville Illinois, future baseball umpire Cy Rigler began the practice of raising his right arm to indicate strikes, so that friends in the outfield could distinguish calls.

1934- In Berlin hotel, Chancellor Adolf Hitler met Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, who showed him the plans for a cheap inexpensive car the average German worker could afford. A people’s car or VolksWagen. It would become the VW beetle.

1939- The 1939 World’s Fair opened in Flushing Meadows, NY. The Trylon & Perisphere presided over the gleaming Art-Deco paean to optimism, even as the world waited nervously for Hitler’s next move. With President Franklin D. Roosevelt in attendance the NBC network began regular television broadcasting. It only went to a few homes. Experts were not optimistic." It requires a darkened room and constant attention." one said.

1943- The body of an American Major named Martin washed up on shore in Italy. On the intelligence officer’s body was found sensitive documents outline the coming Allied Invasion of Italy through Sardinia. It was all an elaborate hoax set up by the OSS to fool Nazi strategists on Allied intentions. The body used was an unidentified corpse. It worked. In July when the Anglo-American forces invaded Sicily many of the German heavy forces were waiting in Sardinia.

1945- BERLIN FALLS. Sergeants Yegorov and Kantariya raise the red flag over the Reichstag as the last Nazi resistance in the capitol was stamped out. After a late supper of spaghetti and a tossed salad Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun bit down on cyanide capsules and Hitler put a revolver in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Dr. Josef Goebbels and his family took poison but secretary Martin Bormann decided to take his chances making a run for it. For years it was thought he had made it to Latin America but in the late 1980's excavations in Berlin found his skeleton under a collapsed building crouching behind a tank.

Hitler even left instructions to have his Alsatian dog Blondi poisoned. The bodies were taken out to a ditch and burned with gasoline. A famous photo of a dead man with a Hitler mustache, was in reality a body double shown to the Russians to throw them off the track. Today, Adolf Hitlers’ skull is sitting in a filing cabinet in Moscow somewhere.
When Marshal Zhukov informed Soviet leader Josef Stalin by telephone of Hitler's death, Uncle Joe said:" Doigralsya, podlets!" So, that's the end of the bastard!"

Soviet troops found in Hitler’s office that he did possess a large world globe like Charlie Chaplin’s film the Great Dictator. The globe had arrows drawn in red pen pointed at England and the United States with Hitler’s handwritten scribbles "Look out! Here I come!". Russians covered the Reich Chancellery building with graffiti- the most popular being "Svenia went to Berlin" a version of the American "Kilroy was Here".

1945- "Arthur Godfrey Time" debuts on CBS radio. Godfrey was a local Washington D.C.deejay who gained nationwide fame for his emotional coverage of the funeral of FDR. He then went from radio to television, hosting the first regularly successful television entertainment program. Godfrey in later life got increasingly hard on his employees and in an infamous incident actually fired singer Julius LaRosa live on the air.

1948- The first civilian Land Rover automobiles produced.

1948- David Ben-Gurion read the declaration of independence of the State of Israel to a cheering crowd in Tel Aviv.

1952 - Mr Potato Head is 1st toy advertised on television. In 2000 Rhode Island declared itself the Mr Potato Head State. the Hasbro Toy Company is headquartered in Pawtucket, a city just outside of Providence.

1961- In Moscow, Lee Harvey Oswald married Marina Prusakova. He later moved back to the US and is alleged to be the lone assassin of President John Kennedy.

1970- President Nixon announced the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. The announcement from a President who ran on a Peace platform was greeted by an explosion of nationwide anti-war protests, climaxing in the Kent State murders.

1973- The Saturday Night Massacre. As the Watergate Scandal accelerates, President Nixon tells all his senior White House Staff- H.R.Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, Nicholas Katzenbach and attorney general John Mitchell that they were all fired.

1975 -SAIGON FELL. As Huey helicopters lifted the last panic stricken evacuees off of the US embassy roof, the South Vietnamese capitol city Saigon was taken by the Communist North Vietnamese army. Over 7000 people were lifted out by helicopter to the U.S. fleet, the largest helicopter evacuation ever.

One of the last out was US ambassador William Martin, with the Stars & Stripes folded under his jacket. As North Vietnamese Colonel Bui Thin accepted the surrender of the city he told acting South Vietnamese President Big Minh “ Do not be sad. Only the Americans are defeated. Consider this a moment of Joy.” The Vietnam War ends.
Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

1976- Great Disney animator Milt Kahl retired.

1980- Bert Lance, White House budget director for President Jimmy Carter was cleared of nine charges of fraud. Lance had once explained the economy thus: " Think of the Inflationary Spiral as a giant Corkscrew, and think of yourselves as the Cork."

1988- Tom Hanks married actress Rita Wilson.

1993- In Hamburg, young tennis star Monica Seles had just completed a match when lunatic fan named Gunter Parche jumped out of the crowd and stabbed her in the back with a knife. He didn’t want Monica to overtake Stephy Graff, whom he was stalking. Monica Seles recovered and resumed competition but never again regained her world championship poise. Parche spent a little time in prison but was soon released. Stephy Graff did stay the number one seed.

1992- BERN, the Geneva particle lab where the World Wide Web was developed by Tim Berner, declared that WWW. aka the Web would be open and free to all with no restrictions or royalties to be paid to them.

1993- The Walt Disney Company announced its’ purchase of top independent film producer Miramax. Ten years later a feud with Michael Eisner caused Miramax founders the Weinsteins to leave and form another company. By the time Miramax was sold off in 2010, it was a shadow of it’s former self..

1997- In the last show of the season, comedian Ellen Degenere’s character Ellen admits to Laura Dern that she’s gay. Disney promptly canceled the Ellen Show. Ellen returns with a talk show that is even more popular.

2012- The Freedom Tower, was the building made to replace the destroyed World Trade Center. This day it’s height surpassed that of the Empire State Building, to be the tallest building in New York.
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Yesterday’s Question: Who wrote the famous work De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543?

Answer: Nicholas Copernicus. He conceived his ideas for On the Revolution of the Heavenly Bodies as early as 1514, but did not publish it until on his deathbed in 1543.


April 29, 2014 tues.
April 29th, 2014

Question: Who wrote the famous work De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543?

Yesterday’s Question Answered Below: The character of Popeye originated in what comic strip?
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History for 4/29/2014
Birthdays: Emperor Hirohito, Duke Ellington , Duke Wellington, Sir Thomas Beacham, Zuben Mehta is 77, Tom Ewell, Rod McKuen, Fred Zinnemann, Jerry Seinfeld is 58, Michelle Pfeiffer is 55, Daniel Day Lewis is 56, Uma Thurman is 43

Today is the feast day of the Patron Saint of Italy, no, not Frank Sinatra, Saint Catherine of Sienna.

1429- At around 8:00PM, the Royal French Army entered the City of Orleans surrounded on three sides by the besieging English. The torchlight glinted off the armor of the great warriors like the Duke DuAlencon, Giles Des Rais, Etienne LaVignoles” the Angry-One”. But all eyes were on their warchief, a little 17 year old peasant girl in white armor- Joan La Pucelle, Joan the Maid. Since she was illiterate she immediately dictated a letter to the English army : “Surrender to the Maid, sent by God the King of Heaven, the keys to all the French towns you have despoiled and go home!”

1749- In Philadelphia inventor Ben Franklin hosted a dinner party where he used his new battery to electrocute the turkeys to be roasted for the amusement of his guests. .

1771- Artist Benjamin West unveils his painting of the “Death of General Wolfe” at the Royal Academy in London. Wolfe was killed in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, which decided that Canada would be English. West’s portrayal of Wolfe in his actual uniform instead an idealized Grecian god was considered scandalously realistic and revolutionized painting.

1786- The day before his opera THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO was to premiere, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart sat down after dinner and wrote the famous overture. Friends said he liked to think while playing billiards.

1818- The ARBUTHNOT & ARMBRUISTER INCIDENT- Henry Arbuthnot was a 70 year old British merchant who sympathized with the Seminole Indians of Florida. Together with a former Major Armbruister they aided this tribe in its struggle with the expanding United States. When U.S. Gen. Andy Jackson invaded Spanish Florida in 1818 he captured these men. Jackson nursed a hatred of English people since as a young boy in the Revolution his home was burned and he was slashed with a saber by a redcoat officer. Jackson’s mother and older brother died in an English prison.

So Jackson was not interested in hearing about native rights or the eccentricities of Britishers. He executed them on the spot, hanging old Arbuthnot from the mast of his own schooner. This mistreatment of foreign nationals proved an embarrassment to President Monroe and earned Jackson a reputation for cruelty that would follow him to his own presidential runs.

1861- "All we wish is to be left alone." In a speech Southern President Jefferson Davis spells out the policy of the Confederacy with regard to the war with the United States. The speech was aimed at Britain and France for international support. Davis was adopting the traditional defensive strategy of insurgents, that not being crushed out of existence is a victory in itself. However by yielding the initiative and not occupying Washington D.C. after the U.S. army was destroyed at Bull Run, the rebels probably lost their best chance to win the Civil War.

1862- Admiral Farragut captured New Orleans. Farragut was a Southerner so at first the War Department doubted his loyalty. He was only able to swing a fleet command through his father-in-law, Admiral David Dixon Porter.

1863- General Stonewall Jackson had spent the last three weeks peacefully enjoying the company of his wife Ann and his baby boy. They had celebrated his 38th birthday together. On this day Jackson received word that the Yankee Army was on the move. He said good bye to his family and rode off. When Ann saw him again he was shot and dying.

1914- THE SILENT PROTEST- Writer Upton Sinclair gained national prominence as an activist by standing with other intellectuals silently in front of the Standard Oil headquarters in Washington D.C.. The protest was to accuse the company of the infamous Ludlow Massacre, when company hired vigilantes set upon a camp of striking unionists and murdered them and their families including 11 children. When loud protests in front of Standard Oil’s office were outlawed by DC marshals, Sinclair resorted to this silent protest.

1916- The phase of World War One in Mesopotamia (Iraq) effectively ended when Lord Townshend surrendered his Anglo-Indian invasion force to the Turks after being surrounded at the Iraqi city of Kut.

1929- The film "All's Quiet on the Western Front" premiered. The world war one battlefield was constructed on a California ranch and dozens of veterans hired to be extras. When the antiwar film debuted in Germany, Nazis agitators were sent out to Berlin theaters to release rats, skunks and snakes in the theaters to scare people away. The star of the movie Lew Ayres ruined his career when he declared himself a conscientious objector during World War II.

1939- It’s strangely ironic that Adolf Hitler’s Government while murdering millions also waged campaigns against smoking. This day the Nazi Party officially banned smoking in all their offices because of health concerns. The rest of the world wouldn’t even begin to think of linking cancer with cigarette smoking until the 1960’s.

1944- Dancing Romeos, the last Our Gang comedy short was produced by MGM, which had bought the franchise in 1938 from Hal Roach.

1945- ADOLPH AND EVA'S WEDDING- With the Red Army knocking on the door, Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun get married in their bunker. They celebrate by having dinner of spaghetti and a small green salad and then commit suicide.

1945- DACHAU liberated- American combat troops of the 45th Rainbow Division shot their way into the concentration camp and liberated 32,000 survivors like future Nobel Laureate Eli Weisel.

The Americans were so horrified by the nightmare they found, including 30 railroad cars packed with decomposing corpses, that when a clean cut, blonde haired SS commander surrendered by snapping a crisp Sieg-Heil salute, the American major he had directed it to pulled out his pistol and shot him dead on the spot. 346 SS guards were killed by the U.S. troops and camp survivors.

Many of the U.S. troops there were African American and Nisei (Japanese American) so when the newsreels sent back images back home, they were careful to film the backs of their helmets so you didn't see their faces.

1962- President John Kennedy hosted a dinner for a group of Nobel Prize winners at the White House. Kennedy said: “ I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

1975- In the wee hours of the morning Communist North Vietnamese began their final attack on the South Vietnamese capitol of Saigon. Missiles struck the runway at Tahn Sun Nhut Airport so the big Air Force C-130 cargo planes could not land. The evacuation out to the US 7th Fleet offshore would be done all by helicopters. It was the biggest helicopter airlift in history. The signal on the radio to begin the air evacuation was Saigon radio began broadcasting Bing Crosby’s recording of White Christmas.

1981-Marylin Barnett “outs” tennis champion Mrs. Billy Jean King, the most famous American female athlete of her time. She said they had a lesbian affair for seven years.

1986- Los Angeles Central Library burns down. A lot of the costs of rebuilding was raised by private donation, much raised by a wild local televangelist named Dr. Gene Scott. Scott would preach his own strange brand of Bible study while smoking a cigar and wearing funny hats on camera. He also liked to laugh at other evangelists.

1988- On this day many Midwestern evangelicals awaited the Rapture and Apocalypse that the Bible foretold within one generation of the restoration of the Temple -- which
they took to mean within forty years of the re-institution of the Nation of
Israel... and guess what? we're still here.

1992- THE GREAT LOS ANGELES RIOT- Los Angeleanos go berserk after an all white jury in Simi Valley acquitted the policemen who beat up drunk motorist Rodney King while being videotaped. 58 killed, 2500 businesses destroyed, $1.5 billion dollars in damage, 13,200 arrests and large sections of Los Angeles put under martial law. Even Rodney King was moved to go on TV and proclaim: " Can't we all just get along?"

Part of the reason the disturbance spun out of control was the autocratic chief of the LAPD Darryl Gates was incommunicado for several hours at the beginning of the crisis at a fundraising party in Bel Air to get money to fuel his quarrel with Mayor Tom Bradley. One irony was the loot-crazed mob ran right past the L.A. County Art Museum to sack a department store on the next corner. I guess they felt that there was nothing of value in it, which is in agreement with many art critics. The Beverly Hills Police, a separate entity, kept the peace by simply arresting everyone they saw.

2001- Pioneer 10 was a space probe launched to the outer planets in 1972. After sending the first photos of Jupiter and Pluto in 1973 Pioneer 10 left our solar system and headed for deep space in 1997. It’s aimed for the Constellation Taurus. This day 7 billion miles away Pioneer 10 phoned home to say it was fine. It’s last message was received in 2003. I wonder if it asked if Richard Nixon was still president?

2004- The last Oldsmobile made, ending the 106 year old line.

2011- Prince William married Catherine Middleton in Westminster Abbey.
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Yesterday’s Question: The character of Popeye originated in what comic strip?

Answer: The Thimble Theatre by Elzie Segar, who signed his work with a 'cigar' shaped
Dingbat.


April 28, 2014
April 28th, 2014

Quiz: The character of Popeye originated in what comic strip?

Answer to yesterdays Quiz- In Hollywood filmmaking, what is the “steadycam shot”?
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History for 4/28/2014
Birthdays: English King Edward IV (1442), President James Monroe, Lionel Barrymore, Carolyn Jones-aka Morticia Addams of the TV Addams Family, Ann Margaret is 73, Jay Leno is 64, Saddam Hussein, Jean Redpath, James Baker III, Penelope Cruz is 40, Jessica Alba is 35, Godzilla is 59- see below.

In ancient Egypt today was Wake up and Smell the Breeze Day, The first known Spring Festival in history. As part of the holiday, Egyptians ate a small dried fermented fish called Fessig, which they thought prevented diseases blown in by the desert.

357AD- Roman Emperor Constantius II visited Rome for the first time. Like his father Constantine he was now ruling the Empire from Constantinople. Later Western emperors preferred to rule from Milan for faster access to the Rhine or Danube frontiers.

1192- CONRAD OF MONFERRAT SLAIN BY THE ASSASSINS OF ALAMUT-
The word "assassin" comes from "hash-a-shin" or "eaters of Hashish". Their leader Sheik Ibn-Abdel Sinan, was called :"The Old Man of the Mountain" established his cult on a mountain fortress in Lebanon. He got his followers stoned in a pleasure garden filled with pretty girls, telling them they had just spent time in Paradise. And if they were good he’d let them in for more visits.

Sheik Abdel Sinan ran his sect like an extortion racket throughout the Middle East. In exchange for gold he wouldn't have one of his stoned followers knife you. When the Crusaders arrived in the Holyland, no one had clued them in to this system. So when Conrad laughed off the Assassin's emissary, he was stabbed by hitmen disguised as Christian monks.

Conrad was the other leader of the Third Crusade with Richard Lionheart and Phillip Augustus of France. Many believed Richard paid Abdel Sinan to murder Conrad. That's the reason Richard was imprisoned on his way home by Leopold of Austria, Conrad's uncle. The Assassins were finally exterminated a century later by the Mongols, whose horde happened to be riding by when they thought their fortress would be fun to destroy.

1376-The Good Parliament- English parliaments in the Middles Ages were held so rarely that they were remembered by nicknames "The Rump, The Mad, The Thoroughly Bollucks'd-Up, etc. This parliament achieved new rights by electing the first speaker and demanding the impeachment of a bad minister who was an appointee of the King.

1686- Sir Issac Newton published the first volume of his Principia Mathematica, outlining the Theory of Gravity. The earliest account of the apple story was in 1738. Voltaire writing about Newton claimed his niece told him when the scientist had left Cambridge for the country during the Great Plague of 1666- "He observed an apple falling from a tree and fell into a deep meditation on what was this force that drew all objects in a straight line that until interrupted would continue to the center of the Earth."

1789-THE MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY. The HMS Bounty had been sent around the world to bring back breadfruit samples to see if the plant could be a nutritional supplement for slave laborers in Jamaica and Bermuda. During the return voyage from Tahiti the crew led by first mate Fletcher Christian, set upon the Captain, William Bligh, and set him adrift in a rowboat to die. They then sail with their Tahitian families to settle permanently on an island.

They choose Pitcairn Island because of it's remoteness. Squabbles arose among the British and natives and their leader Fletcher Christian was killed while tending his sweet potato patch. Today a majority of the islands inhabitants claim ancestry from the Bounty mutineers.

Captain Bligh got to safety after navigating his little rowboat 1,500 miles to East Timor with almost no food, an unparalleled feat of seamanship. He was cleared by an Admiralty board and served with distinction in the Napoleonic Wars, although another ship mutinied on him. On top of everything else, when Bligh got home he discovered his wife had been made pregnant by the nephew of the Duke of Wellington -'Wicked Willie' Wellesley.

Like many 'famous' incidents, this passed by it's time with little or no notice. What made the Mutiny on the Bounty world famous was a best selling novel written in the 1920's by two Americans, Charles Nordoff and James Norton Hall, who met when pilots in World War One's Lafayette Escadrille.

1813- Marshal Kutusov, the one-eyed Russian general who chased Napoleon out of Russia, died the following year of exhaustion.

1881- Notorious gunfighter Billy the Kid had given himself up to New Mexico authorities on condition he would get a fair trial. That fair trial sentenced him to hang. He was being kept shackled in the town of Maisella New Mexico by two deputies. One guard named Pecos Bob Ollinger enjoyed tormenting the Kid with descriptions of how gruesome his death was going to be- dancing in the air, slowly choking, eyes bulging, etc. At one point Ollinger left his shotgun by the door and crossed the street to have dinner.

The Kid asked the other deputy to unshackle him so he could use the outhouse. A friend had secretly planted a gun in the outhouse. When Ollinger returned he found his deputy dead and Billy the Kid pointing his shotgun right at his face. "Hello Bob !" the smiling kid said, then blew his head off.

1897- The first distress signal sent by wireless at sea. The S.O.S. (Save Our Ship) code wasn't invented until 1912.

1925- Tory minister Mr. Winston Churchill announced in Parliament that Britain was going back on to the Gold Standard. The result was an economic panic, nationwide strikes and a widening of the postwar depression already affecting Germany and France. Churchill's party led by Stanley Baldwin would be kicked out of office in the elections of 1926, and Churchill would remain in political oblivion until 1940.

1925- T.S. Elliot landed a job at Faber & Fabers Publishing. His enabled the poet to quit his job as a bank teller at Lloyds and continue his literary career.

1937- Italy’s famed movie studio Cinecitta’ opened.

1944- EXERCISE TIGER-The greatest coup of Axis espionage. German spies discovered that the allies were going to rehearse their D-Day invasion landings off Slapton Sands, England. They sent a surprise attack of torpedo boats across the Channel to catch the defenseless transports packed with troops, bobbing in the water unawares. They sank several drowning hundreds of men in the 44 degree f water.

Another big mistake was many of the GIs were wearing their life belts incorrectly around the waist instead of under the arms so when they leapt into the water the belt was useless and their heavy packs dragged them down. More G.I.s died in this incident than at Utah Beach on D-Day. For many years it was all kept top secret. After WWII the head of German espionage, Reinhard Gehlen, got a job in the CIA.

1945-BENITO MUSSOLINI DIED- Il Duce was on the run with his mistress Clara Petracci when they were apprehended by a roving band of Italian Partisans and stood up against a wall. Mussolini's last words before the guns went off were: "-But, but Colonel...."

My father in the US Army Air Corps remembered driving into Milan to see his body hanging upside down with townspeople invited to spit, shoot at or otherwise deface the body.

1947- Thor Heyderthal set out on a balsa wood raft called Kon Tiki to prove ancient Peruvians could have used the ocean current to reach Polynesia.

1952- The American military occupation of Japan ended, and Japan was restored to full self government.

1954- Happy Birthday Godzilla!.The movie by Ichjiro Honda was inspired when a Japanese fishing boat was fatally exposed by radioactive fallout from a U.S. hydrogen bomb test. Godzilla is an Anglicized version of the Japanese Kohjira, which is a combination of Gorilla and Whale. The parallels to the Hiroshima experience reached eerie levels when the film has a long sequence of a funeral dirge sung to the dead of Tokyo as we survey the devastation.

The famous roar was done by rubbing a resin-covered glove down some bass fiddle strings. The film was later released in the U.S. with American actor Raymond Burr (actually, Canadian actor..) acting in inserted scenes. The complete Japanese version of the film was not seen in North America until 2004.

1961-At La Scala, When tenor Guiseppi Di Stefano took ill, a young schoolteacher from Modena took the lead role in the opera La Boheme. Lucciano Pavarotti debuted.

1965- At the same time he was sending the first combat troops to Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson also sent 22,000 Marines to overrun the Dominican Republic. He said it was to save it from "Communist Dictatorship", but no Communist ties to the rebels was ever proven.

1967- Citing his Black Muslim religion, world champion prizefighter Cassius Clay, now renamed Muhammad Ali, refused to be drafted into the army to fight in the Vietnam War. "I’m not mad at any Vietnamese person over there." The World Boxing Federation stripped Ali of his championship title but he won it back during the 'Rumble in the Jungle" prizefight against George Foreman in 1974.

2004- ABU GHARIB-American network news confirmed a story first aired on Arab TV that U.S. and British soldiers were torturing Iraqi prisoners in violation of the Geneva Convention. The government asked the compliant American media to sit on the story, until after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld testified to the 9-11 Commission.

Graphic photos went around the internet from a prison called Abu Gharib. It was once a prison used by dictator Saddam Hussein. President Bush and Rumsfeld claimed they had no knowledge the abuses, while in reality documents released later said they knew and approved it all in detail. The Pentagon investigations in 2004 cleared all the top officials of any wrongdoing. Just a few low level National Guard soldiers were blamed, and their commander General Jane Kaminski was reprimanded.
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Yesterday’s Question: Quiz: In Hollywood filmmaking, what is the “steadycam shot”?

Answer: A steadycam is the hand-held camera used for moving camera scenes, walking through rooms, etc. The steadycam is a counterbalance-based camera stabilizing rig that an operator wears, allowing him/her to maneuver through shots without the use of tripods, rails, dollies (crab or otherwise), cranes or other mechanical accouterments. Unlike a regular hand-held shot, which will record the bumps and footsteps of the operator, the steadycam rig makes complicated moving camera shots flexible and continuous, while keeping the shot smooth and steady. (thanks FG)


April 27, 2014 Sunday
April 27th, 2014

Quiz: In Hollywood filmmaking, what is the “steadycam shot”?

Yesterday’s Quiz: Why is a prostitute sometimes called a whore? Where did that word come from?
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History for 4/27/2014
Birthdays: Ulysses S. Grant, King Edward IV, Samuel Morse, Mary Wollenstonecraft, Edward Gibbon, Anouk Aimee, Sheena Easton, Sandy Dennis, Coretta Scott King, Kasey Kasem, Jack Klugman

1278-Today is the Feast day of Saint Zita of the Magic Beans, the patron saint of domestic servants. No, I’m not making this up.

1521- HAPPY LAPU-LAPU DAY! Fernan' De Magellan was the explorer who found a way around the Americas into the Pacific. Although he was ordered by the King of Spain to conquer the Portuguese Moluccas, he paused after his discovery of the Philippines to convert the population to Catholicism. Magellan tried to demonstrate the power of the Spanish to the Lord of Cebu, by attacking a village called Mactan, who was his enemy.

Almost at once everything started to go wrong. First the village was too far inland for his ships cannon. So his men had to wade ashore. In doing so their powder got wet, so their guns were useless. Then while fighting hand-to-hand, a lucky fishbone tipped spear hurled through Magellan's helmet visor and killed him. The Lord of Cebu was unimpressed. The Spanish captains tried to barter for his body, but the tribesmen said such a powerful enemy must stay for dinner, as the main course. The Chief of Mactan who killed Magellan was named Lapu-Lapu, and he is considered a national hero.

1567- THE DUKE OF ALBA was given by King Phillip II of Spain the job of Governor General of the Netherlands and ordered him to "stamp out all Heresy, Rebellion and Freedom". Alba recruited an army of 10,000 soldiers and two thousand registered prostitutes and set up shop in Antwerp. His "Council of Troubles" prosecuted thousands of Dutch Calvinists, sometimes arresting 1500 a day. The Dutch called it the "Council of Blood". The largest mass execution in the US history was 60 Sioux warriors in 1864. Throughout 1568 alone, The Duke of Alba executed 60 Dutch per day. This reign of terror gave Breughel such grim inspiration for his paintings.

1642- The English city of Hull refused to open it's gates for King Charles Ist when he directly commanded them to. The King’s forces were still too weak to do anything but slink away. This was the first open act of defiance to Royal authority in what would become the English Civil War.

1667- Blind poet John Milton sold his masterpiece "Paradise Lost" to publisher Samuel Simmons for ten pounds. Ten years earlier under Oliver Cromwell’s patronage Milton was getting over a thousand pounds each for his poems

1763- PONTIAC’S REBELLION. After France surrendered Canada to England, the Great Lakes Indian tribes were offended by their treatment from their new British masters. The redcoats ended many of the subsidies and gift giving the French provided.

This day an Ottawa chief named Pontiac called a secret council on the Ecorse River about ten miles below Detroit. More than 400 chiefs and warriors from the Huron, Sauk, Fox, Pottawatomis , Miamis and Ottawas attended. Chief Pontiac spoke of the words he heard from the mysterious Delaware Prophet. Delaware Prophet said he had traveled up to the Spirit World to meet the Master of Life himself, who said he was sad that the Indian had fallen victim to the White Man. The whites should be driven back across the waters to the lands the Great Spirit had set aside for them and stay there. Pontiac said only by all tribes uniting as one could they drive away the white man.

The assembled Indians pledged to join him on an attack on Fort Detroit and were soon joined by other Great Lakes Tribes. Chief Pontiac organized a simultaneous attack on all thirteen forts in the Great Lakes states, a powerful offensive now known as Pontiac’s War.

1784- Over the protests of King Louis XVI, Pierre d’Beaumarchais play The Marriage of Figaro premiered at the Opera Comique in Paris. It was the first play to openly criticize the nobility for being no better than anyone lese except for being born with money. This concept alone was radical and it caused a sensation. Napoleon described it as "The Revolution already in action".

1805-THE SHORES OF TRIPOLI- William Eaton led a small group of U.S. Marines and some Greek mercenaries capture Derna, stronghold of the Barbary Pirates and end the War with Tripoli.

1813- In the War of 1812, U.S. troops burn Toronto, then called York. They couldn't hold the territory and quickly withdrew back into New York State. The American commander Zebulon Pike, for whom Pike's Peak is named, was killed when a slow burning match left by the retreating redcoats ignited the fort's powder magazine.

1861- President Lincoln suspended the Right of Habeas Corpus for the length of the Civil War. The old municipal jail where the modern Supreme Court Building is now began to fill up with critics of the government, pro-southern journalists and suspected spies.

1865- SULTANA DISASTER- Union P.O.W.'s liberated from the horrible prisons of Andersonville and Libby crowd onto a Mississippi steamboat called the Sultana for the ride home. After embarking from Vicksburg the boat's boiler accidentally exploded, killing 1,700.

1884- The British government declared that Christopher Wrens 1675 observatory at Greenwich would be the central meridian point for calculating time zones. This would aid in calculation of longitudes which is crucial in navigating the worlds oceans. Starting at Greenwich they divided the world into 24 time zones each 15 longitudinal degrees apart.

1919- In the chaos of postwar Germany leftist and right wing paramilitary groups battled in the streets for political power. This day in Munich Communist gangs broke into a military barracks to arrest a corporal they heard was an anti-Communist orator. They took 16 men as hostages but the corporal fended them off with a pistol. Later the hostages were found in a ditch all murdered. The lucky corporal who escaped was Adolf Hitler.

1940- SS leader Heinrich Himmler ordered the construction of a new concentration camp in Poland near Krakow called Auschwitz.

1950- South Africa passes the Group Areas Act, one of the first official acts separating the races and creating the system known as Apartheid.

1964- The John Muir National Wilderness created.

1970- THE FIRST ATM- Automatic bank teller machine, opened at the Surety National Bank in downtown Los Angeles.

1975- The South Vietnamese capitol Saigon was surrounded by North Vietnamese forces.

1979 -Navajo Indians protest Gulf Oil drilling for uranium on a sacred mountain.

1981- Ringo Starr married Barbera Bach, his costar on the film 'Caveman'. UngaBunga!

1986- Reporter Geraldo Rivera hosted a primetime TV special in an old Chicago Hotel that was once a headquarters for gangster Al Capone. After wasting an hour speculating on discovering buried treasure or mobster skeletons, they broke into a room sealed since 1932. All they found were some old dusty bottles.

2005- Maiden flight of the world's largest passenger plane- the Airbus A-380.

2014- With retired Pope Benedict in attendance, Pope Francis declared previous Popes John XXIII and John Paul II to be saints of the Catholic Church.
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Yesterday’s Quiz: Why is a prostitute sometimes called a whore? Where did that word come from?

Answer: One theory is that it comes from the Muslim idea of paradise having 99 houris (maidens), but more than likely whore comes from the old Norse-Old English word for a naughty girl- hora.


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