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I just heard about the death of Charlie Downs. Charlie was one of the young animators promoted by Ward Kimball to build his TV animation crew. Charlie did beautiful work on the Disneyland Show, as well as Beany & Cecil, the Pink Panther, the Banana Splits, the Taarna Seq of Heavy Metal and the Pirate Captain in Raggedy Ann & Andy.

I didn't know him as well as I knew other animators, but I did do some of his inbetweens on Ann. Barney Posner and Mitch Rochon were doing his cleanups. The work was intricate and challenging. I learned a lot from it. Later during the citywide cartoonist strike of 1982, Charlie kept us all laughing doing the picketline in a pith helmet and roller skates, and later playing Dixieland Jazz with John Sperry.

Charlie suffered from debilitating illnesses in late life and spent his final years in a home. He was 81. But I will prefer to remember him in his youth as Charlie Downs,wild free spirit, and Charlie Downs, Disney Animator.

Question: In Hollywood, what are the Coogan Laws?

Yesterday’s Quiz Answered below: What was the name of Winston Churchill’s bulldog?
History for 7/22/2007
Birthdays: Emma Lazarus, Eduard Hopper, Gregor Mendel, Alexander Calder, James Whale, Oscar De La Renta, Rose Kennedy, Stephen Vincent Benet, Jason Robards, Bob Dole, David Spade, Terence Stamp, Danny Glover, Alex Trebek, Bobby Sherman, Don Henley, William Dafoe, John Leguizamo, Albert Brooks- real name Albert Einstein, a nice name but already taken

1502- Amerigo Vespucci and a Portuguese expedition return from exploring the coast
of Brazil. It's popular nowadays to claim Columbus was ripped off by a German mapmaker from the credit of discovering America, but there's more to it than that. Columbus went to his grave believing he had discovered the outer coastline of Asia. Vespucci, after exploring from Brazil to South Carolina was the first to press the idea that this new coastline was not Asia, but something quite different. A new continent.

1793- THE MACKENZIE EXPEDITION- No, I’m sorry, but Louis & Clark weren’t the first white men to explore the American Continent to the Pacific. This day a party
of French-Canadian voyageurs and Scottish trappers led by Alexander Mackenzie reached the Georgian Straights in British Columbia ten years earlier. MacKenzie had been trying since 1789 to find the Pacific shore of Canada and stake British claims to
the great Canadian Northwest. In 1790 Mackenzie started out from Lake Athabasca
and followed a river that took him to the Arctic ocean instead of the Pacific -oops!
don’t you hate when that happens !? This time he reached the right salt water. His
1801 book "Travels to the Pacific" was studied and debated intensively by President Thomas Jefferson and his aide Meriwhether Lewis. It is the prime reason the U.S. plans for the Lewis & Clark expedition to the Pacific were given a top priority. For the first time since Christopher Columbus white settlers at last understood just how big the North American continent was-Mackenzie correctly estimated it was about three thousand miles wide.

1862- EMANCIPATION- President Abraham Lincoln called a secret cabinet meeting at
the White House in the dead of night. Abe opened the session by reading jokes from
a newspaper by humorist Artemus Ward. The cabinet officers exchanged confused glances. Secretary of State William Seward found Abe’s folksy-hillbilly humor annoying. He wondered if the Old Tycoon would ever get to the point. Lincoln then shocked them
all when he said that he intended to free the slaves by presidential proclamation
without the consent of Congress. Seward convinced him not do it until there was
a Union battle victory, because to do so at the then bad state of affairs would
look more like a last act of desperation. In a few weeks the Battle of Antietam
was fought, which wasn’t a great victory, but it was at least it wasn’t an embarrassing defeat, so then the Emancipation Proclamation was announced.

1864- THE BATTLE OF ATLANTA- Confederate leader John Bell Hood attempted to break the siege of the Atlanta by William Tecumseh Sherman. At the beginning of the fight Sherman’s gifted corps commander General Dan MacPherson was killed by a sniper. MacPherson was admired by the generals of both sides. Had he lived, many predicted he would have been President of the US. When MacPherson’s successor General John Logan asked for orders, Sherman told him "Just Fight’em. Fight them like Hell!" Hoods attempts at a break out failed and when Sherman threatened his last escape
route Hood abandoned Atlanta Sept. 2nd.

1921- Artist Man Ray arrived in Paris determined to go Dada!

1933- Wiley Post completed the first solo flight around the world. The following
year Post would die in the same plane crash as writer Will Rogers.

1934- Public Enemy #1-John Dillinger was shot down by G-Man Melvin Purvis coming
out of the Biograph Theater on Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. He had just seen Clark
Gable and Myrna Loy in Manhattan Melodrama. Dillinger 's identity was betrayed
by Anna Sage, the Woman in Red, a German-Romanian prostitute who didn't want
to be deported. As they came out of the theater Purvis shouted “STICKEM UP JOHNNIE!” Dillenger went into a crouch and went for his gun. Purvis and his men blew him away. Anna Sage was deported anyway. Melvin Purvis became the most famous lawman in America and in so doing earned the enmity of his publicity-hungry boss J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover slowly hounded Purvis out of the bureau and ruined his career. In 1961 Purvis took his own life with the same gun used to kill Dillinger. The F.B.I. sent no flowers or condolences to his family despite his being their greatest single field agent.

1967- Jimi Hendrix quits as opening act of the Monkees' tour.

1977- Walt Disney’s film "The Rescuers" featuring the last work of Disney
master animator Milt Kahl.

2002- Worldcom files for Chapter 11, the largest bankruptcy in US history. This
while the CEO Bernard Ebbers was building himself a new $94 million mansion. Ebbers got 25 years in the pen, and Worldcom reorganized as MCI. In 2003 the US Government awarded them a no-bid contract to build a cellular telephone system in Iraq.
Yesterday’s Quiz: What was the name of Winston Churchill’s bulldog?

Answer: He didn’t own one. He had a tabby cat named Nelson, a budgy named Toby and standard black poodle named Rufus.

July 21th, 2008 mon
July 21st, 2008

Quiz: What was the name of Winston Churchill’s bulldog?

Yesteraday’ Quiz Answered below: In honor of Diana Riggs’ Birthday, how did her character in the Avengers TV Show, Emma Peel, get her name?
History for 7/21/2008
Birthdays: Ernest Hemingway, Issac Stern, Marshal McCluhan,Norman Jewison, Don Knotts, Janet Reno, Jon Lovitz, Gary Trudeau, Ernst Shuftan- inventor of the "Shuftan Effect", a cheap way of combining actors with miniatures by shooting through mirrors. All those "Lost World" Cesar Romero fighting the giant Iguanas were done that way. Tony Scott, Robin Williams, Josh Harnett is 26

Happy National Zippo Lighter Day. Smoking is bad but Zippos are cool- another one of life’s mysteries.

1588-the Spanish Armada set sail from Lisbon, Seville, Corunna and Cadiz to attack England. One of the sailors was playwright and poet Lope De Vega.

1798- "Soldiers! Forty Centuries look down upon you! “The Battle of the Pyramids- Napoleon's cannon mowed down the Mamelukes, who had ruled Egypt since the Crusades. He was so impressed with their courage that he later enlisted a corps of them in his own army. It was speculated around this time the Sphinx lost it's nose. French troops used the Sphinx for target practice. The battle was actually fought a distance from the Pyramids, but Nappy disliked the title Battle of Embaba’s Melon Patch, so Battle of the Pyramids it was.

1821- George IV crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey, but without his Queen Caroline. They couldn't stand one another and he was trying to get a divorce. So when she showed up in her state carriage for the coronation, on the kings orders the Lords and Peers rushed to shut the cathedral doors, leaving her out in the crowd of spectators. A glimpse into his state of mind at the time was when courtiers brought him word of Napoleon’s death at Saint Helena. They said: "Sire, your greatest enemy lies dead!" To which George replied:" IS SHE? OH, THANK THE LORD!"

1861- BATTLE OF BULL RUN or FIRST MANASSAS- First major engagement of the Civil War. Irwin McDowell's Yankees and Pierre Beauregard's Confederates had unknowingly adopted the exact same battle plan, feint with right and strike around the left. They would have completely marched around each other if they hadn't blundered together. Rebel General Thomas Jackson was holding off union assaults when a dying general shouted : "Look, there stands Jackson like a stone wall!" The nickname stuck. Stonewall Jackson had told his men:" When you charge, howl like furies." For the first time the famous Rebel Yell was heard.

The North was so confident of victory Washington society turned out with picnic baskets to watch the fun. What they saw was a horrible Union defeat and they were caught in the mob of panicked soldiers running back to the Capitol called the Great Skeedadddle. Bull Run could have been an American Waterloo, because the Yankee army was completely destroyed and nothing stood between the southerners and the White House, only 40 miles away. But the greybacks were also disorganized and exhausted, and the pursuit was called off. The Civil War would not be won in one big battle, but would drag on for four bloody years.

1884- In one of the dirtiest elections in U.S. history the New York Post broke the story of Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland fathering a child out of wedlock and abandoning the mother. Cleveland admitted the story and won election anyway because the Republican James G. Blaine was even worse. Just as Cleveland pioneered the Democratic preoccupation with sex scandals Blaine pioneered the cozy relationship between the Republican Party and big business. He had taken so many kickbacks his nickname was the Tatooed Man. Republicans chanted "Ma, Ma! Where’s My Pa!- Dems countered" He’s Going to the White House, Ha Ha Ha!" another ditty was: "Mary is healthy and so is the Kid, We Voted for Cleveland and we’re damn glad we did!" Aren’t you glad we don’t have name-calling negative election campaigns like that today, boys & girls?

1917-Ford introduces their first truck, the Model TT. It weighed one ton and had a new innovation not in regular automobiles, a reverse gear.

1959- Judge Frederick van Pelt-Bryan ruled that Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence was not pornography and therefore could be sent through the postal system. What do you think of that, John Thomas?

1969- THAT'S ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN...Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin step onto the Moon.-In his autobiography "Return to Earth" Aldrin said: "Neil was the first man to walk on the Moon, but I was the first to pee on the Moon." He had to go (in more ways than one) and it was time for them descend the ladder onto the Lunar surface. At one point Houston Control said: "Buzz, I see you're smiling.."

Yesterday’s Question: In honor of Diana Riggs’ Birthday, how did her character in the Avengers TV Show, Emma Peel, get her name?

Answer: The writers wanted the female agent to appeal to men, so they listed the potential auditions like Ms Rigg under No Appeal, or M Appeal.
So she became Emma Peel.

July 20, 2008 sun
July 20th, 2008

Quiz: In honor of Diana Rigg’s Birthday, how did her character in the Avengers TV Show, Emma Peel, get her name?

Yesterday: What is Newspeak?
history for 7/20/2008
Birthdays: Petrarch, Sir Edmund Hilary, Lord Elgin, Anne Hutchinson, Diana Rigg is 69, Natalie Wood, Theda Bara the Vamp, Carlos Santana, 1889- John, Lord Reith, the first Director General of the BBC. Giselle Bunchen is 28, Sandra Oh is 37

She's 69? Nyaah!!!

1773-The Vatican outlaws the Society of Jesus aka the Jesuits. The pope had gotten tired of all their intrigues and foreign entanglements. They went into hiding but were reformed in 1820. I noticed that at this time all their missionaries were withdrawn from the New World and replaced with Franciscans like Fra Junipero Serra. I wonder if a Jesuit had founded Los Angeles he might have named it "Ignatius Loyola" and we'd all have to sing:" I Love I.L. !"

1881- Sitting Bull returns to U.S. territory and surrenders. He and his people had been residing in Canada since the Little Big Horn. When Canadian officials first challenged them being in Canada, Bull produced out of his medicine bag old treaty medals stamped with King George III on them and said "We also are the children of the Great Redcoat Mother."

1919- Pancho Villa assassinated while driving in his new Dodge. Even with 16 bullets in him he still managed to kill one of his attackers. Three years later someone broke into his grave and stole his head.

1920- On the last day of testimony at the Scopes Monkey Trial defense attorney Clarence Darrow surprised everyone by calling prosecuting attorney William Jennings Bryan to the witness stand. In a dramatic all day debate Darrow and Bryan grappled over the validity of the Bible vs, Charles Darwin’s theory. The confrontation was dramatized in Stanley Kramer’s 1965 film “Inherit the Wind”.

1941-One of my personal favorite cartoons- Bob Clampett's cartoon"the Great Piggy Bank Robbery" with Daffy Duck as Duck Tracy premiered this day. "i'm gonna rrrrrrrrrrrubbb ya out, see !"

lipsync with lots of spit, courtesy of the great Rod Scribner

1944- THE GENERALS PLOT- A group of German generals plot to kill Adolph Hitler, take over the Third Reich and declare a ceasefire with the Allies before all Germany was destroyed. During a conference at Hitlers strategic HQ at Rastenberg Prussia one-eyed one armed Count von Stauffenburg planted a suitcase-bomb next to Hitler's feet and excused himself. But someone bumped against it and moved it out of the way. After watching the massive explosion Stauffenburg then relayed the code word "Valkyrie". This meant the plotters could begin to arrest key Nazis, disarm the SS and form a provisional government with Field Marshal Erwin Rommel as President. In the explosion many were killed but amazingly Hitler only suffered a punctured eardrum and a stiff left arm. He went on nationwide radio to announce he was all right and even read the weather in today's newspaper to prove it was not a pre-recording. The coup plotters were rounded up and executed, some hung with piano wire. Their deaths were filmed for Hitler's amusement at home. Rommel the Desert Fox was forced to commit suicide. After 5000 arrests the purge was halted only when an allied bomb hit the courtroom and blew up the judge.

Hollywood's idea of the plotters from the upcoming movie Valkyrie. Tom Cruise does not play a Nazi-Pirate, as Stephen Colbert noted, but Von Stauffenberg.

1964 - 1st surfin' record to go #1-Jan & Dean's "Surf City"

1968 - Iron Butterfly's "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" becomes the first heavy metal song to
hit charts, it comes in at #117 The song got it’s unique name because frontman Doug Ingle wrote it as “In the Garden of Eden” but was so drunk and stoned that all that came out was “Inagaddadavida” The album sold millions, was the first to win the new Platinum record and stayed in the top 100 for four years.

1969-Tranquility Base- The Eagle has Landed. Apollo11’s Lunar Module the LEM first landed on the Moon. The astronauts spent a night’s sleep and preparing and stepped out on the Lunar surface the next day.

1973- Bruce Lee died of cerebral endema one month before his last film Enter the Dragon premiered. The handsome martial arts movie star single-handedly made Kung Fu a national craze and the Chop-Socky genre film a regular in world movie theaters. He was buried in his Enter The Dragon Chinese outfit. Bruce Lee was 33.

1976-Warner\Lambert, makers of Trident sugarless gum, comes out with their famous slogan "Sugarless gum is recommended by four out of five dentists who chew gum". When people asked what gum did the fifth dentist recommend, they were brushed.

1976- The Viking I probe successfully landed on Mars.

1984 - Jim Fixx, creator of the Jogging craze through his hit book Running, died at 52 of a heart attack. Apologists for a health nut dying so young say Fixx would have died even younger without his physical routine. The creator of PowerBars also died in his fifties. Pass me another donut.

1994 - OJ Simpson offers $500,000 reward for evidence of ex-wife Nicole’s killer. No clues or suspects other than himself ever appeared. As David Letterman later said" OJ began to vigorously search for the real killer on all the major golf courses of the nation."

Yesterday’s Question: What it Newspeak?

Answer: George Orwell in his book on future technological tyranny- 1984, speculated that our language would corrupt into corporate acronyms, and such a destruction of the language would aid in the dumbing down of society. Doublethink, thoughtcrime- Citicorp, Petco, groupthink, downsizing, etc.

July 19th, 2008 sat
July 19th, 2008

Quiz: What is Newspeak?

Yesterday’s Question Answered below: What is the difference between Shiite and Sunni?
History for 7/19/2008
Birthdays: Edgar Degas, Col. Samuel Colt, Charles Mayo of the Mayo Clinic, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Vicki Carr, Max Fleischer, Lizzie Borden, Ille Nastase, George McGovern, Brian Harold May of Queen, Atom Egoyan, Anthony Edwards, Campbell Scott

64 A.D. THE BURNING OF ROME- Mad emperor Nero didn't fiddle as the fire raged ,but he was inspired to run up to an observation platform and sing an elegy on the destruction of Troy while accompanying himself on the lyre. Romans later became suspicious when the areas most affected by the fire on the Palatine Hill were expropriated by the Emperor to build the Golden House, a sort of Palace-theme park complex Nero dedicated to himself. The fire had started to die out after six days but flared up again on the grounds of the estate of Tigellinus, an aide to Nero. The fire burned for nine days total and destroyed two thirds of the city, including a temple built by Romulus the Founder and the shrine of the Vestal Virgins.

711 A.D. Battle of Medina-Sidonia- The Moors conquer most of Spain. When he first landed the Moorish commander Tarik Bin Ziyad ordered his landing ships burned and addressed his soldiers saying : " ...The enemy is in front of you and the sea behind you... You have no choice but victory ! Christian Spain was reduced to a thin strip up against the Pyrenees Mountains and in Galicia. The Moors weren’t driven out until 1492. Until then the Emirs of Granada and Cordoba set up lavish courts where great sums were spent on poets, artists, mathematicians and scientists.

1500-In the Vatican Lucretzia Borgia’s second husband Duke Alfonso of Naples was stabbed to death by men sent by her brother Caesar Borgia. Enemies of the Borgias said Caesar was jealous and had an incestuous passion for his sister, but the real reasons for the murder were political. Alfonso was angry about Caesar’s alliance with France, the enemy of Naples. Caesar had sent men attack Alfonso as he was leaving Saint Peters but he fought them off and recovered. While convalescing he spotted Caesar from his sickbed window, grabbed a bow and arrow and tried to shoot him. Then Caesar had him whacked. Cardinal Sforza, who arranged the marriage was later poisoned.

1717- George Frederich Handel premiered his suite the Water Music for a procession of King George II on pleasure boats from Whitehall to Lambeth Palace.

1799- THE ROSETTA STONE DISCOVERED. During Napoleons campaign in Egypt several soldiers digging a latrine uncover a black basalt slab with several forms of writing all over it. In 1821 Francois Champolion figured it out. The stone was the key to translating Egyptian hieroglyphics, sort of an ancient Berlitz Guide. The document in honor of Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy is written three times in Hieroglyphs (sacred letters of Ancient Egypt), in Hieratic (governmental cursive type, a simpler form of Hieroglyphs used for texts unrelated to the Temple and Religion) and in Coptic, the same Egyptian language written in Greek letters. Since Champolion knew Greek, and had contacts with Egyptian Christian priests who spoke Coptic... The rest was the proverbial piece of cake... Before the Rosetta Stone people thought Egyptian hieroglyphics were just magical symbols, but after the stones discovery the long mute voice of Ancient Egyptian civilization was heard again. Prayers, Literature and Poetry could now be understood. It was like the discovery of a long dead world.

1879- Doc Holiday had opened a saloon with a partner in Las Vegas, New Mexico. An army scout named Mike Gordon got mad at one of his dance hall girls, went out into the street and started firing wildly into the saloon. Doc Holiday came out, shot Gordon dead with one bullet, went back in and calmly resumed his poker game.

1941 - British PM Winston Churchill launched his "V for Victory" campaign. By coincidence the letter"V" in morse code corresponded with the opening notes of Beethoven ‘s 5th symphony "Dit-Dit-Dit Daaah."making it the musical theme of the BBC overseas radio service war news. If you ever lived in England you would know that reversing the two fingers sign is an insult akin to flashing someone the middle finger.

1952- Several UFO’s appeared on the radar of Washington DC’s National Airport. So many in fact that the Air Force was obliged to hold a news conference to calm public fears. They were dismissed as temperature inversions. Uh, huh…

1957- That great movie I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF starring Michael Landon premiered.

1966- 50 year old Frank Sinatra married 21 year old Mia Farrow. Frankie’s ex Ava Gardner commented:” Hah! I always knew Frank would one day wind up in bed with a little boy. “ Two years later when Mia Farrow was offered the lead role in Roman Polanski’s film “Rosemary’s Baby” Frank gave her an ultimatum "Baby, it's either me or your career”. She took the part and he sent her a divorce notice on the set. Mia got an Oscar nomination and Frank recorded “Strangers in the Night”.

1990- The Richard Nixon Library dedicated in Yorba Linda California. Nixon's Western White House of San Clemente first refused the honor of being the site as well as his real birthplace town of Whittier . The little wood frame house where he was born was moved to the Yorba Linda site. At the dedication the five living Presidents were present. Senator Bob Dole pointed at former Presidents Ford, Reagan and Nixon and joked to a friend: "Look, there’s Hear no Evil, See No Evil, and- Evil.”

1991- Heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson raped a contestant for the Miss Black America Pageant Desiree Washington. He got 3 years in jail.

1993- President Clinton launched his Gays in the military initiative called "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." It caused a storm of controversy, and probably rooted more gay men and women out of their military careers than if nothing was done. The concept that homosexuality or bisexuality and the profession of arms are incompatible does not stand up to the historical record: Richard the Lionheart, Frederick the Great, Alexander the Great, Kitchener of Omdurman, The Sacred Band of Thebes, Shaka Zulu, Nicholson the Tiger of the Punjab and most of the Roman Emperors were gay or bisexual.
Yesterday’s quiz: What is the difference between Sunni and Shiite?

Answer from my old pal Hani in Egypt:
The Sunnis, literally 'Followers of the Sunnah', or the Tradition as set by the Prophet Mohammad. They form the large majority of Muslims. Soon after the death of Mohammad, some Muslims wanted Ali Bin-Abu-Talib, the prophet's cousin and son-in-law to succeed him as Calif and ruler of the Believers. These were the Shiite, literally
'Sectarians of Ali'. Several bloody battles later, Ali was assassinated, and his sons Hassan and Hussein were massacred. The Shiite developed as an independent sect of Islam (like Protestant vs. Catholic in Christianity). Shiites are mainly concentrated in Iran and parts of Iraq and the Gulf countries and even formed a dynasty of rulers in Egypt in the Xth to XIth Century, the Fatimids. They founded Cairo.

Well gang, I never ask you for much, but I can use some help right now.

In Washington, the Dark Lords of PBS are analyzing the numbers on our show Click & Clack As the Wrench Turns, and are trying to decide whether to give us another season.

If you like the show, and want to see more of Tom & Ray, Beth and Zuzu, please take a minute and send some feedback to PBS now.

Just click on the link, then click on ABOUT the show, then on the FEEDBACK button, and tell them you love our show, and your life would not be complete without more.

We'd love to do another season. I got plans for a faux Ken Burns documentary, CLick & Clack take on Homeland Security, CLick and Clack meet Mr D'Arcy from Jane Austen, Beth and her Volvo hybrid that runs on moccachinos falls into the clutches of a nefarious mechanic while on her way to work. There are a number of well known stars, I can't say publicly who, that want to do cameos on the show like Garrison Keilor did. And more intelligent schtick, more Sylvia Pogoli jokes, more polka music!

So, please do me a favor and drop em a line. I gotta keep up my cat's Fancy Feast habit. Thanks!