March 15th, 2009 sun
March 15th, 2009

Question: What famous character from fiction rode a horse named Rosinante?

Question Answered below: Of the great battles of history, which of these famous rivals never met face to face? A)- Napoleon vs. Wellington, B)- Hannibal vs. Scipio Africanis, C)-Lee vs. Grant, D)- Richard the Lionhearted vs. Saladin?
History for 3/15/2009
Birthdays: Andrew Jackson*, Lee Schubert-one of Broadways Shubert Brothers, Ry Cooder, Sly Stone, Harry James, Lightnin' Hopkins, Rev. Jimmy Swaggart, Judd Hirsch, Norm Van Brocklin, Sabu, Fabio, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, Reni Harlin, David Cronenburg is 66, Eva Longoria Parker is 34, Chris Sanders the co-director of Lilo & Stitch is 49, David Silverman the director of the Simpson's Movie is 52.

* For many years in America Andy Jackson’s birthday was a public holiday.

508BC-525AD- In the Roman Republic this was the traditional day the newly elected Consuls and Senate assumed their offices and began governing.

44 B.C. -BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH- While attending the first day of the new Senate, Roman dictator Gaius Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by radical senators beneath the statue of his old enemy Pompey Magnus. Two of the murderers, Brutus and Cassius were former officers of Pompey to whom Caesar granted amnesty. Marcus Brutus was a descendant of Junius Brutus the founder of the Roman democracy. He was even rumored to have been Caesar's illegitimate son. Even though he was stabbed 35 times, it still took him several hours to die, lying alone on the floor.

Unlike Shakespeare, Julius Caesar never said "Et Tu Brute'" Even you, Brutus? In Latin. His last words were the equivalent in Greek-"Touto kai teknon mou" which translates, "Even this my child?". Greek was to the Romans like French is to us. Proving you can suffer multiple stab wounds, yet still be chic’.

1517-Pope Leo X was left a full treasury by his predecessor Pope Julius II. But being a major party animal he quickly blew it all. This day he decided to pay his bills by ordering a new campaign to sell indulgences. Indulgences were sort of "after-life insurance" By paying a donation the bearer could be forgiven some sins and time in Purgatory. Leo extended it to forgive sins you may intend to commit. You could also buy a reprieve to someone already dead. When this refinance scheme reached Germany it was the provocation that sent Martin Luther to pin up his 95 Theses challenging the authority of Rome and start the Reformation.

1582-WILLIAM OF ORANGE ASSASSINATED. The Spanish Viceroy of the Netherlands the Duke of Parma didn’t know how to cope with the Dutch Independence movement led by William of Orange, also called William the Silent. They defeated him in battle but they could never capture him or destroy his forces. Finally Parma came up with a solution. He published a decree declaring William "A criminal and outcast from God and Society" That anyone who killed William would receive 25,000 gold pieces and be made a noble. Such a deal! Within three days a man shot William in the head, but he recovered. Then a year later this day Belgian Bartholemew Girard shot William three times and killed him. Girard was executed but his family received the reward and his head was displayed in Cologne Cathedral. For year afterwards and German Catholics tried to get Girard made a saint. William of Orange was dead but his 12 children carried on the fight for Dutch Independence and his family still rules Holland today.

1780- BATTLE OF GUILFORD COURTHOUSE, Virginia. Colonial General Nathaniel Greene battled British Lord Cornwallis to a draw but his Lordship has to withdraw to Delaware for supplies. Lord Cornwallis at one point ordered his artillery to fire on his own men to get through to the rebels to win.- not exactly a great morale booster. Back in London Sir Horace Walpole remarked: " Lord Cornwallis has conquered. He has conquered his troops out of shoes and provisions and conquered himself out of troops." Today not much credit goes to Nathaniel Greene that while Washington was stalemated outside occupied New York, Greene outmaneuvered Lord Cornwallis's superior army and backed it into Yorktown where it could be trapped to win the war. Before the final victory Greene’s health broke down and he had to leave the service.

1781-THE NEWBURGH CONFERENCE- The closest the United States ever came to a military dictatorship. George Washington's officers were fed up with the indecision of their bankrupt Congress. The Revolutionary War was over, but the army hadn’t been paid in months. Like Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army a century before, there were loud calls to march on the government. They even talked of establishing a junta of generals to run the United States! But what of their commander? The ringleaders assured: "we can handle the old man." General Washington called a meeting at his HQ at Newburgh, New Jersey and faced down his angry troops. He appealed for understanding and patriotism. Tears were shed when he put on his spectacles, implying he'd broken his health and had aged prematurely in the service of his country. He was only 49, yet he looked much older. That won them over. George Washington not only wasn’t "handled", but convinced the army to go their homes peacefully, paid with nothing but a paper IOU.

1782- The English House of Commons, fed up with the bungled American Revolution and the heavy-handed style of Lord North’s government, voted the first ever vote of no-confidence. The Lord North government resigned five days later.

1820- Maine became a state.

1865- Cross-dressing rebel guerrilla Sue Mundy was hanged in Kentucky. Long haired soldier Jerome Clark once got drunk, and for a gag his buddies put him in a dress and declared him Queen of the May. Instead of being insulted, Clark liked being in drag and ravaged the countryside as the partisan leader Sue Mundy. Until the Yankees caught him no one was quite sure whether he was a man or woman.

1892- The first voting machines in the US went into service. After 1972 metal voting machines were phased out in favor of the cheaper punch card system but the controversy over presidential elections fraud continues to cause new change.

1913- President Woodrow Wilson held the first presidential news conference.

1915- Universal Studios formed. Carl Laemmele bought a huge track of Burbank farmland and set up his studio. Laemmele had wooden bleachers built next to the movie sets where he charged people a nickel to come watch the filming. He used so many of his relatives in production that Ogden Nash quipped: "Carl Laemmele has a very large Fammele." Universal actually had been operating as a film company since 1912 but the company counts today as it’s birthday.

1919- American veterans of World War One founded a veterans society on the model of the Civil War’s vets Grand Army of the Republic. This they called the American Legion.

1929- Scarface Al Capone was called before a Chicago grand jury to explain his involvement in the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. Big Al’s alibi was he was in Key Biscayne Florida at the time having lunch with the Dade County prosecutor. They couldn’t pin nothing on him and no one was ever charged with the massacre.

1933- Young animator Chuck Jones first hired at Leon Schlesingers Looney Tunes cartoon studio.

1941- The daughter of Cecil B.DeMille Katherine DeMille had married actor Anthony Quinn. This day tragedy struck the family. On a visit to Cecil B.’s estate the couple’s three year old son Christopher walked off into neighbor W.C. Fields yard where he fell into Fields unsupervised swimming pool and drowned. The parents were so shattered they divorced afterwards. Anthony Quinn refused to talk about the rest of his long life. Fields was so depressed he had the pool filled in and landscaped so no sign of the tragedy would remain.

1944- The DeHAVILAND CASE- A judge rules actress Olivia DeHaviland free of her exclusive seven year personal contract to Warner Bros. For years movie stars like Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck and James Cagney had been fighting in court the system of exclusive contracts the studios used to keep them under control. They had no choice in the type of films they did, no residuals and studios could rent them out to other studios for higher fees and keep the money. If the actor complained they were put on disciplinary leave by the studio without pay and the penalty time added onto the end of their contract. Garbo called it the closest thing to White Slavery. Some contracts even ordered some stars not to get married for fear it would erode their sex appeal. After the DeHaviland Case movie stars got more freedom to choose roles.

1950- Disney’s "Cinderella" opens. Their first animated fairy tale story since 1942.

1956- Lerner & Lowe’s musical "My Fair Lady" premiered.

1962- The discovery of anti-matter.

1964- Elizabeth Taylor married Richard Burton, for the first time.

1969- Worst clashes between Soviet Russia and Red China across their long mutual border. While the free world feared a monolithic Global Communist conspiracy the fact was the animosity between Russia and China got so bad it threatened to go nuclear. During a lighter incident the Chinese People’s Army showed what they thought of their Russian comrades by lining up along a river bank, dropping their trousers, bending over and giving them a mass-mooning. The next time the Chinese did it the Russians were ready. As their butts went up the Russians held up portraits of Mao Tse Tung, the Chinese leader. The moonings stopped.

1969- Two young heirs to the Polident false Teeth Company and two hippy promoters announced a rock festival would be held that summer in the farm community of Woodstock New York.

1977- Television sitcom Threes Company debuted.

1979- Strange lights danced in the night skies over Phoenix Arizona from 8:30 pm until 11:00 pm. The military dismissed them as experimental flares but the duration and patterns seemed unusually long for mere flares. Was it a UFO light show?

1985- THE SAVINGS & LOAN SCANDALS- The Reagan White House’s policy of removing all business regulation played havoc with the savings & loan system. The problem became a public issue when this day Gov. Richard Celeste of Ohio suspended business in thrift banks in his state to stop the collapse of the system. One of the most underreported and little understood stories of the 1980’s the cost to clean up the Savings & Loan mess came out to be near $28 billion dollars, double the total cost to win World War Two. Scores of crooked Savings & Loan execs like Charles Keating accumulated vast fortunes, leaving you and I to pay the bills.

1985- is assigned the first registered domain site on the Internet.

2004- Cal Tech Scientists announce the discovery of Planet Xenia, the tenth planet orbiting our Sun, beyond Pluto. Some want to call it Sedna, an Inuit goddess who lived under the ice.
Yesterday’s question: Of the great battles of history, which of these famous rivals never met face to face? A)- Napoleon vs. Wellington, B)- Hannibal vs. Scipio Africanis, C)-Lee vs. Grant, D)- Richard the Lionhearted vs. Saladin?

Answer: A-no, B-Yes, C-Yes, D- no.

Some cool Animation books coming out.

IWAO TAKAMOTO'S BIO- I'm going tonight to the Van Eaton Gallery to get my copy signed by Iwao's collaborators Mike Malory and Willie Ito.

Hippo in a Tutu, a serious examination of the role of music in Disney Films, with enlightening new information from Alex Rannie.

Don Hahn's new two volume collection of Walt Stanchfield's lectures are now available on line for Pre-Order.

Question: Of the great battles of history, which of these famous rivals never met face to face? A)- Napoleon vs. Wellington, B)- Hannibal vs. Scipio Africanis, C)-Lee vs. Grant,
D)- Richard the Lionhearted vs. Saladin?

Yesterday’s Quiz answered below: Did Pontius Pilate invent Pilates?
History for 3/14/2009
Birthdays: Georg Phillip Telemann, Johann Strauss Sr., Albert Einstein, Casey Jones, Quincy Jones is 76, astronaut Frank Borman, Les Brown, Hank Ketcham, Wolfgang Petersen, Diane Arbus, Chris Klein, Michael Cain born Maurice Mickelwhite is 76, Ba-Ba Boowie, Billy Crystal is 61

On the Roman religious calendar this was the Second Equirra, the Blessing of the Horses of the Roman Cavalry. The Romans had no regular Sabbath day, but they had 154 feast days out of 366. Sorry about the deadline boss, but I have to go bless the Horses...

Today is also the Feast of Saint Matilda, wife of German Emperor Henry the Fowler and mother of Otto the Quarrelsome.

Happy pi Day (einstein's b-day) 3-14 geek stuff.

44BC –The night before their planned assassination of Julius Caesar, Brutus and Cassius met with the other conspirators. They had heard that tomorrow at the opening of the senate, outgoing consul Lucius Cotta planned to declare Caesar a king. The senators resolved to kill him, then debated whether they should then kill more of Caesars followers like Marc Anthony and Octavian. Marcus Brutus successfully argued that if they killed all their political enemies, then this gesture would just look like another partisan brawl. They would strike down one man, the dictator Caesar, in the name of Liberty and all would respect the purity of their motives. It turned out this was a big mistake, because the men whose lives they spared, were the ones who hunted them down.

44BC- This same night Julius Caesar held a dinner party. Guests remembered at one point the conversation went to the topic-What is the best kind of Death? Caesar answered: " That which is quick and unexpected."

1757- THE ADMIRAL WAS SHOT AT NOON- English Admiral of the Blue John Byng was shot by firing squad on the poopdeck of his own flagship, the HMS Monarch. He had lost a battle off Minorca to the French fleet so was court-martialed. The admiral was seen as a scapegoat for London's slow response to the enemy threat to Minorca. Byng had already been absolved by court martial of cowardice and treason, he himself wondered just why he was being shot. Pleas for mercy even came from his French enemy the Marquis De Gallissoniere. Years later whenever the Duke of Wellington or Lord Nelson was going through a bad time they would wonder: " If I fail they'll probably shoot me like Byng..."

1872- Stanley says goodbye to Dr. Livingston. After finding the English missionary at his desolate African post, Henry Stanley spent 4 months with him, then left for England.

1883- Karl Marx died in London. Marx's last words were:" Get out of Here!
Last words are for fools who haven't said enough already!"

1885- Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta The Mikado premiered in London.

1903- President Teddy Roosevelt, the first and last Republican environmentalist, established Pelican Island as the first Federal Wildlife Preserve.

1923- President Warren Harding became the first President to file an Income Tax Return..

1932-Inventor GEORGE EASTMAN shot himself- The inventor of the Roll-film camera, who named his celluloid strips 'film' and founded Eastman/Kodak. He had been suffering from a long illness and left the note: " To my friends: The End is near, why wait? "

1941- Xavier Cugat and his orchestra recorded "Babalu".

1943- THE BATTLE OF IMPHAL BEGAN- The Japanese 15th Army began an invasion of India from occupied Burma. Japan called it the "Drive on Dehli". For the next several months the Japanese, British , Indians, Nepalese, Gurkhas and Draguts fought on the plains of Imphal with tanks, planes, samurai swords and kukhris- the famous Gurkha boomerang shaped blade.

1943- Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" premieres. George Szell conducting. Young Leonard Bernstein once asked Copland how he could write more "American" sounding music. The maestro answered:" Lenny, just shuttup and write. You're American. It's all going to sound that way anyway!"

1967- Nine executives of the German pharmaceutical firm Grunethal were indicted over the Thalidomide scandal. Thalidomide was prescribed as a sedative for pregnant women , but the drug caused thousands of children to be born with deformed limbs.

1986- The IPO or initial public offering of stock of a new company called Microsoft. Twenty-seven dollars a share.

1991- Lyricist Howard Ashman ( Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast) passed away of HIV/AIDS.

1992- Famous Soviet Communist newspaper Pravda- truth, ceased publication.

1998- The epic disaster movie Titanic surpassed Star Wars and Jurassic Park as the greatest money earning film ever. It cost over $200 million to make but it earned at least $1 billion in box office alone. Quote director James Cameron: I’m King of the World!!
Quiz: Did Pontius Pilate invent Pilates?

Answer: No. It was developed in Berlin during World War One by Greek-German Josef Pilates as a way to help rehabilitate wounded soldiers.

March 13th, 2009 friday
March 13th, 2009

Quiz: Did Pontius Pilate invent Pilates?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: : True or False, if you fly an American flag in the dark, you are breaking the law.
History 3/13/2009
Birthdays: Hugh Walpole, Charles Earl Grey 1764-English Prime Minister whom the tea blend 'Earl Grey Tea " is named for, Pope Innocent XII (1615), Abigail Powers Filmore- First Lady of Milard Filmore, Hugo Wolf, Sammy Kaye, Danny Kaye, Neil Sedaka, L. Ron Hubbard, Dana Delaney, William Macy, Dick Katz, Annabeth Gish

27BC- AUGUSTUS BECOMES FIRST ROMAN EMPEROR- For about a hundred years the Roman Republic had been a football contested for by powerful politicians- Sulla, Pompey, Caesar, Mark Anthony and Lucullus. Julius Caesar had said that Rome was a Republic in name only. Since vanquishing Anthony & Cleopata, Caesar Octavian had been the first man in Rome, yet he needed to solidify his hold on power. But Romans hated the title of King. So this day in a carefully staged bit of political theater, Octavian told the Senate he was tired of responsibility. He would resign all his offices and retire. Senators shouted for him to reconsider. They voted him the title GAIUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS, IMPERATOR- PRINCEPS. Imperator used to be the name for a generals military authority and we get the word Emperor, Kaiser and Czar came from it. Princeps meant First Citizen, Augustus meant Father of His Country- with all the absolute power a father had in his family. Rome had emperors until 476AD and continued on at Constantinople until 1453.

4 B.C.- King Herod the Great died. The vibrant king who guided Israel to independence through Rome’s Civil Wars and rebuilt the temple of Solomon aged badly. He became increasingly paranoid. When a bastard son convinced him his legitimate offspring was trying to kill him, he had them executed. This may be the explanation why he could order the infamous scene in the New Testament known as the Massacre of the Innocents. On his deathbed Herod ordered village elders across Israel rounded up and killed when he died. " I know I am hated, so I want all Israel to mourn". After his death his guards ignored the order and released the elders.

1639- Richard Burbage died. Burbage was the famed Elizabethan actor and friend of William Shakespeare. On his tombstone was a simple epitaph- EXIT BURBAGE.

1758- BATTLE ON THE SNOWSHOES-Col. Robert Rogers with "Roger's Rangers" American colonial frontiersmen in British service, got ambushed by a large French Huron Indian warparty. The leathershirts scatter and Rogers eludes his pursuers by walking with his snowshoes turned backwards from the edge of a cliff. When the Indians see his tracks ending into thin air and then spot his figure running in the valley below they decided the Hipi-Manitou Spirit was with him, so they let him go.

1778- The French ambassador informed the British Government that France had recognized the independence of the United States and had made an alliance with them.

1781-the discovery of the planet Uranus by British astronomer William Herschel. The first planet discovered since prehistoric times. Galileo and Kepler used their early telescopes to spot the rings and Saturn and moons of Jupiter, but no planets. He originally wanted to call his discovery Georgium Sidus after King George III, but other astronomers convinced him to keep to the pattern of naming planets after Greek and Roman mythology. Hershel emigrated from Germany and played violin in several symphony orchestras before becoming interested in grinding lenses and astronomy. He brought his sister over and she became an opera diva as well as observing and naming 5 comets.

1852-UNCLE SAM born.-The familiar image first appeared as a cartoon in the New York Lantern. The named derived from the nickname of an old customs agent, Sam Wilson, who stamped U.S. on goods moving down river from Canada. Civil War hero Ulysses Simpson Grant or U.S. Grant was also called Sam by his friends. The famous image on the 1918 recruiting poster of Uncle Sam pointing and saying 'I want You!" was done by James Montgomery Flagg reworking a popular British poster of Earl Kitchener. The face Flagg used for Sam was himself in a mirror.

1865- At the request of Gen. Robert E. Lee the Confederate Congress authorized the enlistment of Black soldiers to fight for Dixie. Incredibly, they got 360 volunteers.
Meanwhile, 100,000 black citizens fought on the Yankee side.

1881-Czar Alexander II assassinated. -He was the Czar-Liberator that freed the Russian serfs but he was still seen by patriotic movements as a symbol of oppression.
On this day young revolutionaries of the People’s Will movement had already hurled one bomb at the Czar's carriage but harmed no one. The Czar was getting out when another revolutionary (this one was Polish) stepped forward shouting "It's too early to thank God!" And threw a bomb which blew Alexanders legs off. Later in the spring thaw St. Petersburg housewives were finding little bits of Czar on their rooftops when they cleaned.

1884- Chester Greenwood of Maine invented ear muffs.

1920-THE KAPP PUTSCH - In postwar Berlin anarchy reigned as Bolshevik and right wing paramilitary groups fought in the streets for control. On this day the Kaiser's former army officers march on Berlin and try and overthrow the Weimar Republic and restore the monarchy. They fail but the weak government can do no more than let them march away scot free. They even pause to fire into a heckling crowd of civilians. After this rebuff the old Prussian aristocratically -led German Army would remain aloof from politics until getting behind Hitler's Reich in the late 1930’s. One of the central conspirators of the Putsch was a bizarre figure named Trebitsch Lincoln, a Hungarian Jew who moved to England, ran for Parliament and won, was a German spy during the World War One, and finished his life as a Lama in Tibet named Chao-Kung. After that, who needs fiction?

1928- The White House never had much security. When you rang the bell President Thomas Jefferson answered the door himself. Abe Lincoln had one bodyguard and after the Civil War the one soldier guarding the front door was removed. Presidents like Grant & McKinley would take a stroll at night with no guards. Children played baseball and sheep grazed on the White House lawn. This night President Herbert Hoover was having a dinner party with Hollywood producer David O’ Selznick, when a disheveled stranger appeared at table table. He was a homeless man who wanted to ask the President for a job. He just walked through the front door while the butler was preoccupied. The next day by Executive Order the Secret Service took over direct control of the White House security and could command the D.C. police.

1939-Hollywood recognizes the Screen Director’s Guild later called he DGA. After a nasty battle lasting several years Guild President Frank Capra signs the contracts representing 80% of movie directors. They also contractually ensure the custom of the directors credit being the last one seen at the opening title sequence of a film. Directors had tried to unionize as early as 1926 but were intimidated by the studio threat of 'perpetual blacklisting'.

1943- Radio station WNYC goes on the air.

1944- Abbot & Costello copyrighted their baseball routine ‘Who’s on First?"

1946- The UAW struck General Motors. In 1936 businessmen had asked the Rand Corporation to come up with a solution to workers labor unions. The Rand Group came up with a pamphlet called the Mohawk Valley Rules. It said the way to defeat unions was not in the streets with vigilantes and tear gas but in the press. Make their arguments seem unAmerican and subversive. All sides took a hiatus to win World War Two so this was the first major strike where the Mohawk Rules were put into practice. So even though the union won concessions in the settlement they lost popular support. People blamed unions for the higher car prices and Communistic activity while the heads of GM and other defense corporations made 400%+ profits from the war.

Today the same business publicity engines are out to scuttle the new Employee Free Choice Act in Congress, as being unfair and ruinous to US industry. Uh, huh....?

1969- Disney’s movie comedy about a Volkswagen "The Love Bug" premiered. Not the Lindsay Lohan one, the good one with Dean Jones and Buddy Hackett.

1983- The Larry King Show debuted on HBO, later moving to CNN.

1988-Overly endowed porn star John Holmes, also called Johnny Wad, died of HIV/AIDS. He claimed to have had sex with 14,000 women and a few men in his career, but that he contracted the disease through intravenous drug use. He also got involved with some drug dealers and was implicated in a murder. The film Boogie Nights was based on him.

1997- In Malaysia, a man named Hassan Abdallah had his penis cut off by his wife in his sleep. Her excuse was she claimed she was sleep walking and only dreamt she was strangling him. Uh- huh….?

2002-In a national press conference President George W. Bush declared he did not know where top 9-11 terrorist Osama Ben Laden was, and that he no longer cared much about him.
Yesterday’s Question: True or False, if you fly an American flag in the dark, you are breaking the law.

Answer: True. According to Title 4/303 of the Code of the United States, approved by joint congressional resolution in 1942, you should take down the Stars & Stripes at sunset, or leave it up at night with a strong light on it. If you leave it in the dark, you could be cited for breaking Federal law.

March 12,2009 thurs
March 11th, 2009

Question: True or False, if you fly an American flag in the dark, you are breaking the law.

Yesterdays’ question answered below: Senator Ted Kennedy recently was knighted, but he can’t be called Sir Ted. If you inherit a Dukedom and you’re an American citizen, can you be called Duke or Duchess?
History for 3/12/2009
Birthdays: Jack Kerouac, Billy "Buckwheat "Thomas, Darryl Strawberry, Edward Albee, Andrew Young, Joan Kennedy, Eugene Ormandy, Gordon McCrae, Liza Minelli is 60, Courtenay Vance, James Taylor, Al Jareau, Maurice Evans, Barbara Feldon- agent 99 in Get Smart, DeWitt Bodeen- writer of the 1942 film Cat People.

81 BC- Roman dictator Sulla grants his general Pompey the right to hold a triumph to celebrate his victories. A triumph was the grand parade through the streets of Rome, hero in his chariot and all that, like in the movies. Pompey is the guy we get the term "pompous" from. As a young man he already insisted people refer to him as Magnus- The Great. Instead of his gold chariot being borne by the traditional four milk white horses, he wanted four milk white elephants! Sulla felt Rome’s arches and street weren't of sufficient width so Pompey reluctantly settled for one white elephant.

222AD- The Roman Emperor Elagabulus was assassinated. Elagabulus was a sicko-tyrant like Nero and Caligula. When his guards turned on him he first hid in a toilet but was found and stabbed. His body was dragged behind a chariot in the Circus Maximus to the cheers of the crowd, then dumped in the Tiber River. General Severus Alexander took over the Empire.

1579- The Duke of Ferrara Ludovigo D’Este had a problem. He was long the patron of a poet named Torquato TASSO and Tasso loved one of his daughters. But Tasso was mentally unstable, probably schizophrenic. This day, in the midst of a ceremony celebrating the Dukes third marriage, Tasso began raving and screaming and had to be dragged off to a mental hospital. At the same time Tasso’s greatest poem JERUSALEM DELIVERED was published. The poem became world famous – Montaigne, Cervantes and Queen Elizabeth of England all loved it. Christian Europe felt they finally had an epic poet to rival the pagans Virgil and Homer. Musicians like Handel and Monteverdi made operas of its characters, Armida, Tancredi and Reynaldo. And Duke Ludovico? For all his trouble, all he got was criticism for his perceived bad treatment of Italy’s greatest poet.

1796- After a two-day honeymoon at her place, Malmaison, Napoleon leaves Josephine
to go conquer Italy. And don't forget to pick up milk and the Sunday paper on the way back!

1877-In Philadelphia, Sam Wanamaker was unsure just what kind of retail he wanted to go into, he just wanted his business to be big. So he opened a large building with different types of goods sold in separate departments. Wanamakers became the first true Department Store.

1912-The Girl Scouts was founded in Savannah, Georgia, by Juliet Low, a friend of Sir Anthony Baden-Powell, English founder of the Boy Scouts.

1928- THE SAN FRANCISQUITO DAM DISASTER- The second worst disaster to hit California after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. Following up his triumph bringing water to Southern California by aqueduct, William Mulholland had designed several dams and reservoirs north of the city in the Santa Clarita Valley. On this night the largest of them exploded from basic structural weakness and sent a wall of water 30 feet high across the rural towns of Santa Paula and Fillmore down to Oxnard and the Pacific. 400 people drowned in their beds without warning. Mulholland took full responsibility for the disaster and resigned all his city offices. "I envy the dead" , he said. He died a few years later. Today when driving around the Valencia-Newhall area you can still see huge boulders with steel retaining rods sticking out of them. They are not natural rocks but chunks of the dam carried miles by the torrent of water.

1930-Mohandas K Ghandi ,of India, called the Mahatma or the Great Soul, began his Salt March. This gesture of defying the British Empire's monopoly on salt production was a gesture akin to throwing tea into Boston Harbor. He set out from his ashram with 78 followers and a lot of press coverage; by the time he reached the Indian Ocean his followers had become tens of thousands and was famous around the world.

1932-Disney short "Mickey’s Revue" featuring Dippy Dog, now turned into a new character named "the Goof" or Goofy.

1933-THE FIRESIDE CHATS- President Franklin Roosevelt began a series of national radio broadcasts detailing his plans to fight the economic problems of the country, called by newsman Robert Trout his Fireside Chats. FDR amazed the American public by speaking quietly and candidly, instead of using the bombastic political oratory of the day.

1945- Anne Frank died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at age 15.
Her father discovered her diary after the war.

1951- Former Disney assistant animator Hank Ketcham was trying his hand as a print cartoonist. He had some success selling gags to the New Yorker Magazine. His baby son Dennis was a precocious infant. One day after smearing the contents of his diaper around the house his mother exclaimed to Hank-“ Your son is a Menace!” That gave Ketcham an idea. Today the first Dennis the Menace comic strip was published.

1955- BIRD DIED- Jazz genius Charlie "Bird" Parker had a lifelong drug addiction. Since the death of his infant daughter earlier that year his drug use had spiraled out of control. He was sleeping on the couch in the NY apartment of the Baroness du Rothschild-Konigswarter, a jazz supporter. He awoke to watch TV.. While laughing at a juggler on the Dorsey Brothers Variety Show he died. The coroner said death was by heart failure, cirrhosis and pneumonia. He estimated Parker’s age at 65. He was really 34. When his band heard of his death they paused between sets to all shoot up with heroin in his honor. "Seems silly now, come to think of it." Said one musician later.

1964- Malcom X announced his break with the Nation of Islam in the US. Since returning from Mecca he was disillusioned with founder Elijah Mohammad’s leadership.

1969- Mrs. Robinson –a song written by two young folk singers named Simon & Garfunkel, won a Grammy award.

1969- Paul and Linda McCartney married.

1992- Warren Beatty married Annette Benning.

2000- Pope John Paul II officially apologized on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church for the Crusades, The Inquisition, 2000 years of Anti-Semitic persecution, the Fires of Smithfield, Bloody Mary, burning at the stake Jan Hus and Giordano Bruno, Silencing Galileo and Copernicus, the Thirty Years War, The forced conversions of indigenous peoples, ignoring the Holocaust, uhh. Did I leave anything out? Comedian John Stewart said Judaism officially apologized for the Barbara Streisand movie "Yentl."

Yesterdays’ question: Senator Ted Kennedy recently was knighted, but he can’t be called Sir Ted. If you inherit a Dukedom and you’re an American citizen, can you be called Duke or Duchess?

Answer: One of the first laws passed by Congress in 1789 and an early failed Constitutional Amendment, declared you can’t hold a hereditary title and still be an American citizen. So Queen Noor of Jordan and Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco had to renounce their citizenship to get their crowns.

March 11th, 2009 weds.
March 11th, 2009

Quiz: Senator Ted Kennedy recently was knighted, but he can’t be called Sir Ted. If you inherit a Dukedom and you’re an American citizen, can you be called Duke or Duchess?

Yesterday’s Question Answered below: In the years after the Civil War, Robert E. Lee was president of Washington/Lee University. Occasionally, he would remount his old white war horse Traveler to preside over an event. What was it?
HISTORY FOR 3/11/2009
Birthdays: Torquato Tasso, Marius Pretipa, Raoul Walsh. Rupert Murdoch, Charlie Ruggles, Lawrence Welk, former British PM Harold Wilson, Rev. Ralph Abernathy , Bobby McFerrin, Sam Donaldson, Justice Antonin Scalia, Douglas Adams, Jerry Zucker, Vanavar Bush- MIT scientist who oversaw the construction of the first electronic computers and pioneered Hypertext. Terence Howard is 40

In ancient Rome, today was the Festival of Hercules

1513- Giovanni de Medici, a son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, was elected Pope Leo X.
He was ordained a priest two days later- hey, details, details! Leo was the quintessential Renaissance Party-Pope. He blew the Vatican treasury on lavish entertainment, artists, poets and buffoons. He was quoted as saying:” God has given us the Papacy, so let us enjoy it.”

1669- Sicily’s Mt Etna erupted and killed 20,000 people.

1801- Czar Paul I was strangled. It had been said the Czar was showing signs of mental instability. Others say that rumor was circulated by the nobility who were offended by the Czars support of land reform for peasants and rejection of his mother Catherine the Great’s policies. The murder had the tacit approval of his son Alexander who became Czar. Later in 1812 after Napoleon's invasion was driven out, one of the top French generals, Dominique Vandamme, was captured. When Vandamme was reproached by Czar Alexander for making war on Russia, the Frenchman replied:" Well at least Sire, I didn't murder my own father!"

1818- Mary Shelly's great novel "FRANKENSTEIN, or the Modern Prometheus" first published. It’s considered the first true science fiction novel. The heroes are not knights or kings but modern scientists. Whether you believe 21 year old Ms. Shelly invented the story one dark and stormy night in 1816 while smoking opium with her homeboys Percy Shelly and Lord Byron is a matter of conjecture. Still, it's a good story.

1829- BachMania!-The Rediscovery of Johann Sebastian Bach-. Bach was little known in his time and after his death in 1750 was soon forgotten. Even his son Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach thought his dad’s music old-fashioned. But a century later the stirrings of German nationalism led to the re-examination of this obscure organist. This night at the Singadakademie in Berlin, musical superstar Felix Mendelsson performed The “St. Matthew Passion” and other Bach works. The musicians performed for free. The concert caused a sensation and Bach is soon being played all over Europe, and influencing everyone from Berlioz to Wagner. Goethe and Hegel declared him a genius

1851-Guisseppi Verdi's grand opera" Rigoletto "debuts. Considered Verdi's first mature work, it makes him an international star. Based on Victor Hugo's "L'roi's amuse", originally about the lustful abominations of King Francois Ist of France, Verdi changed it to the Duke of Mantua and steered away from the class politics to a family melodrama. Victor Hugo didn't like it.

1861- the seceded southern states adopted a constitution based on the old Articles of Confederation passed in 1778, hence the name the Confederate States of America. It provided for a President with a six-year term with no eligibility for a second term.

1888- THE YEAR OF BLUE ICE- The Great Blizzard of '88. In New York and Boston 40 inches of snow fell in 36 hours. Record low temperatures, 80 mile an hour winds and ice storms so severe that all the telephone and telegraph wires between New York and Boston snapped. To contact anyone you had to be routed through London England. 400 people died in New York City alone. Police set up frostbite checkpoints to rub the ears of pedestrians as they walked by. Out West so many head of cattle died that a serious beef shortage the following year created a labor problem with unemployed cowboys that led to the Johnson County Wars of 1890. Teddy Roosevelt was a Montana rancher at the time and he saw cattle freeze to death where they stood. Later in the spring thaw, these "cowsickles" would be bobbing up and down in the Yellowstone River with the ice flows.

1890- Orange County carved out of L.A. County.

1918- THE GREAT SPANISH FLU PANDEMIC- Today influenza is controlled by antivirals and you feel miserable for a few days, but back before such drugs, it was a killer. This day the first noticeable rise in a strange new flu occurred at Camp Funston Kansas. In only one year this new flu virus killed 21 million people around the Earth, 640,000 in the U.S. alone- everyone from Kaiser Wilhelm to Blackjack Pershing got sick. In places as far away as China to Calcutta to Russia thousands died. The epidemic killed as many people as the just concluding First World War. It was called the Spanish flu because even though it broke out all around the world, Spain was one of the few countries that didn’t have wartime press censorship, so they reported it first. HIV/AIDS killed 22 million in 25 years, Spanish Flu killed 21 million people in only 8 months. Then it disappeared as rapidly as it appeared.

1927- The first Roxy Theater opens at 50th st. & Seventh Ave. in New York. Roxy was a nickname of theater owner Samuel L. Rothaphel who pioneered the movie palace and is called the father of De-Luxe presentation.

1938- ANSCHLUSS- The Nazi takeover of Austria. Hitler had been organizing a covert takeover of the Vienna government by Austrian Nazis until the Austrian Prime Minister Schussning declared they would put the issue of uniting with the Reich to a public plebiscite. Rather than risk asking the public Hitler ordered his tanks to roll. Gen. "Panzer Heinz" Guderian the inventor of the blitzkreig, had his men adorn their tanks with flowers act like it was more of a German family reunion than an invasion. Viennese intellectuals like Albert Einstein had to flee. Sigmund Freud was not allowed to leave until he signed a note saying he was treated well-" I'd personally recommend the Gestapo to anyone". Painter Alphonze Mucha wrote a letter to his friends in America saying he was in the care of the Nazis and that he was fine. He died shortly afterwards…?
Eric Wolfgang Korngold was in Hollywood debating whether to score the latest Errol Flynn picture for Warner Bros.- "The Adventures of Robin Hood" or return to Vienna to produce his opera- "Die Kathrin". When he heard his Vienna apartment was one of the first the Gestapo raided he decided to stay and do the Flynn picture. He later inscribed the music score to Jack Warner; "to Jack. Thanks for saving my life."

1943- The Broadway musical team of Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein opened their first collaboration “Away We Go!”

1958- The U.S. Air Force accidentally dropped an H-Bomb on South Carolina near Mars Bluff. The safety catches insured it wouldn’t go off. The incident was kept top secret.

1971- Philo Farnsworth died of pneumonia at 64. As a young man he had invented a television set in 1922, but by the 1960’s he was forgotten, broke and addicted to painkillers. The only recognition he got was as a contestant on the quiz show I Got a Secret. He won an $80 check and a carton of Winston Cigarettes. Today Farnsworth is considered one of the true inventors of Television, along with Logie-Baird, DeForrest and Zworkin.

1977- Film director Roman Polanski (Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown) was arrested for having sex with a 13 year old girl in Jack Nicholson’s home after he got her stoned on quaaludes. Polanski was charged with statutory rape. He jumped bail and fled Hollywood for exile in Paris. In 2008 his attorneys petitioned the Cal State court unsuccessfully to have his charges thrown out.

1985- Since the death of Lenoid Brehznev the Soviet Union’s Central Committee was having a problem: every elderly Bolshevik they named as Soviet Premier -Yuri Andropov, Constantin Chernenko, had quickly died themselves of old age. On this day they selected the youngest member of their ranks to the leadership. He would be the last Premier of the Soviet Union- Mikhail Gorbachov.

1990- Lithuania becomes the first Soviet republic to declare its independence. By years end the unwieldy Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had flew to pieces and the Russian Federation was formed in its place.

2004- Al Qaeda allied terrorists set off ten bombs in Madrid commuter trains at the height of the morning rush hour. 200 dead, 1500 hurt..
Yesterday’s Question: In the years after the Civil War, Robert E. Lee was president of Washington/Lee University. Occasionally, he would remount his old white war horse Traveler to preside over an event. What was it?

Answer: A baseball game. According to Charles Bracelen Flood’s book LEE: The Last Years, when the college students would play a baseball game with a rival college, Lee would watch the game wearing his old uniform stripped of insignia, mounted on his old war horse, as though he was presiding over a battle. I don’t think he waved a big foam finger.