Dec 31, 2011 New Years Eve
December 31st, 2011

QUIZ: In Philadelphia on New Years they celebrate the Mummers Parade. Why?

Answer to Yesterday’s Question below: What is the origin of signaling the New Year by lowering a ball from a building?
History for New Years Eve 12/31/2011
Birthdays: Henri Matisse, General George C. Marshall, Odetta (real name Holmes Felicious Gordon) , Simon Weisenthal, Pola Negri, Jules Styne, Sarah Miles, Donna Summer, Patti Smith, Elizabeth Arden, Tim Matheson, John Denver, Dianne Von Furstenberg, , Ben Kingsley-born Khrishna Banji is 68, Anthony Hopkins is 74, Val Kilmer is 52, Gong Li is 46

192-193 A.D.- The Roman Emperor Commodus assassinated. The natural son of the great philosopher emperor Marcus Aurelius turned out to be just another sicko tyrant in the mold of Nero and Caligula. This night during a wild New Years Party, he drunkenly challenged a top wrestler named Narcissus. Narcissus had been bribed by Commodus's Preatorian Prefect Laetus and head of the Imperial Household Eclectus. So instead of just pinning him down, Narcissus broke Commodus’neck. Made for one hell of a party.

314 AD-This was the Feast Day of Saint Sylvester, the Pope who baptized the Roman Emperor Constantine who made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Legend had it Sylvester miraculously cured Constantine of leprosy, and in reward Constantine gave the Roman Pontiff dominion over all the world. This Donation of Constantine was the philosophical reason the Pope in Rome became the supreme head of the Christian Church over any other bishop. In the 1440’s Italian scholar Lorenzo Valla proved the Donation story was a myth forged in the 700s by a Vatican clerk named Christophorous.

406AD- Huge hordes of Goths, Alemanni and Vandals trudge across the frozen Rhine River and invade the Roman Empire. This biggest migration of barbarians is the beginning of the Fall of Rome.

1502- Renaissance Prince Caesar Borgia was besieging the Adriatic town of Senigalia. Caesar invited the enemy leaders Vitelli and Oliverotto to a conference with him at the Governors Palace. After dinner and drinks, Caesar had them strangled. Machiavelli praised Caesar Borgia for a “most lovely ruse”.

1600- England starts thinking about India... Queen Elizabeth grants a charter for exploration to the Honorable East India Company.

1711- Queen Ann of England dismissed the Duke of Marlborough from command of the British Army and from all his cabinet and government posts. John Churchill the Duke of Marlborough was one of the greatest English soldiers, ranked with Wellington, Nelson and Henry V. Yet, by now the Queen found him and his pushy wife Sarah annoying.

1772-3 THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. STROHENSEE-The King of Denmark, Christian VII was slowly devolving into insanity from syphilis. In 1770 he hired a doctor named Strohensee to try to alleviate his pain. The Doctor became more and more influential at the Danish Court as the king withdrew into seclusion. Strohensee was made a count and to top it all off he became the lover of the Queen!

Soon Count Dr.Strohensee was defacto ruling Denmark. In the name of Queen Caroline he passed 1,000 acts of enlightened reform, updating the Danish civil service and outlawed torture. Finally the Royal Court couldn't stand being dictated to by a low born sawbones anymore. At a New Years ball Strohensee was overthrown and arrested by order of the Queen Mother Juliana Maria. He was quickly tried and beheaded. The King's care devolved to several regents until his son took over after his death.

Queen Mum Juliana Maria said one of the greatest pleasures of her old age was looking out her window and watching the birds peck at the bones of Doctor Strohensee.

1862- Battle of Stones River or Murfreesboro - Yankees and Confederates battle it out in the thick forests below Nashville. They then declare a days truce to celebrate New Years. Then they resume killing one another on Jan. 2nd.

1862- The U.S.S. Monitor, the little ship that fought the Confederate Merrimac in the first great contest of iron warships, sank in a storm off Cape Hatteras. Her inventor John Ericsson had boasted, 'the waves shall pass over her and she shall ride the sea like a duck', but in rough seas she sank like a rock. The Monitor has recently been discovered on the ocean floor. In 2002 sections of the turret and a propeller have been recovered.

1862-3 - SLAVERY ENDS IN THE UNITED STATES-In a service at Boston's Music Hall Abolitionist leaders Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubmann, Harriet Beecher Stowe and William Lloyd Garrison sang 'Battle Hymn of the Republic" and celebrated midnight when the Emancipation Proclamation would officially take effect.

1879- Thomas Edison did a public demonstration of his new invention the Light Bulb. Special commuter trains brought people to Menlo Park New Jersey for the show.

1881- Los Angeles becomes the first U.S. city to be lit entirely by electricity.

1890- The new immigration facility on Ellis Island in New York Harbor opened.

1901-Los Angeles Angel's Flight cable tram opened. It closed down in the 1980's but was restored in 1996.

1909- The Manhattan Bridge, the second span across the East River after the Brooklyn Bridge, opened to the public.

1911-12 Dr. Sun Yat Sen elected first President of the Republic of China, replacing the 256 year reign of the Manchu Dynasty. One of his first acts was to abolish the Chinese calendar and go on to the western one for 1912. He also went to the Shrine of the Ming Emperors to tell their spirits that the Manchus had fallen. Dr Sen was a Methodist who no longer followed Chinese religious beliefs, but he was honoring a pledge to political allies.

1917- EUROPE DISCOVERED JAZZ- As the first American units entered Paris to help in World War One the New York 15th Colored Regiment serenaded the city. The band of the 15th was made up of top Harlem jazz musicians led by band leader James Europe. The French were amazed as the band performed ragtime riffs that only gradually they understood to be La Marsaillaise and Le Marche Sambre et Meuse. Local musicians accused the Harlemites of using trick instruments since no one could make sounds like that.
Lieutenant James Europe went on tour with the band and Europe the continent embraced the new modern sound.

1923-24-BBC overseas radio service first broadcast the Chimes of Big Ben around the world.

1929-30- New York's "21" Club opened as a speakeasy. Barkeep Jack Kramer opened the hangout at 21 west 52nd street. With a wine cellar hidden behind a two-foot thick stone wall door. The feds raided 21 once and found nothing after hours of searching. When they went back outside all their cars had been towed away by NYPD traffic cops. It seems the Mayor of New York Jimmy Walker was having dinner in the wine celler and was annoyed by the intrusion. In subsequent years it was normal to see movie stars, Lucky Lucciano, J.Edgar Hoover and John F. Kennedy eating side by side. Richard Nixon loved their tater-tots called potato souffle.

1929- Guy Lombardo and his big band the Royal Canadians first played Auld Lang Syne at midnight for New Years.

1940-41- Avant Garde artists John Sloan and Marcel Duchamp break into the Washington Square Arch in and declare Greenwich Village the Republic of New Bohemia. Like coool, daddy.

1941- A Warner Bros memo dated this day from producer Hal Wallis office announced that the movie to be made from a play by Murray Bennett called “Everybody Goes to Rick’s” has been renamed “Casablanca”. This was to capitalize on an already popular film title “Algiers” with Charles Boyer “come with me to ze Casbah” etc.. Humphrey Bogart got the lead after George raft first turned it down. Bogie told a friend about his new project: “It’s just some more sh*t like Algiers.”

1942- Chrome is outlawed on American cars for the duration of World War Two.

1943-44- In occupied Europe U.S. Navy frogmen sneak over to the future Normandy beachhead and take sand samplings to analyze if the beach could take the weight of heavy tanks and ordnance. The samples were sent to Detroit so companies could design customized tank-tread teeth.
As the frogmen swam back to their midget submarine they could hear the Germans celebrating in their bunkers. One frogman yelled out "HAPPY NEW YEAR !"

1943- Four hundred policemen are called out to control frenzied crowds of bobbysoxers as Frank Sinatra played the Paramount Theater in Times Square. OOHH FRANKIE !!

1946- The first Pismo Beach Clam Festival.

1947- Roy Rogers married Dale Evans.

1958-59- As Fidel Castro's hairy-ass guerrillas close in on Havana, dictator Fulgensio Batista slipped out of a New Year's Party and boarded a plane for Miami, all arranged by the CIA.

1962- Romanoffs closed. One of the premier hot spots on the Sunset Strip, it was the preferred hangout of Humphrey Bogart, who liked to play chess in the afternoon with Nick Romanoff when he was between films.

1967- The Ice Bowl- Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 for the NFL championship. It was nicknamed the Ice Bowl because the game was played in GreenBay in the out doors in below zero weather, with a wind chill of 40 below zero. Referees whistles froze to their lips.

1969- United Auto Worker's President Joseph 'Jock' Yablonsky was murdered with his wife and daughter. The gangland style hit is later tied to his successor Tony Boyle who goes to jail. 20,000 miners called a wildcat strike Jan. 5th to protest the murder.

1973- Israel held it’s first election after the Yom Kippur War. The Labor Party held on to it’s majority although Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan resigned after a report accused them of being unsurprised for the Arab surprise attack. The big news of this election was how former General Areil Sharon and Menachem Begin had welded the various right wing parties into a new coalition called the Likud. They quickly became a major force in politics.

1977- President Jimmy Carter in Teheran toasts Iran under the Shah as :“ An Island of Stability in a Troubled Middle East .” Within a year the Shah is overthrown.

1985- Singer Ricky Nelson died when his band's converted old DC-9 airplane crashed near DeKalb, Texas. Nelson it was said had been living on a steady diet of cheeseburgers and Snicker's bars.

1995- The last Calvin and Hobbes comic strip by Bill Waterston

1997- Will Smith and Jaeda Pinkett marry.

1999- Boris Yeltsin resigned as president of Russia after an 8 year rule administering the break up of the Soviet Union and the establishment of democracy in Russia. His chosen successor was former KGB agent Vladimir Putin.

1999-2000 - The Y2K MANIA. While the world prepared to celebrate the new century and the Third Millenium the American media whipped up paranoia over a theory that the change from 1999-2000 would cause most computers to crash. Planes would fall out of the sky, nuclear missiles would launch themselves and marauders would rule the streets like something out of Mad Max. The US Government spent $65 million to prepare for the crisis. But at midnight absolutely nothing of the kind happened. Even older less sophisticated computers in Russia and China were unaffected and everything ran normally. Meanwhile many of the US public stayed home and watched the rest of the world have fun on television.

2001-2002- The European Union currency exchange went into effect. Adieu, Adios and Ciao to the French Franc, Belgian Franc, Italian Lire, German Deutchmark, Austrian Schilling, Dutch Guldin, Greek Drachma, Irish Pound, Portuguese Escudo and Spanish Peseta. Welcome the Euro.

2006- Saddam Hussein hanged.

2008- Dedication in Baghdad of the Killing Saddam Museum.
Yesterday’s question: What is the origin of signaling the New Year by lowering a ball from a building?

Answer: - Since the 1700s Newspaper services like Reuters and the London Times would post headlines and on large signboards in front of their offices for businessmen on the street to see. Some times they would mark an important event like the death of a monarch by dropping a lantern, ringing a bell, or firing a signal cannon.

In 1905 The New York Times hosted a giant news years party from their new office tower at #1 Longacre Square, now renamed in their honor Times Square. Midnight was signaled to the crowd by the lowering of a lantern on it's roof.

In 1907 an ironworker created a large ball covered with electric light bulbs that was lowered from a flagpole. The Ball-dropping ceremony was only interrupted twice for World War Two blackout rules. The Times Building was later sold and renamed the Allied Chemical Building, the Sony Building and the Time/Warner building.


Dec 30, 2011 Friday
December 30th, 2011

QUIZ: What is the origin of signaling the New Year by lowering a ball from a building?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: In ages past, a well dressed Egyptian man would never go out without his tarboosh. What is a tarboosh?
History for 12/30/2011
Birthdays: Rudyard Kipling, Gen. Hideki Tojo, W. Eugene Smith, Luther Burbank, Anna Magnani, Bo Diddley, Sir Carol Reed, Sandy Koufax, Solomon Guggenheim, Jeanette Nolan, Jack Lord, Franco Harris, Joseph Bologna, Fred Ward, Tracey Ullman. Tiger Woods is 36, Heidi Fleiss, Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary -when Stookey became a Born-Again Christian he changed his name to Number One. Lebron James is 27

1370- Pope Gregory XI is an example of the rather unconventional path one could take to the Throne of Peter in the Middle Ages. His genial uncle Pope Clement VI had made him a cardinal at age 18. Upon his election as Pope at age 39 someone noticed that he had never taken Holy Orders to become a Priest! So yesterday he was ordained a priest and today became Pope.

1672- Violinist John Bannister and his orchestra held a concert at Whitefriars chapel in London. It’s the oldest known music concert given not to a royalty, but to the general paying public.

1689- The opera Dido & Aeneas by Henry Purcell premiered in London.

1816- Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley married Mary Wollenstonecraft. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein two years later.

1817- Coffee beans first planted on the Kona coast of Hawaii.

1853- The Gadsen Purchase- After the Mexican-American War the U.S. bought an additional 45,000 square miles from Mexico and finally settled the US border at the Rio Grande. The deal was brokered by U.S. Secretary of War and later President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis.

1862- During the Civil War the day before the Battle of Stone's River, Tennessee, Union and Confederate armies spent the day quietly facing each other across a creek under an icy rain. A battle of the bands started up. Blue and gray musicians serenaded each other across no-mans land with patriotic songs like Dixie and John Brown's Body, while the men sang along. Finally both bands synched up with a spontaneous rendition of " Be It Ever so Humble, There's No Place Like Home..". Thousands of throats from both sides took up the chorus.

1884- Anton Bruckner’s 7th Symphony premiered in Leipzig.

1894- Suffragette Amelia Jenks Bloomer died; she had gained notoriety for inventing "bloomers" a way for women to ride horses and do other physical actions without cumbersome hoops skirts.

1903 - A fire broke out in the crowded Iroquois Theater in Chicago killing 571. After the tragedy building codes were enforced that public buildings have exit doors that always open outwards and some form of fire fighting equipment on the premises. The Iroquois had a sign over the door that read “Absolutely Fireproof”.

1905- Idaho governor Frank Steunberg killed by a bomb set by union suporters.

1933- In Romania liberal premier Ion Duca was assassinated by the pro-fascist Iron Guard. In 1940 the Iron Guards leader General Ion Antonescu deposed King Carol II and established a dictatorship allied to Hitler.

1936- The Great General Motors Strike. The strike was violent and tied up steel, rubber tires and other manufactures for months. United Auto Workers invent the first "sit-down" strike at the Fisher Body Plant in Flint, Mich. "When they tie a can to the Union man-Sit Down, Sit Down! When the Boss won't talk, don't take a walk- Sit Down, Sit Down !"

1940- The Arroyo-Seco, the First L.A. Freeway opened by Mayor Fletchor Bowron, connecting downtown and Pasadena. ( interstate U.S. route 66 is in 1932, and The Imperial Highway opened in 1936., the Ventura freeway in 1958.)

1944- Manhattan project director Gen. Leslie Groves has a private meeting with FDR at the White House. Groves tells the President the two "cosmic super bombs" (Atomic Bombs) they are building will end the war. The reason they were making two was one was uranium based and the other was plutonium based, and they weren’t sure which would work..

To those who believe the U.S. atomic bombed Japan out of racism, Franklin Roosevelt wanted one dropped on Germany immediately to stop the Battle of the Bulge and kill Hitler. But Groves argued the A-bomb hadn’t been tested yet. He worried that if the bomb was a dud, the Germans were smart enough to take it apart and build their own from the fissionable material, which they might shoot in a V-2 at London.

1941- “I Vant to be Alone..” Film Star Greta Garbo announced she was retiring from motion pictures and all public appearances. She made her disappearing act complete and was only seen fleeting on the streets of New York until her death in the 1990s.

1947- Under the eye of the occupying Soviet Army, King Michael of Romania abdicated and a Communist government was voted into power.

1963- T.V. game show "Let's Make a Deal" with Monty Hall premieres.

1965- Ferdinand Marcos became president of the Philippines.

1988- Col. Oliver North, on trial for the Iran Contra Scandal, subpoenaed former President Ronald Reagan and President-elect George H. W. Bush. President Bush declined and Reagan testified on videotape.

Yesterday’s Question: : In ages past, a well dressed Egyptian man would never go out without his tarboosh. What is a tarboosh?

Answer: It’s another name for a fez. The cylindrical felt hat Egyptians wore when they were part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. Now they are mostly made for tourists.

DEC 29,2011 THURS
December 29th, 2011

Quiz: In ages past, a well dressed Egyptian man would never go out without his tarboosh. What is a tarboosh?

Yesterday’s question answered below: It’s been one year since the Arab Spring erupted, toppling authoritarian dictators. The first to go was the President of Tunisia. What was his name?
History for 12/29/2011
Birthdays: Roman Emperor Flavius Titus, Pablo Casals, Madame de Pompadour, Andrew Johnson, Charles Goodyear, Gelsey Kirkland, Dina Merrill, Tom Bradley, Mary Tyler Moore is 75, Jon Voight is 73, Charles Goodyear, Ray Nitschke, Viveca Lindfors, Ed Flanders, Ted Danson is 64, Marianne Faithful, Paula Poundstone, Jude Law is 39

1172- ST. THOMAS BECKET murdered. A debate that raged throughout the Europe in the Middle Ages was whether the Church could boss around Kings or visa-versa.
In England when a vacancy opened up for Archbishop of Canterbury, King Henry II arranged to get his old drinking bud, Sir Thomas Beckett elected. However Beckett took his new job so seriously he became the English Churches strongest champion.

On this night Henry was so fed up with Beckett that he shouted to his court:" Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest ?!" Two of Henry's dumber knights took this as a hint and went over to Canterbury and stabbed the Archbishop while at prayers. The Pope in Rome excommunicated Henry and placed England under the Writ of Interdict, which meant no local priest could administer baptism, marriage or last rites to anyone. They even took down the church bells so you didn’t know what time it was. King Henry apologized and did penance, and Beckett was made a Saint.

1776- George Washington marched his minutemen back to the old Trenton Battlefield, scene of their victory of four days before. There he praised them, then begged, pleaded and cajoled them not to go home now that their enlistments were up. Washington announced to the press that all his men had rejoined the colors, but in a private letter to Congress he admitted only about half were staying.

1837- THE CAROLINE INCIDENT. A minor rebellion against England had broken out in Canada led by William Lyon Mackenzie. This day on the American side of the Niagara river the Caroline, a ship full of supplies destined for the rebels was attacked by Canadian loyalist militia. They set fire to the Caroline and pushed it over Niagara Falls. The incident caused tensions between the U.S. and British governments. Mackenzie’s Rising was put down and his grandson became Canadian Prime Minister.

1845- Texas became a U.S. state.

1851- In 1844 the Young Men’s Christian Association or YMCA opened in London. An American named Thomas Sullivan was inspired by this idea and brought it home to Boston. This day the first American YMCA meeting was held in the Old South Church. The idea soon spread across the United States. In 1979 the YMCA tried to sue the gay disco group the Village People over the song of the same name, not appreciating the fact that it gave them the best publicity they’ve had in years.

1851- Lola Montez dances on tour in America. Lola Montez was originally an Irish lass named Betty James who created a persona as an Argentine Flamenco star. She became mistress to the King Ludwig Ist of Bavaria, who I guess couldn’t tell between a dancer from Buenos Aires or County Cork but knew a hot babe when he saw one.

Ludwig was so besotted with her that he bankrupted his country and had anybody she didn’t care for horsewhipped. He finally had to abdicate his throne rather than give her up. She did dancing and lecture tours to support herself and even published books on beauty secrets. If there had been a ninetenth century Oprah show, she would have been on it. She died an elderly social worker in New York and is buried in Green Wood Cemetery. Her ghost is sometimes seen on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

1890- WOUNDED KNEE- The last battle of the Indian Wars. The US government reacted violently to the Ghost Dance Movement then sweeping Sioux reservations. But the Ghost Dance was not calling for an actual rebellion against the US. Ghost dancers believed if they danced with the spirits of their ancestors the white man would go away.

But to the US Department of the Interior even a metaphysical rebellion is rebellion enough. Sitting Bull was arrested and killed. The army was sent to Wounded Knee reservation to demand a disarming of a few braves. When shooting broke out, the army opened up with modern rapid firing cannon and rifles. To 30 US casualties 300 Sioux, mostly women and children were killed. Reports abound of troops shooting the survivors. Ironically the unit was the Seventh Cavalry, and soldiers considered it the revenge of Custer.

1913- Cecil B.DeMille telegraphed his partners back in New York:” Flagstaff no good for our purpose. Have proceeded to California. Want authority to rent a barn in a place called Hollywood for $75 a month.” His partner Sam Goldwyn cabled back: “ Rent barn on month to month basis. Do not make long commitment.” DeMille began shooting the Squaw Man, the first Hollywood Film.

1916-James Joyce’s novel “the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” published.

1940- Nazi planes firebomb London, causing 1500 fires. At one point they hit St. Paul's Cathedral. CBS correspondent Edgar R. Murrow achieved national fame in the US by standing on a rooftop and reporting live on the radio, even as the bombs exploded around him.

1941- Disney animator Bill Tytla tells Time Magazine in an interview about creating "Dumbo": "I don't know a damn thing about elephants!"

1950-Congress passed the Celler-Kefhauver Act, which sought to reign in global companies mega-merger mania. It was the last major piece of legislation to try and regulate corporate monopolies in the U.S. So…… what happened?

1964- The first transistorized hearing aid.

1965- First day shooting on Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: a Space Odyssey. It was an indoor set at Elstree Studios in England, and the first setup was the inspection of the excavation of the Monolith in the moon crater Tycho.

1972- LIFE Magazine ended publication.

1975- Euell Gibbons, early natural foods advocate, died of a stomach ailment.
Yesterday’s Question: It’s been one year since the Arab Spring erupted, toppling authoritarian dictators. The first to go was the President of Tunisia. What was his name?

Answer: Ben Ali. Formerly President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali.

Dec 28th, 2011 weds
December 28th, 2011

Quiz: It’s been one year since the Arab Spring erupted, toppling authoritarian dictators. The first to go was the President of Tunisia. What was his name?

Yesterday’s Question answered below When you ask for a Rob Roy, what do you get?
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History for 12/28/2011
birthdays: Woodrow Wilson, Robert Sessions, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Hildegarde Neff, Edgar Winter, Stan “The Man” Lee is 89, Martin Branner the creator of Winnie Winkle, Johnny Otis, Martin Milner (1-Adam-12),Lew Ayres, Lou Jacobi, Terri Garber, Denzel Washington is 57, Maggie Smith is 77, Sienna Miller is 30, Rick Farmiloe

Feast of the Innocents-commemorates the Massacre of the Innocents, when King Herod the Great ordered the first born of Nazareth slain. In Spain and many Latin American countries this is a kind of April Fools Day, the victim of a practical joke being proclaimed an "innocent".

1065- English King Edward the Confessor dedicated a new abbey church west of London. Since in those days a church was also called a minister, it was soon known as the West-minster Abbey.

1694- Queen Mary II of England, one half of the husband & wife team William & Mary, died at age 32. She had helped her Dutch husband overthrow her father King James II.

1734- ROB ROY- Scottish nationalist guerrilla Robert McGregor, called Rob Roy, died peacefully of old age in his cottage in the Highlands. Made famous by Daniel Defoe’s novel about him, he spent his last hours making peace with former enemies. His last wish was for a bagpiper to be brought in and pipe a tune as he passed. Hoot-Man!

1793- Thomas Paine, philosopher of the American Revolution, was arrested by Robespierre's Reign of Terror in Paris. English born Paine was kind of a eighteenth century Che Guevarra and he went to Paris to help spread revolution. The American ambassador, Eldridge Gerry, hated Tom and took his sweet time about getting him out of the guillotine's shadow, but with the diplomatic pressure of James Monroe he eventually convinced the Revolutionary authorities to release him. While in prison in the Luxembourg Palace Tom Paine wrote the Age of Reason and had a love affair with pretty inmate Murial Alette, who was arrested for being the mistress of an aristocrat.

1832- Southern states rights advocate John C. Calhoun resigned as Vice President under Andrew Jackson. Calhoun felt “King Andrew” was going to betray the South and force them to give up slavery. Calhoun continued on in government as senator from South Carolina. He was the first sitting Vice President ever to resign.

1846- Iowa becomes a state.

1847- Peace Conference of Guadalupe Hidalgo began to try to end the U.S war with Mexico. Diplomat Nicholas Trist was given the tricky assignment of alone seeking out the Mexican authorities, although their government structure was in chaos at the time, and convincing them to sign away half their country while hostile American armies roamed their heartland. At one point President Polk and the war-hawks in the U.S. Government wanted to annex all of Mexico down to Panama! Trist ignored their orders to break off negotiations, signed the treaty and committed the U.S. and Mexico to fix their border as the Rio Grande.

1869- CHEWING GUM- William Semple of Mount Vernon Ohio received a patent for chewing gum. Since early times frontiersmen and Indians had the habit of chewing on a piece of pine resin or sap. The oldest chewed piece of gum was found in Sweden in a glacier in 1993. It is 9,000 years old and no, it wasn’t found under a theater seat. As early as 1842 Charles Curtis was selling spruce chewing gum from his home in Bangor Maine.

In 1869 a Staten Island photographer named Thomas Adams made friends with exiled Mexican dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, he of Alamo fame. Adams noticed the old general didn’t smoke but liked to chew a plug of tree sap he called “Chicle”. Adams took the chicle and put a candy shell around it, getting rich on the invention of Gum Balls. Santa Anna hoped the invention would finance his return to power in Mexico City but that never occurred. Gumball machines appeared in 1918, Bubble Gum in 1928.

1895- THE BIRTHDAY OF CINEMA- In Paris at the Grande Cafe des Capuchines the Lumiere brothers combined Edison's kinetoscope using George Eastman’s roll film with a magic lantern projector and showed a motion picture to an audience in a theater. Back in the U.S. Thomas Edison thought the idea of projecting film in a theater was foolish and would never catch on. They called their device a Cinematograph, hence the word Cinema is born. The screening included dancers and people leaving a factory but the biggest reaction out of the audience was from shots of waves crashing on a rocky beach. The audience jumped for fear of getting wet.

1896- THE JAMESON RAID- The German-Dutch Boers of the Transvaal had led a quasi-independent status in South Africa that annoyed British Empire builders like Sir Cecil Rhodes, the DeBeers diamond millionaire who had created the nation of Rhodesia, today called Zimbabwe. "I am not religious, but I always felt God would like me to paint all of Africa in the colors of the Union Jack." Cecil Rhodes financed a freelance military coup by 70 pro-British mercenaries led by his right hand man Col. Jameson. The attack failed and embarrassed the British Government. The German public was outraged at the bald arrogance of the attempt while the British called Jameson a hero. The tensions aggravated by the incident would result in the Boer War two years later and eventually the First World War and the independence of South Africa. In retrospect Winston Churchill said that the decline of the British Empire may have begun with the Jameson Raid.

1897- Edmond Rostands famous play CYRANO DE BERGERAC premiered in Paris. There really lived a poet-duelist in the 1640’s named Cyrano de Bergerac-Servigan but little was known about him. Rostand created the hopelessly big nosed hero who helps another man romance his true love.

1908- A massive earthquake devastates Messina Sicily and causes a tsunami tidal wave that causes more destruction in Sicily and the Calabrian coast.. More than 100,000 died. It was the largest quake recorded in Europe, an estimated 7.5 on the Richter scale.

1914- THE FIRST TRUE CHARACTER ANIMATION- Windsor McCay's "Gertie the Dinosaur" premieres as part of a vaudeville act. Up to then most U.S. animations were attempts to bring popular newspaper comic characters to life, but Gertie was a new character never before seen. Some critics had wondered if animated characters weren’t some kind of man in a special suit, so McCay drew a dinosaur, a character that couldn’t possibly be impersonated by a living thing. The brilliant draftsmanship and timing of this film would inspire the generation of Animation artists of the Golden Age of the 1930's-40s.

1928- Last recording of Ma Rainey, The Mother of the Blues.

1928- Louis Armstrong recorded West End Blues.

1944- ON THE TOWN, a musical written by Betty Comden & Adolf Green and young composer Leonard Bernstein premiered in NY.

1948- Mahmud Nokrashi-Pasha the Prime Minister of Egypt was assassinated.

1958- Cuban Communist forces under Che Guevara won the Battle of Santa Clara. It was a decisive battle in Fidel Castro's campaign to overthrow the dictator Fulgensio Batista. In 1997 when Che's remains were discovered in Bolivia they were reburied with great ceremony in Santa Clara.

1968- The Beatles White Album goes to number one on the pop charts.

1973-Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s book “The Gulag Archipelago” first published in Paris. The exposing of the Soviet prison camp and police system was a great success in the west. It gave the word for prison camp-“Gulag” into popular parlance.

1983- Dennis Wilson was the original drummer of the Beach Boys, but he had a pretty bad drug habit,. He was once involved with the Manson Family.

Taking time off from rehab for Christmas he and some friends sat on a yacht doing more drugs and booze near Marquesas Pier. Wilson recalled this very spot was where after breaking up with his first wife he threw her mementos overboard. He wondered if he could get them back and started “pearl-diving “i.e.-diving holding your breath without any scuba equipment. But being stoned after several dives, he miscalculated the depth he had gone to and drowned.

Dennis Wilson was 37. Of all the Beach Boys he was the only one who actually surfed.

Yesterday’s Question: When you ask for a Rob Roy, what do you get?

Answer: A cocktail. Whisky, vermouth and bitters on the rocks.

Dec 27, 2011 Tues.
December 27th, 2011

Question: When you ask for a Rob Roy, what do you get?

Yesterday’s question answered below: We discussed Russia’s Time of Troubles, but in what country was an era simply called “ The Troubles”..?
History for 12/27/2011
Birthdays: Johannes Kepler, Linwood Dunn, Marlene Dietrich, Louis Pasteur, Oscar Levant, Sidney Greenstreet, Anna Russell, William Masters of Masters & Johnson, Leslie Maguire, John Amos, Tovah Feldshuh, Heather O’Rourke, Cokie Roberts, Bollywood star Salman Khan is 46 Gerard Depardieu is 63

In Bhutan- Happy Day of the Nine Evils.

Feast Day of Saint John the Evangelist

1784- Francis Asbury was ordained the first Bishop of the Methodist Church in America.

1820- John Quincy Adams wrote a friend that he was sad that Washington DC didn’t have any good monuments. It could use one to George Washington and a cathedral like Westminster Abbey. If John Q. could only see DC today, it’s a rock garden of statuary,

1831- Charles Darwin sets sail for the Pacific on board the HMS Beagle. The observations he made of exotic species while on this voyage formed the basis of his theories on evolution and natural selection.

1869- RIEL'S REBELLION- The Red River wilderness of Manitoba were home to French-Indian trappers called the Metis. When the Hudson's Bay Company turned their jurisdiction over to the British Empire and English protestant surveyors and settlers began to arrive, the Catholic Metis banded together and declared independence.

On this day they proclaimed Louis Riel "President of the Provisional Republic of Prince Rupertland and the Northwest Frontier"! They had a militia and newspaper-the New Nation. Louis Riel convened the first bi-lingual non-sectarian parliament. The Governor General of Canada was still referring to his French and Indian subjects as 'Un-Britons '.

The U.S. State Department seriously considered recognizing the Metis to curb British-Canadian expansion to the Pacific, but finally decided to stay neutral. In summer 1870 when a British army paddled in bateaux up stream to attack Riel at Ft. Gary (present day Winnipeg), The Metis Republic dissolved and Riel fled across the border. Louis Riel returned in 1885 lead an uprising in Saskatchewan but was finally caught and executed.

1871- The world’s first cat show opened at the Crystal Palace in London.

1887- Beginning of the Sherlock Holmes story the Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.

1892- In New York City, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine starts construction (and is still not finished..) The largest Gothic nave in the world, work was stopped during the Depression and resumed in the 1970s. Part of the problem re-starting construction was finding some Gothic medieval-style stonemasons who were willing to re-locate.

1900- Temperance crusader Carrie Nation staged her first public axe attack on a saloon, the bar at the Carey Hotel in Witchita, Kansas. She shattered a large mirror behind the bar and threw rocks at a titillating picture of Cleopatra nude bathing. She called her actions not vandalism, but “hatchetation”.

1903- The Barbershop Quartet favorite “Sweet Adeline” sung for the first time. It was written in praise of opera star Adelina Patti.

1904- PETER PAN, OR, THE BOY WHO WOULDN’T GROW UP, a play by James Barrie, opened at the Duke of York Theatre in London. Barrie reserved seats in the opening night performance for orphaned children who laughed and cheered all night. Peter llewlyn Davies, the little boy Barrie befriended who was the basis for Pan, used to say:” I am not Peter Pan. Mr Barrie is.”, He committed suicide in 1960. James Barrie once said to H.G. Wells:” It’s all right and good to write books, but can you wiggle your ears?”

1927- Broadway musical "ShowBoat" debuts at the Ziegfeld theater. Based on a story by Edna Ferber the music was written by Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammerstein. The play made a star out of a tall black baritone named Paul Robeson.” Ol’ Man River..”

1934- The Shah declared the country known as Persia would now be called Iran.

1935- Radio City Music Hall opened. The Art Deco masterpiece was for many years the largest indoor theater in the world, seating over 6,000. Cole Porter sang” They all laughed at Rockefeller Center, now they clamor to get in…..”

1940- Al Jolson and Ruby Keeler announced their separation.

1942-THE SMOLENSK COMMITTEES- The Nazis began a recruiting campaign in the vast camps of Russian POWs to set up an Anti-Communist Russian Army. They had good results the previous April recruiting among the Soviet-hating nationalist Cossack groups of the Don, Tartar, Kuban and the Ukraine. These men hated Stalin worse than Hitler, so they signed up. Anti-Communist Russian armies eventually numbered as high as 100,000 men under their generals Vlasov, Komorov and Bach-Zelewski. After the war they tried to surrender to the Americans but by secret agreement with Moscow, they were all repatriated to Russia. Most were executed or died in Siberian labor camps.

1943- The movie The Song of Bernadette premiered.

1945- Eleven nations sign the Bretton Woods agreement creating the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

1945- Russia and American agree to divide occupied Korea into two parts and administer it for 5 years until regulated elections could decide the peninsula’s future. That never happened because before the five year time limit was up North Korea and South Korea had each set up rival governments and the division stands to this day.

1947- The "Howdy-Doody Show” debuted on NBC. Buffalo Bob, Howdy and Clarabell the Clown, also known as the Puppet Playhouse.

1949- Happy Indonesian Independence Day.

1951- The Crosley car goes into service for the post office in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is a little jeep with the steering wheel on the right side so the mail deliverer didn’t have to get out of his vehicle to reach every curbside mailbox.

1954- The" Disneyland" television show premieres. Up until then the major Hollywood Studios were all boycotting the new upstart medium of television, then mostly done in New York by blacklisted stage actors and writers. Walt Disney is the first to break ranks with the major film studios and get into television production and even films the show in Technicolor, figuring television will develop color broadcasting eventually.

1968- Apollo 8 landed safely on Earth after being the first ship to reach the Moon and come back. The brought back spectacular photos of the Earth from space. One of the three astronauts was also the first to barf in deep space, but they aren’t saying which.

1978- King Juan Carlos ratified Spain’s first democratic constitution in 50 years.

1985-Terrorists organized by Abu Nidal open fire in airports in Vienna and Rome. Sixteen tourists killed. When White House aide Oliver North was giving testimony about the Iran Contra Scandal he fixed upon the threat posed by Abu Nidal as though it was a personal vendetta. In 2001 while the world was distracted by the event of 9-11 and the war on Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein’s secret police executed Abu Nidal in Baghdad.

2007- Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. She had been leading the opposition to the government of General Pervhez Musharraf.
Yesterday’s question: We discussed Russia’s Time of Troubles, but in what country was an era simply called “ The Troubles”..?

Answer: It’s the period of sectarian conflict and IRA bombings in Northern Ireland, from the 1960s to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.