January 2, 2007 tues.
January 2nd, 2007

All the holidays are done. Time to sober up and go back to work!

Birthdays: Turkish Sultan Mehmed IV-1642, Frederic Opper the cartoonist of Happy Hooligan, Phillip Freneau, Rev Jim Baker, Roger Miller, Issac Asimov, Julius LaRosa, Tito Schipa, Renata Tebaldi, Tex Ritter, Cuba Gooding Jr, is 39, Tia Carrere, Kate Bosworth is 24

1688- The great insurance house Lloyd’s of London founded. In the past they’ve insured Betty Grable’s legs, Bruce Springsteen’s lungs and offered a million English pounds to anyone who could prove Elvis Presley was still alive.

1843- Richard Wagner’s opera The Flying Dutchman premiered in Dresden.

1878- Farmer John Martin thought he saw something shiny flying in the sky above Denizen Texas. He is the first person to describe it as a “flying saucer.”

1897- Young writer Stephen Crane survives a shipwreck when the good ship SS Commodore went down off the coast of Florida. He went on to write The Open Boat and The Red Badge of Courage.

1937- Hollywood actor Ross Alexander had hit on tough times. He had been in a few movies like Captain Blood and Max Reinhardt’s A Midsummer Nights’s Dream but his career seemed to be stalled and he was deeply in debt. This day the 29 year old went into the barn behind his Valley ranch home and shot himself. The Warner Bros. Studio looked around for a replacement to refill their roster of male leads. They replaced Alexander with a Illinois college sportscaster named “Dutch”- Ronald Reagan.

1958- Maria Callas threw one of the more celebrated temper tantrums in Opera history when she stormed off the stage at La Scala in the middle of Bellini’s Norma with the President of Italy in the audience. La Divina Callas was a Greek-American with a beautiful voice and the slimmest waistline since Lili Pons. She was part of the Jet-Set society culture and her temper was famous.

1984- The Zenith corporation announced it would stop selling video recorders in Betamax format and go over wholly to VHS. Other electronics giants followed suit and VHS won out over the higher quality Beta system.

Jan. 1st 2007 New Years Day
January 1st, 2007

Jan. 1st 2007 A.D. or 2007 of the Common Era-
It’s also the Hebrew year 5,765 AM or Year of the World Anno Mundane in the Moslem calendar 142 A.H. or Al Hajira –since the Haj, And the Year 1385 in the Persian Zoroastrian Calendar

if you are interested in time-keeping an excellent web site I like is Todays Date & Time

Welcome to the month January from IANUARIUS, the old Roman god Janus, the two faced god of doorways and portals who looks forward and back, symbolizing new beginnings. Not to be confused of course with Terminus the god of boundaries and borders. Janus’ temple was dominated by a large doorway in the Roman Forum. Whenever the temple doors were closed, it meant Rome was at peace with the world. Unfortunately, this was hardly ever the case.

Birthdays: Duke Lorenzo”the Magnificent” De Medici, Pope Alexander VI Borgia, King Charles The Angry One of Navarre, Paul Revere, Betsy Ross, Mad Anthony Wayne, E.M. Forrester, J.Edgar Hoover, Xavier Cugat, Frank Langella, Barry Goldwater, Kuniyoshi Utagawa, Dana Andrews, Idi Amin Dada, Kliban the cat cartoonist

45 b.c.- By edict of Julius Caesar the Roman Empire adopts the 12 month 366 day calendar Caesar ordered developed by the Alexandrian scientist Sosigenes. This was an improvement from the ten month, ten day week system. The ten month system is why December which means ten is the twelfth month. The system had become so lopsided that the Roman civil service had to open a special office just to tell you what day it was!
In order to pull the calendar back in line with the solar seasonal year Caesar decreed the last year of the old system 46 b.c. would have to be 445 days long! He called it Ultimus Annus Confusionis. Roman merchants, bankers and shippers called it the Year of Confusion.

1788- THE LONDON TIMES is born. Daily newspapers had appeared in Europe in the early 1600s. Publisher John Walters had started a small one sheet in 1785 called the Daily Universal Register. In 1788 he changed the name to the simpler "The Times" and created the format for newspapers around the world for centuries to come. The Walters family ran the newspaper for 125 years and Walters even had to edit it for two years while serving a prison term for libel.

1876- The first Mummers Parade in Philadelphia. Philadelphia created a fusion of Swedish custom of celebrating New Years with masquerade and noisemaking with a British custom of mummery- reciting doggerel and ribald songs in exchange for cakes and ale. George Washington received mummers when the US capitol was in Philadelphia in 1790. The large Mummers parade that continues to this date began to welcome the US Centennial year in 1876. Now why Shriners drive little cars is anybody’s guess.

1878- The Knights of Labor, the first national American Union Movement is born. They demanded unheard of: An 8 hour workday down from 14, a six day workweek down from 7, paid vacations and no child labor. Balderdash! As industrialist Jay Gould reacted:" I'll hire half the working class to murder the other half."

1881- Eastman Kodak Company formed. Kodak supposedly was named from the sound of the snapping camera shutter.

1890- The First Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena California.

1942- Because of the fear of a Japanese attack on the California coastline, the Rose Bowl that year was played in North Carolina.

1953- 29 year old country music star Hank Williams had spent the night drinking whiskey and doing chloral hydrate. When a West Virginia policeman pulled over his car he remarked to the driver that Williams looked dead. He was. The driver said he was just sleeping and drove on. Williams last song was “I’ll Never get out of this World Alive.”

1959- The Chipmunk Song by David Seville (aka Ross Bagdassarian) tops the pop charts..

1960- The Radio and Television Director's Guild merge with the Screen Directors Guild to form the DGA.

1963- Tetsuwan Atomu or Atom Boy, an animated television show by Osamu Tezuka premiered on Japanese t.v. As Astro Boy it became the first Japanese anime show to break into the mainstream American market.

1976- Potheads sneak up to the Hollywood Sign and change the two “O’s to “E’s so the sign reads HOLLYWEED. Awright Dudes!

1984- By court order, the phone system AT&T also called the Bell System which had dominated telephone communication exclusively since Alexander Graham Bell spilled carbolic acid on his lap, was ordered broken up into 22 regional companies, the Baby Bells. The explosion of telecommunications, portable phones and bigger phone bills result.

December 31, 2006 New Years Eve
December 31st, 2006

click on image to enlarge

Muchachos, Muchachas, Tovarichkis and Leibe Kameraden!

Time to close the books on another wild year. If you will permit me a moment to get personal, its been a time of change.

I directed a season of Biker Mice and wrote several scripts,
Ended my connection to Gang of Seven and struck out on my own.
Traveled to Taiwan and directed a CGI short for Digimax.
Published my first book DRAWING THE LINE and did signings in several cities including NYC, San Francisco and San Diego.
My second book, Jews and American Popular Culture, is out today.
My Parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
Got Pat a roomba i-robot and she's following it around the house watching it chase the cats.
Went to some cool parties, emcee'd the Little Mermaid Reunion
Had a tribute given in my honor at UCLA last Oct 23rd.
Starting a new project.
Made new friends, hooked up with old friends.

Mostly, I'm glad you've enjoyed reading my little blog.I hope you find it as much fun as I do writing it.
Have a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year, See you in the 07!

Birthdays: Henri Matisse, Odetta (real name Holmes Felicious Gordon) , Simon Weisenthal, Val Kilmer, Pola Negri, Anthony Hopkins, Jules Styne, Ben Kingsley -real name Khrishna Banji, Sarah Miles, Donna Summer, Patti Smith, Elizabeth Arden, Tim Matheson, John Denver

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.

1905-6- ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO- THE FIRST BALL DROPPING CEREMONY- The New York Times hosts the first of it's giant news years party's from it's new office tower at #1 Longacre Square, now renamed in their honor Times Square. Midnight was signaled to the crowd outside by the lowering of a lantern on it's roof. In 1907 a ironworker created a large ball covered with electric light bulbs that was lowered from a flagpole. The Ball-dropping ceremony was only interrupted twice in 1942-43 for World War Two blackout rules. The Times Building was later sold and renamed the Allied Chemical Building, the Sony Building and in 1996 was purchased by Time/Warner.

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 celler 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. He kept playing it every New Years until 1976.

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”.

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. 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 guerrillas closed in on Havana, dictator Fulgensio Batista slips out of a New Year's Party and boards a plane for Miami.

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.

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 diet of cheeseburgers and Snicker's bars.

1995- Oh No!!The last Calvin and Hobbes comic strip by Bill Waterston

1997- Will Smith and Jaeda Pinkett marry.

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.

December 30th 2006 saturday
December 30th, 2006

The other day I watched the film Miss Potter, with Rene Zellwegger as the creator of Peter Rabbitt. She did a wonderful job, but I particularly liked the small animations of Potters watercolors done by Passion Pictures. Bravo Andrew and crew. I only wish there was more of it.

Karl Cohen informed me today of the death of Prescott Wright. Prescott had been in failing health for the last few years and the end came yesterday. He was age 71. Prescott was one of the prime movers and organizors of the ASIFA movement, since it's founding in the early 1960s. He was the director of a number of important international film festivals including the International Tournee' of Animation and was the president of ASIFA/San Francisco for many years. Prescott was in on the debate when we decided to expand the Annies from a career lifetime to competitive categories. He was sharp, focused and passionate about animation. Young filmmakers could do no better than if they were fortunate enough to have Prescott championing your film. Adieu Prescott.
Birthdays: Rudyard Kipling, photographer W. Eugene Smith, Luther Burbank, Anna Magnani, Bo Diddley is 76, director Sir Carol Reed, Sandy Koufax, Solomon Guggenheim, Jeanette Nolan -Granny from the Beverly Hillbillys, Jack Lord, Joseph Bologna, Fred Ward, Tracey Ullman. Tiger Woods is 31, Heidi Fleiss, Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary (when Stookey became a Born-Again Christian he changed his name to Number One)

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 Frankenstein author Mary Wollenstonecraft Shelley.

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

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.)

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.

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

December 29, 2006 Friday
December 29th, 2006

Birthdays: Roman Emperor Flavius Titus, Pablo Casals, Madame de Pompadour, Gelsey Kirkland, Dina Merrill, Tom Bradley, Mary Tyler Moore, Jon Voight, Charles Goodyear,Viveca Lindfors, Ed Flanders, Ted Danson, Marianne Faithful, Paula Poundstone, Jude Law is 34

1851- Lola Montez dances on tour in America. Lola Montez was originally an Irish lass named Betty James who created her 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 GreenWood Cemetery. Her ghost is sometimes seen on the Lower East Side of Manhattan I’m told.

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.” He began shooting the Squaw Man, the first Hollywood Film. His partner Sam Goldwyn (then Sam Goldfish), expressing caution, cabled back: “ Rent barn on month to month basis. Do not make long commitment.”

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

1940- Nazi Bombers 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 fell 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 Twentieth Century. So…… what happened?

1972- LIFE Magazine ended publication.

1975- Euell Gibbons, natural foods advocate, died of a stomach ailment.