You may have noticed I like to write historical trivia. That got me to thinking, what is the origin of the word trivia? See Below.
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Birthdays: Roman Emperor Constantine, Montgomery Ward,, Red Barber, Michael Jordan, Marian Anderson, C'haim Potok, Margeret Truman Daniel, Jim Brown, Rene Russo, Michael Bay, Cybil Shepard, Denise Richards is 36 and Paris Hilton is 26

3,201BC- According to Sumerian records from today in the month of Hilu to the month of Eshil-March 30th occurred the GREAT FLOOD, that the story of the flood of Noah in the Bible was based on. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the 1920’s theorized that the Great Flood was the tidal backwash caused by the sinking of the lost continent of Atlantis.

1865- Gen. Sherman burns Columbia, S.C. The POPULARITY OF THE CIGARETTE- Everyone knew the Civil War was almost over, yet try and reason with Uncle Billy. Sherman's army fresh from burning Georgia spread a wide path of destruction through the Carolinas. When Sherman's men reached the capitol of South Carolina they took special revenge in destroying the city where the first vote to secede took place. Yankee's sang "Hail Columbia, Happy Land; If I don't burn you I'll be damned!" Cigarettes were gaining popularity in Spain and Latin American while in the U.S. tobacco was taken chiefly in cigars, pipes and chaw. A South Carolina planter in Durham had just finished developing the perfect mild blend of cigarette tobaccos, Bull Durham, when Sherman's bluecoats arrived to loot and torch the factory. Instead of tragedy things worked out well for the fellow. After the Civil War the Yankees went home to towns from Maine to California and talked of the good smoke they had in Carolina. Soon it was a national passion. Hey man, you got any papers?

1876- The invention of canned sardines.

1906- In a White House wedding ceremony President Teddy Roosevelt saw his eldest daughter Alice married to Congressman Nicholas Longworth of Ohio. Alice was as free spirited as her father, Once when confronted about her escapades Teddy remarked " I can run the country or control Alice, but I cannot do both."

1911- General Motors installed in their Cadillacs the first automatic starters, replacing the handcrank. It was developed by Charles Kettering, the reason he did it was because a friend of his stopped to assist a young lady's who's engine had stalled. When he tried to get the engine started again using the hand crank, it kicked back and hit him in the jaw, breaking it and eventually causing gangrene, which eventually killed him.
Kettering spent many years at GM and started the Delco brand of auto parts. He also was responsible for fast drying paint which allowed a car to be painted in almost instantly on an assembly line instead of days. He sold the idea to an unbelieving client by having his car taken from the parking lot, painted and returned over a long lunch.

1912- THE NEW YORK ARMORY SHOW-Mabel Dodge and Gertrude Stein introduce Post expressionist modern art to the U.S. public. The first U.S. showings of Picasso, Matisse, Duchamp and the Italian futurists. The show was denounced as a "chamber of horrors" and Matisse was burned in effigy in Chicago. Marcel Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircase" was described by an art critic as "an explosion in a shingle factory". Duchamp was highly gratified, I believe.

1925- First issue of Harold Ross’s The New Yorker magazine.

1942- Ernst Lubitsch’s screwball comedy about the Nazis "To Be , Or Not To Be"debuted. Adolf Hitler enters a room and after everyone "Seig Heil" salutes him, he replies "Heil Myself!" But the film flopped because it’s female star Carole Lombard died tragically in a plane crash shortly before the premiere.

1958 – Johnny Hart’s comic strip "BC" 1st appears

1967 – The Beatles release "Penny Lane" & "Strawberry Fields"

1979- A Prairie Home Companion radio show starring Garrison Keilor was first broadcast nationally. It was a feature on Minnesota Public Radio since 1974.

1987- Soviet premiere Mikhail Gorbachev reveals President Ronald Reagan's preoccupation with space aliens: "At our meeting in Geneva, the U.S. President said that if the earth faced an invasion by extraterrestials, the United States and the Soviet Union would join forces to repel such an invasion. I shall not dispute the hypothesis, though I think it's early yet to worry about such an intrusion..."

1989- "Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure" premiered starring the most excellent Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. Whoah-Dude!
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ANSWER: In ancient Rome where three roads intersected the Romans built a rest station for travelors. Many stopped to rest, water their horses, swap gossip and news, and leave little notes for other travellors coming down the same road. This practice of leaving little bits of information was soon named for the intersection of three roads, in Latin TRE-VIA, or trivia.

I got this from my friends Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers, whom I had just finished visiting in Snowy Boston. And boy, did we exchange trivia! More goodies like this in a book collection of puzzlers are available at their Car Talk website.


February 16, 2007 friday
February 16th, 2007



I had a great visit with the students of NYU and SVA in cold and snowy New York City.
After many weeks, my DRAWING THE LINE book tour is finally winding down. No Pulitzers or movie deals in my mailbox yet, but the sales have been good and the overall response to it has been very gratifying. I'd like to thank all the wonderful people I met and had a chance to talk to in New York, LA, San Diego and San Francisco.

-Thank you to ASIFA/Hollywood, ASIFA San Francisco and ASIFA*East. Zeum, The Cartoon Museum, The Southern Cal Cartoonists Society, The Creative Talent Network, the Animation Guild Local 839, the NCS and Hollywood Heritage.

- Thank you too, to all the schools that have welcomed me-USC, UCLA, Cal Arts, Cal State Northridge, Loyola Marymount, Cal St Fullerton, Cal Poly-Pomona, Glendale College, The Acme On Line Program, The Bishops School in LaJolla, The Art Institute of San Francisco, The Laguna College of Design as well as the aforementioned NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SVA.

Thanks to all the teachers and students who made it possible.

I'll probably have more signings at the Comicon and SIGGRAPH this summer. If anyone else needs a lecturer to waste an evening hawking books, I'm still available. I just need to be watered and fed on occasion.
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Birthdays: The Great Elector Frederick William of Brandenburg,Charles Taze Russell founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Edgar Bergen, Sonny Bono, John MacEnroe, animation voice actor Frank Welker who did Porky and Jabberjaws, John Schlesinger, anim director Faith Hubley, Katherine Cornell, Levar Burton is 50, Ice-T is 49

Today is the feast of St. Juliana, who was tortured by both her father AND her boyfriend
I know a lot of you girls out there can relate to that. She also liked to wrestle winged devils in her spare time.

1923- Bessie Smith made her first recording-"Downhearted Blues".

1978- The first computer bulletin board goes on live. Ward Christensen and Randy Seuss's Computerized Bulletin Board System was an S-100 motherboard and CP/M, and a Hayes 300 baud modem. It still runs to this day, but the Internet has taken the place that BBS's used to have

1985-"Family Dog" episode on Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories show. The first direction by Brad Bird.

1994- Apple announced the introduction of the digital camera, the first camera that needed no film but could load images directly into a computer.


February 15, 2007 thurs
February 15th, 2007

Dropping in on the SVA animation students today. Also doing a radio interview for my book for an NPR radio station based in Olympia Washington.
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Birthdays: Galileo Galilei, French King Louis XV, Michel Praetorius, Susan B. Anthony, Charles Tiffany, John Barrymore, Jane Seymour, Cesar Romero, Gale Sondergard, Melissa Manchester, Claire Bloom, Chris MacDonald, Simpson's creator Matt Groening

1947- During the anti-Communist witchhunts the FBI revoked the visa of famed documentary filmmaker and founder of the National Film Board of Canada John Grierson because they thought his politics were subversive.

1954- Future President and b-movie star Ronald Reagan tried doing a stand-up act at the Las Vegas Ramona Room with the "Honey Brothers", a comedy troupe similar to Abbot & Costello.

1965- Canada first flies the Maple Leaf flag.

1969- President Richard Nixon combined the twin holidays of Lincoln’s Birthday Feb. 12th and Washington’s Birthday Feb.22nd into one three day weekend and called it President’s Day. So instead of two days off in February you have one with no emotional meaning to it. Nixon does it to us again!

1984- Touchstone Pictures created so the Walt Disney Company could do more adult movies. Their first film was Splash, starring a tastefully topless Darryl Hannah.

1994- After months of insane bidding, Viacom’s Sumner Redstone beat out QVC’s Barry Diller to buy Paramount Pictures. The cost is $20 billion, although the studio’s net worth was estimated at $8 billion. When asked, Diller replied: “What’s done is done. Next.”

2002- Scientists announce the first discovery of fossilized Dinosaur vomit.


February 14, 2007 Valentine's Day
February 14th, 2007

Birthdays: Joshua Norton aka Joshua Ist Emperor of the United States 1819, Jack Benny- real name Benjamin Koubeilsky, Frederick Douglas, Christopher Latham Scholes- inventor of the typewriter, George Washington Ferris inventor of the Ferris Wheel, Pier Francesco Cavalli, Jimmy Hoffa, Vic Morrow- COMBAT star and Jennifer Jason-Leigh’s dad, Skeezix Wallet (character in Gasoline Alley comic strip), director Alan Parker, Margaret Knight the inventor of the flat bottom paper bag in use in supermarkets today, Gregory Hines, Florence Henderson, Meg Tilly

Happy Valentines Day!

This holiday was originally the Roman fertility festival LUPERCALIA, when the young men of Rome wearing olive oil and not much else would run through the streets waving oak branches over the heads of young girls. This was to inspire fertility. Then they would all go to the orgy.
Keeping with the custom of the early Church to sanctify pagan holidays with saints days-. Pope Gelasius Ist decided to rename the holiday for St.Valentine, who was martyred by Emperor Claudius II Gothicus in 295 A.D.. The olive oil and the orgy was out, but tradition has it that Valentine in prison kept communicating with his flock by writing little notes and tossing them through the bars. He didn't have paper so he used the leaf of a certain tree that is the shape of the 'heart' symbol we all recognize today. These notes or "Valentines" fused with the romance notion of the old Roman party and became a custom for lovers as early as the 14th century.

1876- THE TELEPHONE- One of the strangest coincidences in technology history was that two men invented the same device at almost the same moment. Scotsman Alexander Graham Bell in Boston and Elijah Gray in Chicago were both working on a device to transmit human voices instantaneously over wires. Each knew of the others work and labored furiously to be the first. When Bell was able to get a weak sound of his voice over the wire his sponsor and future father in law Robert Hubbard wanted to file the patent. But Bell procrastinated until he felt it was perfect. Exasperated, Hubbard took the schematics and went to the office to file the patent himself. What he found out later, was he filed the patent barely two hours ahead of Gray in Chicago! Gray tried to challenge the patent. US courts decided that since Grays attorney had filed a “caveat” to a patent- which meant I’m working on an idea” while Hubbard & Bell filed a patent “I’ve invented the idea”, they awarded the patent to Bell. Elijah Gray still went on to invent more things, founded the Western Electric Company and grew very rich. But Alexander Graham Bell got the credit as inventor of the telephone.

1886- Los Angeles began to export its first trainload of oranges back east.

1887- Several leading French intellectuals including Guy DeMauppasant, Balzac and Charles Gounod publish a letter to the President of the Republic begging him not to build the Eiffel Tower.-" A Useless Monstrosity, which even America with it's crazed passion for commerce has the sense to reject! And what if it lasts twenty years ?" There were plans to pull down the tower in 1907, but by then it had new use, now as a wireless radio antenna.

1907- Golden Books incorporated. One of their artists was Gustav Tennegren, who would become the stylist of Walt Disney's Pinnochio.

1927-Alfred Hitchcock’s first suspense film “The Lodger” opened in London.

1929- Dr. Fleming discovered penicillin,

1929- the ST. VALENTINE'S DAY MASSACRE- Scarface Al Capone's gang dressed as Chicago police round up a bunch of Bugs Moran's hoods at the S.M.C. Cartage Company garage at 2122 North Clark Street and blow them away with tommy guns. Dr Reinhardt Schwimmer, one of the men killed, wasn’t even a mobster but an optometrist who liked to hang out with gangsters to see life on the edge. The seven men had 200 bullets in them. They even shot their dog. When Moran was asked who he thought had done it, he replied: ”Only Capone kills like that.” Big Al himself was in Key Biscayne Florida having lunch with the Dade County District Attorney. One of the triggermen was Machine-gun Jack McGurn, but when questioned by police his girlfriend testified he had been in bed with her all that day. Newspapers called her his 'Blonde-Alibi". McGurn was bumped off later that year. At the massacre site amazingly one gangster- Joe Duesenberg- lived long enough for police to question. But to the end he wouldn't spill the beans. When asked who shot him full of bullets, he replied:" Nobody!" and died.

1931- Tod Browning's film of the play Dracula, starring Hungarian actor's union organizer and recreational morphine addict Bela Lugosi, premiered.

1946-Enniac, the first all electronic circuited computer, started up at the university of Pennsylvania.

1962- First Lady Jackie Kennedy gave a tour to network television cameras of the private living quarters of the White House.

1967- Former kinky pinup model Betty Page married Harry Lear.

1979- Digital music composer Walter Carlos, who scored the film A Clockwork Orange, announced he had undergone a sex change and was now Wendy Carlos.

1991-Meg Ryan married Dennis Quaid.


February 13, 2007
February 13th, 2007

Dear Gang,

My blog postings might be a bit spotty for the next few days. I am on the road, currently in Cambridge Mass, starting a new TV series, and waiting for a snowstorm to hit. My computer is acting a bit potty so please bear with me until I get home.

Tom S

Birthdays: Lord Randolph Churchill, George Segal is 73, Stockard Channing is 63, Mena Suvari is 28

1913- ASCAP founded.

1976- Disney animator John Lounsberry passed away. There was a rumor among the younger animators that his ghost haunted one of the old moviolas- editing machines, in their wing. It would turn it self on for no apparent reason. Andreas Deja joked:" I'm not afraid! If it's Lounsberry's spirit, then I want him to crit my scenes!"


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