January 22th, 2009 thur
January 22nd, 2009
Quiz: When did the NY waterfront west of Times Square become known as Hell’s Kitchen?
Yesterday’s Question answered below: Why is a heroic story called a saga?
History for 1/22/2009
St. Vincents Day- "If Vincents Day be Rainy Weather, shall rain then 30 days together.”
Birthdays: Sir Francis Bacon, D.W. Griffith, Charles Gordon Lord Byron, August Strindberg, Andre Marie Ampere (electric Amps), 1960’s UN Secretary General U- Thant, Ann Southern, Sam Cooke, John Hurt, George McManus, Joseph Waumbaugh, J.J. Johnson, Jim Jarmusch is 56, Linda Blair is 50, Piper Laurie, Diane Lane is 44
1503- Pope Alexander VI Borgia has his enemy Cardinal Orsini, poisoned while imprisoned in the Vatican.
1506- THE SWISS GUARDS. Many European monarchs hired foreign mercenaries to be their personal bodyguards. They were often more reliable than their own subjects. The most famous were the Swiss. While the Swiss home cantons stayed at peace, her hardy men hired out as mercenary troops all over Europe. This day the warrior Pope Julius II hired a troop of Swiss and had Michelangelo design their uniforms. The Swiss Guards still guard the Vatican today, and are still recruited in Switzerland.
1555- THE FIRES OF SMITHFIELD. When Mary the Catholic daughter of Henry VIII became queen she at first tried to be lenient towards her Protestant subjects. But continuous plots by Protestant nobility and her own desire to restore England to the old faith hardened her heart. This day began the mass trials and executions of those accused of Protestant heresy. Six clergymen including the Bishop of Gloucester were sentenced and burned at the stake. Hundreds more would follow. Even Spanish King Philip II urged Mary to calm down.
Mary’s executioners added a new twist to an old system of Burning at the Stake. If they liked you, before lighting the fire, a bag of gunpowder was stuffed between your legs, so you could go out with a bang. Musta been hard on spectators, being showered with little bits of flaming Anglicans. Bloody Mary and her cruelty in the name of Roman Catholicism all but convinced the English people to stay Anglican.
1787- 17 year old French cadet named Napoleon Bonaparte, on furlough in Paris, noted in his diary that after exhausting negotiations with a streetwalker he "…sampled the joys of Woman for the first time.."
1840- The first English colonists reach New Zealand. They set up a special effects house.
1863- THE MUD MARCH- Union General Ambrose Burnside (who created the fashion for "side-burns") tried to avenge his humiliating defeat at Fredericksburg by a winter march up the Rappahannock River to maneuver around Robert E. Lee. In so doing he discovered why all pre-industrial age armies took the winter off. Burnsides army was pelted by blinding sleet storms and bogged down in oceans of gooey mud. When Burnside finally called it quits he had as many casualties from sickness as had he fought a battle. A bitter army joke based on a children’s prayer went:
"Now I lay me down to Sleep, In mud that’s eighteen fathoms Deep."
"If you can’t see me when we Awake, please dig me up with an oyster Rake."
1879-Battle of ISHANDLWANA- The worst defeat ever inflicted by native peoples on a modern western army. The British thought they were brushing out of the way just another African spear throwing tribe when they attacked the Zulu Empire. They were unconcerned that the Zulu marched in regiments -impis, had generals -indunas and practiced strategy and tactics. Lord Chelmsford had invaded Zululand searching for the Zulu army when he was tricked by a simple diversion into dividing his forces. The Zulu then flanked Chelmsford’s force in a maneuver Napoleon would have admired, fell on his camp and wiped out two regiments of the 24th Welch Fusiliers. It was a massacre similar to Custer at the Little Big Horn.
1901- Queen Victoria died after a reign of 64 years, the longest ever for a British monarch. When she assumed the throne at 19 in 1837 there were still many alive who remembered the Battle of Waterloo and white periwigs, and she died in a world of electric lights, autos and motion pictures. The current Queen Elizabeth II has to reign ten more years to catch up to her.
1918- A Manitoba judge tries to outlaw movie comedies, because they tend to make the public "too frivolous".
1938- On a bare stage, Thorton Wilder’s play Our Town premiered.
1944-Argentine Colonel Juan Peron first met radio actress Eva Duarte or Evita.
1944- ANZIO- The Allied armies advancing up the Italian boot had been fought to a standstill by fierce German resistance around Monte Cassino north of Naples -the Gustav Line. So the decision was made to amphibiously land a large invasion force in the rear of the German army with the intention of taking Rome. They completely surprised the enemy and their scouts reported the road into Rome was wide open. But the American commander General Lucas hesitated. In the meantime the Germans recovered and rushed up elite SS divisions that turned the battle into a bloody stalemate. Churchill said: "I thought we were hurling a wildcat onto the shore, but all we got was a beached whale !" Instead of two days the allies didn’t take Rome until June 4th, five months later.
1947- Hollywood's first commercial television station, KTLA, went on the air. At the time in all of Los Angeles there were only 350 TV sets.
1949- Mao Tse Tung (MaoZseDong) and the Communists capture Peking (Beijing).
1949-Tex Avery’s cartoon "Bad Luck Blackie".
1951- During Winter baseball tryouts a promising young left-handed pitcher from Cuba was scouted by the New York Yankees. But after losing a game for the Washington Senators and getting dropped from their roster he gave up on pro-sports to pursue other careers- Fidel Castro.
1959- Former 'Our Gang' child star Charles 'Alfalfa" Switzer was killed in a bar in Studio City. He pulled a knife on a man over a $50 debt on a hunting dog. The man then shot him. He was 32. According to fellow Little Rascal Darla Hood, Switzer was a brute who bullied the other children and bitter his adult acting career never blossomed.
1968-T.V. comedy review show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In premiered. It launched the careers of Lilly Tomlin, Goldie Hawn and Eileen Brennan.
Hey, isn't that Kate Hudson's Mom? You bet your sweet Bippy!
1972- In an interview with Melody Maker magazine, rocker David Bowie outed himself and said he was gay. Technically he would be bi-sexual since his wife Angela did catch him in bed with Bianca Jagger.
1975- Hollywood agents Ron Meyer and Michael Ovitz leave William Morris and form the Creative Artists Agency, or CAA.
Yesterday’s Question: Why is a heroic story called a saga?
Answer: Ancient stories of the Vikings handed down by storytellers fell into two kinds- poems about the Norse Gods, called Skalds, and prose stories about heroes and kings, Sogurs or Sagas. In the 1300s an Icelandic writer named Snorri Sturlusson finally wrote this stuff all down, so we can have handed down to us the stories of ShapeChangers, Asgard, The World Serpent, Siegfried and Brunnhilde, Leif Ericsson and his dad Eric the Red.