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January 10th, 2009 sun.
January 10th, 2010

Went yesterday to the Academy Award's judging for the nominees for best animated and live short films. It was a great year for shorts. There were a lot of really clever and visually beautiful looking films. Congratulations to all the filmmakers, it was a really tough decision!

Quiz: In a restaurant, when a sommelier approaches your table, what are you supposed to do?

Yesterday’s question answered below: What did the Stazi, Savak, Zomo, Cheka and Securtitate have in common?
History for 1/10/2010
Birthdays: Ethan Allen, Marshal Michel Ney, Frank James -Jesse's brother, Francois Poulenc, Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz), Al Goldstein the publisher of Screw Magazine, Stephen Ambrose, Sherrill Milnes, Pat Benatar, Sal Mineo, Jim Croce, Frank Sinatra Jr., Rod Stewart, Walter Hill, George Foreman, Linda Lovelace

50 B.C.- "ALEA JACTA EST!" After a lot of political maneuvering Gaius Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River near modern Rimini with his legions and began a civil war for control of the Roman Empire. Caesar had been ordered by the Senate to give up his army command in Gaul and not bring his troops down. Once stripped of command he could be open to lawsuits, investigation and criminal charges. Years before Scipio Africanis, the defeater of Hannibal, was ruined by his political enemies this way. So instead Caesar attacked. The Rubicon was the border between the outer provinces and the home territory of Rome. Since then, "Crossing the Rubicon" means committing to a course of action you cannot turn back from. Caesar said "Alea jacta est" which means "The die is cast".

1072- Robert Giscard captured Palermo. At the same time Norman warriors under William the Conquerer were overrunning England and Scotland, other Normans were traveling south and spreading out across Southern Italy, Sicily and Dalamatia. They weren’t a national conquering army under a king, just professional mercenaries out for personal gain. They occupied Sicily and became the shock troops of the First Crusade. The Normans were finally driven out in 1282.

1529- Michelangelo elected to design the military defenses of Florence. They failed to keep out the enemy, but they must have looked really cool!

1538- Martin Luther declared that Purgatory doesn’t exist. " God in the Gospel of Mark has placed two ways before us- Salvation by faith or Damnation by unbelief."

1744- Bonnie Prince Charlie left Rome to go to Scotland and start his uprising.

1775- PUGACHEV’S RISING. Yemelian Pugachev was an illiterate Cossack. One day, for a laugh, his friends shaved his beard off while he was too drunk to notice. Without the beard they discovered he bore an amazing likeness to the Catherine the Great's dead husband, Czar Peter III. There was deep resentment in Russia among the common folk against the rule of Czarina Catherine. She was modernizing Russia against it's will and wasn't even Russian (she was a German princess). Pugachev declared himself the Czar Peter, back to reclaim his throne for the Muziks (peasants) and the Old Religion. Pugachev's Rising cost tens of thousands of lives before Catherine's armies stamped it out Today Pugachev was brought to Moscow in an iron cage, then beheaded. A comparable people's uprising would not be seen again until 1905.

1776- COMMON SENSE published. Thomas Paine's pamphlet explaining the argument for liberty was considered psychologically decisive in garnering mass support among average Americans. Washington called it -"more valuable than a hundred cannon." Englishman Paine, a former corset maker, had only been living in America for one year.

1863- The world's first Subway Train line opened in London at Baker's Street Station.

1870-John D. Rockefeller first formed the company called Standard Oil. In the 20th Century it changed its name to Esso, then the Exxon Corporation.

1878- the first Constitutional Amendment proposing to give women the right to vote is proposed in Congress. Suffragette leaders Elizabeth Cady-Stanton and Susan B. Anthony looked for three months for a senator with the guts to sponsor it. It was defeated but it was brought up at every congressional session for the next 45 years. (see below 1917-1918)

1888-date of LOUIS LePRINCE's claim of a patent on Motion Pictures, predating Edison 1893 and the Lumiere Brothers1895. LePrince even had as proof film he shot of his mother, who died in 1887. Despite this, LePrince could get no one to take him seriously. One day he boarded a train from Dijon to Paris and disappeared from the face of the Earth.

1901- SPINDLETOP- BLACK GOLD, TEXAS TEA..- Conventional wisdom up till then was America’s oil reserves were chiefly around the Great Lakes and Pennsylvania. On this day Texas wildcat drillers strike oil in Beaumont Texas. The Spindletop gusher is so gigantic, 3,000 barrels an hour, it doubles the total U.S. oil production output overnight. Companies like Gulf and Texaco spring up to compete with industry leader Standard Oil (Exxon). The era of the Texas Oil Tycoons began and until they ran dry in the 1970s, America controlled 80% of the worlds petroleum output.

1906- The London Daily Mail coined a new term for women politically agitating to gain suffrage or the right to vote "Suffragettes".

1917- On the anniversary of the first women’s right to vote bill The Women's Suffragette Movement began a 24 hour round the clock protest in front of the White House. It is the first time the White House was ever publicly picketed. Ten suffragettes are jailed but are immediately replaced by ten more, who when arrested are replaced by more, then more.

1917- Frontiersman and master showman Buffalo Bill Cody died at 70 of uremia poisoning. His last words after he was told his end had come was "Ah forget it boys, let's play a round of High-Five." Today his grave still overlooks the city of Denver.

1918- 45 years after being first proposed the Constitutional Amendment granting women the right to vote passed in Congress. Up in the visitor's gallery suffragettes burst out a spontaneous rendition of the hymn 'Praise God from Whom All Blessing's Flow."

1924- Columbia Pictures created, ruled by Harry Cohn, who's motto was "I don't get ulcers, I give them!"

1927- Fritz Lang’s masterpiece film Metropolis premiered.

1939- Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov sold his first story to Amazing Stories Magazine "Marooned off Vesta".

1941- The comedy play ARSENIC AND OLD LACE opened on Broadway. When buying the movie rights Warner Bros agreed to wait until the play ended it’s theatrical run. They thought plays usually are done in a few months. Arsenic and Old Lace ran until 1944.

1949- For years the recording industry had been working on ways to improve the 78 RPM record –RPM means Rotations Per Minute. RCA records announced the invention of the 45 RPM record. Columbia (CBS) had announced the LP 33 rpm record and originally offered to share the technology but RCA (NBC) was having none of it. But the 33 stored more music and could use old 78 rpm turntables adapted so the 45 soon became a vehicle for hit singles.

1958- Jerry Lee Lewis single "Great Balls of Fire" topped the pop charts.

1958- GET MARRIED..OR ELSE! Blond actress Kim Novak had starred in Hitchcock’s Vertigo and was touted as the new Marilyn Monroe. In 1957 she began a love affair with black entertainer Sammy Davis Jr.. Davis was a member of Sinatra’s Ratpack and he challenged America’s racial barriers with his great talent. But this high profile interracial match was just too much for Hollywood society to handle. Columbia’s studio head Harry Cohn said of Novak-"That fat Polack Bitch! How could she do this to me?! " Legend has it Cohn called the Chicago Mafia and put a contract out on Sammy Davis. L.A. mobster Mickey Cohen told Davis’ father that if Sammy didn’t marry a black girl in 24 hours, he would have his legs broken and his remaining good eye poked out. On this day in Las Vegas’ Sands Hotel Sammy Davis Jr. married black actress Loray White. Harry Belafonte was the best man. The couple honeymooned separately and divorced 6 months later. But the affair with Novak was over and Harry Cohn died of a heart attack the same year. In 1960 Sammy Davis married blonde German actress May Britt.

1961- Writer Dashell Hammett died.

1967- Lester Maddox was sworn in as Governor of Georgia. Maddox was a high school dropout who gained national stature when he refused to allow black people to eat at his restaurant, the PickNick Café in Atlanta. Maddox passed out axe handles to white patrons to help combat Civil Rights workers and finally closed his restaurant rather than integrate.

1970- Masterpiece Theater debuted on US TV with Alastair Cooke. The first show was the BBC series the First Churchills. These shows were so popular that for awhile people thought PBS meant Preferably British Shows.

1972- The liner Queen Elizabeth 1, on her retirement journey to the scrapyard, mysteriously burns and sinks in Hong Kong harbor.

1992- The GREAT RUBBER DUCKY DISASTER- A North Pacific storm causes a ship to lose 29,000 bath toys overboard. They joined 61,000 Nike sneakers already bobbing in the water from a similar accident. Scientists used the rubber ducky migration to plot Pacific Ocean currents around Alaska.

1993- CAMILLAGATE- As speculation grew that the English Prince and Princess of Wales' marriage was on the rocks a London tabloid published tapes of phone conversations between Prince Charles and his long term mistress Lady Camilla Parker Bowles. The highly embarrassing transcripts included the Prince expressing a wish that he could be Ms. Bowles' tampon. Camilla's husband divorced her and Charles and Diana soon divorced as well. Within a year of Princess Diana's fatal auto accident Camilla resumed spending the night at Kensington Palace. Camilla and Charles married in 2005.

2000- AOL and Time Warner announced a $165 billion dollar merger that made it the world’s largest media company. The deal almost sank both companies, uprooted both chairmen and they detached finally in 2009.

2004 NY based Writer and actor Spaulding Gray spent the day taking his kids to the movies. They saw Tim Burton’s Big Fish. Gray put is kids into a taxi home and from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal called his wife to say he would be home soon and that he loved her. Then he took the ferry, jumped into the harbor and drowned himself. He had waged a long battle with depression and his mother had commit suicide. His body did not resurface until March 9.
Yesterday’s QUIZ: What did the Stazi, Savak, Zomo, Cheka and Securtitate have in common?

Answer: They were all domestic secret police services. East Germany, Iran, Poland, Lenin’s Russia and Romania.