BACK to Blog Posts

March 10, 2018
March 10th, 2018

Question: After composer Gustav Mahler completed his 8th Symphony, he was terrified writing his 9th. Why?

Yesterdays'question answered below: Who was Caliban?
History for 3/10/2018
Birthdays: Lorenzo da Ponte -librettist of Mozart's operas, Barry Fitzgerald, Claire Booth Luce, Heywoud Hale Broun, James Herriot, Pablo de Sarrasate, Osama Ben Laden, Chuck Norris is 78, Shannon Tweed, Sharon Stone is 60, John Hamm is 47

241 B.C.- NAVAL BATTLE OF AEGATES INSULAE- Romans under Gaius Lutatius Catullus defeat the Carthaginians under Hamilcar Barca (The Thunderer) and win the First Punic War. The Carthaginians were much better sailors than the Romans, so Catullus lashed his ships side by side and laid planks over the decks. This way his legions could fight infantry style. The Romans developed another nasty trick of taking clay beehives filled with angry hornets, and shooting them by catapult onto enemy ships.
The Romans won Sicily. Hamilcar taught his son Hannibal that the Romans were not nice people.

1661-King Louis XIV of France "the Sun King" tells his guardians to take a hike because he was now old enough to rule alone. He kept his old regent Cardinal Mazarin around a few more years but this is the beginning of his Divine Right Rule.

1697- PETERS TRAVELS- Young Czar Peter the Great was so hungry for the knowledge of the West, that this day he shocked Russian society by leaving the country to travel through Europe. He was the first Russian Czar to go outside his country.

The 6 foot 8 inch monarch spent 18 months personally studying economics, architecture and chemistry. Peter lived in a small wooden cottage in Zaandam Holland and studied boat building. He drank in local pubs with workers and even made love to a local waitress. He learned to make his own shoes, mend clothes and even learned to pull teeth, which he loved to practice on unwilling members of this court.
After arriving in England, Peter surprised English society by shouldering an axe every morning, and pipe in teeth, walking down to the docks to work among the ship builders.

He returned to Russia filled with the desire to rebuild Russian society in the modern western European model.

1791- Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, who fancied himself an amateur scientist, presented a paper to the American Philosophical Society about the discovery of the fossils of a cow sized sloth called Megalonyx. The future sciences like Geology and Paelontology were referred to in those times as "Natural Philosophy".

1842-Vigilantes of Virginia City, Montana hang a tough desperado named Jack Slade. Accounts say Slade was "More feared than God, but all in all a good citizen." (?)

1862- FIRST U.S. GREENBACK PAPER DOLLARS ISSUED- "Dollar" is a corruption of Jacobsthaler- named for silver coins minted in St. James valley in Czech lands, which became 'Thalers' then 'Dollars'. Lincoln was originally annoyed that Secretary of the Treasury Samuel Chase put himself on the one-dollar bill while he was on the five. Lincoln thought Chase wanted some cheap advertising for a presidential bid in '64. Lincoln made him Supreme Court Justice to get him out of the way. The money was printed with green ink because it was cheap and plentiful.

When issued the new money instead of silver or gold, Union troops promptly rioted. People nicknamed the fat bills" Chases Shinplasters ". After the Civil War, when the U.S. Treasury tried to recall the paper currency and go back to coins, people complained again that they were now used to the stuff.

1864- Lincoln gives Ulysses Grant overall U.S. command to finish the Civil War. The shy little general arrived late and unannounced at the White House party given in his honor. Because the crowd was so thick he stood patiently in the hallway until Lincoln spotted him. "There he is!" He made Grant stand on a stool, so everyone could get a good look.
Lincoln was a constant nag on his generals, but after choosing Grant he backed off giving Grant independent command, a custom maintained by presidents to this day. Grant's successful though unorthodox approach disgusted more traditional strategists. Gen. Henry "Old Brains" Halleck, after running out of criticisms to hurl at Grant, said: "And on top of everything else, The man's a drunkard!" To which Lincoln replied: "He is? Find out what brand he drinks and send a barrel of it to the other generals!"

1864- King Maximillian I died, his son Ludwig II 'the Mad' becomes king of Bavaria.

1876- THE FIRST TRUE TELEPHONE CALL. Alexander Graham Bell had applied for the phone patent several weeks before but he still couldn't get the signal clear enough to be understood. He even had a surgeon send him a human ear from a corpse to study. This day when trying a new variation, Bell spilled acid on his lap and called out over the wires " Watson ! Come Here! I Need You!" Watson heard it clearly and rushed to his aid.
Some say Watson made up the story of the acid later to explain why Bell couldn't think of anything loftier or profound to say as the first message sent by wire.

1926- The First Book of the Month Club - The Lovely Willows by Sylvia Townshend Warner.

1933- The LONG BEACH EARTHQUAKE. There had not been a serious quake in LA since 1857, so everyone thought it a thing of the past. Today the buildings swayed and brick walls collapsed. It was the last big shift in the San Andreas Fault. 200 people were killed, and if the schools had not been empty for Easter break, the casualties could have been much worse.
Actors convening early SAG union meetings in the El Capitan Theater moved out into a parking lot because of the aftershocks. The quake sparked the first serious earthquake building codes.

1935- The First Smokey Stover comic strip ( notary sojac).

1938- Bowing to Arab anger and increased rioting, the British Mandate authority in Palestine imposed the first restrictions on Jewish immigration. A quota of only 3.000 were permitted. The previous year 40.000 immigrated fleeing the Nazi persecution in Europe. Zionist Jews developed novel ways of smuggling more people ashore. They once held a Jewish Olympics to rival Hitler's Berlin Games, then all the participants who came melted into the crowd and stayed.

1940- US Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles tried some shuttle diplomacy between Berlin, London and Paris to try and halt the World War that had just broke out. He was met with no cooperation. Hitler told him "Peace will come when we have the inevitable German Victory." In January 1941 FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, "outed" Welles by accusing him of homosexual activity, and attempting to proposition several Pullman porters on trains. Welles resigned in disgrace.

1947- Ronald Reagan becomes President of the Screen Actor's Guild after President George Montgomery and V.P. Franchot Tone resign to become independent producers. In the violent gangster-ridden atmosphere of Hollywood unions in those days Reagan took to wearing a .32 Smith & Wesson in a shoulder holster under his coat.

1948- Zelda Fitzgerald, the socialite wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, died in a fire at the mental hospital where she had been committed for more than a decade.

1948- Stalin's agents take Czech Nationalist leader Jan Masaryk and defenestrate him -throw him out of a window- as a way of influencing the upcoming Czech elections. They gave as an excuse that he accidentally fell out of the window while doing yoga to combat his insomnia.

1952- General Fulgensio Batista seized power in Cuba. He was a favorite with US Corporations and the Mafia because he sold everything in his country not nailed down. Part of his coup was the dissolving and arrest of the Cuban Congress, among whom was a young novice politician and part time baseball pitcher named Fidel Castro.

1953- PANCHO AND THE GENERAL- Florence Lowe "Pancho" Barnes was the granddaughter of Thaddeus Lowe, inventor of the U.S. Army balloon corps in the Civil War. She became an aviatrix and in 1930 broke an air speed record set by Amelia Earheart.
In the late 1940s she moved to Maroc California in the desert and opened up a saloon, "The Happy Bottom Riding Club' where the test pilots flying dangerous experimental craft trying to break the sound barrier came to blow off steam. Chuck Yeager and the future astronauts were frequent guests. She once told famed General Jimmy Doolittle "Jimmy, you know I can out fly and out f**k you any day of the Week!!" The bar was famous for wild parties with lots of booze and rough housing.
In 1952 a General Holtoner took over command of Maroc, now renamed Edwards Air Force Base. He tried to have Pancho evicted so the Air Force could expand it's supersonic runway. When she objected to the General's lack of respect, he implied that she ran a house of prostitution. On this day Pancho sued the US Air Force for 1 1/2 million dollars. General Holtoner was replaced, the Happy Bottom Riding Club was destroyed in a fire and Pancho Barnes moved away. The bar was immortalized in the film 'The Right Stuff'.

1954- In a letter to studio heads director Elias Kazan worried that young actor James Dean was "too odd" and unpredictable to star in his movie "Rebel Without a Cause".

1954- First day of shooting on Stage 3 of the Giant Squid battle on Walt Disney's production of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. The director was Richard Fleischer, the son of Disney's onetime competitor Max Fleischer.

1963- Pete Rose first took the field in a Cincinnati Reds uniform. During an exhibition baseball game with the Yankees Mickey Mantle hit one of his monster 400-ft home runs and young Rose was the only outfielder scrambling and jumping hopelessly to catch it. Mantle laughed and said:" Hey, look at Charlie Hustle over there." The nickname stuck. Charlie Hustle would go on to break Ty Cobb's all time hitting record and managed winning teams. But after his retirement he was banned from baseball for betting on sports.

1975- North Vietnamese begin their final offensive that will capture Saigon and end the Vietnam War on April 30th. For the first time they fight out in the open with heavy Russian T-52 tanks.

1980- This year one of the most popular diets in the country was the Scarsdale Diet by Dr. Herman Tarnower. This day a woman named Jean Harris entered his Purchase NY home and shot Dr. Tarnower to death.

1988- Andy Gibb of the BeeGees died at age 30. It was reported he died of a drug overdose, but he actually died of heart failure brought on by years of heavy drug abuse.

1997- The Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, who was in jail at Broadmoor England for killing thirteen women, was stabbed in both eyes by another inmate.

2008- BANG THE GOV SLOWLY- Elliot Spitzer was the hard-driving NY State Attorney General who rocketed to the governorship and was touted as a potential future presidential candidate. His specialty was catching hi-tech Wall Street white collar crooks. Today his Icarus-like ascent came crashing down. He admitted to soliciting high price prostitutes. At $4,300 an hour. Spitzer was known to them as Client #9. When the news of his resignation came over the ticker on the Stock Exchange trading floor, day-traders stopped to cheer.
Yesterdays' question: Who was Caliban?

Answer: In Shakespeare's play The Tempest, Caliban is the monster-servant of the wizard Prospero.