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And you thought the Presidential Campaign was long....
Today I got my first screener copies of films hoping for a nomination for an Academy Award. The awards won't be presented until next February 24th. But never you mind, Ladies and Gentlemen of the studio publicity departments- Start Your Hype Engines!


Birthdays: Louis XIV The Sun King, Jesse James, Cardinal Richelieu, Johann Christian Bach, Jacopo Meyerbeer, John Cage, Quentin de la Tour, Darryl F. Zanuck, Jack Valenti, Bob Newhart, George Lazenby, Raquel Welch, cartoonist Kathy Guisewhite, Dweezil Zappa, Werner Herzog

1499- Former Columbus captain Alonso De Hojeda arrives in the New World on his own expedition. Along with him as pilot (Navigator) was a Florentine named Amerigo Vespucci. Vespucci made several more trips to the alien land and published a book about his adventures never mentioning Hojeda. His publishers spiced up his accounts with naked brown natives with lascivious morals throwing themselves on the Europeans. It was quite popular reading. In 1538 when Columbus was dead and forgotten German mapmakers Martin Waldseemuller and Gerhardus Mercator published the first mass printed maps of the known world. They drew on Vespucci's books and called the new hemisphere "America". I guess that's better than the United States of Hojeda.

1781- BATTLE OF THE VIRGINIA CAPES- Arguably the real battle that won the American Revolution. French Admiral DeGrasse' navy drives off the English fleet attempting to save Lord Cornwallis's army trapped inside the port of Yorktown by Washington and Rocheambeau. For command of the vital mission the British admiralty had passed over a more aggressive fighting admiral named Rodney in favor of an semi-retired fossil named Graves. Graves caught the French fleet dispersed unloading troops and supplies but instead of attacking he waited for three hours while the enemy formed in line. He then raised confusing signals – flags for “Attack” and “Maintain Position” being raised simultaneously/ The inability of the British navy to rescue Cornwallis sealed his fate and eventual surrender. If the British had won this battle scholars agree the French were tired of propping up the bankrupt American rebels who could barely muster a few thousand volunteers.

1867- After the Civil War the US experienced a beef shortage. This was answered by herding Texas longhorn cattle up to where they could be put on trains to Chicago and eastern meat markets. This day the first herd of Longhorns made it up the Chisholm Trail to the train depot of Abilene Kansas. A rancher who bought a thousand head of cattle at $4 a head could sell them up north for $40 a head. One cattle drive could net up to $100,000, well worth fighting Indians, rustlers and floods. This created cattlebarons and a new kind of hero in the publics mind, the Cowboy.

1929- Wall Street stocks soared to unprecedented heights throughout 1929. Starting today they began to taper off and slide. Economist Roger Babson, the Sage of Wellesley , warned of an impending Stock Market crash but people laughed him off. They called his warnings "Babson-Mindedness". The market would continue to move downwards for the next several weeks climaxing Black Tuesday, the great crash of October 29th and the Depression.

1932- Paul Bern, the studio executive husband of sexy starlet Jean Harlow, was found lying naked on his bathroom floor with a bullet in his head. He committed suicide and left a note apologizing to Harlow for not being able to satisfy her. Harlow called the studio and her agent before calling the police. All jumped to hush up the scandal. Jean Harlow loved to flirt with men in front of her husband. Once at a USC football game she saw a hunky fullback and said to Bern:”Daddy, please buy me that!”

1923-FATTY ARBUCKLE- Ex-plumber turned comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle signed a $3 million dollar deal with Paramount Pictures. He celebrated by staging a wild three day party in the penthouse of the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. During the wild goings on he pulled young starlet Virginia Rappe into a bedroom. Soon screams were heard. Arbuckle came out and said "Get her dressed. She makes too much noise". Friends found Rappe in agony with her clothes shredded. She died of toxemia from a ruptured bladder saying "Fatty Arbuckle did this to me! Make sure he doesn't get away with it." Arbuckle was tried twice for rape and first degree murder, but was acquitted after both were hung juries. To this day film historians argue if Arbuckle was framed. In the trial it came out that Rappe had had a botched abortion and was suffering from internal bleeding before the party.
But Fatty Arbuckles career was destroyed. Women tore down the screen whenever his face appeared. In Wyoming cowboys shot their sixshooters at the screen. At the suggestion of Buster Keaton he made a living writing gags under the pseudonym William or Will B, Good. Years later Santa Monica pulled him over for drunk driving. He flung a champagne bottle out of the car and laughed "There goes the evidence again!"

1935- At a giant Nazis Party rally in Nuremberg Adolph Hitler told the world “We want Peace. Germany has no interest in harming her European neighbors .” uh-huh..

1935- Tumbling Tumbleweeds premiered, the film that made a star out of Gene Autrey, the Singing Cowboy.

1939- The British Empire had restructured as a commonwealth of dominions which some it's larger colonies had self rule, but to the outside world it still looked like everything from Hong Kong to Ottawa to Capetown was run on orders from London. Three days after British Prime Minister Chamberlain declared war on Nazi Germany U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull telephoned Ottawa to ask if that meant Canada was going to fight too ?

1943- Young British cartoonist Ronald Searle is captured by the Japanese in Burma. He spent his time as a P.O.W. working on the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai and making sketches of the nightmarish conditions of his fellow prisoners.

1957- Jacques Kerouac’s ode to the beat life ON THE ROAD, first published. Kerouac wrote it in a white heat using one large roll of white paper stuffed into his typewriter instead of individual sheets. When the editor got the novel it had no paragraph breaks of chapter breaks. Another young writer of the time, Truman Capote, was unimpressed. “That’s not writing, it’s typing.”

1958 – DR ZHIVAGO by Boris Pasternak published in US. It was banned in Russia until the collapse of the Soviet Union.

1964- Buffalo NY cook Angela Bellissima took some chicken wings, threw them into a deep fryer with spices and invented Buffalo Wings.

1980 - World's longest auto tunnel, St Gotthard in Swiss Alps, opened.

1989- President George Bush I st, does a major speech highlighting his war on drugs. He brandishes a bag of crack-cocaine he declares was purchased across the street from the White House in Lafayette Park. Later the truth came out that no crack cocaine is sold in Lafayette Park, the DEA agents had to talk a crack dealer into coming to the park. They even had to give him directions because he never visited the White House area before.

1994-Patrick McDonnell starts drawing the comic strip MUTTS.