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May 17th, 2008
May 17th, 2008

The Production Design show at the Motion Picture Academy was a great success. Lots of discussion of Pre-Visualization software and the digital arts in Art Direction. My friend Ralph Eggleston, the Art Director of the Incredibles and Finding Nemo did a wonderful demonstration on the continued importance of traditional drawing and painting and cinema in computer generated films.

But the evening belonged to legendary art director Robert Boyle, the art director of Hitchcock's Psycho and the Birds. He talked of the original studio system and it's challenges. He said he had studied art and architecture and could draw Chartres Cathedral from memory, but his first picture was Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch. It was a Depression era comedy with Zazu Pitts and W.C. Fields. He had to learn how to draw run down shantys and shacks. He said to be a designer you have to know how to draw a Colosseum, but also how to make a house out of cardboard boxes to sleep under a bridge overpass.

Quiz: Who were the Magyars?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: Who was Stuart Sutcliffe, and what did he mean to the Beatles?
History for 5/17/2008
Birthdays: Sandro Botticelli, Eric Satie, Ayatollah Khomeni, Edmiond Jenner, Archibald Cox, Sugar Ray Leonard, Maureen O'Sullivan, Bill Paxton is 53, Dennis Hopper is 72, Enya is 47- born Eithne Patricia Ni’ Bhraonain

1488- Vasco DeGama reached India from sailing around the horn of Africa.
This fulfilled the master plan of Prince Henry the Navigator to outflank the Moslem world, providing an alternative to the ancient Silk Road land route caravans that connected the world’s trade. It was the beginning of the Age of Exploration and the rise of Western Europe. Both Columbus and Magellan learned their stuff studying in Prince Henry’s Portugal. Ironically legend has it that DeGama’s navigator was an Arab.

1792- In New York twenty-four investors meet under a buttonwood tree on the street where the old city wall once stood and formed the first New York Stock Exchange. Then they all went to the Merchant’s Coffee House for lunch.

1802- Meriwhether Lewis went to Philadelphia to meet Dr. Benjamin Rush to get advice for his Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific. Rush was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the most famous doctor in America. Dr. Rush gave Lewis a list of questions he had about the West, such as asking the Plains Indians if they practiced the religion of the Hebrews ? Were the Sioux or Cheyenne the Lost Tribes of Israel? If you think that’s silly Thomas Jefferson told Lewis to look for living Mastodons. When Lewis asked what medical supplies were needed Rush said unhesitatingly that he should lay in a good supply of Rush’s Purgative Pills, nicknamed ‘thunderclappers’ for the effect they had on your system.

1826- Artist-Naturalist John James Audubon departs for England ”in deep sorrow” because he could find no publisher in America for his masterpiece the “Birds of North America”.

1845 - Rubber bands invented!

1860- At the second presidential convention of the Republican Party former Illinois Congressman Abraham Lincoln is nominated on the second ballot, beating out William Seward and John Freemont, aka the Pathfinder.

1875 –The First Kentucky Derby. Winning horse was Aristides.

1890 - Comic Cuts, 1st weekly comic paper, published in London.

1924- Marcus Loew of the Loew's theater chain buys Metro Pictures and combines them with Sam Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer’s studio to form Metro Goldwyn Mayer.

1931- Vaudeville dancer James Cagney became a tough guy movie star when the Wild Bill Wellman’s film Public Enemy debuted. “I wish you wuz a wishing well… so I could tie a bucket to ya and sink ya!

1941- The Looney Toon Lockout. Producer Leon Schlesinger tries to forestall the unionization of his Bugs Bunny cartoonists by locking them out. After a week he relents and recognizes the cartoonist guild. Chuck Jones called it “our own little six-day war.”

1954-" Brown vs. Board of Ed" Supreme Court ruled segregation illegal. Future justice Thurgood Marshal was the successful attorney.

1970 - Thor Heyerdahl crosses Atlantic on reed raft Ra, proving the ancient Egyptians could have reached South America.

1971 - Stephen Schwartz' musical "Godspell," premiered off-Broadway

1973 - Stevie Wonder releases "You are the Sunshine of my Love"

1973- the Senate Watergate Committee convenes.

1978- Sony and Phillips Electronics introduce the Compact Disc, where the music is played by a laser instead of a needle.

2004- Massachusetts becomes the first US State to legalize gay marriage.
Yesterday’s Question: Who was Stuart Sutcliffe, and what did he mean to the Beatles?

Answer: Sometimes known as The Fifth Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe was the bands original bass player and a close friend of John Lennons’. Legend has it Sutcliffe was the one who proposed the unique name for the band, because he and Lennon were fans of Buddy Holly's band the Crickets. Sutcliffe left just as the Beatles greatest successes were beginning. He collapsed while studying art in Hamburg and died of a brain aneurism at age 22.