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24 March

Elizabeth Taylor Biography


Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor passed away yesterday, Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at the age of 79. The two-time Oscar winner was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in February for symptoms of heart failure. Taylor is one of the most recognized film stars of recent history. She has been in around 50 films and also appeared numerous times in television programs. She is widely known for her 8 marriages and work with AIDS research fundraising.

Elizabeth was born with a mutation that caused double rows of eyelashes, which enhanced her appearance on camera.

Taylor was born in London, England on February 27, 1932 to her American parents Francis and Sara Taylor. Her father was an art dealer with a business in London. Her mother was an actress. Two years before her birth, her brother Howard was born. In 1939 the family moved back to the states, were Taylor began her career as a child actress. She would appear in her first movie, There’s One Born Every Minute at the age of 9.

She is most well known for her roles in:

Taylor helped raise tens of millions of dollars for AIDS research during her life. She created the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation. Elizabeth had four children with three of her husband’s. She won Oscars for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and BUtterfield 8. She was nominated for three other Oscars. She won the Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1993.

“Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear, we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world. Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a businesswoman, and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, all make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished,” says her son, Michael Wilding.

Further Learning:

Books Taylor wrote herself:

Text sources:,,,

23 March

Anti-Chinese Massacre of 1871


The lynching of John Heith at Tombstone

On October 24, 1871 a police officer responding to shots fired entered a notoriously bad area of Los Angeles to find a Chinese man shot in the neck. He saw men fleeing the scene and followed them into a building. He was then shot in the shoulder. Hearing his cries a local business owner also rushed into the same building, after firing several shots into it. He too was shot his injury much worse, he died an hour later.

Soon a mob developed and started to lay siege to the building the fleeing men were held up in. 17 Chinese were hung from the local wagon shop roof.

This was the largest mass lynching in American history and I bet, like me, you have never heard of it. Thank you to Christian P. who brought this to my attention. The whole article can be found on

This story is not over yet. It was later revealed that the officer that went to investigate the shots may have actually been going to rob from a rich Chinese business man. The officer turns out to be not such a great guy, many court cases were filed against him. For example some accused him of stealing valuable roosters to fight in his cockfighting side business. The officer was also a gambler and believed to be manipulating the voting. This thing is so screwed up! Eventually, several people are brought to court for the charges, but the case gets thrown out. Unbelievable.

The story gets better, and it is amazing that there has not been a book published about this incident yet. There is a chapter on it in A Companion to Los Angeles (Blackwell Companions to American History). You can read some of the chapter in this book by googling The Anti-Chinese Massacre of 1871 Victor Jew the 5th link down is a link to the google book preview.

According to Wikipedia it is also briefly covered in The Brick People.

Image credit: Marion Doss unrelated image of lynching.

10 March

History is All Around You


I ran into some local history a few weekends ago while out with my family. We were visiting a popular garden shop here in the orange county and we saw a cool gazebo when I approached it I saw that it had a sign stating its local history. I posted those pictures a while ago on our Facebook page, but here they are for you incase you missed them there.

Originally this gazebo/bandstand sat in the middle of Town Square at Disneyland.   Just before the park opened the bandstand was moved just to the left of the castle, because Walt was afraid it would get in the way of people seeing the castle.  It was there on opening day July 17, 1955.  Later the Carnation Garden’s Plaza would be built to permanent house all the musical performances.  It was then that the bandstand was moved to Adventureland, in an area that would become known as Magnolia Park, near the jungle cruise.  In 1962 the Jungle Cruise had an expansion and the Bandstand was donated to the city of Anaheim.  Its last move was to Roger’s Gardens when the City of Anaheim asked them if they would like to have it.

Here is a cool video I found that gives a great overview:

text source:

23 February

Youtube Time Machine


R.I.P. Christopher Reeve

Found a cool site and thought you would like it to. This site Youtube Time Machine (YTTM), finds videos from specific years and you can browse through them. I went to 1979, the year I was born and found a cool video with Christopher Reeve on the Johnny Carson show. You can see it below.

He is being interviewed for his role in Superman (only $10 on blu-ray right now!). They talk about the amazing graphics. It was a pretty cool watch. A while back I was asked to do a podcast on Superman and I think I ended up doing the history of the comic book for the most part. Mostly and origin story, but it occurs to me that really for my generation Christopher Reeve was Superman. I want to read his autobiography Still Me, or actually I really want to listen to it since he reads it. It was written in 1999 only four years after his near fatal accident. An description says:

Christopher Reeve begins his heroic reading of Still Me with a special introduction, including this message: “Now, this audiobook allows me to communicate with you in a very personal way, second only to being in the same room.” Personal indeed. Hearing Reeve tell his account of the near-fatal riding accident on Memorial Day 1995 is a life-altering experience.

Another book on the to-read list. This blog is really starting to hurt my chances of getting through the ones that are already on there. This one is audio so it should go fast. Reeve followed up Still Me with another book in 2004 called: Nothing is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life. It has 4.5 stars our of 42 reviews. Sounds pretty good too! There is an audio version of this that Reeve reads himself again. I love it when authors do that.

06 February

This weeks New York Times Non-Fiction Bestsellers


Looking for something to read?  We’ve got you covered.  I love reading.  I thought it would be nice and easy to let you all know that bestseller’s this week.  I have unfortunately only read one of the books on the list below.  Outliers was an amazing book and I highly recommend it.  I’ve read all (I think) of Gladwell’s books, and I must say he is a talented writer!  Have you read any of these?  Let us know in the comments.

1. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

2. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

3. Decision Points

4. Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1

5. Cleopatra: A Life

6. Life

7. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

8. Decoded

9. The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda

10. Outliers: The Story of Success

28 January

Broken Arrow


Found this definition on Wikipedia:

Broken Arrow refers to an accidental event that involves nuclear weapons, warheads or components, but which does not create the risk of nuclear war. These include:

  • Accidental or unexplained nuclear detonation.
  • Non-nuclear detonation or burning of a nuclear weapon.
  • Radioactive contamination.
  • Loss in transit of nuclear asset with or without its carrying vehicle.
  • Jettisoning of a nuclear weapon or nuclear component.
  • Public hazard, actual or implied.

I received this email from Frank yesterday:


I recently listened to your podcast about the only atomic bomb dropped on the US.  We had a hydrogen bomb dropped on Albuquerque in the 50’s near the runway of the airport.  What I’ve been told is that the hight explosives went off and spread radioactive material around the site, and it created a large crater.  There was a cleanup, and the crater was filled in with cement.  Supposedly it is still there today and there is a fence around it.



Hi Frank,

Thanks for writing and for listening to the podcast.  I’m glad it is still getting listens.  I wish I had more time to record new podcasts.  Anyway, I remember when I was researching for this podcast.  Right after I published it I found more information online.  More information about additional bombs dropped in the US.  Can’t find that website now, but I did find this list [warning pop-up advertisements at this site]:

Read more…

12 July

I’m Famous!


Check it out!  Mr. Beardyman has done a write-up about the podcast.  Not bad.  I’m very happy to see that there are people still listening to the podcast.  I wish I had more time to create new episodes, but as it is I barely have enough time to write this post.

History on air is hosted by Jason Watts and he is a amateur historian. He does a good job in researching all of his topics and also provides all the relevant sources/links to all of his podcasts. The sound quality of the podcasts are somewhat poor in the first few episodes though over time it improves thanks to a investment on a decent microphone…

11 July

Jon-Erik Hexum


How very sad!  I didn’t know about Jon-Erik Hexum’s terrible death, that S posted in the comments.  For those who also don’t know here is the exerpt from Wikipedia:

On October 12, 1984, between filming scenes on the set of Cover Up, Hexum was critically wounded after he placed a .44 Magnum prop gun loaded with blanks to his temple and pulled the trigger. The accident happened during the filming of a scene where Hexum’s character (Mac Harper) was supposed to unload a handgun and replace the bullets with blanks—as the script required. The shooting was, however, delayed due to a technical difficulty and Hexum fell asleep on the set. Hexum awoke approximately fifteen minutes later and, realizing the scene was still not ready to be shot, began playing with the gun. Police later reported that Hexum had been playing Russian roulette, having loaded three empty cartridges and two blanks into the cylinder. He eventually placed the gun to his head and, after saying, “Let’s see if I’ve got one for me!” pulled the trigger.

28 April

America: The History of Us


This past Sunday (4/25) AMERICA THE STORY OF US premiered on History at 9/8c.  This epic 12-part series is a grand cinematic vision of how this country was built.  AMERICA THE STORY OF US focuses on the people, ideas and events that built American nation, covering 400 years of American history. New episodes will air every Sunday through Memorial Day. Buy on iTunes.

19 February

You Camouflaged my Battleship!


Seen in the center of the image is the ABRAHAM CRIJNSSEN, covered in branches and made to look like an island.  The captain of the vessel did this to evade capture after the battle of the Java Sea in Feb. 1942 during WWII.  They went right through Japanese naval lines in this disguise.

Image credit: Historic Naval Ships Association