NPR featured an old favorite anecdote this morning, which, in this election year (and with some of our current elected officials), seems super-appropriate.
While running for president against Dwight Eisenhower, Adlai Stevenson was told by a supporter that he'd get the vote of "every thinking man" in the U.S. Stevenson replied, "Thank you, but I'll need a majority to win."
He totally didn't win.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Tony Horwitz is my new hero. I've just begun Confederates in the Attic, which I should have read centuries ago, and which is one of the funniest and most engaging history books I've read in ages. This bodes well for his newest book, another review for which becomes Link Numero Uno in this week's links roundup.
- See, I told you - another review of the new Horwitz book, A Voyage Long and Strange.
- The secret abandoned rail platform beneath the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. A lot of the video clip seems sort of made up - I think people have pretty well known this platform's been there the whole time, and it wasn't actually built for FDR even though he used it. (Thanks, Daryl! For a guy whose blog title suggests a marked wish to eradicate history, you're still pretty cool. PS, I totally know it's a Ren and Stimpy reference, folks. Don't email me.)
- Mental Floss throws up a collection of Victorian-era memento mori -- easily the most strange and disturbing thing I've seen all week.
- Did we really have a gay president, or was he just a swingin' bachelor who happened to live with a close male friend and be called "Miss Nancy and Aunt Fancy"? Oh, James Buchanan. Whatever your sexuality, you are an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a lavender-scented bow. (Best Week Ever)
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Today's fun history find comes from the Presidential Portraits collection of the National Guard's Heritage Series Image Gallery, where a collection of cheesily awesome collage portraits pay tribute to the U.S. presidents who are also former National Guardsmen.
The portraits range from the pretty standard (James Madison in front of a Constitution backdrop) to the entirely-too-much (Theodore Roosevelt's men from San Juan Hill superimposed, Quantel-like, onto his forehead), to the in-questionable-taste (Garfield's profile, side by side with a smoking pistol? That's sort of not funny. Except that it is. Sorry, James. I was much nicer to you before I found out what a jerk you were to your wife. But that's another post for another time.).
Large versions of all of the paintings are available for download, or if you really love them, you can even order prints! I'm not sure if you can order the prints on velvet tapestry, but that's sort of how I'm picturing them.
Friday, May 2, 2008
- One of my favorite trivia sites, Mental Floss, takes a look at Strange Stuff that Races Between Innings at Ballparks. I admire the folks at Let Teddy Win both as a presidential trivia nerd - for their love of Mr. Roosevelt - and as a fan of another doomed racing mascot - for their dogged insistence on rooting for the underdog. The same forces behind Teddy's repeated losses must also be behind Relish's continued ignominious defeat at Keyspan Park.
- The author of Confederates in the Attic turns to colonial America for his latest book of weird Americana. (New York Times)
- Eddie Izzard's new show contains lots of historical funny. (Boston.com)
- And finally, here's 15 Historical Events That Fascinate Us, if by "us" you mean "those of us who had all kinds of books on cryptozoology, psychic phenomena, and other weird unexplainable stuff, I guess. (Frikoo.com)