Friday, November 14, 2008

One-term veep, one-hit wonder

When Joe Biden assumes the office of the vice presidency in January, he will be the first vice president from Delaware, the first Catholic elected to the office, and the first with egregious hair plugs. All of these historic firsts pale in comparison...

(ha! I bet you thought I was going to make some pithy comment about Obama's historic election, didn't you? Well, as awesome as that is, I'm taking this in a totally different direction.) Charles G. Dawes, vice president under Calvin Coolidge, the only vice president to have written a number-one hit song.

Dawes, an amateur musician, committed his "Melody in A Major" to paper over the course of one afternoon in 1912, though it had been stuck in his head for days prior to that. A musician friend secretly took it to a sheet music publisher, and bands across the country added it to their sets. Dawes, hardly a household name at the time, was initially flattered by his tune's success, but then the tune just wouldn't die. He went on to serve as Warren G. Harding's Director of the Budget, and won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on post-war reparations in Germany, but the stupid song was still ubiquitous. It didn't fade into obscurity until years after Dawes himself had faded out of the public eye.

Shortly after Dawes's death in 1951, lyricist Carl Sigler resurrected the tune and added the lyrics we know it by today. "It's All in the Game" was put to a shuffling rock-ballad beat and became a number-one hit for Tommy Edwards in 1958. It has since been recorded by everybody from Robert Goulet to the Four Tops. Most recently, Barry Manilow included it on a 2006 covers album.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What's in a name?

Today I randomly stumbled across Wikipedia's list of Secret Service codenames from the mid-50s to the present. President-elect Barack Obama is known as "Renegade." (Which is sort of like "Maverick," but better.) His wife and daughters are called "Renaissance," "Rosebud," and "Radiance."

One guy who clearly must have done something to irritate the Secret Service, though, was Gerald Ford's press secretary, Ron Nessen, who was known to the Secret Service as "Clam Chowder." Come to think of it, dude seems to have had a pretty wicked sense of humor, so maybe he got to pick his own. Nessen was the first political figure to host Saturday Night Live during its first season in 1975. You can read transcripts of some of the sketches in his episode here. Unfortunately Nessen as Jefferson's press secretary in "Press Secretaries Through History" hasn't yet been transcribed.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cast Ballots, Not Aspersions...or, at the very least, do both.

Hope you all remembered to vote today. In my very humble elitist liberal opinion, this is the first election in many, many years in which we are not deciding between a douche and a turd, so this is pretty exciting stuff.

Also, enjoy the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee's list of White House Cats

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Funny history is uncovered daily in my office, it's just a matter of recording it. Let's see if I can get back in the habit.

Happy Halloween, readers - all two of you. Enjoy this photo of the Kennedy children's creep-tastic 60s Halloween garb.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

We Can Dig It

Back in the late 90s, Warner Brothers Animation created a history-themed cartoon series called Histeria. Masterminded by the same wacky minds that brought you Animaniacs and Tiny Toon Adventures, Histeria presented historical topics in the form of flashy, bizarre sketches and musical numbers. It was basically as though the Animaniacs ate a history book laced with acid.

Here's one of the sketches:

Yes, that is really Isaac Hayes singing.

I was alerted to the show's existence this afternoon while composing my own meditation on the theme from "Shaft," and it was love at first sight. (Even though my own Taft song was better.)

Topics on the show spanned Western civilization, from Caesar to Napoleon to the Clintons. And okay, some of them are kind of shoddily researched, but they appear to make up in entertainment what they lack in accuracy. Alas, there's no DVD set, but you should be able to catch a few dozen of Histeria's greatest hits on YouTube.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


From the February 17, 1912 issue of Harper's Weekly:
Pimpin' ain't easy, but it's order to get in good with the suffragettes when you're Teddy Roosevelt.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Don't wait for the translation!

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

Friday Links Just Pulled Into the Station

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.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Because You Always Wanted James Buchanan Desktop Wallpaper

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

Friday Links Speak Softly And Carry A Losing Streak

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Links Can't Do That, Dave

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Is the Smithsonian smarter than a fifth-grader?

Over at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum, one of their exhibits has been erroneously referring to the Precambrian period as an "era" rather than a "supereon." It took 27 years for someone to notice, and that someone happened to be a fifth-grader.

If you listen to the piece, you learn that the Smithsonian acknowledged and corrected the gaffe (yay!), but sent their thanks to the wrong city and misspelled the kid's name (boo.).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

There's a dance band on the Titanic playing "Nearer My God to Thee"

Today marks the 96th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. My new favorite blog, The Bowery Boys, commemorates the occasion by telling about some of the ship's more famous New York-native passengers. Previously unknown to me: John Jacob Astor was traveling with his 18-year-old wife, with whom he'd fled to Europe a few months prior in an attempt to avoid scandal.

Also, enjoy the 1997 film, reenacted in 30 seconds by bunnies.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Other OTHER White Meat

History is Funny took a little unplanned vacation when the ol' day job intervened. Sorry about that. Hopefully we'll resume operations as usual soon.

In the meantime, today at work I learned more than anybody strictly needs to know about the pardoning of the Presidential turkey. Though the White House suggests this practice began with Truman, the Truman Library refutes this. Nobody seems to be sure where this tradition came from, though the photo gallery suggests it might have originated with JFK or Nixon.

Anyway, enjoy this image, from the Ford Library via the White House, of Gerald Ford introducing a live turkey to the frozen, dismembered corpse of one of its brethren. The turkey appears suitably horrified.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

He made Westerns...and also this.

Today, on BoingBoing, there was a link to a fantastic little piece of forgotten history: Vietnam! Vietnam!, a pro-war documentary produced by the U.S. government and directed, at least nominally, by legendary Western filmmaker John Ford. The blogger who's presenting the film calls it "quite terrible," but the story of the film itself is fascinating.

You can view the entire film, plus read the original treatment, at the above link.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Links really should have been on Mount Rushmore

As expected, the HBO miniseries John Adams is doing swimmingly - it's HBO's best miniseries debut in four years.

With that in mind, here's an all-Adams Friday Links.

For those of you who don't have HBO, never fear - it'll be out on DVD in June. Add it to your Netflix now!

Monday, March 17, 2008

I'm OK, you're OK, Martin's OK

It seems like nearly everybody I know watched the opener to the John Adams miniseries last night. I did not, but it is on my DVR and I'll post thoughts as soon as I get caught up.

One thing that strikes me - with all this attention paid to the miniseries, and the way the public has recently devoured various history books by McCullough, Ellis, and the like, geeking out about American history is cool again. This makes me happy - and it inclines me to put some more elbow grease into this blog, in hopes that I can sustain the history love just that much longer.

So if you have story ideas, suggestions, or if you'd like to guest blog, drop me a line or even just comment here.

For now, let's talk about Martin Van Buren.

You know, Martin Van Buren. Eighth president. Crazy-ass whiskers. First president born in the actual United States.

Okay, you probably don't know that much about him. I didn't myself until recently. Thanks to Cecil Adams, and a number of sources at work, I now know more than I ever thought I would about this man. In the process, I discovered what's probably Van Buren's greatest contribution to American life - namely, he likely originated a very important piece of American slang.

Van Buren was of Dutch extraction and was born and raised in the Dutch-American enclave of Kinderhook, New York, earning him the nickname "Old Kinderhook" when he began campaigning for President in 1836. Eventually, his Democratic supporters in New York State took that name for their political club, and abbreviated it "OK." "OK" had previously been used as a jokey editorial abbreviation meaning "oll korrect," but it was its double meaning in politics that caused the expression to really take root.

Although his attempts to build an independent treasury are often underemphasized when talking about his political contribution, Old Kinderhook was generally regarded as less than OK by his contemporaries, and historians have been no kinder. He was unseated fairly handily by Whig candidate William Henry Harrison in 1840, though he remained politically active for the rest of his life, primarily devoting himself to the abolitionist cause. He attempted to run again for president in 1844 but the Democrats declined to back him, so he formed his own party, the Free-Soil party, and tried again in 1848. You have to admire the guy's tenacity.

The Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia has an excellent gateway page to all the Van Buren trivia you could ever want.

Should you ever feel like visiting Kinderhook, stop by the Martin Van Buren National Historical Site. If the Metro-North ran that far up, you can bet I'd be doing exactly that ASAP. As it is, I think it'll have to wait until I can join forces with fellow geeks who are also car owners.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Links Aren't Going There, So Don't Ask

Even though I'm right up against a major-ass deadline at work, I still found time to dig up an economy-sized links package for y'all this week. Read and enjoy!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Friday Links Jump the Gun

I'm posting Friday links a little early this week for a couple of reasons. First off, I want to make up for my poor showing last week. Secondly, I wanted to let all you JFK buffs out there know that his alleged illegitimate son is going to be on 20/20 tomorrow night. Check your local listings for more info.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cox and Combes' "Washington"

Don't you love it when your ipod coughs up one of your favorite songs in the middle of your morning commute? It's especially nice when you're in the middle of reading historical fiction about the founding fathers (Jefferson: A Novel by Max Byrd - maybe I'll post a review when I'm done) and that favorite song is about a founding father.

I must share this modern classic with you now, along with the brilliant animation that accompanies it.

Warning: If you are at work and you have computer speakers, this may not be appropriate. The video is marginally un-work-safe as well.

Another warning: This is probably not strictly historically accurate.

There's at least one more Cox and Combes/Brad Neely video with some historical relevance floating around out there, but I don't want to overload you. So I'll save that one for another time.

Monday, March 3, 2008

"Apology is only egotism wrong side out." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

We lost our internet connection at work on Friday, so I was unable to get the Friday links up. I'll be sure to super-size them this week, though - hang tight.

In the meantime, Warren G. wants YOU to enjoy the site's brand-new and totally public domain look, which was conceptualized and built for me by the very talented and graphics-capable Daryl Lang, who was troubled by the fact that I was using a copyrighted photo in my logo. Frankly, I was troubled too. One nice thing about making my blog be about history is that I should be able to come up with tons of content that doesn't step on anybody's copyright toes. Therefore, I'm happy to report that this blog is now totally free of anything that does that.

Also coming up this week - more exciting stories about rice. Seriously.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thomas Jefferson Leads a Horticulture

Thomas Jefferson has clearly arrived in the world, as he's got his very own wiki. I discovered this today as I combed the Internet to bring you a story with intrigue...and vegetables.

Who loved vegetables more than TJ? Nobody, that's who. He described meat as "a condiment to the vegetables which constitute my principal diet." Dude loved his salads, and meals at the White House during his Presidency were multi-course affairs full of all manner of delicious plants. An avid gardener, Jefferson experimented with exotic vegetables at Monticello, including a good number of new plants collected by the Lewis and Clark expedition, and all kinds of crazy squashes and vegetables imported from Italy. He's often credited with introducing broccoli to the United States, though it never really caught on in the U.S. until after World War I (and with some Americans, like 41st president George H.W. Bush, it never caught on).

Jefferson's lifelong love of horticulture must have tied into his desire to make the new nation more visible on the global scale by discovering and cultivating new exports. In the Southern states, an important cash crop was rice, and when he visited the court of Louis XVI in 1785, Jefferson wanted to convince the French to buy more American rice. Carolina rice hadn't been selling so well in France. Jefferson thought that maybe this was due to the fact that it looked different from the European varieties they were all used to, though whether it was intrinsic to the particular breed of rice or had to do with the way the rice was cleaned and prepared, Jefferson wasn't sure. So he resolved to figure out how to improve it, and that meant a trip to the rice center of Europe - Lombardy, Italy. The variety of rice, called Piedmont, that was grown there did very well in France. The secret to their awesome rice was carefully guarded - the penalty for taking whole husks out of the country was death.

This didn't stop Jefferson, though. He stuffed some unhusked Piedmont rice into his jacket pockets and arranged for a muleteer named Poggio to smuggle some more from Lombardy to Genoa, in hopes that maybe cross-breeding the rice with the Carolina rice would produce a variety more palatable to the French.

As it turned out, he risked life and limb for pretty much nothing. Italian rice was cleaned just about exactly the same way as the American rice, and it didn't even taste that much better. In fact, farmers in Carolina hated the Piedmont rice, and were afraid that crossing it with their own rice would ruin their crops. It turned out there wasn't anything weird about their rice that made the French not buy it, anyway, it was just that it was expensive due to the fact that it came to France via British middlemen. Jefferson urged farmers to send their rice directly to France, and everyone was happy, except maybe the British.

Later on, Jefferson also experimented with rice from Egypt, West Africa, and the Dutch East Indies, and tried for years to get rice from China and Vietnam, enlisting the help of everyone from sea captains to deposed Eastern royalty. He grew various types of rice in flowerpots on his windowsill to test its tenacity. Man knew his rice. Of course, he was Thomas frickin' Jefferson -- he knew pretty much everything.

Here's a sketch from The Daily Show, all about Jefferson and his vegetables, starring Steve Carell.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Ask Not What Friday Links Can Do For You

I promise a new feature next week. And my promises are worth at least as much as any political candidate's.

For now, links.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hail to the Friday Links

Happy Presidents' Day Weekend, everybody! In honor of getting Monday off from work, here's a special all-President edition. (Okay, fine, 90% of the content in this blog is president-related. I try to make a special effort not to have that happen, but what can I say? Childhood obsessions die hard.)And finally, here's some awesome video of eighth president Martin Van Buren playing Halo. Sort of.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pimp My White House

I often wonder why I'm so obsessed with Presidential trivia. I suspect it's partly about all the cool stuff you get to do when you're President. And no, I don't even mean all the leader-of-the-free-world business. I mean getting to live in that gigantic, awesome house with that giant awesome office (and hey, the commute couldn't be any better!). Not that I would ever want to be President - the way I see it, the White House is a very necessary perk to keep people interested in what is indubitably one of the hardest jobs anybody could ever have.

Various presidents over the years have lent their own recreational touches to the White House's already glamorous facilities. Here are a few of the more pimpin' ones.

John Quincy Adams's Billiard Table - As a youngster, JQA spent some time in France while Dad negotiated the Treaty of Paris. It was likely there that he developed a passion for billiards. Shortly after becoming president, he had a table built so he could play at home to unwind.

At the time, though, popular sentiment about billiards generally ran to the "trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pool" school of thought. In fact, when JQA was up for re-election, Andrew Jackson's people derided Adams for enjoying such an ungentlemanly and altogether ...French pastime.

Calvin Coolidge's Mechanical Horse - Originally a gag gift of sorts, Coolidge kept this bizarre little apparatus in a dressing room next to his bedroom. He only tried it out once someone basically dared him to, and he found that he actually loved it and couldn't get enough. To the amusement of Mrs. Coolidge and various White House visitors, he rode the mechanical horse frequently throughout his presidency, always while wearing his hat, but not always while wearing clothes. (Yeah, not that Silent Cal was an unattractive man, but the visual of him riding the mechanical horse in his underwear is not one my mind needed to conjure. Thanks, Internet.)

The mechanical horse didn't remain at the White House after Coolidge's presidency. He couldn't part with it. So it went home with him when he moved out, and it can now be viewed in his museum in Northampton, Massachusetts. Its descendants can be found in country-western bars throughout the nation.

Harry Truman's Bowling Alley - The first bowling alleys in the White House were built as a birthday gift for President Truman in 1947. Turns out Harry would probably rather have had a new bike or a Red Ryder BB gun - neither he nor Bess were very into bowling. (I know the President, being the quintessential "man who has everything," is probably kind of hard to buy for, but really? Nobody bothered to ask him what he wanted?) He let his staff use it, though. In 1955 the bowling alley was moved into the basement to make room for some copy machines.

Though Truman had little use for it, the White House bowling alley was finally fully appreciated four presidents later, when avid bowlers Richard and Pat Nixon moved into the White House. President Nixon had the bowling alley rebuilt and outfitted with state-of-the-art technology, and used it often.

Dwight Eisenhower's Movie Theater - Well, okay, the movie theater was actually first built during the FDR administration, and screenings had occasionally been held at the White House practically since the dawn of motion pictures. But Ike was the one who really made the theater the pimptastic hanging-out spot it is today. He's the one who installed four enormous cushy armchairs in the first row - all the better to kick back while he watched the westerns he adored.

Subsequent presidents have also made frequent use of the theater - Jimmy Carter hosted frequent regular screenings, as did Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, who is reported to be a particular fan of the Austin Powers movies. (That explains so much.) Not so much of a movie buff was Lyndon Johnson, who mostly just liked to watch a 10-minute documentary about himself.

But there was something else LBJ couldn't get enough of...

Lyndon B. Johnson's Fresca Tap - Shortly after he became President, LBJ gave up drinking alcohol, and replaced it with another vice - the refreshing citrus sparkle of Fresca. Which I totally understand, as it's very delicious.

Adjacent to the Oval Office is a small private lounge where the President can go to take a break, catch a quick nap, or even just hide to freak out the Secret Service guys. Originally designed for the Eisenhower administration, it's outfitted with a couple of comfy chairs, some TVs, and direct phones to all the most important aides. LBJ liked it for more informal, one-on-one meetings, and to make it feel more like home, he had a "Fresca" button installed right next to the "Coffee" button, so he could get a glass of his favorite soda whenever he wanted.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. See you tomorrow for the obligatory links roundup. Until then, crack open a Fresca and think of LBJ.

Friday, February 8, 2008

All Quiet on the Friday Links Front

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The SCOTUS Guide to Picking Up Chicks

This handsome young fellow pictured at right is named Joseph Story, a former member of the House of Representatives, and a Supreme Court justice from 1812-1845. He was only 32 years old when James Madison appointed him to the court, and remains the youngest person ever appointed to the nation's highest court.

When Story assumed his spot on the bench, his boss was legendary Chief Justice John Marshall. Marshall's chief concern as Chief Justice was court unity. He was the first to recommend that the Court pass down one single opinion rather than each justice assembling his own opinion. He also felt that all of the justices should become as familiar as possible with each other's personalities and habits. To that end, he introduced the idea that all of the justices should live and dine together in the same boardinghouse during the six weeks a year that the court was in session. (William Rehnquist recounted an amusing anecdote about the court's dinners together in this 2001 speech.) According to Story, "the Judges here live with perfect harmony, and as agreeable as absence from friends and from families could make our residence." By the way, I think it would be incredibly awesome if they still did this. (And made a reality show about it.)

But those weeks in Washington weren't entirely about discussing the Constitution. Even Supreme Court justices need a little recreation. So they didn't just work together, live together, and eat together -- they also partied together. In a letter to his wife during his rookie year on the Court, Joseph Story recounts the following:

Two of the Judges are widowers, and of course objects of considerable attraction among the ladies of the city. We have fine sport at their expense, and amuse our leisure with some touches at match-making. We have already ensnared one of the Judges, and he is now (at the age of forty-seven) violently afflicted with the tender passion. Being myself a veteran in the service, I take great pleasure in administering to his relief, and I feel no small pride in remarking that the wisdom of years does not add any thing of discretion to the impatience, jealousies, or doubts of a lover.

I'm not sure which justice he's talking about here - the one who's 47 at the time of the letter is Thomas Todd, who was happily married at the time to James Madison's sister-in-law. If I had to guess, I'd say Bushrod Washington, but I really haven't got much to go on there, except that he is near that age. Wikipedia doesn't seem to have much about most of these guys' marital status. I guess they figure if we wanted to date them, that ship sailed about 200 years ago.

But a special note to ladies of the 21st century: if you're ever out drinking in Washington, I hear David Souter is single. Just don't offer to buy him a Diet Coke. You will only confuse him.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Ungainly Mass of Friday Links

Finally, speaking of John Adams, how psyched are you for the HBO John Adams miniseries?

Monday, January 28, 2008

History Goes to the Movies

Over the weekend, I saw the cinematic historical epic du jour, There Will Be Blood. I highly, highly recommend it for anybody who's interested in Upton Sinclair, oil, sweeping historical epics, late Gilded Age issues and aesthetics, or Daniel Day-Lewis screaming about milkshakes.

Yeah, there's one particular line that's both a perfect metaphor and utterly absurd, and of course whenever my brain hears "milkshake" anymore, I go to one particular song.

Apparently, I'm not the only one, as evidenced by this charming little nugget of YouTube I found today:

Friday, January 25, 2008

I See London, I See France, I See Friday Links

It's been a slowish week here at History is Funny. I blame the cold weather here in New York.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What Else Do I Have To Say?

Billy Joel has said that if he hadn't become a musician, he would have wanted to be a history teacher. His secret history-buffitude emerged in the 1989 hit "We Didn't Start the Fire," which was basically a rapid-fire tour through the second half of the 20th century, jam-packed with references to pop culture, politics, sports, and science.

Here are a few awesome tribute sites, which will give you some extra background information on various lines in the song you may have missed or misunderstood:

Friday, January 18, 2008

Germane and German

And in case you need a bit of light (and I do mean light) reading for the long weekend, LiveJournal user "benchilada" has found a bit o' lit for you:

I tried to use just one-syllable words in this post and have, for the most part, done well, but I think not as well as I could have.

Call Me Friday Links

Not much laugh-out-loud funny to be had this week, but plenty in the way of fascinating stories.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Here Lies Good Old Fred - A Great Big Rock Fell On His Head

Apocryphal stories about epitaphs abound in popular culture, especially when it comes to well-known entertainers who number among the deceased. There's just something satisfying about the idea of leaving one last great line behind, though it's a scant few, it seems, who actually go through with it.

Contrary to popular belief, Dorothy Parker's grave doesn't say "Excuse my dust." She doesn't actually have one - she was cremated and her ashes were scattered - but apparently the garden where the ashes were eventually scattered thought to add it to the plaque that commemorates her there.

Thanks to Find A Grave, I have found a few verifiable - and funny - epitaphs from various famous folks:

(The title of this post originates outside the Haunted Mansion ride at the Magic Kingdom. While most of the Disney World rides offer you some distraction while you wait, the headstones that greet the line for this ride are funny in the most corny, silly, mildly twisted way possible.)

Monday, January 14, 2008

History is Sketchy

Those of you in the greater metropolitan New York area may wish to check out the following incredibly awesome comedy show, which has its first performance this week. Kelly's a good friend of mine, and if this show is half as funny as it sounded when she was first conceptualizing it, it will be well worth your five bucks:

Henry Clay Frick Presents: Kelly Buttermore and Greg Wilker Can't Read
From the minds of a history teacher and the daughter of a history teacher comes a show about presidents, panthers, and the difference between Henry Clay and Henry Clay Frick. Join Kelly Buttermore and Greg Wilker for an evening of zany yet educational sketch comedy.

Written and performed by Kelly Buttermore and Greg Wilker
Featuring Jon Bander and Eden Gauteron
Directed by Mark Grenier

Tuesday, January 15th and Tuesday, January 29th at 8:00 pm
@ the Magnet Theater
254 West 29th Street, just off of 8th Avenue
Only $5!
Visit their website or call 212-244-8824 for reservations!

(ed. note - I really, really hope they left in the part about William Howard Taft being the lead singer of the first all-dog rock band.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Have Lusted in My Heart for Friday Links

I think maybe I'll just make this the thing I do for Fridays - all the nutty stuff I collect during the week in one tasty little post.

(Listen to me talk like I invented blogging or something...or even like it's not something I've been doing for going on seven years now.)

But forget all that - let's get on with the linkage.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Steampunk Drive-by Shooting

Certainly there is not much to laugh at when it comes to the extermination of the bison in the American West.

I found this image from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper today. It shows men shooting at buffalo (eh, bison, buffalo, only extreme zoology pedants will get up in my grill about it) from the windows of a train - an exceptionally stupid and cruel stunt inflicted by a people already well-known for their stupidity and cruelty.

But stupid and cruel though it is, I still got a pretty dark chuckle out of it, especially having recently seen Will Smith using a Ford Shelby Mustang to hunt deer in Manhattan in I Am Legend. Call this the predecessor if you will.

One for the ladies

Over at the Freakonomics blog today, there's some great betting-themed analysis of Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire primary victory, with bonus comparisons to Truman and Dewey. Though I'm an Obama girl myself, I'm a presidential trivia nerd first and foremost, so I think the outcome will be fascinating no matter who wins it all.

Also, discussion over there has inspired me to do a little extra research on female presidential candidates, which led me to this list of female candidates, worldwide, since 1870.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Links Galore

A couple of new articles are in the works, but for now, just enjoy this slice of the latest interesting, absorbing, and just plain weird history-related news items:

Also, did you catch the new PBS documentary Andrew Jackson: Good, Evil, and the Presidency on Wednesday? I'll keep my eyes open for a re-airing, and if I find anything out, I'll let you know. It was fun, but woefully low on badassery.