Friday, August 21, 2009

In appreciation of Leonard Cohen (Part 1)

No, he's not dead but why not celebrate him now while he's still here.

Here's your Today in History:
August 21, 1614 -

Erzsebet Bathory, ruler of Transylvania, dies at 54. She had sought immortality by killing young virgins and bathing in their blood. It didn't work.

I wonder if Elizabeth Arden is still offering this service and where are they finding enough virgins.

What did Vicenzo Perruggia steal on August 21, 1911?

a. The Shroud of Turin
b. Home plate
c. The Mona Lisa
d. The Sistine Chapel
e. The Hope Diamond

Bonus: what was his day job?

Pablo Picasso was having a very bad day. His so called friend, French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had once called for the Louvre to be "burnt down," came under suspicion when the Mona Lisa was stolen from on Lourve on this day; he was arrested and put in jail. Apollinaire, as all bad French dadaist poets would do, ratted out his friend Pablo Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning, but both were later exonerated. Very nice guy.

At the time, the painting was believed to be lost forever, and it would be two years before the real thief was discovered. Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia stole it by entering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet and walking out with it hidden under his coat after the museum had closed. Peruggia was an Italian patriot who believed da Vinci's painting should be returned to Italy for display in an Italian museum. Peruggia may have also been motivated by a friend who sold copies of the painting, which would skyrocket in value after the theft of the original. After having kept the painting in his apartment for two years, Peruggia grew impatient and was finally caught when he attempted to sell it to the directors of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence; it was exhibited all over Italy and returned to the Louvre in 1913. Peruggia was hailed for his patriotism in Italy and only served a few months in jail for the crime.

August 21, 1952 -
The classic John Ford film, The Quiet Man was released on this date.

It's so good, you can almost stand Wayne's limited acting ability.

August 21, 1986 -

1,700 people are killed in Cameroon when Lake Nyos emits a huge cloud of fast-moving fog, quickly enveloping the villages of Nyos, Kam, Cha, and Subum. The lethal mist, consisting mainly of carbon dioxide and water vapor, displaces the oxygen in the low-lying zones, killing thousands of cattle and even more birds and wild animals. One eyewitness later describes the landscape as being "littered with human remains and animal carcasses."

That would have ruined a vacation.

And so it goes.

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