Thursday, May 13, 2010

It's International Frog Jumping Day

Frog Jumping Day celebrates Mark Twain's 'jumping frog' which made him famous.

The short story was first published in 1865 as Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog while Twain was still a struggling journalist in California - and two years later it was the main attraction of his first book. He never wrote another short story that had such widespread appeal and was so popular.

May 13, 1637 -
The table knife was created by Cardinal Richelieu in France, on this date.

Richelieu had the points rounded off all of the knives to be used at his table reputedly to cure dinner guests of the unsavory habit of picking their teeth with their knife-points.

May 13, 1846 -
The United States, under President Polk, declared that a state of war already existed against Mexico, two months after fighting began.

Apparently, the Governor of Arizona hasn't heard that the hostilities have long since ended.

May 13, 1966 -
Rolling Stones released Paint it Black, in the UK on this date.

One of the more bizarre moments of parenting was when my youngest daughter was three and she was rocking out around the bathroom, naked, after her bath, to this song.

May 13, 1988 -
Assassins, gangsters, and enraged mobs of the past have employed a wide variety of methods to silence their victims. One such method involves chucking people out of windows, an act known as defenestration. A very rare way to shut yourself up involves self-defenestration.

Chet Baker, heroin addict and world famous jazz trumpet player, while on a successful world tour, died in Amsterdam after "falling" from a hotel window.


May 13, 1950 -
Steveland Morris Hardaway, musician was born prematurely, on this day. Too much oxygen in the incubator caused the baby to become permanently blind.

At the age of ten, Little Stevie Wonder, as he was called by Berry Gordy at Motown, was discovered singing and playing the harmonica. He had many hits during his teens including Fingertips and as an adult he has earned an Oscar and at least sixteen Grammy Awards.

It's too bad the whole blindness thing has held him back.

Today in History:
May 13, 1568 -
At the battle of Langside, Mary Queen of Scots was defeated by the English.

Her heroic stand is worthy of remembrance, but it's interesting to speculate how she might have fared if she had brought along some soldiers.

May 13, 1787 -
The first fleet of ships carrying convicted criminals left England en route to a new British prison called Australia.

You'd think that by sending their religious nuts to North America and their criminals to Australia, the British would have created a pleasant little island paradise for themselves. Instead their empire has dwindled away over the past 100 years, while the religious nuts and criminals of the U.S. and Australia have established themselves as major powers at Wimbledon.

May 13, 1913 -
The latest brainchild of Russian aircraft design genius Igor Sikorsky embarks on its maiden flight.

The Grand, easily the world's most luxurious passenger plane, includes such innovations as upholstered seats, a balcony, and even a lavatory (you just didn't want to live under the flight path.)

May 13, 1917-
Three small children in Fatima, Portugal receive the first of six visitations from the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

Over the next five months she lays some pretty heavy crap on the kids, including a three-part secret: a vision of Hell, a prophecy of war with godless Russia, and a third secret which involved Y2K.

May 13, 1981 -
A delusional Turk guns down Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square. Mehmet Ali Agca believes that the Vatican is an abomination before God and must be destroyed.

19 years later, the Church will disclose that the assassination attempt was foretold in 1917, as part of the third secret of Fatima.

And so it goes.

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