September 28

Wikipedia suggests that on this day in 1820, the tomato was publicly proven safe for human consumption when Robert Johnson ate a bushel of them in Salem, Massachussets. As I was looking for interesting things that occured on this day, and as I really enjoy tomatoes, I was eager to make this an item here on this blog. However, in trying to get more information, I found the following in Wikipedia's "tomato" entry:
The most famous [tomato] legend ... was introduced by Joseph S. Sickler in the mid-1900s, and became the subject of a CBS broadcast of You Are There in 1949. The story goes that the lingering doubts about the safety of the tomato in the United States were largely put to rest in 1820, when Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson announced that at noon on September 26, he would eat a basket of tomatoes in front of the Salem, New Jersey, courthouse. Reportedly, a crowd of more than 2,000 persons gathered in front of the courthouse to watch the poor man die after eating the poisonous fruits, and were shocked when he lived. [However,] there is little, if any, historical evidence for any of these legends, and that they continue to be repeated largely because they are entertaining stories.

This could and may result in some other post about why I love and treasure Wikipedia for its contradictions and its problematic-in-a-good-way relationship with "Truth," but today I'm mildly upset that the tomato-eating Robert Johnson was not the same one who went down to the crossroads, the event didn't actually happen in the home of America's Favorite Witches, and -- if it happened at all -- did not happen on my birthday. Way to pull the rug, Wikipedia!

Here's stuff that seemed to actually happen on this day in history:

Checked In: Confucius, Livia Drusilla (the wife of Caesar Augustus, if you're watching HBO's excellent Rome), Ed Sullivan, William Paley (who, as head of CBS, surely had a hand in the above-referenced You Are There), Li'l Abner creator Al Capp, controversial executee Ethel Rosenberg, Chilean folksinger Victor Jara ("es veradad -- those Washington bullets again"), Brigitte Bardot [72], Al's favorite blues maven Koko Taylor [71], Ben E. King [68], the late great character actor J.T. Walsh, the great character actor (and, er, registered sex offender) Jeffery Jones [60], director and writer John Sayles [56], former radio host Janeane Garofalo [42], and Mighty Aprhodite's Mira Sorvino [39].

Checked Out: Pompey (have you even watched Rome?), Herman Melville, Louis Pasteur, department store and catalog entrepreneur Richard Sears, presumably far-sighted astronomer Edwin Hubble, Harpo Marx, John Dos Passos, cartoonist Charles Addams, Miles Davis, Pierre Trudeau, and HUAC rat Elia Kazan.

It is also the feast day of St. Wenceslas (who is famous for, um, looking out upon the feast of Stephen), Czech Statehood Day, and once -- under the French Rebellion Calendar -- today was Carrot Day. That's all, folks!


Thirty Six

  • Number of possible outcomes in the roll of two standard dice.
  • Number of inches in a yard.
  • The atomic number of krypton.
  • Number of plays in Shakespeare's first folio.
  • Number of black keys on a piano.
  • A perfect score on the ACT.
  • Number of stars on the US flag between 1865 and 1867. (Damn you, Nebraska!)
  • In 1636, Harvard was founded.
  • In 1836, Arkansas was admitted to the Union, allowing for Bill Clinton, my friend Dylan, and the problematic final chapters of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
  • In 1936, the Spanish Civil War began, as did the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
  • In 2036, Citizen Kane will enter public domain (assuming no further changes to copyright law, which -- given the Disney Corporation's lobbying to alter fair use laws to keep Mickey Mouse out of the public domain -- seems unlikely. See this article for an interesting overview of how Disney and the presumably animatronic corpse of Sonny Bono conspire to perpetually extend copyright law. The article's author, Chris Sprigman, points out that "Ironically, many of Disney's animated films are based on Nineteenth Century public domain works, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Pinocchio, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Alice in Wonderland, and The Jungle Book (released exactly one year after Kipling's copyrights expired).")
  • Also, in 2036, I will be 66 years old. Will you still love me, will you still need me?


Hoist That Rag

Because today is the five year aniversary of the use of national tragedy for political gain, I'm featuring pictures of our president and his reading teacher trampling American flags.

Stop the bleeding. Vote Blue.


Squirrels HEART Waffles

This morning on the "Today" show, I learned that children who scream when someone is abducting them are less likely to be abducted. Let this be a lesson to you, parents of polite and quiet children. (Please ignore this lesson, pederasts with an enormous roll of gapper's tape.)


Also, today, on my own independent research, I learned that squirrels love waffles.

Confirming evidence can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=squirrel+waffle


Some of the "alternative methods" of questioning that our President may be referring to:

1. Making a statement and then requesting that the terror suspect agree or disagree with that statement. You are a threat to American security. Do you (a) strongly agree (b) somewhat agree (c) neither agree or disagree (d) somewhat disagree (e) need to call the ACLU.

2. True or False testing. True or False: I will no longer participate in terrorist acts.

3. Match each word from list A with its partner in list B.
A: You; Your best friend from childhood; your family
B. Improviser of explosive devices; conspirator in 9/11; outside ingurgent(s).

4. SAT-style analogies: _______ is to a global war on terror as YOU are to GUILTY.


Fun with Global Find and Replace

Friends, Discovery Channel viewers, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury the Crocodile Hunter, not to praise him;
The croc-hunting that men do lives after them,
The sting-ray-swiming is oft interréd with their bones,
So let it be with The Crocodile Hunter….
The noble Larry King
Hath told you the Crocodile Hunter was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath the Crocodile Hunter answered it….
Here, under leave of Larry King and the rest,
(For Larry King is an honourable man;
So are they all; all honourable men)
Come I to speak in the Crocodile Hunter's funeral….
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Larry King says he was ambitious;
And Larry King is an honourable man….
He hath brought many captives home to Australia,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in the Crocodile Hunter seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, the Crocodile Hunter hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Larry King says he was ambitious;
And Larry King is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Discovery Channel
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Larry King says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man
I speak not to disprove what Larry King spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason….
Bear with me; My heart is in the coffin there with the Crocodile Hunter,
And I must pause till it come back to me.


A Few Of My (Least) Favorite Things

By all reports, I am an easy-going and humble person.

However, there are certain things for which I will institute a global "Zero Tolerance" policy, once my easy-going, humble, and yet totalitarian global revolution installs me as Emperor. (A possible state flag, prepared by the Committee on State Emblems, is offered for preview at left. Please e-mail debbie@cse.townblog.gov with any feedback. Constructive criticism only, please!) So herewith then is a list of things that you should avoid within my presence. Unless of course you want to be first against the wall.*

  1. Inhale while chewing gum with your mouth open. This makes a sound like "umgowah umgowah umgowah." This is not pleasing to the Emperor. (Please refrain from chewing gum in the presence of the Emperor. If the Emperor happens to be chewing gum, mention his supposed hypocrisy at your own peril**.)
  2. Eat potato, tortilla, or other kinds of chips without closing ones' lips before making teeth-to-chip contact. This makes the sound of a thin layer of ice cracking across an inland lake. This is not pleasing to the Emperor. For this same reason, movie theatres may no longer serve popcorn. Unless the Emperor happens to want some, in which case all fellow movie-goers must use the closing-the-lips technique.
  3. Use of the word "literally," except when used in reference to a term or condition that would otherwise be understood figuratively. As you are no doubt aware, having read the Emperor's Compulsory Manual of New World Grammar, many people use the word "literally" when they mean "figuratively," as in "I literally lost my head." Other times, the word is used as emphasis for something that is already understood to be literal, as in "I literally folded the map in half." It would be unlikely that a person would have metaphorically or figuratively folded a map in half -- although, hey, take a shot. The only time "literally" is permissible in our new regime is in rare circumstances is to clarify actuality in cases where your language would be presumed to be fantastical, e.g. "The previous world leader lost his head -- literally." Incorrect usage of the word "literally" makes the sound of a braying ass whose rear left hoof has been too-tightly and fatally wedged into a narrow fissure of a canyon.(Note word order.)
  4. The striking and/or scraping of a stainless steel spoon against a porcelain bowl. These make the doubly unpleasant sounds of "plink" and "scrrrrrrrrrrnch," neither of which are pleasing to the Emperor. Use of either a plastic spoon and/or a plastic bowl is preferable. People who say they do not enjoy the use of plastic in their meal-eating are damned liars, and forget the loveliness of cafeteria trays and KFC sporks.
  5. Yelling or other such carrying on while watching televised sporting events. Neither the television nor the sports participants it displays can hear you. Such yelling makes the sound of "go go GO GO you sonuva... GO!" and this is not pleasing to the Emperor. (It is perfectly acceptable, however, to talk back to political chat show pundits or newsreaders who oversimplify matters. Certain members of certain households may be allowed to talk back to the hosts of fishing shows, as the Emperor finds that funny.

* Those who go against the wall in my easy-going, humble, and yet totalitarian New World Order will be made to think seriously about their lack of consideration for the feelings of others, particularly those of the Emperor.

**Peril, in my easy-going, humble, and yet totalitarian New World Order, involves a visual upbraiding -- in the form of a well-practiced scowl -- performed by the Emperor himself.