Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Psayings 5Y: The Big Finish
PART THREE. Haven't read the comments on my last post yet. I trust they were all laudatory.
Here she is. The last 20 or so dates from Psayings 5Y in one big blowout.
33. 1788. Constitution was ratified and Washington became President in 1789, so...
A bunch of states ratify the Constitution. Mozarts dashes off his last three symphonies in the span of a few months (don't let those older Encyclopedia Britannica boys bully you into saying "antepenultimate," Wikipedia. "Third-to-last" is just fine). The money event has to be The Great New Orleans Fire, which "kills 25% of the population and destroys 856 buildings, including St. Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo, leaving most of the town in ruins." Holy hell.
Births and deaths: Wilhelmine Reichard, the first German female balloonist. And David G. Burnet, who went on to become President of the Republic of Texas. Tough to imagine a cooler entry on a résumé. I pine for the days when politicians looked and carried themselves like this, and make politics seem like an adventure fit for only the rugged and intrepid. (I said "seem." Teddy Roosevelt's Croly-loving ass was just as statist as FDR.)
34. 1898. Sounds familiar? I might recognize it when I see it.
Oh. Spanish-American War. That one.
Annie Oakley offers McKinley "the services of a company of 50 'lady sharpshooters' who would provide their own arms and ammunition should war break out with Spain." He turned her down. What a dunce. Bet he could have used one of those lady sharpshooters at his side in 1901, amirite?
Assassination jokes, everybody!
35. Zero. Birth of whatshisname. Technically, there is no year zero.
36. 1984. The book.
37. "Four thousand and some B.C.". What? Guess I'll search 4000 BC?
Domestication of horses? One of the early human cultures? Boss, little help!
38. 1919. All these WWI-era dates blur together for me. Lusitania? No, that's what got us in the war. '19 must be Versailles?
Yup. Even spelled it right from memory. Damn French with their decorative consonants. How poncy can you get? I'm no fan of the Nazis, but when the History Channel covers 1940, I have a tough time rooting for the Third Republic. The fact that they rolled over and played dead proved they weren't playing. Done as a culture. Not just decadent, but dead. Finito. Kaput. Marshall should have left them out of his Plan.
39. 1944. Battle of the Bulge. And other stuff, but that's the big one and I don't know any of the other stuff. I could probably tell you any notable Batman comics that came out that year.
40. 1836. Piss. No clue.
Hey, the Alamo. Neat. The only reason I know that was a defeat for America was thanks to Married With Children, of all things. Al declares war on some emasculating domesticity or another and invokes the Alamo. Peg fires back "Al, we lost at the Alamo." Al: "Come on, Peg, no one remembers that!" Roars of laughter, as usual for that show-- was crudeness on TV really so revelatory back then?-- but this time the writers earned it. This was when "Remember the Alamo" was still an active and known phrase in the culture. I don't think I've heard it used since the end of the '80s.
41. 399 BC. Dunno.
Socrates dies. They know the exact year?
42. 1564. That one's gotta be from a random number generator. ...maybe not.
"Conquistadors cross the Atlantic." Now that they mention it, I think I did a report on Conquistadors back in 5th grade. Guess I can't blame the school system for this lapse.
43. 33. The Crucifixion.
44. 1871. Derp.
"First ever photographs of Yellowstone National Park region taken by the photographer William Henry Jackson." Bully for William Henry Jackson. "The abolition of the han system is carried out in Japan." And to think, that sentence would have made me glaze over in my teenage years.
I bet it's that the first MLB game ever is played. I've got some tender feelings toward Dave the Dad for knowing the exact date. Whoever came up with Dave's list is a pretty good writer.
45. 337. Fall of Rome? Did we have that one already?
Kind of. Turns out Constantine's heirs divvy up the Roman Empire into three parts. Like Alexander's kids.
46. 1848. OK, I know this one, and it's complicated. I used to own an old book called Revolutions of 1848 that talked about revolts and uprisings happening all over the world. Looking it up to refresh my memory, I find revolutions in France, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Italy (the "Italian states" back then), Hungary, Switzerland(!), Belgium, Ireland, "Greater Poland," some made-up faerie land called Wallachia, some made-up Tolkein fifedom called the Habsburg Empire, and even effing Brazil.
The most potent revolution? Karl Marx publishes the faggoty Communist Manifesto. Thanks, dick.
47. 1896. More 19th century. In my mind, the era tastes like licking the side of a dirty old train. You know what I mean? Dunno what the hell supposedly happened this year.
Utah becomes a state. There's a quote I loved in my Mormon days that I can't find now, so I'll paraphrase. It's from a "gentile" outsider astounded and grudgingly impressed at the Mormons' intransigence on the polygamy issue. "The entire weight of the United States was brought to bear on this people. Their homes were broken up. Their leaders were arrested and driven into hiding. And they would not budge. But one word from their prophet [ending plural marriage], and they stop." Always loved that.
Also this year: The first modern Olympics. Ford makes its first car. Sousa writes Stars and Stripes Forever on Christmas. "The shortest war in recorded history, the Anglo-Zanzibar War, starts at 9 in the morning and lasts for 45 minutes of shelling." But I'm pretty sure the event in question is Plessy v. Ferguson.
48. 323 BC. Shrug.
Alexander dies, his kids divvy up Babylon. See, I knew of it. I knew it happened one of those years, in the past there.
Deaths: Diogenes. Ha.
49. 1452. Don't know.
Looked it up. Still don't know. Birth of da Vinci? I need the official word on this one too.
50. 1789. Constitution ratified. Washington becomes first President.
51. 1760. Stamp Act of the French and Indians? Dunno.
George II dies. I don't care what else happened this year. Since I am a cruel and purile 14-year-old boy at heart, I love the story of George II's death. From The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin:
George's death, when it came, was in its own unexalted way similarly indicative of the hazards of ruling-class life. The rich diet of the rich in eighteenth-century England led to gout and other maladies, including constipation. On October 25, 1760, George II awakened at Kensington Palace to his usual cup of chocolate, after which he retired to the royal water closet for his morning effort. The effort proved too much for the royal blood vessels; a critical one burst and killed the king.
Love, love, love, that story. Will never stop loving it. Always chuckle imaging the king drinking a whole cup of melted chocolate every morning and it seals him up like it's pure cement. I know medical science wasn't then what it is now, but did no one guess that a cup of chocolate every morning might back a dude up? Was chocolate that new to the white man's diet?
I know I'm a bad person. No need to remind me.
Wait, it's 1660? Shit.
51. 1660. Cromwell beheads Charles the 1st. Or hangs him. I know it's one of those.
52. 1763. Stamp Act. For real this time.
53. 1849. Last one. Let's see if I can finish strong. 1849. 1849. What the hell happened 1849. It's the year after 1848.... I got nothing. Gonna have to look it up.
...and I still don't know. I'm too ignorant to see anything here that could make Dave's list. Hungary splits from Austria, ooh, big shit. Zach Taylor sworn in as President. So? What the hell was the New Roman Republic? In the 19th century? Sounds like a serious non-starter. Let's click and see what it was. Blah blah blah Pope blah blah blah Catholic Church YAWWWN, back to 1849. Fourth year of the Irish Potato Famine? No. "Denmark becomes a constitutional monarchy"? No. "The United States Department of the Interior is established"? Doubt it. How about this one: "James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, the Governor General of Canada, signs the Rebellion Losses Bill, outraging Montreal's English population and triggering the Montreal Riots." Canadian history! It's its own punchline! Because it happened in CANADA!
So much for finishing strong. I break the tape with a cloud of question marks over my head.
That's my little history lesson. Only took me three weeks to squeeze it out in four posts. Dust off your Boomer Bible if it's been a while for you. Good shit in there.