THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 38

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 38

…I thought I saw my reflection in that shiny object…

The Eridanian ship Defender is hurtling back home with TSF dexterity. The experience with The Seljuk is fresh on every one of the five minds aboard, now being shared amongst those who care.

“Daddy – what has happened to make a nice man like Chasonn so paranoid?” spoken by the 1st Terran-child of space, who has yet to experience many “human nature” concepts.

Sampson McKinney happened to have a pow-wow with the leader of the Seljuk, man-to-man, heart-to-heart, just when it seemed that the man was questioning the motives of the Defender crew. The pair swapped history lessons about their respective planets and discovered that they had more in common than not.

“Long ago Deimostra, when Chasonn was away at their place of higher learning, every Seljuk leader was whisked away, including his father, never to be seen again… it took almost two centuries for the Seljuk to recover.” It is not customary to sit a 21 year old girl on his lap like he is doing, but some wisdom needs to be handed down not discarded. “Trust is something that is earned, not given. And they have kept to themselves ever since, not unlike Eridanus, right Cerella?”

“After we have been far and wide and seen the whole of the Great Expanse, there comes a time when keeping private is the logical choice. Until you people of Earth were brought into our keeping, we had no need to borrow the trouble that lurks on the other side of this and other galaxies. Chasonn and his people made the same choice… and then here we are charging directly into their renewed chaos.”

“On top of that, our arrival came right after they lost communication with their sentinel outposts, as well as the appearance of that phantom planetoid – like the one we spotted on the way in.” That shiny unknown still bothers brother Deke.

“How can anything that flawless do any harm? It’s just like the pictures you showed me Daddy, what you called a Christmas ornament. There were blue ones, red ones, green ones and silver ones. In fact, for a moment, I thought I saw my reflection in it.”

That gives some others pause.

“I saw my reflection too!” Celeste admits.

“I thought the same thing,” Sammy Mac confesses. He thought he was the only one seeing things.

“That is impossible. We didn’t get within 250,000 miles of that thing, before it vanished that is,” Deke tries to be the voice of reason – he saw his reflection as well without admitting it.

In the time it takes for Eridanus to complete one cycle, Defender is back in the berth reserved for it in the Spaceflight Expository, after its mission to the Triangulum Galaxy. At first blush, nothing has changed in the meantime; not a single Eridanian figure had moved.

But in the excitement of recent exploits, they forget about the Null, specifically Skaldic.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 38


page 43

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 28

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 28

…A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Back to Earth Too by Gus McKinney…

Now Playing on a Spacecraft near You:

Related image

The recounted story of a youngish astronaut and the strange things that keep happening to him after he reaches the speed-of-light threshold…

In the relatively short time it takes to return to Earth, by way of the Sun, Gus McKinney explains it to his wife this way:

He is hesitant to share his story with NASA; “I’m telling you Mindy, after I saw that metallic planetoid disappear into a wormhole or something, I put SEx on cruise control, you know, at a reasonable numerical factor of SOL 1 and headed back, as Roy ordered … everything was going fine. I had Venus in my side view when it happened again… ” for fear that they would think him crazy.

 The Story behind what happened aboard Stellar Explorer this very day:

What he was not prepared for was an in-your-face dose of déjà vu. Mamma Celeste {the person, not the famous pizzeria in NYC} was getting bored and when mamma is bored, stuff happens. After all those parsecs logged, meeting a brand-new alien race and eavesdropping on the conversation between a Null and the pilot of her TSF ride, Celeste decides to take a peek at Gus’ timestem. In 2052.51 she picks up his saga as he passes Venus’ orbital path. Mamma knows that she only has a short window to work with, before Gus decelerates for his rendezvous at Galveston.

Only there is one huge/B-I-G difference between her current plan and the one that produced Gus’ vision previously. This time she brings along her firstborn for good measure. He has quietly graduated from telepathy to hyperphysical transmigration, the long-distance version of teleportation.

Stellar Explorer {SEx} is a two-seater. The lack of a support crew dictates that there is a redundant pilot… normally.

It was in the 1st seat that Deke McKinney had phased-out {at the Pluto turnabout} in 2051; horrific/traumatic.

It is in 2052 that the phasing image Deke McKinney appears in the 2nd seat, as that same ship approaches Earth orbit; terrific /baffling.

 

“Good job Gussy!” the image speaks.

His brother Deke has been missing for the better part of a year or more. It was at that same time that the image of their mother was present to calm & reassure.

“Where have you been, you SOB?” he waits for an answer from Deke, to the number one 64-_illion {fill-in-the-blank} question of this corner of the Milky Way.

“We are all together.” It’s hard to keep the Space Family McKinney down, but timestem constraints keep Deke from going into specific details, just enough to intrigued and confuse. “Mom is with me. Dad and our sister are back in another corner of the galaxy.”

“We don’t have a sister. You cannot be real!”

Celeste pops in, beside Deke, once again to calm & reassure.

“We are not able to stay much longer. Listen closely. Our Galaxy is danger. You must convince your stepfather to stay vigilant. Keep an eye on the NASA mainframe. Some new defensive tools are on the way.”

“What?” too little and too much info to process in a single apparition.

“Deimostra is your sister and the Seljuk are your friends.”

They phase out just as fast as they phased in.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 28


page 32

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 272

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 272

…“As long as we are telling stories, tell everyone some about Roy Crippen..

As long as we are telling stories, tell everyone the one about Roy Crippen, like getting married?????????????????????????????????????????????????????? {never thought that would happen}, adopted two lop-eared space brats {willfully borrowing our trouble} and then {out of the blue Texas sky} becomes President of the United States of America,” a somewhat jealous Sammy Mac sums-up what he knows.

“You are leaving out Director of the SOL Project. He has to be devastated by now, both him and Braden,” Celeste adds.

“It is a damned shame that he and the entire freaking planet think that the McKinneys are dead and gone!” Selfishly Gus points to the stars and the fiancée it represents, as an example of the grieving.

“Gus is leaving out the good/bad/ugly, the meat in the meatless sandwich. Here we go,” Deke recounts from Earth’s perspective in greater detail:

  • “Space Colony 1 is blown out of Mars orbit by the United Korea’s Sang-Ashi satellite,
  • Mom and Dad are stranded on the surface of Mars with only the Tycho lander to survive in,
  • New Mayflower is sent out on a rescue mission, when it zaps Sang-Ashi into forever,
  • President Sanchez takes out the Korean’s space program with a limited nuclear strike,
  • New Mayflower gets to Mars only to find the Tycho lander empty and you guys nowhere to be found… not even a good clue,
  • And finally, Gus and I are named SOL test pilots and take Stellar Explorer out of the Solar System and do not bring her back!

“Now what else could possibly go wrong in Dad’s… I mean Roy’s world? He was in charge of two colossal space failures and he’s not getting any younger.”

That is quite a chain of events that Deke lays out.

You left out the part where we were taken hostage by a Talibanistan invasion force and Crip rescued us from that oil derrick in his helicopter.” It is fill-in-the-blank time for Gus. “And right after that, he runs for President, which was way cool to be a part of!”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 272


page 241

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 271

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 271

ELEVENTH AND FINAL CHAPTER

…It is also a day for reminiscence, particularly for The Space Family McKinney, as they hearken back to the good old days of yesteryear on Earth…

Traveling Fast

Excitement, joy, good times, and good old family love abounds this day, in the year {as close as they can agree on a stardate} 2055.005. The McKinneys are gathered outside the spiraling towers for a celebration: the public acknowledgement of Cerella of Eridanus-Eupepsia and Deke McKinney of Earth-Texas as mates for life.

All the ingredients for a grand time are present, with the unusual lifting of the pink mist, mystery pizza aplenty, and an ingenious alcoholic brew that Sampson has managed to replicate.

The unexpected upward visibility allows for the viewing of the “test run” for the new-improved Stellar Explorer, so there are ample choices for one and all to be festive; where you have both a “wedding” celebration and a beggar’s chance to see something traveling really fast.

It is also a day for reminiscence, particularly for The Space Family McKinney. Hearken back to the good old days of yesteryear on Earth. For one, Deimostra McKinney loves to hear about the planet she never knew, even if those stories seem chaotic and illogical.

“Do you remember the time Braden decided to go to Mardi Gras alone?” Sampson has a sack full of stories about family friend Braden King. “He was going to find himself a woman in New Orleans, good or wicked!”

“Yes and we got a call from a Louisiana jail asking us to come and bail him out,” Celeste recalls vividly.

Solicitation of a Prostitute was the charge. He goes looking for a girlfriend and he finds a hooker instead!”

“What is a hooker?” asks Deimostra.

“Never mind.”

Gus remembers an alternate childhood version, “But you told us his car was stolen.”

“At the time, that was all you kids needed to know. He made us swear never to tell anyone, as long as we lived.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Family Stories

Episode 271


page 240

David Bowie Confidential – WIF Spotlight

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Obscure Facts

About

David Bowie

David Bowie was a man who lived a life filled to the brim with adventure, mystery, and hair-spray. During his time here on Earth, the Starman accomplished more in a decade of his career than most could in five lifetimes. For this reason, even fans of Bowie aren’t aware of the full scope of the kind of crazy crap he got up to during his half-century-long career.

10. He didn’t know how to pronounce his own name, which he had previously changed twice

Born David Robert Jones, Bowie decided to change his name early in his career to Tom Jones in 1965 to avoid being mistaken for Monkees singer Davy Jones. Just a week after making this decision, Welsh singer Tom Jones released his smash-hit It’s Not Unusual in anticipation of the Carlton dance phenomenon of the ’90s. Annoyed, the young singer changed his name again to David Bowie, after the famous American knife – supposedly because, like him, it had two edges.

The problem was, throughout his entire career Bowie pronounced his last name ‘BOW-ee’, while Jim Bowie, the man the knife is named after, pronounced it ‘BOO-ey’. Something the singer wasn’t aware of until he visited Scotland and heard everyone pronounce it “wrong.” Confused, Bowie came to the conclusion that how his name was pronounced wasn’t as important as people knowing it in the first place.

9. He almost died because he ate nothing but peppers for a month

The album Station to Station is considered one of Bowie’s best. Released in 1976 to rave reviews, Bowie himself remained largely oblivious to the album’s success later in life because he spent much of the recording process blitzed out of his mind on cocaine.

Bowie spent virtually the entire recording process in a state of near-psychosis, surrounding himself with ancient Egyptian artifacts and spending much of his time ranting about witches trying to steal his semen. As a side effect of his cocaine-only diet, Bowie largely lost his appetite and subsisted on nothing but peppers washed down with cold milk. This diet nearly killed the singer, seeing his weight drop to below 100 pounds at one point.

The whole experience shook Bowie, who when asked what he thought of Los Angeles after recording the album there, replied simply, “The f***ing place should be wiped off the face of the earth.” Truer words have never been spoken, Bowie. Truer words.

8. He was voted the best dressed Briton… ever

David Bowie changed his appearance and outfit more times than a indecisive Dark Souls player. He donned everything from suits sharp enough to give a the Statue of David a paper cut to custom made couture dresses, just because he could. In a 2013 poll, Britons recognized Bowie’s commitment to constant reinvention by voting him the best dressed Briton in history.

Bowie managed to walk away with nearly 50% of the vote, beating out everyone from Queen Alexandra to Beau Brummel, aka, the man who invented the suit. It speaks to Bowie’s universal appeal and androgynous appearance that a majority of polled Britons felt that he dressed better than all British royalty as well as the guy who invented the concept of wearing a suit.

7. He’s an integral part of the Metal Gear Solid Universe

David Bowie possessed an uncanny ability to alter his physical form like a lizard-man or, if you prefer, man-lizard. Bowie actually changed the way he looked so much that throughout his career he’s inadvertently styled himself to look like every character in the video game series Metal Gear Solid.

As it turns out, this is no accident, and Bowie is a key part of the Metal Gear universe, with key characters and plot points being named after his various alter-egos and songs. As if this wasn’t overt enough, the character Raiden was described as looking exactly like David Bowie in the novelization of Metal Gear Solid 2, while another character called The Fury quotes Bowie as he flies into space and explodes. If this sounds odd, remember that this is a video game series that suggests its main character invented Mountain Dew, Doritos and Axe body spray.

6. He saved the first music video recorded in space

A few years ago real-life spaceman and all-around badass, Commander Chris Hadfield, recorded a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in space, making it the first music video ever recorded in, well, space. As an aside, has anyone ever noticed that if you type out and say the same word aloud multiple times in a row it starts to sound weird?

Bowie loved the cover and personally thanked Hadfield for singing it, calling it the most moving and beautiful rendition of the song he’d ever heard. The problem was, YouTube kept taking the video down because although Bowie wrote and sang the song, he didn’t own the rights to it. This put YouTube in a unique legal quandary as, although Bowie’s publisher was correct in asserting that it owned the rights to the song, said rights didn’t apply in outer space. And that’s an argument Bowie put forward on Hadfield’s behalf, making him instrumental in making sure the first cover recorded in the upper stratosphere stayed freely available for humanity to enjoy. Speaking of covers…

5. He was annoyed by a Nirvana cover

In 1993 Nirvana covered one of the Bowie’s most famous hits, “The Man Who Sold the World”much to the surprise of the singer who was shocked he was a big enough part of the American musical landscape for Nirvana to even know who he was. After Kurt Cobain passed away, Bowie expressed regret at never being able to pick Cobain’s brain and find out why he chose to cover his song, once saying that simply having the chance to speak to the grunge legend would have been “real cool.”

Although Bowie was ultimately flattered by the cover, he did become somewhat annoyed at its enduring legacy as a “Nirvana song.” Bowie would later note that when he played the song at concerts in the States, younger fans would approach him to talk about how neat it was that he’d covered a Nirvana song. Bowie’s reaction was to call them a “tosser” and tell them to “f**k off.”

4. Christopher Nolan begged him to be Nikola Tesla

David Bowie has had such a commanding screen presence that his cameos often caused the movies he was appearing in to freeze for a moment just to announce that, holy crap, it’s David Bowie. Initially hesitant to appear in movies, Bowie needed to be coaxed into starring in The Prestige by director Christopher Nolan.

According to the director, he never had anyone else but Bowie in mind to play scientist Nikola Tesla, which resulted in him being somewhat upset when Bowie turned the part down. Not willing to take no for an answer, Nolan flew to New York to personally appeal to Bowie, basically begging him to appear in the film. Bowie was swayed by Nolan’s passion and agreed to bless the film with his godly visage.

3. He once played the Elephant Man on Broadway

David Bowie was an astonishingly handsome man, what with his teasing androgynous appearance, cheekbones capable of cutting glass, and soul-piercing stare. Which is why it may surprise you to learn that the Thin White Duke once played a man famous for being so horrendously, upsettlingly ugly he literally earned a living standing completely still and letting people stare at his face: Joseph Merrick, better known by his Wu-Tang name, the Elephant Man.

While little in the way of physical evidence remains of Bowie’s brief tenure as a stage actor, with there only really being promotional photos and publicity stills of Bowie in costume, and a few stray clips here and there, reviews indicate Bowie’s performance was one that cemented his reputation as not just a musician, but a true Renaissance Man who was as comfortable on stage reading lines in a diaper (oh yeah, Bowie’s costume was just a big cotton diaper) as he was playing a guitar. Because apparently just being an internationally recognized sex symbol/rockstar/musical super-genius wasn’t enough for David Bowie.

2. He once finished a set with a lollipop sticking out of his eye

David Bowie’s distinctive, mismatched eyes were a result of a childhood altercation with a friend resulting in his left pupil being permanently dilated. Effectively blind in that eye, Bowie had problems with his peripheral vision, which resulted in him being hit in the eye socket by a lollipop thrown by a fan while performing on stage in Norway in 2004.

The lollipop, which became physically lodged in Bowie’s bad pupil, needed to be forcefully ripped from the singer’s eyeball by a stagehand. An annoyed Bowie chastised the crowd before regaining his composure and joking about how lucky it was that the lollipop hit his bad eye. Bowie then told the crowd he’d punish them by playing an extra long set, presumably featuring the song “The Laughing Gnome” like eight times.

1. He didn’t do any of the contact juggling in Labyrinth

One of Bowie’s most famous film roles is that of Jareth the Goblin King in the film Labyrinth. A question Bowie was asked repeatedly following the release of the film is how long it took him to master contact juggling, a skill Jareth possesses and shows off multiple times throughout the film. Bowie’s response was to laugh and explain that the juggling was actually done by somebody else; specifically, master juggler Michael Moschen.

To achieve the effect that Bowie was able to deftly manipulate a steel ball with his long, slender man-fingers, Moschen hid behind Bowie and put his arms through his Goblin-cape. You know, kind of like what kids do when they’re pretending to be Goro from Mortal Kombat. A testament to Moschen’s skill is that he was able to make an orb of condensed goblin-power dance across his fingertips completely blindIt also speaks to the mystique surrounding Bowie that audiences saw him display a skill nobody had ever seen him talk about or mention before and still assumed it was him, because it does seem like the kind of thing Bowie would be amazing at.


David Bowie Confidential

– WIF Spotlight

You Oughta Be a Picture – WIF @ the Movies

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 True Stories That

Should Be Movies

Reading today’s headlines is undertaken at one’s own peril. The increasingly dire news is filled with a seemingly never-ending glut of brutality, corruption, and disease. Fortunately, there are always the movies to provide a distraction from the wicked, wicked world.

Although the entertainment industry isn’t immune from the chaos and destruction of the coronavirus, sweeping changes are now taking place that includes production safety measures and how movies are being released to the public.

For now, large crowd scenes are gone. The same goes for any steamy sex encounters (unless the actors are already a couple off-screen). However, history remains a valuable goldmine of untold stories that would make great movies — even if they star sock puppets or filmed entirely in clay animation.

10. Un-Brotherly Love

Formed in Manchester in 1991, Oasis would emerge as the kings of Brit-pop (although Blur fans will vehemently disagree) with several chart-topping hits, including “Wonderwall,” “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” and “Champagne Supernova.” The same relentless drive that propelled the band’s success also nearly ended in fratricide.

Throughout their meteoric career, the brothers Gallagher created a legacy marked by booze, brawls, and belligerent banter that usually involved the C-word. One of the more infamous disputes involved a live performance of MTV Unplugged at London’s Royal Festival Hall in 1996. Claiming illness, younger brother Liam pulled out at the last minute only to turn up with ‘refreshments’ in the balcony to heckle his bandmates during the performance.

Although Oasis hasn’t played together in over a decade, rumors have recently swirled of a possible reunion. Music fans probably shouldn’t hold their collective breath. Regardless of whether the lads ever decide to mend old fences, this script has already been written, and you can bet your [bleepin’] arse it’ll be [bleepin’] good theater.

9. Josh Gibson

He was dubbed “The Black Babe Ruth” and widely considered the best player of his generation. However, Negro League star Josh Gibson did something “The Bambino” never achieved: smack a home run out of Yankee Stadium. More impressively, the blast wasn’t even the power-slugger’s most impressive feat.

For baseball fans, stories of Gibson’s diamond heroics abound. Whether or not some of the tales are apocryphal is irrelevant — Josh Gibson possessed the kind of rare talent in which anything seemed possible.

Born in 1911 during the Jim Crow era in Georgia, Gibson’s family later relocated to Pittsburgh, where his prodigious baseball skills were honed. The solidly-built catcher spent his entire baseball career in the Negro Leagues, Mexican and Caribbean Winter Leagues, starring for elite teams such as the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords over a 17-year career.

Gibson routinely out-performed white opponents in exhibition games throughout the 1930s and ’40s. Baseball historians estimate that he hit more than 800 total home runs that includes crushing a ball 600 feet during a 1941 Winter League game in Puerto Rico.

In 1943, Gibson fell into a coma and was later diagnosed to have a brain tumor. He refused medical treatment and continued playing despite suffering from recurring headaches as his condition grew steadily worse. At the age of 35, Gibson died of a stroke on January 20, 1947 — just three months before Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier.

Although Robinson’s historic achievement can never be diminished, most old-timers agree that he wasn’t the best African-American player. That honor goes to Josh Gibson, who would posthumously be inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

8. The Winning Ace

Sgt. Keith Chisholm had already earned ace status (five or more kills) and the Distinguished Flying Medal when fate took a near-fatal turn on October 12, 1941. The Australian fighter pilot was shot down over the English Channel and later taken to a POW camp in Germany. Relying on his wits and sheer determination, he would eventually escape. Twice.

Originally from Petersham, New South Wales, Chisholm had trained as a dentist when war broke out and soon joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). He was assigned to Squadron 452, the first Australian squadron formed in Britain during World War II. The Spitfire unit featured several other outstanding pilots, including “Paddy” Finucane (more on him later), and became one of the war’s most successful squadrons.

Chisholm was initially held at Stalag VIII-B Lamsdorf in Silesia, which is now part of southwestern Poland. The airman managed to escape after swapping identities with another prisoner to join an outside work camp. Although he was later caught, Chisholm pulled the same stunt again. This time it worked.

For nearly three years, Chisholm cleverly evaded the Nazis while also collaborating with the resistance in Poland and France. His schoolboy athleticism also came to the fore during an incident in which the Aussie used a rugby tackle to push an official into the Vistula River. He eventually made his way back to England and later returned to Australia, earning the Military Cross for ‘his dogged persistence and careful planning’ in successfully escaping from the enemy.

7. Dr. Pat

Irish-born athletes have a long, illustrious tradition with the hammer throw, earning gold in five out of the first six Olympiads. According to ancient folklore, the mythological hero, Cú Chulainn, was said to have hurled a chariot wheel great distances. Fittingly, a modern-day legend became the first athlete to win an Olympic gold medal for the Free Irish State at the 1928 Games in Amsterdam.

In previous years, Irish champions but had been forced to compete for Great Britain or had immigrated to America. But a medical student from County Cork would change that. Although he stood only 5-foot-11, Pat O’Callaghan relied on his explosive power and quick feet to become the best in the world. Four years later, he yearned for another chance at Olympic glory — and would travel 5,000 miles to get it.

The 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles featured plenty of sunshine and glamour at its modern Roman-style Coliseum. Athletes from 37 nations participated in the Summer spectacle while hobnobbing with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars like Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and his equally famous actress wife, Mary Pickford. But the real drama would star a shamrock-clad Irish doctor in search of gold.

Unbeknownst to O’Callaghan, the arena’s throwing surface was unusually hard and ill-suited for his long spiked shoes designed for grass. He struggled as a result until a teammate helped him perform minor surgery with a hacksaw and file down the doc’s spikes. Despite trailing throughout the competition, O’Callaghan unleashed an enormous effort on his final throw to grab victory and raise the Tricolour once again.

While in LA, MGM boss Louis B. Meyer offered O’Callaghan the role of “Tarzan” which the good doctor turned down. After all, he had patients to see back home in Ireland. But that didn’t stop “Dr. Pat” from celebrating his well-deserved win in Prohibition America.

As the story goes, O’Callaghan had smuggled a few bottles of poitín (Irish moonshine) in his suitcase for the long voyage ahead. Upon arrival, a customs official had questioned him about the clanking bottles. The fast-thinking Irishman replied, “Medicine. I’m the team doctor.”

6. Golden Eagle

Lilli Henoch didn’t merely win — she dominated. Coming of age in Berlin during the 1920s, she displayed a natural all-around talent in several sports, making her accomplishments even more impressive considering the few opportunities available for female athletes at the time.

Henoch joined the Berlin Sports Club (BSC) in 1919 and wasted no time making an impact. She helped pioneer their women’s athletics program and became the first female to receive the “Golden Eagle” — the prestigious club’s highest award. Between 1922 and 1926, the superstar set five world records in athletics and won ten German championship titles, competing in the shot-put, discus, long jump, and BSC’s 4 x 100-meter relay.

Unfortunately, she was denied competing in the Olympics during her prime because Germany wasn’t allowed to send athletes in 1920 and 1924 as punishment for WWI. She would also be persecuted for being Jewish — a crime that eventually resulted in fatal consequences.

As the Nazi war machine kicked into high gear, Jews were forcibly removed from their homes, and all non-Aryan schools became shuttered. Despite her status as a national icon and well-respected coach, Henoch soon found herself laboring as a harvest worker outside of Berlin. In early fall 1942, she and her mother, Rose, were put in a livestock railcar and deported to Riga, Latvia.

The journey from Berlin lasted three days. Records show them listed as “missing” on September 8, 1942. They were most likely murdered by Einsatzgruppen death squads and buried in the mass graves outside of Rumbula.

The memory of Lilli Henoch has been honored with various landmarks around Berlin, including a small brass-plated stone known as a Stolperstein (“stumbling block”). The tribute is one of the 60,000 similar engraved memorials placed across 21 countries in Europe that serves as a poignant reminder of Nazi crimes.

5. Spitfire Paddy

As the Battle of Britain raged during the summer of 1940, the Allies were in desperate need of courageous pilots and a bit of luck to stop the German onslaught through Europe. The Royal Air Force (RAF) would get both with “Paddy” Finucane (pronounced FIN-NEW-KIN), who quickly emerged as a top ace and eventually became the youngest wing commander in RAF history while flying his shamrock-adorned Spitfire.

Born in Dublin in 1920, Finucane later relocated with his family to London as a teenager. He joined the RAF at the minimum age requirement of 17 and a half and went on to record 32 kills in operations over the English Channel and Nazi-occupied France. He also earned the Distinguished Flying Cross with two bars and the Distinguished Service Order and was personally decorated by King George VI at Buckingham Palace. The Irishman’s story is even more remarkable when considering his father once fought against the British during the Easter Rising of 1916.

Fearless, personable, and good-looking, Finucane became a worldwide celebrity when the war’s outcome still hung in the balance. He even found time for romance and became engaged to an attractive young woman named Jean Woolford, who lived on the same street as the Finucane family. Sadly, the ace pilot’s story and the ‘girl next door’ would end tragically when his Spitfire crashed in the English Channel in 1942 and vanished into the sea. He was only 21.

An outpouring of grief spread across the globe as military personnel, friends, family, and admirers mourned the loss. A gathering of over 2,500 people attended his memorial at Westminster Cathedral, and Finucane’s name was later inscribed among ‘The Few’ on the Battle of Britain Memorial on London’s Embankment.

4. Noir Christmas

The perennial holiday favorite, “White Christmas” sung by Bing Crosby remains the world’s best-selling single, selling more than 50 million copies. Although the song’s lyrics evoke memories of more innocent and happier times, the popular crooner real life reveals a much different tale replete with gunsels, dames, and dimly lit, smoke-filled rooms.

At the peak of his fame, Crosby was easily one of the most beloved — and well-paid — entertainers in the world. But his wholesome image as a golf-loving, family man stood in stark contrast to a darker side plagued by his addiction to gambling and alcohol.

The dangerous combination would lead to alleged connections to the mafia that required a bailout from his Rat Pack pal, Frank Sinatra. Crosby’s shadowy shenanigans would result in the FBI keeping tabs on him, files that later revealed ties to mobster Bugsy Siegel, and two of Al Capone’s top henchmen, Frank Nitti and Jack “Machine Gun” McGurn.

Following Crosby’s death from a massive heart attack in 1977, the song and dance man’s reputation received another black eye with the release of a tell-all memoir by his oldest son, Gary. The scathing book, Going My Own Way, depicts his father as a physically and psychologically abusive tyrant — the polar opposite of the benevolent priest character that earned the elder Crosby an Academy Award for Best Actor in the 1944 film, Going My Way.

3. The Human Howitzer

More than ever, America needs heroes as a reminder of the sacrifice that made the country great. Men such as Al Blozis, an athlete-turned-soldier, who stood 6-foot-6 and weighed 250 pounds of solid muscle. His larger-than-life persona would even warrant three nicknames: “The Human Howitzer,” “Jersey City Giant,” and “Hoya Hercules.”

The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Blozis grew up in New Jersey, where he broke 24 high school records in track and field. He later accepted an athletic scholarship to Georgetown University and also starred on the football team while establishing several world records in the shot put.

As the nation’s top thrower, Blozis set his sights on winning gold in the Olympics. Worldwide conflict, however, would lead to the cancellation of both the 1940 and 1944 games. He made several attempts to enlist but was turned away due to height restrictions. Instead, the multi-talented sportsman signed with the Giants and enjoyed immediate success in the NFL as an All-Pro defensive end.

He eventually convinced Army officials to lift their size ban and reported to Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. There, the modern-day Hercules added to his legend by tossing a grenade nearly 95 yards. Before shipping out to Europe, Blozis joined his Giant teammates in the 1944 NFL Championship against the Green Bay Packers at the Polo Grounds. It would be the last game he ever played.

The Army assigned him to the 110th Regiment, 28th Infantry Division, near the Vosges Mountains in France’s Alsace region. During an evening snowstorm on January 31, 1945, Lt. Blozis went looking for two soldiers from his platoon after the men had failed to return from a scouting mission earlier in the day. Despite facing a well-entrenched enemy, pitch-black darkness, and freezing conditions, he set out alone to find them. The towering champion never returned and was later declared KIA.

A simple white cross memorializes 1st Lt. Al Blozis at the Lorraine American Cemetery in Saint -Avold, France. The serene, lush grounds of Europe’s largest US WWII cemetery sits peacefully in a region now known as the Grand Est (The Big East) — a fitting tribute to a true American hero.

2. Bird is the Word

When news broke in 2009 that former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher, Mark “The Bird” Fidrych had died in a farming accident, the sporting world mourned the loss of one of its most unforgettable characters. His brief, injury-prone career lasted only five years, but his first year in the Bigs is the stuff of legend.

The year is 1976. Rocky tops at the box office. The American bi-centennial is on full display everywhere. And a gawky right-handed pitcher for the Detroit Tigers became an overnight sensation en route to winning Rookie of the Year. His triumphs on the mound and boyish charm made him a massive fan favorite, a budding superstar who freely admitted that if it weren’t for baseball, he’d be pumping gas back home in Northborough, Massachusetts.

With long, shaggy hair, the free-spirited hurler thrilled the Motor City with his quirky on-field theatrics that included talking to the ball during games. During one remarkable stretch, he won back-to-back 11-inning, complete-game victories. Astonishing. He was later named the American League’s starting pitcher in the All-Star Game and finished the season 19-9.

In 1977, he started the season strong and appeared poised to continue his success until experiencing the first of several arm injuries. An un-diagnosed tear to his rotator cuff would ultimately derail his promising MLB career that ended in 1980.

Fidrych then retired to Northborough, where he and his wife raised a family on their 107-acre farm. Over the years, he occasionally appeared at old-timers games in Detroit, but preferred his quiet, rural lifestyle and being just another blue-collar worker, husband, and father.

Perhaps more than any other sport, baseball is heavily steeped in nostalgia and enduring memories that slowly fade but manage to endure the test of time. That said, true aficionados will never forget that magical summer of ’76 and still hear the crowd’s echoes, chanting “We Want The Bird, We Want The Bird.”

1. Non Stop Go-Gos

The eponymously titled 2020 documentary, The Go-Gos, explores the rise and fall of the first chart-topping, all-female band to write their own songs and play their own instruments. While informative and engaging, interspersing old footage with recent interviews by all the band members, the presentation is missing a crucial element that only a feature film could properly deliver: drama. And more specifically, the topsy turvy rollercoaster ride of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll taken by these legendary ladies.

The story opens in the late ’70s in LA, where a teenaged girl named “Dottie Danger” aspires to be a singer in a punk rock band. She later meets a few other like-minded gals and starts gigging in local seedy bars and clubs. While hanging out at the infamous ‘Rock and Roll Denny’s’ on Sunset Blvd., the group settled on the name “The Go-Gos” and soon broke away from their punky persona to a more radio-friendly, power-pop sound.

Belinda Carlisle, having ditched “Dottie” for her real name, now fronted the new lineup, featuring Jane Wiedlin, Kathy Valentine, Gina Schock, and Charlotte Caffey. After signing to a major record label, the band released their debut album in 1981, Beauty and the Beat. Hit singles followed, including “We Got The Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed” — both smash hits that helped propel the album to number one.

Shortly afterward, the real fireworks began. Fame and boodles of money quickly led to non-stop partying and lurking troubles. While cocaine was clearly the drug of choice for Carlisle and the others, lead guitarist Caffrey developed a crippling heroin addiction. Nonetheless, the band managed to soldier on, selling-out arenas worldwide to frenzied crowds. Along the way, Carlisle also became romantically involved with the LA Dodgers’ first baseman, Mike Marshall. Home run!

But alas, what goes up must come down. The band’s third album, Talk Show, underperformed as the band slowly imploded (aka “creative differences”). By 1985, nasty in-fighting fuelled by jealousy and increased drug abuse eventually took its toll, and the Go-Gos called it quits and went their separate ways.

Carlisle would have a successful solo career despite continually powdering her nose for nearly 30 years. Incredibly, she even took part in a late 1980s anti-drug commercial — which is kinda like a pathological lying narcissist making a public service announcement about the virtues of honesty and humility.

Fortunately, the story does get a Hollywood ending. The group later buried the hatchet and got back together to perform and record new material. Also, Head Over Heels, a musical featuring the songs of the Go-Go’s, enjoyed a recent successful run on Broadway at the Hudson Theatre.


You Oughta Be a Picture

WIF @ the Movies

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 174

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 174

…“I wanted to drag the spiteful twerp from the car and kick his butt all the way home, but my father took me aside and told me to take the high road…

Take the High Road | by nixter

Candidate Crippen launches into a spontaneous analogy.

“I had/haven’t seen my cousin Harold for a while, a nasty spoiled city boy who came to visit my family’s house one summer. Now I had a large collection of plastic handmade models, the kind with a thousand little pieces that you glue together. There were nuclear carriers, supersonic jets, and yes, even an old Space Shuttle docking with the ISS (International Space Station) and this shirttail relative wanted to take some home with him. Well I had worked way too hard on this display to break up the collection, so I told him no.

“When it was time for him to leave, while I loaded his suitcases into my dad’s car to take him to the airport, it turns out he loaded programmable firecrackers into many of them and they were blown to bits after he was safely locked inside the car.

“I wanted to drag the spiteful twerp from the car and kick his ass all the way home, but my father took me aside and told me to take the high road. He knew the boy’s parents and how they would never believe that their dear little blankety-blank would never do such a thing.

“That very same cousin called me not long ago to apologize, telling me that he appreciated the way we handled the situation and he never did another mean thing the rest of his life.”

“That’s an interesting analogy Mr. Crippen,” the young woman compliments. But did she make the intellectual connection between Harold Ivey and the United Korean Peninsula?

“Thank you and,” Roy stares directly into the biggest camera in the lot, “if you are watching Harold Ivey, you and your family are welcomed to visit me in the White House!”

The captivated sidewalk audience goes wild. Once again his down home style comes in handy, making Freelove’s clichéd rhetoric appear petty and small. He shakes hundreds of hands on the 20 foot walk into Chicago’s first and only gambling establishment.

Francine, who 20 years ago could have been that overly aggressive reporter, could not resist asking, “Was that story for real?”

“Every word,” he shoots back.

All she can do is shake her head, “I love you Roy Crippen.”


THE RETURN TRIP

True Story by Tim Hussey

Episode 174


page 165

A Pessimist’s View of Ancient Legends – WIF Myths and Legends

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Ancient Places

of Legend

That May

Never Existed

History books tell us of ancient places with amazing architecture, and world wonders long past. Archaeological discovery has learned much about the world before us. The idea of many of these locations has inspired imaginations for many years. However, the truth is that history gets distorted over time both through constant re-telling and sometimes through historical records that were actually just fanciful stories written after the fact. Many of the most famous locations may not have existed at all. Many of those that did, were much different than most people usually imagine.

The Holy Bible is a source of stories that Believers will never dismiss as fiction.

10. The Legend of El Dorado Didn’t Start Out About a City

The City of El Dorado, also known as the City of Gold, was popularized in myth. Fairly recently, it was retold in a very shiny and colorful Disney movie. The myth claims that there was a city of gold, told of by the South American natives. Many explorers went searching for it in the hopes of finding amazing riches. However, the original legend was actually about a person, not a city. It morphed into a city that needed to be searched for, because many of the natives were happy to lead the explorers on a wild chase.

The original legend told of an ancient leader who was so rich, that every morning he would be doused in gold dust. Then every evening, he would bathe in sacred waters, washing the dust off again. This was an example of his absolutely ridiculous wealth. However, while the legend is based on this, it isn’t actually true either. Archaeologists have discovered that the original story began because of the Musica people who would perform a similar ritual when anointing a new king. But they certainly weren’t wasting that kind of gold every day. It was for very special occasions.

9. The City of Troy May Not Be At All Like People Think

The City of Troy has captured people’s imaginations ever since The Iliad and The Odyssey. More recently, there have been very visually stunning movies that have helped rekindle modern interest in the ancient city. Many people assume the city and the famous siege that took place may have been similar to how it was described in Homer’s work, or in the movies. But the issue of Troy is extremely complicated.

To begin with, much of Homer’s original work that would complete the two famous stories is missing, and may never be found. This makes it difficult to understand how much of his work was fact, and how much was fiction. Also, for some time historians weren’t sure the city of Troy existed at all. Now they have found an archaeological site that they believe may contain the city, but that has only made the problem even more complicated. The site has several layers built on top of each other, which means that even if Troy was once there, figuring out which layer was the Troy described in Homer’s epic would be incredibly difficult.

Archaeologists also have good reason to believe at this point that the siege described in Homer’s work actually took place over the course of many years. There also may have actually been more than one siege, of more than one Troy, over the course of history — all on the same spot. For this reason, trying to get a historically accurate picture of Troy may be next to impossible.

8. The Lost City of Atlantis Was Probably a Myth, Or Just a Regular Destroyed Island

The Lost City of Atlantis has been popularized in myth for millennia. The idea of a lost city of prosperous people, who perhaps had interesting knowledge or technology is a fascinating idea. Some myths even go so far as to suggest that the people of Atlantis somehow continued to survive underneath the ocean. Wilder myths even suggest they are responsible for the Bermuda triangle — bringing down anything that gets too close to the truth of their hidden existence.

However, in all likelihood if Atlantis did exist, it was just an ordinary island struck by natural disaster. The first references to such a place were in an allegory by Plato about the suddenness that something could disappear, and about the hubris of not being prepared for danger. Many people are convinced this is the truth, and that there was no Atlantis. But, people often write about what they know. There is evidence that a prosperous island fairly near Plato was swallowed up almost instantly by a volcano, so he could have been making a reference to that event. Either way, there was nothing particularly special about the city Plato was referencing.

7. The Fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon Were Probably Not That Advanced

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are one of the wonders of the ancient world. They also probably never existed at all. Many people have an idea from artwork of a huge city of mostly sandstone, with beautiful terraced gardens throughout, despite being in the middle of the desert. It certainly captures the imagination, but the first references to such a place were not written until hundreds of years after the city of Babylon was gone, greatly calling into doubt their existence.

The site of Babylon was only recently found, and wasn’t exactly where archaeologists expected, either. It turns out it was closer to a neighboring city known as Nineveh. The people of Nineveh had taken over the Babylonian culture through war. But they liked to assimilate the enemies’ names into their own cities, making archaeological identification difficult at first.

Archaeologists have not yet been able to prove the existence of any kind of hanging gardens or super advanced irrigation system. But even if they had, it wouldn’t have been that impressive to begin with. It turns out that the actual site of Babylon is not particularly arid, and would be quite useable for growing vegetation.

6. The Bermuda Triangle Is A Modern Myth, Not An Ancient Danger For Mariners

The Bermuda Triangle is a place that will cause many people to short circuit the logic part of their brain. They’ll start talking about the silliest paranoid conspiracy theories imaginable. Nearly everyone knows a mysterious story or two about the area. While most people would agree it is a natural phenomenon, the average person is convinced that something is going on there.

However, the truth is that there is no such thing as the Bermuda Triangle in the first place. What we mean by this is that there is no map in the world that has ever considered that particular region to be anything special to avoid or not. The entire idea of the triangle was made up by folklore.

Statistics show that there are no more accidents or disappearances of boats and planes in the triangle than anywhere else in the ocean. In other words, you could draw a triangle anywhere in the ocean and you would be just as likely to find a similar set of mysterious disappearances. This is because weather can cause ships and boats to go under, and the ocean is incredibly vast. Any part of the ocean can be dangerous. But there’s no evidence that particular area is any more dangerous than any other.

5. The Garden Of Eden Was Probably Philosophical, Not Physical

The Garden of Eden is a subject that has caused some controversy for many years. Certain Christians are convinced that the Garden of Eden was once a physical location somewhere on the globe, and have done a lot of research to suggest various possible locations. Most of them are somewhere in the Middle East, fairly near the locations mentioned in the early days of the bible.

Interestingly though, the Jewish faith never believed in the Garden of Eden as a physical place to begin with, but as a state of being. When men were first created, in their view, they were in a state of perfect harmony. The sin of man broke that harmony and they were no longer in the Garden of Eden, but harshly viewing the world as it actually was — alone, in the desert to fend for themselves. Many Christian scholars have increasingly taken up a similar viewpoint over the years.

4. The Tower of Babel was Probably Just an Unfinished Building

The legend in the bible says that after the great flood, many people who spoke the same language came together and arrogantly forgot about God. They planned to build a tower to reach the heavens. Partway through their building, God struck them with confusion. Now, they had many languages, and they scattered across the globe. Some people dismiss the entire thing as just a story, and some people have looked for archaeological evidence. The truth is a little more complicated.

There is no evidence to support the biblical story itself. However, there is evidence of a great Ziggurat that could fit the description of the tower that existed in the Babylonian Empire while the Hebrews were their slaves. The Ziggurat was unfinished during that time. Despite being quite grand, multiple attempts had been made to finish it. Some historians believe that the Jewish writers of the time, looking for allegories to teach important lessons, were inspired by the unfinished Ziggurat nearby.

3. Ponce De Leon was Probably Never Actually Searching for a Fountain Of Youth

We already know there was no actual fountain of youth. The idea of a magical fountain that could restore the vitality to anyone who bathed in it is quite ridiculous. However, while no one today really believes the story, some assume that the people of a few hundred years ago would have been stupid enough to believe it.

The legends claim that Ponce De Leon wasted years of his time in Florida searching for this mythical fountain. A fountain, it turned out, that was a trick allegedly played on him by the natives. However, there is no evidence in his writings he was searching for any such thing. The only source for his alleged search was a fanciful account written by a suspect source, trying to gain political favor with his views. It is more than likely the entire legend was a complete fabrication from beginning to end.

2. Jericho Was Probably Just Built on a Fault Line

Many people have heard the story of the fabled Wall of Jericho. Jericho was an ancient city in biblical days, held under siege. God was to help bring down the city, but needed the help of His chosen. The army was to blow their trumpets and march around the city continuously, and He would bring the city walls down for them. After several days, the walls came down, and the people of God were victorious.

Now, while the city of Jericho was real, many historians believe this story was far stranger than many people first realized. The city was actually in an area that would have been prone to earthquake activity. With armies using up nearby waters during a siege, it could increase the risk. Some historians would say that the army got lucky. Or, that someone knew the earthquake activity in the area and hoped to use it to their advantage. Believers would suggest that perhaps God chose that moment to activate an earthquake along that particular fault-line. No one will ever know.

1. Roswell is Really Just Home to an Old, Unused Air Force Base

We know the military presence at Roswell was hardly anything ancient. But with the belief many people have in ancient aliens, and their connection to Area 51 and the US government, it brings the entire thing full circle. Now, we aren’t saying that the town of Roswell, New Mexico doesn’t exist. But we are saying that there is a lot of confusion over what exactly Roswell is. Most people know that it’s the town where there was an alleged crash of a UFO. The Air Force would later claim it was just a weather balloon. Over time, most secret government projects have been associated with Area 51. Somehow the two places — Roswell and Area 51 — have often become conflated in the popular mindset.

While there was an Air Force Base located at Roswell, it has not been functioning for many years now. And it was never used for highly secret projects. In fact, Walker Air Force Base was a fairly generic and unimportant military post. When budget cuts came near the end of Vietnam, it was one of the first bases to close up shop. There’s a museum celebrating the legacy of the base, but what is left now serves commercial purposes. And no, there are no aliens there.


A Pessimist’s View of Ancient Legends

WIF Myth and Legend

Chance Fluke Luck Quirk Random – Historical Coincidences

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Bizarre

Historical

Coincidences

Given how many humans have existed in the world and how many events and incidents, both big and small, happen every day, history is littered with examples of strange coincidences. But the ones we will be looking at today are so unusual that they strain credulity and, should they have come from the pages of a book, they would have been deemed contrived or unbelievable.

10. Poe’s Tale of Cannibalism

At one point, the ship wrecks during a storm and only four men survive and are washed ashore. With no food whatsoever, after a few days they resort to the most drastic solution – cannibalism. They draw straws and the unlucky one is a young man named Richard Parker who is killed and eaten.

At first, this would seem like a straightforward, albeit grisly story. But then we move forward 46 years and something strange happens. In 1884, a yacht called the Mignonette left England headed for Sydney, Australia. Carrying four men, it also shipwrecked and left the seafarers stranded with no food. As a last resort, they also cannibalized one of their own – a 17-year-old named Richard Parker. The only main difference was that the survivors saw no need to draw straws as the real-life Parker had fallen ill after drinking seawater and was considered a goner.

Eerie coincidences aside, the case that followed after the remaining men were rescued and arrested for murder represented a landmark ruling in English law. It stated that necessity does not excuse murder, meaning you cannot kill someone else to save your own life.

9. Where the War Began and Ended

On July 21, 1861, the First Battle of Bull Run marked the first major engagement in the American Civil War. Of course, the war was horrible for many people, but it was a particularly strange inconvenience for one wholesale grocer named Wilmer McLean. He lived on a plantation near Manassas, Virginia, and the Bull Run River passed right through his land. In fact, most of the battle took place on his property and the Confederate leader, General P.G.T. Beauregard even commandeered McLean’s house to use as his headquarters.

Obviously, McLean and his family couldn’t live in the middle of a war so they relocated. A few years later, they were residing in a house near a village called Appomattox Court House. As it happens, that is where the last battle of the Civil War took place. Afterwards, Confederate General Robert E. Lee officially surrendered to Union leader Ulysses S. Grant. And he did it in the parlor of Wilmer McLean’s new home.

The McLeans later moved back to their previous estate and simply abandoned the house in Appomattox County. They also defaulted on the loans they took out to buy it so “Surrender House”, as it came to be known, was confiscated and sold at auction. Today, it operates as a museum and it is a designated National Historical Monument.

As for Wilmer McLean, he liked to say that the Civil War “began in his front yard and ended in his front parlor.”

8. The Curse of Tecumseh

Ever since 1840, American presidents have died according to a pattern which is remarkable enough that people have ascribed it to a curse. Every president who is elected in a year ending in 0 (something which happens every two decades) is fated to die in office.

First was William Henry Harrison. Elected in 1840, he died of pneumonia a month after being sworn in. Then, in 1860 came Abraham Lincoln, and we all know how that ended. In 1880, James Garfield was elected president and he was also assassinated by a man named Charles Guiteau.

William McKinley might have escaped this alleged curse if he stuck at just one term. Alas, in 1900 he was elected president to his second term, and a year later, he was shot and killed by an anarchist. Next up was Warren G. Harding, who suffered a stroke three years after being elected in 1920. Afterwards came Franklin Roosevelt who passed away of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1945. While he did die in office, he didn’t actually die during the term which allegedly sealed his fate. And last, but not least, there was JFK, who won the 1960 election and whose assassination is all too well-known.

As you can see, seven presidents followed this extraordinary pattern. Many see it for what it probably is – a series of incredible coincidences, but others claim it is a curse placed originally on William Henry Harrison by Tecumseh, leader of the Shawnee people, for the former’s role in Tecumseh’s Rebellion.

Ronald Reagan would have been next in line. He was elected in 1980 and, although someone did try to kill him, he survived his injuries and died of old age decades after he left office. Even if the curse was real, it appears that he broke it.

7. The Church Explosion

At 7:25 p.m., March 1, 1950, the West Side Baptist Church in Beatrice, Nebraska, exploded due to a natural gas leak ignited by the fire from the furnace. It was a Wednesday and every Wednesday at 7:20 p.m. sharp, the church choir gathered there to practice. People were expecting the worst as they approached the smoking rubble, but it soon became apparent that nobody had been injured in the blast. Even though the choir director was very strict about tardiness, on this particular night, none of the 15 choir members arrived on time.

It wasn’t one single thing that caused the delays, either, but rather a series of minor occurrences that detained each person enough to evade the deadly blast. The reverend and his family, for example, were late because his wife had to iron a dress at the last moment. Two sisters both had car trouble. Two high school girls wanted to finish listening to a radio program, while another student was struggling with her geometry homework. The pianist fell asleep after dinner. A man was late because he wanted to finish writing a letter he kept putting off, while one woman was simply feeling lazy because it was cold outside and her home was warm and cozy.

And so went all the other excuses. Unsurprisingly, given the nature of the circumstances, some people considered it divine intervention.

6. Right Place, Right Time

Joseph Figlock became a hero of Detroit due to a bizarre series of events that happened over the course of a year. One morning in 1937, Figlock was at his job as a street sweeper when he was struck by something that landed on his head and shoulders. That “something” was a baby girl who fell out a four-story window. Because Figlock broke her fall, the infant survived her drop that, otherwise, would have almost surely been fatal.

A year later, the street sweeper was back at his job when he was, again, hit by a falling object. And you guessed it – it was another baby. This time, it was 2-year-old David Thomas who also fell out of his window on the fourth floor. This baby did sustain some injuries but, once more, had escaped certain doom thanks to Joseph Figlock being in the right place, at the right time.

5. Miss Unsinkable

Violet Jessop was born in Argentina to Irish immigrants in 1887. When she turned 21, she found work as a ship stewardess and, in 1911, secured a position aboard the RMS Olympic, the first of the Olympic-class ocean liners built by the White Star Line at the start of the century.

At the time, these were the largest, most luxurious ships in the world. Jessop was probably thrilled with her new job but, pretty soon, she might have reconsidered her fortunes. In September 1911, Jessop was onboard the Olympic when it collided with a warship called the HMS Hawke. The collision wasn’t too bad and the ocean liner managed to make it to port without any fatalities.

This incident didn’t deter Jessop from continuing her career as a stewardess. Although she was content aboard the Olympic, her friends persuaded her that it would make for a much more exciting experience to work aboard the White Star Line’s new ocean liner. After all, this vessel was proclaimed to be “unsinkable” and its name was the Titanic.

You already know how this went down – just four days into its maiden voyage, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank. Jessop survived the ordeal as she was lowered down into lifeboat 16 which was later picked up by the RMS Carpathia. She later recalled that, as the boat was being lowered, an officer put a baby in her lap. Later, aboard the Carpathia, a woman leaped at her, snatched the baby and ran. Jessop always assumed that was the mother, but she never saw either one of them again.

Then World War II started and Jessop served as a nurse for the British Red Cross. She worked aboard the Britannic, which was the third and last of the Olympic-class ocean liners and had been repurposed into a hospital ship. In 1916, the vessel suffered damage from a mine explosion and sank in the Aegean Sea. For the third time in five years, Violet Jessop had survived a shipwreck, retroactively earning her the nickname “Miss Unsinkable.”

4. The Opposing Graves

Just outside the Belgian town of Mons sits the St. Symphorien Military Cemetery which serves as the final resting place for over 500 soldiers who died in the First World War.

Many of these men perished in the Battle of Mons which took place on August 23, 1914, and is considered to be the first major action of the British army in the war. One of these men, however, died a little earlier. John Parr was a private who was born in London and lied about his age so he could enlist. He served as a reconnaissance cyclist and scouted the area ahead of his battalion. However, he was gunned down by enemy fire and died on August 21, at only 17 years of age. He is generally considered to be the first British serviceman killed in action during the First World War.

His grave is at St. Symphorien and opposite of it, just a few yards away, is the grave of Private George Ellison. He died years later on November 11, 1918. This date is significant because it is, in fact, the day that Germany and the Allies signed an armistice, bringing an end to the war. George Ellison was killed just 90 minutes before peace was declared, thus giving him the unfortunate distinction of being the last British soldier killed in the war.

These two graves face each other, although this was done completely unintentionally as nobody was aware of their “first” and “last” positions when they were buried.

3. Death at Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam was one of the greatest, most ambitious engineering projects of its day, but it came with a heavy price as a lot of people died during construction.

Exactly how many is a matter of debate. Officially, the death toll was 96, but historians argue that the real number would be much higher because the official version didn’t take into account workers who died off-site of construction-related injuries or illnesses. An inquiry by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation increased the number to 213 deaths between 1921 and 1935.

The first fatality was a surveyor named John Gregory Tierney who drowned in the Colorado River on December 20, 1921, after he got caught in a flash flood. Technically, another worker named Harold Connelly died first, but his demise was completely unconnected with the project as he drowned in the river when he went swimming.

Here is the truly tragic part – the last fatality registered during construction of the Hoover Dam occurred on December 20, 1935, exactly 14 years to the day after Tierney drowned, when a 25-year-old electrician’s helper plummeted 320 feet from one of the intake towers. That man was Patrick Tierney, the surveyor’s son.

2. The King and His Double

Some say that we all have a doppelganger somewhere in the world, a person who isn’t related to us in any way but they look just like us. King Umberto I of Italy found his doppelganger in 1900 when he went to eat at a little restaurant in Monza. He discovered that the proprietor looked almost exactly like him but, more than that, they had been born on the same day.

At this point, you would think this was more a case of twins separated at birth, but the coincidences did not stop there. Both men had married women named Margherita and had sons named Vittorio. Moreover, the restaurant owner had opened his establishment the day of King Umberto’s coronation.

Shocked to his core by these revelations, the king invited his doppelganger or long-lost twin to an event taking place the next day. Sadly, neither one made it. The next morning, the restaurateur was killed under unexplained conditions. Just hours later, when King Umberto found out about his demise, he was assassinated by an anarchist named Gaetano Bresci.

1. The Writer and the Comet

The life of American writer Mark Twain has been inexorably linked to the passing of Halley’s Comet from beginning to end.

This famous comet visits us every 75 to 76 years. It will next be visible in 2061, but a noteworthy appearance happened in November 1835. Just two weeks after its perihelion (meaning the point of its orbit which is closest to the Sun), Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri. He would go on to adopt the pen name Mark Twain and become America’s most celebrated author.

Throughout his life, Twain took a keen interest in science and he was well-aware of his connection to Halley’s Comet. In the early 20th century, the writer was getting on in years and knew that the end was near. However, he also knew that the comet was due to pass by Earth again soon, and he was convinced that he would not die before that happened. As he put it: “Now there are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.”

He could not have been more right. Mark Twain died on April 21, 1910, just one day after Halley’s Comet reached its perihelion.


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Historical Coincidences

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #250

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #250

…And just think, Sara, Sherlock Holmes had his Doctor Watson, Constance Caraway has her Fanny Renwick!…

Meanwhile Caption-001“I think you are taking a huge gamble, Lyn. Even if you change the setting from Tallahassee to Timbuktu, someone around here will surely figure it out,” Sara Fenwick warns her partner, who has been researching the possibility of using the death of Laura Bell/Princess Olla as the subject of her next novel.

“A story like this begs to be told, Sara, besides that, it is time I take on a serious subject. And it is also a way to portray a female heroine in a positive light. I want, Constance Caraway – Private Eye, to be the first of a series of crime/mystery books.” Carolyn Hanes has chosen a career path based on the loyalty of her readership. Which is well and good, but she has tackled one sensitive storyline for Constance Caraway’s first-told case. “And just think, Sara, Sherlock Holmes had his Doctor Watson, Constance Caraway has her Fanny Renwick!”

“Yeah, sure, an eccentric photographer with a knack for identifying suspects from witness descriptions and stray hairs.”  Sara has not been wild about her being a rough model for one of Lyn’s main characters. At least in this case, Fanny is not a seamstress. And I was wondering whether the name “Fanny” has anything to do with my bottom.” She twists her torso to view her backside, not quite as firm and high as it once was.

“Oh, sweetie, you know that a good character is really a combination of more than one person. I only give Fanny the best of your ass—ets,” she barbs.

“You and your words! I wish my needles were that sharp!”

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Carolyn Hanes is the daughter of author, Emerson Hough, who wrote many stories about the American West. He was a bit of a crusader in his own right, largely responsible for saving the shrinking buffalo population in Yellowstone National Park. Before dying, while Lyn and Sara were in Europe on holiday, which haunts her to this day, he had planted the seeds of creativity deep inside his precious little girl.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #250


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