Yoda

“Do… or do not.  Care less, I could not.”

-Yoda, excerpt from the original draft of the Star Wars: Episode V script, circa 1978; The part of Yoda was originally earmarked to be played by an aging Marlon Brando, but after multiple readings George Lucas decided it was too gritty a take on this crucial character.  To fill the role, Lucas approached his puppeteers asking for a cross between Brando and Kermit the Frog.  I think you’ll agree they hit the nail on the head.

August 16, 1896 – What Would You Do For A Klondike… Nugget?

On August 16, 1896, George Carmack sparked the last great gold rush in the America’s when he discovered a large nugget of the metal while salmon fishing in Rabbit Creek in the Yukon Territory in Canada.  Despite the lack of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even MySpace, word of Carmack’s discovery went viral.  Over the next two years, it is estimated that over 100,000 people ventured to the Klondike to seek their fortune.  Most who were fortunate enough to return home after the rush, did so with nothing more to show from their trip than frostbitten limbs and an assortment of venereal diseases.   

For George Carmack, also known as “Lyin’ George” by his Native American companions due to his exaggerated claims, life would never be the same.  Returning to his native California at the end of the Rush with over $1 million to his name, Carmack found it difficult to lead a modest life (ironically while living in Modesto, California).  It wasn’t long before Carmack left his Native American wife and ran off with some floozy to Seattle (Seattle was apparently considered very exotic at the end of the 19th Century).  Expanding his wealth further through real estate ventures, Carmack’s lavish lifestyle became that of legend.  

It is said that shortly after the turn of the century, Carmack began insisting all visitors to his home refer to him as “King Midas”, after the legendary Greek king who could turn anything to gold with his touch.  He is also said to have created the first set of gold teeth covers (or “grills”), though the trend would not catch on for another century.  Most historians credit George Carmack for setting the example of lavish living that modern pop artists still try to emulate today.  

Even with his excessive wealth, George Carmack was never truly happy.  For years he continued to prospect for gold, hoping to recreate the excitement of the major discovery from his youth.  In June of 1922, while prospecting a new claim in the Cascade Mountains, historians believe that Carmack finally finished reading Jack London’s, Call Of The Wild, dropped everything, ran off with a pack of wolves, and was never heard from again.

Klondike

Sir Isaac Newton

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.  If I have moved faster than others, it is by sitting on the backs of unicorns.  If I end up living longer than others, it is because I’ve boobi-trapped the underside of my bed against boogie-men.”


-Sir Isaac Newton, in a letter to friend, Robert Hooke, February 15, 1676; Though a brilliant scientific mind, Sir Isaac Newton was a staunch believer in all kinds of mythical creatures.  His absurd claims annoyed his more envious friends, and he often attributed his discoveries to these outlandish encounters.  For example, Newton claimed to have thought of his First Law of Motion when he was thrown from the back of a minotaur because it stopped too quickly.  His family made up the thing about the apple falling from a tree after his death as a means of saving face.

August 7, 1959 – COL Ivan Bananapants

On August 7, 1959, the unmanned spacecraft, Explorer 6, is launched into orbit from the Atlantic Missile Range in Cape Canaveral, Florida.  Taking over 40 minutes, from a height of 17,000 miles, and at speeds in excess of 20,000 miles per hour, Explorer 6’s photocell scanners transmit back a crude picture of the planet Earth.  This photograph by a U.S. satellite is commonly regarded as the first “planetary selfie” though it was so crude it really could have been anything.

First_satellite_photo_-_Explorer_VI * First “planetary selfie”.

Not to be outdone, the then U.S.S.R. launched their new monkey piloted spacecraft, Oppression 7, a month later on the same mission.  Due to pressure from the Kremlin, Russian scientists did not have time to mount photocell scanners to their spacecraft, but instead hastily taught their monkey pilot, COL Ivan Bananapants, how to operate a common personal camera.  Upon his return to earth, COL Bananapants’ photos were reviewed, but all were found to be unusable.  Only two photographs were of the planet Earth, but Mars had photobombed both.  The remainder of the film roll were selfies of COL Bananapants making annoying duck lips.

Though initially welcomed back to the U.S.S.R. as a hero, COL Bananapants was shunned by the public and soon descended into alcoholism.  Four months later the KGB picked him up under suspicions of espionage and he spent his remaining years delousing the inmates of a Siberian hard labor camp.  Stories among inmates of the camp claim that he was haunted to his last days by his failed mission and on clear nights he would venture into the camp courtyard and throw his feces at the moon.

COL Ivan Bananapants *Only known photo of COL Bananapants.  His space selfies were destroyed to avoid humiliation.

 

Nathan Hale

“I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.  Were I a cat, I would have nine, and I’d give them all for my country.  How cooleth would that be?”

-Nathan Hale, September 22, 1776; Nathan Hale, American hero, spoke these words moments before being hanged by the British for espionage during the Revolutionary War.  Hale was survived by his brother Enoch and his 28 cats.  He had disturbing amount of cats.  This quote originally appeared in the “Patriot Cats” December 1776 issue of Cat Fancy magazine.

July 29th, 1976 – Son Of Sam’s Dog Still At Large

On July 29, 1976, the Son of Sam killer, David Berkowitz, began his terrorization of New York City, when he shot two women sitting in a car in the Bronx.  Over the next year, Berkowitz struck five more times, before an unpaid parking ticket finally led to his arrest on July 31, 1977.   After his arrest, Berkowitz claimed that his neighbor’s dog, Harvey, was to blame, as it was possessed by an ancient demon and had instructed him to commit the murders.  While Berkowitz was sentenced to 25 years to life for each of his murders, Harvey the dog got off scot-free because at the time it was still impossible to prosecute a dog in the U.S. judicial system (this was prior to “Fluffy vs. The State of California”of 1981).  Veterinary records show that Harvey continued to instruct people to commit murders over the remainder of his life, but after so much publicity no one took him seriously.

Here are a few more animal inspired crimes:

October 8, 1871 – The Great Chicago Fire; Mrs. O’leary claims a cow kicked over a lantern in the barn starting the fire.  In actuality, Mrs. O’leary had always been a bit of a pyro and the cow had just convince her that starting the fire was a good idea.

June 21, 1933 – John Dillinger robs his first bank at the insistence of his neighbors canary, Franklin.  When Franklin did not receive his promised cut of the “take” from the bank he became enraged and staged a plan to turn Dillinger in to the authorities.  Dillinger learned of the plan in advance and ate Franklin.  This is where the phrase “singing like a canary” comes from, in reference to confessing criminals.  This was left out of the historically inaccurate Johnny Depp film of 2009.

January 5, 1991 – Well before production, George Lucas’ cat, Mr. Pickles, convinced the famous Star Wars director that the character Jar Jar Binks would be a good addition to his prequels.

dog_in_jail

Franklin D. Roosevelt

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear… is fear itself… although, fascists are pretty scary too… and communists… killer bees… axe murderers… polio… organized crime… dust bowls… sharknados…”

-Franklin D. Roosevelt, circa March 1933; In this original draft of his first inaugural address, FDR went on to list over 550 things that Americans had to fear.  By the end of the rehearsal he had reduced five staff members to tears, prompting him to nix his list of examples.-

*Unfortunately, historians and Hollywood rarely recognize FDR as the originator of the “sharknado” concept.

July 26th, 1908 – The FBI is founded, then is promptly investigated by itself.

On July 26, 1908, a group of newly hired federal investigators were assigned to the Office of the Chief Examiner Stanley W. Finch of the Department of Justice, thus setting the groundwork for the future FBI.  One year later, after an extensive and expensive investigation that revealed many American’s were secretly making fun of their name behind their back, the Office of the Chief Examiner changed its name to the Bureau of Investigation, and then finally to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935.

The FBI gained much visibility in the public eye under its outspoken Director J. Edgar Hoover, who led the charge against organized crime during the prohibition era.  Those who know anything about Hoover, also know the biggest rumor about him and I’m here to tell you its true.  He was, in fact, a firm believer in the existence of Bigfoot and other mythical creatures.  Without approval from his superiors, Hoover went so far as to create a secret separate branch of the FBI to investigate these creatures called the Bureau Of Grossly Understudied Species, or B.O.G.U.S, for short.  To lead BOGUS, Hoover reached out to long time investigator and “untouchable”, Eliot Ness.  Some believe that Hoover tapped Ness for this specific assignment simply because he was suspicious that Ness might have unshared information regarding a certain Scottish monster that shared the same name.

Over the next 20 years, BOGUS produced mixed results in their investigations but were unable to produce any conclusive findings to support the existence of the “species” they were “studying”.  In 1961, the long secret organization was exposed to the public, when tourists in Yellowstone National Park caught on tape, two BOGUS Agents water-boarding a grizzly bear for information on a rumored Sasquatch in the area.  When the news broke, Hoover quickly disbanded BOGUS to avoid further public embarrassment, though it’s known today that he actually kept the agents on as private contractors and tripled their previous salaries.

Sasquatch

*Image sketched by a BOGUS Agent shortly before the Yellowstone water-boarding scandal, or Grizzly Gate, of 1961.

Alexander Graham Bell

“Watson… come here… I want to see you… bring me a large pepperoni pizza… with cheesy bread.”

-Alexander Graham Bell, March 10, 1876; the first words ever to be transmitted electronically over the phone.  Typically we see this quote without the final portion as it detracts from the importance of the event.  This was, however, the first instance of someone ordering food over the phone.  Five minutes later, Bell received the worlds first telemarketing call and was asked to consider switching his long distance service.  Distraught by the revelation of what he’d unleashed on the world, Bell was too depressed to finish his pizza and cheesy bread and was force to share with Watson, whom he had not fed for three days.-

July 19th, 1799 – Rosetta Stone And Pablo Stone Are “Found”

On July 19, 1799, the Rosetta Stone was “rediscovered” in Egypt.  Though the path it traveled over the centuries is uncertain, this ancient stone was eventually used as construction material in the building of Fort Julien, in Rashid (Rosetta), Egypt, used by the French during the Napoleonic Expeditions.  This is where the stone was rediscovered by a French Soldier and ultra-amature archeologist, Pierre Francois-Bouchard.  The stone as we know it today carries the same script repeated in three sections, in three languages: ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script, and ancient Greek.  By using the translations of the ancient Greek and Demotic text, scholars were able to translate the previously misunderstood Egyptian hieroglyphs, offering a new understanding of this ancient language and culture.

Here’s what you don’t know….

The Rosetta Stone we know today, stands a little over three feet tall.  When the stone was originally found in 1799, it stood at 5’8” and contained another section of text above the hieroglyphs, as well as some illustrations and a pretty jazzy title at the top.  The stone’s original height stood two inches taller than the expedition leader, Napoleon “Dynamite” Bonaparte.  Normally this would not have been a problem, but some insensitive French soldiers, drunk on wine and what they described as a “Rediscoverer’s High”, placed the stone next to Bonaparte’s tent door with a sign at the top reading, “You must be at least this tall to conquer Egypt.”  In a fit of understandable rage, Napoleon had the stone broken in two and the soldiers mummified.

Print The fourth section that was broke from the Rosetta stone contained a previously unknown language and fell into the possession of a Spanish stablehand named Pablo who worked on Fort Julien.  It was then smuggled back to Europe.  While the Rosetta Stone eventually fell into the hands of the British and now resides in a British museum, the Pablo Stone bounced around Europe for another 185 years.  Finally, after being won in a high stakes poker game by a newly millionaired Bill Gates, it ended up in Seattle, Washington.

Gates became increasingly fascinated with the Pablo Stone and it wasn’t long before he was able to decipher the unknown text.  Though the rest of the Rosetta Stone contains a bunch of boring dribble about a decree of a new king, the Pablo Stone, when read backwards, opened a portal to another world (presumably the same world that the aliens who built the pyramids came from).  Anyway, long story short, Gates opened the portal during what was supposed be a friendly golf game between rival billionaires in 2005, and cast the real Steve Jobs inside.  He then shut the portal and smashed the Pablo Stone for good.

What you don’t know about what you don’t know…..

The inscriptions on the Pablo Stone became the basis for Bill Gates’ ludicrously useless “Wing Dings” font on Microsoft Word.