Total Pageviews

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Writer's Life 12/1 - Oddities

Here's a fun list of historical oddities compiled in an article by Jamie Frater, founder of, edited to half its original length by yours truly:
In 1900 Maria Salome, 20, made her grand debut as the first female bullfighter. She became incredibly popular and acclaimed. Soon the Spanish government deemed it immoral for a woman to be a bullfighter and outlawed it. Undeterred, Maria pulled off her wig and announced she was a man, Agustin Rodigriquez. The announcement backfired. Spaniards hated him for the ruse. It ended his career.
When Pope Paul VI died in 1978, it was the beginning of the year of three Popes. Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I, followed. 33 days later he died, apparently of a heart attack. An autopsy was not performed. Since then conspiracy theories have abounded. Many believe he was murdered either by communists or Freemasons who had infiltrated the Church at its highest echelons. Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola were influenced by the events while writing the screenplay for The Godfather III (1990)
Speaking of strange deaths, in 1979 a 58 year old man and his 53 year old wife died from spending too much time in their hot tub. Both suffered from high blood pressure. They fell asleep after drinking heavily. The autopsy revealed they died of a combination of heart disease and alcohol poisoning.
In 1821 the Ottoman empire occupied Greece. In the middle of a battle the Turks ran out of bullets and proposed to destroy the Acropolis to use the lead cores of its columns to make ammunition. When the Greeks got wind of this they gathered up their bullets and sent them to the Turks to use against themselves. Unfortunately, this has never been verified.
Rebecca Yorke, an English medium, was the last person convicted under the Witchcraft Act of 1735. She was arrested in 1944 and found guilty of being a witch because of claims she was defrauding the public by exploiting wartime fears. During seances, agents fed Yorke false names. Naturally, she provided elaborate details on their fate. She was convicted, fined five pounds and forced to make a pledge to cease and desist.
On May 19, 1780 an unusual darkening of the day sky was observed over New England and parts of Canada. It is believed to have been caused by a combination of smoke from forest fires, a thick fog and cloud cover. The darkness was so complete that candles were required from noon on. It did not disperse until the middle of the next night. Several days before, the sun appeared to be red and the sky yellow. Soot collected in rivers and in puddles. The moon appeared red.
Chief Mkwawa, a tribal leader in German East Africa (now mostly the mainland part of Tanzania), opposed colonization. He conducted guerrilla warfare, harassing the Germans until 1898, when he was surrounded. He shot himself rather than be captured. The Germans removed his head as a trophy and sent his skull to a museum. Years later the British wanted it as a thank you gift to Tanganyika for their support during the WWI and even had it stipulated in a clause of the Treaty of Versailles. The skull was returned in 1954 and can now be seen in a memorial museum in Kalenga.
Cleopatra bathed in donkey’s milk, Mary Queen of Scots in wine, George Sand in cows milk and honey, and Isabeau of France in asses’ milk, which she followed with a rubdown of her skin with crocodile glands and the brains of boars. For thousands of years women slowly poisoned themselves by wearing makeup called ceruse, a lead powder. They also used rouge that contained mercury, which led to birth defects and miscarriages.

I brought out Christmas-themed books for the first time today, and four of them sold. My thanks to the buyers. The oddest sale of the day went to a Hacidic gentleman looking for a Kosher deli. He bought Body Parts by Tan Ooi Boon, non-fiction about a British psycho who murdered as he traveled. The highlight of the session was a visit from Andu, a Romanian artist in his 20's who has had mental issues. He brought me a photo-sized picture of one of his works, which he printed from his PC. I was unable to find the exact one online, but the one below is very similar. The kid is talented. May he have a long, prosperous career in the field.

No comments:

Post a Comment