Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Today in Huh?story - April 18

April 18, 1480 - Birth of Lucrezia Borgia
Happy 532nd birthday to the illegitimate daughter of the future Pope Alexander VI. Two types of people from the Renaissance are remembered today, fabulous artists and jerks. The Borgias were a noted family of Renaissance creeps. How creepy were the Borgias? Machiavelli based a lot of his writings on them in action. Lucrezia was a rumored poisoner, manipulator, incestor and frowny portrait-sitter (see Cersei, Game of Thrones). Of course, none of that is proven (except for the frowny portraits). Just as likely, Lucrezia ran with a really bitchy clique during junior high, had a falling out with Tiffany of Aragorn (who had just gotten her period), and next thing you know, centuries of infamy. Lucrezia would go on to crank out eight known kids, and maybe as many as eleven. Plus, she’s also thought to have had at least four miscarriages. On her deathbed at age 39: “Oh, I’m the asshole? Sure, I’m the asshole.”

I knew at least three Lucrezias (various spellings) during my school years. None were papal bastards...that I know of! High five!
April 18, 1831 - University of Alabama founded
A punchline that writes itself. Alabama football fans insist that they won the national title the very next year, even though the first game of intercollegiate football wasn’t played until 1869. Forrest Gump returned kicks for the championship team of 1832. Jim Nabors reigns as Alabama’s best and most representative graduate.
April 18, 1906 - San Francisco earthquake of 1906
The least fabulous moment in the history of our country’s most fabulous city. One of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, the earthquake and subsequent fire also marked San Francisco’s transition from the Mos Eisley of the American West to the slightly more gentrified Mos Eisley of the American West.
Fires were much harder to put out during the Sepia Times. Goddamn seagulls!
(Disclosure: My mother, who passed on the carsick-gene to me, once went on a limo tour of San Francisco and surrounding environs, became nauseated, puked the red raspberries she’d had for breakfast onto the back tire and wheel well of a bright white BMW in a parking lot, then immediately bought and ate a veggie burger with all the fixins from a street vendor to replenish her strength, and later called me that day to brag (I guess?) about the experience. That’s carsickness in a nutshell. Our family doesn’t blame the city. Anymore.)
April 18, 1955 - Death of Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein of nerd-dorm-room-poster fame, probably best known for his fuck-you hairstyle, also dabbled in maths.
He invented nucular bombs, time travel, warp speed ahead and the Jew Fu fighting system that became known as Krav Maga, which he used to kill Hitler after teleporting into his bunker. Einstein’s landmark 1905 paper on Brownian motion remains humankind’s greatest achievement in poop jokes.
April 18, 1980 - Republic of Zimbabwe comes into being
Happy Birthday, Zimbabwe. But an Evite to meet for tapas, then karaoke, that included 18 other countries? And every damn one of them is going to try to pay for their part of the bill with a credit card? And Tanzania is going to be all, "I didn't really drink anything and I don't have a job right now." Jesus. Look, nobody gives a shit about your 32nd birthday, Zimbabwe. How about you wait until you’re 40, then we will let you know about the party.

As part of its transition from British colonial, white-dominated minority rule to majority rule and internationally recognized independence, Rhodesia agreed to change its name to Zimbabwe. In exchange, the outgoing white minority got the naming rights to their signature breed of dog. Thus, the Zimbabwean Zipperspine became the Rhodesian Ridgeback (in the Karanga dialect of Shona, “Zimbabwe” translates to “nature’s most pesky cowlick”). To this day, if you question them about the trade-off, both parties will quickly respond, “Totally worth it.” But you can tell Zimbabweans still miss that dog.
(Disclosure: During my early 20s, my best friend had a Zipperspine named Allie. She was a big fan of second-hand marijuana smoke, looking perplexed and sleeping in chairs that appeared comically too small for her. One of my all time favorite dogs.)

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