12 Trivia Tidbits for Your Thursday, February 8, 2024
These factoids have been steeped in tap water for five minutes, and are sufficiently slimy to really goop up all those gyri and sulci.
A 1920s Actress Was Accidentally Killed on a Smoke Break
Martha Mansfield was an up-and-coming actress when she died tragically in 1924. While in costume for a Civil War movie, someone chucked a lit match in her direction. It caught her period-appropriate, heavily-ruffled hoop skirt on fire immediately, and burned so quickly and thoroughly that she died from her injuries within a day.
A British ISIS Recruit Complained About the Organization’s Poor Queueing Etiquette
A British expat who left it all behind to join ISIS blogged that his compatriots ate like children, stole his shoes and complained that “there is no queue!“
One Theater Nerd Recited the Entire Works of Shakespeare in a Single Marathon Performance
Adrian Hilton set the world record for longest individual theater performance in 1987 when he read every known line of Shakespeare‘s work over the course of 110 hours and 46 minutes.
Henry Cyril Paget’s Perfume Exhaust
Paget was a 19th century nepo baby who spent his £8 million pound-per-year allowance in the stupidest possible ways. His crown jewel — other than the jewel-encrusted gowns and tiaras he splurged on — was a car modified to shoot perfume from the exhaust pipe.
The World War II Battle in a Canadian River
Far from all the action in Europe, German U-boats wreaked havoc up and down Canada‘s St. Lawrence River, getting as far as Montreal before the Allies finally diverted enough defense forces to fend them off.
The Cave That’ll Cure Anything From Depression to Hay Fever
The owners of Germany‘s Berchtesgaden Salt Healing Cavern claim that a three-week meditation retreat in their salt cave will improve “hay fever, depression, asthma, bronchitis, rheumatism, allergies and sleeplessness.“ It could be argued that three weeks away from all of your obligations is the true remedy.
Kilts Were Technically Invented by an Englishman
Full body coverings known as “kilts“ were worn as early as the 16th century, but it took a couple hundred years before English industrialist Thomas Rawlinson got sick of wrapping his whole body in thick cloth, and decided to just cover the important bits. No matter how you define a “kilt,“ Braveheart takes place in 1280 A.D., so Mel Gibson shouldn‘t have been wearing any type of kilt.
A Colonial Governor’s Proto-Crypto Debacle
When Bermuda was colonized in the 17th century, local workers were paid in company credit. That‘s already very predatory, but Governor Daniel Tucker managed to make things even worse. He minted and mandated a brass coin with a hog on it, and set the price at whatever he felt like at any given moment. Bermudans revolted, overthrew Tucker and instituted their own tobacco-based economy instead.
‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ Was Written for a Vampire Musical
Writer Jim Steinman sold his song “Vampires in Love“ to Columbia Records and Bonnie Tyler in the early 1980s, not expecting his little side project, Dance of the Vampires, to take off. Tyler famously released the song as “Total Eclipse of the Heart“ in 1983. According to Steinman, “If anyone listens to the lyrics, they‘re really like vampire lines. It‘s all about the darkness, the power of darkness and love‘s place in dark.“
The Medium Who Was Arrested for Hiding Fruit
Frau Anna Roth was a famous medium who claimed to be able to transport various pieces of produce from the world of the dead to the world of the living. Berlin Police infiltrated one of her seances in 1903, tackled her to the ground and found a bunch of flowers and oranges hidden in her clothes. She swore they‘d been planted there by spirits, but they sentenced her to 18 months in prison anyway.
Two Monsters Had Beef at a Supermax Prison
Serial killer Joel Rifkin and mass murderer Colin Ferguson had roommate squabbles when they were locked up together in Attica. Rifkin, who murdered around 17 women, wouldn‘t shut up while Ferguson, who killed six people on the Long Island Railroad, was on the phone. Ferguson yelled, “I wiped out six devils, and you only killed women,“ which escalated things into a physical altercation.
Pandas Were Mythical Beasts Until the 19th Century
Pandas were a huge mystery, even to local Chinese populations, until a French explorer obtained a pelt in 1869. There are no known works of Chinese art that depict a panda before the 20th century.