Sunday, April 17, 2016

On this date, April 17...

On this date, April 17, in history:

In 1397, Geoffrey Chaucer recited The Canterbury Tales for the first time at King Richard II's court. By all reports, the looks on the faces of the courtiers were pryceless.

In 1524, explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano reached New York harbor, and was amazed to find a bridge named after him.

In 1555, after enduring 18 months of war, Siena surrendered to the Florentine army and quickly became a rarely-used Crayon color.

In 1861, Virginia seceded from the United States. A century later its battle slogan, "You've come a long way, baby," was used to sell cigarettes.

In 1897, a UFO crash was reported in Aurora, Texas. The craft was reportedly "cigar-shaped," and it's occupant described as a "Martian." The fact that in recent years Aurora had endured a fire, deaths by spotted fever, and a railroad stopping 27 miles short of reaching the town, should not in any way be factored in to the idea that this was a publicity stunt aimed at reversing the town's dwindling fortunes.

In 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the historic case "Lochner vs. New York," which proved that the "right to free contract" was implicit in the 14th amendment's "due process" clause, and I've lost you already.

In 1937, Daffy Duck made his first appearance on film, in "Porky's Duck Hunt." In it, Daffy ate an electric eel and turned into a lightning bolt, and also did his soon-to-be-signature crazy dance. Inexplicably, despite the fact that drunken fish commandeer a boat and sing "On Moonlight Bay," it did not win an Oscar.

In 1945, Brazilian troops captured the town of Montese, Italy back from Nazi troops by waxing them to within an inch of their lives.

In 1961, Cuban exiles trained by the CIA attempted to oust Fidel Castro by invading Cuba via the Bay of Pigs, completely overlooking Cuba's prettier-named Bay of Buena Vista. Proof again that sometimes giving a little heads-up to the P.R. department beforehand can make all the difference.

In 1964, Jerrie Mock became the first woman to circumnavigate the world in a plane, without once having to hand peanuts to a drunk insurance salesman.

Also in 1964, the Ford Mustang came on the market, single-handedly derailing abstinence-only sex education nationwide.

Oh, and Happy Kamada Ekadashi! It's a Hindu holy day. But you knew that.

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