10.2.18

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“Fnord Torus”

“A photograph can show a physical image in which time is static, and a mirror can show a physical image in which time is dynamic, but I think what he saw on the mountain was another kind of image altogether which was not physical and did not exist in time at all. It was an image nevertheless and that is why he felt recognition.”
–Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance”

Please don’t let anyone tell you this is not a special or interesting day, because really, the historical record on this one runs like a catalogue of weirdness:

1452: Richard III of England is born. He’s popularly known as a rather nasty fellow (most notably for possibly killing two young heirs to the throne), and is one of the most villainous characters in all of Shakespeare’s plays; there is also a pretty decent Vincent Price movie about him. In modern times the veracity of his bad reputation (Richard III, not Price) has been debated, most notably by the Richard III Society (who, let’s face it, probably has an interest in doing so because it’s called the Richard III Society).

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A recent reconstruction of Richard III based on his remains; has sort of a Josh Radnor from “HIMYM” thing going on.

In 2012, Richard’s remains were found under a city council car park; the inference being, that he was a complete bastard in life and deserved to be buried under a car park.

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1890: Groucho Marx, probably the most famous of the Marx Brothers comedy team, is born. He has always been emblematic of a certain type of absurdist, irreverent humor, and a number of great thinkers have found him illuminating. In 1964 he danced a Charleston on top of the bunker where Adolf Hitler committed suicide.

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Groucho Marx became buds with Alice Cooper towards the end of his life.

Marx prepared for his role in the 1968 drug freak-out movie Skidoo by taking LSD in the presence of The Realist founder/editor Paul Krassner; his most notable scene in the film is when he (Marx, not Krassner) appears as a hallucinatory image of a head on a floating rotating screw.

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1914: Occultist and literal rocket-scientist Jack Parsons is born. I think there’s some sort of show about him on the CW or something.

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1919: President Woodrow Wilson suffers an incapacitating stroke at the height of domestic and international unrest.

Those closest to Wilson—unwilling to admit that he was no longer fit for office—then pretended like he was completely fine and capable of maintaining the presidency (which he patently wasn’t), and go on to pull a sustained con-job on the American public. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

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An incapacitated President Woodrow Wilson in a staged/posed photo used to convince the public that he was OK. What actually was going on was that his wife Edith—who some call “the first female president”—was running the country behind the scenes.

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1928: The mysterious Roman Catholic organization Opus Dei (“Work of God”) is founded. Often described as “the most controversial force in the Catholic Church,” you will not be surprised to learn that it has been the subject of a number of conspiracy theories.

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Silas, the albino killer Opus Dei monk, from “The Da Vinci Code”

Said conspiracy theories were then subsequently watered-down and made palatable like a pulpy easy-to-digest paste by novelist Dan Brown in his Da Vinci Code novels; and then that stuff was regurgitated by conspiracy theorists as fact, rinse and repeat.

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1950: The first “Peanuts” cartoon is published. The comic strip, by Charles Schulz, was notable for depicting child characters with “adult” mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and sadism. The first cartoon depicts two kids, Shermy and Patty, watching a confident Charlie Brown walking down the street; Shermy calls him “Good Ol’ Charlie Brown” until Charlie passes out of earshot; then Shermy confesses to Patty that he hates him.

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In 2015, Peter Robbins, best known as the original and most iconic voice for the animated Charlie Brown, was sentenced to four years in prison for making criminal threats and allegedly hiring someone to kill a sheriff. Robbins had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

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1959: The Twilight Zone premieres on CBS with the episode “Where is Everybody?” Earl Holliman plays a man in an Air Force suit staggering into what looks like an abandoned town. After getting paranoid and screaming a lot, we find out (SPOILERS) that he was really in a sensory-deprivation unit, being tested for his suitability for spaceflight; the town was just a hallucination.

The series opened with rave critical reviews, but struggled to find a mass audience. It will have its second revival next year, with actor/director/writer Jordan Peele in the Rod Serling narrator role.

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And the plot for the 2001 movie Donnie Darko begins on October 2, to terminate almost a month later on October 31st.

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So don’t you dare say nothing interesting happened today.

Have a good Tuesday.