History Schmistory: January 19. Under the Neon Lights!

1915: The Neon Tube sign is patented by Georges Claude, and later exploited by Las Vegas.
-So, you might already know that neon is one of the “noble” gases of the periodic table, which glows an orangey-red color when electrons run through it. But what about all the other colors on a typical “neon” sign? Well, sorry to say, those aren’t neon. To get shades of blue, typically argon is used with a dash of mercury. Helium can be used for a nice pink glow; xenon radiates a cool purple, while krypton yields- what? Green, you say? Nope, sorry Superman, it has more of an off-white tinge. From there, certain gases can mingle to produce colors like green and yellow, or sometimes the tubes are coated with fluorescent powders to tweak the shading. But neon typically doesn’t play nicely with others, so it’s only used to produce that one color.
(Check out Vegas Vic’s scarf. There’s your neon.)

There is another noble gas that wasn’t invited to the party: Radon. That stuff is radioactive, yo.

Modern_vegas_vic_souvenirs

Vegas Vic,By  Joe Gauder [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

History Schmistory: January 19. Under-where?

January 19, 1935. Introducing Tightey-Whities!

Cryptozoology Break: The Unicorn

unicorn-245642_640Who knows exactly how the unicorn was gradually ascribed its girly connotation… Possibly it started in medieval times when it was believed that the unicorn could be tamed by only the purest of maidens. Regardless, the legend of the unicorn goes waaaaay back, much much further than She-Ra and My Little Pony. Archeologists have discovered depictions of a one-horned-horsey-creature on cave walls dating back to the Paleolithic era, around 14,000 BC. In many forms, the unicorn pops up in folklore across nearly every ancient region you can think of, often as a creature to be feared. From the Nordics to the Middle East to Africa to the Far East, the unicorn has donned many names and a variety of manifestations: Dragon-like, larger than an elephant, glowing red eyes,  glowing blue eyes, with the body of a bull, the hooves of a deer, the tail of a lion, the beard of a goat; faster than a wildebeest, more ferocious than a tiger, and more elusive than Cleopatra on roller skates; while its trademark horn runs the gamut from short and black to long, sharp and super-sparkly. Famed writers throughout history have avowed the unicorns existence, from Aristotle to Pliny the Elder to Confucius to Genghis Khan to Julius Caesar to the dudes who wrote the Bible! Even Marco Polo swears he saw one while traveling the Silk Road, though we’re pretty sure it was just a Rhinoceros. (Don’t tell him we said that.) So what do you think? Could they have possibly existed? Or are we just beating a dead unicorn. HA HA HA! In any event, we think it’s time to bring the unicorn back to a place of gender-neutral allurement…

THIS JUST IN: Unicorn poop is apparently rainbow colored and tastes delicious…

History Schmistory: January 18. Alo-hoy!

1778: Famed explorer Captain James Cook serendipitously stumbles upon the “Sandwich Islands” (Hawaii.) On his second visit in 1779, he is killed by natives for sending back his pastrami on rye. Ironically during his time on the Islands Cook witnessed men being just that, cooked!

John Webber [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

John Webber [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

History Schmistory: January 18. Heads Up!

January 18, 1916. Meteorite Strikes in Missouri!

History Schmistory: January 17. Toot-Toot!

1929: Popeye the Sailor Man, a cartoon character created by Elzie Segar, first appears in the Thimble Theatre comic strip. Deluded children begin eating spinach with the hopes of growing freakishly large forearms.

popeye-37117_640

History Schmistory: January 17. How Uncivil!

January 17, 1918. Civil War in Finland!

Speaking of Dreamers… And Travelers!

Did you know Martin Luther King traveled over 6 million miles in his short lifetime? Marco can’t hold a candle to that! Here’s some more interesting facts about today’s celebrated American icon:

History Comedy at its British-y-est!

Do you stream the Netflix? Well, we just want you to know that they have all 4 seasons of history’s greatest historical comedy series, Blackadder, available now! Marco is partial to season 3, featuring Dr. House himself, Hugh Laurie, as the bumbling Prince of Wales. Give it a try!

 

 

 

 

History Schmistory: January 16. The Impossible Dream…

1605: Book One of Don Quixote (El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha) by Miguel de Cervantes is published in Madrid. Despite great efforts, the sport of Windmill Jousting never caught on.

 

 

Don Quixote charging the windmills by Dave Winer, May 5th 2009 via Flick, creative commons contribution

Don Quixote charging the windmills by Dave Winer, May 5th 2009 via Flick, creative commons contribution

 

Not familiar with the story of Don Quixote? Are you not even sure how to pronounce it? Well there are plenty of versions out there, including the hit musical Man of La Mancha, and, of course, this faithful adaptation from Mr. Magoo…

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