Birthdays are great, aren’t they? You get to see your friends, they bring you presents or beer (or both!) and you get pie! If you’re not related to me, you probably get cake. I don’t like cake. The band is pretty cool, but the food is dry with icky icing. Since it’s someone’s birthday everyday, I’ve taken to posting these birthdays on Facebook. No more. I’m just going to post a bunch here to get it out of my system. I can’t help it — I love trivia!
- 13 April
1519: Catherine de’Medici, great-granddaughter of Lorenzo de’Medici (one of my favourite Italians) & wife of Henry II of France. Died 1589, 70 yrs.
1570: Guy Fawkes, British would-be executioner of the Gunpowder Plot of 5 November 1605. The plan was to detonate gunpowder below the Parliament buildings to kill King James VI (the British call him King James I, but he was Scottish and we’d had a few Jameses before him, hence the VI. So… most documents refer to him as King James I & VI. So stupid). Guy Fawkes’ face appears in V for Vendetta as V’s mask and his name is the inspiration for referring to a man as a “guy”. 5 November is Guy Fawkes Day or Bonfire Night in Great Britain. Died 31 January 1606, 35 yrs.
1743: Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Died 1826, 83yrs.
1866: Butch Cassidy, my favourite outlaw. Born Robert LeRoy Parker in Beaver, Utah, Butch was the leader of the Hole in the Wall Gang and member of The Wild Bunch. He robbed trains for a living with his fellow gang-member and friend, The Sundance Kid (born Harry Longbaugh). He was delightfully portrayed in 1969’s semi-fictional biographical film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, by the incredibly blue-eyed Paul Newman who starred alongside Robert Redford as Sundance. The two fled south to Bolivia where they are believed to have been killed in a robbery-related shootout with Bolivian police. He was immortalized again in late 2008, when I named my computer “Butch Cassidy”. Died 1908, 42yrs.
1885: Georg (György) Lukács, Hungarian Marxist philosopher named, for all intents and purposes, George Lucas. I thought it was fun…? Anyway, he looks nothing like the director. In fact, I think I know where George Lucas got all his chins from — Georg Lukács! Died 1971, 86yrs.
1899: Alfred Mosher Butts, American architect and inventor of Scrabble!! Unfortunate name, though. Died 1993, 94yrs.
1931: Jon Stone, creator of Sesame Street! Died 1997, 66yrs.
1950: Ron Perlman, actor. He played Hellboy, enough said. This one’s still kickin’, clocking in at 60 yrs old.
1974: Sergei Gonchar, Russian hockey player. Currently plays defence for the Pittsburgh Penguins. You know how much I love the Penguins…! Clearly, still alive, at 36 yrs old.
1975: Lou Bega. Yeah, Lou Bega. You remember him, his white suit and Mambo Number Five! This German-born singer is 35 today.
1976: Jonathan Brandis, that kid from Neverending Story II. Well, he became a director and screenwriter after that, and guest-starring in lots of shows I’ve never heard of. Then he kinda hung himself. Not so fun. Died 2003, 27 yrs.
On that note… Who died today in history? Let’s take a look….
814: Krum of Bulgaria. I’ve no clue who this is, but his name is Krum and he’s from Bulgaria, so clearly he’s from Harry Potter.
He’s the only “person of note” that I “noted”, so let’s move onto tomorrow, shall we?? Historic Events, here we go!!
- 14 April
966: Christianization of Poland!
1775: Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush establish the first abolition society in North America. The “Society For The Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage” raised awareness in Philadelphia, PA.
1828: Noah Webster copyrighted the first edition of his dictionary. Back then, “muggle” and “bootylicious” were not entries.
1831: Soldiers marching on a bridge in Manchester, England, cause it to collapse. Ohhh, Manchester!
1849: Hungary declares itself independent from Austria.
1865: President Abraham Lincoln is shot in the head by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC only six days after the surrender of the Confederate army. He was the first president to be assassinated. No, Mary Todd Lincoln did not enjoy her viewing of Our American Cousin that evening. Lincoln was succeeded in the White House by Vice President Andrew Johnson.
1912: RMS Titanic hits an iceberg in the northern Atlantic at 11:40pm. I could go on forever about this beautiful ship, but I’ll keep it short and simply say that she sank in the early hours of 15 April and took 1,517 souls with her. To this day, it continues to draw treasure hunters, writers and the historically-curious.
1927: Swedish engineers introduce the first Volvo in Gothenburg, Sweden.
1958: Russian satellite Sputnik II falls from orbit after 162 days.
1969: The Academy awards the 1968 Oscar for Best Actress to both Katharine Hepburn (The Lion In Winter) and Barbara Streisand (Funny Girl).
1999: The Human Genome Project is completed with 99% of the human genome sequenced, to an accuracy of 99.99%. A genome is what’s inside DNA; it tells our DNA to give us blue eyes over brown, red hair over blonde, etc. I think. Anyway, finally sequencing it is a huge deal in the Land of Science.
Birthdays, yaaaay! Bring on the party hats!
1866: Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller’s teacher. Died 1936, 70yrs.
1941: Julie Christie, actress. You guys all know her, she was Brad Pitt’s mum in Troy; Kate Winslet’s mother, Madame Emma du Maurier, in Finding Neverland; and Madam Rosemerta in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. She’s been in loads of other films — she was HUGE in the 60s — but that’s pretty much all our generation would know. More recently, she starred in Away From Her, a Canadian film that garnered much attention and many awards (including Oscar nominations for Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay). Born in Chabua, Assam, British India, Julie Christie is now an exceptionally beautiful 68 years old.
1951: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s little brother. I call him this, not Julian, because it is hilarious that this is how people probably refer to him, despite his being a very accomplished and renowned cellist. Happy birthday, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s little brother! You are 59.
1977: Sarah Michelle Gellar. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is 33.
1980: Win Butler of the Canadian/American delight, Arcade Fire, is 30.
1996: Abigail Breslin, everyone’s favourite child actor. You know this adorable kid from film’s Little Miss Sunshine, No Reservations, Definitely, Maybe, and My Sister’s Keeper, and TV’s NCIS (season 2, ep. 1), and Grey’s Anatomy (season 3, ep. 3). This talented young lady is a whopping 14 years old!
Time to call Death down to the disco… (that’d make sense if you’ve seen the t-shirt I bought my brother for Christmas)
1578: James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell (b. 1534), “consort” to Mary, Queen of Scots. I quite like her… but what’s a “consort”? It’s what royalty call their spouses. It’s stupid, I know. Anyhow, Hepburn died in Denmark, where he was imprisoned by King Frederick II for one-night-stand-ing some Dano-Norwegian noblewoman one too many times. He was 44.
1759: George Frideric Handel (b. 1685), German composer. He died at 74 years old.
1941: Guillermo Kahlo (b. 1871), father of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, 70yrs.
1995: Burl Ives (b. 1909), the narrator from the 1960s Christmas film, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the one with the “Island of Misfit Toys” and that yeti. And Yukon Cornelius, the miner looking for “goooooooooold” and “siiiiiiiiiilverrrrrrrrrrr!”. Burl Ives is the one who sings that infernal “Silver and Gold” song, along with the rest of the songs in that movie. Why do we love it so? It’s disturbing, when you really look at it. Anyway, he was once accused of being a Communist in the 50s and that’s probably why he ended up being the snowman in Rudolph. He was 85.
Can you tell I get bored? But seriously, this is what I get excited about.