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Friday Fun: Commentary On The Absurd, The Serious, And The Useless In History Trivia (2/29/2008)

February 29, 2008

On this day in …

1944, “World War II: The Admiralty Islands are invaded in the American General Douglas MacArthur-led Operation Brewer.” … I hadn’t heard of “Operation Brewer” until today. Looking up the attack in Wikipedia dispelled my notion that this was some play for a South Pacific beer maker. I must admit that the level of detail in the entry on this event was astounding. With 117 endnotes, this might rival any peer-reviewed history journal article on the subject.

1956, “President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced he would seek a second term.” … Blah. This is just more 1950s-era containment and normalcy. Useless information of the day.

1960, “The first Playboy Club, featuring waitresses clad in ‘bunny’ outfits, opened in Chicago. (Hugh Hefner closed the string of clubs in 1986.)” … Few people realize that this phenomenon began in Chicago. A former Loyola History Department graduate student colleague, Elizabeth Fraterrigo (now a UNLV professor), studied Playboy‘s Chicago roots for her dissertation. Here’s a site—the veracity of which I cannot confirm—that documents the club. On the right is a picture from the site. It all seems pretty tame after the explosion of skin in media over the past ten years or so. You see more lurid images during Super Bowl halftime shows 😉

1972, “Hank Aaron becomes the first player in the history of Major League Baseball to sign a $200,000 contract.” … In acknowledgment of the start of Spring Training games and the end of Black History month, I offer this piece of information to the Gods of History Trivia.

2004, “The final film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King, won 11 Oscars, tying Ben Hur and Titanic for most Oscars in a year.” … I’ve bored most of my nerdy friends with this, but did any other fans of Tolkien’s series experience a letdown with some aspects of Peter Jackson’s take on the series? For my money, all three films deserved Oscars, but that doesn’t mean he faithfully portrayed the books. For instance, with regard to the film version of Two Towers, I was really disappointed in how Faramir’s character was portrayed. He had much more dignity and grace in the book. I also didn’t like how Aragorn was way too tempted with Eowyn in the film. I digress. Maybe I’m just grumpy because I haven’t had my second breakfast? – TL

[Sources: Chicago Tribune, NYT, Wikipedia]

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