Monday, February 27, 2006

Teeth, Conspiracy, Blackface, Pastries, and Dennis Kucinich

“Trivia is a game played by those who realize that they have misspent their youth but do not want to let go of it.” –Edwin Goodgold.

I am a Wikipedia junkie. I can’t get enough. It is so convenient in format and so comprehensive in scope that it draws me back, time and time again, a moth to flame. I would estimate that a sickening proportion of my time goes to reading Wikipedia on any topic I can think of. Occasionally, I learn interesting things. You too may have an interest in such things, so I present to you the first in a series of miscellaneous trivia that has piqued my curiosity.

1. George Washington’s dentures were not made of wood. He mostly had teeth made from other teeth, including those of other humans, elk, and hippopotamus. He also had a set made of lead.

2. So we all know that Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton. We also know of his conspiracy to create a nation in the Southwest United States and in Mexico. What I didn’t know was that Andrew Jackson was ready to help him in the conspiracy, in the event that Spain declared war.

3. Cartoons are weird and apparently rooted in the old, not-so-politically correct tradition of the minstrel show. Old cartoons unapologetically have the main characters primarily in black face, and aping the plots of actual minstrel shows. This wasn’t just a fringe thing: This is Disney and Warner Brothers, Mickey and Honey Bunny.

4. So in the tradition of liberty cabbage and freedom fries, the Danish (most beloved of pastries) has been renamed in some Islamic countries. It is now known as Roses of the Prophet Muhammad. You may have gotten that from the news, but Wikipedia adds the even better fact: Danes don’t call the pastries Danishes. In Denmark, the pastry is known as Viennese bread, after the itenerant bakers who introduced it to Scandinavia.

5. Dennis Kucinich is apparently a Slovenian-American. With a Croatian father. Who knew?


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