Posted in Wretched Richard's Almanac


It was the middle of the night in June 1972, and while much of the nation slept, something was afoot at a large apartment complex in the Foggy Bottom area of Washington DC. A security guard noticed pieces of tape covering the latch on the locks on several doors, leaving the doors unlocked. He removed the tape, naively thinking nothing of it – the wind maybe?  (He evidently had never read a suspense novel.)  An hour later, he discovered that the locks had been retaped and realized that this was something more than just the wind. He called the police who discovered not just one but five intruders in the offices belonging to the Democratic National Committee.

     The five men were charged with attempted burglary and attempted interception of telephone and other communications. In September, a grand jury indicted them and two other men (E. Howard Hunt, Jr. and G. Gordon Liddy) for conspiracy, burglary, and violation of federal wiretapping laws.

     The men who broke into the office were tried and convicted in early 1973.  An investigation, tied all five men to CREEP. CREEP is the loving acronym applied to the 1972 Committee to Re-elect the President, the President being Richard Milhouse Nixon. Trial judge, John J. Sirica, (who evidently did read suspense novels) suspected a conspiracy involving people at the pinnacles of government.

     In March 1973, James McCord, one of the original gang of five claimed that he was told to plead guilty. He implicated Attorney General John Mitchell and other top Nixon aides, who began to topple like so many Republican dominoes, and the June 17 Watergate robbery quickly escalated into one of the juiciest political scandals of the century — wherein the aforementioned President Nixon resigned to avoid — dare we use the word?


Posted in Wretched Richard's Almanac


Back in the 7th century on an island in northern Britain, the very holy St. Cuthbert gave up the ghost. The exact date of his departure was March 20, 689. Not only was Cuthbert very holy, he was, you might say, holier than thou, or at least holier than all his peers. He devoted his entire life to converting the half-savage heathens (and there were quite a few half-savage heathens at the time) and praying — lots of praying. Such was his devotion that those about him often wondered if he were not a man but an angel.

Cuthbert was duly shrouded and buried, remaining at rest for some 11 years until some curious monks dug him up to have a peek. They found Cuthbert in perfect condition, which they accepted as miraculous proof of his saintly character. They placed him in a new coffin, leaving him above ground so he might perform miraculous cures.

Another 174 years passed and, with Britain facing an invasion by the Danes, the monks (different monks) carried Cuthbert’s still perfect body away and wandered with it from place to place for many years.

Finally in the 11th century, Cuthbert’s body found a permanent home where it was enshrined and enriched with offerings of gold and jewelry from the faithful (there were a lot more of them now). In 1104, the body was inspected again and found still fresh. Another 400 years and another inspection.

Three hundred years. It’s 1827 and Cuthbert is past due for inspection. This time, however, the inspectors were much more rigorous, and it was discovered that Cuthbert was an ordinary skeleton swaddled up to look whole, including plaster balls to plump out the eye holes. It would appear that some monks along the way had been quite naughty. St. Cuthbert himself serves as a fine example of a person who was far more interesting dead than alive.

Deciders Unite

The Whigs didn’t last long as as political party. Formed in the 1830s out of annoyance with Andrew Jackson, they gave us four presidents — William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary republicanTaylor and Millard Fillmore, commonly known by their nickname, Who? (not to be confused with the rock group of the same name). As is the case with many political parties, they had disagreements over tents, finding themselves unable to deal with the concept of big ones, and eventually tore themselves asunder with internal disagreements.

The semi-official date of the party’s actual death was March 20, 1854. On that date, a number of don’t wanna-be Whigs met in Ripon, Wisconsin, and the result of that meeting was the birth of the Republican party, which lasted until 2016.



Posted in Wretched Richard's Almanac



Henry Welby was a gentleman of fortune, education and popularity in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth who suddenly secluded himself from all public life – not as a hermit off in the Grub_street_hermitwilderness but right in the middle of London. His irrevocable resolution to live a solitary life followed an incident in which his younger brother, displeased over some trifle or another, attempted to shoot him at close range, certainly with the intent to kill.

To fulfill his resolution, Henry took a house at one end of Grub Street, known primarily for bohemians and impoverished hack writers. He occupied three rooms himself – one for dining, one for sleeping and one for study. The rest of the house was given over to his servants. A technical quibble here perhaps: can a man truly be a hermit with servants?  But it would seem that he managed. While his food was set on his table by his cook, he would wait in his bedroom. And while his bed was being made, he would retire into his study, and so on – thus avoiding any actual contact with his servants.

He ate only a salad of greens and herbs in the summer and a bowl of gruel in the winter. He drank no wine or spirits, only water or an occasional cheap beer. Occasionally, on a special day, he might eat an egg yolk, no white, or a piece of bread, no crust. Yet he provided a bountiful table for his servants.

And in these three rooms, he remained – for forty-four years, never ever leaving them until he was carried out on a gurney.  Not one of his relatives or acquaintances ever laid another eye on him – only his elderly maid Elizabeth ever saw his face. And she didn’t see much of it because it was overgrown by hair and beard. Elizabeth died just a few days before Henry’s death on October 29, 1636.

Books were his companions for those forty-four years, and not once did one of them shoot at him.

Alice in Donaldland, Part 8: Stipulations and Legal Briefs

“Is this the Queen’s court?” Alice asked the two funny-looking men blocking the big iron gate.

“Who wants to know?” they chimed together.

“I’d like to join the Queen for some golf,” answered Alice.

“She’d like to join the Queen,” they taunted, looking at each other. “Do you have a nondisclosure agreement?”

“I’m afraid I don’t, but I’m not the sort of person to disclose things. Are you the Queen’s guards?”

“Guards?” They looked at each other and laughed. “Do we look like guards? We are the Queen’s personal lawyers — Tweeedledum and Tweedledumber, attorneys-at-law. Here, sign these.” They each pushed a pile of papers at Alice.

“What are these?”

“Sworn statements that the Queen didn’t grab you, wouldn’t grab you, and was miles away when the grabbing occurred.”

“But the Queen probably won’t — ”

“Of course he will. The Queen has big hands and — ”

“– a big heart. I know, I know.”

“You also stipulate that grabbing isn’t a crime if the Queen grabs,” said Tweedledum.

“It’s not even naughty,” added Tweedledumber.

“And Collusion isn’t a crime if the Queen colludes. Obstruction isn’t a crime if the Queen obstructs. Subtraction isn’t a crime —

“Okay, I stipulate,” said Alice impatiently. “And the Queen isn’t a witch, and doesn’t grab girls and is making Donaldland great again.”

“I think she’s got it,” said the twin lawyers. “And what about the White Knight?”

Alice began to recite: “The White Knight and his nefarious throng of 98 — ”

” — 125 — ”

” — 125 dastardly democreeps are out to destroy the good Queen.”

“And the Queen is cooperating fully with his witch hunt and is willing to answer any number of questions. As a matter of fact, we have provided a list of answers to the questions the Queen is willing to answer.” Tweedledum handed a piece of paper to Alice.

She read: “Yes. No. Maybe. I couldn’t say. Fourteen. Uruguay. 1492. None of your damn business. Never. Maybe tomorrow. Gilligan’s Island. Wayne Newton. Crooked Hillary.”

“What more could we possibly do?” said Tweedledum.

“Legal is as legal does,” said Tweedledumber.

“Hand me the briefs, said Tweedledum.

“No,” said Tweedledumber. “It’s my turn to wear the briefs.”

“No, it’s my turn.”

“My turn.”

“My turn.”

“I’ll sue.”

“I’ll sue first.”

“I’ll counter-sue.”

“I’ll counter-counter sue.”

And off they went, arguing and leaving the gate for Alice to enter. Which she did.

Posted in Wretched Richard's Almanac



Those who predict the imminent end of the world display a certain amount of chutzpah if not foolhardiness (such as Micheal Stifel, October 19). It probably takes even more of those qualities to identify the exact date of the beginning ofcreation the world, but didn’t James Ussher (1581-1656) do just that.

As Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College in Dublin, Ussher was rather highly regarded in his day as both churchman and scholar. He was not your average man on the street (“Tell me sir, when did the world begin?”) making bold proclamations. And evidently he didn’t just pull important dates out of a hat. His declarations were based on an intricate correlation of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean histories and Holy writ, incorporated into an authorized 1701 version of the Bible, or so he explained. And they were accepted, regarded without question as if they were the Bible itself.

Through the aforementioned methods, Ussher established that the first day of creation was Sunday, October 23, 4004 BC. He didn’t give a time. On a roll, Ussher calculated the dates of other biblical events, concluding, for example, that Adam and Eve were driven from Paradise on Monday, November 10 of that same year BC (it took them less than three weeks to get in trouble with God). And Noah docked his ark on Mt Ararat on May 5, 2348 BC. That was a Wednesday if you were wondering.


Late-breaking news: Dr. John Lightfoot, of Cambridge, an Ussher contemporary, declared in a bold bid for oneupsmanship, that his most profound and exhaustive study of the Scriptures, showed that “heaven and earth, centre and circumference, were created all together, in the same instant, and clouds full of water,” and that “this work took place and man was created by the Trinity on October 23, 4004 B.C., at nine o’clock in the morning.”

Time Was

Wretched Richard will jump out onto the proverbial limb and give you a few more dates you might be wondering about.

January 29, 3995 BC, 8 a.m. — God creates the horny toad.

March 12, 3906 BC, 5:00 p.m.  — Shouting something about his damn sheep, Cain slays Abel.

September 3, 3522 BC, 6:00 p.m. — God creates Facebook, then decides the world isn’t ready for it.

October 2, 2901 BC, 4:00 p.m.  God, having been in a bad mood all day, turns Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt.

June 7, 2549 BC 11:15 a.m.  God once again in a creative mood creates marijuana.

1:30 p.m. –Later that day, God, thoroughly annoyed with all his creations except his latest, instructs Noah to build an ark because he, God, is going to destroy the world.

August 14, 2371 BC,  5:30 a.m. — Methuselah finally turns his toes up after 969 years on this good earth.

July 7, 1425 BC, 8:30 p.m. — God gives Moses the Ten Commandments.

March 1, 2 AD, 10:15 a.m. — God creates an amusing diversion featuring Christians and lions.

July 2, 1854 AD, 11:45 p.m. — After a few too many martinis, God creates Republicans.

Alice In Donaldland, Part 7: Alice Joins a Tea Party

Alice approached the Hatter, March Hare and Dormouse. “No room,” they cried out when they saw Alice coming.
“There’s plenty of room,” said Alice indignantly, sitting down.
“Did you bring your birth certificate?” the March Hare asked.
“Of course not,” said Alice.
“Then how do we know you were born?”
“Because I’m here,” answered Alice.
“I’m not convinced,” said the March Hare. “Have some wine.”
Alice looked all around the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. “I don’t see any wine,” she remarked.
“There isn’t any,” said the March Hare. “And there’s no free lunch. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.”
“Your budget wants cutting,” said the Hatter. This was his first speech. “Why is Obamacare like a writing desk?”
“I give up,” Alice replied. “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter.
Alice sighed. “I think you might better spend your time than wasting it asking riddles that have no answers.”
“Spend, spend,” said the Hatter. “Tax and spend. That’s all you liberals do.”
“Cut the budget,” said the March Hare.
Here the Dormouse shook itself, and began singing in its sleep, “Twinkle, twinkle, budget ax. How I wonder what it whacks.”
“Entitlements,” said the Hatter.
“Public radio,” said the March Hare.
“Planned Parenthood,” said the Hatter.
“The EPA,” said the March Hare.
“Why do you want to whack these things?” asked Alice, confused.
“Because they promote gay rights, MeToo whiners, and diversity, said the Hatter.
“Illegal immigrants are going to bankrupt our grandchildren,” added the Hatter.
“That’s silly,” said Alice.
“What do you know?” retorted the March Hare. “You weren’t even born. You don’t have a birth certificate.”
“But people don’t carry their birth certificates around with them,” answered Alice.
“Then where’s your Constitution?” the Hatter demanded.
“I don’t carry that around either.”
“Then how do you know original intent?”
“I don’t think – ”
“Then you shouldn’t talk.”
This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear. She got up in great disgust and walked off.  The others took no notice, but went back to their discussion of how big the next tax cut should be.

Posted in Wretched Richard's Almanac



An unfortunate incident involving beer – aged porter to be precise – occurred in London back in 1814.

The central London parish of St Giles was, as slums go, one of the slummiest.  Although it has since been rather gentrified with theaters, Covent Garden and the British Museum nearby, it was then mostly squalid housing where immigrants crowded into its ramshackle buildings, often more thanbeer one family to a room. Near one end of the parish stood the massive Meux and Company Horse Shoe Brewery, its giant vats filled with thousands of gallons of aging porter.

One particular vat which held over 135,000 gallons had seen better days. Like the shanties surrounding the brewery, it suffered from age, and on October 17 it succumbed, bursting and letting loose enough precious liquid to give all of St. Giles and then some a pretty good buzz, although the fury with which it was released made tippling difficult. Like giant shaken cans of beer, nearby vats ruptured and joined the game of dominoes.

Within minutes the brick structure that was the Meux and Company Horse Shoe Brewery was breached, and the deluge roared down Tottenham Court Road, flinging aside or burying in debris anyone or anything in its path.

Homes caved in. A busy pub crumbled, burying a buxom barmaid and her ogling patrons for several hours.  All in all, nine people were killed by drink that day. Those who didn’t lose their lives lost everything they owned to evil alcohol. Soon after the suds subsided, survivors rushed in to save what they could of the precious brew, collecting one or more for the road in pots and cans.

St. Giles smelled like the morning after a particular robust party for weeks. The brewery was later taken to court over the accident, but they pleaded an “Act of God,” and the judge and jury bought it, leaving them blameless. The brewery even received reparations from the government.  God, it would seem, has a soft spot for brewers.

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Alice in Donaldland, Part 6: A Grinning Cat

Read Part 1

Alice stood at a crossroads, wondering which way she ought to go. As she pondered, a large Cat appeared on the branch of a tree a few feet away. When the Cat spotted Alice, it grinned at her. She had never known a Cat to grin before and didn’t even know a Cat could grin. It looked rather good-natured, but it had very long claws and a great many teeth so Alice thought it wise to treat the Cat with respect.

“What sort of cat are you?” Alice asked. “You must be happy, smiling like that.”

“I’m a Cheshire, “answered the Cat. “And I always smile.”

“Cheshire? Wouldn’t that make you a cheese?”

“Have you ever seen a cheese smile?”

“I guess not. Well Mr. Cheshire Cat, sir, I wonder if you might tell me which way to go?”

“That depends a great deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where — ”

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

” — so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added.

“In that direction lives a Hatter,” the Cat said , pointing. “And in that direction lives a March Hare. Visit either; they’re both mad.”

“Oh dear, I don’t want to go among mad people.”

You can’t help that. We’re all mad in Donaldland. Speaking of which, are you going to play golf with the Queen today?”

“I should like to,” said Alice. “But I haven’t been invited.”

“Oh you needn’t be invited. All that’s required is signing a nondisclosure agreement.”

“What would I not be disclosing?”

“Oh I can’t disclose that.”

“Where would I find the Queen’s Court?”

“There are several courts. There’s the Tennis Court, the Basketball Court, and the Supreme Court. At the Tennis Court, the Queen’s subjects serve.”

“What do they serve?”

“Why the Queen of course. At the Basketball Court, everyone runs about madly, stealing chickens and turkeys and partridges. When they’ve collected five fowls, they get to sit down. The Supreme Court is where things are decided; it’s divided into three wings.”

“Chicken wings?”

“No, no, no. Groups of deciders. There’s the liberal wing, the conservative wing, and the sexual predator wing and they all make decisions. But the Queen tells them what their decisions are.”

“It sounds like a Kangaroo Court,” scoffed Alice.

“Kangaroo Court, that’s rich. I like that.” The Cat’s grin widened. “Perhaps I’ll see you there. Ta ta.” And with that the Cheshire Cat began to disappear until only it’s grin remained. Alice, having already forgotten who lived which way, picked a path and started off. As it turned out, it didn’t matter which path because she came to a clearing with a large table, and both the Hatter and the Hare were crowded into one corner. A Dormouse sat on the table between them.

Part 7, Coming Tuesday

Posted in Wretched Richard's Almanac


Alice in Donaldland, Part 5: Of Cabbages and Queens

Read Part 1

Alice left the caterpillar thinking that the sooner it became a butterfly, the better off it would be. She walked along, her mind filled with images of the poor White Rabbit’s head, the Queen’s big hands, and the many curious things she had encountered. Then, just ahead, she spotted yet another curious pair — a Walrus and a Carpenter. She could tell the Carpenter was a carpenter by the nails sticking out of his mouth, the hammer in his hand and the word ‘carpenter’ on his hat. She could tell his companion was a Walrus because it had flippers and a big tuft of whiskers. The two of them were working on a tall wooden structure.

She watched them for a few minutes, then asked: “What are you building?”

“A wall,” said the Carpenter.

The Walrus elaborated: “A great big beautiful wall.”

“Whatever for?” Alice asked.

“To keep out rapists and murderers and other low-lifes,” said the Carpenter. “It will stretch all around Donaldland.”

“You don’t seem to have gotten very far with it,” Alice said, sitting down on a rock.

“Donaldland wasn’t built in a day, you know,” said the Walrus.

“I think it’s Rome that wasn’t built in a day,” Alice suggested.

“That’s why we’re building the wall,” snapped the Carpenter. “To keep out the Romans and rapists and murderers and other undesirables from shithole countries.”

“That’s not a very nice word,” said Alice.

“Which word?”

The second one from the — you know which word I mean. The icky one.”

“I’m afraid she’s right,” said the Walrus. “Shithole countries has been walked back.”

“Walked back?”

“The Queen has a very high IQ,” the Walrus continued. “And big hands and a big — ”

“Heart,” said Alice, having become quite familiar with the drill.

“But the Queen sometimes uses the wrong words. And so we walk them back to a point where he never said them.”

“Isn’t that revisionist?” Alice suggested.

“That’s a very big word for a very little girl,” said the Carpenter.

“Well, I’m usually a lot bigger. I’m just having a small day.”

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of other things: of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and queens.”

“Wouldn’t king make a better rhyme,” Alice asked.

“We don’t use that word,” said the Carpenter. “The Queen doesn’t like that word; it reminds him of his predecessor, and that distresses him.”


“In the second place, he was born in one of those places we walked back,” said the Walrus.

“In the next place, he did health care,” said the Carpenter.

“What’s wrong with health care?” asked Alice.

“Healthy people don’t need health care.”

“In the last place, he had funny ears and a funny name,” said the Walrus.

“What about first place?” asked Alice.

“If he were a horse, he’d be a horse of a different color,” the Walrus and Carpenter chimed together. “Pardon us, but we must get back to our wall or the Queen will have our heads.”

Incoming tweet: “A beautiful wall. Tall wall from C to shining C. I want my wall NOW! Infidels pouring in. Rapists, murderers. Murderers, rapists. BILD WALL!”

Part 6 Coming Thursday

Doggie Justice

A French gentleman traveling through the forest north of Paris was murdered, as French gentlemen traveling through the forest north of Paris were apt to be in 1361. His body was buried dogfightat the foot of a tree. His dog, who was traveling with him, remained beside his grave for several days until hunger caused him to quit his vigil.

The faithful dog made for Paris and presented himself at the house of a good friend of his master’s, where after being fed he carried on so much that the friend was obliged to follow him back to the scene of the crime. There, he tore at the ground until the body of the murdered man was exposed to view.

No trace of the assassin was discovered for some time, but then one day the dog was confronted with a man named Chevalier Macaire. Well, that dog immediately lost his good-natured demeanor and lunged for the man’s throat and had to be restrained at some difficulty.  It happened again on other occasions. The dog spotted Macaire in a crowd and attacked.

Since the dog was normally a gentle soul, suspicions began to be aroused. These suspicions found their way to the king of France who ordered the dog brought before him. The dog remained perfectly behaved until Macaire was brought forward and again the dog attacked. “Hmmm,” thought the king.

During this particular time of history, judicial combat was often used to settle doubtful cases, on the assumption that God would provide victory to the person who was in the right.  Amusing jurisprudence perhaps, but who was to argue with the king when he ruled that a duel between Macaire and the dog would settle the matter.

The confrontation took place on October 8.  Macaire came armed with a large stick; the dog was given a cask into which he could retreat. On being let loose, the dog immediately attacked Macaire from one side then another, warding off the man’s blows. The murderer was quickly seized by the throat and thrown to the ground, where he hastily confessed before the king and the entire court — and was hanged, of course.

It’s Always the Cow

Late one night, when we were all in bed,
Mrs. O’Leary lit a lantern in the shed.
Her cow kicked it over,
Then winked her eye and said,
“There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight!”

Who is this Mrs. O’Leary, whose cow is supposedly responsible for the Great Chicago Fire of 1871? Her legend has been kept alive for 145 years now and her name is synonymous with big fires. She was one Catherine O’Leary, an Irish immigrant, who actually had five cows. The cow named Daisy got the blame for kicking the lantern over, but since no one was in the barn to witness the event, all five cows could have had a hoof in it.

Conspiracy theorists have over the years suggested other scenarios: Naughty boys were sneaking a smoke in the barn. Spontaneous combustion. A meteor broke into pieces as it fell to earth October 8, setting off fires in Michigan and Wisconsin as well as in Chicago. Daisy had an accomplice; Daisy acted alone. A drunken neighbor started the fire. Obama may not have started it, but he should have stopped it.


Cheap Halloween Thrills

Although I ruled out flesh-eating zombies, I didn’t rule out all zombies. I Walked with a Zombie is a film that’s a lot better than its shlock title would suggest. This 1943 film is intelligent, atmospheric and realistic in its depiction of voodoo in the Caribbean.

Diabolique is a classic 1955 French suspense film. Set in a boarding school, it centers on a plot to kill the school’s abusive headmaster by his submissive wife and his mistress. They accomplish the deed, but become haunted by the disappearance of his corpse.

1 The Shining

2 The Exorcist

3 Beetlejuice

4 Invasion of the Body Snatchers

5 Ghost Story

6 Ghostbusters

7 Freaks

8 Ichabod and Mr. Toad

9 I Walked with a Zombie

10 Diabolique


Posted in Wretched Richard's Almanac


Alice in Donaldland, Part 4: The Caterpillar’s Press Briefing

Read Part 1

“Who are you?” said the Caterpillar. This was not a particularly encouraging beginning to a conversation.

“My name is Alice. At least I think I’m Alice. It’s been a rather confusing day.”

“Can’t you see you’re interrupting a very important press briefing?”

“But there’s no one here but you and me.”

“Where are your credentials?”

“I’m afraid I don’t have any credentials,” Alice replied politely. “But I do have a couple of questions.”

“No credentials, no questions. Next.”

Alice watched as the Caterpillar looked around as if waiting for someone to say something. She was about to speak up herself when the Caterpillar bellowed: “How many times do I have to answer the same question? You might get some new answers, if you’d ask some new questions. Next! The Queen has addressed this many times, and I have no intention of addressing something the Queen has already addressed, and you have his address so go there or somewhere else. Next!”

Alice watched dumbfounded as the Caterpillar once again looked around. When the Caterpillar looked in her direction, Alice raised her hand. The Caterpillar stared at her angrily and said: “I answered that question on Monday. This is Wednesday and I’m not going to answer again on a Wednesday. Come back next Monday. Next!  The Queen has never grabbed anyone, although the Queen does have big hands.  Next!”

Alice raised her hand again, but the Caterpillar ignored her and continued: “I have a great deal of credibility. I’m sitting here taking your stupid questions. That shows the kind of press secretary I am as I try to provide information while you display hostility with your fake news and your fake questions. Next! Must you constantly bring up the White Knight and his horrific herd of 54 sniveling democreeps and their deplorable Witch Hunt. Why don’t you ever bring up the Queen’s many positive accomplishments that are making Donaldland great again?”

At that moment, the White Rabbit came running up, panting. “Am I late?”

The Caterpillar glared at the White Rabbit and said: “The Queen has no plans to fire the White Rabbit. Even though his recusal in the face of the White Knight Witch Hunt was a despicable dereliction of duty, the Queen remains very sort of confident in him.”

Incoming tweet: “White Rabbit is OUT!! Nice enough guy but not very smart. Tiny hands, big ears. SAD!!! But off with his head!!!!”

Part 5, Coming Monday


In 1582, the Gregorian Calendar was adopted for the first time with Poland, Portugal and Spain leading the way. The calendar was implemented by and named after Pope Gregory XIII . He didn’t like the Julian Calendar in use at the time because Easter kept creeping back to an earlier time of the year so that eventually it would fall in the middle of winter, even on Christmas Day (which wasn’t creeping) and really confuse Christians.

Jews didn’t care a whole lot because they were already up to year 5303. Muslims were back at 1001. The Chinese were celebrating 4278 (Year of the Horse). Certain scientists were way ahead of everyone else at 11582, having added 10,000 years to the current year to make the starting point the beginning of the human era (like they knew what day that was) instead of the birth of Jesus who they say wasn’t born in 1 BC but in 4 BC (lied about his age) and wasn’t born on his birthday (Christmas).

But back to the Christians for whom it was October 4, 1582, and also for whom tomorrow would be October 15, because Pope Gregory took ten days right out of the calendar to put Easter back where it had been when he was a boy.  calendarWell, you can just imagine how upset folks who had birthdays or special anniversaries or doctors’ appointments between October 5 and 14 were.

Some people just refused to use the new calendar. Many European countries fell into line later in the year. But many Protestant countries thought the new calendar was part of a Catholic plot . Britain (and its colonies) didn’t come along until 1752. The Greeks didn’t start using it until 1923. And a few malcontent members of the U.S. Congress refuse to adopt it until Obamacare is repealed.

Calling All Crimestoppers

An all-American, tough but smart, police detective arrived on the crime scene on October 4, 1931. Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy comic strip first appeared in the Detroit Mirror. The strip continues to run to this day, although drawn by others since Gould departed for that precinct in the sky back in 1985.

Along with police procedure and gadgets such as the two-way wrist radio, the strip featured a bevy of colorful characters. There’s Tess Trueheart, Tracy’s lady friend and eventual wife, his adopted son Junior and his wife Moon Maid (an alien), their daughter Honey Moon, Junior’s second wife Sparkle Plenty and her parents B. O. and Gravel Gertie. An almost endless list of villains: Abner Kadaver, Art Dekko, Breathless Mahoney, Cueball, Flattop, Gruesome, Junky Doolb (blood backwards), Littleface Finny, the Mole, Mrs. Chin Chillar, Mumbles and Pruneface.  You’ll find an exhausting list here.


Cheap Halloween Thrills

Dark October nights are meant for ghost stories. Four old men get together to sit in front of a crackling fire, sip sherry, and tell each other tales of terror, but they will find themselves in the middle of their own ghost story, one that involves a dark secret from years ago and a present vengeance with horrendous accidents and ghostly encounters. The cast makes the movie: Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and John Houseman are the four old men in the 1981 film, Ghost Story.

1 The Shining

2 The Exorcist

3 Beetlejuice

4 Invasion of the Body Snatchers

5 Ghost Story