Peanuts

Peanuts

On October 2, 1950, one of, if not the greatest, cartoon cartoon characters of all time was born. Charlie Brown, the blockhead created by Charles M. Schulz made his first appearance in the comic strip Peanuts on that date. Peanuts had, at its peak, a readership of 355 million. The strip included memorable characters like Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Woodstock, Sally, and Peppermint Patty. Nearly 50 years later, on February 13, 2000, Charlie would make his final appearance – one day after the death of his creator Mr. Schulz. The Final Strip: Most Memorable Characters: Charlie Brown Charlie was the product of Charles M. Schulz’s formative years. Charlie, despite his numerous failures is always determined to try his best regardless of the outcomes. For example, how many times did he try to kick that football that Lucy was ‘holding’ for him? Snoopy Charlie Brown’s dog was quite the opposite of Charlie. Confident and self-assured his vivid imagination led him to believe he was a World War I Flying Ace who was often flying his ‘Sopwith Camel’ (doghouse) in pursuit of the Red Baron. Snoopy had six siblings, five of which made appearances in the strip (Andy, Olaf, Marbles, Spike, and his sister Belle). Lucy Lucy van Pelt first appeared on March 3, 1952 and was typically the rock in Charlie Brown’s shoe. She was smug, highly confident, crabby, bossy, and full of advice – as demonstrated by the sign on her booth ‘The doctor is “in”‘. She was in love with piano-playing Schroeder who barely gave her the time of day. She also hated being licked by Snoopy, who seemed...
Monkey Weapons in the Opium War

Monkey Weapons in the Opium War

During the Opium War, the Chinese were trying to destroy English ships by using fire-rafts. On their first attempt, fear of being within range of the British warships’ guns led the Chinese to ignite the rafts when they were still approximately three miles away from their targets. With so much advance notice, the British were able to take the ships in tow and beach them – although several sailors were badly burned. A second round of fire rafts was launched, again prematurely, and shortly afterward the Chinese irregulars in charge fled when they were attacked by boats that had be put out from the English warships. According to ‘The Opium War Through Chinese Eyes’ by The Arthur Waley Estate, ‘Someone suggested that fire-crackers should be tied to the backs of a number of monkeys, who would then be flung on board the English ships. The flames would spread rapidly in every direction and might with luck reach the powder-magazine, in which case the whole ship would blow up. Nineteen monkeys were bought, and at the time of the advance were brought in litters to the advanced base.’ The monkeys accompanied the retreating armies to Tz’u-ch’i when the Chinese attacks had failed. No one dared go near enough to the enemy ships to fling the monkeys on board, and so the plan was never executed. The monkeys were put in the charge of a Mr. Feng in the town on the heights behind Tz’u-ch’i. When the townspeople fled after the defeat of the remaining Chinese troops, there was no one to care for the monkeys and they eventually died of...
Theodora – Byzantine Empress or Crazy Woman

Theodora – Byzantine Empress or Crazy Woman

Procopius, the principal historian of the 6th century, became disillusioned with the Empress Theodora and her husband Justinian and wrote the following (doubtfully true) story in his Secret History about the Empress Theodora: ‘Often, even in the theatre, in the sight of all the people, she removed her costume and stood nude in their midst, except for a girdle about the groin: not that she was abashed at revealing that, too, to the audience, but because there was a law against appearing altogether naked on the stage, without at least this much of a fig-leaf. Covered thus with a ribbon, she would sink down to the stage floor and recline on her back. Slaves to whom the duty was entrusted would then scatter grains of barley from above…whence geese, trained for the purpose, would next pick the grains one by one with their bills and eat.’ …gives new meaning to the term ‘being goosed’. Of course, the author of the above commentary, Procopius, was also the one who said the following in his Secret History(so his credibility is obviously in question): ‘One man said that the Emperor suddenly rose from his throne and walked about, and indeed he was never wont to remain sitting for long, and immediately Justinian’s head vanished, while the rest of his body seemed to ebb and flow; whereat the beholder stood aghast and fearful, wondering if his eyes were deceiving him. But presently he perceived the vanished head filling out and joining the body again as strangely as it had left...