Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Laughter is a universal language and today we celebrate humor through the ages by exploring three historic pranks. The first involves Anthemius of Tralles, one of the main architects involved in building the Hagia Sophia and a genius who really knew how to hold a grudge. Then we skip ahead several handfuls of centuries to uncover the Great Moon Hoax of 1835 when a newspaper editor for The Sun ignited a hoax that had everyone looking to the moon for bipedal beavers, bat-like humanoids, and even a unicorn. After that we head to the 1950s near Atlanta, Georgia where three guys, a $10 bet, a fake UFO sighting, and one unfortunate "Monkey from Mars" show us just how quickly a prank can go too far.

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In 1846 Antoine-Joseph "Adolphe" Sax received his patent for the saxophone, but not before he cheated death at least seven times. He was so accident prone that his own mother didn’t believe he would survive childhood. His close calls with death earned him the nickname “Little Sax the Ghost.”

Sax’s life was a roller coaster of ups and downs. Mired the backstabbing world of invention, he fought years of legal battles, narrowly escaped death multiple times, battled cancer in the 1850s, and still helped shape music history. 

Both hated and loved in his own time, Sax would revolutionize the French military band, register over 40 different patents, and invent 14 different types of saxophones as well as an entire family of saxhorns.

Come explore the surprisingly tumultuous history of the saxophone. 

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In 1876 a bumbling group of Chicago counterfeiters broke into Abraham Lincoln’s tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Illinois, after formulating a plot to steal the president’s body and use it as leverage to get counterfeiter Benjamin Boyd released from prison. Boyd worked for small-time crime boss Big Jim Kinealy, and Big Jim’s attempted heist would, with the help of a secret service informant, go down in history as an utterly bad idea.

Then we jump ahead a century to explore the snarkiest tomb in history. Roy Bertelli, known as Mr. Accordion, regularly stood atop his own grave, which is a stone’s throw from Lincoln’s, to loudly play his accordion for the sole purpose of being as annoying as possible. After a row with the cemetery management over their attempt to seize his grave plot, Roy spent the rest of his life letting them know they wouldn’t be getting it back, even over his dead body. Come hear why his delightfully cantankerous story earns Mr. Accordion the gold in posthumous snark. 

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This week in continuation of our Compassion Series we highlight the incredible story of Lieutenant John Robert Fox, one of seven African American soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor for acts of valor in WW2. We also examine the history of America’s Buffalo Soldiers, and discuss how black soldiers have served courageously in America’s armed forces since the inception of the United States military. Fox’s heroic tale is one that has gone down in history, and the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers remain an integral and interwoven part of the US’s military history. In this episode, we travel across America’s Great Plains during the 19th century before heading all the way to Sommocolonia, a small village in the Italian countryside during the second world war, where we find one soldier who truly gave everything for survival of others.

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This episode is the first in a series highlighting extraordinary people doing extraordinary things in times of crises. This week we travel to Belfast during the Blitz of 1941 and meet Denise Weston Austin. She worked as one of the Belfast Zoo’s first female zookeepers, and the friendship she developed with Sheila, the zoo’s baby elephant, would become an inspirational part of Irish history. For decades, Denise’s identity remained a mystery until an old black and white photo of a woman and a baby elephant in a backyard surfaced from the zoo’s archives. Come hear the story of the woman who risked everything to save a small, plucky elephant, and why Denise has become known around the world as the Elephant Angel. 

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Come and meet Poll, a presidential parrot so extra that his epic level of snark still lives on today. 

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