Valentine's Day is here again, Buzzkillers, and you can be certain that we're depleting the Buzzkill bank account at a rapid clip so that we can give Lady Buzzkill all the best tokens of lova and affection befitting her rank and station. And it's always around this time of year that people ask me about St. Valentine. Did he really pass a heart-shaped note to an admirer and sign it "Your Valentine"? Was this the first Valentine's Day card? Listen and learn!
Herr Hitler gets credit for an awful lot, Buzzkillers, including the invention of the Volkswagen. The story is that he demanded a "people's car" that the average German could afford. Alas, Buzzkillers, the story is much more complicated than that, and Adolph played only a small part in the invention of the cute, little VW Beetle.
Impeachment? The 25th Amendment? Resignation? How do the American people remove a president from office? Why is it so complicated, and what's the history behind each way to get a dangerous, criminal, or just plain crazy chief executive out of the highest office in the land. Join Professor Buzzkill and Professor Nash as they work through all the possibilities, and illuminate all the history and politics behind the various processes. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!
From 1876, when the first effective dynamo/generator that produced a steady current of electricity was invented, Americans reacted to this new phenomenon of electricity in many different ways. Professor Jennifer Lieberman is one of the first academics to study that reaction, especially how it appeared in popular literature, both fiction and non-fiction. And in doing so, she raises a lot of very important questions about our relationships with technology and the natural world. We interview her about the cultural reactions to electricity as a new technology is the topic of this episode. Listen and be electrified!
The painting Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze is one of the most iconic images in the American cultural consciousness. But how accurate a depiction is it? By standing up in the boat, did George risk tipping over and falling into the icy river? Would his soldiers have laughed or panicked? Listen to this Buzzkill classic to find out!
Varian Fry started life as a journalist. He spent the early years of World War II, however, rescuing Jews from occupied Europe, and agitating against immigration restrictions against refugees. Working with a small team of dedicated volunteers in Marseilles, Fry saved the lives of over 2,200 people. He helped them get out of France, through Spain and Portugal, and to safety in the United States. Recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" long after his death, Varian Fry should appear much more often in the history books. Listen and learn.
Gregor Rasputin (1869-1916) is one of the most fascinating people in modern history. Who was he? Religious visionary? Mystic healer? Charlatan? Spiritual con man? Political snake? All of the above? The story that it took being drugged, poisoned, shot, beaten, and drowned for him to die is a myth, Buzzkillers. But the broader story is fascinating. Listen and learn.
The "pizza effect" helps explain why assumptions about the history and development of certain cultural practices and traditions are among the strongest historical myths out there, how they are self-reinforcing, and how they can build up mistaken images and misunderstandings about cultural identity. Along the way, we'll learn about such things as the "pizza renaissance" in Italy, the "Hindu renaissance across India, the "Cornish pasty renaissance" in south-west England, and the "Clancy Brothers" or "traditional music renaissance" in Ireland! Listen and let it all sink in!
Lots of people take comfort from the quote "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice," and it's usually credited to Martin Luther King Jr. He said it, but was it an original MLK thought? The long history of this famous quote is fascinating and uplifting. Listen to this Buzzkill favorite to find out!
It's time to go over the top, Buzzkillers! We interview Professor Richard Grayson about the wildly popular BBC television series, BlackAdder, and how close it is to historical reality. There are probably more myths about war than any other part of history, and BlackAdder addressed many of them. Let's "go forth!" and see if they got their history right.
"The Great Train Robbery" (1903) was not the first feature film, despite what you learned in film studies class, Buzzkillers (or from some tiresome, drunken film-studies major at a boring film-studies party). The Aussies beat Hollywood to the punch. Find out how they did it!