Prospecting for Odd Little Nuggets of Information.
January 11, 2014
I should have been a prospector.
I like to mine the unknown.
That’s why I spend so much time researching for blogs and books, and even novels, especially novels.
I never know when I’m going to stumble across another nugget of information that may or may not ever make it into one of my manuscripts.
But I’m glad I found it.
I’m glad I know it.
And who knows?
Someday when I’m sitting there stuck in the middle of a scene that’s going nowhere, searching for a strange twist that I can add to the illusion, I may dredge out one of these nuggets from the back recesses of my memory, and it could well be just the fact I’m looking for in order to get the story rolling again. The bizarre works when everything else fails.
That’s what I tell myself anyway as I file them away in that little warehouse in the far corner of my brain.
Here are some of the oddball little facts that presently reside there.
- Adolph Hitler sat down and played a chess game every day regardless of the battle raging around him. He always played the white pieces and demanded that his opponent allow him to replace one of his bishops with a second queen. He always got his wish. A concentration camp waited if he didn’t.
- When Franklin D. Roosevelt was President of the United States, his wife was convinced that the White House was haunted. Ghosts, she said, walked the hallways, and Abraham Lincoln wasn’t the only one wandering around at night. The First Lady, Eleanor, was so fearful of the haunts that she kept a vial of holy water on the nightstand beside her bed. She sprinkled it liberally to protect her.
- When the Greeks built their world-famous Parthenon, the site had to first be cleared of hundreds of dinosaur bones. The workers called them “the bones of giants,” and, in retrospect, I guess they were right.
- When you think about the diabolical and maybe evil art of shrinking heads, you no doubt assume that it was practiced solely by primitive tribes dwelling in the jungles of South America. Think again. The custom of shrinking heads to put fear in the heart of an enemy was also common among the learned and heralded members of the legendary Knights Templar.
The famous and notorious name of The Red Baron struck fear in the souls and minds of those flyboys fighting the air battles of World War I. He was the greatest flying ace of them all and personified the face of Germany in the sky. But the Red Baron wasn’t particularly patriotic. He probably wasn’t really a Nazi. He just wanted to fly. Early on when conflict was inevitable, he applied to the British Royal Air Force and only enlisted in the German Army Air Force when the British turned him down. It was a bad decision on somebody’s part.
- In many respects, it was bad timing. The world lost its British Princess when Diana died far too young. And Princess Diana had her navel pierced and fitted with a 2.8-carat diamond stud only a few hours before her fatal car crash.
- Everyone remembers the counterculture icon Timothy Leary. He was an American psychologist who advocated the use of psychedelic drugs, even conducting experiments at Harvard. He lived his life on LSD, saw things the rest of us can’t even imagine, took a lot of strange and bizarre mental journeys, and promoted the philosophy of “turn on, tune in, and drop out.” What few know, however, is that Timothy Leary was deathly afraid of barbers. He learned to cut his own hair at the age of nine and never visited a barbershop again.
- We all have seen the noble and regal lion roar at the beginning of all MGM motion pictures. But few realize that the lion used in the original MGM movie logo attacked and killed his trainer and two assistants the day after the famous roar was filmed.
The armadillo has long been hailed as the iconic symbol of Texas. But the military may have taken Texas and its allegiance to the armadillo a little too far. Back in 2004, a lab at The University of Texas received a six million dollar federal grant to breed radioactive armadillos for potential use in warfare. I’m sure you could turn the little critters loose in the Middle East, and they would never know they had left the deserts of West Texas.
- We’ve all seen the face of Uncle Sam. He’s somber, he’s pointing and he’s saying, “I want you.” He is the personification of America in search of its fighting men. However, the artist who created the famed poster was actually modeled after a door-to-door salesman in Canada.
- I knew that I never liked Asian dishes and apparently I’m not alone. At the World Gourmand Expo of 2006, Asian desserts took last place in every category: taste, aroma, appearance, and presentation.
That’s a few of the nuggets that washed up this morning.
I’m sure there are plenty of them left and more to come.
Please click the book cover image to read more about Caleb Pirtle III and his books. The novel plots are filled with little bizarre nuggets of information.