Frank ZappaToday’s contribution to world literature and tomorrow’s fish wrap will consider historical events that took place on 21 December. The reason for choosing 21 December is that is the day this issue of Up & Coming Weekly was released onto an unsuspecting public. Birthday persons born on 21 December include Thomas a’ Becket born in 1117, the Archbishop of Canterbury; Kurt Waldheim born 1918, a former Nazi who became U.N. Secretary-General; and Frank Zappa born 1940, American musician and dietician. According to astrologers, all three share common traits as they were born on the same day under the sign of Sagittarius the archer. Let us cipher to determine what links these three individuals. 

Thomas a’ Becket teaches us to stay out of cathedrals if you have been arguing with the King of England. Back in the 12th century, the Archbishop of Canterbury was supposed to hold the coronation for the next king. King Henry II had his son Henry the Young King coronated by the Archbishop of York instead of Tom. Tom was highly aggravated and excommunicated the Archbishop of York and anyone else involved in the coronation. King Henry II took offense to Tom’s actions. Henry is reported to have said, “Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?” While not actually ordering Tom to be whacked, four of Henry’s knights took it as a direction to off Tom. They then murdered him in the cathedral. Thus was born the concept of plausible deniability, which has been used by politicians ever since Tom’s really bad day at work. Another more wordy version of Henry’s frustration with Tom resulted in one of the great insults of the English language: “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their Lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric? “ Henry II was not much for sugar coating things.

Kurt Waldheim teaches us about a little known medical condition called Waldheimer’s Disease which makes you forget you were a Nazi. Kurt served in the German army in World War II. He was involved in Operation Kozara in 1942, which involved shooting civilian prisoners only a few hundred yards from Kurt’s office. Kurt, apparently situationally hearing impaired, channeled Sergeant Schultz of Hogan’s Heroes and explained he knew nothing about the killings. Kurt went on to become president of Austria and ultimately Secretary-General of the United Nations. Mr. Waldheim is presently spending eternity in a lake of fire as a footstool for Satan. Mr. Waldheim’s legacy lives on in the surprisingly vocal members of the Alt-right neo-Nazis who have risen up from obscurity subsequent to the recent election. 

Frank Zappa was the lead singer and philosopher king of the rock group, Mothers of Invention. Frank was the Marcus Aurelius of the late 1960s. He had opinions about everything. Frank taught us one of the great dietary lessons of all time when he wrote the lyrics, “Watch out where the huskies go/ And don’t you eat that yellow snow.” If you avoid consuming the yellow snow, your breath stays minty fresh. Frank also offered sound vocational advice in his song “Brown Shoes Don’t Make It:” “TV dinner by the pool/ I’m so glad I finished school.”

So, what can we say we have learned from Tom, Kurt and Frank? If you want to keep your head attached to your shoulders, refrain from excommunicating the King’s buddies. Being a Nazi is never having to say you are sorry because you can’t remember wearing a swastika. TV dinners by the pool are better eating than discolored snow. The common denominator seems to be self-improvement tips from each of our birthday boys. 

Other fun facts about Dec. 21. The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. The first basketball game was played in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts, under the watchful eye of James Naismith. Madam Curie discovered radium in 1898 and died from exposure to radiation in 1934. In 1933, Shirley Temple, at age five, signed her first movie contract with Fox Pictures. 

Perhaps the most significant event that happened on our special day was that the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar reached its end date of 13.0.0.0.0 which led a large number of concerned citizens to believe that the end of the world would occur on Dec. 21, 2012. Fortunately, it turned out that reports of the end of the world had been greatly exaggerated. Despite all the hype, we did not move into Apocalypse Town. The Dow Jones average was 13,190 and on its way up. Life goes on. Merry Christmas.

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