The Battle of Clontarf

Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time! Photo by Jesse Gardner on Unsplash

The Battle of Clontarf resulted from two centuries of broken treaties, misalliances, dirty dealings, and general loathing between the native Irish Celtic chieftains and the Norsemen who invaded and settled in Ireland two hundred years earlier.

The Vikings arrived on the shores of the Emerald Isle and plundered its monasteries for their gold, priceless manuscripts, and bountiful harvests. They gradually established settlements of their own and engaged in trade with the Irish.

The Irish may have traded with the Vikings, but they still resented their presence. …


The first to survive the trip was a woman

Anna and her barrel Photo by New York Times

Anna Edson Taylor was the first adventurer to barrel over Niagara Falls and lived to tell the tale. Why would Taylor attempt such a dangerous thing at her age? Simple. She needed money. Yay, capitalism.

The future daredevil was born on October 24, 1838, in Auburn, New York. Her father died when Anna was only 12, but the inheritance from his flour mill meant the family continued to live in the manner they were accustomed to.

When Anna was 17 and studying to become a teacher, she met a young man named David Taylor. After a whirlwind courtship, they married…


It’s not all in your head

Damn, my friends are idiots Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Having a chronic illness is hard. Having a chronic illness not visible to the naked eye is even harder. How can you be so sick looking so well?

And besides, you feel fine now. Why continue taking medication you clearly don’t need anymore?

Stop. Think. Proceed with caution.

People ditching their psych meds cold turkey, especially after taking them for many years, scare the shit out of me. It’s particularly heinous when the impetus is from well-meaning friends and family encouraging you to take a “natural” approach to treat your illness.

Mental illness is often far more debilitating than any…


First American cesarean section performed by candlelight

Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

On January 14, 1794, Dr. Jesse Bennett’s wife, Elizabeth, was suffering very difficult labor with their first child. After a forceps delivery failed, Dr. Humphrey, her attending physician, determined the only remaining options were a cesarean section on Elizabeth or a craniotomy on the infant (temporarily removing part of the skull.)

Believing that either meant certain death for one or both of his patients, Dr. Humphrey refused to act or even assist on moral grounds. Of course, doing nothing would mean the death of one or both as well. Dr. Humphrey was clearly a schmuck.

Convinced she was doomed anyway…


Elvis discovers amphetamines and Priscilla

Sgt. Presley Photo by fanpop

When 23-year-old Elvis Presley was inducted into the United States Army on the morning of March 24, 1958 — or “Black Monday” if you were one of his mourning fans — he was the undisputed King of Rock and Roll. As the day ended, he was just another lowly buck private.

Before he enlisted, the Pentagon offered Elvis the opportunity to bypass serving as a regular soldier by joining the special services. So, after Elvis completed six weeks of basic training, he could return to his regular civilian schedule. The only catch was that he’d be expected to perform a…


Break out the polyester suits, guys

Tony and his hair: a love story Photo by The Wrap

“Would ya just watch the hair? Ya know, I work on my hair a long time and you hit it. He hits my hair.” — Tony Manero

At first, all you see are highly-shined shoes and swishing black flared pants strutting down a New York City street in perfect rhythm to the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.” Then the camera pans up to a swinging paint can held by an impossibly cocky and good-looking young man. He is 19-year-old Tony Manero, hardware store employee by day, the undisputed king of the 2001 Odyssey disco at night.

Saturday Night Fever, which opened…


Mae West set the standard

The one and only Mae Photo by Woman’s World

I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it.” — Mae West

Before Marilyn, before Bardot, before Madonna, there was the original blonde bombshell, Mae West. She single-handedly and effortlessly created a Hollywood archetype just by being her wonderfully sassy self.

Mae was born on August 17, 1893, in Brooklyn, New York. Her father was “Battlin’ Jack” West, a prizefighter and street brawler for hire. Her mother, Tillie, raised Mae and her two younger siblings in a relaxed manner eons away from the strict Victorian childrearing practices of the time.

Precocious Mae was performing for her delighted family…


Your mileage may vary

There's just something about British television, isn’t there? The humor is smarter, the writing is better, the acting is superior. Beats almost everything produced in the U.S. by a mile.

Let’s jump right in with my personal top four.

LOL John Cleese’s face Photo by the Guardian

Fawlty Towers

This program stars John Cleese, so you know it’s gonna rock, and it does.

Cleese stars as Basil Fawlty, an English hotel manager who bemoans “that annoying section of the general public who insist on staying at hotels.” On top of those pesky customers, Fawlty must deal with his naggy wife and his Spanish waiter, Manuel. …


Mourning Bobby Kennedy

Bobby greets his supporters in his last moments. Photo by Boston.com

Today I wear black.

I wear black for a man that I never met. A man who showed me it’s possible to evolve and shed outmoded beliefs and behaviors. A man that died over 50 years ago in the most horrific way. A man whose vision for a better America became my own.

His name was Robert F. Kennedy. Today, I wear black to mourn him.

Bobby and I came from the same city (Boston, MA) but from two entirely different worlds. The Kennedys were demigods for Boston Irish Catholics. John F. …


The Story of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

Wait up, Steven. My wee legs can't keep up *Photo by Unsplash(

“Mercy to animals means mercy to mankind” — Henry Bergh

On April 10, 1866, one man became the voice for millions unable to advocate for themselves.

Countless animals were saved from abuse, torture, and death when New York philanthropist Henry Bergh took up their cause and founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Henry Bergh was born to a life of wealth, privilege, and influence. In 1863, President Lincoln appointed him to a diplomatic post at Czar Alexander II’s court in Russia. He was horrified when he witnessed peasants beating horses too exhausted to rise…

Kathy Copeland Padden

is a news junkie and history buff spending the End Times randomly alternating between bouts of crankiness and bemusement. Come along!

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