Thursday, November 10, 2011

Today in Pop Culture History: Sunny Days and Shipwrecks

10 November 1975: The SS Edmund Fitzgerald, the largest boat ever to sail on the Great Lakes, became the largest ship ever to sink there for reasons still largely unknown. In evidence that Lake Superior is freaking HUGE, the bodies of the twenty-nine sailors were never recovered. Some said the Fitz had been cursed from the start, requiring three tries to break a champagne bottle over her bow, and running into a pier on her maiden launch. Pop culture connection: Gordon Lightfoot released a predictably Lightfoot-esque ballad the following year entitled, yep, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." You know you love it.

10 November 1969: Happy birthday to, amongst others, the Cookie Monster, the Count, Big Bird, and Elmo. Sesame Street, iconic children's education program and probably the first televisual babysitter for many of us, debuted on PBS. Over the show's forty-plus-year run, it's evolved to reflect the changing American sociocultural landscape with a multi-racial human cast and stronger roles for female muppets, and has never ceased to be pop culturally relevant. The introduction of an HIV-positive muppet in 2002 on the South African show caused controversy, as did the August, 2011, statement from the show's producers that muppets don't have a sexual orientation, addressing a persistent rumor that Bert and Ernie are gay.

I've always been a Grover fan, myself.

Entry in the Pop Culture Lexicon
10 November 1871: Journalist Henry Stanley found David Livingstone in central Africa on this day. Stanley's greeting to the missionary, who hadn't been heard from in years, solidified him as a master of droll understatement. Say it with me now:
"Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

I have a feeling the actual meeting looked nothing like this.

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