We'll B.C.-ing you later, Johnny

When you spend nine seconds of every morning for much of your childhood and adolescence reading a comic strip by the same guy -- or two strips, in Hart's case -- you kinda feel like you know him, just a little bit. But now that he's gone to that big inkwell in the sky, it's time to take stock, mental_floss-style, and see how Johnny Hart trivia matches up with the picture of him we've created in our minds.

"¢ Hart created both B.C. and The Wizard of Id. Okay, we knew that. So far, so good.
"¢ Hart stirred up some controversy on Easter, 2001 by publishing an overtly religious strip portraying a menorah with seven candles progressively burning out as the strip captions ran the final words of Jesus Christ. At the end, the outer arms of the candelabra broke away, leaving a Christian cross, with the final panel portraying the opened and empty tomb of Christ. Hmm, that one was a surprise, though the Sunday comics page does occasionally dip into the devotional. But isn't the title of his strip B.C.?
"¢ Another B.C. strip, which ran November 10, 2003, showed an outhouse with a traditional crescent, which a character entered with a vertical graphic "SLAM", only to ask, "Is it just me, or does it stink in here?" Critics including the Council on American-Islamic Relations claimed that the combination of the vertical bar and the "SLAM", as well as the crescent moons both in the sky and on the outhouse, made the strip a slur on Islam. Hart denied that it was anything but an outhouse joke. More outrageous, perhaps, is the idea that cavemen used outhouses.
"¢ A short-lived B.C. video game appeared in arcades in 1983, called B.C.'s Quest for Tires. The concept, as per IMDB, is this: "You are B.C., traveling up the mountain and through caves on your unicycle. Try to avoid rocks and Grog to reach the top of the mountain." Ah, the infancy of video games. I'd like to see them try to adapt The Wizard of Id into a gory first-person shooter!

A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

A Tour of the New York Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room

The Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine documents the evolution of our medical knowledge. Its books and artifacts are as bizarre as they are fascinating. Read more here.


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