Allow me to introduce myself: I'm Michael Stusser, a columnist for mental_floss magazine, ParentMap, and author of The Dead Guy Interviews, Conversations with 45 of the Most Accomplished, Notorious and Deceased Personalities in HistoryÂ "“ my first book.
The genesis of The Dead Guy Interviews came about after running into Beethoven at a RiteAid. I was trying to use one of those damn photo machines (straightforward my foot) and the Boy Genius was refilling the batteries in his hearing aid. Well, it looked like Beethoven, anyway (must have been the ruffled collar and bouffant that threw me off"¦). Point is, it got me to thinking: what if I could track down the most famous folks in history and ask obnoxious and intrusive questions about their lives: Did Napoleon really have a complex, or was he just French? What was up with Thomas Jefferson's hypocritical stance on slavery (not to mention the DNA tests), and did Washington inhale? Might Frida consider a brow wax or J. Edgar Hoover a bigger bra size? And what the heck was da Vinci thinking with the whole ear episode? Edutainment, you might call it, but with a little theatre and pop-off pop-culture thrown in for good measure. If you ever wondered what it would be like to have dinner with anyone in history "“ now you'll know.
I've been asked by the good folks at mental floss to write a series of posts to introduce the book "“ and keep folks informed of important historical landmarks they may have left off their DayPlanners.
More after the jump...
Sadly - when it comes down to it - we're just not all that "book-smart." We're fuzzy on the facts. We have trouble telling the Bill of Rights from a Bill of Lading, astronomy from astrology, or Madonna from, well, Madonna. Most people think Hercules is a pro wrestler, and DescartesÂ a snail or dessert wine. While people love to feel smart, they'd prefer not to have to work for the knowledge. We're active people without a lot of time on our hands. It's the same reason fast food, insta-photos and dry cleaning are so darn popular. We want it all, we want it quickly, and - if possible - we'd like it supersized (no mayo).
Today's historical/hysterical lesson is an interview with the fabulous "“ and controversial Charles Darwin. On this date in 1935, Professor DarwinÂ reached James Island on the Galapagos archipelago on the HMS Beagle. (That's not a dog, it's a ship). His research here led to the theory of evolution, where Chuck postured that Eve did not come from Adam's rib. But we'll leave that up to you and your local PTA. In honor of this historic event "“ I'm allowing you to sit in on a condensed interview with Darwin from my book. For the full, in-depth interview with Mr. Darwin, you'll have to buy my book. But it'll be worth it "“ or I'll be a Monkey's Uncle.
Enjoy - and see ya tomorrow for more bloggery.