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Today in history

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Elvis signed with RCA Records under the ever watchful eye of Colonel Parker, just out of shot. The two had taken the contract out of the office to cool off after a heated discussion involving a clause requiring the rising young star to gyrate his hips in a manner which he found objectionable on the grounds that his mother wouldn't approve. "I'm sure she'll approve of the new house you'll be able to buy her," the Colonel told him. Warming to the idea but still uncertain if the road to hell is paved with good intentions, Elvis asked two young ladies if the suggestive thrusting of his hips would deter them from buying his records. They searched their conscience and assured him that it wouldn't, provided he lived a wholesome life when not under the spotlight.

Grabbing a pen and a boy passing on a bicycle, he signed. The rest is music history. The boy grew up to become a DEA agent and a big Elvis fan.


"If only," Truman thinks

Truman Capote, the Breakfast at Tiffany's author so eerily portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman on the big screen and Cartman on the small one (if he hasn't been he should be), made a U-turn for Pancakes at Bob's, which he spotted on his way home from a Gore Vidal effigy burning party. Capote was a notorious pancake fancier and philanthropist, often filling his basket and dispensing them like frisbees to admirers.

A literary prodigy, Truman was reportedly fired from an early drudge job at the New Yorker for angering Robert Frost enough for the poet to update Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And Truman's balls to squeeze in a vice,
And Truman's balls to squeeze in a vice.

Capote later found fame as a true crime writer, party boy, then house pet to Joanne Carson, wife of Ed McMahon's benefactor. He ended his days shuffling through revolving doors of rehab clinics and hallucinating that he was Tennessee Williams's mustache, his death cruelly mocked by Vidal as "a good career move" but his career an undeniably intriguing weave in the rich tapestry of life.


Butch Cassidy relaxed after a robbery, giving the Sundance Kid an idea: what if on their next bank heist they use the drive-thru window? It would make for a fast sure getaway, horses getting notoriously dead when punctured by the bullets of pursuing lawmen. The bike besotted Butch decided it was the future and agreed.

The day of the heist started with a bad omen when the Sundance Kid got SMIDSY'd by a stagecoach, totaling his black beauty. They made lemonade out of lemons and robbed the coach out of principle, then the Kid hopped onto Butch's handlebars. On the way to the bank they got passed by an old lady on a penny farthing, which irritated the Kid enough to want to rob her too, but Butch told him to grow up.

When they finally arrived the drive-thru had a long line of customers who make easy pickings for the bandits. Flush with cash by the time they got to the window, Butch nearly had a change of heart and made a deposit instead, part of him thinking he's getting a little old for this and maybe it's time to let his money do the work, but the interest rate was risible so he stuck to the plan. They took out a large withdrawal and commenced their getaway.

Unfortunately the plan had a fatal flaw. The posse following in hot pursuit reminded them that bikes can get punctures, too.

The desperadoes took cover in an abandoned shed at the edge of town, pinned in, outgunned, their useless "hearse" as the Sundance Kid was now calling it a convenient target for him to flog out of frustration. Butch watched impassively, the posse giving the usual spiel about being surrounded, etc. "They also shoot iron horses, don't they," he said mostly to himself. "What?" said the Kid. "Never mind," said Butch. "For a moment there I thought we were in trouble."


John Paul II collected the bike which has finally been repaired after Satan caused the wheels to go out of true. He is shown here blessing it, which according to Vatican regulations must be done before God's representative on earth and now Twitter is allowed to go for a spin. A keen cyclist, as a youth in Poland he was in charge of blowing air into tyres for the national team. After he became pope he was regularly sighted doing circuits of St Peter's Square, offering nuns a ride on the handlebars and sometimes pushing them off "to watch them fly."

The Cardinals weren't afraid to play pranks on their beloved holy father. Once they turned the popemobile, fitted with a bike rack for visits abroad, upside-down and told him "your car is ready." They then crouched behind nearby cherubim and watched what would happen. Paul II very calmly checked the tyres, pronounced them a bit low, and was about to do the honours when the Cardinals scrambled from their hiding place as he was humbly pursing his lips.

He was not above friendly competition with those who sought his audience, instructing them to not let him win out of fear for their souls. There is, however, no record of him ever losing.

44BC: Brutus grows tired of scratching Caesar's itch.

1493: Columbus returns home after his first trip to the Americas. He's later sent back by Isabella to get better souvenirs.

1672: Charles II issues the Royal Declaration of Indulgence, an act which allows him all the Ferrero Rocher he can fit on his lap.

1893: Liverpool F.C. is founded.

1956: My Fair Lady premiers on Broadway to disastrous reviews in the cosmetics press.

1971, in horrible seriousness: 22-year old "champion of the world" Jean-Pierre Monseré is killed during a race in a collision with a car. His young son will later also die on a bicycle.


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