CHARLOTTE, NC, October 26, 2016 – It is truly amazing the things you can learn once you begin to delve into the world of trivia. Today’s adventure into little known facts is a perfect example.
1 – A rose by any other name: On October 25, 1881 one of the great prodigies of history was born. His Christian names were Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz.
The world would simply know him as Picasso.
When Picasso’s father, who was also a painter and an art teacher, realized his son’s artistic gifts he swore he would never paint again. In typical Picasso style, the prolific artist once described his talent saying “he could draw like Raphael when he was a youngster, but it has taken me my whole life to learn to draw like a child.”
Non-modern art fans might say that his description fits him perfectly.
Picasso was tireless in his craft and, as such, he holds an artistic record that may never be broken. According to the Art Loss Register, the great Spanish artist has had more of his work stolen than any other artist in history.
As of 2012, some 1,147 artistic contributions by Picasso have been the victims of theft. No other artist even comes close.
2 – Let your fingers do the walking: Have you ever noticed that many, if not most, cartoon characters only have four fingers? Did you ever wonder why?
One answer is that during the early days of animation, before William Hanna and Joseph Barbera created a technique that allows animation to be done more quickly, it took approximately 11,000 drawings to create a single seven-minute cartoon.
Supposedly, by simply eliminating the need to draw that one extra finger, it enabled artists to save significant amounts of time over the long run. As the need increased to turn out weekly Saturday cartoon shows for television removing that finger was a blessing.
However, perhaps the real story has to do with perspective. Five fingered mice, ducks and rabbits looked awkward, as they did when they only had three digits, thus making four fingers the standard.
All of which leads us to a question for another day; “Why do they all wear gloves?”
3 – Patton Penting: In the summer of 1912 a 26-year-old quartermaster from the 15th Cavalry of the United States Army competed in the pentathlon at the Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. His name: George S. Patton.
The original pentathlon was created to celebrate the skills of a soldier using the concept that a messenger on horseback would come across an enemy, defend himself with a pistol and then a sword before escaping by swimming across a river and running to his destination.
Those five events still comprise the competitions in the modern pentathlon, however today they all take place in a single day.
Also, in 1912 the Pentathlon was only open to military personnel.
In his first event, Patton drew his pistol, a .38 Colt special, from 25 meters and shot 20 times. Upon inspection of the target, only 17 holes could be found, to which Patton claimed that three of his shots passed through existing holes from previous rounds.
Without instant replay, the judges ruled otherwise and Patton finished 21st.
The next event, a 300-meter freestyle swim, was the future general’s least favorite event. In fact, in Patton’s mind swimming was barely a sport. Though he had not done a competitive swim for three years, Patton finished 7th but had to be fished out of the pool by a boathook.
The next two days were for fencing which Patton felt was the most demanding of the five events. His reasoning was based on the fact that each of the 29 challengers was required to fight every other participant. In the end, Patton used a completely offensive strategy with little or no defense to come in fourth.
An accomplished equestrian, the steeplechase on the fifth day was Patton’s favorite challenge. Unfortunately, his mount was sidelined by a last minute injury and Patton was forced to borrow a Swedish cavalry horse.
Patton registered a perfect score, but so did 13 others leaving the rankings to be based upon the fastest time. Patton earned a credible sixth place finish.
The final event was a 2.5 mile run over heavily forested terrain that included thick mud. Runners were not allowed to see the course in advance and the race was held on one of the hottest days of the summer. Two competitors passed out during the run and another died.
In order to help Patton’s stamina, his trainer gave him a legal shot of “hop”, better known as opium. It must have worked because Patton entered the stadium first for the stretch run. But that’s when the “juice” expired and he could go no further. Patton was forced to walk the last 50 meters.
Two other runners passed him, and, while Patton did finish the race, he collapsed at the finish line for third place.
In the end, Patton finished fifth overall in the Stockholm Olympics. Perhaps, if those early “missed” shots been accounted for, it is likely he would have captured a medal.
Thirty years later, George S. Patton was leading the Third Army in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II.
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Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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