10 April 2010

Weekend Wiki Wormhole

The internet is full of one thing: wormholes. They are easy to find: just start clicking. If you aren't sure where to start, try Wikipedia, the links will lead you on a magical mystery tour into the weirdest places.

Today, my journey started with a Facebook status update by Hubby. His use of an implied double-entendre by ending a phrase with "[blank]" reminded me of the 70s era Match Game so I suggested in my comment cuing the Match Game music and added something about Charles Nelson Reilly. That's where things got interesting. I went looking for the Weird Al song, CNR from his latest album (no, I'm not kidding, it's embedded below) but got sidetracked reading the Wikipedia entry for Charles Nelson Reilly. Turns out, he survived a horrific fire I'd never heard about, the Hartford Circus Fire.

In July 1944, a Ringling Bros.,Barnum and Bailey show under the big top was destroyed by a fire -- seems the typical waterproofing of the era was paraffin dissolved in kerosene spread over the canvas tents! After the event (which killed over 160 people and injured hundreds more), Reilly never sat in a theatre audience and Ringling Bros., Barnum and Bailey left the tents for good, performing only in buildings or arenas as they toured. A few clicks brought me to this page of magazine articles, some contemporary to the event -- I particularly liked the breakdown in Volunteer Firemen Magazine which includes a map of the Big Top (better scan here) showing the origin of the fire, the exits, and basically what went wrong.

One more click into the wormhole and I was watching a clip from Charles Nelson Reilly's stage show, the Life of Reilly about the event -- a lifetime away from the bawdy CNR I knew from syndicated reruns of the Match Game. (If you only click on one link, follow that one. It's well worth the two minutes or so.)

So, anyway, that's how I spent my Saturday afternoon. How about you?

Related fun stuff:

CNR, in the style of the White Stripes:

Typical Match Game tomfoolery:

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