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Eric Williams

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Historical Mashups: Visuals From a Year of "Triviazoids"

Posted: 01/03/12 03:37 PM ET

With a December 31 entry marking Edison's introduction of the incandescent street lamp, in addition to the birthdays of Gandhi (well, Ben Kingsley) and Hannibal Lecter (actually, Anthony Hopkins), my brother Brad has completed a full year of Triviazoids, his trivia blog in which he finds curious and amusing threads linking the events of each day in history. Think of it as a daily historical version of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" (who got his own mention on his birthday, July 8).

Making these sorts of unlikely connections comes easily to Brad, as one of the real-life subjects being studied by the University of California -- Irvine for "highly superior autobiographical memory" (the condition fictionalized in the CBS cop show Unforgettable and chronicled in my own documentary, which was titled Unforgettable even before Unforgettable was cool). Even with his remarkable mind, Brad still needs to research each day's history in order to seek out the most interesting coincidences, but many of the oddest items have come straight from his own mental database.

Probably my favorite entry of the year came on December 12, when Brad found a series of highly logical links to connect actress Mayim Bialik to Bruce Springsteen's well-known live version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," which was recorded on the day Ms. Bialik was born, thanks to a detour through actor/producer Sheldon Leonard.

Our brother Greg was the initial instigator for Triviazoids, but I became caretaker of the site early this year and overtook responsibility for adding audio/visual supplements to each day's listing. Inspiration came more easily on some days than others. Often, it became a Google-quest simply to find two people mentioned in that day's 'Zoid photographed together (for March 25, I found the Zelig-like John Lennon posed next to Allen Ginsberg, Elton John and Howard Cosell) or to find a rare video clip which Brad cited, such as the Sonny and Cher operatic parody of All In The Family, which Brad had remembered watching on December 27, 1971. The December 22 birthdays of Robin and Maurice Gibb and Barbara Billingsley allowed me to post YouTube clips from the Bee Gees and from the movie, Airplane! Their connection? Why, jive talkin,' of course.

But the most satisfying visuals for me were the mashups which combined images from disparate strains of pop culture, unified by little more than a coincidental collision, the calendrical quirk of two otherwise unrelated events sharing the same significant date. Submitted for your enjoyment, a slideshow of some of my favorite visuals from the year just passed.

The Wizard Of Tara
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Gone With The Wind and The Wizard Of Oz, both released in 1939, were both directed by Victor Fleming (born on February 23). He could have saved time by merging them into a single movie.
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