Category Archives: History

January: Mike & The History of TP

(REMINDER: The White House Report Night has a Christmas party tradition: white elephant topics.  In other words, instead of exchanging  gifts in the white elephant fashion during our Christmas party, we all write topics on slips of paper and exchange those instead.  “The history of Toilet Paper” was the topic Mike received at the 2010 Christmas party.)

Mike’s report was as entertaining and educational as it was disgusting and shameless.  Going as far back in documented history as possible (589 AD), Mike belabored the point that using toilet paper has been repeatedly proven ineffective and unsanitary.  Many “tests” over the years have attempted to decide the best way to clean a dirty backside. (Surprisingly a  “well-downed goose neck” made the cut. Who knew?)

Besides the many “colorful” images in his power point presentation, Mike used a demonstration for a visual aid.  (And no….it isn’t as bad as it sounds.) He elected Ross to cover his hand with peanut butter and then remove the PB with toilet paper. He was given as much TP as needed as well as ample time. Tommy, then, was asked to both smell Ross’ hand for PB odor & touch it for any oily residue.  The TP left behind both. Then Ross was given a wet wipe, which completely removed any proof of peanut butter. 

As Mike’s wife, the one who is probably more sensitive to his “crossing-the-line” antics than any other, I still think this was his best work. (Horrific images, but a quality report nonetheless.)

I will leave you with a quote from Francois Rabelais that left us laughing, “Who his foul tail with paper wipes, Shall at his ballocks leave some chips.”


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Filed under History, When things get crazy

June: Lariate & Sock Monkeys

Aren’t sock monkeys adorable?  That’s what we thought when Lariate brought her son’s toy as her visual aid.  But before I go on, there’s something you need to know.

June’s Report Night was not at the White House.  The White’s were out-of-town, so everyone hopped on over to our family pad.  But unlike the White’s, we don’t have the ability (or at least the know-how) to connect our laptop to our tv screen.  So we declared June Low Tech Report Night.  This is where Lariate’s mad teaching skills came in.

Using her sons’ easel and giant roll of paper, she taught us the history of the sock monkey the “old school” way.  Red Heel socks were standard workman’s socks for years, and during the Depression mothers began sewing toys for their children using Dad’s old socks.  When Nelson Knitting Mills got wind of this, they soon bought the copyright to the monkey pattern and began including it with each pair of their Red Heel socks.  Lariate’s report was complete with the pattern, but we saved the sewing for our own time.

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Filed under Crafts, History

December: Melissa

**ATTENTION OCD READERS: Please have your ritualized hand-sanitizer comforts nearby, because you are about to read a December report in the middle of our February runs. I realize this is out of order, but to be fair, Melissa deserves her post. Also, these sort of things don’t bother me very much and I make the rules. (Well, these rules.)  So take a deep breath and pretend it is December…**

This is her second report, but to say Melissa gives “reports” is such a mundane, inadequate word for what she does.  Melissa’s reports are more like performance art.  Our very first Report Night she came and gave a dramatic lesson on giant squid.

From the squid’s perspective.

With the light’s out.

With a flashlight under her chin.

Frankly, everyone needs a little Melissa-flair in their lives.  But enough about squid!  Melissa began her report…in the bathroom.  We were not with her.  So across the distance of the White’s foyer (seriously, they have a foyer), we saw the light shining from the open doorway of the bathroom that kept Melissa out of view.  “YOU ALL ARE PROBABLY WONDERING WHY I’M BEGINNING MY REPORT FROM THE BATHROOM,” she yelled.  “AT OUR HOUSE WE HAVE A CHRISTMAS TRADITION OF PLAYING GAMES AND EATING FOOD ALL DAY LONG.  CONSEQUENTLY, WE ALSO SPEND MUCH OF OUR TIME IN HERE, AS WELL: THE BATHROOM.”  Then Melissa returned to the living room wearing a tweed jacket, a pair of glasses, and a British accent.  The bathroom had transformed her into Thomas Crapper, the supposed inventor of the toilet.

We learned soon enough, however, that Thomas Crapper really did not invent the toilet, he merely made it popular.   We also learned that the word “crap” is not a derivative of the name Crapper, but instead from the Dutch word “krappe.”  I am a fan of giving credit where credit is due (see our “Welcome!” tab), so for a comprehensive look at who deserves credit for inventing our modern and convenient flush-toilet, take a look at this.  Better yet, copy and paste the entry so you can print it and read it on your next friendly visit to the commode. 

*Next time we hear from Melissa, it will be on her white elephant topic “The Worst of 2009.”

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Filed under Biographical, Christmas, History, When things get crazy

February: Tommy & Rubber Chickens

Tommy’s reports always begin with his backpack of mystery, set between two brightly colored converse-clad feet.  Before unveiling the tell-all visual within, however, he painted some historical imagery that ended with a court jester taunting the crowd with the ol’ “pig-bladder-on-a-stick” gag. (That one never gets old.)  It was this historical gag that led to what we now know as the rubber chicken.  (And this is when the rubber chickens made their appearance from the backpack of mystery.)  A longer history than any of us expected, the rubber chicken was a staple of entertainment for the founding father of modern clowns, Joseph Grimaldi, and well as for Negro Baseball League pitcher, Satchel Paige.  The great pitcher was known to do a ridiculously long wind-up pitch which would end with the “ball” being a balled-up rubber chicken.  (Much to our delight, Tommy did his best Satchel Paige impression of this.) Today Loftus Novelty in Salt Lake City holds the rights to the rubber chicken mold we know today:

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Filed under Cult following, Culture, History, Pop-culture

February: Tonya & Salar de Uyuni

Tonya went next with a report on the world’s largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia.  She really scored a topic we knew nothing about, which is the best sort to have on Report Night.  Salar de Uyuni was a prehistoric lake, and now the dried remains are a salt wasteland the size of Connecticut.  Underneath the salt crust is the world’s largest supply of lithium, as of yet untapped.  When it rains it becomes the world’s largest mirror, and there are even a couple hotels completely made of Uyuni’s salt.  (I mean everything: walls, chairs, tables, beds.)  You can read more about Tonya’s topic by clicking on the photo below.

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Filed under Geography, History, Science

February: Mike & Entertainment Comics

Mike opened the night with his best report as of yet: the history of Entertainment Comics.  It was extremely fascinating and equally off-color.  (Let’s just say that “gay” is not the only word that has changed meaning in the last 50 years.)  It was a juicily controversial topic, as well, since the E.C. saga is intertwined with censorship woes.  When the Jewish community celebrates Purim they hiss and boo at the mention of  Haman’s name in the story of Esther.  Likewise, hissing and booing ensued at the mention of Fredric Wertham’s name, the real-life villain of the E.C. adventure.  But when the door closed on E.C., creative genius William Gaines found his open window by creating Mad Magazine. 

For a particularly piquing  E.C. story, read about the last panel of the last Entertainment Comic here.

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Filed under Art, Biographical, Comics, Cult following, Culture, Exposing "the man.", History, Pop-culture

December: Lariate

This was (very pregnant) Lariate’s second report, and I now have a new appreciation for the Christmas carol O Holy Night.  We learned the origins of the song began with a French poem entitled “Midnight Christians” which Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight later paired with music in 1855.  However it wasn’t until 1906 that a Canadian inventor played the tune on an AM radio program with his violin, making the song the popular carol it remains today.  Lariate also shared the most popular renditions of the tune, with Celine Dion’s rating number one.  (Apparently so many famous musicians have covered O Holy Night that she gave up keeping track!)  Set to power point and including a video clip of David Archuleta, Lariate may have been the only person who kept her report to five minutes.  (Amazing.) 

Our family drove to spend Christmas in my in-law’s cabin up north.  When the kids and Mike were busy in the back of the van, I drove and sang O Holy Night over and over, eventually just speaking the lyrics and reflecting on every word.  Report Night is such a gift in that way.  Thanks Lariate!

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Filed under Christmas, History, Music