Date unknown - The island of Andshear was returned to native rule, although it remains officially a protectorate of the crown.
Date unknown - Agatha Marlon, a furniture maker, codified the Art Tableaux style of furniture. This style is marked by sweeping curves and by the arrangement of objects on tabletops and dressers to form pleasing vignettes. It enjoyed great popularity for a few years, but was eventually rejected as "too precious" and "too difficult to dust."
November 20th - A particularly flavorful apple, described varyingly as “creamy” and “custard-like”, was found in a mixed barrel delivered to the Royal Botanical Gardens. A hunt began for the parent tree, lasting three years and eventually leading to the discovery of the “Sweet Henry” apple.
December 16th - The birthday of Lydia Blane, founder of the Lydia Blane Clothing Company. She was born under a peculiar star and seemed destined for great and terrible things. Instead, she specialized in making attractive and reasonably priced women's clothing. There are those who would argue that this counts as achieving great things, although few would suggest that it was terrible.
December 16th - A peculiar star was seen over the town of Gant, near the Echo River. While one is suspicious of ostentatious stars seen at this time of year, this one appears to have faded without heralding anything more extraordinary than the birth of several serious-minded individuals and one egg layed with two yolks. The heavens occasionally have their own agenda unrelated to any of ours.
January 11th - A small snail was overwhelmed with the crushing existential weight of an unfair universe. The wicked were rewarded while the good suffered, work led to poverty and love to sorrow. It was all too much for a small snail to deal with. It retreated into its shell for two days. In the middle of the afternoon, however, the snail decided that all it could do was to try and address that injustice in its own life, to make the world better in a small and slimy way, and emerged from its shell and continued on its way.
April 16th - An exhibition of the Art Tableaux style of furniture was put on at the Royal Museum. It consisted of one hundred tables, end-tables, chests, dressers, and credenzas, and over eleven thousand artfully arranged knick-knacks. The exhibition raked in a great deal of money, but required an extraordinary amount of manpower, as guests kept accidentally knocking things over.
May 14th - A séance conducted by the famous Womble sisters conjured the ghost of the former prime minister, who devoured several ladies (including the elder Womble) then seized possession of a wingback chair and demanded tea. Tea was produced. The prime minister reminisced briefly about the old days, and then a quick thinking chambermaid grabbed an axe, broke the wingback into several pieces, and shoved them into the fireplace. The younger Womble sister retired from mediumhood and the chambermaid eventually rose to be Chief of Police.
December 4th - A seed catalog was delivered to various gardeners, non-gardeners, and apparently randomly chosen addresses throughout the known world. All listings were in cramped, apparently hand-written text, and reported to be nothing less than plants imported from the Fairy World. The vast majority of recipients simply threw it away as junk mail or dismissed it as a hoax. A few, however, paid the small fee and their packages arrived with blurry return addresses. The seeds therein were the stuff of legends. White peppers and black Narcissus, snow peas that caused light flurries when picked; cold hardy bird of paradise, and radishes that sang madrigals in the ground. The catalog was never delivered again but a few of our more extraordinary cultivars can trace their ancestry to plants ordered from this publication.
December 16th - The Ancient Order of Linguists sent two champions forth on the field of battle to determine, once and for all, whether it was pronounced “peKHAN” or “peCAN.” The champion of peKHAN selected her weapon as sword and shield, while peCAN paladin requested net and trident. The two fought for nearly an hour. PeCAN eventually slew peKHAN, only to succumb a moment later, as peKHAN had taken the precaution of poisoning her weapon. The Ancient Order of Linguists declared the matter unresolved.
Date unknown - The Golden Age of detective fiction began with the publication of “[[The Jewel In The Cathedral].”
October 30th - Thaddeus Mackelwhite caught a chicken while fly-fishing in a tributary of the Echo River. "It was the damnedest thing I ever saw," he said. "This chicken just swam up under the boat and rose on the fly. I was using a blue dun fly and the chicken went for it." Mr. Mackelwhite's catch was confirmed by the Echo Fisheries Association as the third-largest chicken ever caught in the river. He received a small certificate and a beer.
April 18th - Thaddeus Mackelwhite caught a small whale while fly-fishing in a tributary of the Echo River. It measured seven inches long from baleen to flukes, and appeared to be a very small humpback. “I didn’t do anything special,” Mr. Mackelwhite said. “Not even using a plankton fly. I think the poor devil just got confused.” He released the whale, which spouted at him in a friendly fashion before swimming away. Mr. Mackelwhite’s catch was confirmed by the Echo Fisheries Association, as the largest whale ever caught in the river. He received a small certificate and a beer.
July 4th - Thaddeus Mackelwhite caught nothing while fly-fishing on a small tributary of the Echo River. The nothing measured no inches long and weighed in at zero pounds. The Echo Fisheries Association indicated that it was quite possibly the largest nothing ever caught in the river, but as it defied measurement, it was impossible to tell.
January 9th - The megaloceros, an extinct giant deer, walked through the center of the city. It was clearly a ghost, being both transparent and levitating several feet above the surface of the Autumn River, but this did not stop excitable people from claiming a resurgence of extinct megafauna were about to overrun the city. The newspapers were briefly full of articles from people claiming to have shot short-faced bears in their back garden, before returning to the normal business of complaining about the younger generation and how they needed to get jobs.
May 25th - Thaddeus Mackelwhite landed a seventy-five pound steelhead while fishing on a tributary of the Echo River. Based on the fish’s expression, he believed it to be one he had caught seven years earlier. The fish was later confirmed by the Echo Fisheries Association to be the largest steelhead ever caught twice on that stretch of river. Mr. Mackelwhite received a small certificate and a beer.
August 18th - Thaddeus Mackelwhite caught a skeletal grunion while fly-fishing in a tributary of the Echo River. “Poor thing was clearly lost,” said Mackelwhite. “They’re salt-water fish. I mean, they were, before they died. I suppose freshwater doesn’t bother you as much when you’re dead.” Mr. Mackelwhite’s catch was confirmed by the Echo Fisheries Association as the only skeletal grunion ever caught in the river. He received a small certificate and a beer. The grunion was turned over to naturalists, who documented it and released it back into the ocean where it belonged.
December 2nd - Thaddeus Mackelwhite caught a Furbearing Trout while fly-fishing on a tributary of the Echo River. This was particularly extraordinary given that the Furbearing Trout is an entirely fictional creature created by taxidermists to fool gullible tourists. And indeed, the trout was stuffed and mounted on a plaque which made it taking Macklewhite's fly even more unusual. Mr. Macklewhite stared at it for some minutes, then reportedly muttered, "Nah" to himself and released the stuffed trout back into the river.
June 9th - Furniture-maker Agatha Marlon, enraged by the fact that her chosen decorating style “Art Tableaux” was falling out of fashion, went on a rampage through a furniture showroom. She was armed with a small, expensive end table and managed to brain her chief rival, one Edward Matthews. Mr. Matthews had founded the Slick Deco movement, which relied on minimal possessions and absolutely pristine, empty surfaces. He had dismissed Art Tableaux as a style for “old people and hoarders.” Matthews attempted to defend himself with a floor lamp but was ultimately unsuccessful. Marlon, bloody but unbowed, was taken away in handcuffs and Art Tableaux faded into obscurity.
January 7th - The newspaper cartoon, “Stuff About Town” first appeared in the City Post. “Stuff About Town” features the adventures of the streetwise urchin Johnny Stuff. With his sidekicks, the Godwin twins, Stuff engaged in the sort of adorable golly-gee-whiz hijinks popular with readers at the time. Critics were less than impressed. “Pre-chewed pap,” was perhaps the kindest thing said about it. It ran for sixty five years, during which the original creator retired and was replaced by a pigeon with a piece of charcoal taped to its beak.
May 1st - The “Diving Horse” show came to the city, featuring horses that dove from a ramp as high as forty feet in the air, into the water at the Royal Marina. Animal rights groups protested this for many years, while the owners maintained that no horse was ever injured during the show. (Riders, on the other hand, broke bones on a regular basis.)
September 15th - Thaddeus Mackelwhite caught a thermos while fly-fishing in a tributary of the Echo River. The thermos was three-quarters full of cold coffee. “It was pretty good coffee,” he said. “I only took a sip, though. I practice catch and release, you know.” Mr. Mackelwhite’s catch was confirmed by the Echo Fisheries Association, as the fullest thermos ever caught in the river. He received a small certificate and a beer.
July 23rd - Twenty-seven people were killed in a freak rowboat accident in the Royal Botanical Garden. As several of the victims had been browsing in a bookstore nearly half a mile away, an immediate police investigation was launched. After nearly six months of research, the conclusion was reached that sometimes very bad things happen in very improbable ways, and also a goose had been involved.
September 30th - The first known sighting of a living plesiosaur was recorded, by a farmer named Colin McGrath. He was walking near the ocean when what he described as a “gurt lolloping beastie” heaved itself onto shore on its front flippers. It looked around, sighed heavily, and swam away. McGrath later said that he didn’t know why people were making such a fuss, as the creature was obviously lost and minding its own business.
Date unknown - The final volume of “The Fairy Sausages”, “The Dear Little Jackal” was published, immediately following the death of folklorist Vincent Mather.
December 6th - Today is the birthday of the artist Ronald Helgin. His enormous abstract canvases helped to usher in the Modern Peculiar art movement. Most of them were painted in a small garage in the Western Quarter, and though he later became quite wealthy, he refused to move to a larger studio.
December 23rd - The famous White Boar Whiskey Distillery burned to the ground. Over a thousand barrels of fine whiskey burned, giving an extraordinarily clear light and causing hardened firefighters to fall to their knees, weeping uncontrollably. “The loss of life is tragic,” said the Prime Minister, in a special statement, “but the loss to the palates of our nation is immeasurable.”
August 6th - The Black Beast was sighted in the sewers of the city. Many residents reported seeing glowing eyes in the storm drains, gazing out at them along High Street. A large crowd reported that the owner of the eyes crawled out of the storm drain, spreading its wings with a snap, and half-climbed, half-flew over the rooftops.
September 13th - The first asylum for angels was opened at Wardinghearst Manor. Its stated goal was to provide clean facilities and compassionate care for angels who had been driven mad by the demands of eternity. It remains in operation to this day.
April 9th - A plesiosaur was spotted again, for only the second time, by the wife of a farmer named Colin McGrath. Mrs. McGrath reported that the plesiosaur came right up on the beach near their home and made “turrible sad and sundry noises.” McGrath himself would only say that he’d told the damn beastie to go home and if it wouldn’t do what was good for it, then he’d wash his hands of the whole affair, so he would.
July 7th - A plesiosaur was spotted for the third time. Farmer Colin McGrath, the apparent epicenter of the sightings, would say only that he was not running a home for lost dino-beasties, so he wasn’t, and the “gurt foolish thing” should stay in the ocean where it belonged and not go bothering innocent farmers. Colin McGrath was reported in a poor temper, as his wife had just left him on suspicion of carrying on with a plesiosaur, which, said McGrath, “I have noot, nor will I ever be part of such goings-on!” He then ground out his cigarette and stomped into his house.
September 20th - Avant-garde composer Irwin Fleming's final composition, "Ode to a Grey Stone," was performed for the first and only time. A packed opera house witnessed this performance and within minutes, ladies fainted, gentlemen suffered nosebleeds, and bats were shaken from the rafters and began to circle the hall. Fleming himself was bitten by one of the bats during the performance, contracted rabies, and passed away under medical supervision some weeks later.
October 28th - The Great Averted Fire, which would have swept across the city, engulfing buildings in flames had it not been pouring rain at the time, was averted.
March 21st - The Brick Standards, which established basic rules for the composition of building materials, specifically red clay bricks, were passed despite extraordinary lobbying efforts.
April 28th - Ginny Mitchell’s brilliant gardening memoir, “Iris I Have Known”, was published. It outsold any other gardening manual of the previous fifty years, despite—or perhaps because of--an entire chapter dedicated to how to make your own blood meal using any ex-boyfriends you might have lying about the place. “Iris I Have Known” was one of the first gardening books to be banned by libraries, and enjoyed even more robust sales as a result.
May 7th - The pulp horror novel “The Weeping Doom,” by Jackson McGuire was published on this day. The Weeping Doom, about an unseen monster slowly closing in on an unsuspecting family, inspired dozens of works, six movies, one musical, and multiple television adaptations. It has been listed as one of the dozen most influential novels of all time.
September 26th - Helena McGrath, former wife of farmer Colin McGrath, published her tell-all memoir “My Husband And The Plesiosaur,” which purported to tell about her ex-husband’s illicit carrying-on with a “gurt dino-beastie.” The first three printings sold out in days and the author became a rich woman. Farmer McGrath could not be reached for a comment. Bystanders claimed to have seen him near the beach, but it was eventually proved to be a plesiosaur wearing his hat.
August 21st - Publication of the book “The Dreamless People” by one Jeffrey Halloran. This popular anthropological work purported to reveal the astonishing story of the Tornuba people who, according to the author, do not dream. The book sold thousands of copies and started many fads among those who sought non-dreaming as a cure for everything from lethargy to depression to tuberculosis. Later anthropologists cast doubt on Halloran’s findings, suggesting that the researcher had never mastered the complex tenses of the Tornuba language. “When he asked if we saw visions at night,” said one native speaker, “he kept asking if we saw visions of the future. We believe prophetic dreams are extremely rare, and no one would claim to have one who did not, for fear of invoking the anger of the spirit world. So of course we said no. Had we known that there was a misunderstanding, one of us would have attempted to set him straight. He was an odd little man.”
November 28th - The birthday of the illustrator Mabel Sang, who produced over three thousand paintings in her lifetime. Although broadly disdained by the fine art establishment for being an illustrator and a woman of color, Sang was one of the most highly sought-after illustrators of the day, producing hundreds of magazine cover, postage stamp designs, and advertising campaigns. Her artwork appeared on posters advertising war bonds in three different countries. (She said, somewhat ironically, that she had only been paid by one of those countries.) Sang died in 1999 one of the most prolific of modern artists, and the value of her work is only now being truly appreciated by critics.
January 7th - The birthday of the actress Lizzie Spatz, who performed under the stage name “Eleanora DuChamp.” She was an experimental avant-garde filmmaker in the 1940s. “Each film,” she said, “must be a total sensory experience. The audience must evolve as much as the film.” Her most famous film, “Laments of the Sabine Women,” is a 44-minute black and white film banned for obscenity in seven countries. It is still listed as an influence on many of the greatest filmmakers today.
September 17th - A painter went mad. This would not normally be of any historical note, as painters are prone to this sort of thing, but this one was very polite, paying his rent in full and leaving a nice note for his landlady, before charging down the street whooping and gnawing on a tube of cadmium red. He was never seen again, but his landlady wished him well.
December 30th - A statue of a ram was unearthed in an archaeological dig to the south and east of Troyzantium. The dig was of a small walled city, built upon the ruins of several other cities, and the ram was on one of the lowest, and hence oldest, layers. The statue itself bore traces of copper leaf and green stains from weathering. It was dated to approximately 4000 BC. What was extraordinary was not the statue, though the condition was excellent, but that the eyes of the ram were inlaid with jade. Jade is not found anywhere nearby and thus the city must have been part of a continent-spanning trade network. Analysis of the jade indicates that it was from a mine over three thousand miles away, further evidence of commerce between ancient peoples.
February 4th - The book “Patriotic Crochet Patterns” was released, containing twenty-seven patterns for patriotic crochet. The patterns ranged from flag-themed planters to gun-cozies. It sold better than any craft book before it, moving over thirty-thousand copies in the first week, and remained a perennial seller for years, to the confusion of many public arbiters of good taste.
January 6th - The Empty Sky Tea Shop opened in Branch Alley, just off the High Street. This tea shop was the chosen gathering place for a number of brilliant creative minds, and spawned, among others, the Modern Peculiar art movement and the Dust to Text Literary Movement. It was also where the parents of the scientist Ridley Mahoney met. (Mahoney discovered the first viable cure for stupidity, although it was immediately suppressed by corporate interests as bad for consumerism.) The Empty Sky Tea Shop had white walls, which hundreds of artists and writers drew or wrote on over the years. When it was eventually closed, in 1996, the walls were carefully removed and taken to the Royal Museum, where they were set up in the entryway to the literature wing, so that nearly a century worth of creativity would be preserved for future generations.
February 5th - The Royal Arboretum was overrun with were-snails. This was extremely embarrassing, as many of the snails came from good families and thus could not be salted without excessive gossip. In the end, they had to be removed by hand and placed in a large bucket until they recovered themselves.
April 18th - The great mime-hunter Elaina Golden cleared out an underground temple to the mime cult. “It was terrible,” said her faithful sidekick, “utterly terrible. There were berets everywhere. You couldn’t hear them coming, of course. They were scurrying down the walls like spiders. I don’t know how she stayed so calm.” This particular mime-temple is believed to have been one of the oldest in the world. Combat archaeologists still sift the ruins to this day.
June 6th - Hummingbirds brought down a zeppelin. It had been repainted for the Rose Festival, in a pattern of thousands of red flowers. “In retrospect,” said the zeppelin’s owner, “that may have been a mistake.” Hundreds of hummingbirds swarmed what looked like a gigantic low-flying flower garden and began stabbing with their bills at the tempting painted flowers.
July 9th - A cure was found for gastrothropy, the state of being a were-snail. An outbreak had struck some months earlier, affecting a number of younger sons of good family, and was eventually traced back to the opera. The cure involved butter and salt rubbed on the soles of the feet while chanting the names of saints, and proved broadly effective, though the chanting had to be kept up for many hours. A vaccine was developed some years later and were-snail outbreaks are now small, localized, and easily dealt with.
November 25th - The last of the great Watch Tubers was harvested from the house-tuber fields. Watch Tubers require specialized growing conditions, as the long tap-roots must be excavated whole. The resulting watch towers are light, airy, and exceptionally sturdy. Unfortunately, the art of growing Watch Tubers has largely passed, although the last tuber farmers left extensive notes, “just in case.” The final Watch Tuber was later installed as a fire tower on the slope of Crowdown Fell, where it stands to this day.
January 9th - The birthday of Victor Corelli, famed oil painter. Scarred by the early wars of the century, he vowed to paint only bright, cheerful images. Even when briefly trapped above the arctic circle and surrounded by months of near-total darkness, his canvases were a blaze of color and light. His fellow villagers were painted as swimmers and sunbathers, while the snow-covered buildings around him were portrayed as sunny beach cottages. “It is said of some that they take denial to an art form,” said one critic, “but no one has more truly done so than Corelli.” Upon his death in 1998, his posthumous retrospective at the Royal Gallery attracted more than a million visitors.
October 17th - Priest Aaron Monarda was visited three times by the ghost of a dead tortoise. Father Monarda was well known for helping turtles across the road, but was somewhat surprised to discover the former tortoise on his doorstep. He eventually discerned that it, too, might desire help crossing over a much larger and more spiritual gulf, and so he performed the Blessing of the Animals for the tortoise and then a modified version of the funeral mass, whereupon the turtle faded slowly away and was not seen again.
March 26th - The entire Western Quarter of the city was suddenly knee-deep in ferns. They sprouted from cracks in the sidewalk, rain gutters, shower drains, storm sewers and mailboxes. Botanists blamed a particularly damp spring and a highly aggressive form of the hart’s-tongue fern. Most of the ferns were rooted out of people’s homes, but several cobblestone streets in the Western Quarter were converted to parks and remain such to this day.
April 4th: A young woman who preferred to remain nameless arrived at the doctor’s office complaining of a tuft of hair growing out of her forehead. According to the doctor, she had tried shaving it off repeatedly, but it resisted cutting and had formed a thick, wiry tuft approximately one inch above her eyes. Over the course of treatment, the patient, known in the case file as Jane Mare, found the hair growing denser and more matted, eventually forming a keratinous growth akin in surface texture to a fingernail. The attending physician described it as forming a sort of horn, ultimately several inches long, and apparently anchored in the skull itself. The case was passed to a more senior physician, who recommended immediate surgical removal. On the eve of the surgery, however, the increasingly recalcitrant Jane Mare refused treatment and was hospitalized for her own safety. Her original attending physician broke her out of the asylum in the middle of the night and they fled together. Attempts to locate them failed, and the case notes were eventually filed with the missing persons report.
Date unknown - The invention of the flashbulb led to both a decline in the use of magnesium ribbon tape and a brief fad of self-mutilation among younger photographers.
January 22nd - Charlie Abnett, a sculptor of the Modern Peculiar art movement, showed his sculpture “Ode to Nonexistence,” at the Gallery d’Authentique. Various parties pointed out that it was an empty pedestal, and he was charging forty thousand dollars for it. One critic raved about this as a commentary on the very nature of art itself, but the rest of the critics told that one to get his head examined.
May 28th - The Gallery d’Authentique featured a show of the Modern Peculiar art movement. Billed as an “interactive exhibit” patrons could come to the gallery and do laundry for the artists. Critics were unimpressed. One said “I have scrubbed skidmarks for three hours and found no deeper meaning whatsoever.” Another claimed that while it was a profound argument for the plight of the washerwoman, perhaps a documentary would have been a better subject. The show closed some weeks later. Many contributing artists complained of missing socks.
Date unknown - Ballerina Laurel Murglenn danced the lead in “The Seventh Swan.” She was very young for the role, and had been only an understudy, when the lead ballerina came down with a terrible case of stabbing. Laurel’s performance was exquisite and no one was ever able to link the murder back to her, despite rumors that the deceased ballerina had written “It was Laurel, No Really Aaaargh It Hurts” in her own blood.
January 23rd - Gallery d’Authentique displayed Charlie Abnett’s controversial art piece, “The Vivisectionist” which consisted of dozens of organs dropped haphazardly on pedestals and painted white. Horrified investigations revealed that all the organs had been sourced from butcher shops, and while they were quite grisly, no actual wrong-doing had taken place. The Vivisectionist ran for five days, after which the flies became excessive and the artist was told to get this mess out of the gallery because it was starting to stink.
July 27th - Economists Heckler and Soon produced the General Equilibrium Model of international trade, which states that countries will produce those products that take advantage of resources that they have in abundance, and import those products that require resources that are scarce. This model is occasionally also called the Bloody Obvious Model and other less flattering monikers, but nevertheless, Heckler and Soon received a Royal Commendation for their contribution to this, the gloomiest of sciences.
March 11th - The Gallery d’Authentique showed “Visions of the Future,” a show featuring a dozen different artists and craftsman, showing their impressions of the world a hundred years hence. Architectural drawings and advertising mock-ups featured prominently, along with a half-dozen mannequins clothed in the presumed adornments of tomorrow. While most of the displays were as ridiculous as one might expect, the futurist Martha Darren produced several sleek, sensible designs. “This does not look like the future,” said one critic, annoyed. “At least, not a future that anyone would wish to live in. It lacks pageantry.” Darren’s designs were picked up, years after her death, by a major computer manufacturer. This is known as “having the last laugh.”
November 22nd - Oliver Hill attempted to patent the “Hill Home,” a small home of remarkably versatile design. The patent was approved without incident, but it was later revealed that he had lifted the design from one traditionally used by the indigenous people of the Coriander Isles. The resulting trial lasted four years and included many ugly racist overtones, but the Coriander Islanders fought it to the highest court in the land and won their case. The Hill Home Trials have been hailed as a turning point in the battle for the rights of indigenous peoples of the empire.
April 9th - Strikes at the Walleye Copper Mine turned violent, possibly owing to the singing of inflammatory folk songs. Thirteen people were jailed for singing “Tear the Filthy Scabs a New One” at the police. The so-called “Walleye Thirteen” became a celebrated cause among union activists, and were eventually released with a token fine. Many said that the greatest benefit to their arrest was the fact that radio personalities had to repeat lyrics to the song in question on-air.
September 13th - A patent was filed by Elliot Spinnaker for a meat bleaching process that produced white sausages. These were marketed for three years under the name "Snow-wurst" and proved wildly popular until it came to light that the bleaching process left chemicals in the meat that could produce lesions of the throat and tongue.
January 10th - Today marks the introduction of the “Biscuit” automobile, a luxury vehicle that seated six, with gas mileage that was considered appalling even for the era.
June 13th - Miss McGillicutty’s Home For Incorrigible Girls was closed. This all girls boarding school was modeled on a military academy and was used as a threat by thousands of mothers--“Be good, or we’ll send you to Miss McGillicutty’s!” Tales of mistreatment and horror leaked frequently from the Home, but the owners were highly placed in government and evaded any oversight for decades. Upon being decommissioned, a rat king was discovered in the basement, which claimed to be Miss McGillicutty reborn and demanded asylum from the government.
September 5th - The radio show “The Adventures of Blake Boscoe” first aired. Blake Boscoe was an airship pilot, adventurer, spy, commando and man-about-town. With the aid of his boon companions and Justice the Wonder Rat, Blake saved the city, the empire, and the world on a weekly basis from the evil forces of Captain Scumhanger.
August 19th - A great black tree appeared in a session of the town council in the city of Morrington. It simply appeared in the center of the council chambers, roots sunk into the tile floor, with its trunk reaching the ceiling and seeming to vanish there.
December 21st - An entire candy store full of marzipan figures came to life.
Date unknown - The artist Ronald Helgin, who helped to usher in the Modern Peculiar art movement gave an interview where he said, “Whyfore would I change? This place is me, this is my bones, this is my hands, this is my walls. All this moving! Only art stays in one place. Zingo!” It has been suggested by later biographers that ventilation in this garage left much to be desired for one working with solvents.
August 11th - The Golden Age of detective fiction ended. The novel “Blood on the Pages” by L. Knoxworth is often cited as the final work of the Golden Age—beginning as a classic murder mystery, it is eventually revealed that the murderer was in fact the reader.
Date unknown - Snow-wurst was discontinued when it came to light that the bleaching process left chemicals in the meat that could produce lesions of the throat and tongue.
July 2nd - The Glass Quarter of the city was struck by a vandal who worked entirely in pink spray paint. He or she covered walls in violently pink murals depicting lewd and graphic acts. The city attempted to scrub them away or cover them up as quickly as possible, but for a period of several months, many people in the Glass Quarter had their horizons rather objectionably expanded. The Spray Paint Pornographer, as the vandal came to be known, vanished as suddenly as they had come in the fall of that year. No examples of their work survives, although there are a great many photos in private collections.
August 4th - The War Flamingos were formed. This elite tank unit rode in tanks that had been painted hot pink, owing to a mix up at the manufacturer. The War Flamingos, realizing that the small odds of getting anyone to admit that there had been a mistake, made a virtue of necessity. The War Flamingos were heavily decorated and the subject of a number of movies and documentaries.
December 11th - An explosion rocked the Blue Bonnet Button Factory, shaking the building to its foundations. Buttons were fired in all directions, breaking windows and embedding themselves into walls. A #7 red shoe button was found several blocks over, buried in a telephone pole. Fortunately the explosion occurred several hours before the morning shift, so the only casualties were the night watchmen and two teenagers making out behind the dumpster. The cause of the explosion was never determined.
March 21st - The first Stabbing Rock chick was hatched, a crossbreed between a Barred Rock hen and an unknown rooster who briefly visited the coop, wooed the ladies, and vanished as mysteriously as he had come. The Stabbing Rock chicken breed (named for the coop’s location in Stabbingham) is a tall, nearly black chicken with dark gray and blue-black stripes and a stark red comb. Hens are good layers, although the roosters wander a lot and croon rather than crow.
March 2nd - A great cake was made for a royal wedding. The cake was nearly two stories high, a miracle in buttercream and fondant. Each successive layer was covered in fondant bas-reliefs depicting the history of the world, while notable figures from history were arranged in front. The royal couple stood atop the very highest layer, surrounded by angels, an honor guard in frosting armor, and for some reason, chocolate porcupines. The cake became a greater celebrity than the two royals being married and was featured in all the newspapers of the day. It was the subject of a documentary titled “Frosted Glory” and the chief architect retired on the money she made from the project.
March 18th - The small island nation of Qualm hosted its first Miss Qualm pageant, which was won by a cheese. The cheese’s poor performance in the swimsuit competition was apparently made up for by its astonishing juggling talent and insightful answers into why children were the future. The cheese was duly crowned and sent across Qualm, where it fulfilled its duties admirably. Towards the end of its tenure, it retired, feeling a bit runny, and the runner up, Miss Volcano Beach West, took its place for the remainder of the term. The cheese was buried with full honors and the Miss Qualm 1944 Scholarship Fund was established to give disadvantaged dairy products a leg-up on life.
April 16th - The Madonna of Leaves was seen briefly through a window by a school full of small children. They ran out of the school to follow the Madonna, which proved fortuitous, as the school promptly exploded. The cause was determined to be improperly stored chalkboard erasers and a citywide festival in honor of the Madonna of Leaves followed.
October 6th - The Lemonade Orchid was introduced at the Royal Botanical Garden, a small, easy-to-grow orchid with a delightful scent of citrus. It was not finicky, it rebloomed easily, and was neither toxic nor endangered. It is rare that life gives us such blessings, and they should be cherished.
September 26th - A completed Diplodocus skeleton was stolen from the Royal Museum’s Saurian Wing. As the skeleton was over seventy feet long, no one ever figured out how it was done. It is one of the museum’s great mysteries, and has been the subject of a great many novels, movies, and unfounded speculation. Hundreds of suspects have been suggested, including the Royal family, the Pope, mime-hunter Elaina Golden, and the Smilegod Killer.
December 16th - A silver thaw struck the city. While the ground was frozen, a layer of warm air briefly blanketed the city. Falling rain was supercooled as it hit the cold air just above the ground and coated everything in the city with three inches of glazed ice. Power lines snapped under the weight, trees broke in half, pipes exploded, and the entire city was shut down for nearly a week. Damages were estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars. This remains the single most expensive weather event to ever strike the city, narrowly edging out the 1899 rain of freezing Holsteins.
January 3rd - The Lost City of Enoch was discovered by the archaeologist Mary Swanson. She had tracked it down based on unusually geometric shapes appearing in aerial photography, a task made more difficult by its tendency to relocate on the vernal equinox. Partial excavations yielded a treasure trove of artifacts.
Date unknown - Sightings of the Madonna of the Leaves, a hooded figure who leaves maple leaves behind her instead of footprints, are common in the forties and fifties.
November 7th - The first Minky’s restaurant opened. This fast food franchise would spread like wildfire, offering a range of cheap, low-quality foods and a children’s play area. Minky’s attempted to reinvent itself several times, largely without success, but continues to serve in hundreds of locations to this day.
March 5th - A male woodpecker made the discovery that every tenth tree in his forest was not made of wood, but appeared to be cleverly carved of ivory. He found this very strange, but the other forest inhabitants claimed to be used to it. Eventually, after denting his bill several times on ivory trees, he moved away to less surreal climes.
June 6th: A door opened in the city. It was a narrow door, painted blue, leading onto a small street known as Kirklane Place. This is significant primarily because the door had never before opened, nor has it done so since. The builders installed it some forty years prior as their last task upon the building, packed up their tools and left without testing the hinges. Kirklane Place is home to a series of townhomes, which had been remodeled somewhat haphazardly, and so the owners of the homes on either side of the door each believed that it belonged to the other side. Occasionally shadowy figures could be seen glancing out through the glass windows set beside the door, but nothing untoward or unpleasant happened. On this particular day, the door opened and a man in a bowler hat left, closed the door, locked it, and walked off down the street. He was whistling “Momma’s Gonna Buy You A Mockingbird.” He did not return. The door is still there.
February 8th - A cloud appeared over the Glass Wastes. It assumed several dramatic shapes, ending with a gigantic rampant lion, before dissipating on the wind.
December 2nd - a Squigginox was seen in the woods near the village of Jot. Cryptozoologists immediately descended on Jot, seeking evidence of this rare creature, although skeptics maintained that it was a deer in a rubber suit. The primary witness had a long history as a hoaxer, although many people reported seeing “something strange” in the woods.
February 9th - The birthday of the third Baron Palmer, noted patron of the arts. He was a frequent fixture at operas and gallery openings, until he was eaten by a goat at a particular avante garde performance. His will established the Palmer Theater Company which continues to this day.
June 17th - Edith Mahoney, a minor character actor, died in front of her apartment. This small, grisly event would not normally merit a historical footnote, but the adjacent park was, at the time, being fumigated for tent caterpillars. Reporters on the scene witnessed Mahoney stagger out of the building in her dressing gown, clutching at her face, before falling dead on camera.
August 6th - The superhero Slugman was introduced as a minor character in the popular comic “Captain Chaos.” Slugman was rapidly spun off into his own comic and developed a full cast of associated heroes, including Slugwoman, Slugboy, Sluggirl, the Slug Cadets, and Slimy the Wonder Slug. Following flagging sales in the 90’s, Slugman was given a dark, gritty reboot that saw him frequenting strip clubs and snorting rock salt. The reboot was considered the last nail in the coffin and Slugman’s comic was retired in 2002, although Slimy the Wonder Slug continued with an animated series described as “ground-breaking” and “the single best hour of Saturday morning television.”
Date unknown - Johnny Stone, one of the great musical icons of the 20th century, rocketed to stardom with his hit single “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens”
March 19th - The musical “The Juniper Man” was first performed on stage. This extraordinary production smashed all records for a musical and remained in continuous production for seventeen years. The songs “A Girl Like A Headache” and “That Thing You Do--No, That Other Thing” rocketed to the top of the charts.
June 23rd - Yellow Dye Z-10 was discovered as part of a government program to create an army of pyrokinetic soldiers. Z-10 was discarded as unreliable, but found use as a food coloring until it was pulled from the market following the Great Icing Fire. Apparently small children will willingly eat more frosting in one sitting than the government will inject into test subjects over the course of several weeks. Z-10 is now banned in all civilized countries.
July 9th - An infestation of guppy-flies broke out in the city. This small flying fish, not much larger than a dragonfly, was imported by the exotic pet trade. Unfortunately they escaped from captivity, and a series of extremely humid months led to a massive outbreak. Guppy-flies clogged air intakes and coated the grilles of cars. Pets became ill eating the massive numbers of guppies that filled up the gutters. It was an extraordinary nuisance, causing millions of dollars in damages, and led to the banning of the sale of guppy-flies throughout the city.
December 16th - A heroic border collie woke his family as the house was burning down and herded them all directly into the blaze. It was later determined that the collie had started the fire. Further investigation, however, revealed that the family had been members of the Secret Mime Cult and the collie was lauded as a hero of the state. He was given a medal by the Prime Minister and Her Royal Highness declared that the dog was “a very Good Boy.”
April 30th - The archaeologist Mary Swanson vanished, along with the Lost City of Enoch, which was not due to relocate until the next vernal equinox. Its unexpected disappearance may have been related to Swanson’s excavation of what she called “The Temple of the Moon.” No trace has ever been found, although citizens of Echo Harbor report that Swanson’s diaries appear in the city’s sewer system with tiresome regularity. “They play merry hell with the drains,” one city worker reported. “Wherever she is, she’s keeping good notes. We do wonder where she’s getting the paper.”
December 18: A new Prime Minister was appointed, after the old one was bludgeoned to death by the Royal Botanist, in the presence of the Crown Prince. The Crown Prince pardoned the Botanist immediately, owing to extenuating circumstances. An interim Prime Minister served for two months before stepping down and the new Prime Minister, one Thessaly Peridot, was the first woman of color to hold the post. She served for a number of years with distinction.
Date unknown - The last time a deep fat fryer in Minky's in Troyzantium was cleaned. It was determined to be the source of a fire which destroyed the restaurant.
July 4th - The Highland Mountain Dog was recognized by the Royal Canine Society. This breed nearly went extinct in the early part of the last century, as it was a cart-pulling dog and was largely replaced by motorized vehicles. A single kennel continued to breed them and though the breed went through a certain bottleneck, others were found in remote areas and the breed was brought back from the brink. They are a large, good-natured, extremely calm breed easily confused with a small horse.
May 23rd - A pin-striped rose was entered into the Royal Botanical Flower Show. This hybrid tea rose had sensible dark blue stripes, and was described as “Ground-breaking” ‘extraordinary’ “a triumph of horticultural art” and “business-like.” The pin-striped rose was one of several breeding stocks used to create Secretary-Bushes some years later.
August 11th - The Crested Lizards were founded on this day. The Lizards played football. Apparently they were not very good at it. A team owner later attempted to change this by re-naming them the Leopards. They did not get any better, except for a brief winning season in 1977. Apparently there were some very heartwarming movies made about this. We here at the Hidden Almanac don’t really get sports.
May 14th - A rare sextuple rainbow spread over the highlands, witnessed by many. One or two foolish people thought it was the end of the world or possibly aliens, but most accepted it as a rather nice thing for the weather to have done.
January 2nd - A horned owl was spotted in the Royal Gardens. Unlike most great horned owls, this one had actual horns, or at least antlers. The owl sported a six-point rack and appeared to have difficulty roosting because it kept catching on trees. “You’d think that it would have shed the antlers already,” said one. “I suppose that it’s been a mild winter, so it’s a bit late.” The horned owl eventually entangled in a camellia and was taken to a wildlife rehabilitator for care until it shed the antlers on its own.
July 11th - The Allium Spear surfaced at auction. Lost many times before, the Allium Spear was a first-century artifact, made of hammered bronze, inscribed with images of cloves of garlic. Texts of the age refer to it as “the spear of cleansing” and “the caster out of the Wyrm.” This was originally believed by scholars to be a reference to its power to drive out evil, but in fact, the spear possessed the peculiar property of being a powerful vermifuge. Any who touched it immediately expelled any parasites they might be carrying, sometimes quite violently.
May 9th - Someone said something really unforgivable about someone else’s cousin, and obviously they couldn't talk after that, and after all that she’d done for them, too! You’d think they’d know better. Well. There’s no telling in this world, is there? Historians mark the day solemnly and keep it with libations of beer.
May 12th - It was on this day that the Bone Doll was created. Its current whereabouts are unknown.
September 27th - A flock of ninety-six pigeons killed an old woman near her home in the city. Over the next few days, the increasingly bold flock would kill nine more people, causing a city-wide panic, before being dispersed by a small child with a slingshot. The aggression of the pigeons was blamed on tainted birdseed.
October 24th - The raccoon tribe held parliamentary elections. Voting was carried out by ritual washing of white or black pebbles. The very large raccoon with the scarred ear won. There was general rejoicing, and several garbage cans were knocked over in celebration.
March 7th - A small trillium bloomed in the woods. The pattern of the petals exactly formed the shape of the one of the hidden names of God. Several passing chickadees were enlightened, and then a slight breeze disturbed the trillium and the moment passed forever.
March 28th - The introduction of the Snugglepig started a stuffed toy craze that swept the city and led to mass shortages of pink fabric. Snugglepigs were highly sought after from their introduction on, but the situation did not reach crisis point until the following December. There were reports of armed gangs holding up trucks carrying the toy and the royal guard had to be called out to quell riots. The Snugglepig itself was a somewhat undistinguished pink pig with a heart-shaped snout and a vaguely goofy expression.
May 30th - The Least Plague exposed nearly eighty thousand people to a terrible virus. They were all vaccinated as children, however, and so several thousand people suffered mild head colds and a few with compromised immune systems required a round of antibiotics. There were no casualties.
June 16th - A gathering of caterpillars met on the leaves of a hickory tree some miles from this spot and held a poetry contest. The winner was a two-hundred line epic, entitled “The Battle of the Green Twig” and the poet was given the choicest leaf on the tree as a reward, which it promptly ate.
June 20th - An early hurricane struck the Convent of the White Goat on the Isle of Shun. No nuns were harmed, but the convent’s island restoration project was set back by the loss of hundreds of mature trees. The nuns, undaunted, set to work restoring the lost trees.
August 18th - A pattern of raindrops fell on a gray stone, spelling out one of the lost names of God. The name persisted for a few moments, before being washed away by the rain. The stone has been lucky ever since, and several people owe their success in life to having sat on it, all unknowing.
September 22nd - A sinister ceramic cube appeared in the House of Parliament. It was about four inches on a side, somewhat irregular, and had a white crackled glaze. Pages approaching it said that it seemed very untrustworthy. “Not like a bomb,” one reported, “but more like it was taking bribes or something.” The cube was moved nervously around the chambers for some weeks, before it vanished and later took work as a lobbyist for the corn industry.
November 6th - Super Wafers were introduced onto the market on this day by the Terriblee Tastee Treat Company. They came in shocking colors like hot pink, lime green, and Cerenkov blue, and were approximately 90% sugar. It was eventually revealed that the lime green wafers contained Yellow Dye Z-10, well known to cause hyperactivity, seizures, and pyrokinesis. Despite pulling the lime green wafers from the market, all Super Wafers suffered by association and the Terriblee Tastee Treat Company went bankrupt and was bought by a competitor the following year.
July 18th - Two fraternity brothers invented the single worst cocktail in human history. The ingredients list is not entirely available to the public, for safety reasons, but included gin, the water from a water pipe used for illicit substances, several drops of hot sauce, olive brine, and leftover bloody mary mix found in the refrigerator. Both were hospitalized and recovered eventually, though they never drank anything stronger than tea ever again. One dropped out and became a street preacher, and one changed his major from business to ceramics.
April 25th - A rogue golem-mancer raised a twenty foot golem in a small town east of the city. It was constructed of the contents of eleven hundred used kitty little boxes, and has been widely voted the single most disgusting golem of the last two hundred years. The army was called in and most of the town was set to the torch. The citizens reportedly said “Well, we didn’t want to live there anyway. Not after that. You’d never get the smell out, would you?” Charred bodies pulled the wreckage presumably included the golem-mancer, but were never identified.
January 31st - A small child stood with her nose pressed against the glass, waiting for snow to fall. Despite the promises of weather forecasters, snow did not fall. This shattered the small child’s faith in both the system and the goodness of the universe. She grew up to become a great humanitarian and developed the first inexpensive malaria vaccine, saying “No one will help us, and so we have no choice but to help ourselves.”
October 22nd - Multiple people were found unconscious under an overpass in the city. When removed from the area, most regained consciousness quickly and were unharmed except for dehydration, but a few had died, apparently in their sleep. It was eventually discovered that the underside of the overpass had been taken over by Indigo Woodpeckers and their droppings had piled up to the point where they had become aerosolized.
June 20th - Singer Lou Jill collapsed on stage during a concert. Famous for her songs “Groovy Like Starlight” and “Sweet Cool Breeze,” she had been performing to a packed crowd of young people. Once at the hospital, it was determined that the singer died of heartworm. This led to a number of inquiries, as heartworm in humans is generally harmless. Further investigation revealed that the singer was, in fact, two golden retrievers in a tie-dyed sundress.
March 30th - Writer Harold Androvich and the artist known simply as “Gill” met by accident in a coffee shop when Gill picked up Androvich’s umbrella by mistake. “We talked for hours,” Androvich reported. “Then days. Then Gill begged to illustrate one of my books. Within the year, we wrote a graphic novel together, and then another.” Their collaboration continued for over forty years, ending only when Gill passed away in 2002. The Gill & Harold books include the graphic novel “Owning Nothing,” which won the Royal Literary Award of Merit, and “One Thousand Ways To Blow Up A Dead Whale,” which did not. Actually, nothing after their first book was believed to have any artistic worth at all, and they both had to take second jobs. “Full of self-referential in-jokes,” said one critic. “One can be happy for their relationship while still being completely unimpressed with their output.” A documentary about their life, “Gill & Me” was a mild success at the box office.
November 21st - The Korring Report was released, detailing the multiple extraordinary failings of the Diablo model of sportscar. The Diablo was prone to engine failure, fuel line disruption, and also exploded when it came within fifty feet of another Diablo. (This was explained as an added feature to prevent drivers from losing track of their car in crowded parking lots.) Diablos were pulled from the market and a great many people were investigated. The CEOs of the company were promptly hired by other automobile manufacturers, because some people don’t learn.
May 23rd - A mouse fleeing a hawk took refuge in the nest of an ovenbird. Ovenbirds build small clay nests on the ground. The hatchlings, blind and puzzled, made room for their new compatriot. The mother ovenbird knew perfectly well that this was a mouse, but possessed a maternal streak and sheltered the mouse under her wings until the danger had passed.
October 1st - The Royal Museum began a concerted effort to catalog every single item in the collection. As the Museum contained more than three million individual items, acquired, donated, and sometimes outright stolen over the centuries, this was a vast undertaking.
October 27th - The All Hallows Murder was committed, although the body was not found until the 31st. The tabloids seized on this, ignoring the fact that the murder had occurred some days earlier, and whipped up a fine frenzy about Halloween death cults preying on trick-or-treaters.
March 23rd - The World Of Dough amusement park opened out the outskirts of the city. Billed as a “cookie-filled wonderland” it featured edible gingerbread houses and a raw dough pit for playing in. “The best part of baking is the raw dough!” said a spokesman. “We aim to make that experience larger than life!” Thousands flocked to the World of Dough, and hundreds were hospitalized with salmonella. When local doctors were asked whether the raw dough pit might be unsanitary, they stared at the camera, lips pursed, shaking their heads in silent horror. World of Dough closed three weeks later.
June 22nd - A man died in a freak tape measure accident when the metal ruler portion snapped back suddenly, struck him in the eye, and caused a fatal blood clot. Investigators ruled that it was an accidental death and he probably should not have been holding the tape measure in his teeth. Nevertheless, his family sued and all tape measures since 1975 have included warnings about not being held in the mouth or nose. This is why we cannot have nice things.
July 8th - The “Shrimpy” line of jewelry was introduced. These consisted of clear plastic tubes filled with brightly colored brine shrimp, which fluoresced under black light. Shrimpies became incredibly popular overnight, as people wore necklaces, bracelets, rings and anklets of plastic full of the shrimp. They came in three colors—Blissful Blue, Enlightenment Orange, and Peaceful Pink.
July 31st - Photographer Elaine Carter took a photo of a pangolin clinging to a thin branch. It was later marketed as a poster with the phrase “Hang In There” printed in a large, cheerful font. The poster proved incredibly popular and sold hundreds of thousands of copies. It was widely pirated, but far more annoying, said Carter, were those who kept misidentifying the pangolin. “It’s a pangolin,” she said. “Not a lizard, not a porcupine, not a platypus, definitely not a baby sloth. They live in the jungle and eat insects. Why is this so difficult? Are people really that ignorant of biology?” Carter retired on the proceeds of the Hang In There Pangolin and today devotes herself to promoting backyard naturalism.
August 10th - Candidate Elle Serena ran for Parliament on the platform of standardizing women’s clothing sizes. She professed no other political leanings, and promised to devote her entire existence to making certain that a medium was always a medium and a large was always the same large. She was elected by a landslide, crossing all party lines, and receiving the highest female voter turn-out ever recorded. Sadly, operatives from the fashion industry quietly assassinated her before she took office. Voters expressed their sorrow and, then, their total lack of surprise.
January 3rd - An infestation of the Fall Slaughterworm Moth descended upon the city. The population was estimated at over a hundred million, and dead moths piled up in the gutter inches thick.
May 16th - The painting “Eleven Chimps And A Nun” was displayed for the first time at the Gallery d’Authentique. This abstract painting covered most of a wall and appeared to be a series of colored blobs, each one filled with tiny, precise lines making occasionally painful visual patterns.
June 23rd - An infestation of dire sand dollars closed the beaches of several resort communities. The dinner-plate sized creatures would ravenously devour anything that sat perfectly still for eight to ten hours, and proved a minor nuisance to sun bathers.
Date unknown - Playwright Eleanor Anomalous died of sepsis after falling on a cactus.
May 7th - The Royal Naval Academy adopted a newer and more stringent dress code, as someone had figured out that nowhere in the rules did it state that uniforms could not be tie-dyed, provided they remained the correct length and free of wrinkles. The Rainbow Rebellion lasted four weeks, after which new rules were drafted and the ringleaders were set to peeling potatoes for being wise guys.
June 20th - The Gloriana Prize for Literature was founded and funded anonymously. Votes are collected from members of the reading public, who will find ballots delivered to them by masked figures in the small hours of the night. Interestingly enough, the ballots are always for books that the voter has actually read. The masked figures wait politely until the ballots are marked, then vanish as mysteriously as they have come. The Gloriana Prize is believed to be one of the few literary prizes absolutely exempt from vote-lobbying or favoritism and is highly regarded as a result.
Date unknown - "The Fairy Sausages" were re-released and the translation efforts of Ida Mather were finally recognized.
April 4th - Alistair Whetsmith invented the insect cannon. This low-velocity shoulder mounted cannon fires quantities of carrion-eating beetles, suitable for repelling zombies. When critics pointed out that the beetles would likely suffer from high-speed impact, Alistair fitted them with tiny crash helmets, kitted out with corporate logos. Its effectiveness in the case of zombie apocalypse is unknown.
March 19th - A masked man held up the Royal Library, demanding, at gunpoint, several rare tomes. He took only first-edition children’s books and then escaped through a window. Some months later, the books turned up, piled neatly outside the anteater cage at the Royal Zoo, with a short note saying “All words are termites gnawing at the wood pulp pages.” No arrests were ever made, and the identity of the masked gunmen was never determined.
Date unknown - Competitive distance swimmer Magnus Olafson set out to swim from the mainland to the Coriander Isles, a distance so extraordinary that no one had even attempted it before. He made it twenty-five miles and was eaten by a glutton whale.
October 17th - A vaccine was developed for childhood lizard pox. Lizard pox is generally not dangerous for children, but can become life-threatening if contracted by adults.
December 4th - The glutton whale species was first identified and described by science. This unusual species of baleen whale does gulp large quantities of water and strain it through its baleen, but it has a very large throat and grinding teeth, allowing it to swallow significantly larger prey than krill. Glutton whales are still largely mysterious, and their total numbers are unknown.
October 27th - The World’s Most Terrifying Haunted House opened in the city, and then closed three days later. Visitors emerged with severe heart palpitations, minor lacerations, with most having urinated on themselves.
July 24th - The play “Burning Tobacco” debuted on stage at the Royal Opera House. Featuring a grim boys prep school, it centers on a forbidden liaison between the math teacher and the headmaster, who later elope to the Coriander Isles, leaving the boys to riot and eventually burn down the school.
December 9th - The Speedy Taco fast food chain introduced a new dish, the seafood burrito. This burrito came in three varieties: crab, fish, and so-called succulent shrimp. As the burritos cost eighty-nine cents a piece, there was immediate suspicion as to the quality of the ingredients. The crab proved to be artificial. The fish was invasive Snakehead. And the succulent shrimp was, in fact, perfectly ordinary frozen shrimp. Albeit those that had broken up in shipping, and could not be sold at restaurants. "The truly astonishing thing here, is that they were really shrimp," said one health inspector. "It's actually pretty edible." Of the three, only the Snakehead fish taco remains on the menu to this day. Investigation revealed that Speedy Taco was actually being paid to haul the invasive fish away from storm drains and so were making a substantial profit on both ends of the supply chain. While consumers might have balked at eating a fish that consumed farm waste and had rudimentary lungs, Snakehead was re-branded as Troyzantium Lake Bass and became a multi-billion dollar industry.
Date unknown - Johnny Stone, one of the great musical icons of the 20th century, died in that regrettable incident, which, out of respect for his family, we shall not describe here. The circumstances were, in any event, somewhat mysterious and the goat has refused all interviews.
January 13: A bank was robbed in the small town of Gant. Police received an anonymous tip-off some days later and raided a farmstead outside of Gant, finding a man in a badger mask seated on the front porch, with a shotgun across his lap.
April 14th - The Snugglebug Sleepwear Factory exploded following a gas leak. No one was hurt, but brightly colored pajama bottoms rained down across the city, clogging the Autumn River for some days.
September 8th - The movie “Sun Weasels” was released. The premise was that humanity was afflicted with a terrible disease, causing the victim’s skin to break into lesions when exposed to sunlight. The lesions would then swell and badly animated weasel-like creatures would erupt from the sores, killing everyone in their path.
May 11th - A monument was removed from a small park in the town of Gant. The monument claimed that it was the birthplace of the great battle-linguist, Lord Stephen the Collator. There are no records that Lord Stephen came within a hundred miles of the town, and the monument was mostly likely erected in a fit of great patriotism and poor research sometimes in the 1940s.
November 22nd - The Wincing Whippet Candle Company introduced a line of scented candles aimed at the male consumer. With the tagline “Flowers are for girls,” the Wincing Whippet line included such scents as “Salt Air,” “Smoke & Leather,” “New Car” and “Extremely Manly Cookies.” Wincing Whippet changed hands several times and the ad campaign was discontinued as offensive. Most of the original scents are no longer available, although “Extremely Manly Cookies” can still be purchased under the new trade name “Mom’s Fresh Baked Chocolate Chip.”
August 8th - A man in a badger suit robbed the Gloomtrust Bank in the city’s financial district. He got away with less than five hundred dollars, but the badger suit became a running joke for late night talk show hosts for weeks to come.
January 18th - A young woman receiving a tattoo briefly had one of the syllables spoken at the creation of the universe inscribed upon her flesh. Her design was the logo of a popular band, but because the woman was holding her arm at an uncomfortable angle and had to pause to stretch her elbow, the finished lines displayed the syllable in the ancient language of quasars.
September 1st - A thirty-point deer was seen in the woods outside the town of Shaggy Corners. Photographs confirmed that the deer, which had a gigantic, asymmetric crown of antlers, was in fact a doe. The deer was nicknamed “The Emperor Doe” and was given protection by the crown as a rare and beautiful national treasure.
October 7th - A pond full of cattails came to life and became tall green-and-brown women. They danced six square dances and one tango, their hair shedding fluff into the breeze, then went back to being cattails.
May 21st - A kombucha culture, belonging to a woman who called herself Starflower Rising, achieved sentience. It bided its time for some months, composing increasingly hostile haiku, before making a break for freedom by knocking its jar over and escaping into the sewers. The mole people report that the culture, which calls itself “The Mother of Anguish,” is still there, and still very angry about something.
June 13th - People began receiving fortunes in fortune cookies which had only a date on them. The dates were all different. Most probably ignored the cookies as a misprint, but a few individuals kept records of the event and reported them to the press. The cookies were traced back to a particular factory, where one of the machines had been left on all night.
October 22nd - The Notorious Sisterhood, the famed guild of prostitutes, manipulated the votes in Parliament by the simple expedient of taking away the pants of various clients and refusing to return them. They then photographed these clients — all of whom were highly placed lobbyists — and informed them that they would now be lobbying for the Wetlands Restoration Act or they would be very sorry. The Act, which had been in danger of failure, passed by an overwhelming majority.
November 10th - The Alien Near-Apocalypse was touched off by a radio play. Station XYZZY 94.3 attempted to present a radio drama, purported to be actual reports of aliens landing on the outskirts of the city. In the end, the missile, while not aborted, was successfully brought down over an unpopulated stretch of the Glass Wastes, where it made even more glass. There were many apologies by everyone involved.
August 25th - The TV show “Magical Preschool” first aired. An immediate hit with children under the age of five, it consisted of brightly colored figures running around like lunatics and occasionally bursting into song. Every few minutes, everyone would freeze and a number would flash on the screen. As the numbers always went from high to low, the general appearance was of a countdown to some terribly colorful apocalypse.
September 25th - Seed Library Riots-This ugly moment in agricultural history followed the passage of the so called “Seed Stock Purity Laws” which were billed as a way of protecting farmers against inferior seed stock, but which in practice were funded by several major agricultural corporations. Officers of the Royal Agricultural Service descended—somewhat unwillingly, by all accounts—on a historic one-room schoolhouse where a local gardener seed-swap was being held.
November 6th - A rooster wearing boots walked down High Street, to the Kingfisher Bridge. They were quite serious boots with hobnails, and the rooster struck sparks from the cobblestones. It was a large black and orange rooster, possibly of the Golden Highland variety, and it had a distinctly grumpy expression. Several people followed it, but it stalked into a pub and did not re-emerge.
December 15th - 33 members of a wedding party were killed after the couple thought it would be a good idea to have photos taken on an iced over lake. Recent warm weather had weakened the ice and it broke under the weight, sending all involved underwater. It was a national tragedy, and the only benefit derived from it was by a first responder who fished out the bouquet and became the next of his unit to marry.
March 20th - The Pizzastone Pizza company unveiled a new mascot for their line of delivery pizzas. The mascot was a large dog, which was always saying “You gonna eat that?” For whatever reason—catchy jingle, excellent camera work, drugs in the water supply—the Pizzastone Dog caught the popular imagination. Multiple commercials were aired, T-shirts sold, and the dog’s owner reportedly became a multi-millionare overnight. Pizzastone reps scoured local pounds for dogs that could serve as stunt doubles. It was a peculiar moment in popular culture.
April 15th - Seventy-seven cans of dog food coming off a conveyer belt fell into a holding bin and momentarily formed a shockingly accurate likeness of the current Prime Minister. Sadly, the likeness was then eradicated by a second load of dog food cans before anyone could document (or indeed, notice) this brief but extraordinary event.
October 2nd - The Feather-Your-Nest Interior Décor Company released a brand of autumn-themed bath tissue as part of their Harvest Home line of goods. The tissue was cream colored and included pressed autumn flowers. Unfortunately, after the initial run, the sourcing for the flowers was handed off to the lowest bidder. Thirty-five thousand rolls were produced using ragweed and asters, which led to intense allergic reactions. Allergy suffers would blow their noses on the ragweed tissue, increasing the reaction, and those who used the tissue for its standard purposes developed hives in places where hives should not go. The Feather-Your-Nest company issued a recall.
October 29th - A scientist named Edgar Barry invented a new method for artificially inseminating beef cattle. This revolutionized the industry and brought the cost down significantly.
March 10th - The Winter Blight swept vineyards throughout the continent. Winter blight caused the grapevines to send out leaves far too early in the year, freezing on the vine and weakening the plant severely. Many great vineyards were lost. One enterprising vineyard owner set up heaters in the fields, keeping the leaves unfrozen. The expense in space heaters and extension cords was extraordinary, but the resulting “Blight Wines” were highly sought after and more than paid for the expense. The cause of the Winter Blight was never found, and has not struck again, although botanists suspect that it is only a matter of time.
May 26th - Melinda Berman, the Masked Editor, passed away. Her obituary was proofread thirty-six times and shone as a testament to correct use of semicolons. A national day of mourning was declared for one of the great heroes of editing and thesauruses were shelved at half-mast for a week.
June 27th - The game “Mondo Beast” was launched. One of the first wildly successful stand-up arcade machines, “Mondo Beast” had graphics head and shoulders above any game previously released. It was an overnight sensation and arcades reported lines over an hour long to play. As it was also hellishly difficult, play time rarely lasted more than eight minutes and separated players from quarters with great efficiency.
July 2nd - An extremely depressed woman woke up in the morning and thought “I can get through this.” Things got better after that.
November 3rd - Inventor Alistair Whetsmith invented a coffee grinder that he called the “Bean-Matrix,” This would not normally be significant, except that the coffee grinder proved able to grind nearly anything, including logs, stones, and, unfortunately, fingers. Whetsmith renamed his invention the “Grind-O-Matrix” but its lack of safety features made it unsellable in the modern market.
Date unknown - The graffiti artist known as “Raygun's” spray-painted artwork decorated the city for nearly two decades.
May 15th - A group of mercenaries was dispatched to deal with the so-called “Mother of Anguish” that dwells in the sewers beneath the city. This rogue kombucha culture communicates its demands only through very angry haiku. It had lately taken to demanding sacrifices and claiming that “the time of the ascendance is at hand.” The mole-people were increasingly concerned, and moreso when the mercenary group vanished. A pile of bones was eventually located, along with a haiku stating:
The next warriors
You send to slay the mother—
Free-range only, please.
December 15th - The album “A World Bleached White” by Ironlight was released. It featured explicit lyrics, graphic depictions of illegal acts on the album art, and the liner notes could be fashioned into a crude weapon. Though banned from sale in every possible venue, it nevertheless went immediately triple platinum. “Teenagers appear to be purchasing this by osmosis or something,” said one moral authority. “I went into my daughter’s bedroom and a copy literally popped out of the air and fell onto the stereo. It was very disturbing. She swore that she’d never listened to it, but three more copies showed up under her bed, and there was another in the potting shed. That one might have been my husband’s, though. I’ve grounded everyone in the house, just in case.” Ironlight, which consists of three MFA’s in classical music and a drummer, released a five minute statement that, once the swear words had been removed, read only: Censorship of art is rarely effective. They continue to tour today.
March 4th - Axolotls came up through the drains in the city, shocking many, who had not realized that they had gotten into the storm sewers and were breeding with great enthusiasm. Axolotls generally prefer cleaner water, but improvements in sanitation had greatly improved the water quality, and unseasonable warm winters combined with heavy rains had caused a population explosion. Axolotl removal services sprang up overnight, as animal control was overwhelmed. Many of the axolotls were relocated and re-released into the wild, increasing the population dramatically in some areas.
March 27th - The Tastee Treat Company introduced its Butter Fried Snails on a Stick. These large gastropods were a tasty, if rubbery, delicacy from the southern Glass Wastes, and Tastee Treat hoped to market them to a wider audience. The advertising campaign featured a happy snail carrying a stick and shouting the slogan “Molluskalicious!” Butter Fried Snails on a Stick bombed as hard as a novelty food product can bomb. There was a brief fad to dare one’s friends to eat them, but the snails did not freeze well, reheated poorly, and approximately one in a hundred carried meningitis. Tastee Treat was investigated for malfeasance and paid out a large sum to those hospitalized as a result of snail ingestion. Stuffed toys of the happy snail became collectors items, however, and can fetch several thousand dollars at auction today.
October 21st - A printer jam caused seventeen deaths and eleven injuries. No one is quite sure of how things spiraled so rapidly out of control. “He just pressed “Clean Print Heads,”” said one traumatized survivor. “Then there was only fire and screaming.” The printer in question was detained and later executed via lethal paper jam.
September 20th - A small turtle reached the summit of a mountain. It was not the highest mountain on earth, but a respectable sized mountain nonetheless. The turtle watched the sunrise from the top and ate a small picnic breakfast. Then he climbed down and went home and was very happy.
September 25th - A member of the Prime Minister's cabinet exploded into a cloud of small brown butterflies. Spontaneous butterfly explosions were nearly unknown at that time, and suspicions were raised that the unnamed cabinet member may have been a flock of butterflies all along. There were demands for a full investigation.
October 26th - Poet Gertrude McGillicutty was killed by a freak Allen wrench accident while attempting to assemble a futon. Her poetry was mediocre at best and was quickly forgotten, but her death was the final one in an ancient curse passed through the maternal line. Nearly six hundred years prior, a female ancestor had robbed a tomb in the Glass Wastes, passing repeatedly under a threshold that promised doom, death, sorrow, and more doom. Under normal circumstances, such a curse would have ended the family within a few generations, but one particular ancestress had been blessed by the god of long chances, and so see-sawed between mortal peril and hairs-breadth escapes for nearly ninety years, five husbands, and no less than eleven children. Her descendants gave the curse a run for its money and it was not until the passing of Ms. McGillicutty that it finally saw its end.
Date unknown - The flooded site of Lowing's Ford was excavated by underwater archaeologists.
March 31st - The Crystal Popper came on the market. This hand-held device was billed as a permanent method of attaching a decorative crystal to any surface. Critics argued that the Crystal Popper was basically a nail gun, and the “crystal refills” were nails with faceted plastic heads. The Crystal Popper enjoyed catchy jingles and moderate commercial success, but was recalled from the market after multiple users were maimed in an effort to attach crystals to their foreheads.
April 4th - An unexplained fire at the Ravencoast School of Divinity began in one of the student dorms. Bucket brigades were formed by the Plague Doctors, while other members of the seminary suggested praying for rain. They had worked out a non-denominational, suitably respectful prayer by the time that the fire department arrived, and the school was saved from further damage. The cause was determined to be a malfunctioning hot plate.
April 11th - A nearly intact hominid skeleton was found at the edge of the Glass Wastes. Dated to two and a half million years ago, this skull pre-dates even Mr. Fluffy, and is believed to represent an extinct subspecies of hominid, distinguished by unusually large molars and a vestigial third eye in the back of the head.
May 19th - The Lydia Blane Clothing Company invented a shirt that would never, ever, ever ride up, no matter how the wearer was sitting, bending, or moving. This miraculous article of clothing sold out nearly instantly and caused riots whenever shipments arrived. Multiple factories were switched over to meet demand and the Never-Gap T-shirt remains one of the highest selling women’s clothing items on the market today.
June 27th - The Infamous Wilkington Garden Club Elections took place. Among political strategists, Wilkington is widely studied as an example of the old truism that the smaller the stakes, the more bitter the fighting. The Garden Club Elections were a referendum on the respective merits of “pom-pom” vs. “saucer” dahlias, and escalated to tire-slashing, vandalism, arson, anonymous threats and smear campaigns. The eventual victor, 93-year-old Mathilda Smith, was described by one political activist as “the coldest soul I’ve ever known.”
July 16th - Pigeons in the city began to turn up wearing bridles and tiny saddles. The city’s rat population was blamed, despite protests that rats are much too heavy to ride pigeons. The mysterious pigeon-riders were never found, and the pigeons became distracted by bread crumbs.
August 8th - The song “Space Cookie” topped the music charts, where it would remain for over three months. The song was originally performed by the neo-grungefuturist band Tidepool, but was covered by dozens of other artists as the weeks wore on. Today, “Space Cookie” is considered retro and causes mild anguish when people over forty dance to it at weddings.
November 14th - A mass recall of henna dye was issued. So called “Stone Henna” had been wildly popular for some months, but reports of scarring and rashes began to trickle in, followed by reports of combustion and in some case, tattoos gaining sentience and detaching themselves from their owners.
Date unknown - The Joseph Ilex Memorial Bluebird Trail was inaugurated, stretching for twenty-six miles and housing an unknown number of bluebirds. It is credited with greatly increasing bluebird numbers throughout the coastal foothills and is maintained by the Garlic Scouts of Troyzantium. The trail was created from the collection of Joseph Ilex whose birdhouse collection, numbering some hundred thousand specimens, was bequeathed to the Royal Museum by his daughter upon his death.
February 12th - The Great Lupercalia Drought struck the mountains to the east of the city. A warm winter had prevented the snow pack from building up in the mountains, reducing water levels to historic lows. While the drought had obviously been in effect for quite some time, it was only officially declared on this day. The Lord of the Mountain declared that his kingdom would cease to exist if something was not done.
February 24th - The Great Lupercalia Drought, showing no signs of lessening, was classed as an emergency. Refugees fled the mountains east of the city, and the Lord of the Mountain begged his allies for supplies and humanitarian aid.
March 26th - Refugees began to flee the kingdom of the Lord of the Mountain, which continued to suffer under the Great Lupercalia Drought. Aid was slow in arriving, owing to various political factors. Crops had begun to fail. The Lord of the Mountain called for aid yet again, to no avail.
May 23rd - the Great Lupercalia Drought finally brought down the kingdom of the Lord of the Mountain. The kingdom had stood for some five hundred years, resisting invasion, plague, and missionaries, but could not stand against lack of water. Refugees sought homes in other cities and the Kingdom of the Mountain remains empty to this day…mostly. Rumor has it that the Lord of the Mountain refused to leave his kingdom and is still alive inside the ruined city. Looters have made brief forays into the ruins, but the Lord of the Mountain was very fond of booby traps and survival rates are not high.
Date unknown - At the age of 102, Henrietta Mohly, photographer, published “A Life In Photos,” which spanned nearly a century of her work, and documented many of the changes that society had undergone.
Date unknown - The walls of the Empty Sky Tea Shop, which hundreds of artists and writers drew or wrote on over the years, were carefully removed and taken to the Royal Museum. They were set up in the entryway to the literature wing, so that nearly a century worth of creativity would be preserved for future generations.
February 2nd - A young seal was found at the bottom of a garden in East Walling. The garden was thirty seven miles inland and the seal had apparently swum upstream for a long way, then waddled through a series of drainage ditches and fetched up in the duck pond in East Walling.
May 2nd - Foraging expert Jacob Crumb was arrested for “foraging” in the garden of Miss Henrietta Keeler. Miss Keeler reported going into the garden to cut flowers and found Crumb on his hands and knees. He attempted to flee, but Miss Keeler got him from behind with a thrown flowerpot.
October 20th - The popular children’s show “Winkles and Friends!” first aired. It consisted of a man drunkenly screaming obscenities at the camera, and aired during Saturday morning cartoons for some weeks before the networks discovered that someone had mislabeled the public access tapes.
Date unknown - Raygun was recognized as a National Treasure and his/hers surviving images protected by royal decree.
February 9th - Toy company FunZilla was founded. FunZilla makes pop-culture related toys, many of which are licensed from movies, video games, and TV shows. For a lengthy period, having a vinyl figure made by FunZilla was a sign that one had truly arrived in the pop culture gestalt. I do not have one. Yet.
September 21st - The apple variety “Highland Crisper” was introduced to the market. Crisper, unlike many varieties before it, was tightly controlled by the breeders at the University of the Northern Highlands. Grafts were regulated and of course the variability of apple seeds meant that they could not be bred from seed. Crisper was an extraordinary commercial success, not least of which because there were never enough on the market to drive the prices down.
December 10th - The Crawford Farmhouse was added to the Royal Register of Historic Buildings. The Crawford Farm was settled in the 1400s and stayed within the family for the next five hundred years. The farmhouse began as a simple stone structure, but was added to and updated by many generations, until it was a vast patchwork building. “It encompasses dozens of styles while mastering none of them,” said one critic. “A hideous creation,” said an architect. “One wonders that one is not turned to stone gazing upon it.” It was finally sold out of the family, in the 1960s, whereupon it was painted purple and turned into a brothel by the Notorious Sisterhood. It remains one to this day, although only after seven PM. During daylight hours, tours of the historic building are offered, with many of the evening employees serving as docents. The Crawford Farmhouse has been the highest ranked historic destination for nearly a decade, second only to the Tower of Murder. “It is amazing,” said one observer, “how many middle-aged men visit and conceive a sudden passion for history.”
Date unknown - Mindful Gardening, published in 1999, revolutionized much of the conversation around gardens. It argued that the purpose of a garden was not merely to entertain the gardener, but to feed the spirit.