Right Now in Ridiculous History

Were it not for the coal mine, the town of Vulcan, West Virginia may well have never existed. As a rural and geographically isolated community, Vulcan relied on a single, small bridge for its connection to the larger world. When the bridge failed, the town repeatedly tried to get financial assistance from the local and state government -- with no success. In a state of increasing desperation, the Mayor of Vulcan wrote the Soviet Union for help... during the Cold War. Listen in to learn what happened next.

Idiomatic for the People II, Part II

Language is beautiful and, in many cases, continually evolving. As a result, we end up with hundreds of strange idioms and figures of speech that we use on a daily basis, with little to no understanding of what they originally meant. Join the guys with special guests Frank Mulherin and Rowan Newbie, the creator of the Pitches podcast, as they explore the bizarre origins of your favorite turns of phrase.

Idiomatic for the People II, Part I

Language is beautiful and, in many cases, continually evolving. As a result, we end up with hundreds of strange idioms and figures of speech that we use on a daily basis, with little to no understanding of what they originally meant. Join the guys with special guests Frank Mulherin and Rowan Newbie, the creator of the Pitches podcast, as they explore the bizarre origins of your favorite turns of phrase.

The Statue of Liberty Almost Lived in Egypt

Today the Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous landmarks in the United States -- but it almost didn't make it to Liberty Island. Join the guys as they explore the strange story of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and his quest to build this iconic monument.

Agent Garbo: The Strange Tale of the Man Who Saved D-Day

When Juan Pujol first volunteered to spy for the British during World War II, they didn’t take him seriously. That all changed when he got a gig spying for the German government. Listen to learn the story of one of World War II’s most successful double agents.

The War of the Stray Dog: How Far Would You Go For Your Pet?

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, it didn't take the newly-independent nations of Greece and Bulgaria long to begin bickering over their borders. Throughout the early 1920s, small bands of peasants from both countries routinely crossed the border to steal livestock, damage property and harass locals. This untenable situation reached a breaking point in 1925, when a Greek border guard was fatally shot while crossing into Bulgaria to retrieve his dog (who had strayed away on dog business). This single incident sparked a cavalcade of chaos that eventually caught the attention of the League of Nations.

The Tragic Origin Story of Morse Code

The telegraph and the communication system known as Morse code revolutionized the way we transmit information, but how did it get here? Join the guys as they explore the tragic life and time of Samuel Morse.

Operation Gunnerside: How a Crew of Military Skiers Ruined the Nazi Bomb

On February 27, 1942, nine saboteurs set out in the middle of the night to blow up a Nazi-controlled heavy water plant in Norway. This operation was as crucial as it was complicated -- if the plant continued to function, the Nazis very well may have been able to construct an atomic bomb. Tune in to learn exactly how the commandos glided in and, eventually, skied away.

How far did Isaac Newton go to hunt down forgers?

Today, Isaac Newton is best known for his scientific pursuits -- but he also served as Warden and, later, Master of the Royal Mint. And this wasn't some sort of honorary position, either: Newton took his job of hunting down forgers seriously, and may have even bent (or broken) the law in his quest to arrest and hang his archnemesis, the counterfeiting kingpin William Chaloner.

How Admiral Horatio Nelson Ended Up Dead in a Barrel of Brandy

Naval legend Admiral Nelson died on October 21st, 1805 shortly after being shot by a French sniper while standing on the deck his ship, Victory. Following the British victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, the survivors of the conflict were left with a dilemma -- how could they preserve Nelson's body long enough for the corpse to receive an appropriate burial back home?

English Men Used to Sell Their Wives

In late 17th-century England, it was almost impossible for anyone outside of the upper class to successfully get a divorce -- the process was expensive and required approval from both the church and the government. As a result, some couples agreed to end their unhappy marriages through a bizarre practice known as 'wife selling'. And, unfortunately, it's exactly what it sounds like.

How Louisiana Almost Became a Hippo Ranching Hub

Nowadays beef, chicken and pork are the most common meats in the US -- but, not so long ago, that could have all changed. Join the guys as they travel back to the early 1900s, when Louisiana congressman Robert Broussard proposed an unorthodox solution to the nation's crippling meat shortage: the introduction of African Hippopotamuses to Gulf Coast swamplands. What convinced Broussard that the world's deadliest land mammal could become America's next culinary craze? Tune in to find out.

The Weird Life of George Washington, Part 2

Join Ben, Noel, Casey and returning guest Christopher Hassiotis as they continue exploring the strange life and times of George Washington in the second part of this two-part series. Listen in to learn more about Washington's weird hair routine, his bizarre, lifelong medical issues, and his family's troubling history in early America.

The Weird Life of George Washington, Part 1

Returning special guest Christopher Hassiotis joins the guys today for a round-robin discussion of the very weird life of George Washington, first President of the United States. (As you may have guessed from the title, there's more weirdness than we could fit in a single episode.)

Who was the highest paid athlete in history?

Today, most people probably don't remember the career of once-famous charioteer Gaius Appuleius Diocles -- however, in his day we was a cultural icon, one of the most famous athletes in Rome. Join the guys as they explore the story Diocles and trace one professor's quest to figure out exactly how much cash Diocles made in modern terms.

Clara, The World's Most Famous Rhinoceros

For centuries most people in Europe thought of rhinos as another form of mythical creature, like unicorns or griffins. However, this all changed when an enterprising sea captain brought a young, orphaned rhino named Clara back to his home country after his travels abroad. It's often said that fame can have a powerful effect on the average human being, but how does it affect rhinos? Join the guys and special guest Katie Goldin, host of the podcast Creature Feature, as they unravel the mystery.

How the Monopoly Board Game Became a World War II Escape Kit

Monopoly is a pretty divisive game, and people tend to either love it or hate it. However, for hundreds of Allied POWs captured during World War II, Monopoly became more than a mere diversion -- it became, instead, their ticket to freedom. Join the guys as they explore the strange sequence of events that led the UK to turn Monopoly into a real-life escape kit.

Idiomatic For The People, Part I

Language is beautiful and, in many cases, continually evolving. As a result, we end up with hundreds of strange idioms and figures of speech that we use on a daily basis, with little to no understanding of what they originally meant. Join the guys and special guest, Rowan Newbie, the creator of the Pitches podcast, as they explore the bizarre origins of your favorite turns of phrase. (Ben here, with a bonus question: I went through and noted multiple turns of phrase we all used unintentionally - how many can you catch?)

Was there a real-life Rapunzel?

Most people in the West are familiar with the old Rapunzel fairy tale -- a beautiful princess is confined to a tower until a prince, captivated by her beauty, uses her hair as a ladder and comes to her rescue. But where did this story come from, exactly? Tune in to find out.

Benjamin Franklin's Advice On "Finding A Mistress"

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin was a man of many interests, but his endeavors were by no means limited to technical innovation, philosophy and politics. In fact, throughout his life he had a reputation as an irredeemable lech -- literally, in later years, a dirty old man -- and his exploits were common knowledge on both sides of the Atlantic. He himself did not shy away from these accusations, and records show he even advised his younger friends on affairs, marriage, sex and romance. But was his famous 1745 letter "Advice to a Young Man on the Choice of a Mistress" meant as sincere advice, or satire?