Right Now in Ridiculous History

Almost 48 years ago, Pirates pitcher and notorious party animal Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter while under the influence of LSD. How did this man accomplish one of the rarest feats in baseball history while, by his own admission, tripping balls? Join the guys as they dive into the story of that legendary afternoon, along with the parts of Dock's legacy that are too often forgotten in the modern day.

Maryland’s State Song was a Diss Track

On the first listen, Maryland's old state song sounds pretty innocuous. There's the usual lauding of the state, a refrain based on "O Tannenbaum" and so on. Yet the lyrics of this song refer to "Northern scum" and call for out and out war with various oppressors. So what gives? Join Ben and Noel as they dive into the strange origin story of "Maryland, My Maryland". 

The Story of Max, South Africa's Famous, Crime-fighting Gorilla

When confronted with a home invasion, Max the gorilla brought international fame to the Johannesburg Zoo and briefly became the city's most famous crime fighter. He received numerous endorsements, and a statue was erected in his honor. But what brought Max to this level of celebrity? Join Ben and Noel as they delve into the story of Max the crime-fighting gorilla and the disturbing cultural context that made South Africa regard him as a symbol of justice that too often eluded the average citizen.

How Santa Anna Lost His Leg Twice, and Held a Funeral for It

Often called "The Napoleon of the West", mainly by himself, Santa Anna was a legendary, larger-than-life politician, general and exile. While hundreds of stories have been told about this man, one in particular stood out to Ben and Noel: Santa Anna lost his leg not once, but twice to enemy forces. And, once upon a time, he held an elaborate funeral for his fallen leg.

That Time Chewbacca Needed Bodyguards

Inarguably the most well-known Wookie in the Star Wars universe, Chewbacca also bears a strong resemblance to another popular creature in American culture -- the towering, hirsute cryptid known as Bigfoot. So much so, in fact, that during filming the studio (allegedly) became very concerned for the safety of Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca onscreen. While filming Return of the Jedi in the forests of the California redwoods, guards accompanied the costumed Peter Mayhew so that Bigfoot hunters wouldn't shoot him. So what's the big deal with California and Bigfoot? Tune in to find out.

Napoleon Bonaparte Was Attacked by Bunnies -- And Lost

Born in Corsica, Napoleon Bonaparte rose from obscurity during the French Revolution, crowning himself Emperor of France in 1804. This brilliant, ruthless tactician changed the course of French history. Despite his meteoric rise and bloodied fall, Bonaparte still needed to grab lunch once in a while. That's when the rabbits got him.

California Was Named for a Fictional Island Ruled by a Black Amazon Queen

California was admitted to the United States as the 31st state in 1850, but it acquired its unique name much, much earlier. Join Ben and Noel as they trace the strange story behind California's name, from the fiction that inspired it to the loss and rediscovery of the story and, of course, adventures on a legendary Amazonian island.

Ancient Mayan Ritual Alcohol Enemas

Like many ancient cultures, the civilizations of Mesoamerica had a vast and rich history of unique cultural practices, spiritual beliefs and ceremonies, some of which may seem bizarre to people in the modern day. In this episode, Ben and Noel examine a common practice from ancient Mayan culture: the ritual alcohol enema. 

Vermont Was an Independent Republic

Today Vermont is known for its progressive politics, beautiful forestry, Bernie Sanders and Ben and Jerry's. It's not a state you'll hear much about outside of the US and, for many Vermont natives, that's just fine. But once upon a time, Vermont was a very different place -- in fact, for a number of years, it was an independent Republic. How did this come about? How did it become part of the modern United States? Tune in to find out.

The Capture of Guam Was Bloodless and Quick, All Due to a Misunderstanding

Located about 1500 miles to the east of the Phillipines in Micronesia, Guam is a small US territory with a tiny population, beautiful beaches and an incredibly complicated history. For almost four centuries it was a colonial possession of Spain -- but that all changed in 1898, when Guam, in a strange series of misunderstandings, became a possession of the American government. So what exactly happened? Join Ben and Noel as they explore the bloodless, somewhat ridiculous, capture of Guam.

Are all US Presidents actually related?

In 2012 a student in Salinas, California, startled genealogists when she claimed that all Presidents save one were actually related. Could it be true? Join Ben and Noel as they dive into this strange claim, separating fact from fiction while tackling what it means, exactly, to be related to someone. (It's all relative.)

What's the deal with two-dollar bills?

Despite being pretty rare in comparison to other denominations, the U.S. two-dollar bill is one of the most storied notes in American folklore. So why do some people think it's lucky? Why do others think it's bad luck? Join Ben and Noel as they explore the bizarre evolution of the two-dollar bill. 

How James Bond Created a Mexican Dia de los Muertos Tradition

The Day of the Dead is a longstanding traditional celebration in Mexico, and currently hundreds of thousands of people associate it with a gigantic parade -- you know, like the one they saw in the James Bond film ''Spectre''. There's just one strange twist about that parade: before the movie, the procession didn't exist. Join Ben and Noel as they trace the weird evolution of this event from fiction to the real world.

Did Richard Nixon Unwittingly Smuggle Drugs for Louis Armstrong?

It's become one of the strangest anecdotes in modern American history -- numerous sources will swear to you that, in a last-minute panic before reaching customs, legendary musician Louis Armstrong had Richard Nixon's unwitting assistance smuggling a hefty amount of marijuana through US customs. It's bizarre (and pretty hilarious) if true... but how true is it? Tune in as the guys get to the bottom of this bizarre American fable.

3 Times Society Refused to Accept New Books on Science

Progress versus preservation: It's one of the eternal dilemmas found throughout every instance of human civilization. Should we embrace disruptive thoughts and science that challenges our beliefs, or should we cling to the comfort of the status quo? Join Ben and Noel as they explore the tragic and inspiring stories of books that were banned not for racy, fictional scenes -- but for furthering our understanding of the universe and our place within it.

That Time We Erased a (HUGE) Waterfall

It's often been said that "the art of losing isn't hard to master", and humanity overall seems to have a knack for losing everything from car keys to entire civilizations. Join Ben and Noel as they travel (vicariously) to South America and delve into the story of two nations who, eventually, lost an entire waterfall.

The Poetic Justice of Death by Molten Gold

It's a grisly death familiar to many fans of fiction and fantasy -- a hapless, greedy villain meets their end by having molten metal, often lead or gold, poured upon them or down their throats. But was this morbid means of execution ever used in real life? Join Ben and Noel as they dive into the deadly science of real-life murder by molten gold.

Japan, Baseball and the Curse of the Colonel

First things first: You may think Kentucky Fried Chicken is popular in the States, but we've got nothing on Japan. Join the guys as they delve into a story involving baseball, fried chicken, superstition, curses and drunken revelry in today's episode on the Hanshin Tigers and the infamous Curse of the Colonel.

That Time the US Built a Flying Aircraft Carrier

Nowadays airships are seen as historical relics or novelties meant to fly overhead during sports games. However, not so long ago, the US military thought airships might be the future of warfare. Today the guys delve into the strange history of the USS Akron, an airship designed not just to carry human beings -- but to carry planes as well. Learn more about the construction of the Akron (and why it's not aloft today).

Yes, Those Are Corpses in the Diorama

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is one of the most storied institutions of its kind in the United States, and it's chockful of priceless objects from across the span of history and the globe. However, investigators only recently discovered a grisly secret hidden within one of the dioramas. Join Ben and Noel as they explore the macabre secret of the Carnegie Museum.