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Your Week in History: Faster executions and an unpopular soft drink

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Batman logo. (Source: MGN Online) Batman logo. (Source: MGN Online)
The house at Garrett Farm where John Wilkes Booth was hiding when he was tracked down after killing Abraham Lincoln. (Source: National Park Service/Wikimedia Commons) The house at Garrett Farm where John Wilkes Booth was hiding when he was tracked down after killing Abraham Lincoln. (Source: National Park Service/Wikimedia Commons)
A bottle of New Coke, which was both a marketing disaster and success. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) A bottle of New Coke, which was both a marketing disaster and success. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

(RNN) – I've mentioned here more than once that I like Superman. What I haven't mentioned is that I don't like Batman.

Batman 1 went on sale April 25, 1940. Whoop-de-freaking-do.

It's not just that I don't like Batman. I truly hate him. He's a guy in a freaking suit. He's just a step up from somebody pretending to be Bigfoot.

He knows all kinds of cool martial arts and has awesome toys. That sounds excellent - and it is - but the problem comes in calling him a superhero. He's a man with real man abilities. I like my superheroes to be super. Superman is not a real man with real man powers. He's a super man-like being with superhuman powers.

I will give one concession, though. Bruce Wayne is a better alter-ego than Clark Kent. But what you won't find in that article is what would happen in a fight, because that's where Superman owns the crap out of Batman. All of Batman's little toys and gadgets and fancy moves won't mean anything when Superman throws a glacier at his pointy-eared head.

Batman has the stupidest TV show ever made (ZOK!) while Superman has the greatest piece of theme music ever written. Superman has X-ray vision, laser eyes and he … can … freaking … fly. He doesn't have cool toys and fancy cars because he doesn't need them.

Superman can be killed by one thing. Batman can be killed by literally thousands of things. Batman has a sidekick who he is useless without. Superman doesn't need the help of an awful pun-making lackey to make himself look good.

In the two Batman movies I've watched, I rooted for the villain (it was the Joker both times). Batman has better nemeses than Superman because he needs them. Without those villains, it would be terribly boring. Superman's arch nemesis is Lex Luthor, whose main attribute is being smart and rich. Kinda sounds like Batman.

Here's the trailer for the Superman movie due out later this year. In these three minutes, Batman would have died at least five times.

Here are some of the events of note that happened between April 22 and April 28.

Life and Death

Snuppy, the first cloned dog, was born April 24, 2005. "Snuppy" is an amalgamation of Seoul National University (SNU) and puppy. Snuppy is an Afghan hound that was birthed by a surrogate Labrador retriever at SNU.

Speaking of Superman, the director of Superman, Richard Donner, was born April 24, 1930, which is 13 years earlier than Richard Sterban, the oom-pop-a-mow-mowing bass singer for The Oak Ridge Boys.

Let's have some fun. /... .- -- ..- . .-.. / -- --- .-. ... . / .-- .- ... / -... --- .-. -. / .- .--. .-. .. .-.. / ..--- --... / .---- --... ----. .----

Once again, it's time for People I Can (Loosely) Associate with John Wayne. Shirley Temple was born April 23, 1928, and starred with Wayne in Fort Apache. Eddie Albert was in The Longest Day and McQ with Wayne and was born April 22, 1906. Glen Campbell was born April 22, 1936, and was in my favorite of the Duke's films, True Grit. Wayne also guest starred in some hilarious episodes of Lucille Ball's various sitcoms (both in black and white and color). Lucy died April 26, 1989.

In presidential lives, Richard Nixon died April 22, 1994, James Buchanan was born April 23, 1791, Ulysses Grant was born April 27, 1822, and James Monroe was born April 28, 1758.

Two people were both born and died this week. Edward R. Murrow was born April 25, 1908, and died April 27, 1965. William Shakespeare died April 23, 1616, and his birthday is celebrated the same day because it's a little odd to celebrate a man's death. The actual day of his birth isn't known, but he was baptized April 26, 1564, so the celebration day could be accurate.

I feel that I let the world down because I failed to acknowledge the birth and death of Lou Costello, which were March 6, 1906 and March 3, 1959, respectively. Anyway, his partner, Bud Abbot, died April 24, 1974. The two had a successful partnership, but their relationship deteriorated after personal problems and run-ins with the IRS, which are never good. However, they still provided what is probably the most famous comedy bit ever performed, and it is just as funny today as it was then.

Overlooked Anniversaries

New Coke was released April 23, 1985. It was probably the best and worst thing ever to happen to Coca-Cola. The "old" formula was discontinued and replaced, and the new was immediately hated by almost everyone. Coca-Cola was then brought back a few months later as Coca-Cola Classic and was more popular than ever. There is speculation the whole thing was a huge marketing ploy, but in reality it was just a really, really bad idea.

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster was April 26, 1986, and is the world's worst nuclear disaster. The meltdown happened in the Soviet Union in modern-day Ukraine, but most of the fallout went to Belarus. The meltdown killed 31 people, but subsequent radiation poisoning has affected tens of thousands, and the nearby city of Pripyat was abandoned.

Let's class the place up a little. Ludwig van Beethoven composed Fur Elise on April 27, 1810. No one knows who "Elise" is or if she even existed at all, and Beethoven was no help because no one knew he even wrote the song until about 40 years after he died. Beethoven was nearly deaf when he composed it and it is possible the name is not supposed to be Fur Elise at all. It could have just been that Beethoven had the penmanship of a 3-year-old and nobody could read it.

The Coinage Act of 1864 put "In God We Trust" on money for the first time April 22, 1864, Elian Gonzalez was seized from his relatives in Florida on April 22, 2000, the Hubble telescope was launched April 24, 1990, and Nicolas Pelletier was the first person executed by the guillotine April 25, 1792. It was such an efficient killing device, the public initially hated it because it wasn't violent enough.

Something About Sports

The first National League game was played April 22, 1876, at Philadelphia's Jefferson Street Grounds. The Boston Red Stockings beat the Philadelphia Athletics 6-5. The Philadelphia Athletics were expelled from the league after the season for refusing to make long road trips late in the year after falling behind in the standings. The Boston Red Stockings, who were also known as the Red Caps, still exist as the modern-day Atlanta Braves.

Google Maps shows two overgrown baseball diamonds at the site of the game with their outfields merging into each other and basketball courts in centerfield.

The 1906 Olympics opened in Athens, Greece, on April 22, 1906, but the Games aren't counted today as an official Olympics. The event was held between two official Olympics in 1904 and 1908 and is considered a 10-year Olympic anniversary celebration of the 1896 Olympics. They are now known as the Intercalated Games.

But the 1906 "Olympics" are credited with helping to keep the Games alive and introduced the Opening Ceremony, Closing Ceremony and Olympic Village. However, the medal counts and records from the events are not recognized by the International Olympic Committee.

France had the most gold medals and most total medals with 15 and 40, respectively. The United States had the second most gold medals with 12, but its 24 total medals tied Great Britain for third. Greece was second in total medals with 35 and third in gold medals with eight.

Though not technically a sports event, Theodore Roosevelt gave his famous "Man in the Arena" speech April 23, 1910, which is officially titled Citizenship in a Republic.

The Week in Warfare

April 24, 1184 B.C., is the traditional date for the fall of Troy. I don't lend much credence to any B.C. dates, but this is one of the most famous battles in world history, despite the fact it may not have ever even happened.

A solar eclipse mentioned in the Odyssey is the only piece of evidence that exists to date the event, but the Odyssey is as useful as a historic text as The Cat in the Hat is for brain surgery. Archaeological evidence, however, supports the idea of Troy being destroyed around 1180 B.C. Whether it happened and whether we can ever know the date, it's just suffice to say that if somebody attacks you and fails and then leaves you a ridiculous gift, just blow it up.

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was captured April 22, 1836, following the Battle of San Jacinto, the F-117 Nighthawk was retired April 22, 2008, and the submarine USS Triton completed the first circumnavigation of the earth while completely submerged April 25, 1960.

The Civil War came to its official end April 26, 1865, when Joseph Johnston surrendered to William Tecumseh Sherman at Bennett Farm in North Carolina. It was the largest Confederate surrender of the war and is the date several states celebrate Confederate Memorial Day.

It also happens that on the same day, at Garrett Farm in Maryland, John Wilkes Booth was killed. Rumors circulated that the man authorities thought was Booth was actually Confederate soldier James William Boyd, who bears a resemblance to Booth and whose whereabouts after February 1865 are unknown.

Subsequent theories claim Booth changed his name to John St. Helen or David E. George, but several people, including Booth's family, identified his body soon after he was killed.

Holiday You Should Celebrate

April 24 is Pig in a Blanket Day. You should be able to figure this one out on your own.

Preview of next week

"… so help me, God."

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