Ortho Orange #42

A mysterious and deadly substance, Ortho Orange #42 has been illegally dumped by an un-named American corporation in at least one vacant lot, possibly in Philadelphia. Little is known of its chemical composition or intended use, but its effects on both human and canine subjects are well-documented.

One human subject, “Scotty”, developed a blood-clotting disorder as a result of his exposure, in addition to his skin turning green, losing his sight, and requiring nasal tubes to breathe. At this point, barring a miracle, his prognosis is terminal. A canine subject experienced less dramatic effects, although his once grey fur was changed to a yellow shade by exposure to the same substance.

1950 – The creation of Californium is announced

One of the elements of the actinide group, Californium was first synthesized on approximately February 9, 1950 by researchers at the University of California. After checking and replicating the initial experiment, its discovery was announced a month later, and the element named for the university (and state) where it had been created.

Unusually for a synthetic element, it was later discovered in naturally occurring forms, albeit as a result of extremely rare phenomena. Californium also has practical uses, notably in initiating nuclear reactions and in the creation of higher elements – ununoctium (element 118) was synthesized by bombarding californium-249 atoms with calcium-48 ions

Referenced in:
The Fez – The Dead Milkmen

1985 – Ricky Nelson dies

The glory days of Ricky Nelson’s career were behind him by 1985. But at 45, he wasn’t ready to quit, and he still had enough of a fan base to make gigging a winning proposition financially. The other thing he had was a hatred of traveling by bus. Instead, despite not liking flying that much more than bussing, he had a charter plane to carry him and the band around.

On the New Year’s Eve, 1985, he was booked to play in Dallas, and as they flew into Texas that afternoon, it’s unlikely anyone though anything would go wrong. This may have been a little optimistic – the plane had already been grounded twice in the last six months due to assorted faults – but it was New Year’s Eve. Everyone wanted to party.

Nelson’s plane – which according to some witnesses was already on fire at the time – crashed two miles short of its destination, killing 8 of the ten people on board including Nelson.

Referenced in:

Air Crash Museum — The Dead Milkmen

1981 – The band later named the Butthole Surfers play their first ever gig

Appearing as “The Dick Clark Five”, the first gig by the band that would become the Butthole Surfers took place at the Shown-Davenport Art Gallery, in San Antonio, Texas. The occasion was the opening of an art exhibit by band-member Scott Mathews, and fellow artist Cheryl Dawn Dyer.

The original lineup of the band featured Mathews, Gibby Haynes, Scott Stevens and Paul Leary. Over the years, members would come and go, but Leary and Haynes, the co-founders of the band, would remain its constants, with both men singing and playing guitar. (Haynes also played saxophone, and is generally considered the lead singer of the band.)

Referenced in:

The Fez — The Dead Milkmen

1941 – Rudolf Hess crashes in Scotland

To this day, there is no clear explanation of his motives, but the facts in the case are these: on May 10, 1941, Rudolf Hess – the third most powerful man in Nazi Germany behind Hitler and Goring, flew a plane to Scotland, where he crash landed and was taken into custody. He had come on a mission of peace, trying to secure an end to hostilities between Germany and the United Kingdom.

However, his offer was quickly disavowed by the German government, and Hess stripped of al authority. He spent the rest of the war as a p.o.w., and stood trial alongside the other surviving Nazis at Nuremberg.

It seems that he had experienced some sort of guilt-motivated nervous breakdown, causing him to undertake his quixotic mission. It remains an open question whether his guilt was about the war by itself, or also about the Holocaust.

Referenced in:

Air Crash Museum — Dead Milkmen

1963 – Patsy Cline dies

About a month after finishing recording her fourth, and, alas, final album Sentimentally Yours, Patsy Cline died in what has been described as “one of the worst wrecks in the country”. Also on the plane that night – and also dying in the crash – were her manager Randy Hughes and fellow musicians Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas.

Patsy Clines’s legacy is vast: at the time of her death, she was one of the most popular and best-selling artists in the world (and deservedly so). Her works remain perennially popular, both in terms of airplay and of being covered by the artists that followed her.

Referenced in:

Air Crash Museum — The Dead Milkmen

1952 – Einsteinium is first created

Einsteinium is a completely artifical element (atomic number 99) with a very short half-life (a about 1 and a third years). It was first discovered in the fallout from the detonation of the world’s first hydrogen bomb, code Ivy Mike, detonated at Enewetak Atoll on November 1, 1952.

As a trans-uranic element, it is extremely radioactive. It has no known applications other using it to develop other extremely radioactive trans-uranic elements with even higher atomic numbers – so far, it has been employed successfully in the creation of mendelevium (atomic number 101) and unsuccessfully in the attempted creation of ununennium (atomic number 119).

Referenced in:

The Fez — The Dead Milkmen

1940 – Martin Sheen is born

Born Ramón Gerardo Antonio Estévez, the man whose stage name is Martin Sheen was the son of a Spanish father and an Irish mother, who emigrated to the United States prior to his birth. Good Catholics both of them, they gave him eight brothers and a sister.

Sheen adopted his now familiar stage name in order to counteract racism among those casting for acting jobs, although the choice was not one he made without certain regrets. In his own words:

Whenever I would call for an appointment, whether it was a job or an apartment, and I would give my name, there was always that hesitation and when I’d get there, it was always gone. So I thought, I got enough problems trying to get an acting job, so I invented Martin Sheen. It’s still Estevez officially. I never changed it officially. I never will. It’s on my driver’s license and passport and everything. I started using Sheen, I thought I’d give it a try, and before I knew it, I started making a living with it and then it was too late. In fact, one of my great regrets is that I didn’t keep my name as it was given to me. I knew it bothered my dad.

Referenced in:

Swampland of Desire — Dead Milkmen

1958 – The discovery of Nobelium is announced

Nobelium is a trans-uranic element whose atomic number is 102. A radioactive metal, it was first created in April 1958 by a team at the University of California’s Berkeley campus. The members of the team were Albert Ghiorso, Torbjorn Sikkeland, John R. Walton and Glenn Seaborg.

They named the newly discovered element after Alfred Nobel, which may or may not have been intended as a tiny hint to the Nobel Prize Committee. There is some controversy regarding this date, with several different teams claiming to have discovered Nobelium at different times, but this one seems to be the most commonly cited.

Referenced in:
The Fez – The Dead Milkmen

Jellyfish Heaven

  • Type: Heaven
  • Origin: eponymous song from the Dead Milkmen’s album Bucky Fellini
  • Admission: Jellyfish, and some humans (but not intoxicated Inuit or Mormons)

Jellyfish Heaven, at least for non-Scyphozoaphiles, has little to recommend it. It is too hot to ski and too cold to surf, and to top it off, strongly resembles Los Angeles. On the other tentacle, it does not allow entry to the Church of Latter Day Saints, which is a relief for non-Mormon citizens of Utah.

On the other, other tentacle, it’s also full of dead jellyfish, so presumably it’s kind of quiet.


1973 — Jim Croce dies in a plane crash

Probably best known for his singles, Operator, You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, Time in a Bottle, and his biggest hit, Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, Croce was a American singer-songwriter who enjoyed a too-brief fame in the early Seventies.

His career was tragically cut short when he and his close friend and frequent collaborator Maury Muehleisen died when the light aircaft they were flying in crashed en route between Natchitoches, Louisiana, and Sherman, Texas.

Referenced in:
Air Crash Museum — The Dead Milkmen

1977 – Elvis Presley dies

One more day, and he would have been touring again. But as it happened, Elvis Presley’s lifestyle caught up with sooner than that. Over the last few years, he had become seriously overweight, and also addicted to drugs.

By the time of his death, Presley was sick enough that he was having difficulty staying upright throughout his concerts. His friends and crew were doing their best to conceal his difficulties, but things had been slipping for some time.

Elvis was buried in Memphis, next to his mother’s grave, two days after his death – although even today, thirty years on, sightings of the King of Rock and Roll continue (he’d be 74 years old today, so it’s just plausible that he might have lived to this point).

Referenced in:

Dead Elvis – Doug Anthony All Stars
Going to Graceland – The Dead Milkmen
Rock And Roll Hall Of Death — Mitch Benn And The Distractions

1982 – Graceland is opened to the public

When Elvis died in 1977, he left most of his fortune to his daughter Lisa-Marie, who was only 9 at the time. The assets, including Graceland, were held in trust for her, with his father Vernon as the executor. Upon Vernon’s death in 1979, this responsibility passed to Priscilla Presley.

Taxes and other bills were eating into the inheritance, and in order to keep it going, Priscilla decided to convert Graceland into a tourist attraction. It rapidly became one of the most popular destinations in the United States, and the income it generated saved the Presley fortune. Graceland was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 7, 1991, and declared a National Historic Landmark on March 27, 2006.

Referenced in:

Going To Graceland – The Dead Milkmen