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Totally Blowing Shit Up Tuesdays: This One's for You, Guy

November 10, 2009

Last Thursday was Guy Fawkes' Day in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. What? You good folks across the pond thought I forgot? Hell no, my friends. I was just saving it up for a special day. Too bad it fell on a Thursday this year because Guy Fawkes was the ultimate in Totally Blowing Shit Up Tuesdays. He's also right up there for being the ultimate Fail in history.

So...who is this Fawkes guy, many of you might ask, and just what is his connection to massive detonations? Well, Guy Fawkes was, in all respects of the word, a fall guy for the Catholic Restoration movement that gripped England while several wars were being fought on mainland Europe revolving around Protestant and Catholic tensions. In 1605, when Guy was getting involved with the Catholic Restoration in England, James I was King of England. See, King James I (who was also James VI of Scotland) ascended the throne of England when Elizabeth I died, who was also a Protestant. When James continued the persecution of Catholics along with his adherence to (I'm assuming) the Church of England, the English Catholics became restless and decided to take matters in their own hand.

James was married to a Dutch princess, with whom he had three kids, most notable among those was his eldest daughter, Elizabeth...who was Catholic. Since she had a legitimate claim to the throne of England (and Scotland), she became integral in what was later known as the Gunpowder Plot. The head conspirator, Robert Catesby, hatched a plot to blow up James, his wife, most of the protestant aristocracy and nobility, and all of Parliament, Catholics included. Acceptable casualties, move along, I guess. At the same time--most likely during the confusion fomented by the explosion--someone would kidnap James' children, thereby setting up his daughter Elizabeth to become the next queen of England. As she was Catholic, this would restore Catholicism to the kingdom and, presumably, she would then funnel monies toward King Philip II of Spain who was leading the Catholic fight on the mainland of Europe.

Guy Fawkes had spent some time on the continent, fighting in the battles for the Catholic side, and had garnered some experience in handling and detonating explosives. He was selected to take care of the exploding 36 barrels of gunpowder--some 1800 pounds--due to his experience handling explosives. So, on the night of November 5th, 1605, Fawkes was found in a chamber beneath Parliament. After stuttering around for a bit and offering up a fake name, someone poked around under a pile of wood and coal and discovered the ass load of gunpowder Fawkes had smuggled in and hidden there. He was arrested immediately.

And what would that much gunpowder do? This, but presumably on a much grander scale:

Watch that a few more times. If you're like me, then that will get funnier with each subsequent viewing.

Fawkes was imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he was tortured until finally he offered up the names of his co-conspirators. Unfortunately, they were all either already dead or captured. Finally, on January 31 on 1606, Fawkes was executed. He climbed to the gallows himself and threw himself from the platform, breaking his neck and thus saving him from being drawn and quartered.

However, it was encouraged around the kingdom on November 5th to celebrate the king's escape from the assassination plot. The preferred celebration was setting bonfires, and children would burn little dolls made up to look like Guy Fawkes on the bonfires (though this practice has fallen out of vogue). Eventually, fireworks were also added to the celebration. The celebration is carried out throughout the commonwealth, stretching to South Africa, Bermuda, New Zealand and especially in eastern Canada. Since fireworks were outlawed in Australia in the 70s, the celebration has faded away.

Because I'm one of those word nerds, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the term "guy" to refer to a man came from Guy Fawkes, though the "guy" was originally used to describe and ugly or malformed men. When the word moved over to North America, it lost its negative connotations and is now just used to refer to a man.

And, also because I'm chock full of nerdly information, the mask that V wears in V for Vendetta is a Guy Fawkes mask. Fawkes has been a symbol for anarchists for quite some time, which fits in well with the character of V from the graphic novel and the movie adaptation.

Of course, Guy Fawkes was the inspiration for the name of Fawkes, Dumbledore's pet Phoenix, which again makes sense with the whole death in fire symbolism.

Conveniently enough, Guy Fawkes night next year will be on a Friday. Start preparing your bonfires now.


Moooooog35 said...

Guy Fawkes..blah blah realize I just come here for the pictures of Kiere Knightly and Elizabeth Hurley, right?

Oh, insightful details about Guy Fawkes.

Don't want to bite the hand that feeds me these photos, you know.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

That's Natalie Portman, dude.

Eric said...

So the upshot was that Guy fawked up the assassination attempt?
Sorry, that was bad.

Thanks, never heard of him.

Scope said...

I've heard it said, "Guy Fawkes. the only man to entere Parliament with honorable intentions."

Joshua said...

Oddly enough, I knew his name and what he attempted to do; never knew there was a Guy Fawkes Day, though. Learn something new every day, which is exactly what I'm doing on your blog most if not every day.


otherworldlyone said...

You know what's really hot about Natalie Portman? She's beautiful AND smart as hell.

Moooooog35 said...

Um..I meant, 'Natalie Portman.'

Tough to tell with all this stuff on my monitor.

You know, I THOUGHT I saw boobs, there.

Mr. Condescending said...

That looks like elizabeth hurley to me!

Ed Adams said...


The History Channel ran something very similar to this post.

Minus the boobs.

I like your version better.

Travis said...

I've come to the realization that I don't really understand much of what you post over here. However, you are funny for the most part, and that's okay with me.

Keep rockin this shit, and I might get into college one day.

carissajaded said...

Next year I am so celebrating Fawkes day. And though I have never pondered where the word "guy" came from... for now on I am certainly going to tell everyone who says the word "guy", that they are actually calling someone ugly.

adrienzgirl said...

I don't come here for the boobs. Just the insights and humor. :P

Oh, and hover me some hover text!

Soda and Candy said...

You could still get fireworks in Australia (at least in my state) into the mid-eighties, I remember being a little kid and watching my big brother light up Catherine wheels & assorted rockets.

You can still buy fireworks in the ACT (sort of the Oz version of DC) too. For some reason they're still legal there but not in other states, along with certain types of pornography.

Cora said...

Okay, so, my parents are from England. Don't know if I've ever menbtioned that or not. When I was a kid (here in the states) (duh) I was in Girl Scouts. Somehow my Mom ended up being the substitute troup leader one week and she taught us about Guy Fawkes.... which included having us make a huge Guy Fawkes doll out of a pillow case and some of my Dad's old clothes. My friends thought she was NUTSO.

Touché, old friends. Touché indeed.

Anyway, oddly, I can't remember if we burned our Guy Fawkes doll or not. Maybe I was too busy being mortified or something. Seems about right. I'll have to ask my Mom if she actually let the Girl Scouts burn a lifesize man doll.

And, no, she was never asked to be substitute troop leader again. No idea why.

BeckEye said...

Hmm, I've always celebrated it as "guy fucks" day. All due respect to history, but I think my way is more fun.

Gwen said...

That was enlightening as all hell but I'm with Beckeye.

Steam Me Up, Kid said...

I want to touch Natalie Portman on her boobs. With my mouth.

Wait. Was that out loud?

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

@ Eric: That wasn't bad! That was brilliant. Ranks right up there with some of my clunkers!

@ Scope: Yeah, that was an anarchist motto from the 70s or 80s. Popped up on a lot of posters and such.

@ Joshua; My grandmother would be proud. Might make up for the whole "being Catholic" thing.

@ OtherWorldlyOne: Yes, I was very impressed that she actually understood V is for Vendetta, rather than just taking it as a screed against the Bush administration.

@ Moooooog35: Might I suggest a sponge then, sir.

@ Mr. C: That IS Elizabeth Hurley....*drools like Homer* Oh, sorry. Yes. That's her. Natalie Portman is the second picture.

@ Ed Adams: They did? I missed it. Oh well. I'd been reading a lot about the Gunpowder Plot thanks to some of my reading about Shakespeare earlier this summer, so I was looking forward to the post.

@ Travis: What's not to understand about boobs and explosions?

@ Carissa: AND a traitor!!!

@ AdrienzGirl: Now if only I could make hoverboobies....

@ Soda & Candy: I knew that about the pornography in the ACT. I did NOT know that about the fireworks.

Kind of makes me rethink the priorities in my life...

@ Cora: I didn't know your parents were from the UK. That's awesome. And your mom's day as the Scout Troupe Leader is even more awesome. I applaud her.

@ Beckeye: I must say, I do like your version better, too. Mostly, because I'm a guy and I like to fuck.

@ Gwen: As am I.

Because I'm a guy. And I like to fuck.

@ Steam Me Up, Kid: Funny. I asked the same question when I said the same thing after finding that picture. Coincidence? Perhaps. A very, very dirty coincidence.

Nej said...

The history of the man, the explanation of Dumble's phoenix name, and a V movie reference. You never cease to amaze me.

Raine said...

Wow, so much information and connections to a guy Ive never heard of!