13.7 Billion Years Ago: A cataclysmic upheaval known as the Big Bang brings about the creation of our known universe. Scientists and philosophers are to spend years debating the exact reasons for this event, but a surprising few voice the seemingly self-evident theory that it was necessary to provide a hospitable environment for one Steve Schneider of Winter Park, Fla.
1.8 Million Years Ago: Historians cite this point in time as the advent of the homo erectus, a hominid credited with the development of stone-tool technology. Tools, schmools; what's most important is the species' memorable two-word nomenclature, which will inspire countless giggly good times in a certain Winter Park, Fla., household.
Dec. 25, 0 A.D.: An unsuspecting world pays scant notice to the birth of Jesus Christ, who will go on to redeem nations, remake the world in His image and, most important, give me a name I can take in vain whenever I ding my thumb with a hammer.
700 A.D: The Chinese combine saltpeter, sulfur and carbon to create gunpowder. Though it is used primarily for fireworks, I am destined to find it equally effective for clearing Mormon missionaries off the front porch.
Oct. 14, 1066: King Harold the Second is felled by an arrow at the Battle of Hastings. Thus begins the Norman rule of England, an 88-year period of profound change that includes the merging of English and French cultures, the introduction of feudalism and several other talking points that will ultimately help me score with a serving wench at a Seminole County Ren fair.
1450: The invention of the Gutenberg printing press facilitates the dissemination of knowledge on a mass scale. A later benefit: I make big coin reselling selected issues of Marvel Team-Up.
Dec. 5, 1492: Christopher Columbus lands at Hispaniola, fixing the cradle of modern civilization in America. Which is great for guys like me who can't speak Italian.
1777: The Revolutionary War continues apace with the Battle of Princeton, the Battle of Brandywine, the Battle of Saratoga, the capture of Fort Ticonderoga and myriad other clashes whose no doubt fascinating details will one day teach me the short-term advantages of rote memorization. Plus, I think somebody invented the cotton gin in there or something.
April 12, 1861-April 9, 1865: The Civil War becomes an ugly blight on our nation's history, but also a Guns 'n' Roses track I can still defend to just about anybody.
April 14, 1912: Why I'm sad: The RMS Titanic goes down in cruel and icy waters. Why I'm glad: It takes Leonardo DiCaprio with it.
July 21, 1925: John Scopes is found guilty of teaching the theory of evolution in a Tennessee high school, setting in motion a chain of events that will one day net me an attractive commemorative tumbler for sitting through all five Planet of the Apes movies in a row.
Oct. 29, 1929: The collapse of the stock market inaugurates a period of widespread poverty and despair known as the Great Depression. Largely unaffected, my forebears begin a family tradition of bowing our heads before evening meals and remarking what a major relief it is to not own dick in the first place.
May 6, 1937: The airship Hindenburg crashes, guaranteeing that my much-later performance of "Cat Scratch Fever" at a high-school mixer will not be remembered as the most tragic event ever to have transpired in New Jersey.
Sept. 2, 1945: The surrender of Japan signals the end of World War II but a dawning awareness of the terrible toll the conflict took on the world's population. I, too, take some choice knowledge from the whole sad affair: Saving the world is only half the battle; getting Tom Brokaw to shut the hell up about it is your real uphill climb.
Nov. 22, 1963: Youthful and popular president John F. Kennedy is gunned down in Dallas, ensuring that I will eventually enjoy untold hours of fun leafing through the finest conspiracy literature the vanity-publishing industry has to offer.
Aug. 7, 1964: Congress approves the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which paves the way for tens of thousands of young Americans to lose their lives in Vietnam. With the stroke of a pen, our leaders also afford me carte blanche to make glib comparisons to future quagmires like Operation Iraqi Freedom and the third season of Six Feet Under.
Aug. 9, 1974: President Richard M. Nixon is allowed to resign from office and shuffle off the national stage instead of getting horrifically man-raped in a federal penitentiary. I get to go to bed at night and dream that the latter happened anyway. By 1970s standards, this qualifies as fair.
Sept. 11, 2001: Al Qaeda hands me the best damn excuse ever minted to make dinner a Bloody Mary for weeks on end.
June 17, 2005: Atop the Eiffel Tower, Tom Cruise proposes to Katie Holmes. Still looking for the silver lining in this one.
June 27, 2005: I return from a week's vacation to face a crushing deadline and a glaring lack of material for this column. So I elect to fill it with any old bollocks and hope no one notices. No one does . Another lesson learned, and I didn't have to hear a peep out of Tom Brokaw.