The Fart That Started a Revolution

Chloe Effron / iStock Collage
Chloe Effron / iStock Collage

For over 20 years, King Apries loomed over Egypt with the confidence of a man who could not be shaken. His rivalry against the Babylonians, which took up much of his time on the throne, had seen him successfully hold off their spreading forces. When his enemies took over Jerusalem, displaced citizens found a new home in Elephantine and other areas under his watch. As of 570 BCE, life was good.

A history-making toot would change all of that.

In that year, Apries received word from Libya: the Greeks of Cyrene (a city-state in North Africa) were storming the land, and his assistance would be appreciated. Apries sent his men into battle, but they were outmatched. The losses were considerable. Families of the slain and surviving mercenaries began to look at Apries with a fresh pair of eyes. Had he considered them expendable?

Apries tried not to concern himself with the unrest, but it soon grew too distracting to ignore. Men began to talk of an uprising. To smother the mutiny, Apries sent one of his best generals, Amasis, to deliver a message: the King was displeased with the lack of loyalty.

Amasis did as he was instructed, traveling to the hub of the movement. Before he could get a word out, an insurgent walked up behind him and placed a helmet on his head. Why couldn’t Amasis be their king?

Amasis, though loyal to Apries, was not above an appeal to his ego. He decided that being their king would suit him just fine and remained in their company. When Apries got word of Amasis’s about-face, he sent another messenger, Patarbemis, to meet Amasis and insist the traitor turn himself in.

Patarbemis met Amasis while the latter idled on horseback and began to scold him on behalf of the real king. A defiant Amasis raised his buttocks from the saddle, farted, and told Patarbemis he could send that back to Apries.

The expulsion of wind was accompanied by a promise: Amasis would go back to Apries, but he'd bring some friends with him. A shocked Patarbemis returned to Sais, where Apries lived in a magnificent palace, and tried to deliver the gastronomic news to his ruler. But when Apries got wind of the fact Patarbemis had returned without Amasis, he ordered the man’s nose and ears hacked off as punishment.

Amasis: He who dealt it. Metropolitan Museum of Art

This would prove to be the beginning of Apries’s end. Patarbemis was a beloved subject in Sais, and civilians who heard of his cruel mistreatment sided with Amasis. When the would-be ruler made good on his promise and met Apries on the battlefield in Momemphis—his rebellious Egyptians against Apries’s Greek soldiers—Apries suffered a resounding defeat. There would be no comeuppance for the man who had dared to pass gas in his general direction. (Some accounts have Apries losing in battle up to three times before being captured.)

Amasis assumed the role of king in late 570 BCE and ruled until approximately 525 BCE. According to Herodotus, Amasis initially showed a measure of respect to Apries, keeping him prisoner rather than executing him, but his bloodthirsty subjects insisted it was offensive to keep him alive. Amasis shrugged and handed over the former ruler to the masses. They strangled and buried him.

Like any ruler, Amasis had dissidents of his own. Some begrudged him his daily ritual of drinking to excess; others complained he had only a common man’s lineage and was unworthy of rule. To illustrate his argument against the latter, Amasis had a washbowl used for vomiting and washing feet broken into pieces, crafted into the image of a god, and placed in a public area where it was to be viewed with reverence. After letting people get a look, Amasis revealed the object of their adoration was previously a puke bucket. It was a fitting metaphor for a man who started an overthrow of Egypt with a flatulent flourish.

Additional Sources:
The Complete Works of Herodotus

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Why Air Supply Changed the Lyrics to “All Out of Love” for American Fans

Air Supply.
Air Supply.
Peter Carrette Archive/Getty Images

Sometimes one minor detail can make all the difference. A case study for this principle comes in the form of the pop music act Air Supply, which enjoyed success in the 1980s thanks to mellow hits like “Lost in Love,” “Every Woman in the World,” and "Making Love Out of Nothing at All." Their 1980 single “All Out of Love” is among that laundry list, though it needed one major tweak before becoming palatable for American audiences.

The Air Supply duo of Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock hailed from Australia, and it was one particular bit of phrasing in “All Out of Love” that may have proven difficult for Americans to grasp. According to an interview with Russell on Songfacts, the lyrics to the song when it became a hit in their home country in 1978 were:

I’m all out of love

I want to arrest you

By “arrest,” Russell explained, he meant capturing someone’s attention. Naturally, most listeners would have found this puzzling. Before the song was released in the United States, Air Supply’s producer, Clive Davis, suggested it be changed to:

I’m all out of love

I’m so lost without you

I know you were right

Davis’s argument was that the “arrest” line was “too weird” and would sink the song’s chances. He also recommended adding “I know you were right.”

Davis proved to be correct when “All Out of Love” reached the number two spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1980.

While it would be reasonable to assume “I want to arrest you” is a common phrase of affection in Australia, it isn’t. “I think that was just me using a weird word,” Russell said. “But, you know, now [that] I think of it, it’s definitely very weird.”

Russell added that arrest joins a list of words that are probably best left out of a love song, and that cabbage and cauliflower would be two others.

[h/t Songfacts]

In 1995, You Could Smell Like Kermit the Frog

Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

The mid-'90s were a great time for Kermit the Frog. In 1996 alone, he led the Tournament of Roses Parade, was the face of the 40-year-old Muppet brand, and had both a movie (Muppet Treasure Island) and a television show (Muppets Live!) to promote. His career could not have been hotter, so Kermit did what any multifaceted, single-person empire does while sitting atop his or her celebrity throne: he released a fragrance. Amphibia, produced by Jim Henson Productions, was dripping with froggy sex appeal. The unisex perfume—its slogan was "pour homme, femme, et frog"—had a clean, citrusy smell with a hint of moss to conjure up memories of the swamp. Offered exclusively at Bloomingdale's in Manhattan, it sold for $18.50 (or $32.50 for those who wanted a gift box and T-shirt).

There’s no trace of a commercial for the perfume—which is a shame, since Amphibia is a word that begs to be whispered—but a print ad and photos of the packaging still live online. The six-pack and strategically-placed towel are an apt parody ... and also deeply unsettling.

Amphibia was the most-sold fragrance at the Manhattan Bloomingdale's in the 1995 Christmas season. "Kids are buying it, grown-ups are buying it, and frogs are really hot," pitchman Max Almenas told The New York Times.

It was a hit past the Christmas season, too: The eau de Muppet was cheekily reviewed by Mary Roach—who would go on to write Stiff and Packing for Mars—in a 1996 issue of TV Guide. "I wore Amphibia on my third date ... he said he found me riveting which I heard as ribbitting, as in 'ribbit, ribbit,' and I got all defensive," she wrote. "He assured me I didn't smell like a swamp ... I stuck my tongue out at him, to which he responded that it was the wrong time of year for flies, and besides, the food would be arriving shortly."

Not to be outdone, Miss Piggy also released a fragrance a few years later. It was, naturally, called Moi.

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