This Week In History

• On March 17, 1813, Colonel Thaddeus McKitrick mounted the War of 1812's famed St. Patrick's Day defense of Sacket's Harbor. The harbor, north of Syracuse, was vital for supplying American troops in the Northeast. Alerted to British forces advancing from Canada, McKitrick dug in to meet the charge. His defenses were tactically sound and would have held easily, were it not for the fact that they were facing the wrong way. (There is some debate among historians as to whether he read his compass wrong or just thought Canada was to the south.) British soldiers, approaching undetected, simply walked up and tapped McKitrick on the shoulder. • On March 18, 1960, disaster struck a studio screening of "The Apartment" as United Artists chief Arthur Krim ran screaming from the room. Jack Lemmon and Fred MacMurray, each convinced the other had said something to upset Krim, began a shouting match that escalated into a full-on brawl, while a despondent Billy Wilder had to be restrained from burning the film while it was still in the projector. The film was re-screened without Krim, released three months later, and went on to win Best Picture. The incident remained a mystery until Krim's death in 1994, when it was revealed that he suffered from partoicophobia, a crippling fear of apartments.

• On March 22, 1931, renowned physics journal the Annalen der Physik published a paper titled "On the Properties of Sub-Particles and Chronometric Variance," which appeared to present the basic framework for bending time as if it were a beam of light. The paper caused an immediate uproar, brought to an abrupt end when it was discovered that the author, Dr. Florian Haarschnitt, had neglected to carry a 3 in his calculations. Haarschnitt's career was ruined, and he later sank into alcoholism. Which, considering that two weeks earlier he thought he'd invented time travel, has got to suck some serious ass.