December 4, 2013
You watch them every year…but do you know everything there is to know
about these classic holiday films?
Elf. Buddy the Elf says that elves “try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.” While portraying Buddy, Ferrell ate so much sugar—particularly in the scenes where Buddy eats huge plates of spaghetti covered in chocolate syrup and candy chunks—that he routinely suffered migraines throughout the filming of the movie.
December 4, 2013
A few weeks ago, we wrote about the Singing Nun, who had an unlikely #1 hit in the U.S. in 1963 with “Dominique,” a song sung in French. Here are some more non-English tunes that topped the American pop chart.
• A rock version of the folk song “La Bamba” is Ritchie Valens’ best-known and signature song, but upon its release in 1959, it was only a minor hit. As the B-side of the #2-hit ballad “Donna,” “La Bamba” hit #23. But when a movie about Ritchie Valens life and untimely death (he died in the same plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper) called La Bamba was released in 1987, a cover version by the band Los Lobos hit #1. It’s the first and only time a song sung entirely in Spanish has topped the charts.
December 3, 2013
Stuff you didn’t know about the world’s most famous basketball team.
• In late 1926, Abe Saperstein took over as coach of a touring African-American team in Chicago called the Savoy Big Five (they played their games at the Savoy Ballroom). Saperstein renamed them the Harlem Globetrotters because all the players were African-American (Harlem being a predominantly African-American neighborhood).
• The original lineup for the team’s first game in January 1927: “Toots” Wright, “Fat” Long, “Kid” Oliver, “Runt” Pullins, and Andy Washington.
• The team played hundreds of games a year and got so good that they played in a national championship in 1939 against another independent team, the New York Renaissance. The Globetrotters lost, but that same year they discovered that the crowd liked it when they did ball tricks and comic routines. Saperstein told them to do as much of that as possible…provided they’d already established a comfortable lead.
• Over the years, a few famous athletes have played for the Globetrotters. Wilt Chamberlain played for one year, between college and joining the NBA. Future Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson played in the 1950s, before his baseball career. And NBA great Magic Johnson played in a single game.
December 3, 2013
The holidays are right around the corner and we have a very special gift for everyone this year: A BRAND NEW STORE! We think it’s a big upgrade on looks and a lot easier to use. Best of all, we can now offer Canadian shipping and most of our e-books! Now you can do all […]
December 2, 2013
Tastes in TV change, so TV changes with them. Here are some shows that were once part of the broadcasting landscape…that have since gone off the air.
These glitzy, glamorous, song and dance spectaculars were dominant TV format in the 1960s and ‘70s. Featuring big production numbers, colorful costumes, comic sketches, and banter between the hosts, extravaganzas Sonny and Cher, Donny and Marie, and The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour dominated ratings. By 1980 they were simply passé, as the garish ‘70s gave way to the sleek ‘80s. In 1987, ABC attempted to revive the variety show with what seemed like a sure thing. The network signed singer/actress Dolly Parton to a two-year, $44 million contract to star in Dolly. It flopped, and the network bought out Parton’s contract and cancelled the show in less than a year.
December 2, 2013
Quieter living through chemistry.
There’s nothing worse than trying to concentrate on a very important project (like, say, a blog post) while struggling to tune out loud neighbors. If you live or work in an area with heavy traffic or other types of noise pollution, you’ve likely found yourself wishing you could grab a remote control and turn down the volume on the world outside your window.
November 29, 2013
It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for your weekly fake-out. Here’s how it works: Two of the three following stories are true. One of them we made up. Can you guess which one is the fake? Pick your answer at the end of the article and see if you’re right.
November 27, 2013
More sports statistical anomalies, this time for football.
Tallest: Being taller than 7’0” is routine in the NBA. In the NFL, there’s only been one man. Seven-foot-tall defensive tackle Richard Sligh was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 1967. He wasn’t put to much use, playing in just eight games and sitting on the bench during Super Bowl II.
Shortest: In the early days of the NFL—when it was essentially a regional, semiprofessional league, a 5’0”-tall guy named Jack Shapiro played in just one game in 1929, as a back, for the now defunct Staten Island Stapletons.
November 26, 2013
It’s almost Thanksgiving—have you bought your robot turkey yet?
• In 2003, wildlife conservation officers in Michigan faced a spate of illegal turkey poachers. They didn’t call the Detroit police, one-time employer of Robocop—they brought in Robo Turkey. Several models of the $1,000 animatronic bird were placed in fields and woodlots around the state’s northern counties to protect wild turkeys. Robo Turkey looks like the real thing…from a distance. Officers can operate the bird via remote control to make him move around and shake his tail feathers, in order to attract illegal hungers. Robo Turkey has caught hundreds of poachers in the past decade.
November 25, 2013
In honor of the 50th anniversary of “Doctor Who,” here are some stories about some people who claimed to have unlocked the secret of time travel…or maybe not.
• In 2000, a mysterious man named “John Titor” started posting messages on Internet paranormal discussion forums claiming to be a time traveler from the year 2036. He’d been sent back in time by the U.S. government, he said, to fix software bugs that were making computers in the future malfunction. Titor not only showed off pictures of his time machine (a modified 1967 Camaro), but detailed the scary world events between the years 2000 and 2036. For example, from 2004 to 2008, the second American Civil War was waged; that the 2004 Olympics were the last ones ever held; and that in 2015, Russia started World War III by dropping nuclear bombs on China, the U.S., and most of Europe. Three billion people died and all major world governments crumbled. In March 2001, Titor claimed his IT duties were complete and he “returned” to 2036…which means he never posted on Internet forums again. Obviously, you can figure out that Titor’s details of the future history weren’t quite accurate, making this a hoax. But who was behind it? Nobody knows.