All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘facts’


We’ve heard enough about moons and Junes to last a lifetime, but the joke is that some of the old fables about the power of the moon might actually be true.

  • The average menstrual cycle for women is 29.5 days–precisely the same as a lunar month.
  • The human gestation period is 9 months. But whose months? The average birth occurs 265.5 days after conception–which happens to be the exact equivalent of 9 lunar months.
  • More children are born after new and full moons than at any other time.
  • More boys are born after a full moon, and more girls are born after a new moon.
  • People who are experiencing a lot of stress have an increase in pulse rates during a full or new moon.
  • Surgeons have found that around the full or new moons, their patients bleed more.
  • When full and new moons occur, more people are admitted into mental hospitals and hospital emergency rooms are busier.
  • There’s an increase in certain crimes (rape, robbery, assault) during a full moon.
  • “Lunacy” refers to the Roman moon goddess, Luna.
  • In ancient times, people thought that exposure to the moon could “affect the mind.”
  • People were advised not to sleep with moonlight shining on their faces, or they would become “moonstruck” (crazy).
  • The word lunacy (crazy) is probably derived from ancient observations that during a full moon, mad people became more frenzied.
  • The term lunatic fringe was coined by Teddy Roosevelt, who was describing some of his followers in the Bull Moose Party during the 1912 presidential election.

Familiar Names

Joel Roberts Poinsett. A lifelong American diplomat, secretary of war under Martin Van Buren. While ambassador to Mexico, he brought the first poinsettia back to the United States.

Patrick Hooligan. A notorious hoodlum who lived in London in the mid-1800s. His name became a generic term for “troublemaker.”

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. An Austrian novelist. His books reflected his sexual disorder, a craving which was later dubbed masochism.

Charles Mason/Jeremiah Dixon. English surveyors. In the 1760s, they were called in to settle a boundary dispute between two prominent colonial families–the Penns of Pennsylvania and the Calverts of Maryland. A hundred years later, the line they laid out became the North/South border.

Arnold Reuben. A New York deli owner in the 1940s and ’50s. He put corned beef, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on a piece of rye bread and named the whole thing after himself–the Reuben sandwich.

Sir Benjamin Hall. the “chief commissioner of works” for the British government in the 1850s, when the tower clock on the Houses of Parliament got its largest bell. Newspapers of the time dubbed it “Big Ben,” after Hall.

Pierre Magnol. A French professor of botany in the 1600s. Gave us the flower name magnolia.

Alessandro Volta A celebrated Italian physicist. His experiments with electricity in the late 1700s led to the invention of the dry-cell battery. The volt was named after him.

Belinda Blurb. A model portrayed on a book jacket by American illustrator Gelett Burgess. She inspired the common term for a publisher’s comments on a book cover.

Samuel A. Maverick. Texas cattle baron in the mid-1800s. Had so many unbranded stray calves that they became known as mavericks. Eventually, the term came to include independent-minded people as well. Also Sarah Palin’s favorite person.

Franz Anton Mesmer. An Austrian physician who popularized outrageous medical theorieis on animal magnetism in Paris in the 1780s. He mesmerized the public.

Guy Fawkes. English political agitator who tried to blow up Parliament in 1605, but was caught and executed. The British began celebrating November 5 as Guy Fawkes Day, burning effigies of “the old Guy.” Since the effigies were dressed in old clothes, the term guy came to mean bum. In America during Colonial times, its meaning was broadened to mean any male.

William Russell Frisbie. American pie maker. Founded the Frisbie Pie Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1871. In the early 1900s, students from Yale–located up the road in New Haven, Connecticut–found they could flip the Frisbie pie tins like flying saucers.

Madam de Pompadour. Mistress of King Louis XV of France in the mid 1700s. Popularized the hairstyle that reappeared, in modified form, on the heads of Elvis and James Dean.

Useless Facts [Part 18]

  • The first “permanent photograph” was taken in 1826 by a French Inventor named Nicéphore Niépce, but Thomas Wedgwood took photographs in 1802–possibly sooner.
  • The first issue of Rolling Stone had a cover date of November 9, 1967 and featured a cover photo of John Lennon.
  • A termite colony can only live as long as its queen. The queen can live up to 30 years and lay more than 2,000 eggs a day during her peak.
  • The first prototype of the zipper went public at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
  • If an Orangutan belches directly at you, it’s a warning to stay out of its territory.
  • The world record pumpkin was grown in 2010. It weighed 1,810.5 lbs.
  • When Elvis Presley died, his estate was worth $10mil. Today it is valued over $250mil with annual revenues of $45mil.
  • Some species of tarantula can go 2.5 years without food.
  • Wheel of Fortune” earns over $100mil most years.
  • Pirates (and other seafaring men of old) wore earrings made of precious metals because they believed that it enhanced their vision. This is now thought to be a “poor man’s acupuncture” brought to the West via oriental trade routes.
  • The first contact lens was glass-blown by F.E. Muller in 1887. Contact lenses remained glass-blown until the 1930’s when Plexiglas was invented.
  • The first flight attendants were on United Airlines in 1930. Being a registered nurse was a strict requirement for the job.
  • According to the FDA, the average American eats 1,500 lbs. of food per year.
  • Newborn Kangaroo Joeys are as big as a jellybean.
  • The flu was described by Hippocrates in 412 B.C.

Useless Facts [Part 17]

  • The first shopping center was built in Baltimore, MD in 1896.
  • 5.5 trillion cigarettes are produced each year throughout the world.
  • Over 1 billion Cokes are consumed every day throughout the world.
  • America’s first pizzeria opened in New York City in 1895.
  • Walter Cavanagh owns 1,497 valid credit cards with a total credit line of $1.7 million.
  • If you are going to try to break the “official” world record for blowing a bubble with bubblegum, you can only use three pieces of gum. The “official” record is 23 inches in diameter, but using more pieces of gum would allow for something much larger (try it!)
  • The oldest known captive goldfish, Tish, lived to 43 years of age.
  • In 1989, an English Mastiff by the name of Zorba set the world’s record with the weight of 343 pounds at the age of eight.
  • According to Guinness, a boy in Arkansas grew a 260lb watermelon in 1985.
  • French Fries came from Belgium.
  • A coconut is a giant seed.
  • The beer can was introduced in 1935 by Kreuger Ale. And, yes, there is a beer can museum.
  • In 1987, a 1400-year-old lump of cheese was unearthed in Ireland. It was still edible.
  • The first mass-produced stereo records went on the market in 1958.
  • The first scheduled TV broadcast was in 1931 and featured George Gershwin playing “Liza.”
  • London was the first city to reach a population of one million–in 1811.
  • The first heart transplant took place in 1967.
  • There is a city in Newfoundland, Canada called Dildo.
  • Worker ants live about 90 days on average, but the queen can easily live ten years.

Useless Facts [Part 16]

  • Seinfeld debuted as The Seinfeld Chronicles and was not expected to do well. After that first episode aired, the first order from NBC was a whopping four episodes.
  • Kramer originally wore clothes from the 1960s to give the impression that he couldn’t afford new ones, not to make him look retro. Then, in the mid-90’s, retro clothing from the 60s and 70s became popular.
  • George’s clothes were intentionally tailored one size too small to make him look geeky.
  • Danny DeVito was considered for the role of George.
  • The real life Soup Nazi of Seinfeld fame–Al Yeganeh–was so mad at Jerry Seinfeld that he refused to accept Jerry’s apology when he went to the International Soup Kitchen to personally make amends.
  • The M*A*S*H theme song is called “Suicide Is Painless.” The lyrics were written by Mike Altman, the fourteen-year-old son of Robert Altman, the movie’s director.
  • Actor Gary Burghoff has a deformed hand, so his character Radar O’Reilly’s left hand was always either in his pocket or behind something. Occasionally a glimpse of his misshapen fingers could be seen.
  • The outdoor set of M*A*S*H, near Malibu, California, was destroyed by a brush fire at the end of the 1982 production season, so the show writers wrote the fire into the script.
  • Anson Williams, who played teenager Potsie on Happy Days, was twenty-five in 1974, his first year on the show. When the show went off the air nine years later, the youthful Potsie was still played by the thirty-four-year-old actor.
  • Jumping the shark” refers to the moment when a TV show has run out of new ideas and resorts to absurd storylines. The expression comes from a crazy 1977 episode of Happy Days, where Fonzi dons swim trunks with his leather jacket and does a water ski jump over a penned-in shark.
  • During the first season and a half of Happy Days, Richie had an older brother Chuck. He was dropped from the show with no explanation. “Chuck Cunningham Syndrome” is now the expression for a character that mysteriously disappears from a TV show.
  • The characters on The Simpsons are named for members of creator Matt Groening’s family. His parents are Homer and Marge, his sister’s names are Lisa and Maggie. The name Bart is an anagram for “brat.”
  • The actors who do the voices on The Simpsons are paid $400,000 per episode.

Useless Facts [Part 15]

  • I Love Lucy was a takeoff on a radio show that Lucille Ball was doing called My Favorite Husband.
  • Lucy was a registered communist due to her socialist grandfather.
  • William Frawley was a notorioius drinker and was contractually bound to complete sobriety during I Love Lucy’s production.
  • Redd Foxx’s given name was John Elroy Sanford. His brother’s name was Fred Sanford, which he used for the sitcom Sanford and Son. He was called Redd because of his reddish hair and complexion.
  • Redd Foxx’s mother was half-Seminole.
  • Redd Foxx began his comedy career introducing strippers in the 1950’s.
  • When Redd Foxx died of a heart attack during a rehearsal break on the TV show The Royal Family, the cast members thought he was doing the “I’m coming, Elizabeth!” fake heart attack shtick that he was famous for.
  • Captain Kirk never said “Beam me up, Scotty,” in any episode of Star Trek.
  • Lloyd Bridges and Jack Lord both turned down an offer to play the part of Kirk.
  • The Star Trek theme song has lyrics.
  • The kids’ bathroom on The Brady Bunch had no toilet.
  • For the first couple of seasons, Barbara Eden had to hide her navel on I Dream of Jeannie, for fear of being censored. It does briefly slip out a few times on some episodes.
  • The first toilet flush heard on TV came from Archie Bunker’s upstairs bathroom.
  • Good, girl? All of the Lassie dogs were male.
  • There were seven Lassie movies before Lassie began airing on CBS for seventeen seasons.
  • Contrary to popular myth, Lassie never saved Timmy from falling down a well.

This Day In History

On May 4 of these years, history was made.

1494: Christopher Columbus lands in Jamaica.
1776: Rhode Island becomes the first American colony to declare independence from Britain.
1862: Battle of Yorktown ends.
1871: First professional league baseball game is played.
1886: Haymarket Square Riot takes place in Chicago.
1904: Construction begins on the Panama Canal.
1932: Al Capone begins 11 year prison sentence for tax evasion.
1946: End of the Battle of Alcatraz.
1949: Superga Air Disaster.
1970: Kent State Shootings.

Audrey Hepburn – 1929
Lance Bass – 1979
Hosni Mubarak – 1928
Randy Travis – 1959
Erin Andrews – 1978
Prince Henrik of Denmark – 2009

And, most importantly, I was born on this day in 1981 (that’s 30 years ago in case you are bad at math). Happy birthday to me. May 04, 2011.

Useless Facts [Part 14]

  • The term “television” was first coined at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair. At the time, they were referring to still images being transmitted through electrical wires.
  • General Electric introduced the first American TV set in 1928.
  • The first remote control was called Lazy Bones. It was sold by Zenith in 1950 and it was connected to the set by a long wire.
  • The first show nationally televised in color was the 1954 New Year’s Day Tournament of Roses Parade on NBC.
  • The first color TV was introduced in 1951, but it took fifteen years before all network broadcasting in the US was transmitted in color.
  • In 1967, the U.S. Congress mandated PBS. It began broadcasting in 1970.
  • Home Box Office (HBO), the first pay cable network, went on the air in 1972.
  • The industry claims that for the sharpest picture, people should sit at a distance of between four and eight times the height of the TV screen.
  • Of all the TV comedy and drama series in history, Gunsmoke aired the most episodes (over 600).
  • Actor Carroll Spinney has been playing Big Bird since 1969.
  • None of the cast of The Dick Van Dyke Show was in the original pilot, not even Dick Van Dyke himself. The show’s creator–Carl Reiner–played the lead. Johnny Carson almost ended up with the lead before Dick Van Dyke was picked.
  • George Carlin was the first guest host of Saturday Night Live, in 1975. Janis Ian was the first musical guest.

Useless Facts [Part 13]–State Edition

  • Pennsylvania is named for Admiral Penn, father of the Quaker William Penn, who was granted the land by Charles II in 1681. The name means “Penn’s Woods.”
  • Delaware was named for Lord De La Warr, an early governor of Virginia.
  • Georgia was named for King George II of England.
  • The District of Columbia was named for Christopher Columbus.
  • North and South Carolina’s names are derived from the Latin for Charles (I)–Carolus.
  • The islands of Hawaii stretch out for more than 1500 miles.
  • Hawaii is the only state that has a royal residence–Iolani Palace, in Honolulu.
  • New York was named for the Duke of York, the brother of Charless II of England, who sent an expedition to capture it from the Dutch in 1664.
  • Louisiana is named for King Louis XIV of France.
  • Maryland was named for Queen Henrietta Maria, the wife of Charles I and mother of Charles II of England.
  • One half of all U.S. State names are derived from Native American words.
  • Washington Irving first used the nickname “Gotham,” an anglo-saxon word meaning “goat’s town,” for New York City in 1807.
  • As of 2009, Hawaii, California, New Mexico, and Texas are the only states where minorities outnumber white people.
  • West Virginia was temporarily named Kanawha after it seceded from Virginia.
  • Virginia extends 95 miles further west than West Virginia.
  • Vermont declared itself an independent nation in 1777. It was admitted to the Union as a state in 1791.
  • For more than three hundred years, Virginia and Maryland were involved in an interstate conflict known as the “Oyster Wars,” fought over Virginia’s right to harvest oysters from the Potomac River and Bay. The often bloody dispute wasn’t actually resolved until compromise laws were passed in 1962.

Film Terms

Annie Oakley: A free ticket to a movie screening.
Apple Box: A box that actors stand on while filming a scene.
Best Boy: Assistant to the head gaffer (see gaffer).
Clapsticks: The wood sticks that are struck together to signify the beginning of filming a scene.
Click Track: Audible click used in musical scoring.
Dolly Shot: Wheeling the camera on tracks for motion in a film shot.
Dope Sheet: Storyboards (see storyboards) used in animation film.
Final Cut: The last edited version of a film ready for release.
Gaffer: Electrician on a film set.
The Grip: Head fix-it person on the set.
Juicer: Electrician in charge of the main power source.
Lap Dissolve: Editing together two shots, one fading in, the other fading out.
Matte Shot: Film editing technique where foreground and background images are placed together to form one shot.
Oater: A western.
Outtake: Footage not used in the final cut.
P-O-V: Acronym for point-of-view. Camera is positioned to simulate a character’s line of sight (“head cam”).
Rear Projection: Cost-cutting filming technique where actors stand in front of a projection on a translucent screen.
Rushes: Daily screenings of footage from a work-in-progress.
SFX: Acronym for sound effects.
Sky Pan: Huge floodlights used for large areas to be lit.
Slate: Board used with clapsticks to identify scenes during editing.
Splice: Editing two pieces of film together.
Space Opera: Slang for science fiction film.
Storyboards: Sketches drawn to depict, shot-for-shot, the action to be filmed.
Swish Pan: Rapid camera movement causing a blurring sensation.
Weenie: A plot device that is considered to be a gimmick.
Walla Walla: Background noise in a scene.

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