50 Random Facts List #205

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1Weird Al Yankovic

When Weird Al Yankovic asked Kurt Cobain to parody 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' Kurt asked him if it would be about food, and Al said it would be about how no one could understand his lyrics. Kurt found that extremely funny, and said absolutely.


2. Charles Dickens’ novels were hugely popular even among the illiterate poor. They would pool their money to hire a reader, and then gather together to listen to the stories.


3. Serial killer Ed Kemper befriended the very police officers investigating his murders, and would socialize with them at a bar called the “Jury Room”. They called him “Big Ed” and never suspected him. When he initially confessed, they thought he was pulling a prank.


4. George Lucas approved of Mel Brooks’ Star Wars parody Spaceballs and signed off on a fair use agreement. The only condition was that no Spaceballs merchandise would be made to compete with Star Wars merchandise. This is why there’s never been any Spaceballs figures, cereal, or flamethrower.


5. At the age of 11, Hugh Jackman decided against dance lessons because his older brother told him “dancing is for sissies.” Years later his brother apologized and encouraged him to follow his passion. Hugh signed up for lessons the following day and went on to win a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.


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6Red Baron

When Russian fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen a.k.a. the “Red Baron” was shot down and killed in combat, his enemies buried him with full military honors and a wreath that said: “To Our Gallant and Worthy Foe.”


7. In the film Osmosis Jones, Bill Murray's character mentions a "National Chicken Wing Festival" in Buffalo, New York. While the festival did not exist during the filming of the movie, this mention caused organizers to create an annual festival in Buffalo which has been active now for 16 years.


8. The Soviet Union had an internationally televised song contest. As few viewers had phones, they would turn their lights on if they liked a song and off if they didn’t. The power spikes were recorded by the state energy company and the reports sent to the station to pick the winner.


9. Along with blacksmiths, there are "whitesmiths" who work with tin or other light metals and "brownsmiths" who work with brass or copper.


10. In 2003, a computer worm called ‘Welchia’ infected many computers to forcibly patch vulnerabilities and remove malware. It was regarded as a ‘helpful worm.’


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11Elephants

Elephants are so complex they are able to mourn, cry, have mental breakdowns, play the drums, paint, mimic humans’ speech and show basic arithmetic skills.


12. The "For Dummies" book series started with "DOS for Dummies" in 1991. The creator overheard someone in a bookshop ask if there was "a book about DOS for dummies like me". Since then the series has grown to about 2,500 titles with more than 200 million books in print.


13. The restaurant chain Red Lobster once lost over $3 million during an "endless crab" promotion because an executive underestimated how much people could eat.


14. So many Irish women were enslaved by Vikings that by the time they colonized Iceland, the settler's genetics were roughly 50% Irish.


15. An art historian watching the movie Stuart Little in 2009 recognized a prop in the background as a lost painting (Sleeping Lady with Black Vase) by the Hungarian artist Róbert Berény. The film's set designer had found the work at a California antique store for $500. It eventually sold at an auction for €229,500.


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16Path

In Finland, city planners are known to visit parks immediately after the first snowfall, when the existing walking paths are not visible. People naturally choose desire paths, clearly marked by their footprints, which can be then used to guide the routing of new purpose-built paved paths.


17. Michel Vaujour was a French convict who was jailed in 1986 for attempted murder and armed robbery. He forced his way onto the prison's roof one day by wielding nectarines that were painted to look like grenades and his wife picked him up in a helicopter and whisked him away.


18. A Ugandan man named Jordan Kinyera, saw his father lose their land in a legal fight at the age of 6. He spent 18 years in school and became a lawyer and won back the land 23 years later.


19. The Japanese command didn't realize Hiroshima had been totally destroyed until almost a whole day after it happened. Vague reports of some sort of large explosion had begun to filter in, but the Japanese high command knew that no large-scale air raid had taken place over the city.


20. A recent study out of the University of Kansas found that it takes about 50 hours of socializing to go from acquaintance to casual friend, an additional 40 hours to become a “real” friend, and a total of 200 hours to become a close friend.


21Selfies

Obsessive taking of selfies and posting them to social media has been found to be linked to common symptoms of mental disorders that include narcissism, low self-esteem, loneliness, self-centeredness, and attention-seeking behaviors.


22. "Drooping ears" is a trait for domesticated animals that doesn't occur in the wild (except elephants). Almost all species gain a trait when domesticated. One experiment successfully domesticated foxes over 40 generations, and by then their ears were drooping.


23. Hunter S. Thompson killed himself while being on the phone with his wife. She mistook the cocking of the gun for the sound of his typewriter keys and hung up as he fired.


24. The Cassandra metaphor occurs when valid warnings are dismissed. The Greek God Apollo gave Cassandra the gift of prophecy, but she refused his love so he placed a curse that nobody would believe her. She was left with the knowledge of future events she could not alter or convince others of.


25. The Man in the Iron Mask was an unidentified prisoner held for 34 years until his death in 1703. He was forced to wear a mask to ensure no one knew his true identity. His cell had multiple doors so no one could listen. If he spoke of anything other than his immediate needs he would be killed.

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