A Ghost Dance is a ceremonial spiritual dance related to the teachings of Wovoka, a Paiute medicine man of Nevada who foresaw the restoration of the American continent to the Indians. Wovoka’s revolutionary message, preached in the late 1880s, provoked repression from U.S. officials, culminating in the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890.
A baseball game running eight hours and six minutes was played by the Chicago White Sox and the Milwaukee Brewers on May 9, 1984. It was the longest baseball game recorded. The White Sox won, 7-6.
Maya Angelou and Godfrey Cambridge collaborated on Cabaret for Freedom in 1960. Cambridge is best known for his appearances in films like Watermelon Man (1970) and Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970). Angelou’s poetry, prose, and drama include the autobiographical volume, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969).
Shamela’s last name in Henry Fielding’s parody Shamela was also Andrews. The name was used a third time in Fielding’s Joseph Andrews (1742), the story of Pamela’s brother, Joseph.
In a 1992 Gallup Poll, 14 percent of Americans said they hated liver the most. Tied for second place in the worst foods list were spinach, fish, and seafood, each at 6 percent.
Growing out of a 19th-century social group called the Jolly Cooks, the association, the Elks, now known as the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was formed in 1868 from a desire to broaden their pursuits to include patriotism and public service. They chose the name Elk to project a wholly American image and to…
The first collaboration between George and Ira Gershwin was the Broadway musical Lady Be Good in 1924. It included the songs “Fascinating Rhythm” and “Oh Lady, Be Good.”
The capybara, also known as the carpincho or water hog, native to South America. In length, it runs from 3 feet, 3 inches to 4 feet, 6 inches, and it weighs up to 174 pounds. The only other rodent of similar size is the Canadian beaver, the largest specimen of which is recorded at 87…
The first used-car dealership was the Motor Car Company of London, which opened in September 1897. It offered 17 secondhand vehicles, ranging in price from £30 to £335.
Robert Herrick urged Corinna, in “Corinna’s Going A-Maying” (1648).
Grace Kelly made eleven movies before becoming Princess of Monaco, beginning with a bit part in Fourteen Hours (1951) and ending with High Society (1956). Born in Philadelphia, Kelly (1928-82) married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956.
The Hotel Pennsylvania was located at Seventh Avenue and Thirty-third Street in Manhattan. It was built in 1918. The phone number Pennsylvania 6-5000 was that of the hotel’s Club Rouge, where Miller and his band often appeared. The hotel is now the New York Penta Hotel.
The “Mexican cession” was the territory Mexico called the “Far North,” including what are today California, Nevada, Utah, most of New Mexico and Arizona, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado. In return Mexico received $15 million, was set free of $3 million in American claims, and got rid of American forces occupying its capital. The…
Yes. There are three gluteus muscles, the large, fleshy muscles of the buttocks that connect the hipbone (the pelvic girdle) and the thighbone (the femur). The gluteus maximus is the muscle at the surface of the buttocks, below which is the gluteus medius. The gluteus minimus is below that.
Twentieth Century-Fox owned the copyright to the wide-screen process known as CinemaScope. The Robe (1953) was the first film made using CinemaScope. Paramount developed VistaVision. The first film to use VistaVision was Ben-Hur (1959).
The name of Miss Havisham’s house in Dickens’s Great Expectations is Satis House.
There are more than 97 million items are in the collections of the Library of Congress, including books, films, photographs, manuscripts, and records.
Newspaper columnists and others have claimed that the body’s chemical worth is between 98 cents and $5. But one doctor argues that, at the rates currently charged by large chemical distributors, the body’s worth is at least $169,834, not counting $1,200 worth of blood. The key is to market the body’s products intelligently and not…
Clifford Odets wrote a play called Paradise Lost that was not based on Milton’s poem, in 1935. The play was about the fall of a middle-class family.
Father Ambrosio, of Madrid is the name of the title character in The Monk. He kills two women who turn out to be his mother, Elvira, and his sister, Antonia, in the 1795 novel by Matthew Lewis. Father Ambrosio, of Madrid. He kills two women who turn out to be his mother, Elvira, and his…
What is the origin of the sentence Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party?
Never a political slogan, it was created as a typewriter exercise in 1867 by Charles E. Willer, a Milwaukee court reporter. The sentence was designed to use most of the keys on the typewriter, which had recently been invented by Willer’s friend Christopher Latham Sholes.
The New York Stock and Exchange Board was formally organized in 1817, and the name New York Stock Exchange was adopted in 1863. Since 1953, membership in the exchange has been limited to 1,366. Since 1868, new members have purchased seats (with exchange approval) from existing members.
Sabotage (1936, UK; released in the U.S. as A Woman Alone). It was based on Joseph Conrad’s novel The Secret Agent. It is not to be confused with Hitchcock’s The Secret Agent, released earlier that year and based on Somerset Maugham’s novel Ashenden.
Sacajawea was the woman who helped Lewis and Clark find their way on their western expedition beginning in 1804. A Shoshoni, she was captured in childhood by the Hidatsa Sioux and sold to the French Canadian Toussaint Charbonneau, who took her as a wife. Charbonneau, a guide and interpreter on the voyage, brought along Sacajawea…
CNN began broadcasting in 1980.
The Phrygian king Tantalus committed an abomination when he cut up his son Pelops and served him for dinner to the gods. He was punished in Hades by unending thirst and hunger. Water slipped away from him whenever he tried to drink it; fruit trees were forever out of reach. This story is the source…
According to the sign that flashes on the screen in the opening credits of the TV series, the population of “Twin Peaks” is 51,201.
Boris Karloff made two with Abbott and Costello: Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949), and Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953). Karloff did not appear in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), where Glenn Strange played the Frankenstein monster.
The shoguns were the de facto rulers of Japan from 1192 to 1867. Originally military commanders, they exercised real power, while the emperor retained formal sovereignty. The name is an abbreviation of seii-tai-shogun, meaning “barbarian-quelling generalissimo.”
At least two people have been hit by a meteorite. In September 1954, Mrs. Hewlett Hodges of Sylacauga, Alabama, was hit by a meteorite as she napped in her living room. The rock from space weighed about 10 pounds. In the late 1930s, a Japanese girl was also hit by a small meteorite.
Spencer Tracy’s last words on film were “Well, Tillie, when the hell are we going to get some dinner?”. It was the last line of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967).
Marilyn Chambers’ face was featured on a box of Ivory Snow, before she starred in Behind the Green Door (1972).
John Barrymore played Ahab in the original film version of Moby Dick. No one played Ishmael. The character was cut out of the screenplay, which differed heavily from Herman Melville’s novel.
Editor and writer H. L. Mencken (1880-1956), who lived his entire life in Baltimore and wrote for the Baltimore Sun for 40 years, was the “Sage of Baltimore”. His works include Prejudices (1919-27) and The American Language (1919).
The announcement of President Kennedy’s assassination was made on TV at 1:40 P.M. EST on Friday, November 22, 1963. On CBS, “As the World Turns” was interrupted by Walter Cronkite with the news bulletin. Actress Helen Wagner had just been saying, “I gave it a great deal of thought, Grandpa,” when the episode was cut…
With whom does Kugelmass have an affair in Woody Allen’s short story “The Kugelmass Episode” (1977)?
Kugelmass has an affair with Emma Bovary in Woody Allen’s short story “The Kugelmass Episode”. The Great Persky projects the bored professor into Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1856) and Emma Bovary into modern Manhattan.
As listed in the second century B.C. by Antipater of Sidon, the Seven Wonders of the World were: 1. The Pyramids of Egypt 2. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon 3. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia 4. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus 5. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus 6. The Colossus of Rhodes 7. The…
In the eighteenth century, the best meat of any meal went to the men of the house and their friends. The women and children ate the umbles, the tongue and entrails, baked in an umble pie. In time, the dish went out of fashion, but the phrase took on a new life that it still…
Quetzalcoatl was the Aztec god of the atmosphere and of civilizing influences. Besides ruling the wind and sun, he invented agriculture, the calendar, and many arts and crafts. Sometimes represented as a feathered serpent, sometimes as a bearded man, he was also identified as a priest-king who had sailed away, promising to return.
The wits who traded barbs at New York’s Algonquin Hotel in the 1920s included: Franklin P. Adams, Robert Benchley, Heywood Broun, Frank Case, Edna Ferber, George S. Kaufman, Harpo Marx, Neysa McMein, Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross, Robert E. Sherwood, and Alexander Woollcott. The Algonquin Hotel still stands. It was recently sold to a group of…
Professor James Moriarty, “the Napoleon of Crime,” was killed. Moriarty and Holmes, locked in combat, fell over the edge of the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. Amazingly, Holmes survived.
The scales provide the best clue to telling the age of a fish. Scaleless when born, fish grow scales under their outer layer of skin to provide waterproofing. As they age, most species add growth rings, that is, increase the size of their scales to cover their larger bodies. With a very old fish, however,…
The College Board first administered the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) in June 1926. More than 8,000 applicants took the test, most of them applicants to elite colleges such as Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. The test, intended to help predict subsequent academic performance, was modeled on intelligence tests administered by the U.S. Army in World War…
In the late 1800s, New York’s Ladies’ Mile was Manhattan’s high-class shopping district. This equivalent of Fifth Avenue or Fifty-seventh Street ran from Eighth Street to Twenty-third Street, bound on the east by Broadway and on the west by Sixth Avenue. These areas are now parts of the more residential neighborhoods of Greenwich Village and…
Yes, Typhoid Mary’s name was Mary Mallon (1870-1938). She was an institutional and household cook who spread the disease from house to house in the New York City area in the early twentieth century.
The story of Baron Munchausen has been filmed three times, with these actors starring as the Baron: Baron Miienchhausen (1943, Germany) Hans Albers The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1961, Czechoslovakia) Milos Kopecky The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989) John Neville
“Q” is the hypothetical source used by synoptic evangelists Matthew and Luke. Never found, it is believed to contain the sayings and stories that Matthew and Luke, but not Mark, share. The term comes from German Quelle, or “source.”
Author Marguerite Duras was born in Indochina, in 1914. The French writer is the author of the novel The Lover (1984) and the screenplay Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1960).
John Foster Dulles, secretary of state under Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 to 1959, often expressed his belief that the containment policy of the Truman years did not go far enough. In the 1952 presidential campaign, he called for a “rollback” of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and the “unleashing” of Taiwanese leader Chiang Kai-shek….
The Declaration of Independence cited 27 separate grievances against the king of Great Britain, George III. These grievances included refusing his assent to “wholesome” laws, making judges dependent on “his will alone,” and bringing in foreign mercenaries to wage war on the colonies in a way “totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.”
William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) says “I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul” in “Invictus.”
No one knows what day Louis B. Mayer’s birthday was, but he decided to make it July 4. Mayer (1885-1957) claimed he had lost the records of his real birthday during emigration from Russia. He celebrated the nation’s birthday, and his own, with a big MGM picnic every Fourth of July.
Theodor Seuss Geisel known as Dr. Seuss died on September 24, 1991, at age eighty-seven. Dr. Seuss had written about fifty books that sold more than 200 million copies. His last book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go (1990), was still on the bestseller list when he died.
The first movie at Radio City Music Hall was The Bitter Tea of General Yen, directed by Frank Capra and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Nils Asther. It opened in January 1934. The final movie was The Promise, directed by Gilbert Cates and starring Kathleen Quinlan and Stephen Collins. The final showing was on April 25,…
Close encounters of first kind is the sighting of UFOs. Close encounters of the second kind is the finding of physical evidence of UFOs. A close encounter of the third kind is actual physical contact with UFOs.
The Ten Commandments vary according to religion and denomination. In the Jewish tradition, the Ten Commandments (based on Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21) are as follows: 1. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 2. You shall have no other god to set against…
Sylvester Stallone appeared in eight movies before Rocky (1976): A Party at Kitty and Stud’s (The Italian Stallion) (1970); Bananas (1971); The Lords of Flatbush (1973); Capone (1973); The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975); Death Race 2000 (1975); Farewell My Lovely (1975); Carquake (1975).
Limited Test Ban Treaty—August 1963 Antiballistic Missile Treaty—May 1972 Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT)—June 1979 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) I—July 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) II January 1993
The U.S. took military control of the bankrupt republic Haiti in 1915. Two decades later, in 1934, after instituting public works and financial reform, both civilian and military forces were removed.
The Island of Lost Souls (1933) was the first movie with the line “The natives are restless tonight”. It is said by Charles Laughton.
Harry Dickens (John Astin) and Arch Fenster (Marty Ingels) were carpenters and handymen. They starred in “I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster” (ABC, 1962-63).
A crocodile ate Captain Hook’s hand, then followed him around the seas in search of more of him in James M. Barrie’s play Peter Pan.
MI5 is Britain’s counterintelligence service, which operates mainly at home. MI6 is Britain’s Secret Service, which operates mainly overseas. The official titles are DI5 and DI6, but the “M” titles, for Military Intelligence, Departments 5 and 6, are what everyone uses.
Three cities were destroyed when the volcano erupted. They were Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae, all southeast of modern Naples. When were the ruins of Pompeii discovered? Destroyed in A.D. 79, the city was not discovered until the late 1500s. Formal excavation did not begin until 1748.
Yes, the Japanese made a Frankenstein movie called Frankenstein Conquers the World (1966).
Jack Parr, the host of the late-night show “The Tonight Show” began his run on NBC July 29, 1957, and ended it March 30, 1962. He followed Steve Allen, who hosted the show from 1954 to 1957. The show was not live; it was taped earlier in the evening, as it is now.
Only one treaty ending foreign wars ever been signed in the U.S. In 1905, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was the site of the treaty that ended the Russo-Japanese War. President Theodore Roosevelt facilitated the negotiations between Japan and Russia.
In Rabelais’s French satire Gargantua and Pantagruel (1533), Gargantua is Pantagruel’s father. Both are giants who go on humorous adventures.
A company of French and Caughnawaga Indians killed about 50 of the 300 residents of the English colonial village of Deerfield, Massachusetts. It was a predawn raid on February 29, 1704, during Queen Anne’s War. Almost 100 settlers were taken to Canada as prisoners.
The first in this series of musical shows The Ziegfeld Follies staged by producer Florenz Ziegfeld was “The Follies of 1907.” Combining European style and American topical humor, the show was such a hit that Ziegfeld followed it with 21 annual editions of The Ziegfeld Follies. Famous alumni include Will Rogers, Ruth Etting, Eddie Cantor,…
About 20 percent of the earth is under permafrost. This means it has had a temperature below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for over two years. In Siberia, some sections of land are frozen to depths of 5,000 feet.
In President Eisenhower’s farewell address of January 17, 1961, a few days before Kennedy took office, Eisenhower said: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”
Ezra Mannon, a New England general returning from the Civil War represents Agamemnon in Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra. His wife Christine represents Clytemnestra.
Pontius Pilate killed himself after he ordered the crucifixion. In A.D. 36, Caligula ordered Pilate to Rome to answer charges of cruelty in the massacre of a group of Samaritans. Shortly thereafter, Pilate committed suicide, possibly by order of Caligula or in anticipation of harsh treatment.
In the “Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot” (1735), reference is made to “damning with faint praise”. In the satiric poem, Alexander Pope wrote: “Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,/And, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer.”
In 1988, the United States was home to 49.4 million dogs and 57.8 million cats. The percentage of American households owning dogs was 37.2; the percentage owning cats was 30.
“Stella” was Esther Johnson, a woman Swift once tutored at the household of Sir William Temple in England. Swift’s letters to Johnson and her companion Rebecca Dingley, written from 1710 to 1713, are known as Journal to Stella.
A 1910 version of Frankenstein by the Edison Company featuring Charles Ogle as the monster was the first movie version.
Located in Wyoming, Teapot Dome was one of two naval oil reserve sites improperly leased in 1922 to private oil companies by Albert B. Fall, President Harding’s secretary of the interior. After the scandal broke in 1923, Fall paid a heavy fine and served a year in prison for bribery. The other oil reserve site…
Fyodor Dostoyevsky translated Eugenie Grandet (1833) into Russian. Dostoyevsky’s 1844 translation was his first publication.
Generations of fans and enemies of rock and roll have thought that it does, but in all probability it does not. The original song as written and recorded by Richard Berry in 1956 has tame lyrics about longing to see a certain girl while sailing across the Caribbean Sea. However, in the hit version by…
Once common in U.S. skies and hunted widely as cheap food, the last known passenger pigeon died in the Cincinnati Zoo on September 1, 1914.
“Udolpho” in Ann Radcliffe’s Gothic novel The Mysteries of Udolpho was the castle of the evil Montoni in the Italian Apennines, and site of many scary events.
Founded in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a nonpartisan organization devoted to protecting constitutional rights, has nearly 300,000 members. George Bush used the term “card-carrying member of the ACLU” to darken the name of his opponent Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential campaign.
Imprisoned for nearly two years after a questionable 1914 murder conviction in Utah, Hill was executed on November 14, 1915. The night before the execution, he cabled friend and IWW cofounder “Big Bill” Haywood, “Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize.”
Semantics is the study of meaning. Approached from the philosophical point of view, it involves the relationships between words; approached from the linguistic point of view, it deals with changes in meaning over time. Semiotics is the study of signs and the use of signs in human communication.
The Marshall Plan was named for U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall and was formally known as the European Recovery Program. The Marshall Plan expended $12.5 billion in U.S. loans and grants to help rebuild Europe after World War II. Payments were made in the fiscal years 1949 through 1952.
The first president born west of the Mississippi was Herbert Hoover. President Hoover was born on August 10, 1874, in West Branch, Iowa.
The studio was fined $25,000 if a movie did not meet with the requirements of the Hays Code. It might also be condemned by the Legion of Decency or boycotted. The Motion Picture Production Code (nicknamed the Hays Code for the first director of the Motion Picture Association of America [MPAA], Will H. Hays) was…
In the 1928 essay “a room of one’s own”, it refers to the space a woman needs to write fiction. Specifically, Woolf says that a woman needs two things to be able to write: “money and a room of her own.” The essay was drawn from two papers Woolf gave at the Arts Society at…