12 Precious Bits of Trivia Smeagol Saved for You, Poor Hungry Smeagol
Curse the Baggins! They’re gone! What has it got in its pocketses? Oh we guess, we guess, my precious trivia tidbits. He’s found them, yes he must have!
Hayao Miyazaki Threatened Harvey Weinstein With a Sword
When he found out that Weinstein would be producing Princess Mononoke, Miyazaki made it very clear that he would not be cutting the run time of his film from 135 minutes to 90 minutes, as requested. Weinstein kept insisting, but Miyazaki had the final say, and expressed as much when he sent him a samurai sword with the note: “No cuts.”
‘Sesame Street’ Was Banned in Mississippi
In 1970, one of the first orders of business of the newly minted State Commission for Educational Television was to declare that Mississippi was “not yet ready” for such a “highly integrated cast of children.”
Germany’s Neolithic Cannibal Mass Grave
Herxheim is a grave of over 1,000 people — many of whom were not locals — whose bones and skulls show clear signs of being harvested for meat. It’s not clear whether the victims were captives of war or religious sacrifices, but the practice seems to have existed for 50 years, right up until the village was suddenly and mysteriously abandoned.
The Mystery of the Mary Celeste Isn’t All That Mysterious
The Mary Celeste was a merchant ship discovered completely abandoned but with no discernible damage in 1872. People have proposed wild explanations, from waterspouts to a giant squid attack, and the most likely explanation is itself pretty wild: The alcohol it was transporting probably emitted a highly flammable fume that very abruptly exploded. The occupants temporarily fled to lifeboats, but their line to the ship was somehow cut, and they ended up drifting out to sea.
Chronic Smoking Was Once Marketed as a Cure for Childhood Asthma
One ad promised: “Joy’s cigarettes afford immediate relief in cases of asthma, weezing and winter cough, and a little perseverance will effect a permanent cure.” They even promised they “may be safely smoked by ladies and children.”
The Boneheaded Mistake That Ruined the Bay of Pigs Invasion
The Pentagon forgot about the time-zone difference between Nicaragua and Cuba, so their planned two-pronged attack got all discombobulated, with fighter jets arriving an hour too late to do their job.
The Christian Church Blamed Ben Franklin’s ‘Heretical Rod’ for the Massachusetts Earthquake of 1755
The reverend of Boston’s Old South Church said the devastating earthquake was God’s retribution for Franklin inventing the lightning rod. Church elders had long feared Franklin’s attempts to “control the artillery of heaven” with his “heretical rod.” Have to imagine he loved hearing that.
Arlington National Cemetery Is a Big Fuck You to Robert E. Lee
The U.S. government called dibs on the land during the Civil War, due to a tax dispute with Lee’s family. The U.S. Quartermaster General, Montgomery C. Meigs, decided that burying soldiers on Lee’s property was a great way to tell him he had no home when the war was done.
Ben Franklin Preferred Older Women (And Said You Should Too)
Franklin prescribed that “In all your Amours you should prefer old Women to young ones,” mainly because you don’t have to worry about pregnancy, but he also touted their prudence and discretion. He expounded, unnecessarily, that “covering all above with a Basket, and regarding only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to know an old from a young one.”
Greek Philosopher Diogenes Probably Invented the Middle Finger
Diogenes was mostly famous for living like a little gremlin, taking up residence in a large clay pot in a public space, instead of a house (among other weird gross things). He’s thought to have pioneered the middle finger, aiming to make his middle three digits look like a penis and balls. He’d offer it up to people who stared at him, saying, “This, for you.”
‘Mission: Impossible III’ Tried to Plant Real-Life Easter Eggs, Summoned the Bomb Squad Instead
In a big marketing gimmick for 2006’s M:i:III, they installed little devices on the doors of newspaper stands that would play the iconic theme song whenever they were opened. Kind of a neat idea, but multiple people mistook the visible wiring for something far more sinister. The West L.A. Veterans Affairs Medical Center was evacuated, and a bomb squad blew up a Santa Clarita newspaper vending machine.
Leprechauns Are Protected by European Union Law
An Irishman who claimed to be able to speak to leprechauns — and said that there were only 236 left — started a campaign to protect the little critters. His lobbying helped achieve the 2009 European Habitats Directive, which explicitly calls out leprechauns as protected in Carlingford, County Louth.