Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Holidays!

Merry Christmas to us, one and all! Of course we all know that the Reason for the Season is the Holidays, but what about some Holiday History? Well, what about it?

  • The word holiday is derived from the Roman, meaning "A day in the Holiday Season."

  • The first Christmas was celebrated in December of 224 AD. December was chosen, of course, not because of Jesus's birthday (which was in March) but to replace the pagan holiday of Saturnalia, the feast of the Vernal (Autumn) Equinox.

  • GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN: Santa Claus, aka Jolly Old Saint Nick, was originally St. Nicholas. This 6th century Irish monk was also the inspiration for St. Patrick's day when he illegally brought 17 snakes to Ireland. This was the first recorded instance of snake handling, and according to some, the origin of the term "Secret Santa."

  • Christmas was not celebrated in the years 1629,1630, or 1704 by Decree of Law.

  • MARCO... The first Christmas presents were of course gold, frankincense, and myrrh, which is Roman for "the sea." However, gift-giving did not become a Christmas tradition until the 18th century when adventurer Marco Polo brought back Persian rugs from Iraq and exotic spices from the West Indies.

  • Americans spend more money on Christmas gifts each year than the rest of the world spends on food.

  • SHALOM! Menorah means "the festival of lights" in Jewish. Every year Orthodox Jews gather to eat, drink, and celebrate the liberation of the Jewish ghetto in Prague by the Golem. Hannukah, or Channukah, or Shannukah, is the third-highest religious holiday of the year after Ross Hashanana and the Jewish New Year, which is also the Lunar or Chinese New Year.

  • Kwanzaa is also a holiday of some note.

  • A MAJOR ACTOR: If a recent survey is to be believed, 53% of Americans prefer Brian Dennehy in the role of Santa Claus, even though he has never played it in a movie or TV show.

  • There is no such animal as a "reindeer."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Isn't It Just Like Life?

In this season of holidays that some like to call the Holiday Season (while others prefer the old-fashioned X-Mas moniker), often we are too hurly-burly going about the hustle and bustle of our ho-hum days. Take a moment to stop, think, and even breathe in the air. After all, this is your entire life.

AWARENESS: Life is like a long walk on the beach. For every beautiful sight you see, you hear something too.

WISDOM: You've got to learn a lot about the different kinds of paint before you can even pick up a brush to start painting a room. And I mean A LOT.

PROACTIVITY: Sleeping in may sound like a good idea, but don't you have stuff to do? No? Okay, whatever.

GETTING AHEAD: "I'm only happy when I'm winning," said the man. But was he winning? I guess that's what it all comes down to in the end.

THOROUGHNESS: Sometimes, no matter how many channels you have on digital cable tv, it seems like there's nothing on. But hold on a sec--maybe you missed something.

MUSIC: They say that music is the language of kings.

A NEW WAY OF THINKING: One of the best things about attaining your goals is that it may give you confidence.

ADVERSITY: Rockets are a bit like life. They blast into space, and they never come back.

BE PREPARED: Don't leave a cake out on the table or the dog will get into it. Unless you don't have a dog. Or if your dog is very short, then the table would probably be fine.

ADVICE: If you're feeling poorly, count on a neighbor or a friend to give you some little nugget of medical wisdom--totally free, completely unsolicited, and often erroneous or even dangerously wrong.

UPS AND DOWNS: Hesitate for just an instant and you've missed that parking space. Wait, isn't that one over by the carts? Right up front? No, that's handicapped.

PERSEVERANCE: You know that pen is almost out of ink, but you put it back in the drawer anyway. Are you trying not to be wasteful? Who knows.

IT HAPPENS EVERY TIME: Right when you sit down to eat a piece of pizza, you realize that you have forgotten your fork.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Search of the Week: December 15

Every single week of the year we bring you, the reader, one very special VLKF visitor who found our site through a popular search engine. This week's search came from the ubiquitous Google-brand search engine, where we ranked number 7 out of 130,000 results for the following query:

christian bale muscle

Not too shabby! Perhaps we need a follow-up piece on this subject.

Oddly, though, as you can see from the screenshot, this search came from Google Australia. One would think that an Aussie might be more interested in Steve Irwin or Mel Gibson. Well, you live and you learn. Thanks for the visit, mate!

Monday, December 11, 2006

One of These Days, Alice...

The Moon has been around for thousands of years, but mankind has only visited it twice. Now it's time we moved in. NASA has just announced a new, ambitious plan to establish a base on the Moon.

We on truly lucky to live on the only planet with a moon. (CAUTION: Be careful, though--it causes tsumanis!) Over the decades, the Moon has come to be associated with love, longing, mental illness, the menstrual cycle, astronomy, tides, and eclipses. How much do you really know about the Earth's moon, which is popularly known as The Moon? Are you a Moonie? Here are some fun new facts about our closest neighbor in the galaxy.

  • THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS GREEN CHEESE! The Moon appears green because of its high copper content.
  • The Moon is the closest planet to the Earth except for Pluto, which is no longer a planet. At its closest point in orbit (apogee), the Moon is only five miles from the Earth's atmosphere. This is what astronomers call a "Harvest Moon."
  • WANT TO LOSE SOME WEIGHT? Due to the low specific gravity of the Moon, you would only weigh 12 pounds if you lived on the new Moonbase.
  • Pound for pound, moonrocks are more valuable than gold, cocaine, or Picassos.
  • I WANT TO BELIEVE: Some say that man has not actually walked on the Moon. This "conspiracy theorum" was popularized again by the Jim Carrey song, "The Old Man in the Moon" from the hit movie of the same name. Were the Moon astronauts really robots or monkeys? No, they were not. Robots were not invented until 1979, and monkeys would pee in their spacesuits, ruining the delicate electronics.
  • The Space program has brought back benefits to this planet on which we all live and breath. I'm talking, of course, about the Earth. Some of the "fringe" benefits of NASA include:
    • improved solar cells
    • freeze-dried ice cream
    • kidney dialysis
    • speakerphones
    • HEPA filters
    • CAT scans
    • space heaters
    • vacuum sealing
    • instant coffee
    • IMAX
    • jello
    • concentrated orange juice
    • low-interest student loans
    • zero-gravity pens
    • audiobooks

Sunday, December 10, 2006

VLKF Celebrates Gay Rappers

We here at Very Little Known Facts are celebrating the First Annual Hip-Hop Coming Out Week. Congratulations to Eminem, DMX, and Atlanta’s own Ludacris for bravely taking a stand for their own homosexuality through their rap lyrics. Kudos, guys!

Of course, the hip-hop industry is famously homophobic. Rappers who have tentatively hinted at their sexual persuasion in the past have been eliminated—either medically in the case of Eric Lynn Wright (Eazy-E), violently in the case of Christopher Wallace (Notorious B.I.G.), or simply humiliated in the case of Robert Van Winkle.

Naturally, then, popular rappers cannot literally come out of the closet. To do so would imperil not only their careers and their reputations (a.k.a. “street cred”) but also their very lives. No, they must show their gay pride through their primary means of communication—their lyrics.

Up in Here lyrics by Earl Simmons (DMX)

Y'all gon' make me lose my mind
up in HERE, up in here
Y'all gon' make me go all out
up in here, up in here
Y'all gon' make me act a FOOL
up in HERE, up in here
Y'all gon' make me lose my cool
up in here, up in here
If I gotsta bring it to you cowards then it's gonna be quick, a’ight
All your mens up in the jail before, suck my dick

Here we see spelled out before us the mental anguish that rapper DMX feels as he is torn between his “unnatural” desires and the role society expects him to play as a successful hip-hop personality. The internal conflict seems to be pushing him to the brink of insanity. Faced with this untenable situation, DMX has resorted to calling on ex-cons to fellate him.

Now, as we all know, in prison the rules are different. However, last I checked, DMX was a free man—a free man soliciting oral sex from other men. But that’s not his only lyric on the subject. Consider this exerpt:

Y'all niggaz remind me of a strip club

Cause every time you come around
It's like I just gotta get my dick sucked.

A courageous stance to take in such a public forum. Indeed.

Rock and a Hard Place lyrics by Christopher Bridges, a.k.a. Ludacris

Yeah yeah
It's an everyday stuggle
Trying to get out
Trying to get out

Here we see Chris baring the strife inside his very soul. Should he come out of the closet? A hard decision to make. For further ruminations on the subject, “check out” the chorus:

I try to find a way outta this maze
It's got me crazed I'm in a daze
So many ways to boost into a different phase
But I can't think, I can't do nothing
You think I'm fronting
You hear me grunting
Lord you ain't even saying nuttin’.

Powerful stuff. We hope that Mr. Bridges will employ the proper protection while "grunting" with his "partner." Safety first.

Cleanin’ Out My Closet lyrics by the Caucasian rap artist Marshall Mathers or Eminem

Have you ever been hated, or discriminated against?
I have, I've been protested and demonstrated against.

I got some skeletons in my closet
And I don't know if no one knows it
So before they throw me inside my coffin and close it
Imma expose it, I'll take you back to '73
Before I ever had a multi-platinum sellin' CD
I was a baby maybe I was just a couple of months
My faggot father must have had his panties up in a bunch.

How much plainer can this be? Need we also remind you that he penned a song called Suck My Dick? Eminem is gay.


In conclusion, there is room on this beautiful planet for rappers of all races, creeds, and even sexual perversions—as long as they “got skills,” but especially if they “got mad skills.”

Monday, December 04, 2006

Which Came First, the Rhino or the Chicken?

This age-old question has haunted mankind ever since Charles Darwin published his semenal work The Original Species several years ago. Perhaps some of these Very Little Known Facts can shed new light on a very old, very controversial problem.

  • The longest recorded flight of a domesticated chicken was 13 seconds. The chicken in question flew 1.2 miles.

  • FANCY FOOD: The restaurant "Po Folks" was named after the European river Po which flowed serenely through the land that the founders of that fine dining establishment called home. Eventually the name was shortened to "Folks," and finally changed to "Denny's."

  • Rhinos lay the largest eggs of any reptile since the Golden Age of the Dinosaurs.

  • DIDN'T SEE THAT COMING: It is unlawful for a blind person to testify in court as a witness.

  • BE CAREFUL: On average, up to 1,000 people choke to death on ball-point pens every year. In Florida, the number is even higher!

  • Al Capone's business card said that he was a used furniture dealer. Ironically, this was his profession from the time he was paroled in 1957 until, tragically, he died from old age in 1980.

  • NOBODY MOVE: To prevent population loss, the state of North Dakota fined its own citizens $350 to move out of state from 1961 to 1973. The money was then divided up amongst families who had moved to the state in that year. Native Americans were not eligible.

  • The hit Paul Newman and Robert Redford movie Cool Hand Luke was based on Shakespeare's play The Tempest.

  • ROCK OUT! Rock salt is not made from rocks. It is composed of pure sodium.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Film Reviews: The Importance of Being Earnest

This week’s movie review is The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Oliver Parker.

To start with, I can’t help but feel that there is a great deal of confusion with this movie, which is also—apparently—a play? Dennis Littrell posited:

This is an inventive and artful production of Oscar Wilde's play, but I can confidently say that were Oscar Wilde alive today, he would be appalled at the misuse to which his play has been put. Indeed I think I feel the ground rumbling as he rolls over in his grave, and yes he is actually spinning in anguish.

Possibly. I mean, I didn’t know Oscar, but I don’t think that he ever thought his play would end up being yet another installation in the Ernest series, that lovable good-for-nuthin’ with the irresistable catchphrase, “Hey Vern!”

And it is an odd choice. To start with, the whole thing takes place in Great Britain, which was once part of England and now is part of the United Kingdom. And on top of that it is apparently a period piece since everybody in the movie wears fancy clothes and listens to Victrolas, hence the monicker “The Victorian Era.” Why a period piece, you might ask? An excellent question. Even the Police Academy series didn’t feel the need to go back in time. But maybe that’s just what the tired old genre needed, according to reviewer windspray:

Sounds like my unfamiliarity with Wilde's play and the previous version of this movie was to my advantage. After all I could view this movie based on its own merits without any other comparisons getting in the way.

This didn’t sit so well with T. Rendell, who titled his review The dumbing-down of Oscar Wilde:

Urgent memo to Oliver Parker: Oscar Wilde is not about slapstick.

The plot, though, is vintage Ernest T. Worrell nonsense. summed it up their review:

The Importance of Being Earnest
stars Colin Firth as an English gentleman who pretends to be his own brother, named Ernest, so he can enjoy himself in the city without besmirching his reputation at his country estate. Unfortunately, he's just fallen in love with a young woman who insists that she can only marry a man named Ernest--and when Firth's best friend goes to Firth's country estate pretending to be this same brother Ernest, he falls in love with Firth's ward, who similarly feels that Ernest is the perfect name for a husband...

Earnest, which is apparently the British spelling of Ernest, is still the same old lovable scamp, but I have to say he has lost some of his old-fashioned pratfall humor. Probably because veteran comedian Jim Varney is hardly to be found. Is he even in this movie? Perhaps they couldn’t afford him. But in any case, it hardly matters. In the end, The Importance of Being Earnest still proves to be as important as any other movie in the Ernest series, as reviewer Katherine Brodsky points out:

What ensues further is a hilarious tale of mistaken identity.

Indeed, the further ensuance is hilarious indeed.