Songs that were once banned

Dean Martin’s “Wham bam, thank you Ma’am” was banned in 1951. Bob Dylan’s 1976 album Hard Rain was banned in many countries because of the track “Lay Lady Lay.” In the 80s, Frank Zappa’s “I don’t wanna get drafted” was held back. Some TV stations banned Cher’s video “If I could turn back time.” Garth Brooks’s “The Thunder Rolls” was banned temporarily in 1991 and in 1995, after protests, Michael Jackson changed the lyrics of  “They don’t care about us” because it was considered anti-Semitic.

First projection of an image on a screen

Joseph Necephore Niepce developed the world’s first photographic image in 1827. In 1839 Frenchman Louis Jacques Daguerre introduce a better photographic process and in the same year Englishman William Fox Talbot discovered the process of using negatives and positives to develop photographs. American George Eastman invented the paper film roll for photography in 1885. In 1894 Americans Thomas Edison and W K L Dickson introduced the first film camera. In the next year French brothers Auguste and Louis Lumiere demonstrated a projector system in Paris, screening Sortie des Usines Lumière à Lyon, the first public movie. It was 46 seconds in duration.

But the very first projection of an image on a screen was made by a German priest. In 1646,  Athanasius Kircher used a candle or oil lamp to project hand-painted images onto a white screen.

Guitarists electrocuted by their guitars

The band of the Titanic weren’t the only ones to die playing. Many guitarists have been electrocuted by faulty wires. In 1972, Leslie Harvey of Stone the Crows died after being electrocuted on stage in England. In 1976, Keith Relf, who used to play for The Yardbirds, was electrocuted by his guitar while playing in his basement.

During a mid-performance in 1994 Ramon Barrero, a Mexican musician famous for playing the world’s smallest harmonica, inhaled the harmonica and choked to death.

REO Speedwagon is named after a flatbed truck

Ransom Eli Olds built a three-wheeled carriage in 1887 and a petrol (gasoline) car in 1896. In 1899, he founded the Olds Motor Works, producing the first Oldsmobile in 1901. Although he didn’t invent the motorcar, he still is known as the “Father of the Automobile.” His heavy-duty flatbed truck was considered a milestone in transportation history. It was from this truck that the American rock band REO Speedwagon chose their name. REO is for the name of Ransom Eli Olds.

REO Speedwagon formed in 1967, debuted their self-titled album in 1971. They reached the charts in 1971 with Ridin’ the Storm Out. Their 1977 live album You Get What You Play For went platinum. Hi-Infidelity, released 1980, sold 7 million copies, reaching No 1 on the Billboard charts. Keep the Fire Burning, the single off their 1982 album Good Trouble, reached the Top 10. Their 2007 album release is also the title for their online video game Find Your Own Way Home, released in 2009. Their latest CD is called Not So Silent Night. And they are still touring.

Wigs that are 3 feet high

In 1500 BC in Egypt women shaved their head as the ultimate display in beauty. Remaining hair was removed with special gold tweezers and then their scalps were buffed to a high sheen with soft cloths. Over the next 100 years the rich Egyptian women placed cones of scented grease on their heads, allowing the grease to melt and drip down over their bodies, bathing bodies and clothes in fragrance.

The exact opposite would be in practice by the 18th century in England when women’s wigs were sometimes 3 ft (1 metre) high. The wigs were dusted with flour and decorated with stuffed birds, fruit, replicas of gardens, or even model ships. Women would wear the wigs continuously for several months. They were matted with lard to keep them from coming apart, which made mice and insects a constant problem, leading to the spreading of skin lice in the upper classes. When a hair-powder tax was introduced in 1795, the wig craze disappeared abruptly. Read more…

The sexiest languages

French may be known as the sexiest language but it actually is just one of five Romance languages. Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish also are called Romance languages. They derived from Latin dialects spoken in the Roman Empire.

Modern Italian emerged in the 13th century. Spanish first appeared during the 10th century and was standardized in the 16th century after the Moors had been driven out of Spain.

The first French document, the Strasbourg Oaths, is dated to 842. French became the official language of France in 1539.

Difference between a flag and a banner

What is the difference between a flag and a banner? A flag has metal rings on the fly end, the side that goes against the flagpole. It flies horizontally off a vertical flagpole. A banner has a sleeve instead of rings and usually hangs off a small wooded pole attached to a house or office building.

Flag factoids:

The ball on top of a flagpole is called the truck.

When a flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground.

A flag or banner should never be used as drapery over a table or for any decoration.

What happens when a flag is worn? It is destroyed by burning in a dignified flag burning ceremony, often on national Flag Day, which in the USA is on June 14th.

National Flags

The Original Stars and Stripes

Valentine’s Day – festival of love


Valentine’s Day originates from the ancient Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on 15 February in honor of the gods Lupercus and Faunus, as well as the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. During the festival, young men would draw the names of women from a box, and each couple would be paired until next year’s celebration. Often they would fall in love and marry.

At around 270AD Rome was facing battles and civil uprising. The men were not keen to join the army. Emperor Claudius II believed that the men did not want to leave their loved ones and summarily canceled all marriages and engagements. Two priests, Valentine and Marius, disobeyed the decree and secretly performed marriage ceremonies. Read more…

Lost nuclear bombs

The very first bomb that the Allies dropped on Berlin in World War II killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo, it is said. The NATO attack on Serbia in 1999 (the Kosovo war) killed more animals than people. “Smart” weapons, such the Tomahawk missile is supposed to hit a postage stamp at 300km or more (200 miles or more). But only two out of thirteen actually hit the target. One skimmed over the house of a small farmer a few miles off target, straight up a track, through bushes, and exploded in the farmer’s field, killing seven sheep, one cow and a goat. The farmer kept the missile nosecone as a souvenir.  Read more…

More movies made in Bollywood than Hollywood

Each year, more movies are produced in India, where the moving image industry is referred to as Bollywood, than in Hollywood. About 1000 movies are released annually in India, about twice the output of Hollywood. The “B” in Bollywood refers to Bombai (renamed Mumbai).

Bollywood movies often are quite long; 3 hours or more of dancing and singing around love as the main plot – although kissing is almost never shown on screen. Everyday, some 14 million Indian people queu for a movie, with more than 4 billion movie tickets sold annually, compared to 3 billion for Hollywood movies worldwide.

Indian comic actress Manorama has played the most leading roles of any performer in movie history. She began her career in 1958 and in 1985 had appeared in her 1,000th movie.

Before Bollywood

The first movie screened publicly was “La Sortie des Ouvriers de l’Usine Lumire” which was presented by Auguste and Louis Lumiere in Paris in 1895. The first movie to use sound was “The Jazz Singer,” released in 1927: the first words, spoken by Al Jolson, were: “Wait a minute, you ain’t heard nothing yet.”

The big movies

According to the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), in 1996 the average Hollywood film cost $35.3 million to make and another $17.7 million to market. Disney’s “The Lion King” cost $45 million to make and employed a total of 800 animators. Bollywood flicks are produced at average $2m.

The most expensive film ever made as at year 2000, was James Cameron’s “Titanic.” It cost $200 million, but also was the most successful, in the sense that it won 11 Academy Awards, equaling “Ben Hur” of 1959.

The top five moneymaking films of all time, as by 2010, are: Avatar (2009) [$1.850 billion], Titanic (1997) [$1.835 billion], The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) [$1.129 billion], Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) [$1.060 billion], and The Dark Knight (2008) [$1 billion]. They are followed by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) [$972m]. When adjusted for inflation, Gone With The Wind remains one of the highest grossing [$1.4 billion and growing], followed by Star Wars and Sound of Music, according to boxofficemojo.

Note that they all are family-type movies. In fact, movies with strong sexual or violence content usually bomb at the box office. According to the American Family Association, the average cost to produce a movie in 1996 was $40 million. Sex films grossed on average only $700 000. Movies with strong Christian or family content on average grossed over $37 million. The figures have since changed, but not the facts.

Director James Cameron is responsible for directing the two most expensive movies: Avatar (£234 million production plus $150 million promotional budget) and Titanic ($200 million production plus $20 million promotional budget).

“Frankly my dear…”

Gone With The Wind has been the best-attended film since its release in 1939. Without a doubt the most famous line in the movie is when Rhett Butler tells Scarlet O’Hara, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” According to Cuss Control, a book by James O’Connor, director David Selznick was fined heavy for that curse word: $5,000. A lot of money in those days. The movie is based on the book by Margaret Mitchell. It was the only book she wrote.

The biggest movie promotion deal is the $2 billion agreement between George Lucas – the director of the “Star Wars” trilogy – and Pepsi for exclusive worldwide use of the film’s characters.

50% of Hollywood movies never achieve a cinema release. Those that do, make 5 times more from DVD sales than cinema takings.

The longest movie ever

The longest movie in the world according to Guinness World Records is The Cure for Insomnia, directed by John Henry Timmis IV. Released in 1987, the running time is 5220 minutes (87 hours) and has no plot. Instead, it consists of poet L. D. Groban reciting his 4,080-page poem “A Cure for Insomnia” over the course of three and a half days. The movie is inter-spliced with clips from porno and heavy metal music videos.

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