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The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

The following article is from the book Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Tunes Into TV.

In 1967 CBS hired the Smothers Brothers to host a variety show that would attract a young, hip audience. The show did that …but CBS didn’t like it. Here’s a look at the controversy behind The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

FAMILY BAND

In the 1960s, musical comedy duo Tom and Dick Smothers, professionally known as the Smothers Brothers, were already veterans of the folk scene. They’d recorded several hit albums of their unique act: singing and playing folk songs before shifting into scripted sibling arguments and topical standup comedy bits.

After the brothers appeared on a string of talk and variety shows, CBS signed them to a contract in 1965 and created The Smothers Brothers Show. It was a forgettable sitcom -Dick’s character was a playboy, Tom was the ghost of his dead brother- and the brothers felt it didn’t play to their strengths. There was none of their usual bantering, and they got to perform music in only one episode. The show was canceled due to low ratings in 1966.

HOW TO BEAT A BONANZA

Meanwhile the network was trying -and failing- to compete with NBC’s hit Bonanza, the #1 show on television. Nothing could touch it in its Sunday night time slot, and it had even killed off former hits Perry Mason and The Garry Moore Show. When Moore was canceled at the end of 1966, CBS decided that the best way to compete with Bonanza was counter-programming. Bonanza attracted mostly viewers over 40. What if CBS put something on that appealed to people in their 20s and 30s? At some point the network realized it already had the ideal stars of this new show under contract: the Smothers Brothers.

Before agreeing to a new show, executive producer and star Tom Smothers insisted on full control. His reason: The Smothers Brothers Show had been so stressful for him that he’d developed an ulcer and gotten divorced. CBS agreed and the brothers got to work hiring writers and performers from the burgeoning Los Angeles comedy scene. Some of those unknowns: Steve Martin, Rob Reiner, Pat Paulsen, and Albert Brooks.

FOR WHAT ITS WORTH

The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour debuted on Sunday, February 5, 1967, at 9PM.

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Parrot Takes a Shower

(YouTube link)

Miss Iris the Hyacinth Macaw likes to be clean, so she takes a shower in the sink. She knows how to use the faucet, and she likes the pressure on high!
-via Daily Picks and Flicks

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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The Dress That Launched a Thousand Memes

This week saw the internet go crazy over a picture of a dress that appeared to be different colors to different people. It didn’t take long for creative minds to take advantage of the situation. We had tons of people trying to explain the phenomenon, but even better were those who made it funny. As you can see here, Liz Climo used the dress perfectly for her animal characters.

Randall Munroe at xkcd explained how the phenomena worked without a word in his Friday comic. The hover text for this one is priceless. Keep reading for more.

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The Case of the Missing Log Cabin

The Klamath County Sheriff’s office in Oregon received a report Tuesday of a stolen house. No, it wasn’t a mobile home, but a 1,500-square-foot log cabin that was completely missing from its foundation. Deputies began an investigation of this unusual crime, the likes of which none of them had ever seen before. Within 48 hours, the cabin was located, almost a mile away.

The property in question is originally purchased by Ronald Niederbrach.

He and a girlfriend, Paulette Kallo, live together for a time in a conventional house on the property. At some point, Miklos Kallo, Paulette's ex-husband, also moves onto the property and she provides care for him as he has health issues.

Miklos Kallo buys a log cabin kit, has it built and stays in the cabin.

Things don't work out between Niederbrach and Paulette, and Niederbrach moves to Sisters.

The Kallos reconcile and live in the house until a fire severely damages it, leaving it uninhabitable. At some point, the property is titled in the names of all three persons.

On July 8, 2014, Miklos Kallo sells the cabin to a fourth party. In September, the buyer moves it to where it was found this week.

Yes, it's a real soap opera. Niederbrach didn’t know the cabin was gone for some months. When he discovered it missing, he asked Paulette Kallo about it, and she said she didn’t know anything. The unnamed buyer of the cabin had no idea there was any dispute over the ownership until the police got involved. The investigation is continuing to determine who, if anyone, had the rights to the structure. You can read the entire story at Oregon Live.

(Image credit: George Rede | The Oregonian/OregonLive)


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DIY Electrical Wiring

(YouTube link)

He just wanted to install a new light in the bathroom, but it didn’t turn out exactly right. It looks like a case of two homeowners in a row who did their own wiring, and believe me, building on someone else’s weirdness only leads to more weirdness. At least this couple hasn’t been electrocuted, which is a real possibility when you get this many wires crossed.

I once had a bathroom/bedroom addition built. It didn’t take long to figure out things were wonky, because when you turned off the bathroom light, the alarm clock by the bed stopped. I could’ve called the contractor back to fix it, but he’d screwed up so many other things, he probably would have just made it worse. I got a master electrician to sort things out -after he stopped laughing. -via Viral Viral Videos


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His First Toothbrush

(YouTube link)

An attractive ragdoll cat named Milk gets his teeth brushed for the first time. His reaction is just adorable. I think the word is “flabbergasted.”

The animated gif of this video was posted at reddit with the question “Have you ever seen a cat become broken?” Many commenters said yes, and left proof, compiled here.

See more cats
Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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The Crooked Houses of Lavenham

Lavenham is a town in Suffolk, UK, which has a whole slew of houses that lean this way or that, with the exposed beams showing off their tipsy attitudes. It’s not because of an architectural fad or tradition; these houses were straight at one time. It’s because of economic boom and bust. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Lavenham was a booming and prosperous community due to the local wool fabric production.

The town grew so fast that many of the houses were built in haste with green timber. As the wood dried, the timbers warped causing the houses to bend at unexpected angles. Unfortunately, Lavenham’s good times didn’t last long. When Dutch refugees settled in Colchester began producing cloth that was cheaper, lighter and more fashionable than Lavenham's, the town’s cloth industry went bust. By the time the dried timber started twisting, Lavenham’s families had lost its wealth and with no money to rebuild their homes, Lavenham’s crooked houses were left as they were.

The remaining crooked homes are charming in their own way, and you can see plenty of them at Amusing Planet. -via Everlasting Blort

(Image credit: Flickr user Andrew Hill)


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Downton Funk

(YouTube link)

Once more, we have proof that whether something blends or not matters less than whether you can make a pun out of the titles. Yet this one works on other levels as well. The TV show Downton Abbey meets the song “Uptown Funk” in this mashup from College Humor. -via Tastefully Offensive


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Gender-neutral Restroom Signs

(Image credit: Cory Doctorow)

(Image credit: Over Waves’ Bindings)

When you gotta go, you gotta go, but where? More and more public restrooms are unisex, or gender-neutral, meaning anyone can use them. Another term is “family” restrooms, even if it’s a one-holer. Signs used to designate these restrooms can take on a real flair, as shown here. See 17 creative restroom signs for a new generation at Buzzfeed.


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Why People See a Different Colored Dress

(YouTube link)

Now that everyone is arguing over the color of a dress, AsapSCIENCE steps in to explain how people perceive and interpret colors differently. First impressions can be confusing, while knowledge that comes later can fill in some of the gaps. The upshot is that brain is an amazing organ that sifts through both information we have and information we don’t have to make sense of the world around us. -via Tastefully Offensive


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It Looks Like You’re Trying to Accessorize…

Would you like help? Yeah, it’s funny, but as soon as you admit that you get the joke, you’ve dated yourself. Adding googly eyes to a paperclip evokes recollections of Clippy, the annoying virtual assistant in Microsoft Office applications sold from 1997 to 2003. Furbyfresse uploaded this picture and said her boyfriend made earrings for her. -via Fail Blog

View more fun pics over at our NeatoPicto Blog

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The World's Weirdest Flowers

Have you ever noticed that the seed pods of a snapdragon flower looks just like a string of human skulls? Creepy, huh? Mother Nature produces plants in an astounding variety, and many of them look like something significant to humans whether it benefits the plant or not. Boing Boing has a list of 40 of the world's weirdest flowers that include flowers that look like something else, flowers with odd lifestyles, and flowers that might not even be flowers at all. Some are rare and endangered; others you might be growing in your own kitchen, and you’ll see pictures of each of them.   

(Image credit: Flickr user laajala)


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What Color is This Dress?

There’s been quite a debate among Tumblr users about the colors of this dress. The picture was posted by Swiked, and then passed around, igniting arguments wherever it showed up. I looked at it and said, “That’s white with gold lace.” Then I read three posts at Buzzfeed about the controversy surrounding the colors, with plenty of pictures of the dress with various color corrections and even a catalog entry, and they determined that the dress is actually blue with black lace.

But what really floored me was when I returned to the original picture and saw it as blue and black! I could not make myself see white and gold again at that point. THEN I went somewhere else for about twenty minutes and returned to the original picture. It appeared white and gold again- for a minute or two, then it turned blue and black again. Now, my eyesight isn’t the greatest, but this is one weird phenomena.  

Update: There's a discussion of some of the factors going into this photo here.

What colors do you see in the dress?




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Strangers on a Beach: The Origins of Tom Ripley

Patricia Highsmith's most memorable supervillain was inspired by a chance encounter. But how fictional was he really?

Early one morning in the summer of 1952, Patricia Highsmith awoke in a room at the Albergo Miramare hotel in Positano, Italy. The 31-year-old author had been traveling through Europe with her girlfriend, Ellen Blumenthal Hill, and the two weren’t getting along. Leaving Hill in bed, Highsmith walked to the end of a balcony overlooking the beach. It’s not as if things weren’t going well for her—her novel Strangers on a Train had just been adapted for the screen by Alfred Hitchcock. But the tumultuous relationship was taking a toll. As she gazed out at the sand, pulling on a cigarette, she watched “a solitary young man in shorts and sandals, with a towel flung over his shoulder, making his way along the beach. There was an air of pensiveness about him, maybe unease,” she recalled in a 1989 issue of Granta magazine. She started to wonder: “Had he quarreled with someone? What was on his mind?”

The intrigue stuck with her. Two years later, while living in a cottage rented from an undertaker in Lenox, Mass., Highsmith drew from that image as she began a new novel, about a man named Tom Ripley. Even then, she sensed that she was onto something special. “She considered [The Talented Mr. Ripley] ‘healthier’ and ‘handsomer’ than her other books at its ‘birth,’” Joan Schenkar writes in her excellent biography The Talented Miss Highsmith.

Highsmith’s instincts were correct: With the charming sociopath Ripley, she’d created a new type of character entirely. In five novels over the next four decades, he’d become not only her most acclaimed and memorable creation but the prototype for a new kind of antihero: the unlikable, immoral, cold-blooded killer we can’t help but like anyway. Ripley was a character so fully realized, so simultaneously compelling and disturbing, it seemed as if he were based on someone Highsmith knew intimately. In a sense, he was.

An orphan unhappily raised by an icy aunt, 23-year-old Tom Ripley is living in New York City when we first meet him, trying his hand at casual extortion. In a bar one night, he’s approached by the wealthy Herbert Greenleaf, father of an acquaintance, Dickie. Greenleaf is looking for someone who might persuade his son to return home from the bohemian life he’s been leading in the Italian village of Mongibello, and Tom seizes the opportunity. But what he finds when he locates Dickie is something he hadn’t expected: a glimpse of the privileged existence he’s always dreamed of.

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Your Chance to Drink with Owls

Japan has been a leader in animal cafes, including one where you can get up close and personal with owls. London has decided to up the ante with an owl tavern, although it will be temporary.

Annie the Owl and friends will be taking over a Soho bar from March 19 to 25, 8:30 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. Customers can enjoy two hours and two cocktails nestled amongst the nocturnal birds. There's just one catch—you have to be very lucky to get a spot. Right now, the tickets are being sold for £20, but you have to enter a lottery to earn some face-time with the owls. Winning the raffle only gives you one ticket, so you'll have to fly solo if your friends don't win as well.

Right now, owl cafes are all the rage in Japan, but (perhaps predictably) London kicked it up a notch by adding booze to the equation. On top of feathery friends and drinks, the bar also offers music, comedy, and an "electric atmosphere." The drinks will be mixed by some of London's top mixologists, and the birds will all be accompanied by professional falconers, so you know you'll be in good hands.

The birds will be well-chaperoned, and only people are allowed alcohol. Proceeds from the owl bar will go to The Barn Owl Centre, an organization dedicated to protecting owls. Get all the particulars for the upcoming owl cafe at mental_floss.

(Image credit: Richard Fisher)

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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The Horrible History Of The World's Most Notorious Mental Asylum

The word “bedlam” means chaos to modern ears, and that meaning came from the British asylum known as Bedlam, short for Bethlehem Royal Hospital. It was born in 1247 as a priory which soon began to take in the mentally ill. Over the next few centuries, the asylum changed hands, changed management, and even changed locations, but for most of that time was a chamber of horrors. The inmates received either no treatment or terrible treatment, and at times were put on display as freaks. The institution is still in use today, although conditions have changed. All Day has an illustrated  timeline of the history of Bedlam over the past 750 years. 

(Image credit: Wellcome Images via Wikimedia Commons)


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12 Facts You Might Not Know About Babe Ruth

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

George Herman “Babe" Ruth is, without a doubt, the most famous, beloved and mythical baseball player of all-time. Perhaps of all athletes, ever, only Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan have been more influential and as well-known.

The guy hit his legendary 714 home runs in 22 seasons (1914-1935), drove in over 2,200 runs and had a lifetime batting average of .342. Not only that, but he was also a star pitcher in his early days, compiling a lifetime record of 94 wins and 46 losses. Okay, let's take a look at 12 facts you may not have known about “The Sultan of Swat,” the one and only Babe Ruth.

1. He started out as a left-handed catcher.

Young George Ruth started playing baseball at St. Marys Industrial School for Boys in Baltimore. He began his career as a left-handed catcher, the rarest of all position players.

Ruth, top row center, at St. Marys Industrial School for Boys.

The school only had a catcher's mitt for a right-hander, so George would catch the ball with his left hand. If a runner on base tried to steal, he'd toss the glove aside, catch the ball in the air and throw it to second base with his left hand.

2. He became a pitcher because he ridiculed another pitcher.

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Five Things Alice in Wonderland Reveals About the Brain

Even though it’s been 150 years since Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first published, we are still finding new meaning in it. Lewis Carrol’s tale turns logic inside out, and along the way, gives neurologists insight about how the human brain operates. Characters in the book explore the way we perceive language, time, and our own corporeal bodies. For example, Alice changes her own size several times by the magic of eating or drinking.

In 1955, a psychiatrist called John Todd found that certain patients reported exactly the same feeling of “opening out like a telescope”. The disorder is known as Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, and it seems to be most common in children. “I have heard patients saying that things appear upside down, or even though mommy is on other side of the room, she appeared next to her,” says Grant Liu, a neurologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia who has studied the phenomenon.

Carroll’s diaries show that he suffered migraines, which often trigger the syndrome – leading some to speculate that he was using his own experiences as inspiration. Liu suspects the syndrome can be pinned to abnormal activity in the parietal lobes, which are responsible for spatial awareness, skewing the sense of perspective and distance. But despite the fact that it can be disturbing, these fleeting illusions are generally harmless. “The majority are unaffected – and we just provide reassurance that the patient is not crazy and that other people also experience these things,” says Liu. Today, neuroscientists are trying to evoke the illusion in healthy subjects – which they think might shed light on the way we create our sense of self in the here and now.

And that’s only one of the five specific findings in neuroscience that relate to the more illogical passages in Alice in Wonderland outlined in an article at BBC Future. -via Digg


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43 Words Invented by Authors

(YouTube link)

Sometimes when you’re reading a book, you run across a word you’ve never heard before, but you can usually figure out what it means by its context. I learned many words that way, and I was sometimes wrong. I should have looked them up, but who wants to break the spell of a good book? Some of those words were just made up by the writer. John Green runs down a whole bunch of examples in this latest video from mental_floss.


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If Ken Burns Tackled Boston’s Snowpocalypse

(YouTube link)

Ken Burns’ documentary series The Civil War (as well as his other documentaries) had a certain style that brought out the despair and melancholy of the people who lived through it, emphasized by the sad fiddle music. YouTube member SafetyWhales took the same approach to documenting Boston’s current winter, using Facebook posts by real people who live there. Harry Apinwall, the one who described the apocalypse, provided the perfect finale. -Thanks, Linda Shaw!


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Talking Husky Puppy

(YouTube link)

Little Ramsey the husky pup obviously lives with both people and dogs -but he sure sounds like he’d rather talk people language than howl like a dog! I had to giggle at this almost as much as the woman holding him. -via Tastefully Offensive

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Baby Born with Intact Amniotic Sac

First off, little Silas Philips is fine. He was delivered by Cesarian section three months early at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, still shrouded in his sac of amniotic fluid. Neonatologist William Binder snapped a picture of the unusual sight with his cellphone, then opened the sac so the baby could begin breathing.

The photograph shows the baby just seconds old. Until the bag was broken, the baby was still getting oxygen through the placenta.

“It felt like slow-motion but really realistically probably about 10 seconds that we had to sort of quickly pause and be able to do this, because at the same time, we want to get the baby out of that sac, start helping the baby to begin breathing,” the doctor said.

The photo is a rare opportunity to see what a six-month pregnancy really looks like. And from the baby’s point of view, the trauma of birth didn’t happen until he was outside his mother. Despite his prematurity, Silas is doing well at ten weeks old and is expected to go home within a month. See a video report at CBS Los Angeles. -via Buzzfeed

PS: I found out some other interesting things about Dr. Binder.

(Image credit: Dr. William Binder)

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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Snowball Fight in Jerusalem

(YouTube link)

A storm last Thursday and Friday left between 20 and 30 centimeters (7-11 inches) of snow over Jerusalem. This video shows a group of Franciscan monks having a snowball fight, which they probably don’t get to do very often. Israel wasn’t the only spot in the Middle East to get snow. See pictures of the snow in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey in this roundup. -via Buzzfeed


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The Ultimate Way to Witness the Northern Lights

Imagine lying in bed under a glass igloo in Finland, watching the Aurora Borealis. That’s the kind of thing you want to put on your bucket list! Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is only 155 miles from the Arctic Circle, near the Urho Kekkonen National Park in Lapland. Thermal glass keeps each igloo nice and toasty inside, but if you prefer, they also have unheated igloos made of packed snow. I think I’ll take the glass. Read more about this unique resort and see plenty of photographs at Scribol.
 
(Image credit: Kakslauttanen)


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Toddler Does Tahitian Dance

(YouTube link)

This little girl is not yet two years old, but she’s learning the basics of Tahitian dance from Tahitoa Productions in Guam. They normally take students starting at age three. In case you are not familiar with Tahitian dance, here’s what a talented adult can do. The little girl above is getting a head start! -via Daily Picks and Flicks

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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5 Pets Who Helped Solve Their Owners' Murders

Forensic science has come a long way in solving crimes, although murder remains unusually difficult do to the lack of cooperation from the victims. Investigators have to keep an open mind in order to find clues wherever they may be, including evidence from the deceased’s pets. In one particular case, that meant the victim’s cockatoo.

Texas native Kevin Butler was such a fan of NBA great Larry Bird that he ignored the potential redundancy and named his pet cockatoo after him. Friends said Bird was very devoted to Butler, and when Butler’s home was broken into in 2001, Bird tried to fend off his owner's murderers before he was mortally wounded himself. One of them, Daniel Torres, denied involvement until prosecutors presented evidence linking the DNA recovered from Bird’s beak to Torres. He received life in prison. Bird, just 18 inches tall, was heralded as “valiant” during the trial.

There are four other tales of crime-solving pets in this roundup at mental_floss. Not all of them had to die to solve the crime.

(Unrelated image credit: www.viajar24h.com)

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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The 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards

Every year, the Golden Raspberry Awards, commonly known as the Razzies, are bestowed on the night before the Academy Awards, recognizing the worst in moviemaking. The big winner last night was the Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas. It won Razzies for Worst Picture, Worst Actor, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Combo (Kirk Cameron and his ego). It’s a movie that brought the audience together -in agreement about how bad it was.

"This is a vanity project that Kirk Cameron put together", Razzie founder John Wilson told BBC Radio 5 live after the ceremony.

"It's about on the level of a super 8 movie from when I was a kid. It has no cinematic value at all."

He pointed out that the film was rated number one worst movie of all time on international movie database IMDB.com

Saving Christmas is also only one of two films last year to score a zero rating on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

Winning a Razzie is not always the kiss of death, however. The awards ceremony also has a Redeemer Award, for former Razzie winners who go on to do good movies. It was won by Ben Affleck, who received a Razzie for Gigli, but went on to give us Argo and Gone Girl. See the full list of winners at Uproxx.

(Image credit: Provident Films)


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Mission Impossible: The Raid on Cabanatuan

The following is an article from the book Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges Into History Again.

Saving the forgotten soldiers of World War II.

Nearly everybody knows about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. But few folks know about the bombing of Clark Field in the Philippines that happened only hours later. The French resistance is legendary -especially in bad movies. So where are the movies about the heroes of the Philippine resistance? And while Hitler’s concentration camps deserve their worldwide infamy, did you know that Allied troops in Philippine POW camps suffered starvation, torture, and outright murder?

If World War II in the Philippines is neglected in the history books, it was worse while the battles actually raged. Thousands of the USAFFE (United States Armed Forces in the Far East) figured they’d become “the forgotten.”

NO MAMA, NO PAPA, NO UNCLE SAM

Within weeks of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Imperial Army pushed American and Filipino troops out of Manila. They were forced into the jungles of the Bataan Peninsula and the Island of Corregidor where they were cut off from supplies. Hungry and suffering from tropical disease, the troops were promised by the commanding General Douglas MacArthur that “thousands of planes” with food, medicine, and reinforcements were on their way. But no help had arrived by March when MacArthur was ordered to leave and set up a command in Australia.

MacArthur promised “I shall return.” But the soldiers were cynical about promises. They already had a song that went, in part:

No Mama, no Papa, no Uncle Sam
No aunts, no uncles, no nephews, no nieces
No pills, no planes, no military pieces
And nobody gives a damn.

By April, Allied losses and the lack of supplies in Bataan were so bad that General King, the local commander, ordered the surrender of 70,000 troops (Filipinos and Americans) -the largest American army in history to surrender. Having made plans to accept the surrender of about 25,000 soldiers, the Japanese were overwhelmed with POWs.

THE HIKE

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At the Fair

You know when you think about it, animals are what a county or state fair is all about, whether you are showing them, winning them, or eating them. On a stick. This ad just put it all in a nutshell. Found at Bad Newspaper. 


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Sneaking into the Oscars

(YouTube link)

In 1988, film students Jack Saltzberg and David Teitelbaum put on tuxedos and went down to the Academy Awards ceremony. They didn't have tickets or press passes, and never expected to actually get in, but the opportunity presented itself and they strolled in like they belonged there, and talked to stars along the red carpet. The footage they shot was later shown on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. More recently, Vice interviewed David Teitelbaum about how the stunt came about, and what happened afterward. They got quite a bit of publicity out of it, which may or may not have helped his career in the industry. -via Metafilter 


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Profile for Miss Cellania

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