The Sunday Funnies & Factoids

May 3/14   The List Edition

Front_page_bob-300x176Happy first week of May one and all.  Tis nice to feel that Spring is in full swing.  A tad grey and cool but in no time summer will be upon us and we will have something entirely different to bitch about…. the heat and humidity.

Well, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, here is this weeks installment of the Sunday Funnies and Factoids.

Four very cool things Harper Lee did after penning To Kill a Mockingbird:

1. ROASTED A SMALL-MINDED SCHOOL BOARD In 1966, a Virginian school board elected to remove all copies of To Kill a Mockingbird from their libraries, citing the book as “immoral.” Outraged, Lee wrote a fiery letter to the Richmond News Leader condemning the group’s actions. “Recently,” she asserted, “I have received echoes down this way of the Hanover County School Board’s activities, and what I’ve heard makes me wonder if any of its members can read.” Lee went on to compare the officials in question to Orwellian dictators and capped off her epic beat-down by enclosing “a small contribution … that I hope will be used to enroll the Hanover County School Board in any first grade of its choice.”

2. HELPED TRUMAN CAPOTE WORK ON IN COLD BLOOD Lee’s childhood friend Truman Capote asked her to accompany him on a trip to the small town of Holcomb, Kansas in 1959 to investigate the recent murder of a wealthy family under mysterious circumstances. It didn’t take long for Capote to discover that his companion had a much easier time talking to the locals, an ability which proved invaluable to his efforts. Lee was so dedicated to the case that she not only wrote 150 pages of notes for Capote, but also took a week-long vacation during the pre-production of To Kill a Mockingbird ‘s film adaptation to rejoin him in Kansas so they might further examine the suspects. Truman’s best-selling account of the incident, In Cold Blood, became an instant sensation.

3. WAS AWARDED THE PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM Though she generally declines interview requests, Lee made a rare public appearance in 2007 to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Fellow recipients that year included geneticist Francis Collins and former House Foreign Affairs committee chairman Henry Hyde.

4. WROTE AN IMPASSIONED DEFENSE OF BOOKS AND LIBRARIES In 2006, Lee composed an open letter to Oprah Winfrey’s O magazine that discussed her love of books. Her thoughts should be required reading for bookworms of all ages: “[In] an abundant society where people have laptops, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books. Instant information is not for me: I still prefer to search library stacks because when I work to learn something, I remember it. And Oprah, can you imagine curling up in bed to read a computer? Weeping for Anna Karenina and being terrified by Hannibal Lecter, entering the heart of darkness with Mistah Kurtz, having Holden Caulfield ring you up–some things should happen on soft pages, not cold metal.”

7 Priceless Items  People Sold on eBay:

1. ONE OF ALBERT EINSTEIN’S HANDWRITTEN LETTERS

Starting Price: $3 million
Sold For: $3,000,100

In 1954, the great physicist penned a candidly-worded letter to Jewish philosopher Erik Gutkind in which he defended his views on ethics, religion, and human nature. Nearly six decades later, it caused a minor media sensation by showing up on eBay.

2. THE ORIGINAL “HOLLYWOOD” SIGN

Starting Price: $300,000
Sold For: $450,400

“I hope the winning bidder has exciting plans for it,” said the sign’s previous owner, Dan Bliss. Built in 1923 as a real-estate gimmick, the maiden set of oversized “Hollywood” letters overlooked Los Angeles until it was replaced by a newer group in 1978. The former landmark finally found a new home after being auctioned off in 2005.

3. A CHUNK OF MARS

Starting Price: $450,000
Sold For: $450,000

What’s a Martian meteorite, you ask? It’s a piece of rock that was formed on the Red Planet, knocked into space by an asteroid or comet impact, that somehow managed to crash-land on Earth. As one can imagine, the odds against this happening are, well, astronomical! In fact, of the over 60,000 meteorite specimens known to science, only 132 hail from Mars. A fragment from one of these was auctioned away in 2003.

4. A NEW SPECIES OF SEA URCHIN

Starting Price: $9.50
Sold For: $138.00

Draped in warm hues of cream and purple, the Coelopleurus exquisitus urchin is a dazzling animal. But incredibly, marine biologists didn’t discover it by exploring the open sea. Instead, they found it on eBay. Simon Coppard of the Natural History museum in London, along with a colleague, determined that a specimen being sold there by one collector did, in fact, hail from a species previously unknown to science.

5. THE TUSCAN VILLAGE OF PRATARICCIA

Starting Price: $5 Million
Sold For: $3.1 Million

Located 22 miles east of Florence, Pratariccia boasts some 25 homes spread over twenty acres of land. The owners of Pratariccia’s real estate had, according to the mayor of a neighboring town, “tried and failed to sell the village through agencies for years but … got a lot of attention by putting it on eBay.” While this new tactic eventually paid off, they ultimately received $1.9 million less than their original asking price.

6. THE TOWN OF BRIDGEVILLE, CA

Starting Price: $750,000.00 (at first).
Status: Sold—twice!

“You get an entire working town,” proclaimed a 2002 post, “with shops, woodworking, plumbing, gas, and electrical… With the proper development, Bridgeville can become an economic powerhouse with the potential for generating a large cash flow.” The highest bidder would even acquire his/her very own zip code: 95526. An anonymous businessman emerged victorious by laying down an impressive $1.77 million, but backed out of the deal upon actually visiting some of Bridgeville’s desolate shacks. Nevertheless, the town did find a new buyer that year, who proceeded to turn around and re-sell it on eBay in 2006—this time for$1.25 million. Since then, it has changed hands yet again (without eBay’s help).

7. THE MEANING OF LIFE

Starting Price: $0.01
Sold For: $3.26

A mystical North Carolinian decided to give Monty Python a run for its money back in 2000. “I have discovered the reason for existence,” he wrote, “and will be happy to share this information with the highest bidder.” Since then, neither the buyer nor seller has gone public with the contents of his revelation.

BONUS: A LONG-LOST STATUE FROM ANCIENT GREECE

Starting Price: $500,000.00
Status: NOT SOLD.

Imagine finding a half-ton, anatomically-correct sculpture sitting on your doorstep. While snorkeling near Gaza, Palestinian fisherman Jwdat Abu Ghrb spotted a strange object embedded in the ocean floor. It turned out to be a 2500-year-old statue depicting the Greek God Apollo. And—unsurprisingly—its lack of garments left nothing to the imagination, which didn’t sit well with Ghrb’s stunned mother when he brought his discovery home. Local authorities quickly seized the find. Shortly thereafter, it was offered up for sale on eBay (posed over a “Smurfs-themed beach towel”) before being taken down at the request of some distraught archaeologists.

Happy May! Check out all the quirky holidays you can celebrate.

1. MAY 1: LEI DAY You’ve heard of May Day, but this is the Hawaiian equivalent. Celebrate the islands’ culture with lei-making contests, Hawaiian food and music, and even the crowning of the Lei Queen.

2. MAY 3: FREE COMIC BOOK DAY Ever since 2002, the first Saturday of May has seen participating independent comic book stores across the country hand out their wares for free. Over 3 million comic books are given away each year!

3. MAY 4: STAR WARS DAY “May the fourth be with you.” Get it?

4. & 5. MAY 6: NO DIET DAY AND NO HOMEWORK DAY Although they weren’t created in conjunction, these seem appropriately paired for both children and adults to let loose a little and just indulge.

6. MAY 8: NO SOCKS DAY The pitch for this holiday cites the lighter load of laundry foregoing socks will create. This seems specious at best–how big are your socks?–but let’s all hope it will be sandal weather by this point, in which case you should definitely do without socks.

7. MAY 9: FINTASTIC FRIDAY: GIVING SHARKS A VOICE! Not to be confused with Shark Week, this is a day sponsored by WhaleTimes Inc. and the Shark Research Institute to promote awareness of the plight of sharks and update their image.

8. MAY 10: NATIONAL TRAIN DAY This is the seventh annual National Train Day, which celebrates the day on which the “golden spike” was driven into the final tie that connected the Central Pacific and Union Continental railroads, creating a country unified by train travel.

9. MAY 11: MOTHER’S DAY But not just Mother’s Day–the 100th anniversary of the creation of Mother’s Day by Congressional legislation in 1914 as a response to Anna Jarvis’ letter-writing campaign.

10. MAY 12: LIMERICK DAY Observed annually on the birthday of English author Edward Lear, whose 1846 A Book of Nonsense helped bring the lyrical form to popularity.

11. MAY 16: NATIONAL PIZZA PARTY DAY Last month we had a day dedicated to Chicago’s deep dish, but this is a little different. Designed to mark the school year winding down, celebrate with the one thing sure to make even the surliest student happy: a pizza party.

12. MAY 18: INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM DAY This will be the 37th annual celebration of the many cultural institutions around the world.

13. MAY 19-26: NATIONAL BACKYARD GAMES WEEK Break out the bocce, horseshoes, and croquet mallets! The weather will (hopefully) be warm enough to spend your free time outdoors by the end of May, so this is the week to try out as many silly lawn games as you can.

14. MAY 22: WORLD GOTH DAY I don’t know if Hot Topic is still in business, but this would be the day to find out.

15. MAY 23: INTERNATIONAL WORLD TURTLE DAY You can be sure mental_floss will have the fun facts.

16. MAY 24: INTERNATIONAL TIARA DAY Embrace your inner princess.

17. MAY 25: TOWEL DAY Carry a towel with you wherever you go on this day to honor the life and work of Douglas Adams because, as any good interstellar hitchhiker knows, a towel “is about the most massively useful thing”.

Stay happy and healthy all week long and I will see you back here next Sunday.

Keith