Tell us an interesting random fact you stumbled across

I suspect many dopers are interested in lots of far-flung concepts and disciplines beyond what the daily grind demands. As an hommage to liberal arts education and pop culture and that spirit of lifelong learning, give us a random fact you learned. Quirky, unexpected, funny, something that made you say “a-ha!” or whatever you like… And you can play more than once if you like.

I’ll start: Harry S. Truman’s middle name is S. Wikipedia says:
His middle name, “S” honors his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young.[7]**

Most of mine go in Thread Games/Trivia Dominos (Q.V.). I think there are only about five posters who ever see them there.

There are no bodies in the concrete of the Hoover Dam.

I was watching the John Travolta / Debra Winger movie Urban Cowboy the other day, which was set in Gilley’s nightclub in Houston. Mickey Gilley appears in the film, playing music, and I was struck by how his piano style sure seemed familiar. I looked up some videos and thought, “Huh, he plays just like Jerry Lee Lewis.”

Turns out, they’re cousins*. They grew up together, and Lewis taught Gilley his piano technique. Whaddya know. Here’s a video of them playing together.

*Jerry Lee sure had some interesting relationships with his cousins… :smiley:

I was reading about A Charlie Brown Christmas today (don’t ask how I got there), and learned that the kid who voiced Charlie Brown, Peter Robbins, was in the last few years charged with stalking and threats of violence against four people including a police officer, and spent four years in prison, and was released just last year. Didn’t expect that.

Somebody must have snatched away the football once too often to finally make him snap.

i always thought Jumbo the Elephant was named Jumbo because he was big. Actually it is the other way around. Big things are called jumbo because of him.


In Australia in every state around 1/2 of the population lives in the area of the state capital city.

From today’s Wikipedia “Did you know?” page:

The oldest building in the United States was first built in 12th century Spain. St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church was taken apart in 1926, shipped to the US, put in storage, and finally reconstruction began in 1952.

My son asked me what the difference was, if any, between his favorite “napoleon” pastry and what was termed a “mille-feuilles” at the pastry shop the last time I got it for him.

I told him mille-feuilles was just the French name, like the Italian mille-foglio which we’d also had in Italy a few years back, and I supposed calling a “Napoleon” was something British dating back to the 19th Century.

Then I looked it up on Wikipedia. Well, that wasn’t quite true. But that isn’t the fun fact that’s stuck in my head.

It’s that in the UK and other “Commonwealth” nations, they’re commonly called “custard slices” (which makes sense, due to the custard-like filling)…

…And specifically in Australia, they’re also slangily referred to as “snot blocks”.

Oh I like this one…!

I was going to say, what about the “original” London Bridge that didn’t fall down but was instead taken apart and rebuilt somewhere in Arizona when they rebuilt it back in the 1960s, … But it turns out that that “original” London Bridge was one from the 1830s and not the one from Elizabethan times that dated back to the 1200s. Which this church would still be older than anyway, it seems!

When MGM was getting ready to film The Wizard of Oz somebody in the costume department was sent out to a used clothing store to get a jacket for Professor Marvel to wear. A 1910-era coat was found in Frank Morgan’s size, it was in good shape, and it was a nice dark color, so it was bought and brought back to the studio. Before it was cleaned the jacket was inspected thoroughly and a label showing that the jacket had once belonged to L. Frank Baum was sewn in. His widow was shown the jacket and recognized it as one of his.

That’s really great!

I also recently read a trivia thing about film The Wizard of Oz that was new to me: the terrier dog playing “Toto” was paid a higher salary not just than the little people playing the “Munchkins” were, which I’d read as a one-line blurb some time in the past, but in fact was paid more than any human in the film not one of the five leads (Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and The Wizard). Yes, even more than The Wicked Witch of the West!

This was because the dog was highly trained, difficult or impossible to replace, and is in pretty much the entire movie along with Dorothy.

It is a great story, and one that I repeated for many years. Unfortunately, it’s quite possible it was just concocted or embellished for publicity for the movie. Snopes says

This completely changes a joke they did on “The Office”. When Angela was trying to delay her marriage to Andy she gave him a list of impossible requirements for their wedding which included a 1000 year old church located in the continental United States.

one of the London bridges was built around 1830 and was taken apart and moved to Arizona in 1968 and put back together.

Good grief. :smack:
I’m a sucker for a good fact, and sports is full of 'em. Here’s two I like:

The winning percentage of the 1927 Yankees (considered one of the best baseball teams of all time, and which included Babe Ruth hitting 60 home runs) is .714. This number happens to match the Babe’s lifetime homerun total.

In 1961, the year that Roger Maris hit 61 homeruns to top Ruth’s record, he received exactly 0 intentional walks. Why? Well, Mickey Mantle (one of the best baseball players of all time) was batting behind him.

The world’s smallest park is Mill Ends Park on a safety island on SW Front Avenue, Portland, Oregon.