Sunday, January 9, 2011

Useless Information--Part 1 of 3

Part one of three


While looking for something else, I came cross a book I had forgotten about…a book I purchased about four years ago—The Book Of Useless Information, an official publication of The Useless Information Society. It has a 2006 copyright date.

I'm a long time (as well as big time) trivia fan, so I stopped what I was doing and started randomly flipping through the book. Half an hour later I was still standing in front of the bookcase thumbing through the pages.

Since I hadn't written today's blog yet, I decided to share some of this useless information with you. The contents of the book are broken down into thirteen categories which I'm going to break up into three blogs, continuing next two weeks. I'll share a few items from each category.

HALL OF FAME: Thomas Jefferson anonymously submitted design plans for the White House, they were rejected. Andrew Jackson was the only president to believe that the world is flat. James Garfield could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other—simultaneously. Gerald Ford was once a male model. Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer. Adolph Hitler was Time magazine's Man Of The Year in 1938. The shortest British monarch was Charles I, who was four-feet nine-inches tall. When young and impoverished, Pablo Picasso kept warm by burning his own paintings. Christopher Columbus had blond hair.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT: Tom Hanks is related to Abraham Lincoln. Tommy Lee Jones and Vice President Al Gore were freshmen roommates at Harvard. Elizabeth Taylor appeared on the cover of Life magazine more than anyone else. Charlie Chaplin once won third prize in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest. In high school, Robin Williams was voted the least likely to succeed. Mick Jagger attended the London School of Economics for two years. Parker Brothers prints about $50 billion worth of Monopoly money in a year, more than issued annually by the U.S. Government. Kermit the Frog is left-handed. Peanuts is the world's most read comic strip. Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, was allergic to carrots. Alfred Hitchcock never won an Academy Award for directing.

THE LITERARY WORLD: During his entire lifetime Herman Melville's classic Moby Dick only sold fifty copies. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein at the age of nineteen. Tom Sawyer was the first novel written on a typewriter. Arthur Conan Doyle never had Sherlock Holmes say "Elementary, my dear Watson." The word cop came from the English term "Constable on Patrol." The most used letter in the English language is E with Q being the least used. The oldest word in the English language is town. The only fifteen letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable. Bookkeeper is the only word in the English language with three consecutive double letters. In England in the 1880s, pants was considered a dirty word. Polish is the only word in the English language that, when capitalized, is changed from a noun or a verb to a nationality.

ON THE MENU: On average, there are 178 sesame seeds on each McDonald's Big Mac bun. Coca-Cola was originally green. A full seven percent of the Irish barley crop goes to the production of Guinness beer. The first man to distill bourbon whiskey was a Baptist preacher in 1789. Almonds are a member of the peach family. You use more calories eating celery than there are in celery itself. The oldest known vegetable is the pea. Tomatoes and cucumbers are fruits. There is no such thing as blue food, even blueberries are purple. The only food that does not spoil is honey.

This is only a small sampling of the first four sections of the book. Anyone have any interesting trivia bits that fall within these four categories?

Next week I'll continue with some samples from the second group of four sections. And the week after that I'll do the final five sections.

16 comments:

Christine Young said...

I think many writers are fans of trivia. After all many great ideas are born of trivia. Thanks for sharing. If you have time stop by my blog and share a comment or two.
http://christineyoung-romancewriter.blogspot.com/

Redameter said...

I love trivia, although I can rarely remember it later.

Sad about Moby Dick. Just goes to show you who is famous and how long it took them to become that way.

Enjoyed it.

Love and blessings
Rita

Toni V.S. said...

I have a feeling if Melville tried to market his novel today, it would be turned down flat. "Cut all that information about whales, add some love interest and change the locale," would probably be his agent's suggestions...if he could find an agent.

Trivia's always fun though as it says "completely useless" except perhaps if you're a contestant on Jeopardy.

Maeve said...

What a neat post! Thanks for sharing this - we've got a guy at work who prides himself on knowing "useless" trivia. I can go to work "well-armed" and see if he knows any of these facts. :-)

Samantha Gentry said...

Christine: Oh so true about a story idea being sparked by a bit of trivia.

Thanks for stopping by.

Samantha Gentry said...

Rita: Melville's lack of sales for what has become a literary classic reminds me of Van Gogh who sold almost none of his paintings during his lifetime. Wouldn't he be shocked at their value today.

Samantha Gentry said...

Toni: LOL...you're right. Many of the novels now considered classics wouldn't be given a second look if they were submitted new in today's market. Authors 'back then' were paid one time flat rate by the word rather than a royalty payment on sales. So it would be rejection for sure...too wordy, too much description, too slow pacing, dialogue stilted, etc.

Samantha Gentry said...

Maeve: Thanks. And I have two more weeks of useless trivia tidbits to share. :)

Lilly Gayle said...

I love this stuff! In fact, at my "day" job I'm teased for having a headful of useless knowledge.I've added this info to my collection. lol!

Samantha Gentry said...

Hi, Lilly: Hope you find an appropriate place to "drop it casually into the coversation." :)

Miranda Stowe said...

hey, there were only 174 seeds on my bun this morning. I feel so cheated!! Honestly, who counts that.

What fun facts. Thanks.

Samantha Gentry said...

Miranda: That's a good question! It's probably the same person who counts the chips in chocolate chip cookies -- someone with way too much time on their hands. :)

Thanks for stopping by.

Cindy Jacks said...

Awesome facts, Samantha...thanks for sharing with us.

Grace Elliot said...

Another trivia fan - excellent!

Samantha Gentry said...

Cindy: And there's two more weeks of blogs coming up from The Book Of Useless Information. :)

Samantha Gentry said...

Thanks, Grace. Can one ever have too much trivia? :)