Did you know that the footprints and handprints in front of Grauman’s Theatre in Los Angeles started by accident?
Way back in 1927, Sid Grauman escorted Mary Pickford and Norma Talmadge to see his new theatre, which was still under construction. As she stepped out of the car, Talmadge accidently stepped into wet sidewalk cement. Grauman realized the publicity value of the incident and immediately asked Mary Pickford to leave her footprint in the cement too. Thus began a lasting Hollywood tradition, which may or may not appeal to you depending on your feelings about handprints and footprints.
Here’s a classic —and classical — example of misjudged and unappreciated talent involving the famous pianist Jan Paderewski. When he was leaving for London to play his first recital there, he asked a prominent fellow countryman to give him a letter of introduction to influential British businessmen who might assist him financially.
The letter was in a sealed envelope and, as it turned out, Paderewski never actually gave it to anyone. Years later, he came across the envelope and opened it. It read: “This will introduce Jan Paderewski, who plays the piano, for which he demonstrates no conspicuous talent.”
The rain in Spain is sometimes red (with apologies to Lerner and Lowe).
The so-called “blood rains” of Europe used to cause great alarm among the people of that continent. In the past, they didn’t know the scientific explanation for the phenomenon and the pinkish rain was thought to be diluted blood.
Even today, there are occasionally “blood rains” in Italy, southern France, and southeastern Europe. The reason? Storms lift reddish desert dust up from the Sahara and then blow billions of these particles across the Mediterranean into the cloudbanks above Europe. They’re washed down as “red rain.”
Continuing with this “rainy” theme. Do you know who gets the most rain on this watery planet? Every year in Cherrapungi, India, it rains about 432 inches (10,973 millimetres). Incredibly, that’s 36 feet of rain per year, or almost 11 metres.
To get a puddle perspective of that annual Indian monsoon, consider that here in Winnipeg we average about 20 inches (508 millimetres) of rain annually, Vancouver gets very wet to the tune of 60 inches (1,524 millimetres), London, England, about 25 inches (635 millimetres), Los Angeles gets 15 inches (381 millimetres), New York, about 40 inches (1,016 millimtres), and Bergen, Norway, is dreadfully damp with almost 75 inches (1,905 millimetres) of rain each year. But even that seems dry as a desert when compared to Cherrapungi.
The Pentagon is one of the cleverest office buildings in the world, in addition to being the largest. The total floor area of the Pentagon is 6.5 million square feet.
And why is it so clever? Well, first of all, because it's in Arlington, Virginia. (I always thought it was in Washington, how about you?)
And secondly, because, even with its massive size, no two offices in the building are more than six walking minutes away from each other.
Blind as a bat? Not true. Did you know that bats are not actually blind?
Though the vision of these winged mammals is extremely poor, they fly very accurately by radar, emitting high-pitched sounds and then picking up the echo with their super-sensitive ears.
But when you're on the lake in a boat at dusk, and the bats start swooping by, it’s hard to believe that they know where they’re going. Thank goodness for that internal radar.