Read an Excerpt
...of More Perfectly Useless Information
By Mitchell Symons
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2006
All right reserved.
Pure Trivia, I
Trivia was a Roman goddess to whom sacrifices were offered at crossroads. Because travelers often engaged in idle gossip at crossroads, Trivia's name (referring to three roads coming together) came to be associated with the sort of information exchanged in such places.
Donald Duck's middle name is Fauntleroy. Quackmore Duck is the name of Donald Duck's father.
During U.S. conscription for World War II, there were nine documented cases of men with three testicles.
Eighty-two percent of the Beatles music was about love.
The name Wendy was made up for the play Peter Pan.
The pitches that Babe Ruth hit for his last-ever home run and that Joe DiMaggio hit for his first-ever home run were thrown by the same man.
Every time Beethoven sat down to write music, he poured ice water over his head.
Venetian blinds were invented in Japan.
Alfred Hitchcock didn't have a belly button. It was eliminated when he was sewn up after surgery.
Windmills turn counterclockwise.
The Nike swoosh was invented by Caroline Davidson back in 1971. She received $35 for making the swoosh.
The name of the character behind bars in the Monopoly board game is Jake the Jailbird.
Half the world's population has seen at least one James Bondmovie.
Naturalists use marshmallows to lure alligators out of swamps.
Twenty percent of all road accidents in Sweden involve an elk.
The name Yucatán comes from the Maya for "listen to how they speak"--which is what the Maya said when they first heard the Spanish.
M&M's were developed so that soldiers could eat chocolate without getting their fingers sticky.
An ant lion is neither an ant nor a lion. It is the larval form of the lacewing fly.
The bark of the redwood tree is fireproof. Fires in redwood forests take place inside the trees.
Amethyst was once thought to prevent drunkenness.
Fifty percent of Americans live within 50 miles of their birthplace.
The first time women and men used separate toilets was in 1739 at a Paris ball.
Ice cream cones were first served at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis.
Dubbed laughter was used on American television for the first time on September 9, 1950.
The first toilet tank seen on U.S. TV was on Leave It to Beaver.
Dr. W. S. Halstead was the first to use rubber gloves during surgery in 1890.
The first sport to have a world championship was billiards, in 1873.
Benjamin Franklin was the first person to suggest daylight savings time.
The first in-flight movie was shown on a Lufthansa flight on April 6, 1925.
The first couple to be shown in bed together on U.S. prime-time TV was Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
Austria was the first country to use postcards.
John Lennon's first girlfriend was named Thelma Pickles.
The first product to have a bar code was Wrigley's gum.
The first plastic ever invented was celluloid in 1868. It's still used today to make billiard balls.
The first mosque in the United States was built in 1893.
Sugar was first added to chewing gum in 1869--by a dentist.
The first telegraph message tapped by its inventor, Samuel Morse, was "What hath God wrought?"
Iceland was the first country to legalize abortion, in 1935.
The first words spoken on the telephone by its inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, were "Watson, come here, I need you."
Whoopi Goldberg acquired her first name because she had a problem with flatulence.
The first words spoken on the phonograph by its inventor, Thomas Edison, were "Mary had a little lamb."
Captain Cook was the first man to set foot on all continents (except Antarctica).
In 1776, Croatia was the first country to recognize the United States.
Beethoven's Fifth was the first symphony to include trombones.
"It was a cold bright day in April, and the clocks were striking 13." (1984 by George Orwell)
"Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him." (Brighton Rock by Graham Greene)
"As Gregor Samsa woke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect." (Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka)
"Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again." (Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier)
"Happy families are all alike, but an unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." (Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy)
"There were 117 psychoanalysts on the Pan Am flight to Vienna and I'd been treated by at least six of them." (Fear of Flying by Erica Jong)
"What's it going to be then, eh?" (A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess)
"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." (One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez)
"Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed." (Ulysses by James Joyce)
"I'm going to get that bloody bastard if I die in the attempt." (King Rat by James Clavell)
"On top of everything, the cancer wing was number 13." (The Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn)
"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth." (The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger)
Brian May: "Rock Island Line" (Lonnie Donegan)
Moby: "Live and Let Die" (Wings)
Mick Hucknall: "God Save the Queen" (The Sex Pistols)
Samantha Mumba: "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves" (The Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin)
Paul McCartney: "Be-Bop-A-Lula" (Gene Vincent)
Excerpted from This Book
by Mitchell Symons
Copyright © 2006 by Mitchell Symons.
Excerpted by permission.
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