Single Random Facts

Frank, not that button.

  • The Neil Simon Theatre, renamed from the Alvin Theater in 1983, is the first Broadway venue to be named for a living playwright (and the 2nd named for a playwright; Eugene O’Neill had passed away when his theater was named in 1959).

Tangentially, I had 2nd row tickets to see the production of The Last Ship at the Simon in 2014, but the show closed before I got there. I wound up seeing Aladdin instead.


Part of the below depicted is a “whoopee cap.”

Know it, acknowledge it, but do not wear it.



Goober and Jughead. That’s it.


Crown made from cutting up a perfectly good hat!


The Palace Theatre in New York City, the interior of which is a registered historic landmark, has been successfully lifted thirty feet up from its original ground-level position as part of a redevelopment project.


The real villain of “It’s a Wonderful Life” is Uncle Billy!


And now, Random Facts Woman presents, historical events that no one ever really talks about!

  1. In the late 1970s, billionaire Howard Hughes suddenly began building a huge prototype ship that was going to be used to vacuum valuable minerals from the ocean floor… which turned out to be just the cover story for a highly classified CIA operation to recover an advanced Soviet submarine, which had sunk in Pacific waters. Sadly, word eventually got out thanks to a raid of one of Hughes’ offices, forcing the U.S. to coin the term “we can neither confirm nor deny” in response to the myriad questions from the media regarding the operation. It was at least a partial success; the ship was able to raise part of the sub from the ocean floor, but the insatiable need of the press to break a story ruined the rest of the operation.

  2. In 1876, an inexplicable shower of meat began falling from the sky near Olympia Springs, Kentucky. Upon examination, the meat was determined to either be tissue from a horse… or possibly a human infant. Not that this prevented a couple of people from tasting the meat. No one theory has emerged to explain the meat shower, but scientists believe that it could have come from a flock of (blech) vomiting vultures. Vultures are known to vomit when they feel threatened, and if one vulture sees another one vomiting they will usually vomit as well. All of which makes the fact that two men TASTED the meat an even more revolting prospect…

  3. In 1985, tensions between MOVE, a Black liberation group in Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Police, rose to a breaking point when the group refused to move out of the quiet residential neighborhood they’d been inhabiting, despite an eviction notice from the mayor. On May 13th, nearly 500 police converged on the residence and tried to forcibly remove the seven adults and six children who were present; the adults responded by opening fire on the police. After the gunfight, the police ordered a satchel bomb laced with Tovex, a dynamite substitute, be dropped on the house from a helicopter. The house proceeded to go up in flames, killing 11 people and destroying 61 other homes on the block, leaving 250 people homeless. The actions of the police were ruled unconscionable in 1986, not that that helped either the people who died or were left homeless…

  4. In December of 1914, Ernest Shackleton set out on an expedition to reach Antarctica aboard his ship, the Endurance, a feat he’d already attempted twice before. Upon reaching the barrier of ice around Antarctica, his 60 man crew steadily worked to chip the ice away in order to push the boat through, but a heavy wind rose up several days into this endeavor and pushed all the chipped ice back together, trapping the Endurance in the ice, unable to move forward or backward. With nothing they could do to mitigate the issue, the crew was forced to spend the remainder of the winter in the hopes that the ice would melt enough to free the ship when winter ended. Attempts to walk across the ice to reach land failed when the group that tried only managed to make it seven miles over the course of a full week. It took until April of 1916, nearly a year and a half later, for the ice to break up enough to allow the Endurance to break free closer to land, and the crew, half with dysentery and most quite frankly insane, finally touched dry land on Elephant Island on April 15th. After several days went by, Shackleton and a few other crew members set out on a lifeboat in search of aid, and reached land two weeks later, hiking to Stromness, a Scottish town to round up help to rescue the rest of the crew. It took until August 1916 for the rest of the crew to be picked up; the Endurance herself sunk in the meantime, and was only finally discovered in 2022 nearly perfectly preserved in the Antarctic waters.

  5. On January 15th, 1919, a large storage tank of molasses in the North End neighborhood of Boston, filled with approximately 2.3 million gallons of molasses, burst open, due largely to the haphazard construction of the receptacle, which had been built in response to an elevated demand for molasses products during WWI. The resulting wave of molasses rushed through the streets, approximately 15 feet high and traveling at nearly 35 miles per hour; police and firefighters arrived on the scene soon thereafter to find the molasses already receding, but soon dropping temperatures began freezing the molasses, trapping bodies and debris in the sticky mess. Some people even drowned in the molasses. All told, 21 people died, and hundreds were injured. Residents of the area sued the company that owned the tank, United States Industrial Alcohol; the company insisted that someone had sabotaged the tank, forcing the legal proceedings to last for nearly five years. Finally the courts ruled that the company was at fault and ordered them to pay those affected $628,000, or approximately $8 million in today’s money.

  6. On October 30th, 1938, Orson Welles broadcast “The War of the Worlds” on the radio, and everyone proceeded to panic and run through the streets yammering about the incoming waves of Martians who would destroy everything! Except… that’s not what REALLY happened. The confusion about the veracity of the broadcast was largely confined to only a few small towns, and residents called the authorities or newspaper offices to ask whether the story was true. Newspapers then began publishing stories about how the radio broadcast had caused hysteria to sweep the nation, despite that not really being the case. Turns out, the newspapers possibly made up the stories in order to create distrust in radio, the newspaper heads being allegedly worried that radio would overtake and supplant newspapers, but no one’s really sure if that’s actually the case or if the newspapers just exaggerated the few reports of people believing the broadcast… you know, sort of like they do with journalism in the 24-hour news era.

  7. On May 31, 1889, the residents of Johnstown, PA gathered their belongings in anticipation of a yearly flood that typically occurred due to heavy rains and headed for higher ground. 14 miles away, the South Fork dam, which held back a nearby lake, was struggling to keep up with the heavy rains, with officials trying to find a solution to keep the dam from failing, increasing the height, trying to dig a second spillway to relieve the pressure, and even sending a man to Johnstown to warn the residents that the dam was likely to fail, but the message was never delivered. At around 3PM, the dam burst, sending the waters of the lake into Johnstown with the approximate force of Niagara Falls, and carrying the added bonus of 14 miles of debris that had accumulated, resulting in a wave up to 40 feet high and half a mile wide. The resulting death toll? 2,208 people, plus a massive pile of debris that stretched for more than 30 acres and took three months to remove (officials even had to blow up portions of it with dynamite). No one was ever held liable for the dam’s failure.

  8. In 1958, a routine combat simulation on a B-47 bomber set out with a 7,600 bomb… a live one, I might add… on board. At about 2AM, the plane collided with an F-86 fighter plane after the pilot of that plane had ejected himself, causing the B-47 to plummet nearly 18,000 feet until the pilot could get it back under control. Worried about his plane, the pilot asked to drop the bomb, which was in danger of exploding during an emergency landing, and received permission, dropping the bomb over the ocean near Tybee Island, GA. With no visible explosion, officials presumed the bomb had not exploded and had sunk into the ocean instead. The next day, crews were sent to try to retrieve the bomb, which had unclear capabilities (some believed it contained a plutonium core, although there’s no concrete evidence for this). Air Force and Navy personnel combed the ocean for the bomb, but were unable to locate it, finally calling off the search nearly two months later. No unusual amounts of nuclear radiation have been detected in the surrounding waters.

  9. In 1963, the Kingsmen released a cover of “Louie Louie”, a song originally written by Richard Berry in 1955, whose lyrics are famously slurred and mumbled to the point of being unintelligible. Parents soon became worried that the song contained vulgar language when they realized their children were attempting to decipher the lyrics and were passing notes containing what they thought the words were, and began pressing government officials to investigate. The FBI subsequently spent two years analyzing the song, finally saying that it was indecipherable at all speeds they played it at and determining that they couldn’t figure out what the song was trying to say. Oddly, they never actually contacted Jack Ely, the singer of the song, to actually, you know, ASK him what the song was about. Ely later commented that he had braces while recording the track, which possibly contributed to the lyrics being hard to make out, and the song itself is well known to be the story of a sailor pining over a girl, nothing more, nothing less.

  10. Well we all know about the current pandemic, and a lot of people know about the famous flu pandemic that stretched from 1918 to approximately 1921… but did you know there was ANOTHER flu pandemic in 1957? No? Well that’s largely because of one man; Maurice Hilleman. He was a well-respected microbiologist who, upon hearing that a deadly respiratory virus had originated in East Asia (hmmm… that seems to be a pattern), predicted that it would begin to infect Americans right as the school year started. When government officials ignored Hilleman’s pleas for action, Hilleman turned to the pharmaceutical companies, who, while skeptical of Hilleman’s claims, at least respected him enough to take action and begin producing vaccines for the flu strain, named H2N2. The result was, when the virus did hit America like Hilleman predicted, the vaccines were already in production, and while 1.1 million people died worldwide, only 116,000 died in the US of the 20 million or so who were infected. Researchers believe that without Hilleman’s swift actions, at least a million more Americans would have died. Oh, if only we’d had a Hilleman during THIS pandemic…

  11. After the 1862 Battle of Shiloh during the American Civil War, some injured soldiers noted a strange, greenish-blue glow emanating from their wounds; those who experienced the glow soon began to recover faster than those who didn’t experience it, and doctors soon realized that those with glowing wounds had lower infection rates. Nobody at the time knew what the glow was, but began referring to it as “Angel’s Glow”. In 2001, a high schooler named Bill Martin learned of the phenomenon and decided he wanted to investigate it for a school project. With the help of a microbiologist, Martin soon found that the battleground was a breeding ground for a glowing bateria called Photorhabdus luminscens, which couldn’t normally live on humans, but the conditions following the Battle of Shiloh meant that the bacteria was able to survive; the area was damp and cold, and many of the soldiers suffered from hypothermia. The bacteria on those soldiers who had it fought off infections and consumed other dangerous pathogens, explaining the quicker healing times and lower rates of infection. Martin and his partners have earned international recognition for this discovery, and well-earned I say.

And that’s it for historical events you probably don’t know about!


The best part of this story?

There’s a part of “Louie Louie” (at around the 0:54 mark) where the drummer screws up a drum fill and yells the F-word.

After two years of investigating/analyzing the song and a report comprising 119 pages, they somehow missed that.


Forget the FBI; how did I not know that? Thank you for that wonderful tidbit of info!


Very welcome - cheers!

1 Like

OMG you can hear it… I never heard it before! It’s way in the background though!


…And youtube views of Louie Louie spiked on that June friday in 2022 and no one can quite explain why…


They could have just… listened to Richard Berry’s original recording, in which he sings the lyrics quite clearly:


The notorious “Glomar Response.” If you’ve never read the story of the USNS Hughes Glomar Explorer and “Project Azorian” (erroneously referred to as “Project Jennifer,” originally), it’s a fascinating bit of Cold War history. And guess what the CIA’s first official tweet on Twitter was?

This is the Tybee Island incident. Just one month later, another atomic bomb was accidentally dropped on Mars Bluff, SC — and detonated! The bomb had not been armed, however, and the fissile nuclear core was still onboard the plane. But the bomb was still powerful enough to injure six people on the ground and damage seven buildings.


In a weird coincidence, the weekly staff recommendation FB post from my local library was for a book about this.


The whaling station was on the northern end of South Georgea, and they had landed at the southern tip; after all that travel in the lifeboat from Elephant Island, they still had to hike across the entire width of an island that had not yet been mapped. Two men remained with the boat, and the other three made the trip. Took them a day and a half of non-stop walking.

The lifeboat ride itself was epic. You had the Frank Worsley, who was the Endurance’s captain, navigating; which meant he had to stand up in the lifeboat in rough seas and freezing weather, with two of the other men hugging his legs to anchor him while he took compass and sextant readings of the position of the sun. When you consider how a sextant is used, hitting South Georgia at all was itself a superhuman feat of navigation.

Seven kilometres south of where Worsley said it was.


If you’re in the mood for the thrill of a lifetime, why not hop on in the car – heck, take the whole family along – and head on out to Chico, CA. In addition to being perhaps the best known American city named after a Marx Brother, Chico is also home to the National Yo-Yo Museum where you and the little tykes can stand in wonder before (or beside) the World’s LARGEST Yo-yo!

I have been there.

I have seen this.

I’m a better person for it.


Can you walk the dog with that?


I think only if his name is Clifford.