Monday, May 27, 2013

Is That a Fact?: 10 Things I Can't Believe I Didn't Already Know

1. Melissa McCarthy and Jenny McCarthy are cousins. I had no idea until earlier this year when Jenny came to Melissa's defense after Rex Reed wrote a review of Identify Thief that took some low blows at Melissa's wide girth. (Before stooping to calling fat people "hippos," Reed really should research how badass deadly -- and fast! -- those wild beasts are, which is something else I recently learned.) Was the familial connection between the two funny ladies common knowledge to everyone but me?

2. Roquefort is a blue cheese. A little new knowledge I gained from mi amiga behind the counter at the local panaderia when I asked her to identify the strange looking stuff between the ham and bread in the sandwiches de miga above the ones with queso y atun. She acted like I must never have heard of or tasted Roquefort before, offering the "blue cheese" description after identifying it, but in truth, it's my favorite empanada filling after atun (and apparently everyone else's: they're always the first to go at the Dioso supermercado a few blocks from my rental, the one that, like too many vendedores de empanadas, either doesn't even sell empanadas de atun or runs out of them before I get there). I just never realized it was a blue cheese. I always thought I hated blue cheese anywhere outside of salad dressing, but perhaps not so much, after all.

3. Jacob, Jakob, Jake, Jack, Jacques, Jeb, James, Jimmy, Séamus, Hamish, Jaime, Santiago, Diego, Diogo, Iago, Thiago, Giacomo, Koppel and possibly Kobe are all variations of the same name in various languages and dialects. (Which would mean that San Diego, Santiago de Chile, and the Saint James apartment complex that I recently called home in Melbourne are different places, continents apart, with the same name.) I once read a book on the etymology of names, and I learned so many interesting things. For example, the "Mc," "Mac" and "O'" Irish prefixes serve a similar purpose as the "son" suffix in English, the "(s)son"/"(s)sen" suffix in Scandinavia, the "ez" suffix in Spanish, the "van" in Dutch names, and the "de" in various languages -- denoting parental or geographical lineage. Of all the first names I've looked up, Jacob probably has the most unexpected variants, but I never would have guessed that guys named Ivan are just Johns with a cooler name. (P.S. There's no link between John and Jonathan. Jonathan is a longer form of Nathan.)

4. Cape Town is at roughly the same latitude as Buenos Aires and Sydney (and the Southern equivalent to Los Angeles and Casablanca in the Northern Hemisphere). I found this out recently while doing some research on Cape Town, which is likely to be my next new home (when spring arrives there). Interestingly, it will be my fifth time living in a country, continent or region with a word in its name that begins with an A -- after America, Argentina, Australia and Southeast Asia -- which doesn't seem quite so strange once you realize that Europe is the only continent that doesn't fit that description.

5. Mick Jagger, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh once struck a pose together. A few weeks ago when Nacho pointed out a framed photo of Mick Jagger, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh hanging in the window of a vintage-picture shop, I stopped and stared at it for at least a minute. I felt like I was looking at a Mount Rushmore of musical icons, only with then-living, breathing people (Marley would be dead three years later, and Tosh, nine), not images carved in stone. "Haven't you ever seen that photo before?" Nacho asked. "No, should I have?" "It's very famous," he said, explaining that The Rolling Stones are extremely popular in Argentina, hence the local popularity of the picture, which was taken in June of 1978, backstage at a Stones concert at the Palladium in New York City. "Really?" I'd had no idea. I guess you do learn something new every day, and if you're lucky, two new things.

6. The cause of death in crucifixion is suffocation. Not the most obvious tidbit, but it made perfect sense when it was explained in a documentary on Jesus that I recently watched on YouTube. And there I was thinking that the worst part would be having your hands and feet nailed to a cross. Just thinking about it makes me squirm even more than I did a few months ago while watching a documentary on the French Revolution in which guillotine beheadings were depicted a little too graphically.

7. Somebody doesn't make it out of a snuff film alive. I'd heard about them all my life, but I never really knew what a snuff film actually was until I looked it up after a sex trafficker on All My Children threatened to make one of his female captives the star of one. I don't know what is more shocking: that people actually make snuff films or that there might actually be an audience for commercial releases depicting actual murders. That's entertainment?

8. Residential elevator etiquette in Buenos Aires requires one to say "hola" upon entering and "chau," "nos vemos" or "hasta luego" as you exit. Unless you're riding alone, of course. Either the people who lived in the building I used to call home just weren't very nice (a distinct probability), or the neighbors in my current rental are polite to an unnecessary degree. Come to think of it, the friendly hello/goodbye gestures seem to be mostly a female thing. The one person I actually wouldn't mind saying more to (the cute guy who lives right next door) is always in and out without a single word.

9. Celebrities bore each other, too. Though I couldn't imagine ever nodding off while Sir Michael Caine is speaking. Respect, Morgan Freeman! (Extra fun fact: After appearing with Freeman in Now You See Me, which Caine was discussing when his The Dark Knight Rises costar started to drift away, Caine will star as a character named Matthew Morgan in Mr. Morgan's Last Love.)

10. Kelly Clarkson needs to be back on TV every week. Not as an American Idol judge (I read somewhere that she's already declined that offer), but on a sitcom. The laughter that ensued during and after those screenings of From Justin to Kelly in 2003 may not have been the intention, but Clarkson has more than redeemed herself with her music, and now she's getting another screen shot, though on the small one. She's my favorite thing in the teaser for the upcoming Robin Williams-Sarah Michelle Gellar CBS comedy series The Crazy Ones, as much of a natural singing, "It ain't the meat, it's the motion," before rubbing up against James Wolk as she was winning Simon Cowell's approval every week during Idol's first season. If series creator David E. Kelley knew what was best for the show, he'd make her fictionalized Kelly Clarkson a regularly recurring character, sort of like Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23's James Van Der Beek.

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