CLOSE
Original image

9 Tips for Planning a William Taft Birthday Bash

Original image

Looking for a way to liven up your Saturday night? Here’s a complete idiot’s guide to throwing a 155th birthday bash for America’s largest-and-in-chargest commander-in-chief: the great William Howard Taft.

1. The Food

Almonds, almonds, and more almonds. Smokehouse, cinnamon, vinegar, chocolate – any flavor under the sun. Big Lub, as he was fondly known, couldn’t get enough of these delectable little nuts. In fact, he was known to consume a pound in a single sitting (in case you were wondering, that’s about 2640 calories). Perhaps all that noshing helped him pack 332 pounds onto his 6’2” frame. But being a big dude had its advantages: Taft was Yale’s intramural heavyweight wrestling champion.

2. The Décor

Taft is the only president to have ever served as Chief Justice on the Supreme Court. He is also the only president to have ever gotten stuck in a bathtub. Guess which distinction people remember more? After this embarrassing incident, Taft had a super-sized tub installed in the White House – one big enough to fit four normal-sized men. If you’re throwing a true-to-form Taft bash, try swapping out your sofas for a few colossal tubs. This type of seating affords a more intimate environment and the opportunity to take a bunch of awkward Facebook photos.

3. The Guest List

Invite everyone you know – as long as they’re not bald. Taft’s wife Nellie was inexplicably creeped out by bald men. She declared that all waiters must have hair and banned all bald-headed butlers from the dining room. At your bash, strive to keep your BQ (baldness quotient) as low as possible. But if Uncle Joe absolutely insists on coming, hand him a toupee at the door.

4. The Dress Code

Make your party a formal affair and require guests to wear dress robes. Taft never felt more comfortable than when he was donning his (very) big, black Chief Justice uniform. Even when he was president, all the man ever wanted was a seat on the Supreme Court. While serving as chief executive, Taft lamented, “If I were now presiding on the Supreme Court, I should be the happiest man alive.” Following four unhappy years in the Oval Office, Taft finally got his wish in 1921, when Warren G. Harding appointed him Chief Justice. He served for over 8 years and was immensely popular among political comrades – more popular than he’d ever been as president.

5. The Drinks

Baileys Irish Cream, White Russians, or plain old vanilla milkshakes. Taft is the last president to have kept a cow on the White House lawn – a fine Holstein by the name of Pauline Wayne. A gift from Wisconsin Senator Walter Stephenson, the beloved Pauline supplied fresh milk for the entire Taft family for two years. After Taft left office, he shipped Pauline back to Stephenson’s farm, where he proclaimed she would “add dignity to his herd.” Follow his lead, and add some dignity to your bash with creamy, dairy-based cocktails.

6. The VIPs

Taft was the last president to sport a mustache. In fact, he was the last president to have any kind of facial hair while in office. Similar to last month’s Benjamin Harrison bash, have a special section reserved for mustachioed guests. These VIPs get all sorts of special treatment – plush bathrobes, free slippers, and dibs on the corner piece of birthday cake.

7. The Entertainment

Nothing livens up a party like an All-American game of baseball. Taft loved the sport. In fact, he was the first president to throw the opening pitch for the first game of the season during a 1910 game between the Washington Senators and the Philadelphia Athletics. The presidential tradition continues today.

8. The Music

Taft liked to sleep . . . a lot. In fact, some historians suspect that he may have been narcoleptic. To wake him from his desk whenever he dozed off, Nellie would blast Enrique Caruso – a famous Italian tenor. Make sure your party playlist includes all the Caruso classics: “Vesti la giubba,” “Mi par d’udir ancora,” and “O Sole Mio (remix ft. Ludacris).”

9. The Rules

Before things get too wild, it’s important to lay down the law. No politics permitted. Taft described the 1907 presidential campaign as "one of the most uncomfortable four months of my life." And once in office, Taft declared that he didn’t give a “tinkers damn” about how his decisions would affect his political prospects. Take a cue from Big Bill and put a moratorium on politics for the evening. Trust us – your guests will thank you.

Original image
IFC Films
arrow
entertainment
10 Surprising Facts About The Babadook
Original image
IFC Films

In 2014, The Babadook came out of nowhere and scared audiences across the globe. Written and directed by Aussie Jennifer Kent, and based on her short film Monster, The Babadook is about a widow named Amelia (played by Kent’s drama schoolmate Essie Davis) who has trouble controlling her young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who thinks there’s a monster living in their house. Amelia reads Samuel a pop-up book, Mister Babadook, and Samuel manifests the creature into a real-life monster. The Babadook may be the villain, but the film explores the pitfalls of parenting and grief in an emotional way. 

“I never approached this as a straight horror film,” Kent told Complex. “I always was drawn to the idea of grief, and the suppression of that grief, and the question of, how would that affect a person? ... But at the core of it, it’s about the mother and child, and their relationship.”

Shot on a $2 million budget, the film grossed more than $10.3 million worldwide and gained an even wider audience via streaming networks. Instead of creating Babadook out of CGI, a team generated the images in-camera, inspired by the silent films of Georges Méliès and Lon Chaney. Here are 10 things you might not have known about The Babadook (dook, dook).

1. THE NAME “BABADOOK” WAS EASY FOR A CHILD TO INVENT.

Jennifer Kent told Complex that some people thought the creature’s name sounded “silly,” which she agreed with. “I wanted it to be like something a child could make up, like ‘jabberwocky’ or some other nonsensical name,” she explained. “I wanted to create a new myth that was just solely of this film and didn’t exist anywhere else.”

2. JENNIFER KENT WAS WORRIED PEOPLE WOULD JUDGE THE MOTHER.

Amelia isn’t the best mother in the world—but that’s the point. “I’m not a parent,” Kent told Rolling Stone, “but I’m surrounded by friends and family who are, and I see it from the outside … how parenting seems hard and never-ending.” She thought Amelia would receive “a lot of flak” for her flawed parenting, but the opposite happened. “I think it’s given a lot of women a sense of reassurance to see a real human being up there,” Kent said. “We don’t get to see characters like her that often.”

3. KENT AND ESSIE DAVIS TONED DOWN THE CONTENT FOR THE KID.

Noah Wiseman was six years old when he played Samuel. Kent and Davis made sure he wasn’t present for the more horrific scenes, like when Amelia tells Samuel she wishes he was the one who died, not her husband. “During the reverse shots, where Amelia was abusing Sam verbally, we had Essie yell at an adult stand-in on his knees,” Kent told Film Journal. “I didn’t want to destroy a childhood to make this film—that wouldn’t be fair.”

Kent explained a “kiddie version” of the plot to Wiseman. “I said, ‘Basically, Sam is trying to save his mother and it’s a film about the power of love.’”

4. THE FILM IS ALSO ABOUT “FACING OUR SHADOW SIDE.”

IFC Films

Kent told Film Journal that “The Babadook is a film about a woman waking up from a long, metaphorical sleep and finding that she has the power to protect herself and her son.” She noted that everybody has darkness to face. “Beyond genre and beyond being scary, that’s the most important thing in the film—facing our shadow side.”

5. THE FILM SCARED THE HELL OUT OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE EXORCIST.

In an interview with Uproxx, William Friedkin—director of The Exorcist—said The Babadook was one of the best and scariest horror films he’d ever seen. He especially liked the emotional aspect of the film. “It’s not only the simplicity of the filmmaking and the excellence of the acting not only by the two leads, but it’s the way the film works slowly but inevitably on your emotions,” he said.

6. AN ART DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT SCORED THE ROLE AS THE BABADOOK.

Tim Purcell worked in the film’s art department but then got talked into playing the titular character after he acted as the creature for some camera tests. “They realized they could save some money, and have me just be the Babadook, and hence I became the Babadook,” Purcell told New York Magazine. “In terms of direction, it was ‘be still a lot,’” he said.

7. THE MOVIE BOMBED IN ITS NATIVE AUSTRALIA.

Even though Kent shot the film in Adelaide, Australians didn’t flock to the theaters; it grossed just $258,000 in its native country. “Australians have this [built-in] aversion to seeing Australian films,” Kent told The Cut. “They hardly ever get excited about their own stuff. We only tend to love things once everyone else confirms they’re good … Australian creatives have always had to go overseas to get recognition. I hope one day we can make a film or work of art and Australians can think it’s good regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.”

8. YOU CAN OWN A MISTER BABADOOK BOOK (BUT IT WILL COST YOU). 

IFC Films

In 2015, Insight Editions published 6200 pop-up books of Mister Babadook. Kent worked with the film’s illustrator, Alexander Juhasz, who created the book for the movie. He and paper engineer Simon Arizpe brought the pages to life for the published version. All copies sold out but you can find some Kent-signed ones on eBay, going for as much as $500.

9. THE BABADOOK IS A GAY ICON.

It started at the end of 2016, when a Tumblr user started a jokey thread about how he thought the Babadook was gay. “It started picking up steam within a few weeks,” Ian, the Tumblr user, told New York Magazine, “because individuals who I presume are heterosexual kind of freaked out over the assertion that a horror movie villain would identify as queer—which I think was the actual humor of the post, as opposed to just the outright statement that the Babadook is gay.” In June, the Babadook became a symbol for Gay Pride month. Images of the character appeared everywhere at this year's Gay Pride Parade in Los Angeles.

10. DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOR A SEQUEL.

Kent, who owns the rights to The Babadook, told IGN that, despite the original film's popularity, she's not planning on making any sequels. “The reason for that is I will never allow any sequel to be made, because it’s not that kind of film,” she said. “I don’t care how much I’m offered, it’s just not going to happen.”

Original image
Bruce Weaver / Stringer / Getty Images
arrow
Space
NASA Is Posting Hundreds of Retro Flight Research Videos on YouTube
Original image
Bruce Weaver / Stringer / Getty Images

If you’re interested in taking a tour through NASA history, head over to the YouTube page of the Armstrong Flight Research Center, located at Edwards Air Force Base, in southern California. According to Motherboard, the agency is in the middle of posting hundreds of rare aircraft videos dating back to the 1940s.

In an effort to open more of its archives to the public, NASA plans to upload 500 historic films to YouTube over the next few months. More than 300 videos have been published so far, and they range from footage of a D-558 Skystreak jet being assembled in 1947 to a clip of the first test flight of an inflatable-winged plane in 2001. Other highlights include the Space Shuttle Endeavour's final flight over Los Angeles and a controlled crash of a Boeing 720 jet.

The research footage was available to the public prior to the mass upload, but viewers had to go through the Dryden Aircraft Movie Collection on the research center’s website to see them. The current catalogue on YouTube is much easier to browse through, with clear playlist categories like supersonic aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. You can get a taste of what to expect from the page in the sample videos below.

[h/t Motherboard]

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios