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Stuck In My Head: The Theme From Pee-Wee's Playhouse

I woke up with the Pee-Wee's Playhouse theme stuck in my head. On repeat. This seems crazy to me, since I haven't watched an episode of Pee-Wee's Playhouse in over a decade. And I still don't know the words.

They say the only way to successfully extricate a catchy tune from your head is to listen to the song in its entirety. Let me give that a try.

That didn't do the trick. While Pee-Wee is on the brain, here's some Playhouse trivia:

  • The theme song was performed by Cyndi Lauper (lyrics here).
  • Pee-Wee's co-stars included Phil Hartman (Captain Carl), Laurence Fishburne (Cowboy Curtis), Sandra Bernhard (Rhonda the picturephone operator), Jimmy Smits (pictured to the right; repairman Johnny Wilson fixed the Secret Word-dispensing Conky 2000) and Natasha Lyonne (Opal; Natasha played Jessica in American Pie).
  • Rob Zombie was a production assistant.
  • Magic Johnson (below) appeared on the 1988 Christmas special.
  • The show won 22 Emmy Awards, and had an extravagant budget of $325,000 per episode.
  • Last month at Spike TV's Guys Choice Awards, for the first time in fifteen years, Paul Reubens broke out the gray suit (see a clip here).
  • A film adaptation is in the works: Pee-Wee's Playhouse: The Movie.
  • Read The 25 Best Playhouse Moments from ProgressiveBoink.com.

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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holidays
Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)
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For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.

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