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Calling All Interns

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We're in the market for new interns. Stacy Conradt and Andréa Fernandes "“ formerly InternStacy and InternAndréa "“ were superstars this semester, and they'll be sticking with us as staff writers.

This is certainly a big-shoes-to-fill situation. Which is why we're filling those shoes with more feet. For the upcoming semester, we have openings for intern writers & researchers, an intern PR maven, and lots of campus reps.

If you'd like to work for the 2,518th most popular website in the United States, here are your instructions...

Intern Writer/Researcher

Job Description:
You'll spend your semester brainstorming, researching and writing stories that will appear on mentalfloss.com, like Stacy and Andréa have been doing since September.
Interview Assignment:
1) Come up with three ideas for stories. Here are links to some of our greatest hits.
2) Turn one of those ideas into a fascinating article.
3) Come up with two ideas for mental_floss quizzes. See our quiz archive for inspiration.
4) Suggest one idea for a recurring column, like Andréa's 'Feel Art Again.' We probably won't ask you (or force you) to actually write it, but you never know.
How To Apply:
Email your resume and your answers to the above questions to floss.intern@gmail.com.

Intern PR Maven

Job Description:
Work with us to improve that 2,518 ranking and increase overall awareness of mental_floss. This will include a decent amount of online research and making contacts at other thriving sites. Plus plenty of brainstorming for story ideas, giveaways, contests, etc.

Interview Assignment:
1) If you were planning a mental_floss event on your campus, what would it be called and where would you hold it? How would you make sure people attended and had a good time?
2) Pretend you've written some fascinating story (you can make up the topic, and pick an actual article from out there in the blogosphere), and convince us we should talk about it on mentalfloss.com.
How To Apply:
Email your resume and your answers to the above questions to floss.intern.pr@gmail.com.

[Writers/Researchers and PR Mavens should be willing to perform your duties for either college credit or a small stipend. You don't necessarily need to be a college student, though you must be willing to work on the cheap.]

mental_floss campus_reps

Job Description:
For pride, resume enhancement, some free t-shirts and perhaps a small budget for events, you'll introduce your school to the wonderful world of mental_floss. (But mostly for pride.) We're not yet sure what this means. Organizing trivia challenges at local bars or coffee houses? Handing out copies of the magazine?

Interview Assignment:
1) Figure out this whole campus_reps idea. What would you do if you were representing mental_floss at your school? (We'll do some thinking on it, too.)

How To Apply:
Email your resume and your answer to the above questions to MFcampusreps@gmail.com.

A few quick notes before we let the games begin:

1. We'll give you until the end of next week (December 21st) to apply, and our new interns should be available to start in early January.

2. Our interns can work from anywhere. We don't have much room in our NY office anyway.

3. While Stacy, Andréa and former intern Jason Plautz all made the jump from intern to contributor, that's not a given. We've been lucky that none of them turned out to be crazy. But if you're good, we'll happily ask you to stick around.

4. If you have other skills you think would work in an intern capacity -- fact-checking, copy editing, knowledge of WordPress, ergonomics expertise, patience with our nonsensical ideas for side projects -- we're happy to consider you as well. Send those pitches to flossytees@gmail.com.

5. You should not be difficult to work with. This is probably the most important rule. Any sign of diva-ness will derail your candidacy.

6. And thanks to reader Kevin B. for suggesting we use a photo of Kenneth, the NBC Page on 30 Rock.

Looking forward to reading your submissions! Any questions, you can leave a comment or email me. It's Jason -at- mentalfloss -dot- com.

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Pop Culture
The Sweet Surprise Reunion Mr. Rogers Never Saw Coming
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Family Communications Inc./Getty Images

For more than 30 years, legendary children’s show host Fred Rogers used his PBS series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to educate his young viewers on concepts like empathy, sharing, and grief. As a result, he won just about every television award he was eligible for, some of them many times over.

Rogers was gracious in accepting each, but according to those who were close to the host, one honor in particular stood out. It was March 11, 1999, and Rogers was being inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame, an offshoot of the Emmy Awards. Just before being called to the stage, out came a surprise.

The man responsible for the elation on Rogers’s face was Jeff Erlanger, a 29-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin who became a quadriplegic at a young age after undergoing spinal surgery to remove a tumor. Rogers was surprised because Erlanger had appeared on his show nearly 20 years prior in 1980 to help kids understand how people with physical challenges adapt to life’s challenges. Here's his first encounter with the host:

Reunited on stage after two decades, Erlanger referred to the song, “It’s You I Like,” which the two sang during their initial meeting. “On behalf of millions of children and grown-ups,” Erlanger said, “it’s you I like.” The audience, including a visibly moved Candice Bergen, rose to their feet to give both men a standing ovation.

Following Erlanger’s death in 2007, Hedda Sharapan, an employee with Rogers’s production company, called their poignant scene “authentic” and “unscripted,” and that Rogers often pointed to it as his favorite moment from the series.

Near the end of the original segment in 1980, as Erlanger drives his wheelchair off-camera, Rogers waves goodbye and offers a departing message: “I hope you’ll come back to visit again.”

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© 2002 Twentieth Century Fox
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entertainment
20 Things You Might Not Have Known About Firefly
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© 2002 Twentieth Century Fox

As any diehard fan will be quick to tell you, Firefly's run was far, far too short. Despite its truncated run, the show still offers a wealth of fun facts and hidden Easter eggs. On the 15th anniversary of the series' premiere, we're looking back at the sci-fi series that kickstarted a Browncoat revolution.

1. A CIVIL WAR NOVEL INSPIRED THE FIREFLY UNIVERSE.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Killer Angels from author Michael Shaara was Joss Whedon’s inspiration for creating Firefly. It follows Union and Confederate soldiers during four days at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Whedon modeled the series and world on the Reconstruction Era, but set in the future.

2. ORIGINALLY, THE SERENITY CREW INCLUDED JUST FIVE MEMBERS.

When Whedon first developed Firefly, he wanted Serenity to only have five crew members. However, throughout development and casting, Whedon increased the cast from five to nine.

3. REBECCA GAYHEART WAS ORIGINALLY CAST TO PLAY INARA.

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Before Morena Baccarin was cast as Inara Serra, Rebecca Gayheart landed the role—but she was fired after one day of shooting because she lacked chemistry with the rest of the cast. Baccarin was cast two days later and started shooting that day.

4. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS WAS ALMOST DR. SIMON TAM.

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Before it went to Sean Maher, Neil Patrick Harris auditioned for the role of Dr. Simon Tam.

5. JOSS WHEDON WROTE THE THEME SONG.

Whedon wrote the lyrics and music for Firefly’s opening theme song, “The Ballad of Serenity.”

6. STAR WARS SPACECRAFT APPEAR IN FIREFLY.

Star Wars was a big influence on Whedon. Captain Malcolm Reynolds somewhat resembles Han Solo, while Whedon used the Millennium Falcon as inspiration to create Serenity. In fact, you can spot a few spacecraft from George Lucas's magnum opus on the show.

When Inara’s shuttle docks with Serenity in the pilot episode, an Imperial Shuttle can be found flying in the background. In the episode “Shindig,” you can see a Starlight Intruder as the crew lands on the planet Persephone.

7. HAN SOLO FROZEN IN CARBONITE POPS UP THROUGHOUT FIREFLY.

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Nathan Fillion is a big Han Solo fan, so the Firefly prop department made a 12-inch replica of Han Solo encased in Carbonite for the Canadian-born actor. You can see the prop in the background in a number of scenes.

8. ALIEN'S WEYLAND-YUTANI CORPORATION MADE AN APPEARANCE.

In Firefly’s pilot episode, the opening scene features the legendary Battle of Serenity Valley between the Browncoats and The Union of Allied Planets. Captain Malcolm Reynolds takes control of a cannon with a Weyland-Yutani logo inside of its display. Weyland-Yutani is the large conglomerate corporation in the Alien film franchise. (Whedon wrote Alien: Resurrection in 1997.)

9. ZAC EFRON'S ACTING DEBUT WAS ON FIREFLY.

A 13-year-old Zac Efron made his acting debut in the episode “Safe” in 2002. He played Young Simon in a flashback.

10. CAPTAIN MALCOLM REYNOLDS'S HORSE IS A WESTERN TROPE.

At its core, Firefly is a sci-fi western—and Malcolm Reynolds rides the same horse on every planet (it's named Fred).

11. FOX AIRED FIREFLY'S EPISODES OUT OF ORDER.

Fox didn’t feel Firefly’s two-hour pilot episode was strong enough to air as its first episode. Instead, “The Train Job” was broadcast first because it featured more action and excitement. The network continued to cherry-pick episodes based on broad appeal rather than story consistency, and eventually aired the pilot as the show’s final episode.

12. THE ALLIANCE'S ORIGINS ARE AMERICAN AND CHINESE.

The full name of The Alliance is The Anglo-Sino Alliance. Whedon envisioned The Alliance as a merger of American and Chinese government and corporate superpowers. The Union of Allied Planets’ flag is a blending of the American and Chinese national flags.

13. THE SERENITY LOUNGE SERVED AS AN ACTUAL LOUNGE.

Between set-ups and shots, the cast would hang out in the lounge on the Serenity set rather than trailers or green rooms.

14. INARA SERRA'S NAME IS MESOPOTAMIAN.

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Inara Serra is named after the Mesopotamian Hittite goddess, the protector of all wild animals.

15. THE CHARACTERS SWORE (JUST NOT IN ENGLISH).

The Firefly universe is a mixture of American and Chinese culture, which made it easy for writers to get around censors by having characters swear in Chinese.

16. THE UNIFORMS ARE RECYCLED FROM STARSHIP TROOPERS.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The uniforms for Alliance officers and soldiers were the costumes from the 1997 science fiction film Starship Troopers. The same costumes were repurposed again for the Starship Troopers sequel.

17. "SUMMER!" MEANS SOMEONE MESSED UP.

Every time a cast member flubbed one of his or her lines, they would yell Summer Glau’s name. This was a running gag among the cast after Glau forgot her lines in the episode “Objects In Space.”

18. THE SERENITY SPACESHIP WAS BUILT TO SCALE.

The interior of Serenity was built entirely to scale; rooms and sections were completely contiguous. The ship’s interior was split into two stages, one for the upper deck and one for the lower. Whedon showed off the Firefly set in one long take to open the Serenity movie.

19. "THE MESSAGE" SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE SHOW'S FAREWELL.

Although “The Message” was the twelfth episode, it was the last episode filmed during Firefly’s short run. Composer Greg Edmonson wrote a piece of music for a funeral scene in the episode, which served as a final farewell to the show. Sadly, it was one of three episodes (the other two were “Trash” and “Heart of Gold”) that didn’t air during Firefly’s original broadcast run on Fox.

20. FIREFLY AND SERENITY WERE SENT TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.

American Astronaut Steven Ray Swanson is a big fan of Firefly, so when he was sent to the International Space Station for his first mission (STS-117) in 2007, he brought DVD copies of Firefly and its feature film Serenity aboard with him. The DVDs are now a permanent part of the space station’s library.

This post originally appeared in 2014.

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