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VIII Random Facts About Henry VIII

I am normally not one for historical fiction, but a couple of years ago I read The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory and thoroughly enjoyed it. So much, in fact, that I immediately went and bought the rest of the series. Now the movie version with Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman is coming out and I'm going to have to check that out to see if it measures up to the book.

The whole thing really roused my interest in the Tudors (The Tudors the TV series is currently in my Netflix queue) and I spent an embarrassingly large amount of time on Wikipedia reading about them. Prior to the books, all I really knew about Henry VIII is that he got married to the widow next door and she'd been married seven times before (I kid, I kid).

In honor of the recent anniversary of his death (January 28, 1547), I give you eight random facts about Henry VIII.

1. Henry was never supposed to be King.

It was always intended that Henry's older brother Arthur would take over from their father as the King of England. While Henry was merely the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and the Earl Marshal of England, Arthur held the Prince of Wales title. Arthur died rather unexpectedly at the age of 15, not long after getting married to Catherine of Aragon from Spain. Thus began Henry's rein "“ he pretty much just stepped in and picked up where Arthur left off, including Catherine. Prior to his brother's death, it was assumed that Henry would have a prosperous career with the Church. Pretty funny, considering how cavalierly he played with the Church's rules to suit his marriages and divorces later in life.

2. He apparently compared his fourth wife to a horse.

anne of cleves

Fast forward through Henry's annulment with Catherine, the beheading of Anne Boleyn, and the death of Jane Seymour and we have wife #4, Anne of Cleves. His motives for marrying her were purely political "“ she was the sister of the Duke of Cleves, who was Protestant. The Duke was an important friend to have in case the Roman Catholics decided to invade England, and so the marriage was arranged. The problem? The picture that Henry based a large part of his decision on was apparently more than a little flattering. When he met her in person just prior to their marriage, he apparently compared her to a horse. They got married anyway, and by all accounts it was pretty miserable. The marriage was annulled and she received the title of "The King's Sister," which totally baffles me. If anyone can explain this to me, please do.

3. He had an affair with Anne Boleyn's sister.

mary
One of the plots in The Other Boleyn Girl is about Henry having an affair with Anne Boleyn's sister, Mary. This really happened when Mary served as Catherine of Aragon's lady-in-waiting for ten years. Her first two children are rumored to be Henry's, but this was never proven. After her first husband died, Mary wed a commoner with no social status and was thus disowned by Anne. She is the ancestor of Winston Churchill, Princess Diana and Sarah, Duchess of York (among others).

4. He was a sickly fellow.

Henry's health problems were vast. Although he was athletic in his youth, a jousting mishap left him unable to exercise. As a result, his waistline climbed to 54 inches. He had severe migraines and suffered from terrible insomnia. It's speculated that he also suffered from gout, and eventually the jousting wound in his thigh became ulcerated (which may have actually helped to cause his death). Modern doctors suggest that Henry probably had type II diabetes.

5. Supposedly his last words were "Monks, monks, monks!"

This is also the name of a Houston-area law firm (well, almost: Monks, Monks, Monks & Hiran).

6. He was buried with his third wife.

tomb3.jpg

Henry was buried at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle with third wife Jane Seymour. He considered her his only "true" wife, since she was the only one of the six to bear him a son.

7. He could be haunting Hampton Court Palace.

ghost
In October 2003, security at the Palace checked their surveillance tapes to see why one of the fire doors kept opening. As they watched, a strange figure appeared in the doorway and closed the doors. The figure appears to be wearing period dress. If Hampton Court is haunted, it's with good reason: Jane Seymour died there after giving birth and fifth wife Catherine Howard was arrested there in 1542 for cheating on King Henry (which was treason at the time). When she found out she was being arrested, she fled down the long Gallery screaming for the King to save her.

8. He left his mark.

ship
Despite his many marriages and his rage issues, Henry left quite a legacy. He, Alfred the Great and Charles II are traditionally referred to as the founders of the Royal Navy. He invested quite heavily in shipmaking, including the Mary Rose, which he named after his sister (although some speculate he was trying to impress Mary Boleyn).

By the way, one of the ways to keep track of Henry's six wives and how they came to be separated from him is to use this little rhyme: Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived (even though they were technically annulments and not divorces).

What do you guys think? Fabulous leader or horrible tyrant? Both?

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Food
Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
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iStock

You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

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Pop Culture
The Strange Hidden Link Between Silent Hill and Kindergarten Cop
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

by Ryan Lambie

At first glance, Kindergarten Cop and Silent Hill don't seem to have much in common—aside from both being products of the 1990s. At the beginning of the decade came Kindergarten Cop, the hit comedy directed by Ivan Reitman and starring larger-than-life action star Arnold Schwarzenegger. At the decade’s end came Silent Hill, Konami’s best-selling survival horror game that sent shivers down PlayStation owners’ spines.

As pop culture artifacts go, they’re as different as oil and water. Yet eagle-eyed players may have noticed a strange hidden link between the video game and the goofy family comedy.

In Silent Hill, you control Harry Mason, a father hunting for his daughter Cheryl in the eerily deserted town of the title. Needless to say, the things Mason uncovers are strange and very, very gruesome. Early on in the game, Harry stumbles on a school—Midwich Elementary School, to be precise—which might spark a hint of déjà vu as soon as you approach its stone steps. The building’s double doors and distinctive archway appear to have been taken directly from Kindergarten Cop’s Astoria Elementary School.

Could it be a coincidence?

Well, further clues can be found as you venture inside. As well as encountering creepy gray children and other horrors, you’ll notice that its walls are decorated with numerous posters. Some of those posters—including a particularly distinctive one with a dog on it—also decorated the halls of the school in Kindergarten Cop.

Do a bit more hunting, and you’ll eventually find a medicine cabinet clearly modeled on one glimpsed in the movie. Most creepily of all, you’ll even encounter a yellow school bus that looks remarkably similar to the one in the film (though this one has clearly seen better days).

Silent Hill's references to the movie are subtle—certainly subtle enough for them to pass the majority of players by—but far too numerous to be a coincidence. When word of the link between game and film began to emerge in 2012, some even joked that Konami’s Silent Hill was a sequel to Kindergarten Cop. So what’s really going on?

When Silent Hill was in early development back in 1996, director Keiichiro Toyama set out to make a game that was infused with influences from some of his favorite American films and TV shows. “What I am a fan of is occult stuff and UFO stories and so on; that and I had watched a lot of David Lynch films," he told Polygon in 2013. "So it was really a matter of me taking what was on my shelves and taking the more horror-oriented aspects of what I found.”

A scene from 'Silent Hill'
Divine Tokyoska, Flickr

In an interview with IGN much further back, in 2001, a member of Silent Hill’s staff also stated, “We draw our influences from all over—fiction, movies, manga, new and old.”

So while Kindergarten Cop is perhaps the most outlandish movie reference in Silent Hill, it’s by no means the only one. Cafe5to2, another prominent location in the game, is taken straight from Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers.

Elsewhere, you might spot a newspaper headline which references The Silence Of The Lambs (“Bill Skins Fifth”). Look carefully, and you'll also find nods to such films as The Shining, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, and 12 Monkeys.

Similarly, the town’s streets are all named after respected sci-fi and horror novelists, with Robert Bloch, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury, and Richard Matheson among the most obvious. Oh, and Midwich, the name of the school? That’s taken from the classic 1957 novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, twice adapted for the screen as The Village Of The Damned in 1960 and 1995.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Kindergarten Cop'
Universal Pictures

The reference to Kindergarten Cop could, therefore, have been a sly joke on the part of Silent Hill’s creators—because what could be stranger than modeling something in a horror game on a family-friendly comedy? But there could be an even more innocent explanation: that Kindergarten Cop spends so long inside an ordinary American school simply gave Toyama and his team plenty of material to reference when building their game.

Whatever the reasons, the Kindergarten Cop reference ranks highly among the most strange and unexpected film connections in the history of the video game medium. Incidentally, the original movie's exteriors used a real school, John Jacob Astor Elementary in Astoria, Oregon. According to a 1991 article in People Magazine, the school's 400 fourth grade students were paid $35 per day to appear in Kindergarten Cop as extras.

It’s worth pointing out that the school is far less scary a place than the video game location it unwittingly inspired, and to the best of our knowledge, doesn't have an undercover cop named John Kimble serving as a teacher there, either.

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