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The Quick 10: Stories Behind 10 Dr. Seuss Stories

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On this day in 1991, the world lost a classic writer and artist "“ Dr. Seuss (AKA Theodor Geisel). I know the _floss has done stories on Dr. Seuss before, so I thought we'd go a little bit different route today "“ the stories behind his stories.

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1. The Lorax. In case you haven't read The Lorax, it's widely recognized as Dr. Seuss' take on environmentalism and how humans are destroying nature. The logging industry was so upset about the book that some groups within the industry sponsored The Truax, a similar book but from the logging point of view. Another interesting fact: the book used to contain the line, "I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie," but 14 years after the book was published, the Ohio Sea Grant Program wrote to Seuss and told him how much the conditions had improved and implored him to take the line out. Dr. Seuss agreed and said that it wouldn't be in future editions.

horton2. Horton Hears a Who! Somehow, Geisel's books find themselves in the middle of controversy. The line from the book, "A person's a person, no matter how small," has been used as a slogan for pro-life organizations for years. It's often questioned whether that was Seuss' intent in the first place, but I would say not: when he was still alive, he threatened to sue a pro-life group unless they removed his words from their letterhead. Karl ZoBell, the attorney for Dr. Seuss' interests and for his widow, Audrey Geisel, says that she doesn't like people to "hijack Dr. Seuss characters or material to front their own points of view."

3. If I Ran the Zoo, published in 1950, is the first recorded instance of the word "nerd".

4. The Cat in the Hat was written basically because Dr. Seuss thought the famous Dick and Jane primers were insanely boring.

Because kids weren't interested in the material, they weren't exactly compelled to use it repeatedly in their efforts to learn to read. So, The Cat in the Hat was born, and I must agree: it's definitely more interesting.

5. Green Eggs and Ham. Bennett Cerf, Dr. Seuss' editor, bet him thaat he couldn't write a book using 50 words or less. The Cat in the Hat was pretty simple, after all, and it used 225 words. Not one to back down from a challenge, Mr. Geisel started writing and came up with Green Eggs and Ham "“ which uses exactly 50 words. The 50 words, by the way, are: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.

marvin6. Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! It's often alleged that this book was written specifically about Richard Nixon, but the book came out only two months after the whole Watergate scandal. It's pretty unlikely that the book could have been conceived of, written, edited and mass produced in such a short time; also, Seuss never admitted that the story was originally about Nixon. That's not to say he didn't understand how well the two flowed together. In 1974, he sent a copy of Marvin K. Mooney to his friend Art Buchwald at the Washington Post. In it, he crossed out "Marvin K. Mooney" and replaced it with "Richard M. Nixon", which Buchwald reprinted in its entirety. Oh, and one other tidbit: this book contains the first-ever reference to "crunk", although its meaning is a bit different than today's crunk.

7. Yertle the Turtle = Hitler? Yep. If you haven't read the story, here's a little overview: Yertle is the king of the pond, but he wants more. He demands that other turtles stack themselves up so he can sit on top of them to survey the land. Mack, the turtle at the bottom, is exhausted. He asks Yertle for a rest; Yertle ignores him and demands more turtles for a better view. Eventually, Yertle notices the moon and is furious that anything dare be higher than himself, and is about ready to call for more turtles when Mack burps. This sudden movement topples the whole stack, sends Yertle flying into the mud, and frees the rest of the turtles from their stacking duty. Dr. Seuss actually said Yertle was a representation of Hitler. Despite the political nature of the book, none of that was disputed at Random House "“ what was disputed was Mack's burp. No one had ever let a burp loose in a children's book before, so it was a little dicey. In the end, obviously, Mack burped.

butter8. The Butter Battle Book is one I had never heard of, perhaps with good reason: it was pulled from the shelves of libraries for a while because of the reference to the Cold War and the arms race. Yooks and Zooks are societies who do everything differently. The Yooks eat their bread with the butter-side up and the Zooks eat their bread with the butter-side down. Obviously, one of them must be wrong, so they start building weapons to outdo each other: the "Tough-Tufted Prickly Snick-Berry Switch", the "Triple-Sling Jigger", the "Jigger-Rock Snatchem", the "Kick-A-Poo Kid", the "Eight-Nozzled Elephant-Toted Boom Blitz", the "Utterly Sputter" and the "Bitsy Big-Boy Boomeroo". The book concludes with each side ready to drop their ultimate bombs on each other, but the reader doesn't know how it actually turns out.

9. Oh The Places You'll Go is Dr. Seuss' final book, published in 1990. It sells about 300,000 copies every year because so many people give it to college and high school grads.

grinch210. No Dr. Seuss post would be complete without a mention of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! I couldn't find much on the book, however, so here are a few facts about the Dr. Seuss-sanctioned cartoon. Frankenstein's Monster himself, Boris Karloff, provided the voice of the Grinch and the narration for the movie. Seuss a little wary of casting him because he thought his voice would be too scary for kids. Can you imagine the cartoon with any other voice?! If you're wondering why they sound a bit different, it's because the sound people went back to the Grinch's parts and removed all of the high tones in Karloff's voice. That's why the Grinch sounds so gravelly.

Tony the Tiger, AKA Thurl Ravenscroft (who is also a singer in my absolute favorite Disney attraction, the Haunted Mansion), is the voice behind "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." He received no credit on screen for it, so Dr. Seuss wrote to pretty much every columnist in every major newspaper in the U.S. telling them exactly who the famous song was sung by.

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Food
Let Alexa Help You Brine a Turkey This Thanksgiving
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There’s a reason most of us only cook turkey once a year: The bird is notoriously easy to overcook. You could rely on gravy and cranberry sauce to salvage your dried-out turkey this Thanksgiving, or you could follow cooking advice from the experts.

Brining a turkey is the best way to guarantee it retains its moisture after hours in the oven. The process is also time-consuming, so do yourself a favor this year and let Alexa be your sous chef.

“Morton Brine Time” is a new skill from the cloud-based home assistant. If you own an Amazon Echo you can download it for free by going online or by asking Alexa to enable it. Once it’s set up, start asking Alexa for brining tips and step-by-step recipes customized to the size of your turkey. Two recipes were developed by Richard Blais, the celebrity chef and restaurateur best known for his Top Chef win and Food Network appearances.

Whether you go for a wet brine (soaking your turkey in water, salt, sugar, and spices) or a dry one (just salt and spices), the process isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. And the knowledge that your bird will come out succulent and juicy will definitely take some stress out of the holiday.

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Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.

HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS?


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The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.

WHAT'S WITH THE NIGHT GAME?


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In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.

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