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The Quick 10: The Milwaukee Brewers

If you follow me on Twitter at all, you know that my wanderlust took me to Milwaukee this weekend. I know, you're like, "Milwaukee? Really? Yawwwwn." But I actually loved the town. People were really friendly, and wow, do they like their beer (maybe that's why they're so friendly). It's just about impossible to go anywhere in town without being reminded of the city's rich brewing history, whether you're visiting a historic Flemish Renaissance Revival mansion that just happened to belong to a guy named Pabst or watching a little Brewers baseball at Miller Park. Which, incidentally, is what the Quick 10 is about today.

pilots1. The Brew Crew wasn't always in Milwaukee. For the 1969 season only, the Brewers were known as the Seattle Pilots. After that season, Bud Selig, who was just an area car dealer at the time, bought them out and hauled them to the Midwest. See, Milwaukee was still stinging a little bit because the Braves had hightailed it out of town and headed to Atlanta - and Selig was still upset too. He had been a big stakeholder in the Milwaukee Braves and when they decided to pull up stakes, he made it his mission to get a major league team back in his hometown. He tried to get an expansion team, but when that didn't work, he bought out the fledgling Pilots. There's more to the story than that, of course, but that's the general idea.

barrel2. Their logo used to be the Beer Barrel Man, a mascot that has been around since the 1940s. There used to be a Minor League Milwaukee Brewers that used this guy "“ "Owgust" "“ and since Selig grew up watching this minor league team, he named his new team after the defunct minor league team and also adopted their mascot.
3. Beer Barrel Man is not to be confused with Bernie Brewer, the team's official mascot. Bernie's origins are pretty cool "“ back when the Brewers were new in town, elderly fan Milt Mason said he was going to sit on top of the scoreboard until game attendance topped 40,000. He was up there for more than a month before the goal was met with more than 44,000 fans, and Milt slid down on a rope when the game ended in a Brewers win. He died in 1973, which is when the Brewers officially adopted Bernie, the mascot who is somewhat styled after their famous fan. Bernie used to sit up in a little house and slid down into a big mug of beer every time the Brew Crew scored a home run, sort of repeating Milt's famous descent. He was retired for a few years, but fan demand brought Bernie back. He doesn't splash down into a giant stein these days, but he does have a big yellow slide he uses to celebrate homers.

4. Even though Bernie is the official mascot, there are some fans who might consider Brett Wurst, Stosh, Guido, Frankie Furter and Cinco (or Paco) pretty strong contenders for the title. The Sausage Race started out as a fun little animation to promote Klement Sausages, but the waddling wieners attracted quite the fan base. The 7'3" costumes were introduced sometime in 1994 and have been a staple at games ever since. The latest addition to the gang is Cinco/Paco, whom most fans refer to as Chorizo. And if you're betting on the sausages "“ not that we advocate that "“ your best bet is Frankie Furter. He's got the most wins under his bun. And if you need a laugh this afternoon, here are two ways to get one: the Sausage Bios on the Brewers website ("Polish Sausage came to Milwaukee after years of coaching high school cross-country") and a video of the race on Friday.

5. Mr. Baseball himself, Bob Uecker, has been associated with Milwaukee since he started watching the same minor league Brewers Bud Selig did. When he signed a professional contract, it was with the Milwaukee Braves, but he only stuck around there for a year. He bounced around to a few other teams before turning to broadcasting "“ and Milwaukee. He has called play-by-play for the Brewers Radio Network since 1971 and became much-beloved to the community: Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing hired him for a series of commercials in the "˜80s. These commercials are the reason there are apparently a section of seats at Miller Park called "Uecker Seats" which will give you an excellent view of nothing. Here's the ad:

Also, Uecker's trademark homerun call "“ "Get up, Get up, Get outta here "“ GONE!" will flash above Bernie Brewer's digs whenever the Brewers get a home run. Unfortunately, I witnessed no home runs on Friday.

stadium6. Before Miller Park, there was Milwaukee County Stadium. Hank Aaron hit his final home run at Milwaukee County Stadium. Although it was an impressive and advanced facility when it was built in 1951, by the "˜90s, it was looking pretty shabby. It didn't have the luxury boxes that other stadiums had, so it wasn't pulling in the same revenue. And since the weather in Milwaukee can be so unpredictable, it was sometimes hard to attract fans during the early spring and later fall because it was often too cold to sit outside for that long. Miller Park features a retractable roof, which can make the temperature up to 30 degrees warmer inside and has helped draw fans even in chilly weather. Coach fans would have recognized County Stadium as the fictional Orlando Breakers stadium where Hayden Fox coached "“ the series used shots of County for the show. And the movie Major League was shot at County as well, even though the movie was about the Cleveland Indians.

7. Miller Park is the only place you'll find Secret Stadium Sauce, which, by the way, is delicious. It was reportedly created at County Stadium in the "˜70s when the vendor there ran short on ketchup. He took the ketchup he had left and combined it with a bunch of other things he had around, including barbeque sauce and smoked syrup, and called it "Secret Stadium Sauce." It has been a favorite of Brew fans ever since, and Bob Costas calls a brat with Secret Stadium Sauce on it his favorite ballpark food.

8. If you're there during the seventh inning stretch, get ready to sing "The Beer Barrel Polka" along with "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Milwaukeeans love their beer, and I love that Milwaukeeans love their beer.

logo9. The retro logo has been called one of the best designed logos in baseball. It's sort of like one of those optical illusions "“ it could look just like a baseball glove with a ball in it if you're not paying enough attention. But if you look a little more closely, you'll see the mitt is actually made up of a lowercase "M" and a "B." Clever, huh?
10. July 29, 2006, was called "Hispanic Appreciation Night," which is around the time Chorizo the sausage was introduced to the race lineup. But it also marked one of the only nights the Brewers have ever worn a name other than "Brewers" on their uniforms. That night, they went by "Cerveceros," the Spanish word for Brewers. The uniforms made another appearance for Hispanic Heritage Month last year. Other uniform changeups include wearing the old Milwaukee Braves logo when they play the Atlanta Braves and wearing the Milwaukee Bears logo to celebrate the Negro Leagues.

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12 Things You Might Not Know About MAD Magazine
Mad Magazine
Mad Magazine

As fast as popular culture could erect wholesome depictions of American life in comics, television, or movies, MAD Magazine was there to tear them all down. A near-instant success for EC Comics upon its debut in 1952, the magazine has inspired generations of comedians for its pioneering satirical attitude and tasteful booger jokes. This month, DC Entertainment is relaunching an "all new" MAD, skewering pop culture on a bimonthly basis and in full color. To fill the gaps in your knowledge, take a look at these facts about the Usual Gang of Idiots.

1. NO ONE KNOWS WHO CAME UP WITH ALFRED E. NEUMAN.


Jamie, Flickr (L) // Boston Public Library, Flickr (R) // CC BY 2.0

MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman was in the offices of a Ballantine Books editor discussing reprints for the fledging publication when he noticed a grinning, gap-toothed imbecile staring back at him from a bulletin board. The unnamed figure was ubiquitous in the early 20th century, appearing in everything from dentistry ads to depictions of diseases. A charmed Kurtzman adopted him as MAD’s mascot beginning in 1954. Neuman later become so recognizable that a letter was delivered from New Zealand to MAD’s New York offices without an address: the envelope simply had a drawing of Alfred.  

2. THEY HAD TO APOLOGIZE ALMOST IMMEDIATELY.

MAD was conceived during a particularly sensitive time for the comics industry, with parents and watchdog groups concerned over content. (It didn't switch to a magazine format until issue #24.) Kurtzman usually knew where the line was, but when he was laid up with acute hepatitis in 1952, publisher William Gaines and others had to step in for him. Gaines thought it would be funny to offer a fictional biography of himself that detailed his father’s Communist leanings, his past as a dope dealer “near nursery schools,” and bouts of pyromania. When wholesalers were shocked at the content and threatened to boycott all of his titles, Gaines was forced to write a letter of apology.  

3. THEY PREDICTED JOHN F. KENNEDY'S ELECTION IN 1960.

But it was a cheat. In the run-up to the 1960 Presidential election, MAD printed a cover that featured Neuman congratulating Kennedy on his victory with a caption that read, “We were with you all the way, Jack!” But the issue was shipped long before votes had been tabulated. The secret? It was a dual cover. Flip it over and Neuman is celebrating Richard Nixon’s appointment to office. Stores were told to display the “right” side of the magazine depending on the outcome.

4. ALFRED BRIEFLY HAD A GIRLFRIEND.


MAD Magazine

A character named Moxie Cowznofski was introduced in the late 1950s as a female companion for Alfred. She made only a handful of cover appearances, possibly due to the fact she looked alarmingly like her significant other.

5. THEY DIDN'T RUN ANY (REAL) ADS FOR 44 YEARS.

From the beginning, Gaines felt that printing actual advertisements next to the products they were lampooning would not only dilute their edge but seem more than a little hypocritical. After some back-and-forth, MAD cut ads starting in 1957. The decision was a costly one—most print publications survive on such revenue—but led to the magazine’s keeping a sharp knife against the throat of seductive advertising, including cigarettes. Faced with dwindling circulation in 2001, Mad finally relented and began taking ads to help pay for a switch to color printing.

6. "SPY VS. SPY" WAS CREATED BY A SUSPECTED SPY.

Cuban cartoonist Antonio Prohias was disenchanted with the regime under Fidel Castro when he began working on what would become “Spy vs. Spy.” Because Prohias’ other newspaper illustrations were critical of Castro, the Cuban government suspected him of working for the CIA. He wasn’t, but the perception had him worried harm might come to his co-workers. To get out of the situation, Prohias came to America in 1960. With his daughter helping translate, he stopped by Mad’s New York offices and submitted his work: his sneaky, triangle-headed spies became regulars.

7. THERE WAS ONE FOLD-IN THEY WOULDN'T RUN.

Artist Al Jaffee, now 94, has been with Mad almost from the beginning. He created the famous Fold-In—the back cover that reveals a new picture when doubled over—in 1964 after seeing the fold-outs in magazines like National Geographic, Playboy, and Life. Jaffee has rarely missed an issue since—but editors backtracked on one of Jaffee’s works that referenced a mass shooting in 2013. Citing poor taste, they destroyed over 600,000 copies.  

8. THEIR MOVIE WAS A DISASTER.

With the exception of Fox’s successful sketch series, 1994’s MAD TV, attempts to translate the MAD brand into other media have been underwhelming: a 1974 animated special didn’t even make it on air. But a 1980 film venture, a military school spoof directed by Robert Downey, Sr. titled Mad Presents Up the Academy, was so awful William Gaines demanded to have their name taken off of it. (Renamed Up the Academy, the DVD release of the movie still features someone sporting an Alfred E. Neuman mask; Mad parodied it in a spoof titled “Throw Up the Academy.”)

9. THE APRIL 1974 COVER HAD PEOPLE FLIPPING.


MAD Magazine

MAD has never made a habit of good taste, but a depiction of a raised middle finger for one issue in the mid-’70s caused a huge stir. Many stores wouldn’t stock it for fear of offending customers, and the company ended up accepting an irregular number of returns. Gaines took to his typewriter to write a letter of apology. Again. The relaunched #1, out in April 2018, pays homage to this cover, though it's slightly more tasteful: Neuman is picking his nose with his middle finger.

10. THEY INVENTED A SPORT.

MAD writer Tom Koch was amused by the convoluted rules of sports and attempted to one-up them in 43-Man Squamish, a game he invented for the April 1965 issue. Koch and artist George Woodbridge (“MAD’s Athletic Council”) prepared a guide that was utterly incomprehensible—the field was to have five sides, positions included Deep Brooders and Dummies, “interfering with the Wicket Men” constituted a penalty—but it amused high school and college readers enough to try and mount their own games. (Short on players? Try 2-Man Squamish: “The rules are identical,” Koch wrote, “except the object of the game is to lose.”) For the less physically inclined, Mad also issued a board game in which the goal is to lose all of your money.  

11. WEIRD AL WAS A GUEST EDITOR.

In what must be some kind of fulfilled prophecy, lyrical satirist “Weird” Al Yankovic was named as a guest editor—their first—for the magazine’s May 2015 issue. Yankovic told Entertainment Weekly that MAD had put him on “the dark, twisted path to becoming who I am today … I needed to pollute my mind with that kind of stuff.” In addition to his collaborations with the staff, Yankovic enlisted Patton Oswalt, Seth Green, and Chris Hardwick to contribute.

12. FRED ASTAIRE ONCE DANCED AS ALFRED E. NEUMAN.

In a scene so surreal even MAD’s irreverent editors would have had trouble dreaming it up, Fred Astaire decided to sport an Alfred E. Neuman mask for a dance number in his 1959 television special, Another Evening with Fred Astaire. No one seems to recall why exactly Astaire would do this—he may have just wanted to include a popular cultural reference—but it was no off-the-cuff decision. Astaire hired movie make-up veteran John Chambers (Planet of the Apes) to craft a credible mask of Neuman. The result is … well, kind of disturbing. But it’s a fitting addition to a long tradition of people going completely MAD.

Additional Sources:
Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America.

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Can You 'Hear' These Silent GIFs?
iStock
iStock

GIFs are silent—otherwise they wouldn't be GIFs. But some people claim to hear distinct noises accompanying certain clips. Check out the GIF below as an example: Do you hear a boom every time the structure hits the ground? If so, you may belong to the 20 to 30 percent of people who experience "visual-evoked auditory response," also known as vEAR.

Researchers from City University London recently published a paper online on the phenomenon in the journal Cortex, the British Psychological Society's Research Digest reports. For their study, they recruited more than 4000 volunteers and 126 paid participants and showed them 24 five-second video clips. Each clip lacked audio, but when asked how they rated the auditory sensation for each video on a scale of 0 to 5, 20 percent of the paid participants rated at least half the videos a 3 or more. The percentage was even higher for the volunteer group.

You can try out the researchers' survey yourself. It takes about 10 minutes.

The likelihood of visual-evoked auditory response, according to the researchers, directly relates to what the subject is looking at. "Some people hear what they see: Car indicator lights, flashing neon shop signs, and people's movements as they walk may all trigger an auditory sensation," they write in the study.

Images packed with meaning, like two cars colliding, are more likely to trigger the auditory illusion. But even more abstract images can produce the effect if they have high levels of something called "motion energy." Motion energy is what you see in the video above when the structure bounces and the camera shakes. It's why a video of a race car driving straight down a road might have less of an auditory impact than a clip of a flickering abstract pattern.

The researchers categorize vEAR as a type of synesthesia, a brain condition in which people's senses are combined. Those with synesthesia might "see" patterns when music plays or "taste" certain colors. Most synesthesia is rare, affecting just 4 percent of the population, but this new study suggests that "hearing motion synesthesia" is much more prevalent.

[h/t BPS Research Digest]

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