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The Quick 10: 10 Fourth of July Birthdays

I think this is one of the greatest pieces of presidential trivia out there (and I love presidential trivia): John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826. And James Monroe followed in their footsteps exactly five years later. There's only one president, however, who was born on the Fourth: Calvin Coolidge. Although they may not have been presidents, here are 10 other people who celebrate their birthdays along with the U.S.

hawthorne1. Nathaniel Hawthorne, born 1804. You no doubt remember Hawthorne from your ninth-grade English class: he wrote The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, among other things. He also wrote a biography of Franklin Pierce, whom he counted among his good friends.
2. Stephen Foster, born 1826 (the exact same date Adams and Jefferson died). Foster is sometimes called the "Father of American Music," because he wrote the tunes that have been frequently stuck in our heads ever since: Oh Susanna, Camptown Races, Beautiful Dreamer, My Old Kentucky Home and Swanee River, to name a few.

3. Louis B. Mayer, born 1882(ish "“ records are fuzzy). The story goes that Mayer chose his own birthday when he came to America with his parents. He also chose his name, his birthplace and his birth year "“ he was born Ezemiel "Lazar" Mayer (or Meir) in a small town in Belarus, but by the time he became involved with the movie business, he was Louis B. Mayer, born July 4, 1885, from Minsk.

4. Rube Goldberg, born 1883.

I wonder if he ever drew up an extremely complicated and unnecessary invention for setting off fireworks. No? Goldberg was also known for his controversial political cartoons and was so concerned that someone would try to harm him over his views that he insisted his two sons change their surnames to protect themselves. His son Thomas chose the last name George. His other son wanted to keep some sort of a family tie with his brother and also chose the last name George, resulting in the name George W. George.

5. Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren, born 1918. Twin advice columnists Ann Landers (Esther Pauline Friedman) and Dear Abby (Pauline Esther Friedman) grew up in Sioux City, Iowa. It's safe to say that they didn't celebrate many adult birthdays together; although they were very close in their younger years (they even had a joint wedding), a falling out caused the two to stop speaking to one another for years. They publicly reconciled in 1964, but were said to be rather on-again, off-again for the rest of their lives. Ann Landers' daughter said that the two were not speaking when her mother died in 2002.

6. Neil Simon, born 1927. Simon has written many plays and screenplays, including Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Lost in Yonkers, and The Goodbye Girl.

steinbrenner7. George Steinbrenner, born 1930. It's fitting that the owner of the team formerly known as the New York Americans was born on July 4th, don't you think?
8. Geraldo Rivera, born 1943. Conan's favorite mustachioed target was born in Manhattan. He was "Gerald" at the time, though. He went by "Gerry" for many years, but when he entered the field of journalism, he changed it to what his Puerto Rican father's side of the family called him.

9. Ron Kovic, born 1946. Kovic is the Vietnam Vet who wrote the book Born on the Fourth of July, which was later turned into the movie starring Tom Cruise. Go figure. During his second tour of Vietnam, he became paralyzed from a gunshot that caused a spinal cord injury. Upon his return to the U.S., he became arguably the most famous veteran peace activist.

10. Malia Obama, born 1998. The president's oldest daughter is going to have some pretty awesome celebrations on her birthday this year, that's for sure.

Who did I miss? Let me know in the comments, and have a great holiday weekend!

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10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes
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iStock

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.

1. THEY’VE BEEN AROUND SINCE THE 17TH CENTURY.

While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.

2. A GERMAN IMMIGRANT BROUGHT THE TRADITION TO THE STATES.

It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.

3. THEY HAVEN’T ALWAYS BEEN STRIPED.

Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.

4. THEY’RE A (RELATIVELY) VIRTUOUS HOLIDAY TREAT.

Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.

5. THEY DON’T ALWAYS FIT ON A CHRISTMAS TREE.

The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.

6. EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN WAY OF EATING THEM.

Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.

7. MORE THAN A BILLION ARE MADE EACH YEAR.

According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?

8. A PRIEST PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN THE CANDY’S MOVE TO MASS PRODUCTION.

Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.

9. THEY HAVE THEIR OWN (ODDLY-TIMED) HOLIDAY.

December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.

10. THE PROCESS FOR MAKING THEM BY HAND IS MESMERIZING.

Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

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MoviePilot.com
10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films
MoviePilot.com
MoviePilot.com

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.

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