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As Kara mentioned this morning, Saturday marked the 40th anniversary of the taking of the iconic photo that graced the cover of the Beatles' Abbey Road album and it was celebrated with all the crazed enthusiasm that a band that once claimed they were bigger than Jesus can still inspire.


Unfortunately, I wasn't able to head down there for the mayhem "“ I was engaging in another British passion, "walking," and was out in the country on a 10-mile hike "“ but I have been able to catch up on some of the goings on. According to published reports, it was a madhouse: Hundreds of Beatles fans, some in costume, flocked to the famous crosswalk (called, quaintly enough, a "zebra crossing" here), singing along to the St. Pepper's Only Dartboard Band covers and stopping traffic for a few hours. From photos and TV news coverage, it looked to be an awesome party and no doubt the remaining Beatles are still smiling.

In honor of the occasion, here's a bit of Abbey Road trivia, of all sorts:

The album was originally going to be called Everest, after the brand of cigarettes the band's sound engineer, Geoff Emerik, smoked. That idea was nixed when they realized that actually going to the Himalayas to do the photo shoot would be a bit prohibitive, and they tried to think of something closer to home. Ultimately, Paul McCartney sketched out a picture of four little stick figures in the zebra crossing, and the idea was born.

Abbey Road was the final album recorded by the band, though not the final one released (that would be Let It Be).

The album, in order, included:
- John Lennon's "Come Together," which was inspired by a campaign song he wrote for Timothy Leary's bid for governor of California

- George Harrison's "Something," one of his first successful songwriting efforts

- Paul McCartney's "Maxwell's Silver Hammer"

- "Oh! Darling" also by McCartney

- The trippy "Octopus's Garden," written by Ringo Starr

- "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is one of the Beatles' longest songs "“ it cuts out at 7:44, leading some people to believe there was actually something wrong with the recording

- "Here Comes the Sun," also by Harrison

- "Because" by Lennon and inspired by Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata"

- The medley "“ it's a collection of several short songs, strung together. There's "You Never Give Me Your Money," "Sun King," "Mean Mr. Mustard," "Polythene Pam," "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight" and "The End."

- "Her Majesty", which was originally part of the medley

It was recorded mainly on an 8-track tape, featured the Moog synthesizer, and the was one of the most successful Beatles' album ever, debuting at number one on the UK charts. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named Abbey Road the 14th greatest album of all time.

The Tributes

biggerthanjesusVirtually every tourist who crosses Abbey Road has had their photo taken in the pose (much to the chagrin of drivers), but there have been other, more famous folks, who have imitated the famous photo: The Red Hot Chili Peppers for their Abbey Road EP, naked, but for a few strategically placed (and somewhat optimistically large) socks; Homer Simpson's barbershop quartet The Be Sharps, with their album, Bigger Than Jesus; The Simpson family on the cover of Rolling Stone; Benny Hill, for his Best of Benny Hill album; Booker T and the MG's; Kanye West's Live Orchestration DVD; even SpongeBob SquarePants did it, with an episode called "Krabby Road."

The Road

Abbey Road is in NW8, the St. John's Wood section of town, and northwest of Regent's Park. There are rumors that the original zebra crossing, the one the actual Beatles' touched with their actual feet, has been removed and is now in some bunker somewhere for safekeeping. How this would even be possible is unclear, but hey, the album inspired even stranger rumors than that (see "Paul is dead").

But it is true that because of the crossing's popularity with tourists, officials have long been trying to move the crossing, claiming that it's a "death trap." Councillors from the neighborhood have cited the 22 accidents at the crosswalk since 2000 and say that it would be safer to move the crossing to a less auspicious location; fans have vowed to protest.

You can watch the crossing, any time, night or day, via the Abbey Road webcam. It's a bit weird to watch an intersection, no matter how famous, but keep your eyes peeled for tourists re-enacting the photo and angry cab drivers cursing at them.

See Also: Miss Cellania's 'Many Views of Abbey Road'

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The Sweet Surprise Reunion Mr. Rogers Never Saw Coming
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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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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.

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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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