CLOSE
Original image

The Quick 10: 10 Facts About Stephen King

Original image

It's Stephen King's birthday! Do you suppose he's celebrating somewhere with a Bloody Mary? (He's not: see Fact #8.) I know "“ just because a guy writes in the horror genre doesn't mean he loves all things creepy. But in King's case, I think he does. Anyway. Whether you like his writing or consider it fluff, he's one of the most successful and prolific authors out there, so today's Q10 commemorates the King of Terror's 62 years.

graves1. King and his wife, Tabitha, own "The Zone Corporation," a company that serves to head their three radio stations in Maine. One of them, WKIT, goes by the tagline "Stephen King's Rock "˜n' Roll Station" and has a mascot named Doug E. Graves. That's him in the picture to the left. The picture is from the website of Christian Hanson, the artist who made the mask, by the way. Only four were ever produced and at least one of them resides in King's private collection.

2. He's a hardcore Red Sox fan. Not only did he write a story about the Sox - The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (a former BoSox pitcher) - he also had a little cameo in the Jimmy Fallon/Drew Barrymore movie Fever Pitch, which is about a crazed Boston fan. He plays himself and throws out the first pitch at a game. And, in 2004, he and Stewart O'Nan, another novelist, chronicled their reactions to the season that finally brought the World Series title back to Beantown. It's appropriately titled Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season.

3. You probably remember that King was hit by a van not far from his home in 1999. He suffered from a collapsed lung, a broken hip, a gash to the head and a leg broken in nine places. Afterward, King and his lawyer bought the van for $1,500 and when King was better, he wailed on it with a baseball bat before sending it to be crushed at a junkyard.

4. There may be a reason for the way his brain seems to be able to create chilling stories at such an amazing clip: he saw a friend get struck and killed by a train when he was just a kid. The idea that such a traumatizing event stuck with him and inspired his line of work is one that King shrugs off.

5. He wrote a musical with John Mellencamp. It's based on a house that Mellencamp bought in Indiana that came complete with a ghost story. The legend is that three siblings were messing around in the woods and one of the brothers accidentally got shot. The surviving brother and sister jumped in the car to go get help, and in their panic, swerved off the road right into a tree and were killed instantly. Of course, the three now haunt the woods by the house Mellencamp bought. The singer approached King about maybe doing something with the story, and between the two of them, they wrote songs and a plot for a musical called The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.

6. If you're a regular Q10 reader, you already know that Stephen King plays rhythm guitar for a band made up of writers. They're called The Rock Bottom Remainders and they "tour" about once a year. King shares the stage with Amy Tan, Mitch Albom, Matt Groening and Ridley Pearson, among others.

kingshouse7. He writes about Maine a lot because he knows and loves Maine. He grew up there and now lives in Bangor. Castle Rock, Derry, and Jerusalem's Lot are just products of King's imagination, but he can tell you exactly where in the state they would be if they were real. And his house is awesome. The gate is why I think he appreciates all things creepy, or at least has a pretty good sense of humor about himself. J.W. over at Odd Things I've Seen has written a post about his trip to King's manor, should you feel inclined to virtually drop in.

8. Maybe this is a surprise and maybe it isn't "“ King had pretty serious drug and alcohol addictions in the "˜80s. He says that he doesn't remember writing Cujo at all, really, and wishes he could. It came to a head when his family members confronted him with drug paraphernalia they had collected from his trash can, including Xanax, cocaine, beer cans and Valium. It was the eye-opener he needed: he got help and has been sober ever since.

9. King is an avid Lost fan and sometimes writes about it in his Entertainment Weekly column "The Pop of King." The feeling is mutual "“ the writers mentioned that King was a major influence in their work. There was a lot of speculation that he was the man behind Bad Twin, a Lost tie-in mystery published a few years ago, but he has debunked that rumor. He loves Hurley and Ben.

10. Of the five people in the immediate King family, four of them are authors. Tabitha King, Stephen's wife, has seven published novels. Joe, their oldest son, followed in his dad's footsteps and is a horror writer (I really like his books, for what it's worth). Youngest child Owen has written a collection of short stories and one novella (and he married a writer). Naomi, the only King daughter, is a minister and gay activist.

Original image
iStock
10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes
Original image
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.

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

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios