The Quick 10: 10 Dark Days

Have you guys heard about the Australian Dust Storm? It makes me (and probably plenty of other people) think of the Dust Bowl in the U.S. and Canada in the 1930s, especially a particularly bad day in 1935 called Black Sunday. You might be familiar with it, and you might also have heard of Black Friday "“ the famous (or infamous?) shopping day after Thanksgiving every year. But every day of the week has a "Black" day in history, usually when a horrible economic downturn or natural disaster happened. Here are 10 of those "Black" days.

duststorm1. Black Sunday. It was April 14, 1935, and the "˜30s weren't known as the Dirty Thirties for nothing. But this one was even worse than anything Dust Bowlers had seen yet, and it was totally unexpected. When the day started, it was a clear, sunny day. The huge cloud came from seemingly nowhere and pelted people, buildings and cars at winds up to 60 mph.
2. Black Monday "“ October 28, 1929 - was one of the horrific days during the Wall Street Crash of 1929, and it's not just reserved for Monday. The crash was so extreme that it also gets a Black Thursday, Black Friday and a Black Tuesday. But you'd get bored if I wrote about the same event four times (although that would make for a really fast Q10), so let's just leave it at Black Monday.

3. Black Tuesday occurred throughout Tasmania in February of 1967 when bushfires swept across the island, killing 62 people and injuring nearly 1,000. And when I say "bushfires," I don't mean a couple, or 10, or even 50. 125 separate fires contributed to the disaster that left about 7,000 people homeless. Some fires were purely accidental, but some were lit on purpose to burn off and just got out of control in the extremely dry conditions.

pound4. Black Wednesday was a dark day for England indeed "“ on September 16, 1992, the pound had to be withdrawn from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism because its value wouldn't stay above the lowest agreed-upon level. The result? Several years later, the U.K. Treasury estimated that Black Wednesday cost nearly 3.5 billion pounds (in a single day!).

5. Black Thursday has a few connotations, including a terrible loss of lives during WWII in 1943. The Allies raided Schweinfurt, Germany, dropping bombs on ball bearing factories. The weather forced American forces to spread out, leaving planes more vulnerable to attack. In the end, 77 bombers died and so did 650 crew members.

6. Black Friday is a good thing and a bad thing in the U.K. "“ as the last Friday before Christmas, it's the most popular time for holiday parties and outings with friends. The restaurants, pubs and clubs are bustling and it's a big money-maker for businesses. As you might suspect, though, all of the revelry makes it one of the busiest nights of the year for emergency services as well.

vince7. Black Saturday is a day some wrestling fans will tell you about with a sneer. Me? I think it's a bit dramatic. Then again, that's what Vince McMahon is all about, right? Black Saturday in wrestling refers to July 14, 1984, when McMahon ousted the popular Georgia Championship Wrestling program from its timeslot on TBS and took it over for his then-WWF program. This might not seem like a big deal, but GCW had been on the air since the station's inception and had a pretty dedicated fan base. Not to mention that the two shows represented the two sides of wrestling "“ purely athletic vs. McMahon's brand of soap opera wrestling. GCW fans weren't too thrilled with their show's replacement. Something tells me our own Jason English knows more about this subject"¦

8. In the wonderful world of Disney "Black Sunday" is the name given to the opening day of Disneyland in Anaheim on July 17, 1955. It was a total disaster. The 101 degree temperature meant that high heels sunk into the freshly-laid asphalt; a gas leak closed Fantasyland, Adventureland and Frontierland for the afternoon; vendors ran out of food and the water fountains didn't work. For many years, Disney claimed that July 18 was the opening day, preferring to pretend that Black Sunday didn't happen.

9. Gamers might consider June 19, 2000 to be Black Monday. Why? Because it's the day that Microsoft bought out Bungie, the company that made the game Halo.

10. Black Friday of 1869 is another financial panic in the U.S. brought on by the actions of just two people. Two men recruited the brother-in-law of then-President Grant to convince the President to hire Daniel Butterfield as an assistant U.S. Treasurer. Butterfield was corrupt and promised to tell the men when the government was going to sell gold. He did, and the two men started buying it all, driving the demand (and the price) up. Then the government sold $4 million in gold, causing it to be less precious, and the premium took a dive. Lots of people lost lots of money, but unsurprisingly, the two men who started it all came out smelling like roses. Many people believed that Grant was in on the scandal; it was just one of many to rock his career.

Any other "Black" days come to mind? Share them in the comments! And if any of you are in Australia, let us know what's going on there today.

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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?


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.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


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

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

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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