The Quick 10: 10 Really Bizarre Soap Opera Plots

I don't watch soap operas these days, but every now and then I hear about a particularly strange event in Salem or Port Charles. Amnesia, false marriages, faked deaths, mistaken identity - those things are so old hat. I'm talking really out-there plots, like the 10 below.

luke1. Luke and Laura save the world from being frozen. So, this evil Greek billionaire named Mikkos is looking for a diamond called The Ice Princess, and as luck would have it, so is Luke. It turns out that the only reason Mikkos wants the rock is to (insert Dr. Evil pinkie here) take over the world, and to show he means business, he uses a machine to make a blizzard randomly appear in Port Charles. If his demands aren't met, Mikkos plans on plunging the entire world into an ice age. Luckily, Luke and Laura manage to turn off the machine and kill Mikkos. However, Mikkos' widow - Elizabeth Taylor, of course - shows up at Luke and Laura's wedding and places a curse on them for killing her husband. Those crazy kids!

2. Marlena is possessed by the Devil. I remember this one, because I was in junior high and had all summer to immerse myself in the Days of our Lives town of Salem. Sad, I know. Marlena has been through all kinds of turmoil, but this is my favorite. Her constant and unwanted suitor, Stefano DiMera, drugged Marlena night after night so he could do as he pleased with her. This apparently left her open to demon possession, and before long, Marlena was levitating and threatening to kill her friends and family. Luckily, John Black "remembered" that he had been ordained as a priest, performed an exorcism, and sent the Devil back to the netherworld. Whew.

3. It was all a dream... a dog's dream. See, it's not just American soaps that are ridiculous. In the Australian soap Neighbours (very popular in the U.K.), camera time was actually dedicated to a segment where Bouncer, a lovable labrador retriever, fell asleep and had a dream that he married the dog next door. So... yeah.

4. Time travel to 1888. In 1988, Clint from One Life to Live had an accident in the desert. When he woke up, he found himself in the old West town of Buchanan City. Viki (Erika Slezak) had to follow his time-traveling footsteps to get him to make the leap home again. And thank God she did - he was just about to marry one of his ancestors. Ew.

timmy5. Timmy, the doll that came to life. It's kind of hard to know where to start with Passions - the whole thing was a bit ridiculous - but Timmy the doll is a good start. Timmy, of course, is the companion of Tabitha the witch. He helped her sink the Titanic, among many other great disasters. One year, he wished upon a star to be a real boy, just like Pinocchio, but with somewhat different results. When his wish came true, Tabitha claimed the living doll was her nephew and the two of them continued to wreak havoc on the town of Harmony until one of their evil plots backfired, killing Timmy. Don't worry - he was replaced by another doll named Cracked Connie and her boyfriend, Demented Cecil. Totally everyday stuff, you know?

6. Precious, the obsessive orangutan nurse. Let's stay in the offbeat town of Harmony for a minute. This is a place where it's perfectly acceptable to hire an orangutan when you can't afford a human caregiver for your ailing mother. I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. Not only did Precious take care of the elderly, she also developed a crush on a human character named Luis. Alas, Luis didn't return Precious' love (I should hope not - bestiality is a line even Passions should probably avoid), and when Precious left town in 2005, she took a pictures of Luis with her and released it out the window of the train she was riding to prove that the Luis chapter of her life had closed. How dramatic! The Passions crew thought the performance was Emmy-worthy and tried to nominate the primate for an award; however, the Academy responded that the award was intended for humans only.

7. Killer clones. Reva on Guiding Light was cloned after her husband thought she died in a plane crash. It turned out that she hadn't died, though, and when Reva tried to return to her life, her clone tried to kill her. Sigh. Don't you hate when that happens?

marlena8. A mystery island full of missing people presumed to be dead. We travel back to Salem for this crazy plot, which, of course, involves Marlena again. After Marlena is revealed to be the fearer Salem Stalker - a serial killer who had taken several victims - she "dies," but actually finds herself on an island that looks exactly like Salem, populated with all of the supposed Salem Stalker victims. Turns out that Tony DiMera faked everyone's deaths because he wanted to split up all of the great couples of Salem. That's a pretty elaborate scheme just to break some people up!

9. Gorilla Kidnapping. Apparently the appearance of apes and gorillas on soap operas is more common than you might think. On the now-defunct Ryan's Hope, Delia Reid Coleridge was once kidnapped by a horny gorilla. Man, if I had a nickel for every time that happened to me...

10. Death by Bear. Animal guest appearances aren't just limited to primates. On The Bold and the Beautiful, Pamela was just about to shoot her rival, Donna, in a remote cabin the the woods. Donna is all set to escape when she notices a bear lurking outside and decides her chances are better with Pamela. Pamela knocks Donna out, and when Donna comes to, she's covered in honey and tied to a chair: Pamela has decided to entice the bear into eating her. Unfortunately, the plan didn't work and the carnivorous Winnie-the-Pooh didn't get his snack.

I'm definitely aware that these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the insanity on soap operas. What's the weirdest plotline you can remember? I'm also partial to the time Stefano held Marlena captive in a cage in the sewers of Paris, but I figured two Marlena moments were enough. Leave a comment and let us know your favorites!


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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