The Quick 10: The Tournament of Roses Parade

This may make me a total dork, but my favorite part about New Year's Day is getting up and watching the Rose Parade in my pajamas. I'm really not interested in the Rose Bowl itself at all "“ in fact, I think I'm swearing off football in 2010 following my painful Fantasy Football loss to Jason Plautz this week. If you'll be getting up to watch the Petal Parade, here are a few fun facts you can use to impress whomever you're watching it with.

roseparade1. If you've ever wondered how many flowers it takes to decorate one float, the simple answer is: a lot. Exactly how many depends on the size of the float, but to give you an idea, it takes about 20 daisies, 30 roses or 36 marigolds to cover just one square foot. All of the floats together take approximately 18 million flowers.
2. You've probably noticed that buds and flowers don't cover the entire float. That's because certain other organic materials such as bark, seeds, spices, pods and leaves are perfectly acceptable. Living or dead material is also fine "“ if a decorator sees fit to use dead roses, that's totally within the limits of the rules.
3. Live near the parade route but didn't make it down there? Don't worry "“ you still have a chance to see the floral beauties up close. For three days, people can pay admission to check out the floats at rest. But since they are made of flowers, it's probably best to not wait until the third day "“ you won't get the full experience due to wilting.

4. The floats can get quite complicated. Past engineering feats have included small working roller coasters, a car transforming into a spaceship, and a working water slide.

5. The Grand Marshal this year is Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. He's joining a very elite group "“ past Marshals have included Mr. Rogers, George Lucas, Jimmy Stewart, Pele, Bob Hope, Charles M. Schulz, Shirley Temple Black, Kermit the Frog, Mickey Mouse, both Roy and Walt Disney, Mark Pickford, Carol Burnett, and Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. Mr. Schulz drew a Peanuts cartoon to commemorate his turn as the Marshal, in fact:

SOPHIABUSH6. Choosing a Rose Queen and her court has been a tradition for more than 90 years. With more than 90 Queens, you can bet that a few of them have gone on to bigger and better things. To date, Fay Lanphier (Rose Queen 1925) is the only person to be Miss America and the Rose Queen at the same time. The year before that she was Miss California. In 2000, One Tree Hill actress Sophia Bush held the Rose Queen title "“ that's Sophia in the picture with her court. By the way, if you have time, I highly recommend perusing the gallery of past queens "“ some of the fashions are amazing (amazingly gorgeous AND amazingly awful. The "˜80s were not kind to most of us).

7. Speaking of Queens, today's reigning royalty have it a lot easier than gals did back in the day "“ the first couple of girls elected Queen not only had to sew their own dresses for the big event, they also had to make their own floats!

8. When New Year's Day falls on a Sunday, you're going to have to wait until January 2nd to see the parade. Why? Well, back when the "floats" were really carriages festooned with flowers, officials refused to hold the parade on Sundays because the noise spooked the horses people used to get to church. Not many people are tethering horses outside of church these days, but it's tradition.

9. The Tournament of Roses Parade was originally named The Battle of the Flowers. It changed early on when the founder of the event decided he liked the ring of "Tournament" more.

10. Marching bands are chosen two years in advance "“ so although it's the 2010 Rose Parade in a couple of days, the groups that will be going in 2011 are already looking forward to it. The selection process is done that early so bands have time to raise funds to get themselves to California.

Has anyone ever been to the Rose Parade, either as a spectator or a participant? Share your experience in the comments, and I'll think of you Friday morning while I'm drinking my latte on the couch.

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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