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Inside the Augusta Cocoon

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When Tiger Woods announced he'd make his comeback at the Masters, a British bookmaker immediately installed him as a 4-1 favorite. A surer bet also available for gambling types online -- even though the odds make it a virtual coin flip -- is whether Woods will have to step away after addressing the ball because of a heckler.

Having been to Augusta several times, I'd say it's not likely to happen. And certainly not more than once.

It's not that I'm absolutely sure no one will heckle him. If someone does, though, that's when the truly stone-cold lead-pipe betting odds kick in. There's a 100 percent chance that person will be escorted out, never to return. And a 99 percent chance he or she will be dunked in Rae's Creek on the way just for good measure.

A Trip Down Magnolia Lane

Tiger Woods has chosen the Augusta cocoon for obvious reasons. And reminders of why will present themselves to him as soon as he turns off Washington Rd. onto Magnolia Lane -- a paved entry to the Augusta biosphere named for the 61 magnolia trees that form a canopy stretching 300 yards to the clubhouse. [Image courtesy of Flickr user drod5044.]

That drive down Magnolia Lane was usually when the great golfer Lee Trevino started fidgeting. Trevino skipped the Masters for a few years and later admitted it was a mistake. But the exclusivity of the place always made him feel uncomfortable.

Merry Mex, as he was known, knew if he weren't a golfer he wouldn't be welcome anywhere near the place except through the kitchen. So Trevino refused to use the clubhouse even to change his shoes in the early to mid-1970s, choosing instead to use the trunk of his car as a locker.

Tiger Woods never knew that Augusta National. The club invited its first African-American member in 1990, years before Woods played at Augusta. For him, Augusta National is a safe haven, a place where he has not only won four times but where everything around him promises, as always, to be as controlled as a movie set. Once he parks his car, he'll go to the clubhouse. But not just any clubhouse.

Upstairs, above the one where invited golfers will dress, Woods will share a clubhouse with the past Masters' champions. Even the privacy at Augusta demands more privacy.

Media Relations

Woods will meet the media on the Monday after Easter. The issuing of media credentials is more limited at Augusta than at other tournaments. Not that TMZ or other outlets that made such an industry of the Woods scandal would've ever been welcome inside for the Masters anyway. But the credential application deadline passing before Woods announced his return allows the club to tell any number of media outlets, "Sorry, too late."

A club member emcees the player interviews at Augusta National. So when Woods does meet the press, he'll have a friendly face beside him orchestrating the proceedings. To say the treatment the emcee gives a guy like Woods is deferential doesn't quite cover it.

I've joked that usually by the time the interview is completed, Woods' shoes are spit shined, his ironed golf shirt collar is given turndown service and he's leaving a tip for the 30-minute chair massage. But I'm really only ruling out the the tip.

The media is allowed inside the ropes at most golf tournaments. Not at Augusta. At Augusta, everything and everyone conforms.

Lunch Break

The prices for Augusta National's famed pimento cheese sandwiches and egg salad sandwiches haven't changed in years. They are wrapped in green paper, the litter under express orders to blend in should a gust of wind send it flying off for a tour of the course. [Image courtesy of Crazy Alex Luck.]

For the Birds

I began covering the Masters for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in the mid-1980s. I shared a handful of Masters tournaments with my co-worker and friend, Dave Kindred, winner of the Red Smith Award and long-time columnist for Golf Digest.

"(The Masters) is closer to what it started out to be than any sports event in the world," Kindred wrote me recently. "Bobby Jones wanted to invite his friends to his place. Still does. It's his place, not Budweiser's, not Traveler's, certainly not CBS's (it's the only sports event, I'd guess, that takes LESS money than a network could be muscled into offering).

"In exchange, it sets the rules of commercial time, use of network promotions, maybe even the bird sounds. There is less commercial signage at Augusta National than on the zipper of any NASCAR hero suit. I can say that because there is NONE. Nobody does that. Not even Wimbledon, where there's a Rolex sign at Centre Court. Good God, Augusta tapes over the Coca-Cola logos at the concession-stand soda fountains. Coca-Cola, the elixir of Atlanta!"

Once, Kindred tells me, he was hard-up for an early-week column. He watched workers mow the fairways. The precision impressed him. He thought he could make a column out of it. So he waited for the tractor/mower man to finish.

"Except when I stopped him, he said, 'No comment,'" Kindred remembered.

Kindred's reference to the "bird sounds" was in response to my mention that some reporters for years have walked around the grounds of Augusta National at a Masters tournament hearing the sweet songs of birds celebrating spring. Yet, some contend, they never actually see any birds. Were they donning camouflage?

Now that's control.

The Masters' Slogan Clearly Isn't "Have it Your Way"

"¢ In 1966, Jack Whitaker of CBS refers to the golf fans standing around the green as a "mob." Augusta National prefers "patrons." Whitaker isn't invited back.

"¢ In 1994, Gary McCord of CBS, looking for a way to get across how fast the Augusta National greens are says the club "doesn't cut the greens, it uses bikini wax." He said the lumpy terrain looks "like body bags." That was his last Masters. They don't just eject hecklers at Augusta. They eject golf announcers, too.

"¢ When Lee Trevino balked at the $90 badge fee for his son one year, he vowed never to return to Augusta. Masters tournament chairman Hord Hardin wrote Trevino, saying, "We'll miss you but we'll try to go on without you."

"¢ But by far the most glaring example of how insular Augusta can be, and also how it handles controversy, happened when Martha Burk took aim at its male-only membership policy in 2003. Representing the National Council of Women's Organizations, Burke wrote a letter to Augusta National Chairman Hootie Johnson urging the club to open its door to women members.

Three weeks later, Johnson wrote her back, calling her letter "offensive and coercive." He said the club would admit women on its own timetable. He evoked the old south by saying the club would not act at the "the point of a bayonet."

Burk put pressure on Masters sponsors to cut ties with the event. Augusta answered in a truly remarkable fashion, by putting on a commercial-free telecast. Burk arrived at Augusta National with a couple dozen supporters to protest during the tournament. They were further marginalized by the crazies -- a cross-dressing clown and a KKK member among them.

Crowd Control

Augusta National refers to the people who walk through its gates to watch the Masters as "patrons." Not fans. That's short for fanatics. Not galleries. Patrons. Every hole has a name associated with its predominant tree or shrub. So No. 1 isn't only No. 1. It's Tea Olive. No. 3 isn't just No. 3. It's Flowering Peach.

Golfer Mac O'Grady, who enjoyed a reputation as, shall we say, a free spirit -- OK, OK, his nickname was "Whack-o Mac-o" -- explained his poor play one year by saying he was "overcome by the biophilia" (an appreciation of life and the living world).

Golf fans are overcome by it, too, which is partly why the Masters ticket is so cherished. In the old days, tickets remained in the same family forever, but somewhere along the way the club revoked its family-succession plan. Tickets had to be used by the person named and could no longer be handed down or handed off to relatives.

When Kindred worked in Atlanta, he lived in the small town of Newnan, Ga. So did long-time Masters "patron" and cartoonist David Boyd. Boyd once quoted his aging mother to Kindred for a column.

"I visited her in the nursing home," Boyd told him. "Mother said to me, 'Every night I go to bed praying to die. Every morning I wake up praying thanks I'm alive. The Lord's keeping me alive for some reason. Only thing I can think of is the Masters tickets.'"
* * * * * *
The story has long persisted that Augusta's membership never knows what its yearly dues are. Members are billed at the end of the golf season, the idea being that if you feel the need to ask what you're going to owe you're not Augusta material.

So if extra security is needed for Tigers Woods, I'm betting the club will probably be able to scrape it together.

Bud Shaw is a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer who has also written for the Philadelphia Daily News, San Diego Union-Tribune, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The National. You can read his Plain Dealer columns at Cleveland.com, and read all his mental_floss articles here.

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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.

How Apple's '1984' Super Bowl Ad Was Almost Canceled

More than 30 years ago, Apple defined the Super Bowl commercial as a cultural phenomenon. Prior to Super Bowl XVIII, nobody watched the game "just for the commercials"—but one epic TV spot, directed by sci-fi legend Ridley Scott, changed all that. Read on for the inside story of the commercial that rocked the world of advertising, even though Apple's Board of Directors didn't want to run it at all.

THE AD

If you haven't seen it, here's a fuzzy YouTube version:

"WHY 1984 WON'T BE LIKE 1984"

The tagline "Why 1984 Won't Be Like '1984'" references George Orwell's 1949 novel 1984, which envisioned a dystopian future, controlled by a televised "Big Brother." The tagline was written by Brent Thomas and Steve Hayden of the ad firm Chiat\Day in 1982, and the pair tried to sell it to various companies (including Apple, for the Apple II computer) but were turned down repeatedly. When Steve Jobs heard the pitch in 1983, he was sold—he saw the Macintosh as a "revolutionary" product, and wanted advertising to match. Jobs saw IBM as Big Brother, and wanted to position Apple as the world's last chance to escape IBM's domination of the personal computer industry. The Mac was scheduled to launch in late January of 1984, a week after the Super Bowl. IBM already held the nickname "Big Blue," so the parallels, at least to Jobs, were too delicious to miss.

Thomas and Hayden wrote up the story of the ad: we see a world of mind-controlled, shuffling men all in gray, staring at a video screen showing the face of Big Brother droning on about "information purification directives." A lone woman clad in vibrant red shorts and a white tank-top (bearing a Mac logo) runs from riot police, dashing up an aisle towards Big Brother. Just before being snatched by the police, she flings a sledgehammer at Big Brother's screen, smashing him just after he intones "We shall prevail!" Big Brother's destruction frees the minds of the throng, who quite literally see the light, flooding their faces now that the screen is gone. A mere eight seconds before the one-minute ad concludes, a narrator briefly mentions the word "Macintosh," in a restatement of that original tagline: "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984.'" An Apple logo is shown, and then we're out—back to the game.

In 1983, in a presentation about the Mac, Jobs introduced the ad to a cheering audience of Apple employees:

"... It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers, initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM-dominated and -controlled future. They are increasingly turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom. IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?"

After seeing the ad for the first time, the Apple audience totally freaked out (jump to about the 5-minute mark to witness the riotous cheering).

SKINHEADS, A DISCUS THROWER, AND A SCI-FI DIRECTOR

Chiat\Day hired Ridley Scott, whose 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner had the dystopian tone they were looking for (and Alien wasn't so bad either). Scott filmed the ad in London, using actual skinheads playing the mute bald men—they were paid $125 a day to sit and stare at Big Brother; those who still had hair were paid to shave their heads for the shoot. Anya Major, a discus thrower and actress, was cast as the woman with the sledgehammer largely because she was actually capable of wielding the thing.

Mac programmer Andy Hertzfeld wrote an Apple II program "to flash impressive looking numbers and graphs on [Big Brother's] screen," but it's unclear whether his program was used for the final film. The ad cost a shocking $900,000 to film, plus Apple booked two premium slots during the Super Bowl to air it—carrying an airtime cost of more than $1 million.

WHAT EXECUTIVES AT APPLE THOUGHT

Although Jobs and his marketing team (plus the assembled throng at his 1983 internal presentation) loved the ad, Apple's Board of Directors hated it. After seeing the ad for the first time, board member Mike Markkula suggested that Chiat\Day be fired, and the remainder of the board were similarly unimpressed. Then-CEO John Sculley recalled the reaction after the ad was screened for the group: "The others just looked at each other, dazed expressions on their faces ... Most of them felt it was the worst commercial they had ever seen. Not a single outside board member liked it." Sculley instructed Chiat\Day to sell off the Super Bowl airtime they had purchased, but Chiat\Day principal Jay Chiat quietly resisted. Chiat had purchased two slots—a 60-second slot in the third quarter to show the full ad, plus a 30-second slot later on to repeat an edited-down version. Chiat sold only the 30-second slot and claimed it was too late to sell the longer one. By disobeying his client's instructions, Chiat cemented Apple's place in advertising history.

When Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak heard that the ad was in trouble, he offered to pony up half the airtime costs himself, saying, "I asked how much it was going to cost, and [Steve Jobs] told me $800,000. I said, 'Well, I'll pay half of it if you will.' I figured it was a problem with the company justifying the expenditure. I thought an ad that was so great a piece of science fiction should have its chance to be seen."

But Woz didn't have to shell out the money; the executive team finally decided to run a 100-day advertising extravaganza for the Mac's launch, starting with the Super Bowl ad—after all, they had already paid to shoot it and were stuck with the airtime.

1984 - Big Brother

WHAT EVERYBODY ELSE THOUGHT

When the ad aired, controversy erupted—viewers either loved or hated the ad, and it spurred a wave of media coverage that involved news shows replaying the ad as part of covering it, leading to estimates of an additional $5 million in "free" airtime for the ad. All three national networks, plus countless local markets, ran news stories about the ad. "1984" become a cultural event, and served as a blueprint for future Apple product launches. The marketing logic was brilliantly simple: create an ad campaign that sparked controversy (for example, by insinuating that IBM was like Big Brother), and the media will cover your launch for free, amplifying the message.

The full ad famously ran once during the Super Bowl XVIII (on January 22, 1984), but it also ran the month prior—on December 31, 1983, TV station operator Tom Frank ran the ad on KMVT at the last possible time slot before midnight, in order to qualify for 1983's advertising awards.* (Any awards the ad won would mean more media coverage.) Apple paid to screen the ad in movie theaters before movie trailers, further heightening anticipation for the Mac launch. In addition to all that, the 30-second version was aired across the country after its debut on the Super Bowl.

Chiat\Day adman Steve Hayden recalled: "We ran a 30- second version of '1984' in the top 10 U.S. markets, plus, in an admittedly childish move, in an 11th market—Boca Raton, Florida, headquarters for IBM's PC division." Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld ended his remembrance of the ad by saying:

"A week after the Macintosh launch, Apple held its January board meeting. The Macintosh executive staff was invited to attend, not knowing what to expect. When the Mac people entered the room, everyone on the board rose and gave them a standing ovation, acknowledging that they were wrong about the commercial and congratulating the team for pulling off a fantastic launch.

Chiat\Day wanted the commercial to qualify for upcoming advertising awards, so they ran it once at 1 AM at a small television station in Twin Falls, Idaho, KMVT, on December 15, 1983 [incorrect; see below for an update on this -ed]. And sure enough it won just about every possible award, including best commercial of the decade. Twenty years later it's considered one of the most memorable television commercials ever made."

THE AWFUL 1985 FOLLOW-UP

A year later, Apple again employed Chiat\Day to make a blockbuster ad for their Macintosh Office product line, which was basically a file server, networking gear, and a laser printer. Directed by Ridley Scott's brother Tony, the new ad was called "Lemmings," and featured blindfolded businesspeople whistling an out-of-tune version of Snow White's "Heigh-Ho" as they followed each other off a cliff (referencing the myth of lemming suicide).

Jobs and Sculley didn't like the ad, but Chiat\Day convinced them to run it, pointing out that the board hadn't liked the last ad either. But unlike the rousing, empowering message of the "1984" ad, "Lemmings" directly insulted business customers who had already bought IBM computers. It was also weirdly boring—when it was aired at the Super Bowl (with Jobs and Sculley in attendance), nobody really reacted. The ad was a flop, and Apple even proposed running a printed apology in The Wall Street Journal. Jay Chiat shot back, saying that if Apple apologized, Chiat would buy an ad on the next page, apologizing for the apology. It was a mess:

20-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

In 2004, the ad was updated for the launch of the iPod. The only change was that the woman with the hammer was now listening to an iPod, which remained clipped to her belt as she ran. You can watch that version too:

FURTHER READING

Chiat\Day adman Lee Clow gave an interview about the ad, covering some of this material.

Check out Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld's excellent first-person account of the ad. A similar account (but with more from Jobs's point of view) can found in the Steve Jobs biography, and an even more in-depth account is in The Mac Bathroom Reader. The Mac Bathroom Reader is out of print; you can read an excerpt online, including QuickTime movies of the two versions of the ad, plus a behind-the-scenes video. Finally, you might enjoy this 2004 USA Today article about the ad, pointing out that ads for other computers (including Atari, Radio Shack, and IBM's new PCjr) also ran during that Super Bowl.

* = A Note on the Airing in 1983

Update: Thanks to Tom Frank for writing in to correct my earlier mis-statement about the first air date of this commercial. As you can see in his comment below, Hertzfeld's comments above (and the dates cited in other accounts I've seen) are incorrect. Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Frank, in which we discuss what it was like running both "1984" and "Lemmings" before they were on the Super Bowl!

Update 2: You can read the story behind this post in Chris's book The Blogger Abides.

This post originally appeared in 2012.

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