The Quick 10: Nancy Drew

Nancy Drew looks pretty good for a gal who's been around for 80 years (80 years yesterday, to be precise), don't you think? And judging by the new line of books, the computer games, the video games and the movies (a sequel to the 2007 Emma Roberts movie has already been greenlighted), it doesn't look like she's slowing down anytime soon. And according to you guys, that's a good thing "“ from the comments, it looks like there are a lot of you who were budding sleuths back in the day who still look back on Miss Drew's adventures fondly. Here are a few facts about the girl who paved the way for Velma Dinkley and Veronica Mars.

1. Can you imagine being addicted to a series starring Diana Dare, Stella Strong, Nan Nelson or Helen Hale? Me neither. But those are a few names creator Edward Stratemeyer pitched before landing on Nancy Drew. The first choice was Nan Drew, actually, but his editors thought lengthening the name to "Nancy" made it roll off the tongue a little better.
2. Stratemeyer wrote all of the plot outlines, but he hired someone else to do the actual story writing for him. No, not Carolyn Keene (but you already knew that). Her name was Mildred Wirt and she was paid $125 to $250 for each book she wrote. She also received one fifth of the royalties from any book she had written. She didn't write all of them, but Wirt is largely regarded as having the most influence on how the character was formed.

3. Many very influential, powerful and intelligent women have cited Nancy Drew as one of their favorite books and even go so far as to say that the character helped them realize that women could do anything. This includes Sandra Day O'Connor, Sonia Sotomayor, Hilary Clinton, Laura Bush, Barbara Walters and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

4. Fact #3 is rather funny and ironic, because creator Edward Stratemeyer actually felt that a woman's place was in the home. The only reason he created a female detective character was because he had found great success in the young male demographic with the Hardy Boys a few years earlier and wanted to tap into a female audience as well. Obviously Stratemeyer's old-fashioned views didn't influence his daughters "“ they both grew up to have controlling stakes in Stratemeyer Syndicate and wrote for various Stratemeyer's book series, including the Hardy Boys.

5. Stratemeyer Syndicate was responsible for a lot of children's book series, actually, not just the two I've already mentioned. So if some series from a certain era seem rather formulaic"¦ well, they were. Other Stratemeyer Syndicate series included The Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, The Dana Girls Mystery Stories and The Kay Tracey Mysteries.

6. In France, Nancy Drew has been renamed Alice Roy. She's Kitty Drew in Sweden and Paula Drew in Finland. The book is called Miss Detective in Norway, although inside the book she's still known as Nancy. And in Germany, Nancy is a law student who goes by the name Susanne Langen.
7. Aw, poor Ned Nickerson. He spends all of his time pining after Nancy, who isn't nearly as invested in the relationship as he is. In the first Nancy Drew silver screen adaptation (1938), even his name wasn't good enough "“ screenwriters thought the name "Ned" was dated and renamed him "Ted." And when Nancy finally got to go to college in 1995 in the Nancy Drew on Campus series, readers were invited to call a 1-800 number to vote on whether Nancy should keep dating Ned or start playing the field. Readers overwhelmingly voted for a new boyfriend and the rest of the series featured a new beau named Jake. Sorry, Ned.

8. Russell Tandy was the illustrator of the original series, creating dust jackets and internal illustrations for the first 26 books. But that was just one of his gigs: he also drew six Hardy Boys covers, served as a fashion illustrator for high-end department stores, illustrated for Butterick Patterns and also designed the Jantzen swimwear logo. Plus, he had friends in high places: he counted Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali and Norman Rockwell among his nearest and dearest.

9. Of all of the Nancy Drew books out there, sales show that the second book in the series, The Hidden Staircase, is the fan favorite. As of 2001, it had sold 1,821,457 copies, making it #68 on a list of top 100 all-time bestselling children's books. This puts Miss Drew ahead of other favorites such as Eloise, Charlotte's Web, Yertle the Turtle and Curious George.

10. There was some talk of updating Nancy for the recent movies, but in the end, it was decided that making her a spy girl with advanced technology and fancy gadgets entirely contradicted the entire being of Nancy Drew. But she has gotten a few timely enhancements: in the recent Nancy Drew: All New Girl Detective series published by Simon & Schuster, Nancy drives a blue hybrid instead of her iconic blue roadster, and she has a PDA now.

Nancy fans, did you have a favorite mystery? More importantly, did you have the same apathy toward Ned that everyone else seems to?

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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