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11 Memorable Novelty Songs

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From rockin’ ghouls to rollin’ truckers, here are 11 unforgettable novelty songs.

1. “Poisoning Pigeons In The Park” (1959)

Written and Performed by Tom Lehrer

Dr. Demento once called Lehrer “the greatest satirist of the 20th Century.” On this bouncy number, the math professor turned songwriter paints an idyllic portrait of spring, then goes pitch black on couplets like: “When they see us coming the birdies all try and hide / But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide.”

2. “Monster Mash” (1962)

Written by Bobby Pickett and Leonard Capizzi
Performed by Bobby Boris Pickett & The Crypt Kickers

Wannabe actor Bobby Pickett had a knack for impersonations, among them Boris Karloff. On weekends, he played in a cover band. One stormy night, Pickett mixed Karloff with “Little Darlin’” by The Diamonds, and “The Monster Mash” was created.

3. “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-ha” (1966)

Written by Jerry Samuels
Performed by Napoleon XIV

Recording engineer Jerry Samuels once spent eight months in a psychiatric hospital. Apparently the experience left an impression. This monologue of a man driven insane by his badly behaved dog was demented when played forward. And even more so on the B-side, where it’s recorded backwards!

4. “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” (1968)

Written by Al Dubin and Joe Burke
Performed by Tiny Tim

With his wobbly falsetto, dippy looks and beat-up ukulele, Tiny Tim (née Herbert Khaury) was like some time-traveling Vaudeville star. This update of a 1929 tune was his biggest hit. Tim later died of cardiac arrest while singing it on stage at a benefit in 1996.

5. “Convoy” (1975)

Written by William Fries and Louis Davis
Performed by C.W. McCall

As the CB Radio fad swept the country, one C.W. McCall (William Fries’ stage name) lent his drawl to a trucker’s drama loaded full of jargon. “10-4, good buddy” became a national catchphrase.

6. “King Tut” (1978)

Written by Steve Martin
Performed by Steve Martin & the Toot Uncommons

Boy King meets Wild and Crazy Guy. Spoofing the Tutankhamen exhibit that was touring museums in 1978, Martin wrapped every mummy cliché in the book around this hit. Best line: “He had a condo made a stone-ah.”

7. “The Curly Shuffle” (1983)

Written by Peter Quinn
Performed by Jump ‘N’ The Saddle Band

A jumpin’ jive tribute to everyone’s favorite Stooge. After it hit, the Chicago-based bar band was briefly courted by Atlantic Records, who apparently wanted them to come up with a Marx Brothers novelty song. “The Groucho Stoop”?

8. “Eat It” (1984)

Written and Performed by Weird Al Yankovic

Michael Jackson reportedly thought it was amusing enough to grant permission. The first in a long string of charting parody hits for the accordion-playing Yankovic. “Get yourself an egg and beat it.”

9. “The Chanukah Song” (1994)

Written by Adam Sandler, Lewis Morton and Ian Maxtone-Graham
Performed by Adam Sandler

After Sandler debuted his holiday song on SNL in December 1994, he went on to record three separate versions over the next decade, including one for the soundtrack of his film Eight Crazy Nights. And his list of Jewish celebrity shout-outs grew, taking in everyone from David Lee Roth to Debra Messing.

10. “Who Let The Dogs Out” (2000)

Written by Anslem Douglas
Performed by Baha Men

Who let the dogs out? You might want to blame Alex Rodriguez.

The director of promotions for the Seattle Mariners first played the Baha Men song at a Major League game as a joke on backup catcher Joe Oliver. A-Rod was there, and unfortunately, he liked the tune. Rodriguez requested that stadium officials play the song as his batter introduction music, and soon, ballparks around the nation were blaring “Who Let the Dogs Out?” over their loudspeakers.

11. “Bowie’s In Space” (2006)

Written by Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement
Performed by Flight of the Conchords

After New Zealand’s fourth most popular folk duo receive some counseling from an apparition of David Bowie, they sing this parody tribute. Best line: “I’m jamming out with the Mick Jagger-nauts / Ooh, and they think it’s pretty cool.”

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15 Must-Watch Facts About The Ring
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DreamWorks

An urban legend about a videotape that kills its viewers seven days after they see it turns out to be true. To her increasing horror, reporter Rachel Keller (then-newcomer Naomi Watts) discovers this after her niece is one of four teenage victims, and is in a race against the clock to uncover the mystery behind the girl in the video before her and her son’s time is up.

Released 15 years ago, on October 18, 2002, The Ring began a trend of both remaking Japanese horror films in a big way, and giving you nightmares about creepy creatures crawling out of your television. Here are some facts about the film that you can feel free to pass along to anybody, guilt-free.

1. DREAMWORKS BOUGHT THE AMERICAN RIGHTS TO RINGU FOR $1 MILLION.

There were conflicting stories over how executive producer Roy Lee came to see the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu, Hideo Nakata's adaptation of the 1991 novel Ring by Kôji Suzuki. Lee said two different friends gave him a copy of Ringu in January 2001, which he loved and immediately gave to DreamWorks executive Mark Sourian, who agreed to purchase the rights. But Lee’s close friend Mike Macari worked at Fine Line Features, which had an American remake of Ringu in development before January 2001. Macari said he showed Lee Ringu much earlier. Macari and Lee were both listed as executive producers for The Ring.

2. THE DIRECTOR FIRST SAW RINGU ON A POOR QUALITY VHS TAPE, WHICH ADDED TO ITS CREEPINESS.

Gore Verbinski had previously directed MouseHunt. He said the first time he "watched the original Ringu was on a VHS tape that was probably seven generations down. It was really poor quality, but actually that added to the mystique, especially when I realized that this was a movie about a videotape." Naomi Watts struggled to find a VHS copy of Ringu while shooting in the south of Wales. When she finally got a hold of one she watched it on a very small TV alone in her hotel room. "I remember being pretty freaked out," Watts said. "I just saw it the once, and that was enough to get me excited about doing it."

3. THE RING AND RINGU ARE ABOUT 50 PERCENT DIFFERENT.

Naomi Watts in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

Verbinski estimated that, for the American version, they "changed up to 50 percent of it. The basic premise is intact, the story is intact, the ghost story, the story of Samara, the child." Storylines involving the characters having ESP, a volcano, “dream logic,” and references to “brine and goblins” were taken out.

4. IT RAINED ALMOST EVERY DAY WHEN THEY FILMED IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON.

The weather added to the “atmosphere of dread,” according to the film's production notes. Verbinski said the setting allowed them to create an “overcast mood” of dampness and isolation.

5. THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER WAS INFLUENCED BY ANDREW WYETH.

Artist Andrew Wyeth tended to use muted, somber earth tones in his work. "In Wyeth's work, the trees are always dormant, and the colors are muted earth tones," explained production designer Tom Duffield. "It's greys, it's browns, it's somber colors; it's ripped fabrics in the windows. His work has a haunting flavor that I felt would add to the mystique of this movie, so I latched on to it."

6. THERE WERE RINGS EVERYWHERE.

The carpeting and wallpaper patterns, the circular kitchen knobs, the doctor’s sweater design, Rachel’s apartment number, and more were purposely designed with the film's title in mind.

7. WATTS AND MARTIN HENDERSON HAD A FRIENDLY INTERNATIONAL RIVALRY.

Martin Henderson and Naomi Watts star in 'The Ring' (1992)
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

The New Zealand-born Henderson played Noah, Rachel’s ex-husband. Since Watts is from Australia, Henderson said that, "Between takes, we'd joke around with each other's accents and play into the whole New Zealand-Australia rivalry."

8. THE TWO WEREN’T SURE IF THE MOVIE WAS GOING TO BE SCARY ENOUGH.

After shooting some of the scenes, and not having the benefit of seeing what they'd look like once any special effects were added, Henderson and Watts worried that the final result would not be scary enough. "There were moments when Naomi and I would look at each other and say, 'This is embarrassing, people are going to laugh,'" Henderson told the BBC." You just hope that somebody makes it scary or you're going to look like an idiot!"

9. CHRIS COOPER WAS CUT FROM THE MOVIE.

Cooper played a child murderer in two scenes which were initially meant to bookend the film. He unconvincingly claimed to Rachel that he found God in the beginning, and in the end she gave him the cursed tape. Audiences at test screenings were distracted that an actor they recognized disappears for most of the film, so he was cut out entirely.

10. THEY TRIED TO GET RID OF ALL OF THE SHADOWS.

Verbinski and cinematographer Bojan Bazelli used the lack of sunlight in Washington to remove the characters’ shadows. The two wanted to keep the characters feeling as if “they’re floating a little bit, in space.”

11. THE TREE WAS NICKNAMED "LUCILLE."

The red Japanese maple tree in the cursed video was named after the famous redheaded actress Lucille Ball. The tree was fake, built out of steel tubing and plaster. The Washington wind blew it over three different times. The night they put up the tree in Los Angeles, the wind blew at 60 miles per hour and knocked Lucille over yet again. "It was very strange," said Duffield.

12. MOESKO ISLAND IS A FUNCTIONING LIGHTHOUSE.

Moesko Island Lighthouse is Yaquina Head Lighthouse, at the mouth of the Yaquina River, a mile west of Agate Beach, Oregon. The website Rachel checks, MoeskoIslandLighthouse.com, used to actually exist as a one-page website, which gave general information on the fictional place. You can read it here.

13. A WEBSITE WAS CREATED BY DREAMWORKS TO PROMOTE THE MOVIE AND ADD TO ITS MYTHOLOGY.

Before and during the theatrical release, if you logged into AnOpenLetter.com, you could read a message in white lettering against a black background warning about what happens if you watch the cursed video (you can read it here). By November 24, 2002, it was a standard official website made for the movie, set up by DreamWorks.

14. VERBINSKI DIDN’T HAVE FUN DIRECTING THE MOVIE.

“It’s no fun making a horror film," admitted Verbinski. "You get into some darker areas of the brain and after a while everything becomes a bit depressing.”

15. DAVEIGH CHASE SCARED HERSELF.

Daveigh Chase in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

When Daveigh Chase, who played Samara, saw The Ring in theaters, she had to cover her eyes out of fear—of herself. Some people she met after the movie came out were also afraid of her.

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European Space Agency Releases First High-Res Land Cover Map of Africa
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Land Cover CCI, ESA

This isn’t just any image of Africa. It represents the first of its kind: a high-resolution map of the different types of land cover that are found on the continent, released by The European Space Agency, as Travel + Leisure reports.

Land cover maps depict the different physical materials that cover the Earth, whether that material is vegetation, wetlands, concrete, or sand. They can be used to track the growth of cities, assess flooding, keep tabs on environmental issues like deforestation or desertification, and more.

The newly released land cover map of Africa shows the continent at an extremely detailed resolution. Each pixel represents just 65.6 feet (20 meters) on the ground. It’s designed to help researchers model the extent of climate change across Africa, study biodiversity and natural resources, and see how land use is changing, among other applications.

Developed as part of the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) Land Cover project, the space agency gathered a full year’s worth of data from its Sentinel-2A satellite to create the map. In total, the image is made from 90 terabytes of data—180,000 images—taken between December 2015 and December 2016.

The map is so large and detailed that the space agency created its own online viewer for it. You can dive further into the image here.

And keep watch: A better map might be close at hand. In March, the ESA launched the Sentinal-2B satellite, which it says will make a global map at a 32.8 feet-per-pixel (10 meters) resolution possible.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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