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7 Seinfeld Plots That Happened in Real Life

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Seinfeld was hardly a show about nothing. Sure, Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer spent much of their nine-year run chatting in Monk's Diner, but they still somehow managed to get themselves tangled in some truly peculiar situations. Often, these storylines seemed to border on the ridiculous. And yet, several similar storylines are all too real. Indeed, whether by accident or because they were directly inspired by the classic sitcom, some people have played out several Seinfeld moments in real life. 

1. The literary fugitive

Seinfeld plot: A New York Public Library investigations officer named Mr. Bookman comes after Jerry to track down a copy of the Tropic of Cancer that Jerry took out in 1971 and never returned. At the cost of a nickel a day for 20 years, Kramer surmises, such a long-term offense will cost Jerry $50,000. After conducting his own investigation, Jerry finds that it was the Tropic of Capricorn he returned so many years ago, not the missing Tropic of Cancer. He relents and writes a check (for much less than $50,000) to the library.

Real-life story: On Feb. 4, a branch of the New York Public Library received a long-lost copy ofThe Fire of Francis Xavier, 55 years after it was first checked out. While the real-life literary fugitive wasn't apprehended by the dedicated efforts of a humorless library cop, he or she clearly felt some shame, opting to send the book through the mail instead of dropping it off in person. 

2. The false positive

Seinfeld plot: Elaine has the opportunity to accompany her boss J. Peterman to Kenya, but a pretrip physical reveals traces of opium in her urine. Believing Elaine to be a drug addict, Peterman bans her from the trip and fires her. Elaine begs for another test and fails again. Down and out at Monk's Diner, Elaine orders her regular poppy seed muffin and airs her grievances to no one in particular. One customer speaks up and tells her it's the poppy seeds that are causing her trouble. Reinvigorated, Elaine tries for a third test but is thwarted again by those tasty little seeds and, despite hoodwinking Peterman with someone else's urine, still isn't allowed on the trip.

Real-life story: After Elizabeth Mort gave birth in 2010, her baby was taken away from her as doctors found trace amounts of opium in Mort's blood stream. Mort immediately lawyered up, saying that the tiny amount of the supposed drug was caused by her having eaten a poppy seed bagel before going into labor. The county hospital realized its mistake, and the baby was returned to the mother after spending five days in foster care. Mort moved forward with her lawsuit, which she won in November 2012.

3. The beach cologne

 
Seinfeld plot: Kramer is a man of many of ideas, most of which don't go anywhere. But one invention — a cologne that makes you smell like the beach — actually seems promising. Kramer pitches the idea to Calvin Klein, but gets shot down. In a later episode, however, Kramer finds that Calvin Klein stole the idea and produced the perfume. 

Real-life plot: Leave it to high-concept perfumer Christopher Brosius to follow Kramer's lead. Included in his eclectic array of literal scents — ranging from Basil to Doll Head — is The Beach 1966, which carries the prime notes of Coppertone 1967 blended with the North Atlantic, wet sand, seashell, driftwood, and "just a hint of boardwalk." When combined and worn, it will smell as though "you've been swimming all day in the ocean." 

4. The noisy nuisance

 
Seinfeld plot: Elaine is at her wits end with a barking dog, and mulls hiring someone to kill it. She even meets with the fixer — Newman, of course — but takes the offer back, realizing that she can't stomach hurting the dog. But still desperate for a good night's sleep, Elaine, along with Newman and Kramer, kidnaps the dog and tries unsuccessfully to set it free in the country.

Real-life story: A city in Australia once considered a plan that would shut canine nuisances up permanently. At first, owners who couldn't control their pets would be steeply fined. Then, if owners continued to thwart the system, agents would make an in-home visit. Should the agent find the owner not at home and the dog barking, said agent would have the license to take the dog away. Once in the shelter, the pets would be euthanized if not collected within a certain time. I suppose rounding the dogs up and setting them free in the country would be too much work with too little payoff.

5. A Festivus for the rest of us

 
Seinfeld plot: Festivus is a holiday invented by George Constanza's father, Frank. It's celebrated annually on Dec. 23, and instead of a decorated tree, an aluminum pole stands unadorned in the living room. Instead of gathering around for presents, family members lash out at each other and the world during the "Airing of Grievances." The final tradition is the "Feats of Strength," in which the head of the household selects one person at the celebration and challenges him or her to a wrestling match. Festivus does not officially come to a close until said patriarch is pinned. 

Real-life story: Festivus actually existed before this Seinfeld episode aired — but only in the home of one of the show's writers. After the 1997 airdate, Festivus spread its wings, and instances of the bizarre holiday popped up all over the country. The D.C. neighborhood of Adams Morgan, for example, has for at least three years running held Festivus festivities that include a homemade pole, the annual airing of grievances, and Festivus T-shirt giveaways. In 2005, then-Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle set up a Festivus pole in the executive residence. And Denver is home to the Festivus Film Festival.

6. The lost car

Seinfeld plot: One Saturday afternoon, the gang goes to a mall in New Jersey to get cheap air conditioners. They return to the garage at 5 p.m. to find they can't remember where the car was parked. The four desperately search the parking garage, each getting themselves in their own distinct pickle. They finally find the car nearly three hours later and the disgruntled group heads back to New York City. (See the episode here.)

Real-life story: While anyone with a car in close proximity to a mall has lived some version of this nightmare, one British man takes the cake for losing his car in a parking lot for the longest time. In 2008, 80-year-old Gerald Sanctuary parked his silver Honda in a garage in Britain while running some errands. When he was done, however, he couldn't find the car. Frustrated, the man, who reportedly suffers from dementia, eventually got a ride home. But when his grown children took up the search for him, they too came back empty handed, and assumed the car had been stolen. But in December 2010, an attendant at the garage noticed a silver Honda that was unusually dirty and alerted the police who successfully matched the car to Sanctuary, who had reported it missing years earlier. The two were finally reunited in January 2011. "It's just amazing that it was right under our noses the whole time," his son Nigel said. Ain't that the truth.

7. The scofflaw

Seinfeld plot: An eye-patch-wearing New York City cop spends the bulk of his career searching for a ticket-dodging "white whale." The scofflaw in question was first ticketed by the cop in 1979 for parking in a church zone. That fine was never paid, and over the next 16 years, the culprit piles up more parking tickets than anyone in the city. And just when the cop gets close, the driver gives him the slip again. Kramer figures out the scofflaw is Newman and gets him to finally turn himself in.

Real-life story: In 2008, Alexander Khamish earned Gotham's unenviable label of driver with the most unpaid parking tickets, according to the New York Department of Finance. Khamish, who lives on Long Island, had 415 unpaid tickets, which amounted to an $80,000 debt. When confronted, Khamish said it was all a misunderstanding and that someone registered the offending car under his name. The DMV, however, never received any paperwork about his supposed stolen identity.

See Also: 25 Future Stars Who Appeared on Seinfeld

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8 of the Weirdest Gallup Polls
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Born in Jefferson, Iowa on November 18, 1901, George Gallup studied journalism and psychology, focusing on how to measure readers’ interest in newspaper and magazine content. In 1935, he founded the American Institute of Public Opinion to scientifically measure public opinions on topics such as government spending, criminal justice, and presidential candidates. Although he died in 1984, The Gallup Poll continues his legacy of trying to determine and report the will of the people in an unbiased, independent way. To celebrate his day of birth, we compiled a list of some of the weirdest, funniest Gallup polls over the years.

1. THREE IN FOUR AMERICANS BELIEVE IN THE PARANORMAL (2005)

According to this Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans have at least one paranormal belief. Specifically, 41 percent believe in extrasensory perception (ESP), 37 percent believe in haunted houses, and 21 percent believe in witches. What about channeling spirits, you might ask? Only 9 percent of Americans believe that it’s possible to channel a spirit so that it takes temporary control of one's body. Interestingly, believing in paranormal phenomena was relatively similar across people of different genders, races, ages, and education levels.

2. ONE IN FIVE AMERICANS THINK THE SUN REVOLVES AROUND THE EARTH (1999)

In this poll, Gallup tried to determine the popularity of heliocentric versus geocentric views. While 79 percent of Americans correctly stated that the Earth revolves around the sun, 18 percent think the sun revolves around the Earth. Three percent chose to remain indifferent, saying they had no opinion either way.

3. 22 PERCENT OF AMERICANS ARE HESITANT TO SUPPORT A MORMON (2011)

Gallup first measured anti-Mormon sentiment back in 1967, and it was still an issue in 2011, a year before Mormon Mitt Romney ran for president. Approximately 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, even if that candidate belonged to their preferred political party. Strangely, Americans’ bias against Mormons has remained stable since the 1960s, despite decreasing bias against African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and women.

4. MISSISSIPPIANS GO TO CHURCH THE MOST; VERMONTERS THE LEAST (2010)

This 2010 poll amusingly confirms the stereotype that southerners are more religious than the rest of the country. Although 42 percent of all Americans attend church regularly (which Gallup defines as weekly or almost weekly), there are large variations based on geography. For example, 63 percent of people in Mississippi attend church regularly, followed by 58 percent in Alabama and 56 percent in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Utah. Rounding out the lowest levels of church attendance, on the other hand, were Vermont, where 23 percent of residents attend church regularly, New Hampshire, at 26 percent, and Maine at 27 percent.

5. ONE IN FOUR AMERICANS DON’T KNOW WHICH COUNTRY AMERICA GAINED INDEPENDENCE FROM (1999)

Although 76 percent of Americans knew that the United States gained independence from Great Britain as a result of the Revolutionary War, 24 percent weren’t so sure. Two percent thought the correct answer was France, 3 percent said a different country (such as Mexico, China, or Russia), and 19 percent had no opinion. Certain groups of people who consider themselves patriotic, including men, older people, and white people (according to Gallup polls), were more likely to know that America gained its independence from Great Britain.

6. ONE THIRD OF AMERICANS BELIEVE IN GHOSTS (2000)

This Halloween-themed Gallup poll asked Americans about their habits and behavior on the last day of October. Predictably, two-thirds of Americans reported that someone in their house planned to give candy to trick-or-treaters and more than three-quarters of parents with kids reported that their kids would wear a costume. More surprisingly, 31 percent of American adults claimed to believe in ghosts, an increase from 1978, when only 11 percent of American adults admitted to a belief in ghosts.

7. 5 PERCENT OF WORKING MILLENNIALS THRIVE IN ALL FIVE ELEMENTS OF WELL-BEING (2016)

This recent Gallup poll is funny in a sad way, as it sheds light on the tragicomic life of a millennial. In this poll, well-being is defined as having purpose, social support, manageable finances, a strong community, and good physical health. Sadly, only 5 percent of working millennials—defined as people born between 1980 and 1996—were thriving in these five indicators of well-being. To counter this lack of well-being, Gallup’s report recommends that managers promote work-life balance and improve their communication with millennial employees.

8. THE WORLD IS BECOMING SLIGHTLY MORE NEGATIVE (2014)

If you seem to feel more stress, sadness, anxiety, and pain than ever before, Gallup has the proof that it’s not all in your head. According to the company’s worldwide negative experience index, negative feelings such as stress, sadness, and anger have increased since 2007. Unsurprisingly, people living in war-torn, dangerous parts of the word—Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Sierra Leone—reported the highest levels of negative emotions.

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11 Times Mickey Mouse Was Banned
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Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved characters, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mickey Mouse, who turns 89 years old today. A number of countries—and even U.S. states—have banned the cartoon rodent at one time or another for reasons both big and small.

1. In 1930, Ohio banned a cartoon called “The Shindig” because Clarabelle Cow was shown reading Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn, the premier romance novelist of the time. Check it out (1:05) and let us know if you’re scandalized:

2. With movies on 10-foot screen being a relatively new thing in Romania in 1935, the government decided to ban Mickey Mouse, concerned that children would be terrified of a monstrous rodent.

3. In 1929, a German censor banned a Mickey Mouse short called “The Barnyard Battle.” The reason? An army of cats wearing pickelhauben, the pointed helmets worn by German military in the 19th and 20th centuries: "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose a militia of mice is offensive to national dignity. Permission to exhibit this production in Germany is refused.”

4. The German dislike for Mickey Mouse continued into the mid-'30s, with one German newspaper wondering why such a small and dirty animal would be idolized by children across the world: "Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed ... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.” Mickey was originally banned from Nazi Germany, but eventually the mouse's popularity won out.

5. In 2014, Iran's Organization for Supporting Manufacturers and Consumers announced a ban on school supplies and stationery products featuring “demoralizing images,” including that of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and characters from Toy Story.

6. In 1954, East Germany banned Mickey Mouse comics, claiming that Mickey was an “anti-Red rebel.”

7. In 1937, a Mickey Mouse adventure was so similar to real events in Yugoslavia that the comic strip was banned. State police say the comic strip depicted a “Puritan-like revolt” that was a danger to the “Boy King,” Peter II of Yugoslavia, who was just 14 at the time. A journalist who wrote about the ban was consequently escorted out of the country.

8. Though Mussolini banned many cartoons and American influences from Italy in 1938, Mickey Mouse flew under the radar. It’s been said that Mussolini’s children were such Mickey Mouse fans that they were able to convince him to keep the rodent around.

9. Mickey and his friends were banned from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a roundabout way. As they do with many major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Disney had contacted American favorites to win in each event to ask them to say the famous “I’m going to Disneyland!” line if they won. When American swimmer Matt Biondi won the 100-meter freestyle, he dutifully complied with the request. After a complaint from the East Germans, the tape was pulled and given to the International Olympic Committee.

10. In 1993, Mickey was banned from a place he shouldn't have been in the first place: Seattle liquor stores. As a wonderful opening sentence from the Associated Press explained, "Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and teddy bears have no business selling booze, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has decided." A handful of stores had painted Mickey and other characters as part of a promotion. A Disney VP said Mickey was "a nondrinker."

11. Let's end with another strike against The Shindig (see #1) and Clarabelle’s bulging udder. Less than a year after the Shindig ban, the Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America announced that they had received a massive number of complaints about the engorged cow udders in various Mickey Mouse cartoons.

From then on, according to a 1931 article in Time magazine, “Cows in Mickey Mouse ... pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed others. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting with the cow stood still.”

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