Original image

9 Other Mascots Who Were Given a Facelift

Original image

The New Orleans Pelicans announced this week that the team's mascot was undergoing "beak surgery," a coy euphemism for making the much-mocked pelican slightly less horror-inducing.

Getty Images/@PelicansNBA

Pierre isn't the first mascot to get a facelift (or total transformation). Here are nine others who underwent an update.

1. The Pirate Parrot

Pittsburgh Pirates/Getty Images

When the Pirates introduced a Parrot as their mascot in 1979, he was designed to resemble the incredibly popular San Diego Chicken. The original Parrot wore the typical tri-corner pirate hat, complete with skull and crossbones. That year, the Parrot led the Pirates to a World Series victory, an impressive feat for a rookie.

The effort went unappreciated though, and the team opened the 1980 season with a revamped Parrot patrolling the stands. The new mascot was rounder and more cartoonish. The beak was curved with a pair of oversized googly eyes perched on top. However, this friendlier-featured Parrot has struggled to find postseason success. The Pirates haven't been in the World Series since.

2. Bernie Brewer

True Brew/Getty Images

The Brewers' mustachioed mascot has undergone a makeover during his 21-year tenure, but both incarnations are true to the adorable origin story. After one year in Seattle, the franchise had moved to Milwaukee in 1970—but the crowds were not quick to follow. One dedicated fan, 69-year-old Milt Mason, took it upon himself to rally the masses. Under the auspices of the team and dressed in lederhosen, Milt set up camp atop the scoreboard and vowed to stay there till the team drew 40,000 spectators. It took 40 days, but when the stadium was finally sufficiently full, Milt slid down a rope to celebrate the Brewers' fans and a well-timed win.

The stunt was so popular that it was immortalized with the creation of Bernie Brewer as the mascot in 1973, and Milt was honored as the original Bernie. The first mascot memorial to Milt was just a man in a costume that resembled Milt's German attire topped off with an oversized head. Bernie was phased out in 1984, but in 1993, Bernie was reborn as a full-body costumed, cartoonish mascot.

3. Giants' Crazy Crab and Lou Seal

San Francisco Giants/Getty Images

When the Giants got into the mascot game, the team chose to forgo fearsome animals and adorable creatures. Instead, they created Crazy Crab in 1984, an "anti-mascot" that looked as much like a slice of sandwich meat as it did a crustacean. Rather than elicit cheers, the hapless crab was designed to draw jeers as a satirical comment on the state of mascot-dom (or something).

It worked a little too well. In a 96-loss season, fans and players alike relished the opportunity to vent their frustration on the blameless mascot. They lobbed not just insults but food, trash, and even resin bags at the crab. The team decided to put Crazy Crab out of his misery after just one season. It would be over a decade before the Giants attempted to get back into the mascot game. Lou Seal, named in a KNBR Sports Radio phone-in contest, debuted in 1996. The sunglasses-wearing sea mammal was an instant hit.

4. Nationals' Screech

Getty Images

When the Expos left Montreal behind to become the Washington Nationals, they didn't bring Youppi!, their Canadian-minded mascot. In need of a new face for the franchise, the team solicited contest entries from D.C. public schools for what the mascot—who students were told would hatch from an egg and fly over the city—should look like. Fourth-grader Glenda Gutierrez's drawing came closest to the stout, fuzzy eagle chick that "hatched" on the field on April 17, 2005.

Most mascots who get an update are made less intimidating and more lovable. But bucking the trend, the Nationals decided that Screech was too cute and needed an edgier look. So just a few years later, a leaner, meaner Screech debuted to start the 2009 season. Nationals PR explained that Screech was just growing up (naturally) and that this was his teenager stage.

5. Expos' and Canadiens' Youppi!

Getty Images

But what about Youppi!? The orange hairy giant joined the Montreal Expos in 1979, but was abandoned when the team moved to Washington prior to the 2005 season. Youppi! was not out of work long, though. He became the first mascot to make the switch from MLB to the NHL when he was picked up by the Montreal Canadiens, making his hockey debut on October 18, 2005. As for an appearance change? Well, all he had to do was switch jerseys.

6. 49ers' Sourdough Sam

Getty Images

In the early days, the 49ers' logo showed a gritty gold miner with a droopy mustache, a fallen hat, and a pair of pistols. When they first debuted their mascot, Sourdough Sam, he was designed to be reminiscent of that early emblem. His ten-gallon hat had a chunk missing and much of his chubby face was hidden behind a wild brown beard. A slimmer Sam showed up for the 2006 season. Brown eyes had become blue and in place of a beard he now sported a clean shaven—and incredibly chiseled—chin. His hat was flawless and his smile was wide and toothy. Sam has stayed trim ever since, but he brought back the facial hair a few seasons ago.

7. Padres' Swinging Friar

Getty Images

No one knows when the clergyman with a violent streak first became associated with the Padres. In fact, the emblem predates the Padres joining the ranks of Major League Baseball in 1969. Originally, the lovable logo came to life at the games in the form of an actual man dressed in appropriate garb. However, following a World Series appearance (and loss) in 1984, then-owner Joan Kroc thought the Friar wasn't professional enough and replaced him with a pared-down baseball-based logo. Fans missed the Friar, however, and he was reborn in the late-1990s, this time with a proper mascot costume to bring the beloved logo to life.

8. Seahawks' Blitz

Getty Images

Blitz burst onto the scene in 1998. An unnaturally muscular bird, Blitz's feathers have changed slightly during his career to suit the shade of teal the Seahawks are sporting in any given year. However, he underwent a major update in 2004 to make his snarling facial features less snarl-y. [The first person to find a 1998 photo of Blitz and link to it in the comments gets a mental_floss t-shirt.]

9. Braves' Chief Noc-A-Homa and Homer

Getty Images

Long before the debate raged about the Washington Redskins, the Braves retired their Native American "mascot." Chief Noc-A-Homa was the name given to the "screaming Indian" sleeve patch worn on Braves jerseys. A teepee was set up in the bleachers where the Chief "lived" and after every home team homer or victory he would send up a smoke signal and perform a celebratory dance.

There were three Chief Noc-A-Homa's during the mascot's Atlanta existence. The longest lasting and final incarnation was played by Levi Walker, an Odawa Native American. But after 17 years in costume, the Braves declined to bring Walker back for the 1986 season. At the time, the team claimed it was a mutual decision stemming from a disagreement about pay and scheduling. However, no one was brought in to fill the role. Years later, Walker said criticism over the character was to blame: “They were overly sensitive about being politically correct.”

The team later debuted the undeniably inoffensive Homer the Brave, a Mr. Met-inspired baseball-headed humanoid. Homer's race-less perma-smile has graced the games ever since.

Original image
10 Regional Twists on Trick-or-Treating
Original image

Walk around any given American neighborhood on the night of October 31, and you’ll likely hear choruses of "trick-or-treat" chiming through the area. The sing-songy phrase is synonymous with Halloween in some parts of the world, but it's not the only way kids get sweets from their neighbors this time of year. From the Philippines to the American Midwest, here are some regional door-to-door traditions you may not have heard of.


Rice cakes wrapped in leaves.

The earliest form of trick-or-treating on Halloween can be traced back to Europe in the Middle Ages. Kids would don costumes and go door-to-door offering prayers for dead relatives in exchange for snacks called "soul cakes." When the cake was eaten, tradition held that a soul was ferried from purgatory into heaven. Souling has disappeared from Ireland and the UK, but a version of it lives on halfway across the world in the Philippines. During All Saints Day on November 1, Filipino children taking part in Pangangaluluwa will visit local houses and sing hymns for alms. The songs often relate to souls in purgatory, and carolers will play the part of the souls by asking for prayers. Kids are sometimes given rice cakes called suman, a callback to the soul cakes from centuries past.


Raw dough.

Instead of trick-or-treating, kids in Portugal go door-to-door saying pão-por-deus ("bread for god") in exchange for goodies on All Saints Day. Some homeowners give out money or candy, while others offer actual baked goods.


Kids trick-or-treating.

If they're not calling out "trick-or-treat" on their neighbors’ doorsteps on Halloween night, you may hear children in western Canada saying "Halloween apples!" The phrase is left over from a time when apples were a common Halloween treat and giving out loose items on the holiday wasn't considered taboo.


The Dutch wait several days after Halloween to do their own take on trick-or-treating. On the night of November 11, St. Martin's Day, children in the Netherlands take to the streets with their homemade lanterns in hand. These lanterns were traditionally carved from beets or turnips, but today they’re most commonly made from paper. And the kids who partake don’t get away with shouting a few words at each home they visit—they’re expected to sing songs to receive their sugary rewards.


Guy Fawkes Night celebration.

Peter Trimming, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Guy Fawkes Night is seen by some as the English Protestants’ answer to the Catholic holidays associated with Halloween, so it makes sense that it has its own spin on trick-or-treating. November 5 marks the day of Guy Fawkes’s failed assassination attempt on King James as part of the Gunpowder Plot. To celebrate the occasion, children will tour the neighborhood asking for "a penny for the guy." Sometimes they’ll carry pictures of the would-be-assassin which are burned in the bonfires lit later at night.


Kids knocking on a door in costume.

If kids in the St. Louis area hope to go home with a full bag of candy on Halloween, they must be willing to tickle some funny bones. Saying "tricks-for-treats" followed by a joke replaces the classic trick-or-treat mantra in this Midwestern city. There’s no criteria for the quality or the subject of the joke, but spooky material (What’s a skeleton’s favorite instrument? The trombone!) earns brownie points.


Sugar skulls with decoration.

While Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is completely separate from Halloween, the two holidays share a few things in common. Mexicans celebrate the day by dressing up, eating sweet treats, and in some parts of the country, going house-to-house. Children knocking on doors will say "me da para mi calaverita" or "give me money for my little skull," a reference to the decorated sugar skulls sold in markets at this time of year.


Kids dressed up for Halloween.

Trick-or-treaters like to keep things simple in the Canadian province of Quebec. In place of the alliterative exclamation, they shout “Halloween!” at each home they visit. Adults local to the area might remember saying "la charité s’il-vous-plaît "(French for “charity, please”) when going door-to-door on Halloween, but this saying has largely fallen out of fashion.


Little girl trick-or-treating.

Halloween is only just beginning to gain popularity in Germany. Where it is celebrated, the holiday looks a lot like it does in America, but Germans have managed to inject some local character into their version of trick-or-treat. In exchange for candy, kids sometimes sing out "süß oder saures"—or "sweet and sour" in English.


Kids dressed up for Halloween.
Rubí Flórez, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Kids in Colombia anticipate dressing up and prowling the streets on Halloween just as much as kids do in the States. There are a few significant variations on the annual tradition: Instead of visiting private residencies, they're more likely to ask for candy from store owners and the security guards of apartment buildings. And instead of saying trick-or-treat, they recite this Spanish rhyme:

Triqui triqui Halloween
Quiero dulces para mí
Si no hay dulces para mí
Se le crece la naríz

In short, it means that if the grownups don't give the kids the candy they're asking for, their noses will grow. Tricky, tricky indeed

Original image
Warner Home Video
11 Thrilling Facts About Dial M for Murder
Original image
Warner Home Video

In 1953 Alfred Hitchcock was looking for a new project after a film he’d been developing fell through. Sensing a need to go back to his safe space of murderous thrillers, he opted to adapt a stage play that had already proved to be a hit on British television. Though he had no particular attachment to the project, Dial M for Murder would ultimately become one of Hitchcock’s best-known—and best-loved—classics.

From the film’s use of 3D to the debut of Grace Kelly in Hitchcock’s filmography to a pivotal murder sequence that made the director lose weight from stress, here are 11 facts about Dial M for Murder.


Dial M for Murder is, in terms of locations and number of characters, a relatively sparse film that barely leaves its primary set. This is because it was based on a stage play by Frederick Knott, which premiered as a BBC TV special in 1952 and later opened at London’s Westminster Theater and, eventually, Broadway. After seeing the BBC production, producer Sir Alexander Korda purchased the rights to make the film version, and later sold them to Warner Bros. for $75,000.


By 1953, when Dial M for Murder arrived at Warner Bros., Hitchcock was developing a project called The Bramble Bush, the story of a man who steals another man’s passport, only to find out that the original owner is wanted for murder. Hitchcock wrestled with the story for a while, but was never satisfied with it. When Dial M for Murder landed at the studio, Hitchcock knew the play had been a hit, and opted to direct it. As he later told fellow director François Truffaut, he found the film to be “coasting, playing it safe,” as he was already known as a thriller filmmaker.


In the early 1950s, the 3D movie craze was raging, and Warner Bros. was eager to pair it with the fame of Hitchcock. So, the director was ordered to use the process on Dial M for Murder. This meant Hitchcock had to work with the giant cameras necessary for the process, but there was also a trade-off that makes the film fascinating—even in 2D. In order to make the film look appropriately interesting in 3D, Hitchcock added a pit into the floor of the set, so the camera could move at lower angles and captures objects like lamps in the foreground. As a result, the film looks like no other Hitchcock ever shot, particularly for the infamous scissors murder that’s the film's thrilling centerpiece. Unfortunately, by the time Dial M for Murder was released in 1954, the 3D fad was dying out, so the film was shown in 2D at most screenings.


Of all of the iconic blonde stars Hitchcock cast in his films, the most famous is almost undoubtedly Grace Kelly, the actress-turned-princess who first joined him for this film. Hitchcock once described Kelly as a "rare thing in movies ... fit for any leading-lady part,” and it was said he had the easiest working relationship with her of any star. They worked so well together that they went on to make two more films, Rear Window in 1954 and To Catch a Thief in 1955.


Because Dial M for Murder is based on a stage play, the original script had very little in the way of outdoor set pieces. Hitchcock wanted to keep it that way, as he later explained to Truffaut:

“I’ve got a theory on the way they make pictures based on stage plays; they did it with silent pictures, too. Many filmmakers would take a stage play and say, ‘I’m going to make this into a film.’ Then they would begin to ‘open it up.’ In other words, on the stage it was all confined to one set, and the idea was to do something that would take it away from the confined stage setting.”

Hitchcock wanted to keep the confinement intact, so almost all of the action in the film takes place indoors, largely in the Wendices' apartment. This adds to the intimacy and tension.


Hitchcock was always known as a meticulous director obsessed with detail, but on Dial M for Murder he was particularly detail-oriented, in part because the 3D cameras were going to capture objects in a way his other films hadn’t. As a result, he selected all of the objects in the Wendice apartment himself, and even had a giant false telephone dial made for the famous “M” close-up in the title sequence.


Grace Kelly in 'Dial M for Murder' (1954)
Warner Home Video

Hitchcock’s exacting eye also led to an elaborate “color experiment” to portray the psychological condition of Kelly’s character. As the film begins, the colors she wears are all very bright, suggesting a happy life in which she doesn’t suspect anything is wrong. As the film grows darker for her, to the point that she’s framed for murder, the wardrobe grows darker and “more somber,” as Hitchcock put it.


For the scene in which Swann (Anthony Dawson) attempts to murder Margot (Kelly) by strangling her (until she manages to stab him with a pair of scissors), Hitchcock had another exacting wardrobe request. He had an elegant velvet robe made for Kelly, hoping to create interesting textural effects as the lights and shadows played off the fabric while she fought for her life. Kelly reasoned that, since Margot was alone in the apartment (as far as she knew) and was only getting out of bed to answer the phone, she wouldn’t bother to put on a robe.

“I said I wouldn't put on anything at all, that I'd just get up and go to the phone in my nightgown. And [Hitchcock] admitted that was better, and that's the way it was done,” Kelly later recalled.


Dial M for Murder was shot in just 36 days, but the director took special care with one scene in particular: the murder sequence in which Margot stabs Swann with the scissors. Not only was it a key scene in the film, but it was also a moment that required particular care to make the 3D effects work. Hitchcock agonized over the scene to such a degree that he apparently lost 20 pounds during filming.

"This is nicely done but there wasn't enough gleam to the scissors, and a murder without gleaming scissors is like asparagus without the hollandaise sauce—tasteless,” he reportedly said after one take.


Hitchcock became known throughout his career for making cameos in his films, ranging from the very subtle (you can see his silhouette in neon outside the window in Rope) to the more elaborate (missing the bus in the opening sequence of North by Northwest). In Dial M for Murder, his cameo falls somewhere in between. He appears in a class reunion photo in the Wendice apartment, seated at a banquet table among other men.


Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow in 'A Perfect Murder' (1998)
Warner Bros.

Dial M for Murder was a film adaptation of a stage play that had also already been adapted for television in Britain, and it proved popular enough that four more adaptations followed. In 1958, NBC broadcast a Hallmark Hall of Fame production, in which both Anthony Dawson and John Williams returned to play Swann and Chief Inspector Hubbard, respectively. A 1967 ABC television production of the play co-starred Laurence Harvey and Diane Cilento. A television movie starring Angie Dickinson and Christopher Plummer was produced in 1981, and in 1998 the play served as the inspiration for the film A Perfect Murder, starring Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow.


More from mental floss studios