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21 Darn Tootin' Facts About Fargo

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1. Fargo was almost a TV show back in 1997.

FX’s original series Fargo, which debuted last year to critical praise and enthusiastic viewership, has breathed new life into the funny-accents-meet-brutal-violence formula. However, FX’s take on the Coen Brothers classic actually marks the second major attempt to adapt Fargo for the small screen. In 1997, a pilot directed by Kathy Bates (yes, that Kathy Bates) and starring a pre-Sopranos Edie Falco as Marge Gunderson was passed on by the major networks. Although it never had a full run on television, this first made-for-TV version of Fargo wasn’t lost forever: it aired on the short-lived cable network Trio in 2003, as part of its Brilliant But Cancelled programming series. 

2. Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley wasn’t sure how to take Ethan Coen’s reaction to his first episode.

A bit more on the TV series: While the Coens had nothing to do with the 1997 pilot, they serve as executive producers on the FX show. According to showrunner Noah Hawley, when Ethan Coen first read the script, he gave two words of feedback: “Yeah, good.” Only after talking with Fargo cast member and frequent Coen collaborator Billy Bob Thornton did Hawley realize this was a rave review, and not just modest praise. 

3. Rumors that a Japanese woman died pursuing the buried ransom money led to a sort of Fargo spinoff.

The award-winning 2014 independent film Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is loosely based on the urban legend of Takako Konishi. In 2001, several media outlets falsely reported that Konishi had trekked from Tokyo to Bismarck and Fargo in search of the fictitious money hidden by Steve Buscemi’s Fargo character Carl Showalter, and froze in the cold. The misunderstanding stemmed from a police officer who seemingly wanted to create an interesting story. In reality, however, Konishi’s story was much less strange and a bit more melancholy: she had traveled to Fargo to commit suicide in her ex-lover’s hometown.

4. Siskel and Ebert gave it way more than two thumbs up.

Roger Ebert called Fargo "one of the best films I've ever seen" and added that "films like Fargo are why I love the movies." Both Siskel and Ebert named it their favorite movie of 1996. 

5. Despite lots of critical love, Fargo was second banana at the 1997 Academy Awards.

A critical favorite since the moment of its release, Fargo took home two Oscars in 1997: one for the Coen Brothers for Best Original Screenplay and another to Frances McDormand for her portrayal of Marge Gunderson. However, Fargo lost most of the big awards to Elaine Benes’ least favorite movie, The English Patient. The World War II romance epic won a whopping nine Oscars at the show, including Best Picture and Best Director. 

6. It killed at the box office.

The Coens' previous film, 1994's The Hudsucker Proxy, had by far their largest budget to date at the time with $25 million. It was also by far their biggest flop, earning less than $3 million at the box office. For Fargo, the Coens returned to a much more modest budget of $7 million, but ended up taking in $60 million at the box office, making it their highest percentage return on investment at the box office to date.

7. Steve Buscemi’s word count is a running joke.

Throughout the entire movie, Peter Stormare’s character—Gaear Grimsrud—has just 16 lines of dialogue. By comparison, his chatty accomplice Carl Showalter (played by Buscemi) has more than 150. This turns up as a running Coen brothers joke in The Big Lebowski, where Buscemi’s character Donny is constantly being told to “shut the f**k” up.”

8. The Upper Midwest has a love/hate relationship with the movie.

Fargo received some understandable backlash from Minnesotans and North Dakotans for portraying their neck of the American woods as being full of simple, funny-talking folks. Indeed, in the movie's DVD commentary, native Minnesotan Joel Coen referred to the state as “Siberia with family restaurants.” Fargo mayor Bonnie Cumberland said of Fargo in 1997: “It’s a movie that people who don’t live here seem to enjoy, but for us it’s a little bit of an embarrassment.”

However, as of late, many Midwesterners have warmed up to the film (pun totally intended). The film’s infamously lethal wood chipper is currently housed in the Fargo-Moorhead Visitors Center, and in 2006 and 2011, the Fargo Film Festival kicked off with a “larger than King Kong” screening of the movie on the side of the city’s tallest building—a Radisson hotel—to celebrate the 10th and 15th anniversaries of its release.

9. William H. Macy took extreme measures to the land the role of Jerry Lundegaard.

Originally, William H. Macy was being considered for a much smaller role, but the Coens had him come back and read for the part of Jerry Lundegaard. Macy was so convinced he was the right man for the job that he pleaded with the Coens, even threatening to shoot their dogs if they didn’t cast him (jokingly, of course). Macy ended up receiving an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of the bumbling Lundegaard, but lost to Cuba Gooding Jr. for Jerry Maguire. Macy claimed the role was a major turning point in his career, and that after: “I was ratified! I was sanctified! I'm a made guy." 

10. Only a few minutes of the film take place in Fargo.

Despite the title, only the opening scene—where Jerry meets with Carl and Gaear to reveal the plan to kidnap his wife and hold her for ransom—takes place in Fargo. Most of the movie takes place in either Brainerd or the Twin Cities area. According to Joel Coen, “'Fargo' seemed a more evocative title than ‘Brainerd’” and that’s the only reason why they chose the North Dakota city for the title. Additionally, none of the filming was done in Fargo; the Kings of Clubs, the bar where the meeting between Jerry and the criminals takes place, was actually located in Minneapolis. 

11. An inside joke led to rumors that Prince had a cameo in the film.

The Coens provided anyone willing to stick around for the extended credits to a bit of a Minnesota insider joke. The role of “Victim in the Field” is credited to a scribble resembling Prince’s “Love Symbol,” which he went by between 1993 and 2000. This spurred rumors that Prince had a hidden cameo in the film. Anyone paying attention, however, would have noticed that the role was clearly played by a much huskier fellow, who also happened to be the film’s storyboard artist (and a longtime Coen collaborator) J. Todd Anderson

12. The film features two very familiar Coen Brothers tropes.

Two of the Coens' favorite plot devices—stolen or missing money and kidnapping—feature in eight (Blood Simple; Fargo; The Big Lebowski; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; The Man Who Wasn’t There; The Ladykillers; No Country For Old Men; and Burn After Reading) and four (Raising Arizona; Fargo; The Big Lebowski; and Burn After Reading) of their movies, respectively. Alongside A Serious Man, it’s also one of two Coen films set predominantly in their home state of Minnesota. 

13. Every single one of Jerry Lundegaard’s nervous stutters was carefully scripted.

At the root of Macy’s career-making performance are lines that constantly sound like they’re tripping over each another. While they were well played by Macy, almost every single stutter-step was actually mapped out by the Coens in the script. (Ex: “Well, that's, that's, I'm not gointa, inta — see, I just need money. Now, her dad's real wealthy —.”) 

14. The movie marked a major comeback for one actor.

Before taking on the role of Wade Gustafson, the rich and hardened father of the kidnapped Jean Lundegaard, actor Harve Presnell hadn’t taken a film role in 20 years and was focusing on stage work. Following his turn in Fargo, he popped up on screen in blockbusters like Face/Off, Saving Private Ryan and Old School

15. You might know it wasn’t actually a “true story,” but the Coens' web of deception goes even further than the opening credits.

While the tag on the beginning of the film reads “This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987,” Fargo is, by no stretch of the imagination, a true story. During the film's press tour, the Coens admitted that while not pinpoint accurate, the story was indeed inspired by a similar crime that occurred in Minnesota, with Joel Coen stating “In its general structure, the film is based on a real event, but the details of the story and the characters are fictional.” However, any and all efforts to uncover anything resembling such a crime ever occurring in Minnesota come up empty, and in an introduction to the published script, Ethan Coen pretty much admitted as much, writing that Fargo “aims to be both homey and exotic, and pretends to be true." 

16. The Big Lebowski almost came first (and that could have spelled disaster for the Coens).

It’s pretty much taken for granted that the Coens are small kings in the cinema world, able to more or less have complete creative control over their films. But without Fargo, this probably wouldn’t have been the case. Following the release of The Hudsucker Proxy, which bombed ferociously at the box office, the Coens had more or less finished scripts for The Big Lebowski and Fargo. Because The Dude was written for Jeff Bridges, who was busy shooting another movie, Fargo ended up getting made first. 

For the Coen Brothers, this release order ended up being a massive stroke of good fortune, since The Big Lebowski was a box office dud upon release and only built up its massive following after its theatrical run. Had The Big Lebowski been made first, it would have been the Coens' fourth consecutive poor performer(following Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, and The Hudsucker Proxy), and might have had major consequences on their careers. Instead, they gained the goodwill that came along with Fargo, a box office success that was praised by many as an instant classic. They’ve pretty much been riding the wave of praise and box office success ever since. 

17. The film’s editor, Roderick Jaynes, is actually Joel and Ethan Coen.

Because the Coens found having their names appear on screen as directors, writers, producers, and editors a bit tacky, they credit their editing work to the fictional “Roderick Jaynes,” who’s listed on all of their films outside of Raising Arizona and Miller’s Crossing. When the fictional Jaynes was for nominated for his first Oscar on Fargo, the Coens wanted to have actor Albert Finney accept the award in character, but because the Academy doesn’t allow for surrogates to accept awards (presumably due to a 1973 incident involving Marlon Brando and a Native American named Sacheen Littlefeather) they had to scratch the plan. Jaynes ended losing to Walter Murch for his work on The English Patient, and would lose again in 2008 (with The Bourne Ultimatum's Christopher Rouse beating out the Coens and No Country for Old Men)

18. Not everything about Frances McDormand’s legendary performance was authentic.

To play the pregnant Marge Gunderson, McDormand sported prosthetic breasts and a faux-pregnant belly full of birdseed. It was McDormand’s second time wearing fake breasts in a role for the Coens, following Raising Arizona, where she thought a fuller figure was appropriate considering her character had recently given birth to quintuplets. 

19. Weird weather made production a headache.

Production for Fargo was made much more difficult since the winter of 1994/1995 was one of the warmest and least snowy in Minnesota history. This led to heaps of production delays and scrambles to find snow-covered scenery. Interestingly, David Zellner, who directed the aforementioned Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, also dealt with unseasonably warm weather when he set out to shoot his quasi Fargo follow-up, waiting a year to get the movie’s appropriately chilly look. 

20. The Coen Brothers have a way with birds.

Fargo’s opening memorably features a bird in flight set against the frigid Minnesota landscape. The incident was unscripted, as were memorable bird cameos in Barton Fink and Blood Simple. Joel Coen has commented “We have an uncanny ability to make birds do what we want them to do.” 

21. The actors went through extensive training to get their accents right.

Having grown up in Minnesota, the Coens were more than familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the “Minnesota nice” accent, but much of the cast—including Frances McDormand and William H. Macy—needed coaching to get the intricacies right. Actors were even given copies of the scripts with extensive pronunciation notes. According to dialect coach Larissa Kokernot, who also appeared as one of the prostitutes Gaear and Carl rendezvous with in Brainerd, the “musicality” of the Minnesota nice accent comes from a place of “wanting people to agree with each other and get along.” This homey sensibility, contrasted with the ugly crimes committed throughout the movie, is, of course, one of the major reasons why the dark comedy is such an enduring classic.

All images courtesy of Gramercy Pictures

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15 Things You Might Not Know About One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
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Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which premiered on this day in 1975, won critical acclaim, box office success, and a shelf full of Oscars. But even if you love the complex exploration of life inside a 1960s psychiatric hospital, there are a few things you may not know about its behind-the-scenes story. 

1. CUSTOMS NEARLY DOOMED THE PROJECT. 

Despite the middling success of the 1963 stage adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel starring Kirk Douglas, Hollywood legend Douglas was dead set on adapting the story for the screen. Douglas contacted Czech director Miloš Forman about the project, promising to send Forman a copy of the book for his perusal. 

Douglas mailed Forman the novel, but the package was confiscated by Czechoslovakian customs and never reached the director. Unaware of the parcel’s fate, the filmmaker resented Douglas’ broken promise, and Douglas thought Forman rude for never bothering to confirm receipt of the novel. It took a decade to sort the mess out, and things only cleared up when Kirk’s son Michael Douglas took another crack at production and contacted Forman once more. 

2. ONE STUDIO WANTED TO CHANGE THE ENDING.

When producers were shopping the picture to studios, 20th Century Fox was interested, but with a catch. Fox would distribute the film, but only if the filmmakers would agree to rewrite the ending; the studio wanted McMurphy to live. Producers Saul Zaentz and Michael Douglas wisely considered this a deal breaker, and United Artists eventually distributed the film.

3. JACK NICHOLSON AND LOUISE FLETCHER WERE NOT THE FIRST CHOICES FOR THEIR CHARACTERS. 


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When Kirk Douglas spearheaded the first attempt to bring One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to life on the big screen in the 1960s, he had intended to play the Randle Patrick McMurphy role himself, just as he had on stage. When production began in earnest 10 years later, Douglas was too old for the part, leaving director Forman to consider and contact the likes of Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, and (his personal favorite) Burt Reynolds before finally settling on Jack Nicholson.

A number of different actresses were considered for the role of Nurse Ratched, the film’s central antagonist, as well: Anne Bancroft, Colleen Dewhurst, Geraldine Page, and Angela Lansbury were all in the running, before Louise Fletcher ultimately got the part. 

4. LOUISE FLETCHER CHANGED FORMAN’S VIEW ON THE CHARACTER. 

Forman’s original view of Nurse Ratched was as “the personification of evil,” a characterization that made Louise Fletcher a bad fit for the part in the filmmaker’s mind. As Fletcher pressed for the role, Forman’s perspective of Ratched evolved: “I slowly started to realize that it would be much more powerful if it’s not this visible evil,” he said. “That she’s only an instrument of evil. She doesn’t know that she’s evil. She, as a matter of fact, believes that she’s helping people.” This new take on the character paved the way for the official casting of Fletcher. 

5. SEVERAL OF THE FILM’S STARS WERE NOT ACTORS. 

Following the production team’s decision to use Oregon State Hospital as its shooting location, the producers hit on the idea of casting facility superintendent Dr. Dean Brooks as Dr. John Spivey, the doctor charged with assessing R. P. McMurphy’s psychological health. Brooks agreed to play what turned out to be a sizable role, though it would be the only acting job he would ever take. He also helped secure employment for many of his hospital’s patients as extras and crew members during production. 

Mel Lambert, another non-actor, was wrangled to play the harbormaster who protested McMurphy’s ad hoc fishing trip. What’s more, Lambert—a respected area businessman who had a strong relationship with the local Native American community—introduced the production team to Will Sampson, the 6-foot-5-inch-tall Muscogee painter who would make his acting debut as the major character Chief Bromden. 

6. THE STARS LIVED ON THE WARD DURING PRODUCTION. 


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All of the actors who played patients actually lived on the Oregon State Hospital psychiatric ward throughout production. The men personalized their sleeping quarters, spent their days on campus “get[ting] a sense of what it was to be hospitalized” (as actor Vincent Schiavelli put it), and interacting with real psychiatric patients. 

7. MANY SCENES WERE SHOT WITHOUT THE ACTORS’ KNOWLEDGE. 

To complete this realistic immersion, Forman led his performers in unscripted group therapy sessions in which he directed the actors to develop their characters’ psychological maladies organically. He would often capture footage of the actors, both in and out of character, without explicitly mentioning that the cameras were rolling. The film’s final cut includes a shot of a visibly irritated Fletcher reacting to a piece of direction fed to her by Forman. 

8. FORMAN AND NICHOLSON HAD A TREMENDOUS SPAT OVER THE FILM’S PLOT. 

While the intensity of the turmoil varies from rumor to rumor, reports from the set were consistent on one fact: The star refused to speak with Forman for a large chunk of the production process. Nicholson took issue with Forman’s suggestion that the hospital inmates would be an unruly bunch upon the initial arrival of McMurphy. Instead, the actor insisted that such disavowal of the medical staff’s authority should only begin after the introduction of McMurphy into their lives and routines. 

Although the version of the story that we see in the film today is more closely associated with Nicholson’s alleged reading, suggesting that Forman ultimately took his advice, Nicholson refused to interact with his director from that point forward. When the star and Forman needed to communicate with one another, they used cinematographer Bill Butler as a middleman. 

9. DANNY DEVITO CREATED AN IMAGINARY FRIEND DURING PRODUCTION. 


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Emotionally strained by a demanding shooting schedule that kept him 3000 miles from his future wife, Rhea Perlman, DeVito developed the coping mechanism of an imaginary friend with whom he would have nightly chats. Concerned that his own sanity might be slipping away, DeVito sought the advice of Dr. Brooks, who assured him that there was no reason to worry as long as DeVito could still identify the character as fictional. 

10. THE CREW WAS WORRIED ABOUT THE SANITY OF ONE CAST MEMBER.

While Dr. Brooks had no concerns about DeVito, he echoed the rest of the cast and crew’s apprehensions about the psychological state of Sydney Lassick, who played Charlie Cheswick. Lassick exhibited increasingly unpredictable and emotionally erratic behavior during his time in character, a pattern that culminated in a tearful outburst during his observation of the final scene between Nicholson and Sampson. Lassick became so overwhelmed during the scene that he had to be removed from set. 

11. FLETCHER TOOK OFF HER CLOTHES IN ORDER TO GET FRIENDLIER WITH HER CO-STARS.

Envious of the camaraderie her male costars had forged, and hoping to dispel any associations with her tyrannical character, Fletcher surprised the cast one evening by ripping off her dress on the crowded ward. Years later, the actress laughed about the display, saying, “‘I’ll show them I’m a real woman under here, you know.’ I think that must have been what I was thinking.” 

12. THE FISHING TRIP SCENE BARELY MADE IT INTO THE FILM. 

Initially, Forman was vocally opposed to including a scene that took place beyond the grounds of the hospital out of concerns that a temporary liberation would undercut the dramatic force of the film’s ending. In the end, Zaentz convinced Forman to shoot the fishing trip sequence. It was the final scene filmed and the only piece shot out of chronological order. 

One thing to look for in the fishing scene: A very subtle Anjelica Huston cameo. Huston, who was dating Nicholson during production, has a nonspeaking role as one of the spectators on the dock as McMurphy and his fellow patients steer the stolen boat back to shore. 


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13. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST WAS THE FIRST FILM TO WIN ALL “BIG FIVE” ACADEMY AWARDS IN 41 YEARS.

Not since 1934's It Happened One Night swept the Oscars had a film walked away with awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest took home the lot, with Nicholson and Fletcher winning the top acting awards. The feat would not be matched again for another 16 years, with Silence of the Lambs becoming the next (and last to date) movie to earn the distinction. 

14. THE FILM ENJOYED ONE OF THE LONGEST THEATRICAL RUNS IN MOVIE HISTORY. 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was revered worldwide, but Swedish viewers developed an especially soft spot for the film. Cuckoo’s Nest remained a regular option for Swedish moviegoers through 1987—11 years after its initial release. 

15. KESEY REFUSED TO SEE THE FILM (BUT MAY HAVE BY ACCIDENT). 

The poster child for the “the book was better” movement, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author Kesey disapproved of a big screen adaptation of his novel as soon as he found out that the filmmakers had abandoned the use of Chief Bromden as the story’s narrator. Kesey never intended to see the movie, but one story says he inadvertently caught a few moments during a bout of channel surfing one evening. Once Kesey realized what he was watching, he promptly changed stations.

According to fellow novelist Chuck Palahniuk (who has famously praised director David Fincher’s adaptation of his novel Fight Club, plot changes and all), Kesey once stated privately that he did not care for the material.

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The Origins of 10 Thanksgiving Traditions
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There's a lot more to Thanksgiving than just the turkey and the Pilgrims. And though most celebrations will break out the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, there are a number of other customs that you might be less aware of (and some that are becoming too ubiquitous to miss).

1. THE TURKEY TROT FOOTRACE

Many towns host brisk morning runs to lessen the guilt about the impending feast (distances and times vary from race to race, but the feel-good endorphins are universal). The oldest known Turkey Trot footrace took place in Buffalo, New York, and has been happening every year since 1896. Nearly 13,000 runners participated in the 4.97 mile race last year.

2. THE GREAT GOBBLER GALLOP IN CUERO, TEXAS

During their annual TurkeyFest in November, they gather a bunch of turkeys and have the "Great Gobbler Gallop," a turkey race. It started in 1908 when a turkey dressing house opened in town. Early in November, farmers would herd their turkeys down the road toward the dressing house so the birds could be prepared for Thanksgiving. As you can imagine, this was quite a spectacle—as many as 20,000 turkeys have been part of this "march". People gathered to watch, and eventually the first official festival was formed around the event in 1912. The final event of the celebration is the Great Gobbler Gallop, a race between the Cuero turkey champ and the champ from Worthington, Minnesota (they have a TurkeyFest as well). Each town holds a heat and the best time between the towns wins. The prize is a four-foot trophy called "The Traveling Turkey Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph."

3. FRANKSGIVING

From 1939 to 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up by a week. In '39, Thanksgiving, traditionally held on the last Thursday of November, fell on the 30th. Since enough people would wait until after Thanksgiving to start their Christmas shopping, Roosevelt was concerned that having the holiday so late in the month would mess up retail sales at a time when he was trying hard to pull Americans out of the Great Depression. It didn't entirely go over well though—some states observed FDR's change, and others celebrated what was being called the "Republican" Thanksgiving on the traditional, last-Thursday date. Colorado, Mississippi, and Texas all considered both Thanksgivings to be holidays. Today, we've basically split the difference—Thanksgiving is held on the fourth Thursday of November, regardless of whether that's the last Thursday of the month or not.

4. THE PRESIDENTIAL TURKEY PARDON

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The story goes that since at least Harry Truman, it has been tradition for the President of the U.S. to save a couple of birds from becoming someone's feast. Records only go back to George H.W. Bush doing it, though some say the tradition goes all the way back to Abraham Lincoln pardoning his son's pet turkey. (Lincoln is also the President who originally declared that the holiday be held on the last Thursday of November.) In recent years, the public has gotten to name the turkeys in online polls; the paired turkeys (the one you see in pictures and a backup) have gotten creative names such as Stars and Stripes, Biscuit and Gravy, Marshmallow and Yam, Flyer and Fryer, Apple and Cider, and Honest and Abe last year.

5. THANKSGIVING PARADES

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Everyone knows about the Macy's Parade, but for a more historically accurate parade, check out America's Hometown Thanksgiving Parade in Plymouth. The parade starts with a military flyover and continues with floats and costumed people taking the parade-goers from the 17th century to the present time. There are nationally recognized Drum and Bugle Corps, re-enactment units from every period of American history, and military marching units. And military bands play music honoring the men and women who serve in each branch: the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard.

6. BLACK FRIDAY

Black Friday, of course, is the day-after sales extravaganza that major (and minor) retailers participate in. Most people think that the term comes from the day of the year when retail stores make their profits go from red to black, but other sources have it originating from police officers in Philadelphia. They referred to the day as Black Friday because of the heavy traffic and higher propensity for accidents. Also, just because you hear that it's "the busiest shopping day of the season" on the news, don't believe it. It's one of the busiest days, but typically, it's hardly ever the busiest, though it typically ranks somewhere in the top 10. The busiest shopping day of the year is usually the Saturday before Christmas.

7. CYBER MONDAY

Black Friday is quickly being rivaled in popularity by Cyber Monday. It's a fairly recent phenomenon—it didn't even have a name until 2005. But there's truth to it—77 percent of online retailers at the time reported an increase in sales on that particular day, and as online shopping has continued to grow and become more convenient, retailers have scheduled their promotions to follow suit.

8. BUY NOTHING DAY

And in retaliation for Black Friday, there's Buy Nothing Day. To protest consumerism, many people informally celebrate BND. It was first "celebrated" in 1992, but didn't settle on its day-after-Thanksgiving date until 1997, where it has been ever since. It's also observed internationally, but outside of North America the day of observance is the Saturday after our Thanksgiving.

9. FOOTBALL

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It's a common sight across the U.S.: parents, cousins, aunts, and uncles passed out on the couch watching football after dinner. Well, we have the first Detroit Lions owner, G.A. Richards, to thank for the tradition of Thanksgiving football. He saw it as a way to get people to his games. CBS was the first on the bandwagon when they televised their first Thanksgiving game in 1956. The first color broadcast was in 1965—the Lions vs. the Baltimore Colts. Since the 1960s, the Dallas Cowboys have joined the Lions in hosting Thanksgiving Day games, and the NFL Network now airs a third game on that night.

10. NATIONAL DOG SHOW

Of course, if football isn't your thing, there's always the National Dog Show. It's aired after the Macy's Parade on NBC every year. Good luck telling your dad that he'll be enjoying Springer Spaniels instead of the Lions or Cowboys, though.

A version of this story originally published in 2008.

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