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12 Things You Might Not Know About Fiddler on the Roof

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Good luck finding another show with Fiddler’s universal appeal. Audiences of just about every race, religion, and nationality have applauded the timeless, bittersweet musical since it debuted in 1964.

1. Fiddler on the Roof Was Based on a Series of Stories Written by "The Jewish Mark Twain."

Like Samuel Clemens, Sholem Rabinovich was better known by his pen name. In Hebrew, Sholem Aleichem—an alias that this Eastern European writer adopted during the early 1880s—means "peace be unto you." Inevitably, his knowing voice and relatable characters drew comparisons with Tom Sawyer’s famous author. Clemens didn’t mind: When the pair were introduced in 1906, Twain was told that he was addressing "The Jewish Mark Twain." Honored, he quipped, "Please tell him that I am the American Sholem Aleichem."

Tevye the dairyman is easily his most famous creation. A father who meets tragedy with humor, he narrated eight short tales published between 1894 and 1914. 

2. A Black and White Movie Adapted the Same Plot In 1939.

Simply titled Tevye, it’s a more somber take on the hero’s struggle to accept a rapidly-changing world while his beloved daughters leave home one by one. In 1990, this became the first non-English language movie to be selected for preservation by the National Film Registry (the actors use Yiddish).

3. Rejected Titles for the Musical Included Where Papa Came From and The Old Country.

Lyricist Sheldon Harnick and composer Jerry Bock weighed several possible titles for the show during the writing stage. In the end, an oil painting probably helped make up their minds. The Fiddler (1912-1913) is a famous piece by French-Russian painter Marc Chagall in which a green-faced violinist makes music on a rooftop. Though Broadway historians aren’t 100 percent sure about what inspired the show’s current name, consensus implicates The Fiddler.  

4. A Huge Number of Songs Were Deleted.

The writers conceived around 50 individual numbers, though all but 15 wound up on the cutting room floor. "A Butcher’s Soul" and "Dear Sweet Sewing Machine" were among those discarded.

5. Zero Mostel (ie: the Original Tevye) Fought to Keep "If I Were a Rich Man" From Getting Drastically Altered.

Harnick had second thoughts regarding the last verse, in which Tevye dreams of being rich enough to spend seven hours at the synagogue every day. "I wondered if it were too serious," the lyricist said. "I suggested that we cut it and end on a funnier note. Zero screamed. ‘No! These lines—they are this man. You must leave them, you must!' He was so forceful about it that we decided to go with his instincts."

6. Mostel and Director Jerome Robbins Once Got Into a Backstage Argument Over an Orthodox Custom.

The two often butted heads during the original 1964 production—and Mostel usually won. Case in point: During one rehearsal, Fiddler’s lead man kissed the mezuzah (a parchment inscribed with Hebrew verses that hangs near the doorway of Jewish homes) before exiting Tevye’s home. Robbins testily ordered Mostel to stop. Though the actor explained that, as an Orthodox Jew, Tevye would never neglect this traditional custom, Robbins was adamant. So, on the next run-through, Mostel crossed himself instead. Upon seeing this simple act of defiance, Robbins backed down.

7. Bea Arthur of The Golden Girls Fame Originated the Gossipy Matchmaker Role.

Long before Dorothy Zbornak came along, Arthur landed a spot in Fiddler’s maiden cast as Yente the matchmaker. Two years later, she’d snag another big role as the sharp-tongued, melodramatic Vera Charles of Mame.

8. The 1964 Run Was Nominated for 10 Tony Awards (and Won 9).

Fiddler claimed Best Musical, Actor (Mostel), Book, Choreographer, Costume Designer, Director, Producers, Score, and Featured Actress (Maria Karnilova, who played Tevye’s wife, Golde). However, the show’s Boris Aronson lost out on Best Scenic Designer. But don’t feel too badly for him—he did win six other Tonys. 

9. It Was the First Broadway Musical to Surpass 3000 Performances.

As if this feat didn’t say enough about the show’s enduring popularity, theatergoers have also been treated to four Broadway revivals—with a fifth coming this December.

10. Noteworthy Tevyes Include Alfred Molina and Leonard Nimoy.

Two years after Star Trek, Mr. Spock executed this very different gig for a few months in 1971. Molina’s portrayal during the fourth revival sparked a minor outcry, with some critics condemning the decision to place an iconic Jewish role in the hands of a Gentile (insiders began calling his version "Goyim on the Roof").

11. To Get the Look He Wanted for the 1971 Film Version, Cinematographer Oswald Morris Had a Woman’s Stocking Draped Over His Camera Lens.

This helps give Fiddler a period-friendly vibe. Speaking of the movie, it came in 82nd on the American Film Institute’s "100 Most Inspiring Films of All Time" list and has been seen by an estimated one billion people (at least, according to Chaim Topol—the picture’s very memorable Tevye).

12. Fiddler on the Roof Became a Surprise Smash in Japan.

Since 1967, the musical’s seen hundreds of Japanese revivals. Joseph Stein, who penned the book to Fiddler, was once approached by a Japanese producer who asked, "Do they understand this show in America?"

"Yes, of course," replied Stein, "we wrote it for America. Why do you ask?"

"Because," the producer said, "it’s so Japanese."

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8 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 3
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[Warning: There are lots of Stranger Things season two spoilers ahead.]

Stranger Things season two is in the books, and like we all hoped, it turned out to be a worthy follow-up to an addictive debut season. Now, though, we’re left with plenty of questions, mysteries, and theories to chew on as the wait for a third season begins. But for everything we don’t know about what the next year of Stranger Things will bring us (such as an actual release date), there are more than enough things we do know to keep those fan theories coming well into 2018. While the show hasn't been officially greenlit for a third season by Netflix yet, new details have already begun to trickle out. Here’s everything we know about Stranger Things season three so far.

1. THERE WILL BE ANOTHER TIME JUMP.

The third season of Stranger Things won’t pick up right where the second one left off. Like the show experienced between the first two seasons, there will be a time jump between seasons two and three as well. The reason is simple: the child actors are all growing up, and instead of having the kids look noticeably older without explanation for year three, the Duffer Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They're going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can't start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. But what I like is that it makes you evolve the show. It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing.”

2. THE IDEA IS TO BE SMALLER IN SCALE.

If the series’s second season was about expanding the Stranger Things mythology, the third season won't go bigger just for the sake of it, with the brothers even going so far as to say that it will be a more intimate story.

“It’s not necessarily going to be bigger in scale,” Matt Duffer said in an interview with IndieWire. “What I am really excited about is giving these characters an interesting journey to go on.”

Ross Duffer did stress, though, that as of early November, season three is basically “… Matt and me working with some writers and figuring out where it’s going to go.”

3. THE MIND FLAYER WILL BE BACK.

The second season ended on a bit of a foreboding note when it was revealed that the Mind Flayer was still in the Upside Down and was seen looming over the Hawkins school as the winter dance was going on. Though we know there will be a time jump at the start of next season, it’s clear that the monster will still have a big presence on the show.

Executive producer Dan Cohen told TV Guide: "There were other ways we could have ended beyond that, but I think that was a very strong, lyrical ending, and it really lets us decide to focus where we ultimately are going to want to go as we dive into Season 3."

What does the Mind Flayer’s presence mean for the new crop of episodes? Well, there will be plenty of fan theories to ponder between now and the season three premiere (whenever that may be).

4. PLENTY OF LEFTOVER SEASON TWO STORYLINES WILL BE IN SEASON THREE.

The Duffer Brothers had a lot of material for the latest season of the show—probably a bit too much. Talking to Vulture, Matt Duffer detailed a few details and plot points that had to be pushed to season three:

"Billy was supposed to have a bigger role. We ended up having so many characters it ended up, in a way, more teed up for season three than anything. There was a whole teen supernatural story line that just got booted because it was just too cluttered, you know? A lot of that’s just getting kicked into season three."

The good news is that he also told the site that this wealth of cut material could make the writing process for the third season much quicker.

5. THERE WILL BE MORE ERICA.

Stranger Things already had a roster of fan-favorite characters heading into season two, but newcomer Erica, Lucas’s little sister, may have overshadowed them all. Played by 11-year-old Priah Ferguson, Erica is equal parts expressive, snarky, and charismatic. And the Duffer Brothers couldn’t agree more, saying that there will be much more Erica next season.

“There will definitely be more Erica in Season 3,” Ross Duffer told Yahoo!. “That is the fun thing about the show—you discover stuff as you’re filming. We were able to integrate more of her in, but not as much you want because the story [was] already going. ‘We got to use more Erica’—that was one of the first things we said in the writers’ room.”

“I thought she’s very GIF-able, if that’s a word,” Matt Duffer added. “She was great.”

6. EXPECT KALI TO RETURN.

The season two episode “The Lost Sister” was a bit of an outlier for the series. It’s a standalone episode that focuses solely on the character Eleven, leaving the central plot and main cast of Hawkins behind. As well-received as Stranger Things season two was, this episode was a near-unanimous miss among fans and critics.

The episode did, however, introduce us to the character of Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), who has the ability to manipulate people’s minds with illusions she creates. Despite the reaction, the Duffers felt the episode was vital to Eleven’s development, and that Kali won’t be forgotten moving forward.

“It feels weird to me that we wouldn’t solve [Kali’s] storyline. I would say chances are very high she comes back,” Matt Duffer said at the Vulture Festival.

7. OTHER "NUMBERS" MIGHT SHOW UP.

We're already well acquainted with Eleven, and season two introduced us to Eight (a.k.a. Kali), and executive producer Shawn Levy heavily hinted to E! that there are probably more Hawkins Laboratory experiments on the horizon.

"I think we've clearly implied there are other numbers, and I can't imagine that the world will only ever know Eleven and Eight," Levy said.

8. THERE MIGHT NOT BE MANY SEASONS LEFT.

Don’t be in too much of a rush to find out everything about the next season of Stranger Things; there might not be many more left. The Duffer Brothers have said in the past that the plan is to do four seasons and end it. However, Levy gave fans a glimmer of hope that things may go on a little while longer—just by a bit, though.

“Hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors’ agents,” Levy told Entertainment Weekly. “The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”

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20 Random Facts About Shopping
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Shopping on Black Friday—or, really, any time during the holiday season—is a good news/bad news kind of endeavor. The good news? The deals are killer! The bad news? So are the lines. If you find yourself standing behind 200 other people who braved the crowds and sacrificed sleep in order to hit the stores early today, here's one way to pass the time: check out these fascinating facts about shopping through the ages.

1. The oldest customer service complaint was written on a clay cuneiform tablet in Mesopotamia 4000 years ago. (In it, a customer named Nanni complains that he was sold inferior copper ingots.)

2. Before battles, some Roman gladiators read product endorsements. The makers of the film Gladiator planned to show this, but they nixed the idea out of fear that audiences wouldn’t believe it.

3. Like casinos, shopping malls are intentionally designed to make people lose track of time, removing clocks and windows to prevent views of the outside world. This kind of “scripted disorientation” has a name: It’s called the Gruen Transfer.

4. According to a study in Social Influence, people who shopped at or stood near luxury stores were less likely to help people in need.

5. A shopper who first purchases something on his or her shopping list is more likely to buy unrelated items later as a kind of reward.

6. On the Pacific island of Vanuatu, some villages still use pigs and seashells as currency. In fact, the indigenous bank there uses a unit of currency called the Livatu. Its value is equivalent to a boar’s tusk. 

7. Sears used to sell build-your-own homes in its mail order catalogs.

8. The first shopping catalog appeared way back in the 1400s, when an Italian publisher named Aldus Manutius compiled a handprinted catalog of the books that he produced for sale and passed it out at town fairs.

9. The first product ever sold by mail order? Welsh flannel.

10. The first shopping cart was a folding chair with a basket on the seat and wheels on the legs.

11. In the late 1800s in Corinne, Utah, you could buy legal divorce papers from a vending machine for $2.50.

12. Some of the oldest known writing in the world includes a 5000-year-old receipt inscribed on a clay tablet. (It was for clothing that was sent by boat from Ancient Mesopotamia to Dilmun, or current day Bahrain.)

13. Beginning in 112 CE, Emperor Trajan began construction on the largest of Rome's imperial forums, which housed a variety of shops and services and two libraries. Today, Trajan’s Market is regarded as the oldest shopping mall in the world.

14. The Chinese invented paper money. For a time, there was a warning written right on the currency that all counterfeiters would be decapitated.

15. Halle Berry was named after Cleveland, Ohio's Halle Building, which was home to the Halle Brothers department store.

16. At Boston University, students can sign up for a class on the history of shopping. (Technically, it’s called “The Modern American Consumer”)

17. Barbra Streisand had a mini-mall installed in her basement. “Instead of just storing my things in the basement, I can make a street of shops and display them,” she told Harper's Bazaar. (There are photos of it here.)

18. Shopping online is not necessarily greener. A 2016 study at the University of Delaware concluded that “home shopping has a greater impact on the transportation sector than the public might suspect.”

19. Don’t want to waste too much money shopping? Go to the mall in high heels. A 2013 Brigham Young University study discovered that shoppers in high heels made more balanced buying decisions while balancing in pumps.

20. Cyber Monday is not the biggest day for online shopping. The title belongs to November 11, or Singles Day, a holiday in China that encourages singles to send themselves gifts. According to Fortune, this year's event smashed all previous records with more than $38 million in sales.

A heaping handful of these facts came from John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, and James Harkin's delightful book, 1,234 Quite Interesting Facts to Leave You Speechless.

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