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18 Indie Facts About Garden State

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Garden State became an instant indie hit when it was released in the summer of 2004, both with moviegoers and critics. Inspired by Say Anything, Harold and Maude, and the fine state of New Jersey itself, writer/director/star Zach Braff’s movie tells the story of adrift twentysomethings. Here are some facts about the film that won’t make you scream into the abyss.

1. IT WAS THE FIRST SCRIPT BRAFF EVER WROTE.

Braff spent years putting the story together in his head and on paper before actually sitting down and banging out the script over a four-month period.

2. IT WAS ORIGINALLY TITLED LARGE’S ARK.

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Braff's character, Andrew Largeman, went by the nickname “Large.” According to Braff, there are intentional allusions throughout the movie to Noah’s Ark.

3. BRAFF ESTIMATES THAT "ABOUT 75 PERCENT" OF THE STUFF IN THE MOVIE ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

Jesse shot a flaming arrow toward the heavens because Braff’s friend liked to shoot arrows into the air for fun. Writing about a character on lithium with a psychiatrist parent was aided by the fact that Braff’s mother and stepfather were psychologists, and his stepmother was a therapist. Like Large, Braff worked as a waiter at a Vietnamese restaurant while trying to make his living as a full-time actor. Sam’s adopted African brother was inspired by Braff’s adopted Mexican sister.

4. BRAFF SENT A CD WITH EACH SCRIPT.

In trying to attract interest in the movie, Braff made a mix of the music he wanted in it. Some actors who passed on the film cushioned the blow by commenting on how much they liked the CD. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were shown a clip of the scene that Braff hoped they could use “The Only Living Boy in New York” for, and the duo gave their blessing. The soundtrack won the 2005 Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.

5. NATALIE PORTMAN WAS COURTED BY WAY OF A LETTER.

Braff penned a letter to the actress. They then had lunch and Portman agreed to play Sam. Braff was surprised she said yes.

6. PORTMAN WAS STILL STUDYING AT HARVARD AT THE TIME.

Garden State was shot during the spring semester of Portman's senior year. Braff and Peter Sarsgaard met up with her at Harvard before filming to bond/party.

7. IT WAS ENTIRELY FINANCED BY ONE GUY.

Gary Gilbert made his fortune with home mortgages and was looking to get into the film industry. He wrote Braff a check for $2.5 million.

8. JESSE WAS ORIGINALLY GOING TO BE A DOT COM MILLIONAIRE.

Braff read one day about a 20-year-old billionaire who made his money from the internet. When the dot com bubble burst, he re-wrote Jesse to have invented silent Velcro instead.

9. THE CREW WAS ALMOST TOO GOOD AT THEIR JOBS.

A location scout looking for Andrew Largeman’s childhood New Jersey home knocked on the front door of a house that looked to be a good fit. It turned out to be Braff’s father’s place. (They didn’t end up shooting there.)

10. BRAFF CUT HIS REAL-LIFE RELATIVES FROM MOVIE.

They were extras in the Shiva scene, but their parts were left on the cutting room floor. He had to call them all and relay the bad news.

11. THE BEVERLY HILLS VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT ISN’T A BEVERLY HILLS VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT.

Most of the film was shot in New Jersey, but that food establishment was the Sea Thai Bistro in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

12. METHOD MAN WAS "BASHFUL" ON HIS ONE DAY OF SHOOTING.

Using some coarse language around Portman made the actor/rapper more inhibited than expected. Braff theorized that it was because he was a big Star Wars fan. Portman found it amusing.

13. THE POOL SCENE AT JESSE’S MANSION WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT TO SHOOT.

The owner of the Mahwah, New Jersey Crocker Mansion yelled at Braff on a rainy night when the toilets were backed up.

14. SARSGAARD ONCE SHOWED UP TO WORK IN A TUXEDO.

The actor was out late one night and didn’t have enough time to go home to change before arriving on the set. Sarsgaard claimed the (sort of) shameful mindset helped him play Mark in the scene the morning after the party.

15. SARSGAARD DIDN'T THINK HIS CHARACTER SHOULD HAVE A TATTOO.

Sarsgaard disagreed with Braff on having Mark wear ink on his arms to make his character a physically tough person. He told his director he would only spend 45 minutes every day to get a fake tattoo on his arm if it was something innocent like a “frog or something.”

16. THE DOG THAT HUMPED BRAFF WAS CUED BY TWO PHRASES.

When Ike was to mount, his trainer ordered him to “Love him up.” When Ike was meant to “gyrate”, his trainer asked, “Who’s your bitch?”

17. ONLY ONE OR TWO TAKES WERE SHOT FOR EACH SCENE.

Garden State was shot in just 25 days, while editing took six weeks. Braff began editing the movie while they were still filming.

18. BRAFF CRASHED WITH SARSGAARD AND MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL WHEN IT DEBUTED AT SUNDANCE.

After the movie screened—with then-New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine in attendance for support—Fox Searchlight and Miramax offered $5 million to release the movie as a joint effort (which is a rarity).

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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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