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16 Nostalgic Facts About Stand by Me

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In 1986, a Stephen King novella in which a writer reminisces about the formative 48 hours he spent with his best friends searching for a dead body became the classic film Stand by Me. Here are some facts about the Rob Reiner-directed movie that will ensure you aren’t stupid for the rest of your life.

1. IT CAME FROM THE SAME STORY COLLECTION AS THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION.

Stand by Me came from the story “The Body,” which was part of Stephen King’s 1982 collection Different Seasons. The collection also included “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” which was adapted into The Shawshank Redemption in 1994. ("Apt Pupil," which Bryan Singer adapted for the big screen in 1998, was in there, too.) For the movie, “The Body”’s setting was changed from Maine to Oregon, and the year from 1960 to 1959.

2. ADRIAN LYNE WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO DIRECT.

But the future director of Fatal Attraction promised himself a vacation, which would have significantly delayed filming. Rob Reiner, who had recently made the transition from actor to director with This is Spinal Tap and The Sure Thing, stepped in.

3. COCA-COLA ALMOST SHUT DOWN THE MOVIE ENTIRELY.

The soda company bought Embassy Pictures, the film's original production company, and announced they weren’t going to fund Stand by Me just two days before they were set to start shooting. Television legend Norman Lear—who had worked with Reiner for years on All in the Family—was one of the three owners of Embassy prior to its sale. He believed in the project enough that he agreed to personally foot the film's $8 million budget.

4. RICHARD DREYFUSS WAS AT LEAST THE THIRD CHOICE TO PLAY ADULT GORDIE.

David Dukes was cast, and allegedly was filmed playing the part, but ultimately it was decided that he did not have the “right voice” for the part. After Michael McKean gave it a shot, Dreyfuss nailed it. Reiner and Dreyfuss had known each other since they were 15 years old.

5. REINER HAD THE KIDS PLAY THEATER GAMES BEFORE FILMING BEGAN.

Wil Wheaton (then 12), River Phoenix (14), Corey Feldman (13), and Jerry O’Connell (11) met Reiner and some of the crew in an Oregon hotel suite in June of 1985 to perform games based on Viola Spolin’s Improvisation for the Theater to develop trust in one another. The actors did things like mirror each other and talk each other through traversing the hotel lobby while blindfolded.

6. PHOENIX LOST HIS VIRGINITY DURING FILMING.

Reiner remembered that Phoenix came into work one day “with this big smile on his face” after spending the night with a family friend. Feldman drank alcohol, kissed a girl off-screen, and smoked pot for the first time during that fateful summer of 1985.

7. WHEATON FIXED THE GAMES IN THE HOTEL SO THAT THEY COULD PLAY FOR FREE.

Phoenix told Wheaton that if he managed to pull it off, he would take the blame for him.

8. REINER HAD TO YELL AT O’CONNELL AND WHEATON SO THEY WOULD LOOK SCARED.

The young actors were never in danger of actually getting hit by the train, thanks to the use of a 600mm image-compressing camera lens. Because of this, Vern and Gordie weren’t looking fearful enough in the scene, meaning that they had to shoot take after take with an exhausted crew pushing a heavy camera down the train tracks. Their director lost his temper, screaming that they were “f*cking this thing up” and threatened their lives. Reiner got his shot.

9. PHOENIX HAD TROUBLE TURNING OFF HIS EMOTIONS.

Reiner again was forced to provoke unwanted emotions from his young stars, asking Phoenix to think of a time when an adult let him down before shooting the scene where Chris had to talk about how worthless he felt. Once they got it down, Phoenix couldn’t stop crying. Reiner hugged him to help stop the tears.

10. THE ACTORS DIDN’T SEE THE DEAD BODY UNTIL THE CHARACTERS DID.

The idea was to get the most authentic reaction possible by not revealing Ray Brower’s body to the kids until the last possible moment.

11. JERRY O’CONNELL WAS FRIGHTENED OF KIEFER SUTHERLAND.

Sutherland played bully Ace Merrill, and liked to stay in character off-camera. The three more seasoned actors playing the good guys didn’t seem to care; O’Connell was legitimately scared. Presumably a part of staying in character for Sutherland was rolling a car off a sand bank with John Cusack, who played Wheaton's late brother.

12. O’CONNELL GOT SO HIGH THAT PRODUCTION HAD TO BE SHUT DOWN FOR AT LEAST A DAY.

In two late night talk show appearances, Sutherland claimed that O’Connell managed to tie his babysitter to a banister and escape to a Renaissance Fair. Unfortunately, according to Sutherland, young Jerry’s cookies had pot in them. He was allegedly found two hours later crying in a parking lot.

13. REINER CAME UP WITH THE TITLE.

Columbia Pictures didn't like the idea of using The Body as the movie title for a variety of reasons. Reiner thought naming it after the Ben E. King song that plays at the end of the movie would be good. Co-writer Raynold Gideon said Reiner's suggestion was the “least unpopular option.”

14. STEPHEN KING WAS IMPRESSED.

After Reiner screened the finished product for the author, King excused himself for 15 minutes. When he returned, he said it was the first time one of his stories was successfully put on film. King even applauded Reiner for changing it so that Gordie picks up the gun instead of Chris, wishing he had thought of that in the first place.

15. PHOENIX WAS A "TOTAL WRECK" BY THE END OF FILMING.

After his critically acclaimed role, the young actor said he identified so much with his character, Chris Chambers, that if he didn’t have his family to go home to, he would have needed a psychiatrist.

16. THE TOWN OF CASTLE ROCK WAS ACTUALLY BROWNSVILLE, OREGON.

Stand by Me was also shot in and around the Oregon towns and cities of Eugene, Veneta, Franklin, and Cottage Grove. (The only part of the movie shot in California was the scene where the boys outrun the train.) At the Brownsville visitors center today, there is a map that displays all of the movie's locations in five different languages. Rob Reiner named his production company Castle Rock Entertainment after the fictional town.

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15 Confusing Plant and Animal Misnomers
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People have always given names to the plants and animals around us. But as our study of the natural world has developed, we've realized that many of these names are wildly inaccurate. In fact, they often have less to say about nature than about the people who did the naming. Here’s a batch of these befuddling names.

1. COMMON NIGHTHAWK

There are two problems with this bird’s name. First, the common nighthawk doesn’t fly at night—it’s active at dawn and dusk. Second, it’s not a hawk. Native to North and South America, it belongs to a group of birds with an even stranger name: Goatsuckers. People used to think that these birds flew into barns at night and drank from the teats of goats. (In fact, they eat insects.)

2. IRISH MOSS

It’s not a moss—it’s a red alga that lives along the rocky shores of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Irish moss and other red algae give us carrageenan, a cheap food thickener that you may have eaten in gummy candies, soy milk, ice cream, veggie hot dogs, and more.

3. FISHER-CAT

Native to North America, the fisher-cat isn’t a cat at all: It’s a cousin of the weasel. It also doesn’t fish. Nobody’s sure where the fisher cat’s name came from. One possibility is that early naturalists confused it with the sea mink, a similar-looking creature that was an expert fisher. But the fisher-cat prefers to eat land animals. In fact, it’s one of the few creatures that can tackle a porcupine.

4. AMERICAN BLUE-EYED GRASS

American blue-eyed grass doesn’t have eyes (which is good, because that would be super creepy). Its blue “eyes” are flowers that peek up at you from a meadow. It’s also not a grass—it’s a member of the iris family.

5. MUDPUPPY

The mudpuppy isn’t a cute, fluffy puppy that scampered into some mud. It’s a big, mucus-covered salamander that spends all of its life underwater. (It’s still adorable, though.) The mudpuppy isn’t the only aquatic salamander with a weird name—there are many more, including the greater siren, the Alabama waterdog, and the world’s most metal amphibian, the hellbender.

6. WINGED DRAGONFISH

This weird creature has other fantastic and inaccurate names: brick seamoth, long-tailed dragonfish, and more. It’s really just a cool-looking fish. Found in the waters off of Asia, it has wing-like fins, and spends its time on the muddy seafloor.

7. NAVAL SHIPWORM

The naval shipworm is not a worm. It’s something much, much weirder: a kind of clam with a long, wormlike body that doesn’t fit in its tiny shell. It uses this modified shell to dig into wood, which it eats. The naval shipworm, and other shipworms, burrow through all sorts of submerged wood—including wooden ships.

8. WHIP SPIDERS

These leggy creatures are not spiders; they’re in a separate scientific family. They also don’t whip anything. Whip spiders have two long legs that look whip-like, but that are used as sense organs—sort of like an insect’s antennae. Despite their intimidating appearance, whip spiders are harmless to humans.

9. VELVET ANTS

A photograph of a velvet ant
Craig Pemberton, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

There are thousands of species of velvet ants … and all are wasps, not ants. These insects have a fuzzy, velvety look. Don’t pat them, though—velvet ants aren’t aggressive, but the females pack a powerful sting.

10. SLOW WORM

The slow worm is not a worm. It’s a legless reptile that lives in parts of Europe and Asia. Though it looks like a snake, it became legless through a totally separate evolutionary path from the one snakes took. It has many traits in common with lizards, such as eyelids and external ear holes.

11. TRAVELER'S PALM

This beautiful tree from Madagascar has been planted in tropical gardens all around the world. It’s not actually a palm, but belongs to a family that includes the bird of paradise flower. In its native home, the traveler’s palm reproduces with the help of lemurs that guzzle its nectar and spread pollen from tree to tree.

12. VAMPIRE SQUID

Drawing of a vampire squid
Carl Chun, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This deep-sea critter isn’t a squid. It’s the only surviving member of a scientific order that has characteristics of both octopuses and squids. And don’t let the word “vampire” scare you; it only eats bits of falling marine debris (dead stuff, poop, and so on), and it’s only about 11 inches long.

13. MALE FERN & LADY FERN

Early botanists thought that these two ferns belonged to the same species. They figured that the male fern was the male of the species because of its coarse appearance. The lady fern, on the other hand, has lacy fronds and seemed more ladylike. Gender stereotypes aside, male and lady Ferns belong to entirely separate species, and almost all ferns can make both male and female reproductive cells. If ferns start looking manly or womanly to you, maybe you should take a break from botany.

14. TENNESSEE WARBLER

You will never find a single Tennessee warbler nest in Tennessee. This bird breeds mostly in Canada, and spends the winter in Mexico and more southern places. But early ornithologist Alexander Wilson shot one in 1811 in Tennessee during its migration, and the name stuck.

15. CANADA THISTLE

Though it’s found across much of Canada, this spiky plant comes from Europe and Asia. Early European settlers brought Canada thistle seeds to the New World, possibly as accidental hitchhikers in grain shipments. A tough weed, the plant soon spread across the continent, taking root in fields and pushing aside crops. So why does it have this inaccurate name? Americans may have been looking for someone to blame for this plant—so they blamed Canada.

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

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18 Tea Infusers to Make Teatime More Exciting
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Make steeping tea more fun with these quirky tea infusers.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. SOAKING IT UP; $7.49

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That mug of hot water might eventually be a drink for you, but first it’s a hot bath for your new friend, who has special pants filled with tea.

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2. A FLYING TEA BOX; $25.98

There’s no superlaser on this Death Star, just tea.

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3. SPACE STATION; $9.99

astronaut tea infuser
ThinkGeek

This astronaut's mission? Orbit the rim of your mug until you're ready to pull the space station diffuser out.

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4. BE REFINED; $12.99

This pipe works best with Earl Grey.

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5. A RIBBITING OPTION; $10.93

This frog hangs on to the side of your mug with a retractable tongue. When the tea is ready, you can put him back on his lily pad.

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6. ‘TEA’ ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE; $5.95

It’s just like the movie, only with tea instead of Beatles.

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7. SHARK ATTACK; $6.99

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This fearsome shark patrols the bottom of your mug waiting for prey. For extra fun, use red tea to look like the end of a feeding frenzy.

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8. PERFECT FOR A RAINY DAY; $12.40

This umbrella’s handle conveniently hooks to the side of your mug.

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9. AN EGGCELLENT INFUSER; $5.75

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Amazon

Sometimes infusers are called tea eggs, and this one takes the term to a new, literal level.

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10. FOR SQUIRRELY DRINKERS; $8.95

If you’re all right with a rodent dunking its tail into your drink, this is the infuser for you.

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11. HANGING OUT; $12.85

This pug is happy to hang onto your mug and keep you company while you wait for the tea to be ready.

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12. ANOTHER SHARK OPTION; $5.99

If you thought letting that other shark infuser swim around in the deep water of your glass was too scary, this one perches on the edge, too busy chomping on your mug to worry about humans.

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13. RUBBER DUCKIE, YOU’RE THE ONE; $8.95

Let this rubber duckie peacefully float in your cup and make teatime lots of fun.

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14. DIVING DEEP; $8.25

This old-timey deep-sea diver comes with an oxygen tank that you can use to pull it out.

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15. MAKE SWEET TEA; $10

This lollipop won't actually make your tea any sweeter, but you can always add some sugar after.

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16. A SEASONAL FAVORITE; $7.67

When Santa comes, give him some tea to go with the cookies.

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17. FLORAL TEA; $14.99

Liven up any cup of tea with this charming flower. When you’re done, you can pop it right back into its pot.

Buy on Live Infused.

18. KEEP IT TRADITIONAL; $7.97

If you’re nostalgic for the regular kind of tea bag, you can get reusable silicon ones that look almost the same.

Buy on Amazon.

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