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16 Legendary Facts About How I Met Your Mother

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How I Met Your Mother premiered 10 years ago this week. After nine seasons, most viewers were so focused on the series's polarizing finale that they almost forgot how sneakily innovative the multi-camera sitcom with the multiple flashbacks and flash-forwards was in 2005. Here are some facts about the show, as approved by the Slap Bet Commissioner.

1. TED, MARSHALL, AND LILY ARE BASED ON REAL PEOPLE.

When college friends and Late Show with David Letterman writers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas were invited to pitch a network series, they flashed back to 1997, when Bays spent a lot of his time at Thomas's apartment, which he shared with his longtime girlfriend (now-wife) Rebecca, complaining about about being single. In the script, Bays became Ted, Thomas became Marshall, and Rebecca became Lily. Real-life moments like Bays inviting someone to a wedding without realizing he didn’t have a plus-one, or calling Rebecca a “bitch” during a brief breakup with Thomas were written into the series.

2. JIM PARSONS AUDITIONED TO PLAY BARNEY.

Parsons said the description for the Barney Stinson character read “a big lug of a guy." "I got it and was like, 'Who the hell looked at me and thinks 'big lug of a guy?,'" Parsons recalled. "It wasn’t offensive, I thought, 'This is silly.'" The future The Big Bang Theory star auditioned anyway, but lost out to Neil Patrick Harris, who credited the physical comedy he exhibited trying out for producers, and later for CBS president Les Moonves, for landing the role. Specifically, when asked to pretend to be playing laser tag (like Barney would later do), Harris started a dive roll that ended with his body meeting a chair. In 2008, Harris said he believed Barney was 60 percent Larry from Three’s Company.

3. SCOTT FOLEY WAS OFFERED THE ROLE OF TED, AND JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT WAS OFFERED ROBIN.

Hewitt turned down Thomas and Bays’s offer to star on another CBS show, Ghost Whisperer, instead.

4. MACLAREN’S, THE GANG'S FAVORITE BAR, WAS NAMED AFTER A PRODUCTION ASSISTANT.

Carl MacLaren worked as an assistant to the producers for two years before being promoted to associate producer. The bar itself is based on the New York City bar McGee’s, where Bays and Thomas hung out during their time writing for Letterman.

5. THE "HAVE YOU MET TED?" PICK-UP LINE WAS FROM BAYS AND THOMAS’S BOSS AT LETTERMAN.

Late Show co-head writer Justin Stangel invented the pick-up line. When Stangel and Bays were at a bar (usually McGee’s), Stangel would stop a girl walking by and say, “Have you met Carter?” Barney Stinson and several other characters ended up using the line throughout the series.

6. THERE WAS NO STUDIO AUDIENCE DURING FILMING.

Shooting of the multiple scenes (the pilot had 60) took place over three days. After that, an audience watched the episode, and their laughter made it into the laugh track.

7. JASON SEGEL’S SMOKING WAS A PROBLEM FOR ALYSON HANNIGAN.

Hannigan (Lily) was upset over having to kiss her on-screen boyfriend-turned-husband Segel (Marshall) because it was like “kissing an ashtray.” Segel managed to quit for a year, but stress caused him to start up again.

8. THERE WAS A REAL WEDDING PROPOSAL ON THE SHOW.

On the season two finale “Something Blue,” restaurant scene extra Timothy Russo proposed to his girlfriend, fellow extra Jana Rugan, in the biggest surprise of Rugan’s life. During rehearsals, an actor took the ring from Robin to finish the scene, which is what Rugan thought would happen when the cameras started rolling. Russo’s brother’s friend, staff writer/producer Matt Kuhn, helped with planning the whole thing.

9. BRITNEY SPEARS WANTED TO BE ON THE SHOW.

Specifically on the episode “Ten Sessions,” which freaked out Bays and Thomas, who were worried that the singer would want to play Stella, a character for whom they had big plans. Instead she liked the role of Stella's receptionist, Abby. The episode was the most-watched episode at that point in the 18-to-49 year old demographic, and was credited with possibly saving the show from cancellation.

10. ALICIA SILVERSTONE WAS ORIGINALLY GOING TO PLAY STELLA, UNTIL BRITNEY SPEARS GOT INVOLVED.

Silverstone had to be replaced by Sarah Chalke after Silverstone’s representatives worried that their client would be overshadowed by Spears.

11. COBIE SMULDERS WAS DIAGNOSED WITH OVARIAN CANCER DURING THE THIRD SEASON.

Smulders received the bad news at the age of 25, and kept it a secret from the public. Two years—and several surgeries—later, she was declared cancer-free. Earlier this year, she opened up about her illness for the first time in order to create more awareness about the disease, particularly for young women.

12. THE CAST’S SIGNIFICANT OTHERS PLAYED ASSORTED WEIRDOS.

Alyson Hannigan’s husband Alexis Denisof (the two met on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) played vain news anchor Sandy Rivers in 10 episodes. Smulders’s husband Taran Killam played Gary Blauman, both before and after he started on Saturday Night Live. Harris’s husband David Burtka portrayed Lily’s high school boyfriend, Scooter.

13. CONAN O’BRIEN APPEARED AS AN EXTRA.

O’Brien won a charity auction to be a background actor in an episode. Bays and Thomas wanted to give the late night talk show host a much bigger part in 2012's “No Pressure,” but O’Brien decided it would be funnier—and more realistic—if he was just an extra.

14. TED’S KIDS KNEW THE ENDING OF THE SERIES FOR NINE YEARS.

Lyndsy Fonseca (Penny) and David Henrie (Luke) shot all of their scenes during season one, because Henrie was going through puberty. When the kids's footage for the series finale was shot, Thomas and Bays were the only people present. Fonseca and Henrie also had to sign a confidentiality agreement. The two honored it, even after Henrie was bribed with alcohol at bars by strangers wanting to know what he did.

15. VICTORIA WOULD HAVE BEEN THE "MOTHER" IF CBS CANCELED THE SERIES EARLY.

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The initial 13-episode order conveniently concluded with “Drumroll, Please,” which introduced Ashley Williams’ character.

16. JOSH RADNOR KEPT THE BLUE FRENCH HORN.

Bays and Thomas agreed to split custody of the iconic prop, but the actor who played Ted Mosby “humbly and sweetly” asked for it. "And folks, when Ted Mosby comes and asks you for the blue French horn, ya give him the blue French horn," Thomas said. "It felt right."

Neil Patrick Harris took home Barney’s playbook and the group’s MacLaren’s tabletop, Smulders got Robin Sparkles’s denim jacket, and Hannigan acquired the little British phone booth.

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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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