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"TheBeatles68LP" by Beat 768 - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
"TheBeatles68LP" by Beat 768 - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

17 Colorful Facts About The Beatles' White Album

"TheBeatles68LP" by Beat 768 - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
"TheBeatles68LP" by Beat 768 - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

“The White Album”—its official title is the decidedly simple The Beatles—was released on November 22, 1968 to an eager audience. Released almost 18 months after the seminal Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, the 30-song collection captured John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr indulging in a variety of musical styles. While the songwriting was evolving, and most of the songs were composed while attending a Transcendental Meditation course, the relationships between the four continued to dissolve during the recording; The Beatles officially broke up in April 1970. Here are some facts about one of the most polarizing, enigmatic records ever made.

1. A BEACH BOY HELPED WITH THE BEACH BOY PARODY "BACK IN THE USSR."

Mike Love was a fellow attendee of the Maharishi’s course in Rishikesh, India. He recalled McCartney and his acoustic guitar at breakfast one morning playing what would become the first song on the 'White Album." Love suggested putting something in the song about “all the girls around Russia.” McCartney listened.

2. RINGO STARR QUIT THE BAND FOR TWO WEEKS.

Starr never felt like more of an outsider within the band than during the recording of the album, and told his bandmates so. He borrowed actor Peter Sellers’ yacht and went to Sardinia. Because he wasn’t around, McCartney played the drums on "Back In The USSR” and “Dear Prudence.” Eventually the group sent him a telegram that said he was the best rock 'n' roll drummer in the world, that they all loved him, and asked if he would please return. When he came back, he was greeted with the words “Welcome Back, Ringo” spelled out in flowers on his drum kit.

3. THE PRUDENCE IN "DEAR PRUDENCE" WAS MIA FARROW’S SISTER.

Another student of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in early 1968 was then-20-year-old Prudence Farrow. She locked herself in her hut for three weeks because, as Lennon put it, she “was trying to find God quicker than anyone else.” The song is Lennon imploring her to come out of the hut.

4. THE MARTHA IN "MARTHA MY DEAR" WAS PAUL MCCARTNEY’S DOG.

The bass player’s pet was an Old English sheepdog. She passed away in 1981. When McCartney revealed the real subject of the song in 1997, he said his relationship with Martha was “platonic.”

5. THE "JULIA" WAS JOHN LENNON’S MOTHER.

Julia Lennon left five-year-old John behind and had him live with her sister, Mimi. Mother and son got to know each other better by the time he was 17, but soon after she was fatally hit by a car. The song is for both her and Yoko Ono—the “ocean child” in “Julia” is in reference to Ono’s name, Japanese for “child of the ocean.” “Julia” is the only Beatles song that featured just Lennon on guitar and vocals.

6. HARRISON’S MOTHER HELPED HIM WRITE "PIGGIES."

Harrison had trouble coming up with a lyric in the middle section of his song. Mrs. Harrison was the one who came up with, "What they need is a damn good whacking." After Charles Manson’s interpretation of the song, George claimed the line was not talking about the police, and the lyric was kept in because it rhymed with what he already had.

7. MCCARTNEY GOT THE PHRASE "OB-LA-DI, OB-LA-DA" FROM A NIGERIAN CONGA PLAYER.

Jimmy Scott moved to England in the 1950s and became a working musician; at one point in his career he backed Stevie Wonder on a tour of Great Britain. One of his expressions was “Ob la di ob la da, life goes on, bra,” which McCartney loved. The Beatle claimed he sent Scott a check as acknowledgement for using his expression as the basis of his song. Scott played congas on the track. According to a 2004 online poll conducted by the BBC, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” is the worst song in history.

8. THE INSPIRATION FOR "THE CONTINUING STORY OF BUNGALOW BILL" SAID HE WOULD NEVER KILL AN ANIMAL AGAIN.

Richard A. Cooke III was visiting his mother Nancy in Rishikesh, when he shot a tiger while hidden in a tree on a wooden platform. Richard told his mother he felt bad and didn’t think he would ever kill again. He became a photographer. Lennon got the name "Bungalow Bill" by combining "Buffalo Bill" with the bungalows in the camp.

9. ERIC CLAPTON PLAYS GUITAR ON "WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS."

George Harrison wrote the song, and found that Lennon and McCartney weren’t taking the recording of it seriously enough. The next day Harrison convinced his friend Eric Clapton to come in and play on the track. Clapton was hesitant because no outside musicians had played on a Beatles song before, but Harrison insisted. His presence made Lennon and McCartney give it the proper amount of thought and practice. Clapton’s work isn’t officially credited on the album.

10. "SAVOY TRUFFLE" WAS HARRISON MAKING FUN OF CLAPTON’S LOVE OF CHOCOLATE.

Clapton ate a lot of chocolates at the time, so much so that after he received the dental work needed from his many resulting cavities, his dentist told him to stop eating candy entirely. Harrison wrote the song to “tease” him.

11. "HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN" IS A PLAY ON A PEANUTS BOOK.

The 1962 Charles Schulz collection was titled Happiness Is a Warm Puppy. A headline in a gun magazine was a variation of that. When producer George Martin showed the headline “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” to Lennon, Lennon’s wheels started turning.

12. "BLACKBIRD" WAS ABOUT CIVIL RIGHTS.

“I had in mind a black woman, rather than a bird,” McCartney said. “Those were the days of the civil rights movement, which all of us cared passionately about, so this was really a song from me to a black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: 'Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith, there is hope.'” The music was inspired by “Bourrée in E Minor” from Bach's Suite in E Minor for Lute.

13. "SEXY SADIE" WAS ABOUT LENNON’S FRUSTRATIONS WITH THE MAHARISHI.

According to John Lennon, he and George—the last two Beatles that were in India—left the TM course in disgust after Mia Farrow claimed the Maharishi made sexual advances toward her. According to Deepak Chopra, the Maharishi told him that he kicked the band out for using drugs. Either way, Lennon rechristened the Maharishi "Sexy Sadie," admonishing him for making a fool of everyone.

14. "HELTER SKELTER" WAS MEANT TO OUTROCK THE WHO.

McCartney read that The Who had made a song that was loud, raucous, and dirty (“I Can See For Miles”), and then decided he wanted to top them. A "Helter Skelter" is a British amusement park slide, and the song was about the rise and fall of the Roman empire.

15. "REVOLUTION 9" FEATURED THE ORCHESTRAL MUSIC FROM "A DAY IN THE LIFE."

Among the various audio snippets heard on the penultimate track was the final chord from Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony, and Lennon and Harrison whispering “There ain’t no rule for the company freaks” six times. The voice saying "Number nine" came from an examination tape made for the Royal Academy of Music.

16. THERE WAS A 24-HOUR RUSH TO GET THE ALBUM FINISHED.

With Harrison set to fly out to Los Angeles with the master tapes, which he planned to hand over to Capitol Records, the group suddenly found themselves needing to work 24 hours straight to put the final mixes on songs and figure out a track listing. At 4 a.m., McCartney fell asleep on the mixing board while trying to get “Helter Skelter” just right.

17. THE COVER WAS DESIGNED BY POP ARTIST RICHARD HAMILTON.

McCartney instructed him to make a design that was as different as the busy, bright Sgt. Pepper cover as possible. Hamilton came up with the stark white cover with the band’s name embossed in small, black lettering. Originally he wanted the white record sleeve to include a coffee cup stain, and a light green smudge of an apple (the Beatles had just created their own company, Apple Corps).

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10 Biting Facts About Snapping Turtles
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Here in the Americas, lake monster legends are a dime a dozen. More than a few of them were probably inspired by these ancient-looking creatures. In honor of World Turtle Day, here are 10 things you might not have known about snapping turtles.

1. THE COMMON SNAPPING TURTLE IS NEW YORK'S OFFICIAL STATE REPTILE.

Elementary school students voted to appoint Chelydra serpentina in a 2006 statewide election. Weighing as much as 75 pounds in the wild (and 86 in captivity), this hefty omnivore’s natural range stretches from Saskatchewan to Florida.

2. ALLIGATOR SNAPPING TURTLES CAN BE LARGE. (VERY LARGE.)

An alligator snapping turtle
NorbertNagel, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Utterly dwarfing their more abundant cousin, alligator snappers (genus: Macrochelys) are the western hemisphere’s biggest freshwater turtles. The largest one on record, a longtime occupant of Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, weighed 249 pounds.  

A monstrous 403-pounder was reported in Kansas during the Great Depression, though this claim was never confirmed.  

3. COMMON SNAPPERS HAVE LONGER NECKS AND SPIKIER TAILS.

Alligator snappers also display proportionately bigger heads and noses plus a trio of tall ridges atop their shells. Geographically, alligator snapping turtles are somewhat restricted compared to their common relatives, and are limited mainly to the southeast and Great Plains.

4. BOTH VARIETIES AVOID CONTACT WITH PEOPLE.

If given the choice between fight and flight, snapping turtles almost always distance themselves from humans. The animals spend the bulk of their lives underwater, steering clear of nearby Homo sapiens. However, problems can arise on dry land, where the reptiles are especially vulnerable. Females haul themselves ashore during nesting season (late spring to early summer). In these delicate months, people tend to prod and handle them, making bites inevitable.

5. YOU REALLY DON'T WANT TO GET BITTEN BY ONE. 

Snapping turtle jaw strength—while nothing to sneeze at—is somewhat overrated. Common snapping turtles can clamp down with up to 656.81 newtons (N) of force, though typical bites register an average of 209 N. Their alligator-like cousins usually exert 158 N. You, on the other hand, can apply 1300 N between your second molars.

Still, power isn’t everything, and neither type of snapper could latch onto something with the crushing force of a crocodile’s mighty jaws. Yet their sharp beaks are well-designed for major-league shearing. An alligator snapping turtle’s beak is capable of slicing fingers clean off and (as the above video proves) obliterating pineapples.

Not impressed yet? Consider the following. It’s often said that an adult Macrochelys can bite a wooden broom handle in half. Intrigued by this claim, biologist Peter Pritchard decided to play MythBuster. In 1989, he prodded a 165-pound individual with a brand new broomstick. Chomp number one went deep, but didn’t quite break through the wood. The second bite, though, finished the job.

6. SCIENTISTS RECENTLY DISCOVERED THAT THERE ARE THREE SPECIES OF ALLIGATOR SNAPPING TURTLES.

A 2014 study trisected the Macrochelys genus. For over a century, naturalists thought that there was just a single species, Macrochelys temminckii. Closer analysis proved otherwise, as strong physical and genetic differences exist between various populations. The newly-christened M. suwanniensis and M. apalachicolae are named after their respective homes—namely, the Suwannee and Apalachicola rivers. Further west, good old M. temminckii swims through the Mobile and the Mississippi.

7. THANKS TO A 19TH CENTURY POLITICAL CARTOON, COMMON SNAPPING TURTLES ARE ALSO KNOWN AS "OGRABMES." 

Snapping turtle cartoon
Urban~commonswiki via Wiki Commons // CC BY PD-US

Drawn by Alexander Anderson, this piece skewers Thomas Jefferson’s signing of the unpopular Embargo Act. At the president’s command, we see a snapping turtle bite some poor merchant’s hind end. Agitated, the victim calls his attacker “ograbme”—“embargo” spelled backwards.

8. ALLIGATOR SNAPPERS ATTRACT FISH WITH AN ORAL LURE …

You can’t beat live bait. Anchored to the Macrochelys tongue is a pinkish, worm-like appendage that fish find irresistible. Preferring to let food come to them, alligator snappers open their mouths and lie in wait at the bottoms of rivers and lakes. Cue the lure. When this protrusion wriggles, hungry fish swim right into the gaping maw and themselves become meals.

9.  … AND THEY FREQUENTLY EAT OTHER TURTLES. 


Complex01, WikimediaCommons

Alligator snappers are anything but picky. Between fishy meals, aquatic plants also factor into their diet, as do frogs, snakes, snails, crayfish, and even relatively large mammals like raccoons and armadillos. Other shelled reptiles are fair game, too: In one Louisiana study, 79.82% of surveyed alligator snappers had turtle remains in their stomachs.

10. YOU SHOULD NEVER PICK A SNAPPER UP BY THE TAIL.

Ideally, you should leave the handling of these guys to trained professionals. But what if you see a big one crossing a busy road and feel like helping it out? Before doing anything else, take a few moments to identify the turtle. If it’s an alligator snapper, you’ll want to grasp the lip of the upper shell (or “carapace”) in two places: right behind the head and right above the tail.

Common snappers demand a bit more finesse (we wouldn’t want one to reach back and nip you with that long, serpentine neck). Slide both hands under the hind end of the shell, letting your turtle’s tail dangle between them. Afterwards, clamp down on the carapace with both thumbs.

Please note that lifting any turtle by the tail can permanently dislocate its vertebrae. Additionally, remember to move the reptile in the same direction that it’s already facing. Otherwise, your rescue will probably turn right back around and try to cross the road again later. 

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Tina Fey
Jenny Anderson, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions
Jenny Anderson, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Tina Fey has transformed modern comedy more than just about anyone else. From the main stage of Second City to the writer’s room of SNL to extremely fetch comedy blockbusters, Elizabeth Stamatina Fey has built a national stage with a dry, eye-popping sarcasm and political satire where no one is safe. She has a slew of Emmys, Golden Globes, SAG, PGA, and WGA awards to prove it—plus a recent Tony nomination (her first). But, more importantly, she’s the closest thing we have to a national comic laureate.

Here are 10 facts about a fantastically blorft American icon.

1. SHE DID A BOOK REPORT ON COMEDY WHEN SHE WAS 11.

Fey got a very early start in comedy, watching a lot of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart, and Norman Lear shows as a kid. Her father and mother sneaked her in to see Young Frankenstein and would let her stay up late to watch The Honeymooners. So it’s no surprise that she chose comedy as the subject of a middle school project. The only book she could get her hands on was Joe Franklin’s Encyclopedia of Comedians, but at least she made a friend. "I remember me and one other girl in my 8th grade class got to do an independent study because we finished the regular material early, and she chose to do hers on communism, and I chose to do mine on comedy," Fey told The A.V. Club. "We kept bumping into each other at the card catalog."

2. THE SCAR ON HER FACE CAME FROM A BIZARRE ATTACK THAT OCCURRED WHEN SHE WAS A CHILD.

Fey’s facial scar had been recognizable but unexplained for years until a profile in Vanity Fair revealed that the mark on her left cheek came from being slashed by a strange man when she was five years old. “She just thought somebody marked her with a pen,” her husband Jeff Richmond said. Fey wrote in Bossypants that it happened in an alleyway behind her Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, home when she was in kindergarten.

3. HER FIRST TV APPEARANCE WAS IN A BANK COMMERCIAL.

Saturday Night Live hired Fey as a writer in 1997. In 1995 she had the slightly more glamorous job of pitching Mutual Savings Bank with a radical floral applique vest and a handful of puns on the word “Hi.” In a bit of life imitating art, just as Liz Lemon’s 1-900-OKFACE commercial was unearthed and mocked on 30 Rock, the internet discovered Fey’s stint awkwardly cheering on high interest rates a few years ago and had a lot to say about her '90s hair.

4. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO BE NAMED HEAD WRITER OF SNL.

Four years after that commercial and two after she joined Saturday Night Live’s writing staff, Fey earned a promotion to head writer. Up until that point, the head writers were named Michael, Herb, Bob, Jim, Steve. You get the picture. She acted as head writer for six seasons until moving on to write and executive produce 30 Rock. Since her departure, two more women (Paula Pell and Sara Schneider) have been head writers for the iconic show.

5. SHE’S THE YOUNGEST MARK TWAIN PRIZE WINNER.

Established in 1998, the Kennedy Center’s hilarious honor has mostly been awarded to funny people in the twilight of their careers. Richard Pryor was the first recipient, and comedians who made their marks decades prior like Lily Tomlin, Whoopi Goldberg, and George Carlin followed. Fey earned the award in 2010 when she was 40 years old, and the age of her successors (Carol Burnett, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, David Letterman ...) signals that she may hold the title of youngest recipient for some time.

6. SHE WROTE SATIRE FOR HER HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER.

Fey was an outstanding student who was involved in choir, drama, and tennis, and co-edited the school’s newspaper, The Acorn. She also wrote a satirical column addressing “school policy and teachers” under the pun-tastic pseudonym “The Colonel.” Fey also recalled getting in trouble because she tried to make a pun on the phrase “annals of history.” Cheeky.

7. SHE MADE HER RAP DEBUT WITH CHILDISH GAMBINO ON "REAL ESTATE."

Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino) first gained notice as a member of Derrick Comedy in college, and Fey hired him at the age of 23 to write for 30 Rock. Before jumping from that show to Community, Glover put out his first mixtape under his stage name. After releasing his debut album, Camp, in 2011, Gambino dropped a sixth mixtape called Royalty that featured Fey rapping on a song called “Real Estate.” “My president is black, and my Prius is blue!"

8. SHE VOICED PRINCESSES IN A BELOVED PINBALL GAME.

Between the bank commercial and Saturday Night Live, Fey has an intriguing credit on her resume: the arcade pinball machine “Medieval Madness.” Most of the game’s Arthurian dialogue was written by Second City members Scott Adsit (Pete Hornberger on 30 Rock) and Kevin Dorff, who pulled in fellow Second City castmate Fey to voice for an “Opera Singer” princess, Cockney-speaking princesses, and a character with a southern drawl. (You can hear some of the outtakes here.)

9. SHE USED MEAN GIRLS TO PUSH BACK AGAINST STEREOTYPES OF WOMEN IN MATH.

Tina Fey and Lindsay Lohan in 'Mean Girls' (2004)
Paramount Home Entertainment

There’s a ton of interesting trivia about Mean Girls, Fey’s first foray into feature film screenwriting. She bid on the rights to Rosalind Wiseman’s book that inspired the movie without realizing it didn’t have a plot. She initially wrote a large part for herself but kept whittling it down to focus on the teenagers, and her first draft was “for sure R-rated.” Fey also chose to play a math teacher to fight prejudice. “It was an attempt on my part to counteract the stereotype that girls can’t do math. Even though I did not understand a word I was saying.” Fey used a friend’s calculus teacher boyfriend’s lesson plans in the script.

10. SHE SET UP A SCHOLARSHIP IN HER FATHER’S NAME TO HELP VETERANS.

Fey’s father Donald was a Korean War veteran who also studied journalism at Temple University. When he died in 2015, Fey and her brother Peter founded a memorial scholarship in his name that seeks to aid veterans who want to study journalism at Temple.

"He was really inspiring," Fey said. "A lot of kids grow up with dreams of doing those things and their parents are fearful and want them to get a law degree and have things to fall back on, but he and our mom always encouraged us to pursue whatever truly interested us." Fey also supports Autism Speaks, Mercy Corps, Love Our Children USA, and other charities.

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