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14 Running Facts About Chasing Amy

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Chasing Amy, the third installment of writer/director Kevin Smith's legendary New Jersey series, starred future Batman Ben Affleck in his first notable lead role (with all due respect to Glory Daze) as Bluntman and Chronic comic book artist Holden McNeil. McNeil falls for another comic book artist, Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams), to the annoyance of his writing partner, Banky Edwards (Jason Lee). Complicating matters further is the fact that Alyssa is a lesbian. Here are 14 fascinating facts about Chasing Amy, to commemorate its 20th anniversary.

1. ONE OF KEVIN SMITH'S KEY INSPIRATIONS FOR THE MOVIE WAS HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH JOEY LAUREN ADAMS.

The inspiration for Chasing Amy came out of Kevin Smith's two-year romantic relationship with its star, Joey Lauren Adams. "The character of Holden is the closest to me I’ve ever written (casting Ben was aesthetically wishful thinking perhaps), and Alyssa is actually my voice of reason that I’d never listen to (I knew what I was doing/feeling was immature, but you just can’t fight City Hall, sometimes)," Smith wrote about the biographical nature of Chasing Amy. He said that Chasing Amy "is me on a slab, laid out for the world to see."

Adams was aware of this. "He didn't really leave New Jersey and ... I had traveled," she said in 2016. "He saw me as more worldly. It just created these insecurities and fights and problems. A lot of the scenes, he would write and give to me, and I knew they were apologies."

2. ACTRESS GUINEVERE TURNER WAS ANOTHER INSPIRATION.

Guinevere Turner starred and co-wrote 1994's Go Fish, which The Advocate called a "sassy, sexy, irreverent lesbian movie." Turner, a lesbian, and Smith became friends, and Smith was admittedly "obsessed" with Turner's former romantic relationship with her Go Fish director Rose Troche. Turner also befriended Clerks producer and co-editor Scott Mosier. Smith wondered what would happen if the two fell in love. He urged Mosier to write a movie about that idea, and when he didn't, Smith did. When he finished his script, he gave it to Turner to proofread.

3. TURNER'S MANAGER DIDN'T WANT HER TO MAKE HER CAMEO.

Turner made a small cameo in the film, despite the advice of her manager, who was worried that his client would ruin her career if she kept playing lesbians. When Turner's manager finally saw the movie at Sundance, he said, “I’m so glad we decided you should do that movie—that’s a great movie!”

4. IT WAS ORIGINALLY GOING TO BE A PG-13 MOVIE SET IN HIGH SCHOOL.

The studio initially suggested to Smith that he make Chasing Amy as a PG-13 high school movie. Smith thought about it for a time and wrote some scenes. Ethan Suplee was going to play one of the main characters, but then Smith changed his mind. "A week later, I was like, 'No,'" Smith told The A.V. Club. "Then the movie [Mallrats] tanked, and that sealed the deal. It was just like, that's the last movie I make that doesn't have anything on its mind."

5. MIRAMAX WANTED JON STEWART, DAVID SCHWIMMER, AND DREW BARRYMORE TO STAR.

Smith wrote Holden, Banky, and Alyssa with Affleck, Lee, and Adams in mind, but the studio wanted bigger names—so they came to a compromise. Instead of Miramax footing a $2 million budgetwith the actors they wanted, Smith suggested they only pay $250,000, with his actors, and if Bob and Harvey Weinstein liked what they saw, they could buy it for distribution.

6. BEN AFFLECK WAS INVOLVED IN EVERY STEP OF THE WRITING PROCESS.

Smith referred to Mallrats as something that "turned into a $6 million casting call for Chasing Amy." It was on the set of that movie where Smith got to know Affleck, who played Shannon Hamilton. "It was really in hanging out with Ben off camera that I discovered what a charming, insightful, and funny guy he actually is," Smith said. "I saw in him leading man potential."

"He called me up and said, 'Hey, I'm writing this movie about a guy who falls in love with this woman who's gay and I want you to play the guy,'" Affleck recalled. "I said, 'Well, I'd love to.' He sent it to me as he was writing it. It was really nice to be involved from the beginning, for somebody to put that much faith in me."

7. MIRAMAX WANTED SMITH TO "OPEN UP A BIT."

In the original draft of the script, Holden confronts Alyssa about her threesome heterosexual past over dinner in an apartment. Miramax sent a note suggesting to Smith to "open it up a bit." So instead, the confrontation took place at a hockey rink.

8. IT WAS SHOT IN 20 DAYS.

According to Jason Lee, there were four five-day weeks of rehearsal, followed by four five-day weeks of shooting. Lee said it was "one of the smoothest" productions he had ever been a part of.

9. ONE MEMORABLE SCENE WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR MALLRATS.

To Smith, Chasing Amy's "Jaws scene," in which Alyssa and Banky compare sex scars, represented "everything that is great about independent film: edgy and smart content that a studio would ax early on in the development stage (and I know whereof I speak—there was a version of this scene in [Mallrats], and the studio made me take it out)."

Another scene—in which Holden and Alyssa talk about true love while playing darts—had originally been written as a conversation between Dante and Randal in Clerks, but Smith lost the notebook he wrote it in and had forgotten about it until finding the notebook again.

10. ALYSSA HAS TWO SISTERS WHO APPEARED IN THE OTHER NEW JERSEY MOVIES.

One of Alyssa Jones' sisters, according to Smith's View Askew Productions' official synopsis of Chasing Amy, is Heather Jones (Kimberly Loughran), the woman in Clerks who asks Rick Derris (Ernest O'Donnell) for a ride to the beach from the Quick Stop. Alyssa's youngest sister is Tricia Jones (Renee Humphrey), the 15-year-old sex book author in Mallrats. Tricia had sex with Affleck's character Shannon Hamilton in the movie. Alyssa, in Chasing Amy, says she had sex with Shannon Hamilton when she was in college.

11. JASON LEE NEEDED SOME TIME TO CHANNEL BANKY.

"There's a moment in Chasing Amy where I do the thing where I bring my fingers together to Ben Affleck, and we shot it kind of early on," Lee told IGN in 2000. "I was basically asking him with my gesture, 'Are you and her going to hook up? What's the deal?' But I don't say anything. I wasn't finding it for some reason, and Kevin pulled me aside and said, 'This movie is more than Mallrats. It's going to require more thinking, and I want you to feel what's going on a little bit more than you had to do with Brodie in Mallrats. This is that kind of acting as well as dialogue acting.' And I thought, 'Wow. OK.' So then I went back in and found that moment through that, by relating to it and doing whatever you do as an actor to find those moments."

12. JASON MEWES WAS REALLY EATING SUGAR WHILE SILENT BOB MADE HIS SPEECH.

"There was a scene cut out of Clerks," Jason Mewes (Jay) explained. "Remember Kevin [Smith] bought a box of sugar? Well, he bought a box of sugar then I was eating sugar in Clerks. But they cut that out. So, I was like, 'I'm just sitting there doing nothing. What should I do?' He was like, 'I don't know.' I was like, 'How about the sugar?' And he was like, 'Yeah, do the sugar. It'll make up for when we did it in Clerks.' So then I did that." That scene needed "11 or 12" takes, in Mewes' estimation. "Yeah, I ate lots of sugar."

Affleck shrugged it off when a reporter said the sugar eating distracted him from the important scene. "Gave him something to do in the scene, I guess. It is kind of nasty. I said, 'Wow, that's a lot of refined sugar.'"

13. AFFLECK WASN'T READY TO SHOW IT TO ALL OF HIS FAMILY.

"It may alienate some people," Affleck believed. "My mother's best friend said she felt generationally challenged. This is not a movie I would particularly want my grandparents to see. The irony is that nobody has sex on camera and nobody gets killed. You have a movie with people talking the entire time. Yet, there's definitely a segment of the population that will find it just ... bothersome."

14. SMITH WAS MOST SURPRISED BY JOEY LAUREN ADAMS' PERFORMANCE.

"I mean, God, I know the girl personally very, very well, and in the two years we've been dating I've never, ever heard her be emotionally vocal," Smith told The A.V. Club. "The girl doesn't yell. If we fight, she doesn't yell. So when I watch that scene outside the hockey rink, and she's launching into her tirade, that is such a performance, because that's not her."

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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

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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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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 comping 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.

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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.

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