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Andy Sullivan: Against the Grain

In the second installment of 50 fast facts so interesting they’ll crush your boredom, we pick up on fact #10.  People in Medieval England had rap battles.  Before rap battles there was “flyting”, a type of trading of insults that was popular from the 5th to 16th centuries in England and Scotland.  As Atlas Obscura describes it, “participants employed the timeless tools of provocation and perversion as well as satire, rhetoric and early bathroom humor to publicly trounce opponents.  Even society’s elite would join in these battles of wits.

The official bird of Redondo Beach, California , is the Goodyear Blimp.  In 1983, the coastal city adopted a resolution to make the legendary aircraft the official city bird, even presenting a plaque to a team from Goodyear Airship Operations to commemorate the decision.

Marilyn Monroe’s dress sold for millions.  The iconic, sparkly dress that Marilyn Monroe wore to serenade President John F. Kennedy on his birthday sold for a staggering $4.8 million at auction.  This piece currently holds the world auction record for the most expensive article of clothing ever sold, beating out the record previously held by another of Monroe’s dresses.

The DeLorean from Back to the Future wasn’t always the way Marty McFly was supposed to travel to the past.  As Slashfilm explains, in the original Back to the Future, the time machine was attached to a refrigerator.  It was taken to the Nevada desert test site for the atomic bomb, strapped into the back of a truck and driven to an atomic explosion in order to harness the power from the nuclear explosion.  Marty had to climb into the fridge as the truck barreled towards ground zero.  

There’s a Starbuck’s in every scene of Fight Club.  Director David Fincher was so annoyed with the ubiquity of the coffee chain, he decided to feature a Starbucks cup in every scene except the final one.  

The penguin has knighthood.  In 2008, a penguin living in Edinburgh Zoo, named Nils Olav III, was knighted.  The penguin is the mascot of the King of Norway’s guard, making it a special figure for the country’s military and the knighting of this particular one an opportunity to celebrate relations between the two counties.  It went over so well that in 2016, he was promoted to Brigadier.



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