Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Bytes Bits


Illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas Day? 

Festive celebrations, including mince pies and Christmas puddings, were reportedly banned in Oliver Cromwell's England as part of efforts to tackle gluttony. The ban did not, however, survive when Charles II became king and it is a furphy that it remains technically illegal to eat mince pies at Christmas. 


Furphy is Australian slang for stories that are claimed to be correct, often relayed from someone else, but which are actually the opposite. It is said to have originated from WW1 Australian soldiers gathering around water carts designed and made by J. Furphy & Sons of Shepparton, Victoria. The steel and cast iron tanks were first made in the 1880s and were used on farms but their use was extended to take water to Australian troops during War I in Australia, Europe and the Middle East. When soldiers gathered for a drink at the carts they exchanged gossip, rumours and stories, similar to the office discussions today at the water cooler. The seppos use the term scuttlebutt for the same thing. 

After 1895 the ends carried a list of Furphy products and the verse: 
“Good, better, best 
Never let it rest 
Till your good is better 
And your better best” 

Attributable originally to St Jerome (347 – 420), the verse was also adopted later by Telstra as an advertising jingle. 

In 1920 John's son, William added a Pitman's shorthand inscription which reads "Water is the gift of God, but beer is a concoction of the devil, don't drink beer." In 1942 this was changed to "Water is the gift of God, but beer and whisky are concoctions of the devil, come and have a drink of water.” 


“Scuttlebutt” has a similar derivation. In nautical terminology a butt was a cask for storing water on board ship. It was scuttled by making a hole in it to enable water to be withdrawn. When sailors gathered at the scuttlebutt for a drink they exchanged gossip and rumours, eventually giving rise to the name of scuttlebutt for the rumours and information itself. 


Donkey Kong:

The game Donkey Kong was originally modelled on Popeye/Olive Oyl/Bluto where the love triangle characters are replaced by a gorilla/carpenter/girlfriend. The creator, Miyamoto, has also named "Beauty and the Beast" and the 1933 film King Kong as influences for the character Donkey Kong. The name Donkey came from his understanding that donkey meant stupid in English, the being intended to convey "stubborn ape" to the American audience. When he suggested this name to Nintendo of America, he was laughed at, but the name stuck. 


The creator of Popeye, one Elzie Segar, based the character of Popeye on a one-eyed man from his hometown of Chester, Illinois, who, like Popeye, had a fondness for fighting. When the real Popeye, Frank 'Rocky' Fiegal, died in 1947, his gravestone was inscribed with the words "inspiration for Popeye." 

Olive Oyl was based on another of Segar's neighbours – a very tall, slim woman named Dora Paskel, who usually wore her hair in a bun. 


Betty Boop was also modelled on a real person, not 1920’s actress Clara Bow as commonly thought but on 1920’as actress Helen Kane. Kane’s sexy image, voice and catchphrase "Boop-oop-a-doop” were all copied in depicting Betty Boop, who original began animated life as a French poodle. 

Helen Kane, Betty Boop, Clara Bow

By 1932 the canine parody of Helen Kane had been changed to one of a sexy human female named Betty Boop, a flapper from the 1920’s and the first animated sex symbol. As Betty Boop’s star ascended, that of Helen Kane declined. Work dried up and she increasingly came to be identified as a Betty Boop lookalike, rather than vice versa. Kane sued Flesicher Studios for $250,000 for wrongful appropriation and unfair competition, meaning that it was unfair for her to have to compete with a cartoon version of herself, and that it was hurting her career. Not so, said Flesicher Studios, it also looked like Clara Bow and could have been based on her as well, kinda. Also, other performers had used the phrase Boop-oop-a-doop before Kane, and that Kane had copied her voice style from African American performer Esther Jones. Kane lost and dropped out of show business in 1935. 


In July 2015 NASA published photographs taken as the New Horizons space probe passed within 7000 miles of Pluto. A photo of Pluto's largest moon, Charon, shows a large dark area near its north pole. The dark area has been unofficially called "Mordor".

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