Electric Guitars, Time Travel & St. Louis: Fun Facts to Know and Share!

Michel shares a periodically updated list of interesting facts that, like most trivia, nobody really cares about or needs to know.  But it’s interesting, at least to him.

  • Diane Warren wrote the theme song to “Star Trek: Enterprise” and the song “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” featured in the Bruce Willis flick “Armageddon.”  “Enterprise” was the only Star Trek show whose theme song had lyrics.

  • The father of the electric guitar, well one of them anyway, Les Paul, broke his right elbow in a near-fatal car wreck.  Since he would lose the ability to move it once set, Les ordered his doctors to set the arm at an angle so he could continue to play guitar.

  • Adolph Rickenbacker, one of the electric guitar fathers, was a cousin to American WWI ace Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker.

  • Joe Besser, the Three Stooges successor to Shemp and Curly, was born in St. Louis, Missouri.  So was John Hamm, Scott Bakula, Vincent Price, Doris Roberts, Kevin Kline, Shelly Winters, Robert Guillaume, Virginia Mayo, Kevin Nealon, Marsha Mason, Betty Grable and John Goodman.  The movie “The Exorcist” is based on an exorcism performed in St. Louis in the ’50s.  The movie’s subject, the possessed girl Regan MacNeil, was played by Linda Blair who was born in St. Louis.

  • Rifles get that name from the cork screw grooves cut inside their barrels.  The “rifling” grooves cause the bullet to spin along its long axis.  The spinning improves the bullet stability in flight and thus its accuracy.  The opening sequence in James Bond movies depicts his opponent’s bullet’s point of view down the opponent’s gun barrel.

  • Speaking of bullets, a bullet’s caliber (or calibre for you Brits) is its diameter.  A 9mm is nine millimeters in diameter; a .45 is forty-five hundredths of an inch in diameter.  Like those oversize champagne bottles, a ‘magnum’ caliber is a larger version of its namesake.  A .22 magnum is both longer and wider than a standard .22 cartridge; it will not work in a .22 rifle or handgun.

  • And despite the above, many bullets are not the actual diameter of their caliber.  For instance, a .38 Special is actually thirty-six hundredths inches in diameter, the .45 is .452 inches and the .22 is .223.  The cowboy’s favorite, the .44, popular because it could be loaded in both his lever-action saddle rifle and his six-shooter, is .427 inches in diameter.  The metric rounds like 9mm and 7.62mm are their claimed diameter.

  • “The Butterfly Effect” summarizes a result of Chaos Theory that states small differences in initial conditions of complex systems can dramatically affect outcomes.  The usual example is a butterfly flapping its wings in Africa resulting in a hurricane striking Miami. The name is from a Ray Bradbury short story, “A Sound of Thunder,” about time travelers who kill a prehistoric butterfly resulting in drastic political changes when they return to the present.  In 2005 Peter Hyams made a very so-so film of the short story, perfectly illustrating how Hollywood can take a small gem and heap enough crap on top of it to make a steaming pile — a pop culture Butterfly Effect.

  • In 1965 Intel co-founder, Gordon Moore, wrote that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit chip had doubled every two years and would continue to do so for at least another ten years.  “Moore’s Law” has held for over 50 years and is expected to hold for at least another five.  Its success at predicting chip complexity has been due in part because chip makers quit trying to develop the fastest, most complex chips possible and simply followed Moore’s Law in designing their new products.  They doubled the transistor count every two years.

  • The “Grandfather Paradox” states that a time traveler who went into the past could shoot his own grandfather.  But if he shot his grandfather, he wouldn’t have been born and therefor could not have traveled back in time to shoot his grandfather.  But if he didn’t shoot his grandfather, the time traveler could have been born and traveled into the past…

  • After Shakespeare, “Cleopatra,” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” Richard Burton was itching to tackle an action movie.  He had enjoyed “The Guns of Navarone” and wanted to do something along those lines.  Author Alistair MacLean was promptly hired to write a screenplay just like “Navarone” only different.  He wrote “Where Eagles Dare” which became a box office hit for Burton and Clint Eastwood.  It was MacLean’s first screenplay.  His novelization of the screenplay became a best seller.  The title is from “Richard III” by William Shakespeare.

  • More Stooges lore: Though he succeeded Curly in their movies, Shemp was the original third Stooge.  The vaudeville act “Ted Healy and His Stooges” featured Healy, Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Moe’s older brother, Shemp.  But Shemp had a falling out with Healy and quit the act.  Moe pressed his youngest brother, Jerry, into service.  Since the Stooges were a “hair act” all three of them had to have an exaggerated do.  Jerry’s longish hair and waxed mustache was not funny enough to qualify so he shaved his face and head under the condition he henceforth be billed as “Curly.”

  • Everyone (I hope) knows President James Garfield was felled by an assassin’s bullet.  But it wasn’t the bullet that laid him to rest, it was the ineptitude of his doctors who regularly probed his wounds with unsterilized instruments and even their unwashed fingers!  President Garfield died, 80 days after being shot, from a strep infection leading to blood poisoning.

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