Did You Know . . . ?


In the late 1940s and early 1950s Flit, a commercial brand of insecticide, contained 5% DDT.  The company came up with a very successful advertising campaign which showed someone being threatened by large menacing insects.  In response to the threat someone says, “Quick, Henry, the Flit!”  The drawings in the advertisements were done by Theodor Seuss Geisel who became better known later as Dr. Seuss.

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Wild Things

Maurice Sendak based the monsters in his book Where the Wild Things Are on his Polish relatives who came to live with his family in New York after the Holocaust.

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James Redfield’s novel The Celestine Prophecy was turned down by all of the major publishers, so Redfield sold it out of the trunk of his Honda.  It was so successful that it was eventually bought by Warner Books for $800,000, and went on to spend 165 weeks on The New York Times Bestseller list.  It has sold approximately 5.5 million copies to date.

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Sally Ride, the first woman in space, had a degree in English as well as a PhD in Physics.  Her specialty in English was Shakespeare.

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While sitting next to a blonde woman during a train trip, author Anita Loos was struck by the amount of attention the blonde received from a male passenger while she, Loos, was overlooked.  That was the genesis of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

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In 1977 author Stephen King wrote Rage (published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman).   The book was about a high school student who shoots his algebra teacher and holds his classmates hostage.  In 1997 Michael Carneal killed three of his high school classmates and injured five others.  A copy of Rage was found in Carneal’s locker.  King was shocked. “I can’t say for sure that Michael Carneal, the boy from Kentucky who shot three of his classmates dead as they prayed before school, had read my novel, Rage,” King said, “but news stories following the incident reported that a copy of it had been found in his locker.  It seems likely to me that he did.  Rage had been mentioned in at least one other school shooting, and in the wake of that one an FBI agent asked if he could interview me on the subject, with an eye to setting up a computer profile that would help identify potentially dangerous adolescents.  The Carneal incident was enough for me.  I asked my publisher to take the damned thing out of print.  They concurred.  Are there still copies of Rage available?  Yes, of course, some in libraries where you ladies and gentlemen ply your trade.  Because, like the guns and the explosives and the Ninja throwing-stars you can buy over the Internet, all that stuff is just lying around and waiting for someone to pick it up.”

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Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight, Moon, had no children so she left the proceeds of the book to a 9 year-old neighbor.  He has received over $5 million dollars in royalties.

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Curious George

H. A. Rey (Hans Augusto Reyersbach) and his wife, Margaret, who were both German Jews, escaped Nazi-controlled France during WW II on bicycles.  One of the few things they took with them was the manuscript of the book Curious George.

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While on a flight the names for the four houses at Hogwarts school suddenly came to author J.K. Rowling.  With nothing else available to write on, she scribbled them on an airsickness bag – which she still has.

The evil teacher Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series is based on John Nettleship, a teacher that Rowling once had.  When he learned of this he commented, “I knew I was a strict teacher, but I didn’t think I was that bad.”

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Nikos Kazantzakis is the author of a book that became a beloved movie, and made the name Zorba a household word.  Zorba the Greek may be Kazantzakis’ best known book, but another book he wrote, The Last Temptation of Christ, published in 1953, is his most controversial book by far.  When it was made into a movie in 1988 it was widely condemned by Christians everywhere.  Even its director, Martin Scorsese, who was brought up a Catholic, misjudged just how vehement the reaction to the movie would be.

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