I pride myself on having a fairly good memory. Not when it comes to directions, phone numbers, people's birthdays or what my friends look like, mind you; I'm just talking about important things, like pop culture. The parts of my brain that are supposed to be dedicated to remembering where I parked my car, math and whether or not I left my front door unlocked have been reassigned to focus on random bits of pointless TV and movie trivia, because I work for a website that covers pop culture in exhaustive detail (and because I don't actually have anything worth stealing, so really, who cares if my door's unlocked?).
It always throws me for a loop, then, when I discover that one of my long-held, previously unquestioned beliefs about pop culture is completely and utterly wrong. These are just a few of the pop culture truths that I need to remind myself of occasionally ...
(See Dan as a damn Jedi in Cracked's new Star Wars mini-series.)
4The Word "Ewok" Was Never Once Said in Star Wars
The Thing You Remember
Star Wars is and was always expanding its library of weird aliens. A New Hope gave us Jawas and Sand People, The Empire Strikes Back gave us Tauntauns and Return of the Jedi gave us the ridiculous mini-Wookiees known as Ewoks.
And they were known as Ewoks, right? Someone certainly called them that in the movie, right?
But Actually ...
Now, I have pretty amazing parents, which is why some of my earliest memories involve me watching Star Wars. My whole family casually quoted that movie growing up, and not just the popular quotes ("I thought they smelled bad on the outside," "[incomprehensible Wookie howling]"), but the less recognizable stuff, too ("Threepio! Where could he beeee," "Two cruisers against a star destroyer," "[incomprehensible Salacious Crumb cackling]"). My first toys were Star Wars toys, I had light saber battles with any of the neighborhood kids who wanted to play with me (turns out none of them did) and I'm pretty sure I knew who Boba Fett was before I knew who George Washington was.
I actually still get them confused.
That said, we weren't weird or anything. No one owned a bunch of Extended Universe books, and no one wasted days clicking around Wookieepedia, because the Internet didn't exist. We didn't sit around and watch the credits to learn every character's name and find out who played what.
So how the hell have I known since I was 5 years old that the doofy freaking bears in Return of the Jedi were called Ewoks if that word was never once used in a single Star Wars movie?
"This is a buddy of mine. His name's not important; he's cool."
The fact that no one ever says "Ewok" in all of Jedi hadn't even occurred to me until I stumbled upon a Reddit link drawing attention to it last week. I didn't believe it at first. Surely Threepio must have said something like "My word! The Ewoks believe me to be a God," or Leia must have said, "We need to stay here and help the Ewok rebellion," or Han must have said, "Tonight we dine on the soft meat of our fallen hairy comrades. 'Ewoks,' or some shit. Wait, 'Ewoks'? Well that's stupid and lazy, that's clearly just a syllabic reversal on 'Wookiee.'"
Above: An Ewok, I think.
I know by heart the name of the band leader in Jabba's palace, the bald guy in Cloud City who wore that weird ear thing and every damn bounty hunter who went searching for Han Solo, because I bought a Star Wars name guidebook when I was 12 (ladies), but I will never know how I've known what an Ewok was since I was 5.
3In Humpty Dumpty, No One Says Anything About an Egg
The Thing You Remember
Humpty Dumpty is an egg.
But Actually ...
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.
Nope. Not a single mention of an egg in the whole poem. I mean, egg or no egg, it's weird that the king's horses would even be involved in this kind of restoration project, but even that's not as strange to me as the fact that I have never once questioned Humpty Dumpty's egg status, even though it's never explicitly brought up. Going just by that poem, there's no reason to assume he's an egg; he could just be a guy who fell and cracked his skull open, which makes the king's desperate and futile attempt to "put him back together" much more tragic (and the involvement of the horses even more suspect).
"Look, Mr .... 'The King,' is it? Mr. The King, I'm admittedly out of my element here, but I'm almost certain this guy is extremely dead. Can I have some oats, please?"
Doing the least amount of research expected of me, I clicked around Wikipedia for a while to dig into old nursery rhymes and learned that the story of Humpty Dumpty actually used to be a riddle, the answer of which was "egg." When the answer to the riddle became too well-known, everyone stopped calling it a riddle and started calling it a nursery rhyme. This is an unsatisfactory answer to me for a number of reasons. For starters, that sounds like a really shitty riddle. "A thing fell off of a wall and broke -- can you guess what it was?" How is "egg" a better answer than "glass bowl named Humpty" or "a dude"?
Additionally, the whole riddle thing is just one possible theory. No one seems to know where this original riddle version of Humpty Dumpty is or where it came from, and there are competing theories that suggest that Humpty Dumpty was either a tortoise, a cannon or a stand-in for King Richard III of England, designed to make some kind of satirical observation about the king. That he was bad at sitting on walls? Wait, if Humpty Dumpty is supposed to be King Richard, who the hell is "the king" supposed to represent in this satire? This is so dumb.
It looks like we'll never know for sure whether or not Humpty Dumpty was supposed to be a stupid riddle, but we do know that we all grew up knowing, without a doubt, that the character in this brief nursery rhyme was absolutely an egg. And that's weird.