5 'Old' Things That Are Way Newer Than You Think
We assume that because something has been a part of our lives for as long as we can remember, it must have been around since time immemorial. To everyone under the age of 40, for example, Star Wars has literally always existed. Of course, even the most solipsistic of us are aware that history goes back further than the moment of our birth. But it can still be a little jarring to find out that something you thought was ancient is much fresher than you realized. Like how ...
Nobody Cared About The Super Bowl Halftime Show Until 1993
The announcement of who will be playing the Super Bowl halftime show is always a big deal. For some artists, their halftime show is the best performance of their career. But it wasn't always the star-studded spectacle we know today. At the first Super Bowl in 1967, the audience took a break from watching Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers redefine the sport with a local marching band. The most impressive thing you could say about the show was that the NFL dug into their piggy bank to bring out jazz trumpeter Al Hirt. The crowd went tame.
He was the Beyonce of marching bands, we guess.
Football's relationship with jazz continued for some time. In 1972, drunken face-painted hordes wiped the nacho cheese off their mouths to sing along with Ella Fitzgerald's salute to the recently deceased Louis Armstrong. Finally, in 1976, they hired the first contemporary band to play. David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, and the Disco Duck were all too busy being relevant, so Up with People! played instead.
The remaining years were a desperate stretch that would dismay even a Browns fan. In 1978, the entertainment break between people catching balls was dogs catching Frisbees. In 1987, 91-year-old George Burns told jokes while Mickey Rooney danced with Mickey Mouse, squashing any rumors that they were the same Mickey all along. In 1989 they hired a goddamn Elvis impersonator. Not just any Elvis impersonator, either -- one who performed card tricks and called himself Elvis Presto.
Terrible even by late '80s Vegas standards.
The NFL hired its first mainstream contemporary pop act in 1991. The New Kids on the Block's set was kicked off by America's other teen heartthrob, George H.W. Bush. Although it wasn't exactly the glorious launch of a media institution, since most stations played the president's prepared statement on the Gulf War instead.
The modern halftime show really only exists because of a marketing ploy. In 1992, Fox president Jamie Kellner stole the (halftime) show by debuting a new episode of In Living Color during the game. Given the choice between fresh Wayans Brothers material and Gloria Estefan ice-skating with a giant inflatable snowman, 30 million people changed the channel. Desperate to bring in someone universally beloved, the next year NBC enlisted Michael Jackson, thus ushering in the kind of lavish production that we've come to expect from the Super Bowl (and paving the way for millions to see his sister's boob years later).
Sudoku Is A '70s (American) Invention
Sudoku is probably not ancient Japan's most important contribution to global culture, possibly because it's neither ancient nor from Japan. Sudoku isn't from the time and place that produced kabuki, but rather the time and place that produced Rocky. In a stunning reversal of the great American tradition of taking things from other cultures and pretending we invented it, Sudoku has its roots in the good ol' USA.
Though grid-based number puzzles have existed for centuries, the first example of a purely logic-based one using a symmetrical 9x9 grid can be traced to Howard Garns. He was an Indianapolis-based architect who invented a game he called "Number Place" in 1979 for Dell Pencil Puzzles And Word Games magazine, a glorified version of those cheap puzzle books your grandma buys in the grocery store checkout aisle.
Number Place ran in a few sundry puzzle books until it was picked up in the '80s by Japanese puzzle publisher Nikoli, who gave it the name sudoku (literally "single digit"). This rebranding boosted the game's popularity, and it soon appeared in newspapers around the world, starting with The Times Of London. Hong Kong judge Wayne Gould pitched Sudoku to them as a game that "anybody, including immigrants who don't speak the native language, can do." So add "a major media outlet caring about immigrants" to the list of bizarre twists this story contains.
Related: 40 Facts About 70s Songs
Canon In D Major Only Became A Wedding Song In The '80s
You'd recognize Pachelbel's "Canon In D Major" if you heard it. If you don't, congratulations on never being invited to a wedding! You might be horribly alone, but at least you've never been forced to Macarena. "Canon" was surely cooked up on the harpsichord by some powdered-wig dude from the 17th century to celebrate the royal wedding of Duke Schmickelthruster or something, right?
We're pretty sure playing this video is a binding ceremony in most states.
And yeah, it was written in the 1600s. But German composer Johann Pachelbel's "Canon In D Major" languished in obscurity until an odd sequence of events propelled it into the nuptial limelight. It wasn't until 1981, the year Prince Charles and Lady Diana got married, that it shot to the top of the matrimonial charts to join the likes of the "Chicken Dance" and everything Lionel Richie ever did.
This is especially strange considering that it wasn't even played at the royal wedding. It was actually a similar but altogether separate baroque piece which sparked a sudden interest in that particular style of boring, and that led to Pachelbel's work being rediscovered by DJs who catered to people pretending to be members of the House of Windsor for a day. Throw in its appearance in the popular movie Ordinary People and the fact that a famous conductor conveniently produced a cover version just a couple decades before, and Pachalbel's legacy was secured.
The Iconic Canadian Flag Is From 1965
There are only so many ways you can combine colored stripes, which is why Canada's giant red maple leaf is so unique. But while the flag is inextricably linked to the country today, it took them about 100 years to come up with it. Their first flag was ... decidedly less original.
Tired of being lumped in with all those other British-lite countries, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson proposed a flag that would be known as the Pearson Pennant in 1960. There's an alternate universe out there where Canada's flag looks like this:
However, conservative politicians viewed the design as a concession to Quebec and thus a betrayal of English Canada. In an uncharacteristic display of rudeness, they actually booed the design. So after several debates in Parliament, a flag commission was established to settle the issue. They got around 5,900 suggestions, but only two made to the finals: the Pearson Pennant and the current flag, proposed by George Stanley and inspired by the Royal Military College of Canada's flag.
Conservatives just wanted to stick it to the liberals, so they voted against Pearson's design, which is exactly what the liberals wanted them to do. They had set a trap to trick conservatives into voting for the flag they wanted, because Canadian politics are adorable. The current flag was voted in unanimously, and Canadians have been dealing with an endless onslaught of maple syrup jokes ever since.
Theaters Didn't Start Scheduling Movies Until 1960
It seems like movie theater showtimes are something that should have been developed about five minutes after the concept of movie theaters. After all, you have to show up right when your movie starts, or you'll be completely confused when Jason Statham and The Rock drive a tank into a group of ninjas. But in the past, people didn't seem to care much if they showed up a little later. Prior to 1960, movie theaters would play a film, a couple of cartoons, and maybe a newsreel on a continuous loop. You never knew when the movie would start; you just walked in, bought your ticket, and hoped for the best. If you had the bad luck of wandering in right before Bogie caught the bad guy, it was no big. The staff didn't kick people out once the movie was over, so you could simply wait for it to loop back around.
But wouldn't that spoil the movie? People back then didn't care so much about that, probably because it wasn't a huge secret whether or not Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy were going to work it out. Then everything changed in 1960, with the release of Psycho. Hitchcock somehow got it into his head that the movie was better if you didn't know that Norman Bates was his mother all along, so he demanded that theaters schedule confirmed showtimes, among other things.
Theater owners were scandalized at first, because surely no audience was going to let a mere movie boss them around like that. But it turns out we love taking orders from films (it makes us feel safe), and soon after, theaters gave every film its own showtime. So you can blame Hitchcock when you have to shovel all your food down at Chili's so that you can be on time for Trolls World Tour.
E. Reid Ross has a book called BIZARRE WORLD that's on store shelves as we speak, or you could just order it now from Amazon or Barnes and Noble and leave a scathing/glowing review. Taylor Daine is also an Indianapolis-based guy who is occasionally funny on Twitter dot com. Mike Bedard is a writer based out of Los Angeles, and you can follow him on Twitter or whatever. Abraham is your friendly neighborhood Mexican lawyer, and you can say hi to him on Twitter here.
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