First News
Volume:8, Number:01
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FUN FACTS
THIS WEEK

The Singing Revolution

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From 1987 to 1991, the people of Estonia fought for their freedom by singing. Crowds of people, hundreds of thousands large, would gather and sing patriotic songs to show their desire for independence. Even the Soviets could not figure out how to arrest them for just singing. Five patriotic Estonian songs were played during the Tartu Pop Music Festival in May 1988, and people linked their hands and started singing along. In June, another music festival decided to play patriotic songs after the official part of the festival. And a movement slowly began to gain momentum.

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Bicycles Raised the Height of Frenchmen

The bicycle was credited with raising the average height of Frenchmen. Why? Because it was suddenly quick, easy, and affordable to travel greater distances than ever before. Unlike horses the bicycle did not need to be fed or housed. The rural French could suddenly travel further to purchase needed items, or to look for spouses – and as a result, the number of cousin marriages declined.

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The Fastest Game in the World!

Basque Pelota is the name for a variety of court sports played with a ball using one's hand, a racket, a wooden bat or a basket. It is known as “the fastest game in the world”. It also has the dubious title of fastest sport to be kicked out of the Olympics. Just a single match was held in 1900! Spain defeated France in the only scheduled game. Basque Pelota has come back to the Olympics as a demonstration sport in 1924, 1968, and 1992. But it has not returned as a full-fledged medal event.

Compiled by: Sameer Miyaz Ahmed

Famous People, Funny Stories

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British actor Peter O’Toole quit drinking in 1975, but this seems to have done little to dim his playful spirit. Ryan Gosling told David Letterman about meeting O’Toole at the 2006 Oscars, when both actors were nominated for Best Supporting Actor. According to Gosling, O’Toole made a Dracula-like attempt to seduce his sister, outstretching his arms and bellowing, “Come to me, my beauty...”

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In his capacity as a comedian on "You Bet Your Life" American comedian Groucho Marx interviewed many of the show's participants. He once met a certain Mrs. Story, who claimed to have given birth to twenty-two children. "I love my husband." Mrs. Story said by way of explanation. "I like my cigar, too," Groucho replied, "but I take it out once in a while!"

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During the darkest days of rationing Oscar Levant, the pianist flew into Los Angeles at the end of a grueling concert tour. In a burst of camaraderie, Groucho said: “Oscar, you look tired. Why don’t you come to my house for dinner? I have got the most wonderful cook in town; I have saved a steak 4 inches thick and we have a dessert that is out of this world.” Oscar sighed gratefully, “What is your address?” he asked. “Would not you like to know?” replied Groucho as he walked away.

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Frank Harris, editor of the Saturday Review, once hosted a gala dinner at the Cafe Royal. Much to the discomfort of the guests, Harris himself dominated the conversation. At last, Oscar Wilde, prompted by Harris’s boast about the many fine homes to which he had been invited, interrupted the host. “Dear Frank, we believe you. You have dined in every house in London,” he remarked. “Once.”

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