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HOUDINI by Janet Spencer
We honor the memory of Harry Houdini, who died on October 31, 1926 at the age of 52. He claimed that his abdominal muscles were so strong that he could bear any blow to the stomach without flinching. A college student decided to test this theory out without giving Houdini time to steel his muscles before the blows landed. Houdini may have already been suffering from an inflamed appendix; the unexpected blows might have worsened the condition, leading to his death. Come along with Tidbits as we remember Harry Houdini.
HARRY LANDS A CONTRACT
• When Houdini first went to London, he had no bookings. He approached a stage manager Carpet Cleaning about getting a job, but the manager was skepServices, Inc. tical. Houdini was told, “I’ll hire you— but only if you can get out of handcuffs at ScotCarpet Cleaning • Carpet Cleaning SPECIAL! land Yard!” Houdini rounded up some reportUpholstery ers, then challenged police at Scotland Yard to $149 •Cleaning cuff him. Wrapping his arms around a pillar, 5 Rooms, Hallway & 1 Stairway • Water the police superintendent snapped on the cuffs, Not valid with any other offer. Extraction Expires 11-30-15 then turned to leave, saying, “We’ll be back in an hour to release you.” As he headed for the door, Houdini called out, “You better take your cuffs with you!” He had undone the handcuffs 701-775-8500 in less time than it took the cops to walk across Residential & Commercial the room. Reporters made sure Houdini got a A Lightweight Vacuum Even lot of free publicity out of the escapade, and he a 6-Year Old Can Handle ended up with a six month run in London. turn the WANT TO RUN YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
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5. Who was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court? How did Houdini contribute 6. “Here Comes the Sun” was to the war effort? released on which album? Houdini was the highest paid en- 7. In humans, what causes goiter? tertainer of his day. How much 8. In which movie did longtime did he earn per week in 1919 — gameshow host Bob Barker $1,750, $2,750 or $3,750? make his debut? Which U.S. president served 9. How many companies make up the shortest term? the Dow Jones Industrial Average? What kind of fish is Dory in the TRIVIA movie “Finding Nemo”?
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• Houdini often hid tools needed to escape by swallowing them. He learned this while working for a circus, when an acrobat showed him how to swallow objects, then bring them up again by working the throat muscles. • Another trick of his was to have several men from the audience come up on stage, first to examine him to make sure he had no tools hidden, and second, to examine whatever he was about to be locked up in: a safe or a coffin or a packing crate. He would then solemnly shake hands with all the men before being locked up. But the last man he would shake hands with was a shill who had been planted in the audience. During the handshake, a pick or a key would be passed from hand to hand. • He sometimes hid a slim pick in the thick skin of the sole of his foot. • He once escaped from a large milk can filled with water. The milk can was held together with two real rivets and a long line of fake rivets to make it easier to escape. • Another stage method he used was to make sure his assistants on stage seemed as awkward and clumsy as possible— dropping things, stumbling, and making many minor mistakes. This averted suspicion from them while also managing to misdirect attention. • His wife Bess frequently participated in the show. For mind-reading tricks, Bess and Harry worked out a secret stage code where one could tip off the other using words that stood for numerals: pray = 1; answer = 2; say = 3; now = 4; tell = 5; please = 6; speak = 7; quickly = 8; look = 9 and be quick = 10. If Houdini needed to divine the number off a dollar bill that Bess was looking at, Bess would merely say, “Tell me, look into your heart. Say, can you answer me, pray? Quickly, quickly! Now! Speak to us! Speak quickly!” Houdini the mind reader would correctly reply: 59321884778.
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3. T or F: In 2014, Jacksonville Jaguars’ Allen Hurns became the first player to 1. How many days is the Tour score on each of his first de France bicycle race? two NFL receptions. How many miles is it? 4. In 2015, Alex Morgan 2. In 2014, the Detroit Tigers’ became the third-fastest Victor Martinez became U.S. female player (79 the third American League games) to score 50 goals player in history to have in international competia season of 30-plus home tion. Who did it faster? runs and less than 50 5. How many losses did strikeouts at age 35 or heavyweight boxer Joe older. Who were the first Frazier have during his two to accomplish this? 37-fight pro career?
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When the $350 bill was sent to her, she promptly returned the bust to the maker. Houdini stepped in and paid the bill. Within a few days his gesture had been covered in no less than 3,756 newspapers. A reporter estimated that if Houdini had bought that much newspaper space outright, it would have cost $56,340.
• In Germany, Houdini wanted to stage a stunt by jumping, roped and chained, off a boat into the river. The police refused permission— but he did it anyway. As he pulled himself out of the river and walked up the riverbank, he was arrested. The only thing the cops could charge him with was walking on the grass. The story made the pa• On his first trip to Europe, Houdini hired seven bald pers all over the country. men to sit in a row on the pavement next to a popu• In 1899, the head of the Chicago police challenged Houdilar cafe. At regular intervals, the seven men would ni to escape from his special handcuffs. Houdini agreed, simultaneously remove their hats and nod their then struggled for over an hour as the audience jeered. heads forward. Each man had one letter written on The cuffs had to be cut off— and only after the theater had his bald head, and together they spelled “Houdini.” emptied did the cop admit that he had tampered with the cuffs, dropping in a lead slug so that it would be jammed. When the trick was revealed, the local newspaper ran the story and Houdini raked in free publicity.
• Houdini became famous for escaping from straightjackets while hanging upside-down from his feet over public streets. Maximum publicity was ensured because he sought out the newspapers in each town and offered to do the stunt while hanging from their roof. He made the front page in every town he played. • Singer Sarah Bernhardt was honored at a reception. There, she was presented with a bronze bust of herself. However, no one had paid the bill for the bust.
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• In 1906 Houdini was locked in the death row cell that once housed Charles Guiteau, who assassinated President Garfield. Not only did he escape from the cell, but he then unlocked all the other prisoners on death row, shuffled them around, and then locked them up again all in the wrong cells. The escapade took him 27 minutes. He then advised the police on how they could make their jail escape-proof. • Often Houdini would escape quickly from his entrapment, then sit quietly out of sight of the audience, calmly playing cards or reading the paper while waiting for the tension to grow: “Is he dead yet?” “He’s never going to get out alive!” Then, when the audience murmurings and the accompanying orchestral music had grown to a fever pitch, he would drench himself in water to make himself look sweaty before stepping triumphantly out in front of the curtain to accept raucous cheers. • Another pile of free publicity resulted when a magician named The Great Cirnoc interrupted one of Houdini’s performances with loud protests that he, the Great Cirnoc, was the true handcuff king. Houdini invited him on stage to prove himself by escaping from some special cuffs. The Great Cirnoc first insisted that Houdini demon-
strate that it was possible to do (which he did, in the privacy of his cabinet, using a secret key). The Great Cirnoc then struggled to release himself from the same cuffs but found it impossible to do so. He was hooted off stage and the papers were full of the story the next day. • One of his most popular feats was the Great Disappearing Elephant act. During the war, a lady asked him why he didn’t revive the stunt. He answered that President Hoover had ruled that elephants, as well as other resources, needed to be conserved. “I made two disappear a day, that is twelve a week. Mr. Hoover said that I was exhausting the elephant supply of the world.”
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• It was noted 20th-century American poet Hart Crane who made the following sage observation: "One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper patterns at the right moment." • You might be surprised to learn that people have been using carbon paper to make copies since way back in 1806. • You probably know Edgar Rice Burroughs as the American author of the Tarzan novels, among many other adventure and science-fiction works. You may find it hard to picture him as a journalist flying on bombing runs in the Pacific theater -- especially at the age of 66. Burroughs was the oldest war correspondent of World War II. • If you're planning to get into the business of dealing in building materials in Tennessee, you might want to note that in that state it is illegal to sell a hollow log. • Collective nouns are fascinating. For instance, if you see a group of bullfinches, you can call it a bellowing; a group of flies is a business, a cloud or a swarm. You have a pitying of turtledoves and a hover of trout. A group of tigers can be an ambush or a streak; while a group of snails can be called a rout, a walk or an escargatoire. • Those who study such things say that, on a per-capita basis, Canadians eat more doughnuts and more Kraft Mac and Cheese than citizens of any other country. • Before he became famous as an author of horror, suspense and sci-fi, Stephen King worked as a high-school janitor. *** Thought for the Day: "Be not too hasty to trust or admire the teachers of morality; they discourse like angels but they live like men." -- Samuel Johnson © 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.
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ATTAULLAH DURRANI'S RICE
• Attaullah Durrani left his native Afghanistan in the 1920s and came to America to study chemistry. He wanted to work in the petroleum industry but couldn’t find any openings.
• In 1890 Charlie DeDomenico left Italy to come to America. He moved to San Francisco, where he started a chain of fresh produce stores. He sent to Italy for his bride, Maria.
• One night he attended a dinner party and met a man who was in the canning industry. He suggested that Durrani study rice instead. Cooking it was time consuming; what America needed was an easy way to cook rice. Perhaps Durrani could invent a way to put rice in cans.
• Her family, who ran a successful pasta factory, closed their business and followed her to California. In 1912 Maria convinced Charlie to start a pasta factory which her family would run. They set up shop in the Mission District of San Francisco and sold bulk pasta to restaurants and grocery stores. They called it the Golden Grain Pasta Company, and their four sons helped run it.
• Durrani was intrigued and moved to the heart of rice country: Arkansas, where the local rice co-op gave him a laboratory. Years of experimentation showed that canning rice didn’t work. What did work was pre-cooking it, drying it, and packaging it in a box. It was easy to ship, the shelf life was long, and it would cook within minutes. • In 1941 Durrani went to New York City and dropped in on an executive of General Foods. He whipped out an electric hot plate, a sauce pan, a package of his rice, and a bowl. By the time he finished his speech, the rice was cooked, and the executive was impressed. Durrani received a handsome fee, and General Foods began working with instant rice. • The Army was interested in the product because soldiers needed quick food in the field. The product hit the market in 1949 and is found in most American cupboards today. Appropriately enough, it’s now called Minute Rice. • The only grain that beats rice for world-wide production is corn. However, corn is grown for many uses other than human food, so rice is actually the top crop for feeding humans. • China and India are the world’s top producers of rice.
• In the 1950s Charlie’s son Tom and his new bride Lois had dinner with their landlady, who was Armenian and served an Armenian dish that combined rice pilaf with vermicelli. It was very tasty, and Tom and his brother Vince wondered if they could add it as a sideline to the family’s pasta business, so they began experimenting. • They added dehydrated chicken soup to the rice, packaged it individually instead of in bulk, and gave it a catchy new name which incorporated both of the main ingredients. Introduced in 1958, it sold well not only because of its taste, but also due to its easy preparation method, consisting of ‘sauté and simmer.’ • A trip to Italy in 1964 inspired a similar pre-packaged instant Alfredo noodle mix. Quaker Oats bought the company in 1986, but it still celebrates the San Francisco origins of the product. What’s the rice mix called? Rice-a-Roni, combining rice with macaroni. The noodle product is called Pasta-Roni. • The average American eats about 25 lbs of rice per year. Rice has no sodium, no cholesterol, and no gluten. It contains over 15 vitamins and minerals. Although there are over 40,000 strains of rice, only a few varieties are grown commercially.
Thanks for Reading Tidbits!
• On Nov. 5, 1775, Gen. George Washington condemns his troops' planned celebration of the British anti-Catholic holiday, Guy Fawkes Night. Guy Fawkes had been charged with placing gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament to trigger a deadly explosion that would have killed King James I. • On Nov. 6, 1854, "the March king," John Philip Sousa, is born. The instantly recognizable sound of Sousa's timeless pieces -- such as "Stars And Stripes Forever" (1896) -- are well-known to many Americans, even if they don't know the names of the pieces. • On Nov. 4, 1928, Arnold Rothstein, New York's most notorious gambler, is shot and killed during a poker game in Manhattan. When policed asked the bleeding Rothstein who had shot him, he reportedly put his finger to his lips, keeping the gangsters' code of silence. • On Nov. 7, 1943, singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell is born in Canada. A bout with polio as a child had left Mitchell unable to form guitar chords with her left hand, so she experimented with non-standard tunings that would become part of her signature sound. • On Nov. 3, 1957, the Soviet Union launches the first animal into space -- a dog name Laika -aboard the Sputnik 2 spacecraft. Laika survived for several days, kept alive by a sophisticated life-support system. She died after the batteries ran down. • On Nov. 2, 1960, a landmark obscenity case over "Lady Chatterley's Lover," by D.H. Lawrence, ends in the acquittal of Penguin Books. The publisher had been sued for obscenity in publishing an unexpurgated version of Lawrence's 1928 novel. • On Nov. 8, 1994, for the first time in 40 years, the Republican Party wins control of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. The empowered GOP united under the "Contract with America," a 10-point legislative plan to reduce federal taxes, balance the budget and dismantle social welfare programs. © 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.
2015 Mission of Hope Banquet and Silent Auction November 5, 2015 Alerus Center, Grand Forks Silent Auction: 5:00 - 7:00 pm Dinner & Program: 7:00 - 9:00 pm Join us for an evening of delicious food, great entertainment and warm fellowship, as we come together to celebrate Northlands Rescue Mission’s ministry to the homeless and hurting. You won’t want to miss the motivating message from River Jordan, criticallyacclaimed author, inspiring speaker and creative radio host. Your attendance and generous support will help the Mission provide guidance, training and resources to empower men and women struggling with homelessness and hunger to overcome their challenges and build stable and meaningful lives. An opportunity to invest in the ministry of Northlands Rescue Mission will be presented at the banquet. Proceeds from the evening will go to helping children in the community through the backpack program, helping the women’s dorm that is beyond capacity, helping feed those in the community who need a warm meal, and much more!
Individual Tickets: $55.00 Table Sponsorships: from $550+ If you are unable to attend, but would like to support the Mission’s rescue and relief services for the homeless, you can make your gift online today.
••• SILENT AUCTION ITEMS NEEDED •••
www.northlandsrescuemission.org Please call or text Lauralee at 218-330-2008 for more information.
(Answers located 2 pages after this one)
• When you make a chicken in the crockpot, use this trick to have it come out moist and delicious: Prepare the bird as normal, rinsing and patting dry, then seasoning. Ball up six to eight wads of aluminum foil — enough to cover the bottom of the crockpot. Put bird in breast-side up on top of the foil balls. The chicken should not be touching the sides of the pot. Cook on low 6-8 hours for a succulent dinner! • “To use the last of the peanut butter in a glass jar, simply add your morning oatmeal for a yummy flavored breakfast. Or add sliced bananas and a couple tablespoons of milk for a delicious dessert!” — J.S. in Kansas • To help kids in both becoming responsible for the food choices they make and being a helpful member of the household, encourage them to choose a family meal each week, and then help to prep or even cook the meal according to their ability. Experts say this offers a good opportunity to talk about nutritional choices and the impact of different food-preparation techniques. • “If you purchase sodas or other drinks that are linked together with plastic rings, do the little critters a favor: Cut open the loops with scissors so that there are no rings for animals or sea life to get caught in.” — A.A. in Florida • When you are zesting or juicing oranges, lemons or limes for a recipe, go ahead and do several at a time. Freeze the citrus zest and juice in an ice-cube tray. You can pop out the cubes and use them in recipes later on. • Lightly squish your toilet paper roll as you put a new one on. It will not spin as freely but still functions, meaning less waste. Send your tips to Now Here’s a Tip, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803. © 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.
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• Because October is National Cookie Month, enjoy this quiz about cookies! • In 1930 Ruth Wakefield and her husband bought an inn in Massachusetts which had historically been a place where travelers would stop and pay the toll. Ruth did all the cooking, and one day she decided to make chocolate cookies. She was out of baking chocolate, but Andrew Nestlé (of the Nestlé chocolate family) had recently visited, and had given her a Nestlé’s chocolate candy bar. • She broke it into bits and dropped it into the dough, expecting it to melt in the oven, creating chocolate cookies. It didn’t. The bits of chocolate softened but remained separate. The cookies were very good and the travelers raved about them. She called them Chocolate Crunch Cookies and their popularity led her to publish the recipe in several newspapers. • Suddenly sales of Nestlé’s candy bars took a steep climb, and Andrew Nestlé wanted to know why. He and Ruth struck a deal whereby her recipe would be printed on the back of the candy bar’s wrapper, and the cookies were named after her inn. Ruth also received a lifetime supply of chocolate for her invention. • Chocolate sales increased as the cookies spread nationwide, so Nestlé started manufacturing a scored bar to make it easier to break into bits. Then they started including a special chopper, until finally they introduced a new product in 1939: chocolate chips. • Ruth later sold Nestlé the right to the name of her cookie, and the company began to produce the cookies as well. The cookie is now the most popular kind of cookie worldwide. What was the name of Ruth’s inn, now carried on cookie packages? (Answer at top of next page)
IT’S A FACT
• The second most popular cookie is peanut butter flavored, and oatmeal cookies come in third.
(Solution on Next Page)
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DIFFERENCES: 1. Cap is different. 2. Stripe is missing. 3. Sign is missing. 4. Bow is smaller. 5. Balloon is missing. 6. Sweater design is different.
QUIZ: SNACK CAKES
• O.D. McKee and his wife Ruth were newly marriedDell. in the middle of the Great Depression Answer: when they lost their life savings in a bank failA VERY LARGE NUMBER ure. He got a job as a deliveryman for a local • bakery EdwardinKasner was a but mathematician. In 1938 Tennessee, he really wanted to he was asked to come up with a name for a own his own shop. very large number: the numeral one, followed • When a small failing bakery up for sale by a hundred zeros. He askedwent his two young innephews 1934, they used their car as collateral what name they would suggest. and it, living in the back of the store. • bought Nine-year-old Milton suggested a Evenname tually they were able to afford a second shift out of the funnies. A cartoon strip character ofnamed employees, theMilton next several Barneyand wasthey very spent popular. chose decades their Barney’sbuilding last name forbusiness. the number. • • McKee bakedname products which Kasner discovered announced that the new for the big number in his nextwrapped book, altering spelling. were individually wouldthe keep longer and stay fresher than those that were packaged • Sixty years later, Larry Page and Sergey Brin indeveloped bulk in bags jars, sosearch he adapted a neworinternet engine.candyOther wrapping machines to wrapeach cookies, bars, and and search engines searched webpage ranked them according to how many times a cupcakes. them, but Page and • Inspecific 1960 term they appeared created aonnew brand for their Brin designed their search engine to search for company, naming it after their four-year-old the specific term and then find out how many granddaughter. Forthat the logo they used a picture links there were led back to that page, ofwhich the child wearing her favorite outfit, comresulted in a better search engine. plete with a straw hat with a crease in the brim • They decided they needed a name that where she stepped on it. The individuallyreflected how many websites the search wrapped cakes were nowThey soldtook in multi-packs engine was searching. the name and the company began a period of prodigious of Edward Kasner’s very large number, only growth. they misspelled it slightly, so it ended up being spelled exactly way the grew cartoon • Meanwhile, their the littlesame granddaughter up spelled director his last name. What’s tocharacter become Barney the company’s of marketing. it called? (Answer at bottom page) The company named after theofgrandchild now COMPUTER FACTSWhat was the dominates the snack cake market. of their below) • name In 1981 Bill granddaughter? Gates said, “640(Answer kb of memory ought to be enough for anybody.” IT’S A FACT Moore’s Law states thatchocolate computer performance • • The world’s biggest chip cookie doubles every to 24 months, ever since weighed 40,00018pounds and hadand a diameter of 1971, this has been true. 101 feet. It was created in 2003 by The Immac• ulate HP, Google, Microsoft, in andFlat Apple were all Baking Company Rock, North started in garages. Carolina. Answer: from googol. Answer:Google, Little Debbie.
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Answer: Toll House
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