Q: Who stole the great Hope Diamond?
A: The first time, it was Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a 17th-century diamond merchant. Legend has him traveling to India and stealing a 112-carat blue diamond from the eye of a statue of the Hindu goddess Sita. Later, after selling off the diamond, Tavernier is said to have been killed by wild dogs in Russia, a story that inaugurated the Hope Diamond's famous curse.
The jewel was stolen a second time, as part of the French crown jewels, which were taken from Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI as the two royals attempted to flee the French Revolution in 1791.
Would you steal the Hope Diamond if you could? Like if you were alone in a museum with no security and it was hanging out very casually on a pedestal? You can buy a cubic zirconia replica of the Hope Diamond for like $175, but there’s nothing like the real thing, which is 1.1 billion years old.
Q: What killed the dinosaurs?
A: The dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago after enjoying 150 million years of unfettered VIP access to Earth and all her bounty. Scientists have long attributed dinosaur extinction to a massive asteroid strike whose impact crater, six miles wide, can still be seen in the Yucatan Peninsula – but recent evidence suggests that the asteroid may just have been the final straw in a long period of wild volcano-induced climate change.
This would be a good question to ask the Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started A Conversation With At A Party.
Q: Who makes the finest pizza?
A: If you’re drunk, who doesn’t? I don’t know. I like pizza a lot and indiscriminately. There’s that saying about pizza and sex, right—but I think bad pizza is a much safer bet than bad sex, am I alone in this?
A: According to my 19-year-old brother, who investigated his now-vacant room in our parents’ house: "Socks, boxers, a bunch of mail, old Cub Scout awards, beer bottles, and a paper-mache demon mask that I made in middle school."
Q: What is the Loch Ness Monster?
A: The Loch Ness monster is the mythical beast of Loch Ness, a lake in the Scottish highlands. Though Nessie’s presence was first reported in the 7th century by an Irish monk named Saint Columba, sightings grew more frequent in the early 20th century, when a road was built along the lake. After a dozen serious investigations in which Nessie was hunted by sonar, hydrophone and submersible, the scientific community concluded that the Loch Ness monster was, much like certain other things we fascinate ourselves with, nothing more than a series of hoaxes, misidentifications, and wishful thinking.
Q: Why is the cherry on top?
A: In 1893, an Ithaca drugstore owner named Chester Platt made a special dish of ice cream for a local reverend named John Scott. Platt topped Scott’s vanilla ice cream with cherry syrup and a candied cherry, and soon afterwards, the Platt & Colt's drugstore began advertising "Cherry Sunday" in the local newspaper.
Is there a porn star named Cherry Sunday? Does she have a film series called "Cherry On Top"?
Q: Where is Amelia Earhart?
A: After the pioneer pilot disappeared in July 1937, several theories arose concerning Earhart's fate – that she was spying for the FDR administration in Japan, that she’d been executed by Japanese troops on one of the Mariana Islands, and that she was alive in New Jersey under the alias Irene Bolam. However, 80 years later, it is most likely that none of these rumors were true, and that what remains of Amelia Earhart lies 17,000 feet under the ocean's surface in the waters surrounding Howland Island.
Q: Who put the bop in the bop-shoobop-shoobop?
A: The Platters, a group that worked in the era just before rock-and-roll and put an impressive 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1955 and 1967.
Q: Are tomatoes a veggie or a fruit?
A: A tomato is technically a fruit because it is the "ovary" of a flowering plant, but it contains much less sugar than other fruits, so it is not commonly eaten alongside other fruits in, say, an "ovary" breakfast salad.
Q: Who is in that Barney suit?
A: From 1991-2001, it was a man named David Joyner. Before playing Barney, Joyner had worked as a motivational speaker, a software analyst for Texas Instruments, and a “live mannequin,” but never as a costume character actor. He caught the eye of a Dallas-based casting agent who snagged him the part of a drug dealer on America’s Most Wanted, but then they caught the actual drug dealer and cancelled Joyner’s scenes.
The agent suggested that Joyner take on a children’s character named Barney, and she sent him a package of VHS tapes, which made Joyner “fall asleep. Every single time…. I could not get through one video… Barney’s barely moving, he’s waddling, and the voice is like [slow-motion voice] ‘Whoo-hoo-hoo, hello boys and girls.’”
Then, that night, Barney appeared in Joyner’s dream, passing out and prompting Joyner to give the stuffed dinosaur mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The actor woke up confused and drove to his audition. On his way, he saw a Southwest Airlines billboard that said “Breathe Life Into Your Vacation.” Joyner realized that he had to do the same with Barney, and he did, to great acclaim.
“Being very spiritual as I am,” he told an interviewer at Under the Gun Review, “I would always pray before I got into the costume and I would ask God to allow His spirit to flow through me, through the costume.”
More than a decade after Joyner stepped out of the suit, he has “a storage full of stuff… a bunch of plush little Barneys… most of the scripts, locked away.” He remembers as his greatest criticism the time that “the Ku Klux Klan found out that the guy who played Barney was African American.”