15 Things You Might Not Know About Maryland

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1. Maryland was tired of Randy Newman well before his music filled the soundtracks of every other Pixar movie. In 1978, a bill was introduced to outlaw the radio broadcast of Newman’s Little Criminals song “Short People.” The satirical number, which appropriates the absurdity of racism by voicing a distaste for the vertically challenged, left a sour taste in the mouths of some Marylanders who took Newman’s ironic lyrics sincerely. Nonetheless, the bill never made it to law.

2. The townsfolk of St. Michaels, Maryland, have always been a crafty bunch. According to local legend, in order to deflect attack during the War of 1812, the citizens of the waterside town hung lanterns high in the treetops to create the illusion of high-rise residences. When the British opened fire on the town one night in 1813, soldiers aimed for the specks of illumination, missing the village below altogether. In fact, only one home suffered damages. Today, this Mulberry Street luxury home is still affectionately called the "Cannonball House."

3. A good two centuries before Colorado’s great “balloon boy hoax,” Maryland played host to the real thing: 13-year-old Baltimorean Edward Warren supposedly set off for the wild blue yonder on June 23, 1784, making history with the first successfully manned hot air balloon launch in the United States. The first in the world had occurred less than a year earlier—November of 1783—piloted by French science teacher Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier.

4. Washington D.C. lawyer Francis Scott Key penned our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” after watching Britain’s navy attack Fort McHenry at Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812.

5. While we still haven’t figured out a failsafe method for hiding our Facebook passwords from vengeful exes, Maryland at least managed to safeguard our social media reputations from a different community: our bosses. In 2012, the country saw a trend of supervisors demanding access to employees’ Facebook and Twitter pages, hoping to keep all content “appropriate.” Shortly after this pattern hit the public eye, Maryland became the first state to ban companies from requesting passwords from their workers.

6. Garrett Park, Maryland, has long been a proponent of peaceful living. In the late 1800s, the town illegalized the hunting or harming of any songbirds within city limits. All other birds, rabbits, and squirrels were later added to its league of protected creatures. An extension of this nonviolent mindset came into being in 1982, when Garrett Park became one of the first American cities to declare itself a “nuclear-free zone”—an area in which nuclear weapons and power plants are prohibited. Maryland’s Sykesville and Takoma Park followed suit soon afterward.

7. You can thank Maryland for that impossibly catchy Rihanna song, Mary Poppins’ principal means of transport, and a colorful How I Met Your Mother plot device … oh, and for keeping you dry in the rain. Umbrellas were first produced in America thanks to German artisan and entrepreneur Francis T. Beehler, whose Beehler Umbrella House (also known as the Beehler Umbrella Factory and Beehler Umbrella Company) opened its doors in Baltimore in the 1880s.

8. On the subject of rain, Maryland actually takes a pretty unique course of action when stormy weather hits: they tax it. In 2012, Maryland became the first state to institute a tax related to rainfall. Citizens in nine counties throughout Maryland, plus the city of Baltimore, are charged annually for roofs, sidewalks, and other surfaces on their property, all in an effort to render the state more environmentally sound.

9. The official state sport of Maryland? Jousting.

10. As if there was any doubt, Maryland is responsible for the largest crab cake ever witnessed by human eyes. In 2012, the Salisbury-based seafood company Handy International brought a 300-pound crab cake (consisting of about 200 pounds of crab meat, which equates roughly to 1,600 crabs) to the Maryland State Fair, earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

11. Following the release of The Blair Witch Project in 1999, horror fans the nation over would travel in droves to the film’s setting of Burkittsville, Maryland (the movie was actually shot in the nearby Seneca Creek State Park), hoping to investigate the site of the film’s inspiration. Little did they know, there was no true story, no urban legend, and no precedent whatsoever for the Blair Witch conceit. Writer/producer Greg Hale, writer Eduardo Sanchez, and producer Robin Cowie weren’t even from Maryland (but Alabama, Cuba, and Georgia, respectively).

12. Only a single fleet of commercial sailing vessels—ships ordained to transport goods or passengers (recreational cruises not included)—remains in all of North America: the skipjacks of Chesapeake Bay’s Tilghman Island. Their main operative is oyster dredging.

13. Egg consumption aside, Easter season is a dangerous time of year for baby birds. Families are often inspired to take in the cute little critters as pets, only to neglect them once their Easter baskets are found and egg hunts are complete. Maryland takes this transgression seriously, outlawing the sale of chicks or changing their natural color.

14. In 1902, Maryland led the charge in statewide worker’s compensation, becoming the first in the nation to institute the practice. Four years later, the U.S. passed its first federal law recognizing the program. By 1949, every state in America had adopted some variation of worker’s comp.

15. Thistle, cute and seemingly innocuous though it may be, is apparently a big problem in Maryland. In 1987, the state’s Department of Agriculture outlawed the growth of thistle on domestic property, fearing the parasitic relationship that the plant seems to have with other fauna. Maryland has employed six types of insects, two diseases, and herbicides in an attempt to keep the weed at bay.

12 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Easter Bunnies

This child clearly can't get enough Easter Bunny in her life.
This child clearly can't get enough Easter Bunny in her life.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Every year, thousands of families, church groups, and event planners enlist entertainment companies to dispatch a costumed bunny for their Easter celebrations. These performers often endure oppressive heat, frightened children, and other indignities to bring joy to the season.

It can be a thankless job, which is why Mental Floss approached several hares and their handlers for some insight into what makes for a successful appearance, the numerous occupational hazards, and why they can be harassed while holding a giant carrot. Here’s a glimpse of what goes on under the ears.

1. They might be watching netflix under the mask.

Has a bunny ever seemed slow to respond to your child? He or she might be in the middle of a binge-watch. Jennifer Ellison, the sales and marketing manager for San Diego Kids’ Party Rentals and a bunny wrangler during the Easter season, says that extended party engagements might lead their furry foot soldiers to seek distractions while in costume. “We book the bunny by the hour and he is often booked for multiple hour blocks,” she says. “Listening to music definitely helps the time pass.” One of her bunny friends who does a lot of shopping mall appearances has even rigged up a harness that can cradle a smart phone. “It sits above the bunny's nose, resting right at eye level for the performer inside, easily allowing the performer to stream Netflix, scroll through Facebook, or check emails.”

2. They can’t walk on wet grass.

Bunnies that appear at private functions, like backyard parties or egg hunts, have to maintain the illusion of being a character and not a human in a furry costume. According to Albert Joseph, the owner of Albert Joseph Entertainment in San Francisco and a 30-year veteran of Easter engagements, one of the cardinal rules is never to set foot on wet grass. Why? “They wear regular shoes under their giant bunny feet,” he says. “If they step on wet grass and then walk on cement, they’ll make a human foot print, not a bunny print.”

3. There’s a reason they might not pick up your kid.

Bunnies might be amenable to posing for a photo with your child on their lap, but they’re probably not going to grab the little tyke and sweep them off their feet. According to Steve Rothenberg, a veteran performer and owner of Talk of the Town Entertainment in Rockville, Maryland, deadlifting a kid is against the rules. “The last thing you want is to lift them up and have them knock off your head,” he says.

4. Giant carrots will invite inappropriate behavior.

A person dressed as the Easter bunny.
As the 3-foot-long carrot proves, adults are easily the least mature guests at a child's Easter party.
lisafx/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Joseph’s warren of party bunnies usually come equipped with a 3-foot-long giant carrot as a prop. While children are amused by the oversized vegetable, the adults at the parties usually can’t help making observations. “Practically every visit, there’s always someone saying, ‘My, what a big carrot you have,’” he says.

On one occasion, Joseph attended a function at a retirement home. One of the women, who he estimated to be in her 80s, commented on his big feet in a lascivious manner. “She told me she was in room 37.”

5. Clothes make the bunny.

Easter bunny at the White House.
Every year, a well-dressed Easter bunny visits Washington, D.C. for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

While “naked” (i.e., unclothed) bunnies remain popular, Ellison’s lineup also includes Mr. Bunny, a “classy lad with a top hat and vest,” and a Mrs. Bunny sporting a purple dress. Why would kids care if a bunny has sartorial sense? “Kids can probably better relate to a giant, furry character if it's dressed like a human,” Ellison says. “[And] we just thought the costumes looked cute.”

6. They can’t wear dark clothing underneath.

If a bunny wants to wear a black shirt under his or her fur, it stands to reason there wouldn’t be any issue: It's all hidden from sight. But Joseph insists that his cast stick with white apparel only. In addition to being cooler, it serves a practical function. “There’s always an opportunity to see a little something around the neckline or near the feet,” he says. Light clothing helps preserve the character.

7. They use an upholstery cleaner for their heads.

Most bunny costumes can be tossed in any regular washing machine, with the feet going in a larger commercial-use unit. But the heads, which are typically massive and unwieldy, get special attention. “You know those upholstery cleaners you can rent from a grocery store?” Joseph asks. “We use those. There’s a wand attachment to it for cleaning carpet.”

8. There’s a trick to keeping cool.

Costumes made of fake fur in the spring can be a recipe for disaster—or at least some lightheadedness. While none of the bunnies we profiled had experienced fainting spells, Ellison says that the trick to staying cool is actually adding a layer underneath the outfit. “Light, breathable clothing underneath the suit usually does the trick, but some people choose to wear an ice vest under the suit as well.”

Many bunnies also work in intervals: 45 to 50 minutes “on,” and 10 to 15 minutes in a private area to cool off and drink water. “Clients are usually understanding and sympathetic of the bunny and will allow even more breaks if necessary,” Ellison says.

9. Mints are essential.

Bunnies may favor carrots and grass, but their human operators need something other than that in order to deal with the humidity. Rothenberg says that his bunnies usually nibble on mints while working a crowd. “They’ll typically chew gum or have some kind of mint to keep their throat from drying out,” he says.

10. They use bunny handlers to prevent knockdowns.

A person dressed as the Easter bunny.
An Easter Bunny makes a young girl's day.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Any professional bunny knows that having an assistant watching their back is the best way to ensure an appearance goes smoothly. “Your vision is limited and you can’t really look to the left or right,” Rothenberg says. “Having an assistant prevents kids from running up behind you.”

11. They have damaged butts.

In order to ease apprehensive kids, Joseph advocates for his bunnies to squat near a child rather than bend over. “It gets them at a child’s level so they can touch and feel for themselves,” he says. “But a bunny that does a lot of squatting winds up needing their [costume] butts re-sewn. I’ve repaired a lot of them.” Joseph will also invite mothers to sit on the bunny’s lap so fearful children are more likely to approach. “You don’t want to prod the kid,” he says.

12. They’re not just for easter.

While bunny costume season is a fleeting few weeks, companies are happy to roll out their rabbits for other occasions. Once, Ellison sent out a bunny for a customer’s Alice in Wonderland-themed gathering. “The client wanted the White Rabbit, so we dressed up our bunny in a vest and top hat and gave him an over-sized pocket watch. It worked out great.”

This piece originally ran in 2017.

The 48 Most Frequently Banned Wedding Songs

Bogdan Kurylo/iStock via Getty Images
Bogdan Kurylo/iStock via Getty Images

Who among us hasn't attended a wedding and cringed at the playlist? In 2017, stats/polling site FiveThirtyEight asked more than two dozen professional DJs who had DJ’d around 200 weddings what songs couples ban from their weddings and, after surveying 182 wedding playlists, came up with a list of 48 songs. They gave each song a percentage, which represents the share of weddings that banned the song.

The first 10 on the list represent silly dances people like to do but shouldn’t do, like The Chicken Dance, The Macarena, and The Electric Slide. After that, the list starts to see overplayed songs like “Don’t Stop Believin',’” “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” “Dancing Queen,” and “Sweet Caroline,” and call-and-response songs like “Shout.” The list contains a mix of new and old hip-hop, R&B, and pop hits, and several songs ended up tied.

Interestingly, a few songs from FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 ultimate wedding playlist also appear on the banned list, including “Hey Ya!,” “Uptown Funk,” “Sweet Caroline,” and “Call Me Maybe.”

You may or may not agree with this list, but don’t feel bad if you decide to ban any of these songs from your own wedding playlist—chances are, someone out there agrees with you.

  1. “The Chicken Dance”

  1. “Cha-Cha Slide” // DJ Casper

  1. “Macarena” // Los Del Rio

  1. “Cupid Shuffle” // Cupid

  1. “YMCA” // Village People

  1. “Electric Boogie (Electric Slide)” // Marcia Griffiths

  1. “Hokey Pokey”

  1. “Wobble” // V.I.C.

  1. “Happy” // Pharrell Williams

  1. “Shout” // Isley Brothers

  1. “Love Shack” // The B-52's

  1. “We Are Family” // Sister Sledge

  1. “Blurred Lines” // Robin Thicke

  1. “Celebration” // Kool & The Gang

  1. Cotton Eye Joe” // Rednex

  1. “Dancing Queen” // ABBA

  1. “Don’t Stop Believin’” // Journey

  1. “Single Ladies” // BeyoncÉ

  1. “Sweet Caroline” // Neil Diamond

  1. “Turn Down for What” // DJ Snake & Lil Jon

  1. “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” // SilentÓ

  1. “Hot in Herre” // Nelly

  1. “Mony Mony” // Billy Idol

  1. “All About That Bass” // Meghan Trainor

  1. “Baby Got Back” // Sir Mix-a-Lot

  1. “Booti Call” // Blackstreet

  1. “Gangnam Style” // Psy

  1. “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” // Big & Rich

  1. “Stayin’ Alive” // Bee Gees

  1. “Sweet Home Alabama” // Lynyrd Skynyrd

  1. “Uptown Funk” // Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars

  1. “Wagon Wheel” // Nathan Carter

  1. “What Do You Mean?” // Justin Bieber

  1. “All of Me” // John Legend

  1. “Bohemian Rhapsody” // Queen

  1. “Brown Eyed Girl” // Van Morrison

  1. “Call Me Maybe” // Carly Rae Jepsen

  1. “Footloose” // Kenny Loggins

  1. “Get Low” // Lil Jon

  1. “Hey Ya!” // Outkast

  1. “Hotline Bling” // Drake

  1. “I Will Survive” // Gloria Gaynor

  1. “My Heart Will Go On” // CÉline Dion

  1. “SexyBack” // Justin Timberlake

  1. “Shake It Off” // Taylor Swift

  1. “Sugar” // Maroon 5

  1. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” // Bonnie Tyler

  1. “You Shook Me All Night Long” // AC/DC

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