H-E-Double Hockey Sticks

Hellfire and hot goalies highlight this week's Fact Check Footnotes

Published September 27, 2023

Did you know that we’re right around the time where we’re losing the most daylight, at least in the Northern Hemisphere? That’s the autumnal equinox, baby! Two minutes and 50 seconds of sun slipping through my cinnamon-crusted fingers each day up here in beautiful New England. Seasonal Affective Disorder, your time to shine! But let’s get to the facts. 

Citation Needed

Brits got to hear Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley say “You have email,” when they dialed into what old Yankee web provider? AOL or AMERICA ONLINE

My top citation of last week is courtesy of Action Kids Now, a minor and apparently defunct YouTube channel that attempted to capitalize on the curdled-over SEO-sludge schlock that’s infected online kids’ content over the past few years. It’s your standard algorithm bait for iPad babies: “Captain Underpants Play Doh Surprise Egg!” “Joker takes Sweets! Minion gives kids Chupa Chups!” “AOL Sound Effects US to UK Comparison ‘Connie’ RARE.” 

Little Liam loves that last one as a lullaby. 

Look, kudos to whatever enterprising parent paused their coverage of Happy Meal toys to share some nostalgic digital ephemera from more than a decade before their kids were even born. But anyway: Yes, America Online apparently reached all the way to the U.K., and apparently BBC star Joanna Lumley was the voice talent. There were other changes, too: The iconic “you’ve got mail” becomes “you have e-mail.” “File’s done” loses its folksy demeanor, expanded to the full sentence, “your file has been transferred.”

The most invigorating change affected the door-creaking “buddy in” sound effect from AIM, which played whenever a friend logged onto the instant messaging service. In the U.K, the creak was replaced by a coy Joanna Lumley letting you know that “you’ve got company.”

Smash that Like button!

Rabbit Holes

  • The song “Hellfire” almost got which Disney film a PG rating: Hercules or The Hunchback of Notre Dame? The Hunchback of Notre Dame

This question reminded me of some recent coverage about the death of the G-rated movie. Hunchback is from the ‘90s, when kids’ movies would always shoot for that super family-friendly rating. And they had to pull some strings—a screenwriter for Hunchback once described it as “the most R-rated G you will ever see.” But the Disney animated canon hasn’t had a G movie since 2011’s Winnie the Pooh. PG is edgier, cooler, proof that you’re not a baby. Ultimately, the MPAA system is mostly meaningless, especially comparing across decades as sensibilities and standards change. Any system where the PAW Patrol movie is deemed equally suitable for children as 2001: A Space Odyssey is a busted system.

  • The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz bizarrely had Pepe the King Prawn play what major role, whose original “actor” made more than the Munchkins? Toto

Hey, cross-promo! I’m not very familiar with the Muppet Cinematic Universe, but I really don’t know what to make of this 2005 TV movie. I’ve already gone on about kid flicks, so here we’ll just do the highlights:

  1. Ashanti plays Dorothy, so naturally she has an R&B song about Kansas.
  2. The movie is apparently more faithful to the book than the 1939 film, at least in keeping silver shoes over ruby slippers.
  3. They’re my nipples.”
“My eyes are up here, pal.”
  • For a while, the Carolina Hurricanes had a big green Zamboni sponsored by what company that usually focuses on grass? John Deere

In other Carolina Hurricanes/Zamboni news (and hockey fans, forgive me for just now learning about this story): In a 2020 game, the goalie for the Canes gets injured. Then the backup goalie gets injured. So naturally, you seek 42-year-old Zamboni driver David Ayres as a backup backup goalie. And he kills it! Stopping eight of ten shots, Ayres helped the Hurricanes beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6–3.

Now, despite the headlines, the Torontonian was much more than a Zamboni driver. The building operator had done a stint in the minors, and he regularly goaltended during Maple Leafs practices (the home team provides the emergency backup for both teams). Regardless, Ayres remains the oldest goaltender ever to win his debut NHL game, and his stick is in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Pedantic Predicaments

Tiebreaker: Mitch Seavey holds the official speed record for the Iditarod, at how many hours? 195

“Official” sports records are often not as straightforward as you’d think, for something that calls itself “official.” If anything, it’s the whole “official” thing that gets in the way. Consider Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who in 2019 became the first person to run a sub-two-hour marathon … except that it isn’t recognized as an official record, because the event wasn’t open to others and he had a ton of extra support. (Kipchoge still does hold the Official Record, having run the 2022 Berlin Marathon in 2:01:09.)

It’s that kind of sportsy fiddliness that had the initial version of this tiebreaker state that Dallas Seavey holds the record for the Iditarod. Yeah, same last name—Mitch is dad, Dallas is son, and together they’ve won the arduous sled-dog race eight times. (I’m not gonna get in the weeds of the obvious animal-rights controversy, so consider this your acknowledgement of the issue.)

The case for Dallas is clear in the race archives; there he is with his 2021 win at a bit over seven days and 14 hours, nearly a half-day ahead of his dad’s record in 2017. So why does Mitch get the credit? It all becomes clear when you remember the Big Global Event happening in March 2021. (The 2020 race began before Alaska’s first COVID-19 case.) The 2021 race left the usual course for one significantly shorter, so in the eyes of the Iditarod, it was never going to count as a record. 

Really, though, the credit should go to the dogs. They have no concern for numbers and records. I just hope they’re having a good time. 

Mark Gartsbeyn is a resident fact-checker at Questionist’s parent company, Geeks Who Drink. He writes a weekly column on the idiosyncrasies of his work, which appears on Questionist each Wednesday.