This week’s footnotes might need an extra flush

Published November 29, 2023

Citation Needed

I’ll give you the year the balloon was introduced at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and a brief description, you name the character. 2021: Floating alongside a smaller balloon of his Razor Crest knob, what 50-year-old “baby”?Grogu / The Child / Baby Yoda

As an official Fan Wiki Appreciator, I wasn’t all that surprised to come across the fearlessly robust fan wiki for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while fact-checking this round celebrating the balloons of the parade – which also included Paddington, Smokey Bear, and Jeeves of AskJeeves. On the wiki, you can learn how many times Snoopy appeared in the parade (over 40!) and the difference between balloons, falloons, and balloonicles. There’s even a page dedicated to accidents and injuries at the parade–sorry about your ears, Pikachu.

Rabbit Holes

Defying gravity one too many times, Idina Menzel broke a rib during her final Broadway performance as which wicked witch of the west? Elphaba

Speaking of injuries! According to Menzel, she fell through a trapdoor with an elevated platform that automatically lowers below the ground to simulate the Wicked Witch “melting.” Apparently, there was a substitute automation operator that night, who completely blew it. Can you imagine being the unlucky bozo tech responsible for putting Idina Menzel on a stretcher? And during the matinee, too! At least Menzel made it back the next day–the one that was meant to be her final performance–for the curtain call.

In 1955, GM made $9.8 billion and topped the first “500” list from what rival of Forbes magazine? Fortune

These days, GM is all the way down at number 21. And it’s not really much of a surprise that the 1955 list is so terribly out-of-date: The tech and retail giants we know today didn’t exist in the ‘50s – by which I mean, their industries didn’t exist. So here’s a combo puzzle and trivia question: No. 3 on this year’s Fortune 500 list is the highest ranked company that was also present on the 1955 list. In fact, it’s the product of a merger between 1955’s no. 2 and no. 9 companies. What’s that company?

It’s ExxonMobil! Um, yay?

If you wanna fiddle with data some more – and you’re here, so you probably do – this page has a pretty neat visualization of the evolution of the Fortune 500 from 1996 to 2022. 

A company called MaP uses soybean paste “sausages” to test the power of what household devices? Toilets

Hey, if it’s good enough for Bill Gates, it’s probably good enough for me. See the testing process for yourself. (Key quote: “The bowl is so full that some of the media is not even in the water.”)

Pedantic Predicaments

I’ll give you an author and describe a well-known book with one letter changed in the title, you give me that new title. Stephenie Meyer: A love triangle fades into the background in part four of the series, as Jacob, Bella, and Edward argue about how to kill the gophers tearing up their yards. Breaking Lawn

This was when I learned that the Twilight author is Stephenie Meyer, with that extra “e,” not the much more common Stephanie, like Stephanie Beatriz or Stephanie Hsu. It’s a good reminder to always double-check names, even ones that seem obvious. 

Inspired by countless pesky name corrections I’ve caught (plus some that I’ve missed, a la Stephenie), here’s a quiz: Pick out the person in each pair whose first name is spelled correctly. Bonus points if you can also correctly spell check the other one!

  1. Ariana Grande or Ariana Huffington? Grande (Huffington is Arianna)
  2. Courtney Cox or Courtney Love? Love (Cox is Courteney)
  3. Elizabeth Banks or Elizabeth Moss? Banks (Moss is Elisabeth)
  4. Kristen Chenoweth or Kristen Wiig? Wiig (Chenoweth is Kristin)
  5. Margot Martindale or Margot Robbie? Robbie (Martindale is Margo)
  6. Zoe Deschanel or Zoe Saldaña? Saldaña (Deschanel is Zooey)

And finally, an extra-tough one:

Zack Efron, Zack Galifianakis, or Zack Snyder? Snyder (Efron is Zac, Galifianakis is Zach)

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.