WTF Fun Fact 13129 – Dorothy Parker and MLK Jr.

Writer, poet, and satirist Dorothy Parker is known for her wit. But she was also a civil rights advocate who, in her will, arranged for her entire estate to go to Martin Luther King Jr. – and then to the NAACP after his death. The NAACP still owns the rights to Parker’s oeuvre today.

Parker’s death and legacy

Dorothy Parker became famous for her writing as well as her founding membership in a group of elite writers known as the Algonquin Round Table in New York City. In the 1930s, she also worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood, receiving two Academy Award nominations.

In 1967, Parker died of a heart attack. By then, she had already alienated many of her peers. So when her ashes were never claimed, they were sent to her lawyer. However, he had already retired, so a colleague took charge of the ashes, and they sat in an office cabinet for 17 years.

Eventually, the NAACP took the ashes, where they were on display at the national headquarters in Baltimore for 32 years until she had a formal, private burial in 2020.

It made sense for the NAACP to take Dorothy Parker’s remains since she had been such a notable civil rights advocate. In fact, the organization still benefits from owning the rights to her work.

According to the NAACP website (cited below):

“Preserving the legacy of Dorothy Parker has been an essential part of the NAACP’s history…Dorothy Parker will always be part of the NAACP story as the NAACP was part of hers. Her life and legacy will continue to be remembered throughout NAACP history.”

While many of us own a copy of The Portable Dorothy Parker, much of her life after her heyday in NYC remains unknown. But it’s more interesting than we could have imagined.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Dorothy Parker, An Unwavering Legacy ” — NAACP

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WTF Fun Fact 13126 – RL Stine and Bazooka Joe

You have to straddle two older generations to appreciate the fun fact (or be a keen observer of the 1990s) that there’s a connection between RL Stine and Bazooka Joe.

What’s the connection between RL Stine and Bazooka Joe?

For those who don’t know, Robert Lawerence (RL) Stine is often referred to as “the Stephen King of children’s literature.” He wrote the Goosebumps series of children’s scary novels (it seems a little weird to call it children’s horror, doesn’t it?). He also wrote the Fear Street series. In other words, his books have scared the bejeezus out of multiple generations of children. He says he was inspired by his own generation’s love of horror in the form of the Tales from the Crypt series.

Before he became a young adult author for the ages, Stine had many different jobs. He wrote joke books. He even made coloring books!

And he also wrote Bazooka Joe comics. You know the ones – they came inside packs of bubble gum.

Who knew that the guys responsible for so many Gen X and Millennial nightmares also write those silly comics that came inside gum wrappers?

From bubble gum to horror writer

Bazooka Joe was just one of RL Stine’s many odd jobs as a writer. He was quite prolific and worked on television shows as well (seriously, check out his Wikipedia entry!). He even holds the Guinness Book of World Records award for being the best-selling children’s book series author of all time. It turns out kids like to be scared.

According to Mental Floss (cited below), Stephen King once told Stine, “You’ve taken every single amusement park plot and haven’t left any for anyone else.”

Stine himself isn’t really scared by horror. He’s a fan of a few of King’s books (like Misery and Pet Sematary) but often finds himself laughing at horror films.  WTF fun facts

Source: “21 Bone-Chilling Secrets About R.L. Stine” — Mental Floss

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WTF Fun Fact 12396 – Writer’s Block

In 1974, a legitimate, peer-reviewed academic journal titled Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis” published a zero-word article titled “The Unsuccessful Self-Treatment of a Case of ‘Writer’s Block'” as a joke. It was “authored” by Dennis Upper, a clinical psychologist at Harvard who was, at the time, suffering from writer’s block.

A joke review was published directly underneath his 1974 article, reading:

“I have studied this manuscript very carefully with lemon juice and X-rays and have not detected a single flaw in either design or writing style. I suggest it be published without revision. Clearly, it is the most concise manuscript I have ever seen-yet it contains sufficient detail to allow other investigators to replicate Dr. Upper’s failure. In comparison with the other manuscripts I get from you containing all that complicated detail, this one was a pleasure to examine. Surely we can find a place for this paper in the Journal-perhaps on the edge of a blank page.”

It also spawned the following copycat articles:

Artino, Anthony R. (2016). “The unsuccessful treatment of a case of ‘Writer’s Block’: A replication in medical education.” Medical Education50 (12): 1262–1263.

Ampatzidis, Georgios (November 24, 2021). “The Unsuccessful Self-treatment of a Case of ‘Writer’s Block’: A Replication in Science Education.” Journal of Trial and Error.

Didden, Robert; Sigafoos, Jeff; O’Reilly, Mark F; Lancioni, Giulio E; Sturmey, Peter; LeBlanc, Linda (2007). “A Multisite Cross-Cultural Replication of Upper’s (1974) Unsuccessful Self-Treatment of Writer’s Block.” Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis40 (4): 773.

Hermann, Bruce P. (2016). “Unsuccessful Self-treatment of a Case of ‘Writer’s Block’: a Partial Failure to Replicate”. Perceptual and Motor Skills58 (2): 350.

Mclean, Derrick C.; Thomas, Benjamin R. (2014). “Unsuccessful Treatments of “writer’s Block”: A Meta-analysis.” Psychological Reports115 (1): 276–278.

Molloy, Geoffery N. (1983). “The Unsuccessful Self-treatment of a Case of “Writer’s Block”: a Replication” Perceptual and Motor Skills57 (2): 566.

Olsen, Kenneth R. (2016). “Unsuccessful Self-treatment of ‘Writer’s Block’: A Review of the Literature.” Perceptual and Motor Skills59 (1): 158.

Skinner, Nicholas F.; Perline, Arthur H. (2016). “The Unsuccessful Group Treatment of ‘Writer’s Block’: A Ten-year Follow-up.” Perceptual and Motor Skills82 (1): 138.

Skinner, Nicholas F.; Perlini, Arthur H.; Fric, Lawrence; Werstine, E. Paul; Calla, James (2016). “The Unsuccessful Group-treatment of “Writer’s Block.”” Perceptual and Motor Skills61 (1): 298. 

Upper passed away in 2018 after an accidental fall down the stairs. According to his obituary: In addition to being a professor and clinician, “Upper was an equally brilliant writer and poet. He edited twelve professional books, wrote more than thirty professional articles, and had his poems and short stories published in more than fifty literary journals. His 2007 memoir Long Story Short — a collection of one hundred vivid, thoughtful, funny, sad, and profound stories from his life — continues to captivate readers.”

Source: The unsuccessful self-treatment of a case of “writer’s block”– Journal of Applied Behavioral Research

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