Unfortunately, the web doesn't represent all of human knowledge. Not yet anyway. So, sometimes when I have a question and go to search for the answer on the web, I'm unable to turn anything up.
When this happens, if the question is worthy (and I think of it), I put it up on this page.
If I find the answer through another means (e.g. Usenet, hardcopy reference materials, etc.), I'll put the answer here. Voilà! Now a question whose answer was unobtainable on the web may be found. (I'll also follow up with a link if someone points out that the information has become available on the web since I originally posted the question.)
Things I am unable to find out by any means will be left here as open questions. If you have the answers to any of them, please email me and I'll include your answer and will give you credit unless you wish to remain anonymous.
(I suppose I'd get more eyeballs on the open questions these days by putting them on sites like Yahoo! Answers, but this page was first put up in 1997, long before those sites existed.)
Question: How do the "transforming paintings" in the hallway at Disneyland's Haunted Mansion work?
Answer: The paintings are actually slides that are rear-projected onto the "canvases". There are two slides per painting and they cross-fade. (Update, 2006-05: In a rehab within the last couple of years they changed the paintings to flash-change between the two states in sync with the "outdoor" lightning rather than cross-fading. This is apparently a return to the original effect used when the Mansion was opened. At first I missed the old cross-fade that for me was the original, but now I like the flash-change version better, especially now that they have reduced the lighting intensity such that they look like real oil paintings while they're in their, um, corruptible, mortal state.)
Source: I cross-posted to alt.disney.disneyland, alt.disney.secrets, and rec.arts.disney.parks with the subject "Only unexplained Haunted Mansion effect: Transforming Paintings". There was a long thread, including many clearly incorrect answers, such as that it is done with a hologram (which is how I thought everything was done as a child). This answer was the most common, however, and was verified by James A. Wilson, who said that the projectors are located behind the wall, in a room painted completely black -- a room which also houses the Cast Members' men's restroom.
Question: How fast is Disney's Space Mountain?
Answer: Officially, Disneyland's Space Mountain tops out at 32 mph, and Walt Disney World's at 28 mph. However, the speed is somewhat dependent on the weight of the riders.
Source: I cross-posted to alt.disney.disneyland, alt.disney.secrets, rec.arts.disney.parks, and rec.roller-coaster with the subject "How fast is Space Mountain?". There were many respondents, and answers ranged a bit, but the 32 and 28 figures are from Steven Birnbaum's official guides to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Not sure how Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland stack up.
Question: What ever happened to the record store "Licorice Pizza"?
Answer: In 1986, they were apparently acquired by (the crappy and now defunct music chain) Sam Goody.
Source: Web visitor Joe Tomasone found this post to a Bangles discussion forum:
Date: 10/3/00 9:33:20 pm
Subject: Re: Licorice Pizza - yum!
Hey Daryl - I didn't work in the retail stores. I started out as a driver part-time when I was going to UCLA. I worked delivering records to the stores from the the Licorice Pizza warehouse for a while, then dropped outa school to work full-time. Maybe I shoulda stayed at school, I might have run into Vicki when she was an English major. I ended up working at the main office until 1986, when all the stores became Sam Goody's, and they closed the main office. I visited all the LP stores at one time or another, which one did you shop at?
In my initial searching for the answer to this question, another tidbit I found is that the store existed as long ago as 1977. No full-blown tribute pages seem to exist, though.
Update, 2006-05: Web visitor Peter Barry says that it goes back further than 1977:
In 1976 I was in the Air Force, stationed in Riverside. I distinctly remember purchasing Zeppelin's Presence at a Licorice Pizza outlet on the date of issue: March 31, 1976. Somewhere in my memorabilia I have the business card. It has the store's logo on it, a waitress hoisting a pizza-sized LP that has heat ripples coming up from it. I could be wrong about the date and location, but I don't think so.
Update, 2009-06: Web visitor Steve Lowry found a thread on funny business names on greenspun.com that includes reminiscences from several different Licorice Pizza employees and customers. Steve went on to say that he used to buy cassettes at the Santa Ana location while he was attending high school in O.C. between 1970 and 1972 (after which he moved to Utah), so the chain existed at least as long ago as 1972.
Question: Which Fawlty Towers episode features the "highly-strung" lad who wants some "proper salad creme"?
Answer: Season 1, episode 5: "Gourmet Night".
Source: Couldn't find the info in any of the online episode guides (the synopses are too brief), so I just broke down and watched through the tapes until I found the right episode (okay, not so torturous a task ).
Question: What are the (full) lyrics to the Skinny Puppy song "Fascist Jock Itch"?
Info: When I put this question up, there weren't even unofficial lyrics up on the web, but then in 2001, a guy named Corey Goldberg did a transcription. His page is now gone, but there are now lots of sites with lyrics for the song that are apparently based on his transcription. The copy on LyricWiki.org has some additional '???'s filled in, but I still haven't seen the full lyrics anywhere.
Question: What is the origin of the term "underwater basket weaving"?
Info: One piece of data I was able to find was a post to the Weaver's Words basket-weaving mailing list:
Subject: Re: "Underwater basket weaving
Date: Fri, 4 Jul 1997 22:42:55 -0400 (EDT)
Hi, I first heard the term underwater basket weaving when I was in college (58-62-Indiana State) as a reference to easy classes that football players and other athletes would take just to get credits and remain eligible to play. That may not be the origin but it is my first memory of the term. Since starting to make baskets, I have thought it ironic that people who coined the term did not understand the complexity of some weaving and the history of the craft. Hope this helps, Mary Fulton, Portland, OR.
Now, I think the usual interpretation of the term is a useless class or skill, not an easy, manufactured one. So either the meaning has shifted or Mary's interpretation was off.
Question: Why aren't there index cards with lines on both sides (or are there)?
Question: Why do aerosol cans since the 90s (?) have a red dot, and often instructions that you should point the nozzle at it?
Info: The red dots seem to have become ubiquitous by the late 2000s, and I don't think they used to be (e.g. in the 80s and prior). I was surprised not to be able to find an answer to this on the web (searched 2009-06); indeed I only found two pages referring to this. The first was someone asking the question in 1992 on Usenet's talk.bizarre (and implying that the red dots appeared only on contact lens saline solution aerosol cans -- that does ring a bell as the first place I saw them). No answer appears to have been given, although oddly Google Groups claims the thread contains 2 messages but only shows 1. The second was someone asking on Mahalo Answers (a Yahoo!-Answers-type site). That one did have an answer, though it was obviously someone answering out of common sense, not specialized knowledge, saying that the red dot is "where the stuff inside the can comes out". That warning function would seem to be the clear intention, but who determined these dots were significantly better than just looking for the hole in the nozzle, why, and when? And what about the instructions on many cans saying to point the nozzle at the red dot? The way they word it, it makes it sound like the aerosol can won't work its best unless you do that, but my guess would be that the instructions are there due to a late realization that relying on the red dot makes consumers more likely to spray themselves in the face, unless you admonish them to keep it lined up with the actual nozzle hole.