What we learned this summer from popular culture, such as the California penal code for murder (''187'')


Who — aside from ABC — says that mass-media entertainment is mindless fluff? A close look at this summer’s numerous offerings demonstrates that for those paying attention, showbiz can actually teach us a few things. Here are some of Hollywood’s hottest lessons.

Vega is a star in the constellation of Lyra, only 26 light-years from Earth (Contact).

California’s penal code for murder is 187 (187).

You can’t smoke on certain floors of Chicago’s Drake Hotel (My Best Friend’s Wedding).

Compsognathus, a small birdlike dinosaur species, apparently was a pack hunter (The Lost World: Jurassic Park).

In Jewish mythology, Lilith was Adam’s vengeful first wife (Lilith Fair).

Self-defense tip: To ward off an attacker, plunge a knife into his thigh, then twist the blade so the wound won’t close (Face/Off).

You can’t serve as a cop in New York City if you are deaf in one ear (Cop Land).

Gulden’s is America’s No. 2 mustard (Picture Perfect).

Serial killers usually have two names, while one-time assassins usually have three (Conspiracy Theory).

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