Sports editor and theatre critic Dick Schaap was unusual in that he could vote for both the Tony winners and the Heisman selection. Best known as a sports broadcaster, he also won five Emmys, for profiles of Sid Caesar and Tom Waddell, two for reporting, and for writing. In fact, the Emmy category for writing was renamed for him and in 2005 his ...Read more
A tenth of the 7 million tons of rice grown in the U.S. each year goes into the making of beer.
"Chopines" were platform shoes that became popular in Europe during the 16th century. Some chopines were over 20 inches tall. In the 1400's, a popular form of shoes called "crakows" sported extremely long toes. The length of the toes, which could be over 20 inches, was an indication of the social status of the person wearing them.
One Norwegian Christmas custom begins in late autumn at harvest time. The finest wheat is gathered and saved until Christmas. This wheat is then attached to poles made from tree branches, making perches for the birds. A large circle of snow is cleared away beneath each perch. According to the Norwegians, this provides a place for the birds to ...Read more
Former MGM star Mickey Rooney turned down the role of bigoted family man Archie Bunker in the 1970s sitcom, All in the Family. The former child star was convinced that the show would bomb, and he wasn't willing to jeopardize his professional reputation, although his film career had been on the skids for years. Little-known character actor ...Read more
Scientists love studying fruit flies, especially if they're working on genetics. Drosophila melanogaster is cheap, easy to maintain and lays lots of eggs, lots of times. Moreover, about three quarters of human disease genes have a match in the fruit fly genome of fruit flies. So, even though they are annoying, they are helping us battle ...Read more
A 4-inch-long abalone can grip a rock with a force of 400 pounds. Two grown men are incapable of prying it up.
The modern Christmas custom of displaying a wreath on the front door of one's house, is borrowed from ancient Rome's New Year's celebrations. Romans wished each other "good health" by exchanging branches of evergreens. They called these gifts strenae after Strenia, the goddess of health. It became the custom to bend these branches into a ring ...Read more
The Knights of Juzhani: The Emerald of the Black CaveBrandon Young
Jimmy is an ordinary kid who is a senior in high school. Except for being a black belt, he is an average kid in every respect, with the same hopes and angst. Little does he know that his life is about to change, starting with his discovery of a strange emerald during his class’s field trip ...
The Romans were so fond of eating dormice that the upper classes raised them domestically. The rodents were kept in specially designed cages and were fed a mixture of nuts.
The Official Preppy Handbook notes the bloody mary to be the favored mixed drink amongst preppies. The following liquor brands were cited to be "preppy" in a sequel to The Official Preppy Handbook, Tipsy in Madras: Gin (Gilbey's, Gordon's), Rum (Mount Gay & Bacardi), Scotch (Dewar's, J&B), Whiskey (Jack Daniel's & Jim Beam), Vermouth (...Read more
Until the 1950s, Tibetans disposed of their dead by taking the body up a hill, hacking it into little pieces, and feeding the remains to the birds.
Pediatricians estimate that 58 percent of their young patients go to child care or school even when ill, according to a Gallup survey. This despite the fact that 81 percent of mothers working full-time have stayed home at times to care for a sick child.
The first ballpoint pens sold in 1945 were priced at $12.00 apiece.
The world's longest railway is in Peru. The Central Railway climbs to 15,694 feet in the Galera tunnel, 108 miles from Lima. Tourists take it to get to the ruins of Machu Picchu.
Evidence would indicate otherwise. Birth defects in Moscow are alarmingly high. The infant death rate stands at 15 per 1,000 live births, nearly twice the U.S. rate. American experts believe that chemical pollution, lead poisoning, and/or exposure to radiation are the primary causes of these defects and infant deaths.
Danzig was once Prussian city, with a significant German population, so much so that, even though it was supposed be a pro-Polish "Free City" after World War I, it happily voted itself back into Nazi Germany. When the Soviets arrived in World War II, the local Germans either fled or were kicked out, replaced by Poles by regions in the east ...Read more
In Tuscany, olive oil and bread are sacred gifts and it is a grave sin to waste either of them. The Tuscans say you add years to your time in purgatory with the crumbs left on your plate.
Both the American Revolution and the infamous French Revolution were born in coffee houses. The American Revolution grew from roots planted by patriots in the Green Dragon (some say it was the Green Lion) Public House in the Lloyd's District of London. The infamous French Revolution happened in 1789 when the Parisians, spurred on by Camille ...Read more
When Mark Twain was born on November 30, 1835 – Halley's comet was visible in the sky over Florida, Missouri. Aware that he was born when Halley's comet was visible, Mark Twain predicted in 1909 that he would die when it returned. He was right. When Mark Twain died on April 21, 1910, Halley's comet was once again visible in the sky.
The names of some cities in the United States are the names of other U.S. states. These include Nevada in Missouri, California Maryland, Louisiana in Missouri, Oregon in Wisconsin, Kansas in Oklahoma, Wyoming in Ohio, Michigan in North Dakota, Delaware in Arkansas, and Indiana in Pennsylvania.