Monday, May 25

Music Monday: Comet Songs

by Scott Lydon


Happy Music Monday! The first recorded sighting of Halley's Comet was today back in 240 BC. It won't be back for quite some time, but when it gets here, it'll find Scott's gathered this small selection of comet songs in its honor! Isn't that nice?

Paul Simon - St. Judy's Comet

 

Paul Simon wrote this for his son, and when you know that, it's obvious what this song is about. Sort of a much more catchy version of that book Go The F To Sleep. And it's lovely too.

More comety goodness coming up, after the jump.

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Tuesday, May 19

The Debunker: In "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," Does Dorothy Wear Ruby Slippers?

by Ken Jennings

The month of May is come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom and to bring forth fruit! If you're literary enough to recognize that quote from Thomas Malory, you might also know that May is one of the best months of the year to be a bookworm, what with Independent Bookstore Day and National Library Legislative Day, not to mention the birthdays of Whitman, Emerson, and Thomas Pynchon. But you might be surprised by how much of what you think you remember about American literature is wrong. Luckily, Jeopardy! champ and man of letters Ken Jennings is here to set us straight. Let every lusty brain begin to blossom and bring forth fruit!

The Debunker: In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Does Dorothy Wear Ruby Slippers?

Dorothy's ruby slippers from the 1939 MGM musical The Wizard of Oz are one of the most famous props in movie history. Not only do they protect the wearer from wicked witches, but clicking the heels together will transport you magically to Kansas. There's no place like home! No wonder one of the few surviving pairs of slippers sold at auction in 2000 for $660,000. That's not a record for a movie prop (Marilyn Monroe's dress from The Seven Year Itch sold for a cool $4.6 million in 2011) but it's still pretty impressive.

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Monday, May 18

Music Monday: Good Bye To The King

by Scott Lydon


Happy Music Monday! Last week a blues hero passed on. The great B.B. King went up to that great back porch in the sky. His music is great and you should all find some and listen to it, but today's Music Monday isn't about the man himself. It's about his cultural legacy. Scott's chosen five songs about B.B. King that illustrate just how many different genres he's influenced. Here's a spoiler: it's everything.

The Beatles - Dig It

 

Even in this stream of consciousness album filler, John Lennon still takes a moment to namecheck one of his favorite artists. If that's not good enough to make you take notice, what is?

More cultural references coming after the jump.

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Tuesday, May 12

The Debunker: Were the Reports of Mark Twain's Death Greatly Exaggerated?

by Ken Jennings

The month of May is come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom and to bring forth fruit! If you're literary enough to recognize that quote from Thomas Malory, you might also know that May is one of the best months of the year to be a bookworm, what with Independent Bookstore Day and National Library Legislative Day, not to mention the birthdays of Whitman, Emerson, and Thomas Pynchon. But you might be surprised by how much of what you think you remember about American literature is wrong. Luckily, Jeopardy! champ and man of letters Ken Jennings is here to set us straight. Let every lusty brain begin to blossom and bring forth fruit!

The Debunker: Were the Reports of Mark Twain's Death Greatly Exaggerated?

Well, not in April 1910, when the great American humorist Samuel Clemens actually died. Then they were right on the money. But you're probably thinking of 1897, when Twain is reputed to have read a newspaper account of his death and announced, "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." In fact, there are two problems with this story. First, there were no such reports. And second, Twain said no such thing.

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Monday, May 11

Music Monday: The Birthday Burdon

by Scott Lydon


Happy Music Monday! Who doesn't love The Animals? Well, if the answer is you, maybe you want to sit this Music Monday out. Because today we're paying tribute to the one and only Eric Burdon. To wit...

Eric Burdon & The Animals - When I Was Young

 

I'm gonna say even less than usual this week, because most of what I have to say is evident in the music itself. Eric Burdon led bands that were interesting, gritty, screamy, blues-based and just a tad bit rough. And they were all pretty darn good, too. This particular dystopia isn't something one could praise, but what a great story! Sort of like, you know, gangsta rap.

More to come after the jump.

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Tuesday, May 05

The Debunker: Did Henry David Thoreau Live in Solitude at Walden Pond?

by Ken Jennings

The month of May is come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom and to bring forth fruit! If you're literary enough to recognize that quote from Thomas Malory, you might also know that May is one of the best months of the year to be a bookworm, what with Independent Bookstore Day and National Library Legislative Day, not to mention the birthdays of Whitman, Emerson, and Thomas Pynchon. But you might be surprised by how much of what you think you remember about American literature is wrong. Luckily, Jeopardy! champ and man of letters Ken Jennings is here to set us straight. Let every lusty brain begin to blossom and bring forth fruit!

The Debunker: Did Henry David Thoreau Live in Solitude at Walden Pond?

"When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself." So begins Walden, a work by Henry David Thoreau in which the famed American poet and philosopher describes the two years he spent living in a one-room cabin near Concord, Massachusetts. Life in the Woods, he subtitled the book. Modern readers, taken with the romantic idea of a man living alone with nature, often imagine Thoreau as a secluded hermit.

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Monday, May 04

Music Monday: Let's All Hear Some Lindsay Buckingham

by Scott Lydon


Happy Music Monday! You know who rocks? Lindsay Buckingham rocks. Today Scott's gathered five Lindsay-penned songs that really showcase how great a songwriter he is. Join in! Join in!

Lindsay Buckingham - Trouble

 

Listen to that radio-friendly cascade of warmth and light! MMMMM! It just demands you put on some shades and sit on the beach, don't it? That Southern California feel is what Lindsay Buckingham brings to the table. The expensive, powder-covered table. At least back when this song was popular.

Tune your twelve string, there's more to come, after the jump!

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Tuesday, April 28

The Debunker: Do Microwave Ovens Cook from the "Inside Out?"

by Ken Jennings

April is the traditional month for spring cleaning: opening doors wide for the first time in months, polishing things till they gleam, possibly beating on rugs with some kind of stick or club? In honor of this season of good housekeeping, we've asked Jeopardy! mastermind Ken Jennings to help us out with a little mental spring cleaning. He'll be dusting away some persistent around-the-house myths and spraying the sweet-smelling Lysol of Truth over all your remaining brain clutter.

The Debunker: Do Microwave Ovens Cook from the "Inside Out"?

Is there a more misunderstood appliance than the humble microwave oven? My generation was the first to grow up with microwaves in the kitchen, so we heard all the craziest craziness from worried parents. Eating microwaved food might cause cancer. (Not true.) Don't look in the microwave while it's running. (Not true.) You can't put metal in the microwave. (Not true, but you do have to be careful about its shape, thickness, etc.) Don't run the microwave empty. (True, but only a problem on older models.)

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Monday, April 27

Music Monday: Happy Birthday To The Mouse

by Scott Lydon


Happy Music Monday! Today, in 1981, Xerox gave the world a big bulky perephrial that changed everything we knew about computers. Today's the birthday of the Computer Mouse! In it's honor, Scott's selected some songs that that mouse might have heard on the radio on it's very first day.

Loverboy - Turn Me Loose

 

"Turn me loose on the world!" the first mouse might have said, knowing what was coming deep in its mousy soul. And it's true! Without the mouse, we might never have made it all the way to tablets. What use is G-U-I without the M-O-U-S-E?

More mouse malarkey coming after the jump.

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Tuesday, April 21

The Debunker: Is Window Glass Really a Slowly Flowing Liquid?

by Ken Jennings

April is the traditional month for spring cleaning: opening doors wide for the first time in months, polishing things till they gleam, possibly beating on rugs with some kind of stick or club? In honor of this season of good housekeeping, we've asked Jeopardy! mastermind Ken Jennings to help us out with a little mental spring cleaning. He'll be dusting away some persistent around-the-house myths and spraying the sweet-smelling Lysol of Truth over all your remaining brain clutter.

The Debunker: Is Window Glass Really a Slowly Flowing Liquid?

It's easy to see the appeal of this myth. The windows of medieval cathedrals, it's been noticed, are often thicker at the bottom than they are at the top. Imagine these brightly colored panes of religious scenes, seemingly frozen but imperceptibly melting over the centuries, a potent symbol of Time's wingéd chariot, undetectable in any given instant, but inevitably coming for us all!

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