Thursday, December 10

 

Tuesday, May 26

The Debunker: Does "Moby-Dick" Begin "Call Me Ishmael"?

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: Does Moby-Dick Begin "Call Me Ishmael"?

The 1851 novel Moby-Dick was originally a major critical disappointment, selling only 3,200 copies during the long lifetime of its author, Herman Melville. But today, it's an indisputable American classic. Even if you've never read a word of Moby-Dick, you probably know about the great white whale, the obsessed one-legged Captain Ahab, that famous opening line, "Call me Ishmael"…

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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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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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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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Wednesday, February 12

There Can Be Only Pun: Literary Fashion

by Sean Adams

You guys, I have an addiction. I'm addicted to puns. I need them. I can't get enough of them. I HUNGER FOR THEM. That's why I've set up this weekly blog feature: so you guys can feed my addiction. Every week, I'll name the topic, give you some examples, and then you'll pun away in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter. I'll choose the best ones and post them here next week. Sound good? Good! Let's do it!

THIS WEEK'S EPISODE: Literary Fashion!

Authors are known for being some of the best dressed people in the world. Okay, that's a lie. But they make for great fashion puns. Like:

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Wednesday, January 15

There Can Be Only Pun: Literary Candy

by Sean Adams

Thanks to all who competed in and observed the ChamPUNship! Ut was a great time, and we'll be sure to do more of that soon! In the meantime, things are back to normal around here:

You guys, I have an addiction. I'm addicted to puns. I need them. I can't get enough of them. I HUNGER FOR THEM. That's why I've set up this weekly blog feature: so you guys can feed my addiction. Every week, I'll name the topic, give you some examples, and then you'll pun away in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter. I'll choose the best ones and post them here next week. Sound good? Good! Let's do it!

THIS WEEK'S EPISODE: Sweet, Sweet Literature!

We like candy. We like classic literature. We figured, hey, why not put 'em together? Check it:

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Tuesday, January 15

There Can Be Only Pun: Snacks of Literature

by Sean Adams

It seems like I face some new, frustrating dilemma almost every day. For a while, I tried to solve each one on my own, but I just can't do it anymore. I'm in over my head, and I need your help, Wooters! So, each week, I'm going to post a problem that I'm facing and you're going to help me solve it. But here's the catch: the solutions need to be puns. That's right: logic is secondary; puns are the primary goal here. I'll choose the best pun and announce it in next week's post.

THIS WEEK'S EPISODE: Literary Snack Food!

You guys, I'm throwing a party. The theme: literature! I've got the invites made up and the decorations picked out already; now, I  need to decide what to serve. I'm thinking simple snacks and dips with fun literary names. For example:

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Tuesday, October 23

The Debunker: How Was Dracula Killed?

by Ken Jennings

The poet John Keats called autumn a “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.” Let’s leave the “mellow fruitfulness” for November - October is all about the season of mists. We’ve asked Jeopardy! smart-aleck Ken Jennings to fact-check the spookiest Halloween lore he could dig up and fill us in on all these monstrous misconceptions.

Spooky Myth #4: Dracula Was Killed By a Stake Through the Heart.

A wooden stake through the heart is often said, in vampire lore, to be the only way to kill one of the pesky bloodsuckers. But apparently Bram Stoker, the Irish novelist who created Dracula, didn’t get the memo. At the climax of his 1897 novel, Mina Harker describes Drac’s death like this:

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Thursday, June 07