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Check out our slides: Our best, bite-sized stories!
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The Muppet Movie
The Muppet Movie
"Rainbow Connection" is a song from the 1979 film The Muppet Movie, with music and lyrics written by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher. The song was performed by Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson) in the film. "Rainbow Connection" reached No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1979, with the song remaining in the Top 40 for seven weeks total. Williams and Ascher received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song at the 52nd Academy Awards. 17 years later, "Rainbow Connection" also made waves in New Zealand. The New Zealand Herald's Merania Karauria explains: It was 1996 and the Police Games were on in Wanganui when a 21-year old man walked into Star FM with a bomb ...
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Jean Jules Jusserand, French ambassador to the United States during World War I. Credit: Harris & Ewing (Public domain)
Jean Jules Jusserand, French ambassador to the United States during World War I. Credit: Harris & Ewing (Public domain)
The French ambassador to Washington, Jean Jules Jusserand, once found himself discussing pacifism with Theodore Roosevelt's wife. "Why don't you learn from the United States and Canada?" she suggested. "We have a three-thousand-mile unfortified peaceful frontier. You people arm yourselves to the teeth." "Ah, madame," Jusserand replied. "Perhaps we could exchange neighbors."
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Jaden Smith in 2019. Background removed. Original photo by Stephen McCarthy/Web Summit (<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0">CC BY 2.0</a>)
Jaden Smith in 2019. Background removed. Original photo by Stephen McCarthy/Web Summit (CC BY 2.0)
In 2002 Will Smith, planning to move with his family into a new house, sat down with his 4-year-old son Jaden ('the sensitive one') and asked him how he would feel about "maybe not living in this house anymore... maybe living in another house." Jaden's eyes started welling up and he asked: "By myself?" "I calmed him down," Smith later joked, "and packed his stuff for him."
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Santa Cecilia Sao
A mixed martial arts fighter "working his hands" on a heavy bag (USMC photo)
A mixed martial arts fighter "working his hands" on a heavy bag (USMC photo)
In June 2003, Brazilian artist Joao Roberto Vieira opened an exhibition of punching bags in Sao Paulo's Santa Cecilia subway station so that commuters could better relieve their frustrations. "The idea," Vieira explained, "is to make people focus on their anger and think about violence." Brazilians who tried the punching bags were soon calling for the government to install them across the city. "I punched one to get relief from the unemployment rate," one commuter, Orisvaldo Pereira, said, "and the lack of beds in hospitals and corruption." "If the city had more of them," another one said, "maybe the violence would drop."
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White House
Speaking about America's relations with Italy in October 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump made a host of errors, which left the White House's Italian translator looking utterly bewildered. Among other gaffes, Trump called Italian head of state Sergio Mattarella "President Mozzarella" and claimed that America and Italy had been allies since Ancient Rome. The look of the White House Italian translator as Trump says President Mozzarella for the Italian President and says U.S. and Italy have been allies since Ancient Rome. pic.twitter.com/4c4kTl1wl3— Teymour (@Teymour_Ashkan) October 17, 2019
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John Mulaney at PaleyFest 2014. Credit: Dominick D (<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/CC BY-SA 2.0">CC BY-SA 2.0</a>)
John Mulaney at PaleyFest 2014. Credit: Dominick D (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Comedian John Mulaney once hatched a scheme to snag a Xanax prescription. "I talked to a friend of mine," Mulaney later recalled, "and… said that he had a regular doctor's appointment, and at the end of it, he said to his doctor, 'Hey doctor, sometimes I get nervous on airplanes,' and the doctor just wrote him a Xanax prescription. And I was like, 'Yeah'… "So I go to a clinic and I go in and I'm just gonna go in for a regular type of checkup. And at the end, I'll ask about Xanax. "So I get to the front desk and they have a 'Why are you here?' sheet, and I want to pick something that will get me ...
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Arc de Triomphe
Joyce in Paris, 1924. Portrait by Patrick Tuohy
Joyce in Paris, 1924. Portrait by Patrick Tuohy
"Joyce had no patience with monuments. Valery Larbaud said to him as they drove in a taxi in Paris past the Arc de Triomphe with its eternal fire, 'How long do you think that will burn?' Joyce answered, 'Until the Unknown Soldier gets up in disgust and blows it out.'" [The eternal flame was in fact later (briefly) extinguished, when a drunken American soldier urinated on it; and, on another occasion, in 1958, a Parisian named Claude Figus was charged with the violation of a sepulchre—after trying to fry eggs on it.]
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One day during the production of Reds, the story of Marxist journalist John Reed and Russia's Bolshevik Revolution, director Warren Beatty, seeking authenticity, lectured the film's extras on Reed's theories of capitalist exploitation of labor. The extras listened attentively, went away to discuss what they had learned, and unanimously decided to go on strike for higher wages. Beatty relented and the extras got a small raise.
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. Credit: Joseph Karl Stieler (Public domain)
. Credit: Joseph Karl Stieler (Public domain)
The extraordinary drama and serenity of Beethoven's string quartets, Op. 130, 131, 133, and 135, was achieved, according to historian Paul Johnson, against the astonishing backdrop of "his deafness, amid a chaos of broken piano wire, wrecked keyboards, dirt, dust, and poverty... surely the most remarkable display of courage in musical history."