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  2. Fact of the Day - REAL STORY MOVIES Did you know... those green symbols trailing down in "The Matrix" aren’t complicated algorithms. A production designer scanned symbols from his wife’s sushi cookbooks, then manipulated them to create the iconic “code.” (Marissa Laliberte | Reader's Digest | Mar 30, 2018) Movies You Won’t Believe Are Based on True Stories by Interesting Facts The Notebook Countless movies are based on real events, and most of them are quick to let you know it. Whether the plot is ripped from the headlines or merely adapted, taking inspiration from real-world happenings can confer a sense of legitimacy — the implication being that even if creative license was taken (and it almost certainly was), the filmmakers are performing a kind of public service by bringing these stories to the big screen. Not all of these movies advertise their pedigree, however, and there’s a good chance you didn’t realize these four movies were based on real events. 1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Freddy Krueger isn’t real and there have been zero confirmed cases of teenagers being murdered in their dreams (thankfully!), but that doesn’t mean that Wes Craven’s landmark slasher series wasn’t inspired by a real story. Years before dreaming up Elm Street, the horror maestro became fascinated by a series of newspaper articles about refugees from Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam who were afflicted with nightmares so disturbing that they forced themselves to stay awake — and, in some cases, died upon finally falling asleep. “It was a series of articles in the L.A. Times; three small articles about men from South East Asia, who were from immigrant families and had died in the middle of nightmares — and the paper never correlated them, never said, 'Hey, we've had another story like this,’” Craven explained in a 2008 interview. Other research has shown that the phenomenon primarily affected Laotian male refugees from the Hmong ethnic group, an ethnicity that fought alongside the U.S. in the Vietnam war and was subsequently persecuted in Laos after the war ended. Many later suffered traumatic resettlements in the U.S. In the newspaper articles, there were no reports of a man wearing a striped red-and-green sweater — but the core of the idea was the same. 2. Goodfellas (1990) Whether or not the mobsters in Martin Scorsese’s crime classic are actually good fellas is debatable, but one thing is certain: They were at least based on real fellas. Adapted from Nicholas Pileggi’s book Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family, Goodfellas envisions mafiosa-turned-informant Henry Hill as a made man whose life of crime represents a fulfillment of his childhood dream — there’s a reason the movie’s first line is, “as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” The fact that Scorsese had already directed revered crime pictures such as Mean Streets and Taxi Driver made him reluctant to make another, but coming across Wiseguy was more than enough to change his mind. “I just read your book. I’ve been looking for it for years,” Scorsese told Pileggi over the phone when pitching the idea of adapting it. “Well, I’ve been waiting for this call all my life!” Pileggi replied. The rest, as they say, is history. 3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) If you believe that truth is stranger than fiction, you won’t be surprised to learn that Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’s inventive premise was borne of more than writer-director Martin McDonagh’s imagination. The Oscar-winning drama stars Frances McDormand as a grieving mother who, months after the rape and murder of her daughter, takes matters into her own hands by calling out law enforcement’s lack of progress on the case with a series of accusatory billboards. McDonagh revealed how the idea came to him in an interview conducted shortly after the film’s release: “Twenty years ago I was on a bus going through the southern states of America, and somewhere along the line, I saw a couple of billboards in a field that were very similar to the billboards that we see in the start of our story,” he told Deadline in 2018. “They were raging and painful and tragic, and calling out the cops.” McDonagh received an Academy Award nomination for his screenplay, and a number of protest groups have since used similar billboards to make their voices heard. 4. The Exorcist (1973) Plenty of people consider The Exorcist the scariest movie ever made, and the fact that it’s based on a true story only adds to the terror. The actual practice of exorcism is highly controversial, so when writer William Peter Blatty based his 1971 novel on a particularly disturbing episode he’d first heard about in college, it was perhaps surprising that it was so well received. Blatty adapted the story of a 14-year-old boy whose family had believed he was possessed by a demon. A number of Jesuit priests performed the exorcism in 1949, which one account claims was witnessed by at least 48 people. “The little boy would go into a seizure and get quite violent,” one of the priests recalled, even going so far as to break that priest’s nose, and he had words like “hell” etched into his skin. Skeptics doubt that the teenager was ever actually possessed, of course, and the boy reportedly went on to lead “a rather ordinary life.” Blatty wrote the script for William Friedkin’s hugely successful adaptation of his novel, and the author-turned-screenwriter won an Academy Award. Source: True Movie Trivia Facts | Facts About Movies Based on True Stories
  3. What's the Word: YARBOROUGH pronunciation: [YAR-bə-rə] Part of speech: noun Origin: British, early 20th century Meaning: 1. (In bridge or whist) a hand with no card above a nine. Example: "Jake wanted to get a yarborough in his weekly card game." "The novice asked the card shark what a yarborough was." About Yarborough Charles Anderson Worsley, an English nobleman and second Earl of Yarborough, is said to have bet 1000 to one against the dealing of such a hand. Did You Know? Around 1900, Lord Yarborough gave his name to a hand of cards dealt in bridge that contains no ace and no card higher than a nine. The probability of getting a Yarborough is 347,373,600 out of 635,013,559,600 — or 1/1828. The earl offered £1,000 to anyone who achieved a "yarborough," on the condition they paid him £1 each time they didn’t get one.
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  5. Fact of the Day - PLACES THAT INSPIRED NOVELS Did you know.... that for years, C. S. Lewis had been having a recurring dream about a fawn wearing a red scarf and so, when war broke out and cities were being evacuated, he decided to put pen to paper and use this friendly fawn as one of his key characters in what would be known for years to come as ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’. (brilliantbookandlifeclub | October 2017) Fascinating Locations That Inspired Bestselling Novels by Interesting Facts If you’ve ever immersed yourself in an entirely different world while reading a book, you’re not alone. Stories that take place in intriguing locations are often the ones readers enjoy the most — in such books, the setting becomes almost as important as the characters themselves. Writers often draw inspiration for these stories from their real-life surroundings. Here are six fascinating locations that inspired some of the world’s best-known novels. 1. Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, England: "Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings" Two of the world’s most famous book series share a connection: England’s fantastical Forest of Dean. Here, you’ll encounter winding paths, deep green foliage, looming moss-covered branches, and an air of hidden secrets within the trees. J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) grew up in Gloucestershire and spent time in the forest, which serves as the inspiration for the series’ Forbidden Forest. There are also traces of her childhood cottage home here (which the author secretly purchased in 2011), such as in the tiny closet under the stairs that served as Harry’s bedroom. J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit) also spent time in the Forest of Dean as a child. He was inspired by the forest’s labyrinth of caves and geological formations called scowles, created by erosion in the limestone soil under the woods. Middle Earth, the elaborate setting for his books, contains several mystical forests such as Mirkwood, Lothlórien, Fangorn, and the Old Forest — all influenced by the Forest of Dean’s unusual features. A popular area of the forest to visit is Puzzlewood, where you’ll find mazes, a café, a playground, farm animals, picnic tables, and a gift shop. Puzzlewood’s other claim to fame is as a film set — Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Secret Garden, Dr. Who, Merlin, and Jack the Giant Slayer are just a few of the television shows and movies that have been shot here. 2. The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado: "The Shining" If you’ve read Stephen King’s horror thriller (or seen the movie adaptation starring Jack Nicholson), you’ll undoubtedly remember the hotel where most of The Shining takes place. Its long spooky hallways, eerily empty bar, and isolated location set the scene for the chilling tale. Estes Park lies on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, and due to the snowy, mountainous location, much of the park and town shut down for the winter. In 1974, King was living in nearby Boulder and working on a novel titled Darkshine, but reportedly wasn’t happy with its setting. For a change of scenery and inspiration, he and his wife headed to Estes Park and spent one night in The Stanley Hotel, a 142-room Colonial Revival-style resort built in 1909. No other guests were in the hotel because the hotel was closing for the winter the following day. The couple dined alone in the large dining room with chairs on all the other tables as pre-recorded orchestral music played in the background. When his wife retired to Room 217, King wandered the empty corridors and visited the hotel bar, where the bartender served him drinks. King reported having a disturbing dream that night about a firehose chasing his terrified young son down the hotel corridors. The nightmare, combined with the hotel’s eerie desolation, was the inspiration King was looking for, and Darkshine became The Shining, which takes place at the fictitious Overlook Hotel. The Stanley Hotel, which overlooks the majestic Rocky Mountains and Estes Lake, has since been restored to some of its former grandeur. Room 217 is the hotel’s most requested room, and the hotel added a hedge maze to mimic the one in the movie. The hotel has a reputation for being haunted, and its rumored paranormal activities are often featured on TV shows and online. 3. Ngong Hills, Kenya: "Out of Africa" Danish author Karen Blixen wrote Out of Africa under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen, chronicling her time living on a coffee plantation from 1913 to 1931 at the base of Ngong Hills in Kenya (when it was known as British East Africa). Blixen arrived in Africa in 1913 to marry her second cousin, Swedish Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke. But the marriage eventually fell apart, and Blixen, who had fallen in love with Africa and its people, took over his plantation. During this time, an English big-game hunter named Denys Finch Hatton became Blixen’s long-term romantic companion. The plantation eventually failed due to falling coffee prices, droughts, and an unsuitable elevation, and Blixen was forced to sell the land and return to Europe. But she never stopped longing for Africa and wrote her memoir detailing the breathtaking wildlife and vast savannahs around Ngong Hills. In 1985, Meryl Streep and Robert Redford starred in a film adaptation of Out of Africa, directed by Sydney Pollack. The film was nominated for 11 Oscars and won seven, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography. (Streep received a Best Actress nomination.) Several scenes featured Streep and Redford against the stunning backdrop of the Kenyan landscape. Blixen’s plantation home, near Nairobi, has been converted to the Karen Blixen Museum. The fertile green Ngong Hills that Blixen wrote so favorably about lie just a few miles northwest of the museum and are a popular hiking spot. 4. Great Neck, New York: "The Great Gatsby" F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, primarily takes place during the Roaring Twenties in West Egg and East Egg, fictitious towns on Long Island’s north shore. Both communities housed wealthy families who lived in lavish mansions, but with one significant difference — “old money” families who had been wealthy for generations lived in East Egg. Across a small bay, West Egg’s inhabitants were considered “new money.” Jay Gatsby, the main character, lived in West Egg and often threw elaborate parties. He pined for his love Daisy, who lived across the bay and married another man. The two communities are based on real-life Sands Point (East Egg) and Great Neck (West Egg), separated by tiny Manhasset Bay. Fitzgerald and his wife rented a home in Great Neck from 1922 to 1924. They befriended some of its newer inhabitants, who had recently earned their wealth as famous writers, actors, and comedians. At the time, “old money” families such as the Vanderbilts and the Guggenheims owned estates in Sands Point. Fitzgerald hosted and attended parties in both communities and often sat on the porch drinking in the evenings and watching the happenings across the bay in Sands Point, according to Ruth Prigozy, executive director of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society. He started working on The Great Gatsby while living in the shorefront home, which still stands in Great Neck. (It sold for about $3 million in 2016.) Two of the Guggenheim mansions, Falaise and Hempstead House, still stand in Sands Point and are part of the Sands Point Preserve Conservancy. 5. Hannibal, Missouri: "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" Who can forget the lively Adventures of Tom Sawyer in Mark Twain’s famous novel? The book is set during the 1840s in the fictitious town of St. Petersburg, Missouri, along the mighty Mississippi River. Twain, whose real name was Samuel Clemens, grew up in Hannibal, and St. Petersburg is based on his boyhood hometown. He worked as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi (among other jobs) before becoming a writer. Many of his boyhood antics made it into the novels, and several of the characters are based on people Twain knew. In the book, Tom and his girlfriend Becky get lost inside a cave for several days, and later cave scenes involve villains and buried treasure. The real-life town of Hannibal has created several tourist attractions in honor of its most famous former resident. You can tour caves in the Mark Twain Cave Complex, take a cruise on the Mark Twain Riverboat, and visit his childhood house, which has been restored and converted to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum. You can even “paint” a replica of the whitewashed fence from one of the book’s most famous scenes in one of the museum’s interactive exhibits. 6. Whitby, England: "Dracula" Gothic horror’s most famous villain, Count Dracula, lived in Transylvania, part of modern-day Romania. However, Bram Stoker, the Irish author who created him, never set foot in Romania. In the novel, Dracula traveled from spooky Transylvania to Whitby, England — a seaside Victorian-era vacation destination — aboard the Russian ship Demeter. By the time the ship arrived in Whitby during a turbulent storm, the entire crew was missing, and the corpse of the captain was lashed to the ship’s steering wheel. Observers noted a large, black dog-shaped animal leaping from the ship’s deck to shore and running up the 199 steps to the Whitby church — the shapeshifting Dracula had arrived in England. Stoker’s inspiration for Dracula began in Whitby during a four-week summer vacation in 1890. Stoker had already been working on a gothic tale about a character named Count Wampyr, set in Styria, Austria, when he discovered a book in the Whitby public library that mentioned a sadistic 15th-century prince named Vlad Tepes, who served as the inspiration for the world’s best-known vampire. Stoker found additional inspiration in his surroundings. Looming over the town are the ruins of Whitby Abbey, an imposing Gothic church dating back to the 13th century. Perched on a cliff below is St. Mary’s ancient parish church, which can be reached by a 199-step stone staircase. The church’s adjacent cemetery contains many crumbling tombstones. As Stoker walked the abbey, church grounds, and among the graves, he noted names and dates that later showed up in the novel. Stoker also would have likely learned about an 1885 shipwreck of the Russian vessel Dmitry that was carrying a cargo of silver sand to Whitby, inspiring Dracula’s journey in the novel. Whitby is still a popular seaside tourist destination and has embraced its Dracula connection. You can tour the abbey ruins and participate in various activities and tours that follow the novel's events. Source: Remarkable Places That Inspired Great Novels | Locations That Inspired Novels
  6. What's the Word: ESTIVAL pronunciation: [ES-tə-vəl] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Late Middle English, 14th century Meaning: 1. (Technical) Belonging to or appearing in summer. Example: "These are strictly estival flowers." "Sara and Jim embarked on a whirlwind, estival romance." About Estival This word stems from late Middle English via the Latin “aestivalis,” from “aestivus,” from “aestus,” meaning “boiling (of the sea), tide, heat.” Did You Know? “Estival” might make readers think of another summertime word: “festival.” Despite this seasonal similarity, they come from different roots. While “estival” stems from “aestus,” meaning “heat,” “festival” is rooted in “festivus,” a Latin term that means "festive" or "merry." While music festivals have become a staple of the estival months, they can occur at any time of the year.
  7. Mercenaries Blaze (PC) - $13.99 Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs (PC) - $4.59 Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs - Paragons and Pajamas DLC (PC) - $0.68 Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs - The Unending Grimoire DLC (PC) - $0.91
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  9. Fact of the Day - GEMSTONES Did you know... that since the beginning of time, humans have always had a fascination for shiny and glossy gemstones. The Romans believed that a diamond was a piece of a falling star. On the other hand, the ancient Greeks believed that a diamond was the teardrop of the Gods. Today we know much more about gemstones and understand the formation of a unique stone, and still, there is no end to our fascination. From the Egyptian ruler Cleopatra's famous love for emeralds and other green gemstones like peridots to the well-known emerald necklace which sank with the Titanic in the Atlantic Ocean, the passion for gemstones has remained true. It is quite rightly said that a diamond is a girl's best friend. (Kidadl Team | Published on Feb 09, 2022 | Updated on Apr 05, 2022) Mind-Blowing Facts About Gemstones by Interesting Facts Gemstones are fascinating in appearance alone — these jewels are, after all, designed to be eye-catching — but behind them is a story to suit every interest, whether you’re an armchair geologist or just love pretty things. Astronomy buffs can marvel at the diamonds sparkling throughout the cosmos. For mythology buffs, there’s a teetotaling origin story that will change the way you look at amethysts. And if you have opinions on birthstones, wait until you hear how they evolved. These seven facts might just change the way you see gemstones forever. 1. Rubies and Sapphires Have the Same Base Mineral Corundum is a colorless mineral that’s the second-hardest natural substance on Earth, just behind diamonds. While the average person probably doesn’t recognize this aluminum oxide in its pure form, with just a few impurities it becomes a household name. With a touch of chromium, it becomes a ruby, and just a few hints of iron and titanium turns it into a sapphire. This isn’t a unique phenomenon. Variations of the gemstone beryl, an aluminum silicate, include emerald, morganite, and aquamarine. Some garnets are called hessonite, rhodolite, and andradite. Amethyst is a kind of quartz. Sought-after color variations of gems like diamonds and topaz also come from impurities. Contrary to what you might think, impurities aren’t always a bad thing! 2. The Sun Could Someday Turn Into a Giant Diamond Right now, the core of our sun is a hotbed of nuclear fusion. While some stars explode in a giant supernova and become neutron stars or black holes, our sun is a medium-mass star. After several billion years, it will burst into a red giant, then leave behind its core as a white dwarf. Here’s where it gets interesting: White dwarfs are one of the highest-gravity environments in the galaxy, with a gravitational field that can be 350,000 times that of Earth’s. This compresses the oxygen and carbon of its core, causing it to crystallize. Diamonds are pure carbon that has crystallized under high pressure. (The ones on Earth formed in the planet’s core and were brought to the surface in ancient volcanic eruptions.) So while there’s some oxygen mixed in, the core of a white dwarf is essentially a diamond. After decades of theory, in 2013 scientists actually observed this phenomena in the cosmos. Astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics identified a 10 billion-trillion-trillion-carat core just 50 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Centaurus. And in 2014, astronomers announced that they’d found an 11 billion-year-old crystallized dwarf the size of Earth. 3. Modern Birthstones Evolve Based on Marketing As a concept, birthstones date back pretty far, from the Christian Bible to the mystical gemstones of Hindu tradition. The tradition of wearing a stone for the month you were born began to gel in 16th-century Poland or Germany, likely due to increased trade between Europe and Asia. While these traditional gemstones certainly overlap with modern ones, there are some notable changes: March, for example, was once bloodstone, not aquamarine. In 1912, however, the birthstone list became a wildly successful marketing tactic. The National Association of Jewelers standardized the 12 birthstones by month, choosing stones that most jewelers could produce and sell easily. That last part is key, and specific birthstones have continued to evolve over the last century. Many classic, perennial favorites have stayed in place — diamonds for April and sapphire for September, for example. Some months shifted based on color: December has been assigned a wealth of blue stones, from the traditional turquoise and lapis lazuli to the more modern blue zircon, blue topaz, and tanzanite. Others, like October, have shifted significantly. October’s traditional birthstone is the opal, which is still widely recognized. But in 1952, the Jewelers of America swapped in pink tourmaline to match the rest of the transparent list. As recently as 2016, Jewelers of America added spinel to the August list as part of a marketing campaign. 4. Amethysts Were Used as Ancient Drinking Protection Amethysts were so widely used as wards against intoxication or hangovers in ancient times that it’s where they got their name: It comes from “not drunk” in ancient Greek. The actual mythology around the amethyst varies, but many of the stories involve Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, grapes, and drunkenness. In one version, Dionysus becomes enamored with a mortal woman named Amethystos, who was, to put it mildly, not into it. She prayed to her preferred god, Artemis, to help keep her chaste, and in response Artemis turned her into a statue of clear quartz. Dionysus either poured, spilled, or cried wine onto it, staining it purple. So in 2021, when archaeologists unearthed an amethyst ring from the former site of — what else? — the largest known winery of the Byzantine era, they speculated that its former owner could have been trying to ward off the worst effects of drinking. The team, which had been excavating a site in modern day Yavne, Israel, said that it’s impossible to know for sure. 5. Garnets Were Named for Pomegranates While it’s not quite as interesting as “not drunk,” the name “garnet” also has a somewhat decadent origin. In the 13th century, a German theologian named the gem from the Latin word granatus, which means “grain” or “seed,” in this case referring to pomegranate seeds. He wasn’t wrong: A small, oval garnet could absolutely be mistaken for a snack in the right context. 6. Not All Gemstones Are Stones While most things we consider “gemstones” are minerals, in practice the distinction has less to do with chemistry and more to do with aesthetics. Calcareous concretions (pearl-like growths from certain mollusks) and pearls are the only gems to grow within living creatures. Precious coral comes from the hardened skeleton of dead coral polyps. Jet is fossilized wood. Amber is fossilized tree resin, and is one of the earliest gemstones to be carved for jewelry. All of these make fine, eye-catching stones, even if they’re missing the crystalline glint of an emerald. 7. The First Lab-Grown Diamonds Appeared in the 1950s Lab-grown diamonds have grown in popularity as a more ethical and less expensive alternative to mined diamonds. These diamonds are often called “synthetic diamonds,” even though their chemical makeup is exactly the same. After more than a century of people trying to figure out how to DIY diamonds, scientists at the General Electric Research Laboratory were the first to announce their success in 1954 — although it took them a second to figure out they did it. After they left their high-pressure equipment on overnight, a blob popped out, but it didn’t look like a diamond. They began to suspect otherwise when the material broke high-end polishing equipment, something only a diamond could do. X-ray tests confirmed their suspicions. It later turned out that Union Carbide and the Swedish company ASEA got there just slightly earlier, in 1952 and 1953, but kept their findings secret. These small, rough diamonds were great for industrial applications, but they weren’t ready to shine just yet. Higher-quality diamonds appeared in the 1970s, although they were easy to tell apart from natural diamonds under a microscope, and hard to scale. The technology slowly improved, and in the 1990s, diamond industry titan De Beers (who played a pivotal role in our idea of the diamond engagement ring in the mid-20th century) got concerned enough to develop detection machines. Today, most “synthetic” diamonds are made with a lower-pressure process called chemical vapor deposition, which uses heated gas in a vacuum chamber at extremely low pressures — very different from the high-pressure environment in which diamonds grow inside the Earth. Source: Precious Facts About Gemstones | Gemstone Facts
  10. What's the Word: FARTLEK pronunciation: [FART-lek] Part of speech: noun Origin: Swedish, 1940s Meaning: 1. A system of training for distance runners in which the terrain and pace are continually varied to eliminate boredom and enhance psychological aspects of conditioning. Example: "As the marathon approached, Angie switched to fartlek training to prepare herself for the extended distance." "Eric does long fartlek runs on Sundays to keep his training routine varied." About Fartlek The term “fartlek” is a loanword from Swedish, in which “fart” means “speed” and “lek” means “play.” Thus, “fartlek” translates to “speedplay,” emphasizing the practice’s frequent changes in running speeds and tempos. Did You Know? Fartlek training has become the standard for distance runners hoping to improve their paces before running marathons and ultramarathons. Switching between varying speeds and terrains (including steep uphill and downhill stretches, as well as slow grades) helps runners prepare for a variety of challenges they may face on race day.
  11. https://store.epicgames.com/en-US/p/borderlands-3 Borderlands 3 is currently free on Epic Games Store.
  12. Fact of the Day - WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE Did you know... that English playwright William Shakespeare is by far one of the most famous names in the theatre industry, yet there are still many facts about him that would shock and surprise you. This year marks 400 years since the death of Shakespeare and how his legacy continues. (Great British Mag | April 2021) Astounding Facts About William Shakespeare by Interesting Facts Despite being one of the most well-known figures in the history of Western literature, there is a tremendous degree of mystery surrounding the life of William Shakespeare. Fortunately, much of what we do know about the Bard is fascinating. From his wedding to his will to one unusual way his name lives on, here are nine tidbits you might not know about one of the most amazing creators of all time. 1. No One Knows What Shakespeare Was Doing for Seven Years There is no historical record of Shakespeare’s life between 1585 and 1592, after which he became established as a dramatist and playwright. The Bard would have been about 21 years old at the beginning of that period. What was he up to? Nobody really knows, though some theories hypothesize that he was a law clerk, a soldier, a schoolmaster, or an actor. 2. Shakespeare Had a Shotgun Wedding Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway in 1582, when he was 18 years old and she was 26. They remained together until his death in 1616. Their courtship began with a rather abrupt start, as Hathaway was several months pregnant at the time of their marriage. 3. “Shakespeare” Is Just One Way to Spell His Name Unlike many other aspects of life in Elizabethan England, spelling was a rather liberal endeavor. Proper names were spelled in a wide variety of different ways, and "Shakespeare" was no exception. There are 14 different spellings across various sources referring to Shakespeare the playwright, including “Shaxberd,” “Shake-speare,” and “Shaskpe.” 4. Shakespeare Lived Through the Plague Though it is only rarely mentioned in his plays, Shakespeare lived through several outbreaks of the Bubonic plague in England. He was lucky to have survived it, but lost several of his loved ones to it, including three sisters, his brother Edmund, and possibly his son Hamnet (although Hamnet’s precise cause of death is unclear). 5. Shakespeare’s Death Is Mysterious Though the time of his passing has been documented, Shakespeare’s cause of death remains a mystery. An anecdote from a clergyman's diary, written decades after, claims that the writer died from a severe fever, possibly related to typhus, but that has never been proven. 6. He Gave His Wife His “Second-Best Bed” By the time of his death, Shakespeare was a wealthy man. The lion’s share of his estate went to his daughter, Susannah Hall. His wife, on the other hand, received slightly less: his second-best bed. This is not a metaphor; it was a common practice at the time to give the best of one’s goods to children and goods of a slightly lower quality to one’s spouse. 7. He Put a Curse on His Grave It’s perhaps a modest request that a great playwright wished for his remains to be left in peace, but Shakespeare wasn’t taking any chances. His gravestone at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Stratford-upon-Avon reads: "Good friend for Jesus’ sake forbear, To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones." 8. The Curse Didn’t Work In 2016, a team of scientists used radar scans to investigate the burial site of William Shakespeare and uncovered signs of disturbances around the remains. The evidence suggests that his skull was likely removed from his grave at some point in history. 9. His Name Lives On in the Stars Several moons of Uranus (Titania, Oberon, Ariel, Miranda, and Puck) are named after characters from Shakespeare’s plays "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" and "The Tempest." And so the Bard’s legacy shines brightly in the night sky — provided you have a good telescope. Source: Strange Facts About Shakespeare | Shakespeare Facts
  13. What's the Word: EMBLEMATIZE pronunciation: [em-BLEM-ə-tiyz] Part of speech: verb Origin: Greek, 17th century Meaning: 1. Serve as a symbolic representation of (a quality or concept) Example: "The spectacle of the Super Bowl emblematizes the intensity of America’s love of football." "Singer Lizzo emblematizes a new generation of women who love their bodies in all sizes." About Emblematize “Emblematize” was coined as a verb after the word “emblematist,” a 17th-century term for a person who drew or painted emblems. Did You Know? “Emblem” itself comes from the Latin “emblema,” referring to an inlaid work or a raised ornament used to represent a grander idea than could be shown pictorially. For example, the national flag of France is an emblem that could represent the country and its people in a variety of contexts. Likewise, religious emblems represent complex beliefs, traditions, and histories. To “emblematize” means to stand for something in the way an emblem stands for an abstract idea.
  14. Fact of the Day - THE SKY Did you know... that the sky is an unobstructed view upward from the surface of the Earth. It includes the atmosphere and outer space. It may also be considered a place between the ground and outer space, thus distinct from outer space. In the field of astronomy, the sky is also called the celestial sphere. (Wikipedia) Why Is the Sky Blue? And Other Questions About the Sky by Interesting Facts We look at the sky almost every day, but if we stare at it for a little longer than usual, it can start raising a lot of questions. While we generally know the answers to a lot of the immediate queries (Where does the sun rise and set? What is the brightest star in the sky?), many phenomena remain a mystery. Our atmosphere is a big science fair, and once you start digging in, you’ll find demonstrations of color waves, states of matter, and the speed of light. Here’s an overview of some of the most pressing questions about the sky above us. 1. Why Is the Sky Blue? To understand this question, think about the atmosphere as a prism. In a prism, white light refracts through its polished surfaces and separates into the colors of the rainbow. The sun produces white light, so when its light travels through the atmosphere, it refracts a rainbow of colors. But then why do we mostly see blue? Each color comes from an electromagnetic wave. While red has the longest, slowest wavelength, blue and violet move in quick, short waves. As these colors pass through the atmosphere, they oscillate charged particles in air molecules like oxygen and nitrogen. Blue and violet are scattered in all directions at around 10 times the efficiency of red light, so they get the highest coverage area in our sky. Our eyes are more sensitive to blue than violet, which is why we see the sky as blue. By contrast, on the moon, the sun just looks like a glowing disc traveling through the dark, night sky. This is because the moon doesn’t have an atmosphere, so there’s nothing to scatter the sun’s light and reveal individual colored wavelengths. 2. Why Are Sunsets and Sunrises Colorful? Sunsets and sunrises are colorful for a similar reason that the sky is blue: It’s about how light scatters in our atmosphere. During the day, the sun is close enough that we see blue in all directions. But as the sun rises and sets, there’s more atmosphere for the light to travel through. This longer journey gives yellow, orange, and red waves, which naturally take longer to scatter through the atmosphere, a chance to shine. This also explains the golden, or magic, hour, when the sun covers everything in a soft, diffused glow shortly after rising and before setting. 3. Why Does Outer Space Look Black? Scientists still don’t know for sure why outer space appears black, but there are a few ideas. In scientific circles, many astronomers wrestle with Olbers’ paradox: If the universe is endless and full of infinite stars, why are we not bathed in the glow from this blanket of stars on Earth? Some theorize that light from distant stars doesn’t have time to reach the Earth in a way that’s visible to our eyes because the universe is expanding faster than the speed of light. There’s also a lot of light in space that we can’t see. Think back to the blue sky and color wavelengths. There are plenty of light waves that are above or below the threshold for what our eyes can see. Slow, long radio waves and quick, short gamma rays aren’t visible to the naked eye. Stars give off all kinds of invisible light, including infrared, ultraviolet, and other colors we can’t see with our eyes alone. 4. How Do Clouds Form? First, a quick recap from science class: Water can exist as a solid, liquid, or gas. When ice melts, it turns into a liquid; when water freezes, it turns into a solid; when water evaporates, it turns into a gas that’s held in the air. One of the ways gas turns back into liquid is precipitation, like rain or snow. Clouds form when the air saturates, meaning the air is holding too much moisture. When this happens, condensation can occur. It’s the same phenomenon that causes the outside of a cup of water to become wet on a hot day, but instead of glass, that moisture binds to tiny particles in the air like dust, ash, and salt. As a result, that moisture becomes visible as clouds or fog. The air’s capacity for water depends on atmospheric pressure, which changes with temperature, so clouds can also form when temperatures suddenly cool. Rain, snow, and hail happen when the clouds become too heavy and that moisture gives in to gravity. Source: Wikipedia - Sky | Questions About the Sky
  15. What's the Word: HIPPOCRENE pronunciation: [HIP-ə-kreen] Part of speech: noun Origin: Greek, early 17th century Meaning: 1. Used to refer to poetic or literary inspiration. Example: "Charles wrote poetry in the morning, using the early light as his hippocrene." "Full of hippocrene, Vanmala sat down to write what she hoped was a masterpiece." About Hippocrene The term came directly into English from the Greek “Hippokrēnē,” referring to the legend of Pegasus’ hoof opening a fountain spring on Mount Helicon, which was sacred to Greek Muses. Because “hippos” means “horse” and “krēnē” means “fountain,” the literal translation of “Hippokrēnē” is “fountain of the horse.” Did You Know? “Hippocrene” refers to a particular fountain that was sacred to the Greek Muses, so most uses of the adjective treat it as a sort of poetic inspiration that can be drunk like water from a spring. Accordingly, to have “drunk hippocrene” means to have been filled with creative inspiration.
  16. Fact of the Day - QUEEN ELIZABETH II Did you know... that Elizabeth II is Queen of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms. Elizabeth was born in Mayfair, London, as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York. Her father acceded to the throne in 1936 upon the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII, making Elizabeth the heir presumptive. (Wikipedia) Surprising Facts About Queen Elizabeth II by Interesting Facts The longest-reigning monarch in British history has led a fascinating life. Her Majesty has served as the ruler of the United Kingdom since February 1952, when her father, King George VI, passed away, and she became queen at just 25 years old. From serving in World War II to creating her own breed of dog to favoring the same $9 nail polish for over 30 years, here are some fascinating tidbits about Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II. 1. She Celebrates Two Birthdays While the queen’s actual birthday falls on April 21 (she turned 95 in 2021), she also has a second “official” birthday in the summer. It’s marked with a ceremony called Trooping the Colour, a practice that has existed for over 260 years to ensure that British sovereigns whose birthdays fall during colder months also have a ceremony that happens during nicer weather. More than 1400 soldiers, 200 horses, and 400 musicians participate in the military parade, which usually happens in June. (The “colors” in the ceremony’s name refers to the hues of the flags used by regiments in the British Army; “trooping” refers to officers marching up and down waving the flags.) The public turn out in droves to take part, and members of the royal family also join the procession on horseback or in carriages. 2. She Never Went to School British royals throughout history were often educated at home, and that includes Queen Elizabeth. She was taught by private tutors, with a focus on British law and history. The young Elizabeth also learned to ride horses, and was privately instructed in religion by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The queen has also studied music, art, and French throughout her life. (She speaks fluent French, often switching between English and French while delivering speeches in French-speaking countries.) 3. She Served With the British Army During World War II In 1945, Queen Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) — the women’s branch of the British Army — to serve as a subaltern (or junior officer) during World War II. During her time in the army, the queen learned to drive and to maintain vehicles as a truck driver and mechanic. Today, she is the only living head of state to have served in World War II. When the war ended, the then-princess and her sister, Princess Margaret, secretly joined revelers in the street to celebrate the Allied victory. She even did the conga at the Ritz. The queen later called it “one of the most memorable nights of my life.” 4. She Doesn’t Need a Driver’s License or Passport While the queen is often chauffeured around in a custom Bentley limousine, she also once enjoyed driving herself around in her beloved Range Rover (until recently, when she reportedly gave up driving, at least on public roads). But unlike every other person who drives in the U.K., Her Royal Highness does not require a driver’s license nor a license plate on her car. As the name in which British passports are issued, she also does not require a document of her own for international travel. 5. She Once Acted With James Bond In 2012, the queen acted in a short video segment with Daniel Craig in his role as James Bond. Filmed for the London Olympics, the Danny Boyle-directed clip showed the queen doing her best 007 as she skydived from a helicopter into the stadium where the opening ceremony was being held. While the queen did have her own lines for the appearance — and was said to be a natural — the actual jump was performed by a stuntman. 6. She Doesn’t Eat Pasta, Potatoes, or Garlic Since she’s a healthy nonagenarian, there’s bound to be some interest in the queen’s daily diet. Darren McGrady, who served as her personal chef for 15 years, revealed in 2017 that Her Royal Highness stays away from starchy foods unless they’re served at a state dinner. Instead, she eats an abundance of grilled fish, chicken, and vegetables, as well as salad and fresh fruit. McGrady also said that she did not like food prepared with garlic or too many onions. Her daughter-in-law Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall confirmed the anti-garlic stance during an appearance on MasterChef Australia, saying it is common among royals due to their frequent public appearances. 7. Her Favorite Nail Polish Is a $9 Bottle of Essie Since 1989, the queen has preferred Essie’s “Ballet Slippers” as her nail polish of choice. The pale, almost translucent shade of pink has become standard within the royal family, where it is reportedly against the dress code to wear dark or bright nail polish. According to Essie, “Ballet Slippers” remains one of the company’s most popular colors, and a bottle of it is sold every two seconds. 8. She’s Owned More Than 30 Corgis and Invented the “Dorgi” Throughout her life and reign, Elizabeth has always kept corgis. She got her first corgi in 1933, when her father brought one home as a family pet. When she was 18, she got her own pet corgi, Susan, from which all her other dogs over the years would be descended. She has also owned almost a dozen “dorgis” — a cross between a dachshund and a corgi that was first introduced to the royal household when one of the queen’s dogs mated with Princess Margaret’s dachshund. 9. She Uses Her Purse to Send Signals To Her Staff The queen is hardly ever seen without one of her signature Launer handbags; she is said to own about 200 of them. While she reportedly uses her purse to carry a mirror, lipstick, mints, and reading glasses, she also discreetly sends signals to her staff with it. According to one royal historian, Her Royal Highness will switch her purse from her left arm to her right if she wishes to be politely ushered away from a conversation. If she places her purse on the floor, it means she needs saving from an uncomfortable situation. And if the handbag ends up on the table at dinner, it reportedly means she wishes to be whisked away within the next five minutes. 10. She Drinks a Glass of Champagne Before Bed It’s only fitting that the queen of England would choose a classy nightcap. Her first cousin Margaret Rhodes reportedly once said that Queen Elizabeth ended most days by enjoying a glass of Champagne before going to sleep — most likely Bollinger Champagne, the official supplier to the royal household. Her Majesty also reportedly enjoys a gin and Dubonnet with a slice of lemon before lunch, a glass of wine with lunch, and a dry martini in the evening. Source: Wikipedia - Elizabeth II | Facts About Queen Elizabeth II
  17. https://store.steampowered.com/app/1214540/SUPER_CIRCUIT_BREAKERS/ https://store.steampowered.com/app/1214550/SUPER_CIRCUIT_BREAKERS__PAYNE/ Super Circuit Breakers: Payne DLC is currently free on Steam. The base game is free to play. https://store.steampowered.com/app/1407200/World_of_Tanks/ https://store.steampowered.com/app/1662502/World_of_Tanks__Lightweight_Fighter_Pack/ World of Tanks: Lightweight Fighter Pack is currently free on Steam. The base game is free to play. https://goth-6669.itch.io/811 8:11 is currently free on Itch.io. https://freebies.indiegala.com/dangerous-lands-magic-and-rpg Dangerous Lands: Magic and RPG is currently free on IndieGala. https://freebies.indiegala.com/way-to-go Way to Go! is currently free on IndieGala.
  18. What's the Word: SACHEM pronunciation: [SAY-chəm] Part of speech: noun Origin: Narragansett, 17th century Meaning: 1. (among some North American Indigenous peoples) a chief. 2. (North American informal) A boss or leader. Example: "John came from a prominent Narragansett family descended from a beloved sachem." "The restaurant owner acted like the sachem of the dining room as she instructed staff and decided on seating arrangements." About Sachem “Sachem” is drawn from the Narragansett language, an Algonquian tongue loosely connected to numerous other Indigenous languages in eastern-central North America. For Narragansett people, a sachem was a kind of political leader highly esteemed in a local region. Did You Know? Though “sachem” is an Indigenous term, it entered the American English vocabulary largely through New York City’s influential Tammany Society. That group, which operated from 1786 to 1967, was central to organizing the Democratic party in New York. It was overseen by a group of 12 upper leaders called “sachems.”
  19. Alphadia Genesis 2 (PC) - $7.49
  20. Fact of the Day - CHEESE Did you know... that cheese is a dairy product produced in wide ranges of flavors, textures and forms by coagulation of the milk protein casein. It comprises proteins and fat from milk, usually the milk of cows, buffalo, goats, or sheep. (Wikipedia) Amazing Facts About Cheese by Interesting Facts Cheese, glorious cheese. One of humanity’s oldest culinary creations, cheese has been around for nearly 4,000 years and comes in more than 1,800 varieties. Here’s a sampler platter of facts about everybody’s favorite dairy product. 1. Swiss Cheese Is a Scientific Mystery Surprisingly, nobody really knows for certain why Swiss cheese has holes. The longstanding theory was that bacteria in the cheese emits carbon dioxide, creating bubbles — or “eyes” — that burst as the cheese matures. (Cheese varieties without these eyes are referred to as “blind.”) While this has been the leading hypothesis for the past century, there are other theories. A 2015 study suggests that small particles of hay in milk may cause the famous holes. There’s evidence that these small specks weaken the cheese’s internal structure, causing gas bubbles to emerge. 2. Cheese Is Surprisingly Human There’s a reason the scent of certain cheeses smells like feet, armpits, or sweat: The bacteria that make human beings stinky are closely related to the bacteria responsible for stinky cheeses, such as Limburger. In fact, some cheeses are so human-like that mosquitoes can mistake them for flesh. 3. The World’s Most Expensive Cheeses May Surprise You One of the world’s priciest cheeses? Moose. Made in Sweden, moose cheese is created exclusively at a 59-acre farm that sells the stuff to high-end restaurants for approximately $500 per pound. The cheese is amazingly high in butterfat, making it rich and creamy. Even more pricey is pule, a cheese made from the milk of Serbian donkeys. It reportedly costs about $1700 per pound. (Reviewers say it tastes like manchego.) 4. Newborn Children Used to be Welcomed With Cheese In parts of medieval England, it was traditional for a father to buy a cheese — called “groaning cheese” — when his wife gave birth. The cheese was hollowed out and pieces presented to everyone present around the birth. At the child’s christening, the baby would be passed through the wheel of cheese for good luck. 5. Music May Affect Cheese Flavor In 2018, researchers separated nine giant wheels of Emmental cheese and played them selections from Mozart's “The Magic Flute,” Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," and "Jazz (We've Got)" from A Tribe Called Quest, among other sonic selections. The cheeses were exposed to the music 24 hours a day over six months. When food technologists later analyzed the samples, they discovered that the cheese exposed to classical music and rock had a milder flavor compared to a control. As for the hip-hop cheese? It had "a discernibly stronger smell and stronger, fruitier taste than the other test samples." Researchers are further studying how acoustic waves might affect cheese development. 6. Everybody Loves (to Steal) Cheese Each year, about 4% of the world’s cheese supply is stolen — making it the most-stolen food in the world. Cheese, after all, is big business: Global sales exceeded $114 billion in 2019. In Italy, Parmesan is so valuable it can be used as loan collateral, according to CBS News. Consequently, the black market for cheese is thriving. From 2014 to 2016, organized crime was responsible for stealing about $7 million of Parmesan. And dairy-based crime definitely isn’t limited to Italy: In 2009, a duo of cheese thieves in New Zealand led police on a high-octane car chase — and tried to throw off the pursuit by tossing boxes of cheddar out the window. 7. Cheese Was Once Used for Divination In both ancient Greece and the European Middle Ages, people occasionally tried to predict the future using cheese — a practice known as tyromancy. By some accounts, the holes in the cheese were “read” as omens, much in the same way the shapes that tea leaves form at the bottom of a cup might be interpreted. In other accounts, women attempted to predict their future husbands by writing the names of suitors on scraps of cheese. The first scrap to mold was the “winner.” 8. There Have Been Poems About Cheese A 19th-century Canadian poet named James McIntyre tried to make a name for himself by writing lyrical verse in homage to fromage. His poetry included titles such as: “Hints to Cheesemakers,” “Prophecy of a Ten Ton Cheese,” and “Lines Read at the Dairymaid’s Social.” But his most famous work is “Ode on the Mammoth Cheese: Weight over Seven Thousand Pounds.” It is reproduced here in all of its glory: We have seen the Queen of cheese, Laying quietly at your ease, Gently fanned by evening breeze -- Thy fair form no flies dare seize. All gaily dressed soon you'll go To the great Provincial Show, To be admired by many a beau In the city of Toronto. Cows numerous as a swarm of bees -- Or as the leaves upon the trees -- It did require to make thee please, And stand unrivalled Queen of Cheese. May you not receive a scar as We have heard that Mr. Harris Intends to send you off as far as The great World's show at Paris. Of the youth -- beware of these -- For some of them might rudely squeeze And bite your cheek; then songs or glees We could not sing o' Queen of Cheese. We'rt thou suspended from baloon [sic], You'd caste a shade, even at noon; Folks would think it was the moon About to fall and crush them soon. You may have already come to this realization on your own, but it’s worth mentioning that McIntyre is widely considered one of the worst poets of all time. Source: Wikipedia - Cheese | Cheese Facts
  21. This week we get some flashbacks about Kaido. How he hailed from a kingdom actually called Vodka, was going to be a pawn of the World Government but he broke free, his short stint with the Rocks Pirates, and that he decides to take down nobles & show them sheer might makes history. And with one final effort, Luffy punches down Kaido hopefully for the last time.
  22. What's the Word: IMPRESARIO pronunciation: [im-prə-SAR-ee-oh] Part of speech: noun Origin: Italian, 18th century Meaning: 1. A person who organizes and often finances concerts, plays, or operas. 2. The manager of a musical, theatrical, or operatic company. Example: "My grandfather was a vaudeville impresario who produced and emceed touring variety shows." "The impresario heard Sharon’s voice and invited her to tour with his opera as a chorus singer." About Impresario In Italian, “impresario” means one who undertakes a task, such as running a business. The term is related to “impresa,” meaning “undertaking.” By the 18th century, “impresario” in English primarily referred to undertaking theater and stage productions. Did You Know? Impresarios aren’t an antiquated idea. Consider Andrew Lloyd Webber, the modern theater impresario and composer of “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera,” and pop music impresario Scott “Scooter” Braun. The manager has helped discover and promote superstars including Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, and Ariana Grande.
  23. Earlier
  24. This week Anti rambles about Requiem of the Rose King
  25. Fact of the Day - MYTHICAL CREATURES Did you know.... that a legendary creature is a type of fictional entity, typically a hybrid, that has not been proven and that is described in folklore (including myths and legends), but may be featured in historical accounts before modernity. (Wikipedia) Mermaids, Centaurs, and More: Mythological Creatures 101 by Interesting Facts Woven into tapestries, glittering from stained-glass windows, standing guard as statues, or starring in our favorite stories, films, and TV shows, mythological beasts such as unicorns and dragons have been a part of many cultures for centuries. But where did they come from, and how did they capture our collective imagination? Read on for some fascinating details about the fantastic creatures that populate our mythical cultural zoo. 1. Mermaids Legends of part-human, part-fish beings can be found in many places around the world, including India, China, Scotland, Brazil, Greece, and beyond. In some European folklore, mermaids are said to live in fantastic underwater palaces decorated with gems from sunken ships, though they have also been known to perch on rocks above the surface, where they sing beautiful songs that lure sailors to their doom. They’re often depicted as pale or silvery, with long golden or reddish hair, and it’s said that they can transform their tails into legs and go ashore to mix with people if they wish. They lack souls, however, unless they marry a human and receive a baptism. In many stories, they can peer into the future or grant wishes. Some scholars trace all mer-stories to Oannes, Lord of the Waters, a Babylonian deity adopted from the Akkadians, who worshipped him thousands of years ago. Though depictions varied, Oannes was often shown with the head and torso of a man and the lower body of a fish. He was said to dwell beneath the sea at night, but during the day, Oannes went on land to teach humans wisdom. The first female mermaid-type creature arrived on the mythological scene a little later. She is usually identified as the Semitic moon goddess Atargatis, or Derceto, who threw herself into a lake after a dalliance with a mortal and acquired the body of a fish. By the 16th century, the image of a mermaid perched on a rock, combing her long tresses with one hand and holding a mirror with the other, was well-established in the popular imagination. (The word “mermaid,” by the way, comes to us from the Old English mere, which once meant “sea.”) Sailors reported mermaid sightings for centuries, although whether they were really seeing seals or manatees is anyone’s guess. Some of these sightings continued even into the 19th century, when mermaid folklore inspired Hans Christian Andersen’s famous 1837 fairy-tale “The Little Mermaid.” More than 150 years later, Disney (loosely) adapted Andersen’s story into a beloved 1989 animated film of the same name, putting mermaids squarely in the mainstream. 2. Centaurs Centaurs come to us specifically from Greek mythology. The word “centaur” derives from the Greek kentauros, the name of a Thessalonian tribe who were renowned as expert horsemen. (No one knows where the word for the tribe itself came from.) For the ancient Greeks, centaurs were a race of creatures that were half-human and half-horse. They were said to have sprung from the mating of the hero Centaurus with a field of mares, or (in other versions) from King Ixion of Thessaly and a cloud he believed to be the goddess Hera. Centaurs were often described as wild and lascivious, although they could also be peaceful and wise, as in the case of the Centaur king Chiron, mentor to the hero Heracles. The most famous story of the centaurs involves a wedding of the Lapith king Pirithous at which the centaurs got drunk and tried to carry off the women. Scenes from this wedding and a resulting fight are depicted on the relief panels above the columns of the Parthenon. 3. Unicorns The rare, magical unicorn was once thought of as native to India, although it also appears in Chinese myths and Mesopotamian artwork. The first Western account of the unicorn comes from the Greek writer Ctesias, who wrote a book on India based on stories he had heard from traders and other visitors to the Persian court. His book described a creature with a white body, purple head, and blue eyes, plus a long horn of red, white, and black. In later accounts, the unicorn is described as the size of a goat, with a beard, spiraled horn, and lion’s tail. Although no fossils of any unicorn-like creatures have been found, they were apparently real animals to ancients like Pliny the Elder, who wrote in detail about their supposed behavior and characteristics. By the Middle Ages, unicorns were the subject of an elaborate body of folklore. They were said to be pure white and to dwell in forests, where flowers sprung up wherever they grazed. Because of their purity, they were associated with both the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ. A unicorn’s horn — called an alicorn — was powerful medicine, able to purify water and detect poison. Royals drank from cups supposedly made from unicorn horns, but in fact often made from narwhal tusks sold by enterprising Viking traders. (At one point, the King of Denmark believed he had a unicorn-horn throne, but later scholars think it, too, was made from narwhal tusks.) Powdered unicorn horn was also a popular item in apothecary shops. Because they were symbols of strength and nobility as well as purity, unicorns also frequently appeared on heraldic crests. In fact, the unicorn is the national animal of Scotland, where it has been part of the royal coat of arms since the 1500s. Another famous unicorn depiction is in the unicorn tapestries of France, which were produced in the late Middle Ages and still fascinate scholars today. 4. Dragons Like some other creatures on this list, dragons are found in ancient mythology from around the world — in Greek, Vedic, Teutonic, Anglo-Saxon, Chinese, and Christian cultures, among others. They have heads like crocodiles; scales of gold, silver, or other rich colors; large wings; and long, fearsome tails they use to beat and suffocate their opponents. Often said to be descended from giant water snakes, they are sometimes immune to fire, which they can swallow and breathe at will to incinerate their enemies. In some ancient stories, dragons were thought to originally hail from Ethiopia or India. (Elephants were supposed to be their favorite food.) And in Western myths, they're often depicted guarding treasure or trying to eat maidens. Christians associated them with sin and the devil. In Chinese myths, they are far more benevolent, a symbol of divinity, royalty, and prosperity. Chinese dragons were first mentioned as early as the third millennium B.C., when a pair were supposedly seen by the Yellow Emperor (a mythological figure also known as Huangdi). According to legend, four dragon kings ruled over the four seas, and brought storms and rain. Dragon figures are still popular in Chinese culture today, as they are in Western fantasy art, literature, and role-playing games. (See: The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and Dungeons and Dragons.) 5. Kraken The kraken has been recorded in Scandinavian writings for hundreds of years. This giant sea monster was said to haunt the icy waters near Norway, Iceland, and Sweden, where it would engulf ships in its massive tentacles and pull them to the bottom of the sea. It was usually described as having a giant bulbous head and eyes bigger than a person. By some accounts, the kraken would anchor itself to the bottom of the ocean and feast on small fish that larger sea creatures sent their way to avoid being eaten themselves (Scandinavian fisherman thus often said that if an area was teeming with fish, a kraken was probably nearby.) Once the kraken grew too fat to remain tethered to the sea floor, it would rise to the surface and attack ships. In other accounts, the creature rose to the surface when the waters were warmed by the fires of hell. The kraken also reportedly had skin like gravel and was sometimes mistaken for an island; one account says that in 1700, a Danish priest celebrated mass on the back of a kraken. Some think that kraken accounts may have involved real-life giant squids, an elusive deep-sea creature that can weigh up to a ton and has eyes as big as a dinner plate, if not quite as big as a person. 6. Griffins In the lore of ancient Egypt and Greece, griffins were small, ferocious beings with the body of a lion and the head, wings, and talons of an eagle. The folklorist Adrienne Mayor has argued that stories of the griffin may have been inspired by ancient discoveries of fossils from Protoceratops dinosaurs, a relative of the Triceratops that had four legs, a sharp beak, and long shoulder blades that may have been interpreted as wings. In any case, the earliest known depictions come from Egypt in the third millennium B.C. Back then, griffins were said to attack humans and horses, and were useful for protecting palaces, treasure, and tombs. The ancient Greeks thought they lived in Scythia — an empire centered on what is now Crimea — where they guarded the gold for which that land was famous. Like unicorns and dragons, they were popular on coats of arms and crests during the Middle Ages and beyond. 7. Phoenixes The phoenix is a sacred bird associated with fire, the sun, and rebirth. About the size of an eagle, it’s said to have red-gold plumage, a long tail, and a harmonious song that sounds like a flute. Versions of the creature are found in Egyptian, Greek, and Chinese folklore, among other places. In one ancient legend, after 500 years of life, the phoenix would make a nest of dry twigs, strike rocks with its beak until it lit a spark, and then set itself ablaze. Once the fire cooled, a new phoenix would rise from the ashes. Early Christian writers saw it as an image of the Resurrection. The bird was also associated with immortality, and only one was said to exist at any given time. (And in case you’re wondering, the town in Arizona is named for the mythological creature.) Source: Wikipedia - Legendary Creatures | Facts Explained About Mythological Creatures
  26. What's the Word: PINNATE pronunciation: [PIN-eyt] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Latin, early 18th century Meaning: 1. (Botany — of a compound leaf) having leaflets arranged on either side of the stem, typically in pairs opposite each other. 2. (Zoology — especially of an invertebrate animal) having branches, tentacles, etc., on each side of an axis, like the vanes of a feather. Example: "The tree had delicate, pinnate leaves." "Feathers have a pinnate, symmetrical structure." About Pinnate This word comes from the Latin “pinnatus,” meaning “feathered.” This stems from “pinna,” meaning “feather, wing.” Did You Know? Pinnate leaves can be separated into two categories: imparipinnate and paripinnate. Imparipinnate, or odd-pinnate, means the leaflets are arranged on both sides with an odd terminal leaflet up top. Paripinnate, or even-pinnate, lacks the terminal leaf.
  27. Fact of the Day - PEN NAMES Did you know... that some authors become so iconic that they cease, in some sense, to be people—especially once they’re dead, and have passed securely into the realm of our collective imagination. But there’s much to be gained from digging a little deeper into those writers, or at the very least, scratching off that first surface: the names (and personas) they invented for their writing careers. (Emily Temple | June 28, 2018) Famous Pen Names and the Stories Behind Them by Interesting Facts Most writers go by their real name. From Dickens to Dostoevsky, Alcott to Asimov, the lion’s share of all-time greats have published their novels, stories, plays, and poems under true-to-life bylines. But not all of them. Many distinguished men and women of letters have used pseudonyms to accompany their works, and some are so ubiquitous that the public may not even know they’re a pen name. Here are five of the most notable cases and the stories behind them. 1. Mark Twain Samuel Langhorne Clemens went by many names. The author and humorist published a number of letters as Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass and a novel about Joan of Arc as Sieur Louis de Conte. There continues to be debate about the meaning behind "Mark Twain," with some even suggesting that it involves his bar tab, but the most widely accepted theory involves the same Mississippi riverboats he made famous in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The precise etymology relates to the practice of depth sounding. “Twain” is an old way of saying “two,” and the phrase “by the mark twain” means that the mark on the rope suggests a depth of two fathoms. (A “fathom” is a maritime measurement that means six feet, so two fathoms equals 12 feet.) According to Twain — or, rather, Clemens — himself, he wasn't the one who came up with the name: “Mark Twain was the nom de plume of one Captain Isaiah Sellers, who used to write river news over it for the New Orleans Picayune. He died in 1863 and as he could no longer need that signature, I laid violent hands upon it without asking permission of the proprietor's remains. That is the history of the nom de plume I bear.” 2. Toni Morrison Not everyone with a pen name is happy about it. Case in point: Toni Morrison, née Chloe Ardelia Wofford. She started going by her saint's name, Anthony, after converting to Catholicism at the age of 12, and the shorter “Toni” caught on soon after. Morrison, meanwhile, was her husband's last name — but she'd already divorced him by the time she began her writing career. According to a 2012 New York Magazine profile, “to this day, she deeply regrets leaving that now world-famous name on her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970.” “Wasn’t that stupid?” she said. “People who call me Chloe are the people who know me best. Chloe writes the books.” She considered Chloe her true self, while Toni was the acclaimed author and Nobel laureate who did the press tours, the speeches, the “legacy and all of that.” 3. J.K. Rowling Even as a muggle, J.K. Rowling has always had a few tricks up her sleeve when it comes to writing under an assumed name. And while it’s true that her real name is Joanne Rowling, the Harry Potter author doesn’t actually have a middle name. She chose J.K. because her publishers, fearful that the apparent target audience for a series about witchcraft and wizardry would be less inclined to read something written by a woman, asked her to use two initials. The “K” in this case stands for Kathleen, the first name of her paternal grandmother. It doesn’t end there. After the enormous success of Harry Potter, Rowling wanted to try her hand at a different genre. She did so by publishing The Cuckoo’s Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith in 2013, hopeful that her new endeavor could succeed on its own merits rather than ride Harry Potter’s coattails. And though the detective novel was warmly received by critics, it wasn’t until some amateur sleuths uncovered its true authorship that sales skyrocketed. Rowling — who has faced controversy and criticism recently for her transphobic stance — has said that she chose the name in honor of Robert Kennedy, a personal hero of hers, and has written four more books in the series as Galbraith. 4. George Orwell Unlike many other pseudonymous writers, George Orwell isn’t especially well known as such. Best known for Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, he was born Eric Arthur Blair in 1903 and opted for a pen name prior to the publication of his 1933 memoir Down and Out in Paris and London. It's a powerful account of his time as an impoverished laborer in the two capital cities, and Orwell opted to publish under a pen name out of fear that it would embarrass his family. Several other options were considered: X, P.S. Burton, Kenneth Miles, and H. Lewis Allways. “George Orwell” won out both because he considered it a “good round English name” and because it evoked the River Orwell in England’s Suffolk County, which he lived near at the time and was extremely fond of. 5. Stephen King The master of horror has published 61 novels, from Carrie and It to The Shining and Pet Sematary, but only 54 of them are under his real name. The remaining seven are credited to Richard Bachman, King’s longtime nom de plume. Dating back to 1977, when the first of these Bachman works was released, the reasoning was simple: King was too prolific for his publishers. Conventional wisdom at the time, according to the FAQ page on his website, was that "one book a year was all the public would accept" and adopting a pen name "made it possible for me to do two books in one year." Before settling on Richard Bachman, King was originally partial to a name that "had gotten out on the grapevine" and was therefore unusable: Gus Pillsbury. His pen name is a combination of Richard Stark, one of whose novels King had on his desk while making his decision, and the band Bachman Turner Overdrive, whose song "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" was playing at that same fateful moment. Source: Surprising Stories Behind Pen Names | Facts About Famous Pen Names
  28. What's the Word: LIEF pronunciation: [leef] Part of speech: adverb Origin: Old English, 13th century Meaning: 1. (Archaic) As happily; as gladly. Example: "She would lief go wherever he asked her to." "Bradley did not lief join her family at their weekly supper." About Lief This word stems from the Old English “lēof,” meaning “dear, pleasant.” It has Germanic origins, related to the words “leave” and “love.” Did You Know? At first glance, “lief” can be easily confused for “Leif,” a male name of Scandinavian origin that means “heir.” They’re also homophones — words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings. The two most famous bearers of the name are Leif Eriksson, a Norse explorer who is commonly thought to have been the first European to have set foot on continental North America, long before Christopher Columbus; and Leif Garrett, a child actor-turned-pop teen idol sensation in the 1970s.
  29. Fact of the Day - ETIQUETTE Did you know... that etiquette is the set of conventional rules of personal behaviour in polite society, usually in the form of an ethical code that delineates the expected and accepted social behaviours that accord with the conventions and norms observed by a society, a social class, or a social group. (Wikipedia) Etiquette Mysteries: 6 Popular Rules Explained by Interesting Facts The catalog of social graces is constantly growing and changing to reflect the world we live in. Yet for every self-explanatory etiquette principle (silence your phone at the movies), there’s another seemingly arbitrary one (men should escort women on the left). While these “rules” may seem old-fashioned and are often broken in today’s society, they were once the guidelines for proper manners. We took the courtesy of demystifying six of them. 1. Why You Should Always Pass the Salt and Pepper Seasoned etiquette aficionados often express dismay at the way people pass salt and pepper shakers. Regardless of which condiment a dining companion requests, in America, the polite response is to pass both shakers at the same time. This action conveniences everyone at the table. Think of salt and pepper as a pair of spouses or siblings — it becomes less likely that one will go missing if they stay together. Keeping the shakers in tandem also prevents a person from passing the wrong shaker. In addition, there’s a chance the recipient’s neighbor may need both ingredients, which are now within easy reach. Hence a rhyme that invokes two Blue’s Clues characters: “Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper always travel around the table together!” Politeness also dictates that shakers be placed on the table, not into outstretched hands. The thinking is occasionally linked to the superstition that two people grasping a salt shaker will eventually argue. 2. Why You Should Keep Your Elbows off the Table In the Old Testament of the Bible, the Book of Ecclesiastes includes the line, “Be ashamed of breaking an oath or a covenant, and of stretching your elbow at dinner.” Many have translated this directive as a warning to keep elbows off the table at all times. Table manners were originally introduced to prevent mealtime fights, with the knife and fork establishing each eater’s boundary lines. Today, the elbow rule stops people from slouching or accidentally leaning their arms into food dishes. Moreover, when breaking bread with a group, placing your elbows on the table blocks those on either side of you from making eye contact. 3. Why You Shouldn’t Drink When You Are Being Toasted To If a loved one or co-worker raises a glass in your honor, break the instinct of joining in on the toast. Since you’re being fêted, etiquette experts would perceive lifting your glass as a vain gesture, like giving applause to your own performance. Instead, practice the role of grateful recipient: Refrain from touching your glass and punctuate the toast with a “thank you.” Another common toast faux pas is clinking glasses to make the good tidings official. Knocking drinks with a tableful of people can require awkward stretching, causing spills or even broken glassware. A more dignified solution? Just hold those glasses aloft. 4. Why You Shouldn’t Point at Another Person When assisting theme park guests, Disney employees are trained to point with two conjoined fingers, index and middle. While the act reportedly doubles as a nod to Walt Disney’s smoking, the larger explanation is that standard pointing is considered rude in numerous cultures — especially if aimed at another person. A perception that dates back to Shakespeare’s time, pointing brings unwanted attention to the recipient, implying that they’ve committed a wrong. Repeated pointing in Japan can even instigate hostility. Figurative “finger-pointing” is defined as “making explicit and often unfair accusations of blame.” In situations where you feel compelled to point, it is kinder to use an open palm, flight attendant-style. 5. Why You Shouldn’t Respond to “Thank You” With “No Problem” There's a common perception that by answering an expression of gratitude with “no problem,” you're hinting that the effort exerted was or almost became an inconvenience. (Ditto “no worries,” “don’t mention it,” or “it was nothing.”) “Thank you” neither pleads for forgiveness nor merits a brush-off. “No problem” isn't necessarily the latter, though. Despite the negative phrasing, it's generally understood by Gen-Xers and Millennials as an attempt to be humble. In addition, the traditional response to “thank you” is understated in several languages — from Mandarin (mei guanxi or “it’s OK”) to German (keine ursache or “never mind”) — and the advent of texting has made the global vernacular less formal. But at least when speaking, etiquette authorities encourage people to try replies such as “you’re welcome,” “my pleasure,” and “of course.” 6. Why You Should Open a Car Door With the Hand That’s Furthest Away Cycling accounts for more than 25% of daily travel in the Netherlands; thus, Dutch citizens tend to be more conscientious toward bike riders than Americans. Yet we can all learn from their example with the “Dutch Reach,” a subtle move for anyone seated on the left-hand side of a car. Upon parking, Dutch drivers are instructed to use their right hands when opening their doors, even though their left hands are closer. This forces individuals to fully turn their upper bodies toward their exit, increasing the probability that they will spot anyone approaching in a bike lane. Some local drivers even tie ribbons to their door handles as reminders, and the Dutch Reach Project employs the slogan, “Reach, Swivel, Look, Open” — good safety advice regardless of your seat placement. Source: Wikipedia - Etiquette | Etiquette Mysteries Explained
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