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Everything posted by DarkRavie

  1. What's the Word: EXTROSPECTION pronunciation: [ek-strə-SPEK-shən] Part of speech: adjective Origin: English, early 20th century Meaning: 1. The observation of things external to one's own mind, as opposed to introspection. Example: "Thanks to the abundant wildlife and plants, Susan found herself lost in extrospection any time she walked in the forest." "Introspection can be dangerous for a closing pitcher, while extrospection helps keep the pitcher’s focus attuned to the baseball game unfolding around him." About Extrospection “Extrospection” is based on the English word “introspection,” replacing the Latin “intro,” meaning “inward,” with the prefix “extro,” meaning outward. (“Spect” comes from the Latin for “look at.”) Did You Know? Mindfulness, the increasingly popular practice of cultivating meditative awareness of the present, is often fueled by extrospection. Though meditation is often associated with the idea of introspection, many schools of meditation encourage meditators not to become too attached to internal thoughts. One way to become more aware of the present is through extrospection, and to do so mindfully, one must observe simple things outside of one’s mind without judgment. As a result, a mindful meditator engaged in extrospection might acknowledge the rhythm of their breathing, the sensation of their feet upon the ground, or the sound of a passing car.
  2. Fact of the Day - COUNT VON COUNT Did you know... In European folklore, vampires were thought to have a compulsion to count — which inspired the Count on “Sesame Street.” Humans have long blamed the supernatural for life’s mysteries; take, for example, vampires, the bloodthirsty creatures that supposedly seek out the living as prey. Many modern depictions of vampires make a mockery of these undead characters, relegating them to YA novels and Halloween costumes, but for hundreds of years — perhaps even thousands, starting with the Egyptians — vampires were feared figures believed to prey on families or entire villages. Some historians believe the vampire myth endured because it was an easy way to explain disease outbreaks or unexpected deaths. These fears, echoed by cultures around the world, are why so many communities developed methods to ward off the undead, including hanging garlic bulbs around their homes and laying to rest family members in vampire-proof graves. But there’s another way to escape the clutches of these undead monsters: making them count. According to European lore, vampires suffer from arithmomania, the uncontrollable urge to count or calculate numbers. That’s why many Europeans once scattered seeds or grain on their floors before tucking into bed at night, hoping to distract any intruding vampires by triggering their counting compulsion. Some Slavic fishing communities also draped nets on their homes, believing that vampires would stop to count the holes. It’s unclear why vampires would have a tendency to tally, but the idea has lived on with Sesame Street’s Count von Count, the purple-hued vampire who helps children learn their numbers. Inspired by the lore, Sesame Street writer Norman Stiles created the iconic Muppet in the early 1970s based on actor Bela Lugosi’s 1931 cinematic depiction of Count Dracula. The count made his Sesame Street debut on the show’s fourth season in 1972, slowly morphing from a spooky character to the friendly, number-loving Muppet he is today. The U.S. had a series of “vampire panics” in the 19th century. The Salem Witch Trials are likely the most studied epidemic of fear in early America, but it wasn’t just suspicion of witches that kept New Englanders up at night. Some 200 years after the witch trials’ horrid end, residents along the East Coast experienced a new wave of fear that was later deemed the Great New England Vampire Panic. Around the 1880s, communities in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Vermont were hit hard with a mysterious illness that slowly drained energy from the sick until they succumbed to the disease. Theories swirled about the mysterious deaths, and in the frenzy, panicked New Englanders attributed the illness to the supernatural — specifically vampires. Soon, towns began performing odd rituals at cemeteries to keep vampires at bay. As science progressed, anti-vampire events slowly died off; today we know the deaths involved in the Great New England Vampire weren’t due to vampires at all, but simply a widespread tuberculosis outbreak. (Interesting Facts) Five fun facts about my favorite data science mascot by Bonnie Barrilleaux | Published Aug 28, 2019 Do you have a team mascot? We do: it's Count Von Count, a vampire who likes to count things, from the children's TV show Sesame Street. In case the rationale isn't apparent, let me spell it out: data scientists love to count things. I do remember the Count fondly from my childhood, although I was more of a Snuffleupagus girl as a kid. While I have to admit I initially pushed for the lemur as our team mascot (because all of our distributions have a very long tail...), I've come around to the Count and actually I'm quite a fan these days. Here are a few fun facts you might not have realized about the Count and his number obsession. Of course, we will count them. 1. Fact number one! The Count suffers from arithmomania, or compulsive counting. In European folklore, vampires often suffer from arithmomania; you can protect yourself from them by throwing rice on the ground, because they'll feel compelled to count all the grains before attacking you. Thus, a vampire who counts things is actually historically accurate, in addition to sharing a favorite hobby with data scientists. 2. Fact number two! He has a favorite number: 34,969, which happens to be 187^2, or 11^2 x 17^2. Very square. I suspect that many data scientists also have a favorite number. Mine is 1729, the Hardy-Ramanujan number. What's yours? 3. Fact number three! You can follow the Count on Twitter, where he only tweets numbers. No word on when he's planning to set up a LinkedIn profile. 4. Fact number four! The Count only has four fingers on each hand, leading me to wonder if he prefers counting in octal rather than decimal. How tragic, to be an octal numberphile trapped in a decimal world. 5. Fact number five! The Count has been counting things for almost 50 years, since his first appearance on Sesame Street in 1972. The term "data science" was first used in 1974, making it about the same age as the Count. Five facts; one, two, three, four, five, ha-ha-ha. Disclaimer: As usual with my fact posts, please do not take it as gospel since I get my info via the Internet. Source: Facts About Count Von Count | Fun Facts About Count Von Count
  3. What's the Word: HALLUX pronunciation: [HAL-əks] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin, 19th century Meaning: 1. (Anatomy) a person's big toe. 2. (Zoology) the innermost digit of the hind foot of vertebrates. Example: "Jarvis stubbed his hallux on the corner of the sofa." "My hallux is usually the first part of my foot to wear through a sock." About Hallux “Hallux” is based on the Latin “hallus,” meaning “big toe.” Did You Know? “Hallux” refers to the human big toe in the same way that “pollex” refers to the human thumb, but the two related words — both taken from Latin — also refer to digits on the feet of vertebrates. “Pollex” describes the first digit on the front foot of any four-legged creature, while “hallux” describes the first digit on the hind foot of a four-legged creature, or the first digit on the foot of a two-legged creature (such as a bird).
  4. Fact of the Day - HORROR MOVIES Did you know... There is something enduring about sharing harrowing tales over a campfire or using a friend as a human shield as the undead emerges on the television screen. In controllable doses, horror movies allow us the catharsis of watching our greatest fears manifest on screen right before our eyes. It's comforting to know that we can watch Frankenstein’s monster rise from the operating table, knowing we can just as easily step away and get more popcorn without the threat of a monster lurking in our kitchen. A long way to say, a controlled adrenaline rush is just, plain fun. Our greatest fears melt into entertainment when we know they aren’t directly happening to us. A genre that has often rested in the periphery of Hollywood and critics' kind eyes, horror has seen quite a few ebbs and flows over the years. Credited by many as one of the earliest horror shorts captured on film, Georges Méliès spins up a frightful tale in “Le Manoir Du Diable” (or “The House of the Devil”, 1896), where Mephistopheles conjures bats, skeletons, and you name it, using a magical cauldron. Horror movies were in play long before the advent of sound in film. Throughout the 1890s and 1900s, a time when filmmakers were unburdened by conventional “scary structure” in movies and tropes, filmmakers began taking their first crack at works from Gothic greats like Mary Shelley and Edgar Allen Poe. (by Kerry at The Film Detective | Oct 25, 2019) Hollywood Movie Monsters and Their Scary Origins by Interesting Facts Undead. Hungry for blood. Centuries-old. Hollywood movie monsters have been keeping audiences awake at night and fearful about turning dark corners for more than seven decades. First popularized on the big screen in the 1930s during the silent-to-sound transition, these iconic black-and-white creations continue to frighten moviegoers and inspire modern updates in film, TV, and beyond. From a blood-thirsty vampire and an oversized ape to a creature lurking from the deep, here are the origins of seven haunting old-school movie monsters. 1. Dracula (1931) Universal Pictures hesitated before making a Dracula movie. When first presented with the idea in the 1920s, the studio worried about negative audience reactions to a supernatural tale centering around a bloodthirsty vampire. But then a successful play based on Bram Stoker's novel Dracula (1897) arrived in theaters, and Universal became desperate for a hit. Dracula was greenlit with the intention of placing silent screen superstar Lon Chaney Sr., known as the "Man of a Thousand Faces," in the title role. However, Chaney died in 1930. Bela Lugosi, who'd won over audiences in U.S. theatrical productions of Dracula, was subsequently hired to portray the vampire onscreen. His good looks, Hungarian accent, and ability to carry off a tux and cape (attire that had initially been seen on the stage) helped make the movie a hit. 2. Frankenstein (1931) Dracula's success prompted Universal to search for another monster movie for Lugosi, now a star. The studio opted for Frankenstein, based on Mary Shelley's 1818 book, with Lugosi slated to play Frankenstein's monster, a dead criminal’s body reanimated by science. Lugosi wasn't thrilled about a role that called for his face to be hidden under layers of makeup, but he needn't have been concerned. When James Whale was brought on to direct, he didn't want Lugosi in the part, and instead selected Boris Karloff. The monster's makeup was applied by Jack Pierce, who used his skills to create a flat dome on Karloff's head to reflect the skull surgery the monster would have endured. Other touches, such as neck bolts and shortening the sleeves of Karloff's coat to suggest long arms, resulted in an unforgettable archetype. Paired with Karloff's acting abilities, which communicated the monster's existential pain, this film won over critics and succeeded at the box office. 3. The Mummy (1932) Universal soon wanted to feature Karloff in another monster movie: The Mummy. Rather than based on a book or play, this movie was partially inspired by the Egypt-mania that overtook the world following the discovery of King Tut's tomb in 1922. The screenplay was penned by a former reporter, John L. Balderston, who'd written about the tomb. The film also spoke to fears of a so-called Curse of Tutankhamun, which had supposedly claimed the lives of several people with ties to the tomb's opening. In the story, an Egyptian priest (Karloff) who was buried alive for trying to resuscitate his dead lover is himself restored to life when someone reads a magical scroll. Karloff appeared onscreen in bandages and in makeup that gave him an ancient, withered face (again thanks to Pierce's skills). The movie, another hit for Karloff and Universal, installed mummies forever in the pantheon of movie monsters. 4. King Kong (1933) Universal featured many cinematic monsters, but wasn't the only studio to cash in on the phenomenon. In 1933, RKO Pictures wowed moviegoers with a rampaging giant ape known as King Kong. King Kong's beginnings can be traced to Merian Coldwell Cooper filming exotic locations across the globe in the 1920s. His voyages sparked an idea for a movie that would feature a real gorilla in New York City — but then the Great Depression nixed any notion of getting the funds to shoot abroad or transport a gorilla. Cooper found a job at RKO, where he saw Willis O'Brien using stop-motion animation on another film. Cooper and RKO head David O. Selznick believed that this technique could work for a movie about an enormous ape on the loose in New York City. The result, which Cooper co-directed, was the perennially popular King Kong. 5. The Wolf Man (1941) Universal's Werewolf of London (1935) wasn't a big hit, but the studio eventually decided to try another werewolf film. In The Wolf Man, Lon Chaney Jr. plays Larry Talbot, who returns from America to his family's Welsh estate. He's bitten by a wolf soon after his arrival, which leads to his transformation into the Wolf Man. Screenwriter Curt Siodmak drew on legends of men transforming into destructive wolves, as well as lore that a werewolf emerges during a full moon and can only be killed by silver. The movie's original title was Destiny, to evoke how outside forces can overshadow personal will. Audiences flocked to the film and empathized with the Wolf Man, cursed with an affliction he cannot control. 6. Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) Creature From the Black Lagoon was the last in Universal's old-school era of monster success. The initial idea for the film came from writer and producer William Alland, who in the 1940s heard a tale about a fish-man living in the Amazon and wrote a story treatment in 1952. But it was the look of the monstrous creature that made the film stand out. This was largely conceived by Milicent Patrick, an artist employed by Universal's special effects shop (though her male boss claimed credit at the time). For her creature designs, Patrick studied prehistoric life from the Devonian period, a time 400 million years in the past, when some species were leaving the oceans to live on land. Though it had the option to shoot in color, Universal stuck to black and white for this movie; this cost-saving choice links this monster to earlier ones. 7. Gojira (1954) / Godzilla (1956) Hollywood wasn't the only place to birth movie monsters. In 1954, Japan's Toho Studios released Gojira, about an ancient reptile who was brutally awakened by a nuclear test. Director Honda Ishiro wanted to make the movie in part due to the devastation wreaked by the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. Further inspiration came early in 1954, when crew members of a Japanese fishing vessel got radiation sickness due to a nuclear test. Gojira, his name a combination of the Japanese words for whale ("kujira") and gorilla ("gorira"), was embraced by Japanese audiences. The film was re-edited for its U.S. release. Scenes were added in which Raymond Burr played an American reporter following the story of this monster, but this version erased any message about the dangers of nuclear weapons and testing. Gojira was given a new name as well, becoming Godzilla, King of the Monsters. Source: A Brief History of Horror in Golden Age Hollywood | Hollywood Movie Monster Origins
  5. What's the Word: ATTICISM pronunciation: [AT-ə-sihz-əm] Part of speech: noun Origin: Greek, 17th century Meaning: 1. A word or form characteristic of Attic Greek. 2. A well-turned phrase; a concise manner of speech or expression Example: "Marco kept his fellow diners amused with one delightful Atticism after another." "The first time I met your mother, I was struck most by her refinement and her Atticisms." About Atticism “Atticism” is based on the ancient Greek Ἀττικός (“Attikós”), meaning “related to Athens.” Did You Know? Originally, the word “Atticism” referred to those characteristics specific to speakers of Attic, the language of the greater Athens region in ancient Greece known as “Attica.” Atticans were known for being elegant, yet direct — they became known as an especially witty culture. Over time, popular knowledge of and interest in ancient Greece waned, and today “Atticism” is not often used to refer to ancient Greece at all, but the word retains its meaning as an eloquently expressed phrase in speech or writing.
  6. Fact of the Day - SQUIRRELS Did you know... Male squirrels get smarter in the fall. Autumn heralds the arrival of many things: pumpkin pie, crisp morning air, and, apparently, more intelligent rodents. Male squirrels get smarter in the fall due to their hippocampus (a part of the brain involved in memory) increasing in size during the caching season — the time of year when they gather even more nuts than usual. (In an especially adorable move, they stuff their snacks in their cheeks before moving their food to a more permanent storage spot.) Interestingly, female squirrel brains don’t show the same effect; researchers speculate that male squirrel brains may change in the fall to act more like the females’ brains already function all year long. The slightly bigger brains may help male squirrels remember exactly where they’ve stored their nuts, although scientists are still teasing out how. Though we don’t tend to think of squirrels as especially bright, studies have shown that they and other tree-dwelling rodents have evolved larger brains compared to their burrowing counterparts. This all began some 34 million years ago, according to Dr. Ornella Bertrand of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences. There weren’t nearly as many arboreal primates back then, which allowed squirrels’ ancestors to take up residence among the leaves and branches. “When trees became available to them, squirrels’ ancestors seized the opportunity,” Bertrand explains. “This transition was a key evolutionary step for squirrels as it enabled them to acquire larger and more complex brains.” Whether it’s more than mere coincidence that male squirrels get smarter as (human) schools come back to session remains unconfirmed. Squirrels used to be rare in U.S. cities. Take a walk through just about any park in America and there’s a decent chance you’ll see a squirrel — they’re everywhere. This wasn’t always the case, however, and in fact squirrels used to be a rare sight in many U.S. cities. This changed in the late 19th century, when parks became more common, and urban reformers started releasing squirrels in hopes of creating “a bucolic atmosphere that was entertaining, enlightening, and salubrious,” in the words of one historian. Mission accomplished. Releasing just three squirrels in Philadelphia’s Franklin Square in 1847 led to a boom in their population, and other parks followed suit. There were thought to be more than 1,000 squirrels in New York’s Central Park by 1902, and as of 2020 there were 2,373 — yes, someone counted. (Interesting Facts) Fascinating Facts About Squirrels In praise of squirrels big and small. BY ALEXANDRA POPE | January 20, 2016 Thanks to the Internet, there is a day of recognition for just about anything you can think of, from beavers (April 4th) to tripe (October 24th). On January 21st, the humble squirrel had its day in the sun. The hashtag #SquirrelAppreciationDay trended on Twitter and prompted an outpouring of admiration for the rodents. As squirrel fans ourselves, we thought we’d share a few fun facts about these quirky creatures. 1. There are 22 different species of squirrel found in Canada Six are tree species, while 16 are ground-dwelling species. A Golden-mantled ground squirrel peeks out from behind a dandelion. (Photo: Michelle Tsoi/CanGeo Photo Club) 2. They are found in every province and territory From the Douglas squirrel in the west to the Arctic ground squirrel in Nunavut to the red squirrels introduced in Newfoundland in 1963, sciurids are as Canadian as maple syrup. The Douglas squirrel, a native of the west coast. (Photo: Ron Racine/CanGeo Photo Club) 3. They have multi-purpose tails Tree squirrels like the Eastern Grey Squirrel have bushy tails they use to help them balance in high places and as a rudder when jumping from branch to branch. Their tails are also used for warmth in winter and for signaling their mood to other squirrels. An eastern grey squirrel jumps between branches. (Photo: Richard Cooper/CanGeo Photo Club) 4. They are eating machines Some species within the Sciuridae family, such as chipmunks and ground squirrels, have pouches in their cheeks to assist with carrying food for storage or consumption. A chipmunk packs its cheek pouches full of nuts and seeds. (Photo: Pamela Beale/CanGeo Photo Club) 5. They come in a wide range of sizes The largest squirrels found in Canada are Hoary Marmots, sometimes called “whistle pigs” for the high-pitched sound they make when threatened. Hoary Marmots can be up to 80 centimetres long and weigh six kilograms. The smallest squirrel species in Canada is the chipmunk, which typically weighs only 50 grams. A hoary marmot sunbathes near Hinton, Alberta. (Photo: Garfield Milne/CanGeo Photo Club) 6. They help plant trees While they can be a nuisance to gardeners thanks to their fondness for flower bulbs, squirrels play an important role in forest regeneration. As winter approaches, squirrels prepare by burying nuts and seeds to help see them through. Inevitably, some of their stash will be forgotten and germinate in the spring. An eastern grey squirrel in Ottawa. Urban squirrels can be pests, but in forests they play an important role in tree regeneration. (Photo: Valentina Tosheva/CanGeo Photo Club) 7. They are hilarious Squirrels are a popular subject for photography — at least among Canadian Geographic Photo Club members — thanks to their curious nature and gravity-defying acrobatics. A red squirrel peeks out from a birdhouse in Val d’amour, NB. (Photo: Rachel Chiasson/CanGeo Photo Club) Source: Facts About Squirrels
  7. What's the Word: CHRONOMETRY pronunciation: [krə-NOM-ih-tree] Part of speech: noun Origin: Greek, 19th century Meaning: 1. The science of accurate time measurement. Example: "Charles, an expert in chronometry, has set all the clocks in his house to the exact atomic time." "The advent of electricity was a gift to chronometry, as it allowed scientists to make even more precise measurements of time." About Chronometry “Chronometry” is a combination of the ancient Greek “χρόνος” (“khrónos”), meaning “time,” and the suffix “-metry,” from the Ancient Greek “μέτρον” (“métron”), meaning “measure.” Did You Know? The term “mental chronometry” refers to the study of the speed of cognitive processing. It is the scientific study of reaction time and the time it takes to solve simple cognitive tasks. While chronometry on its own describes the process of accurately measuring time in general, mental chronometry studies the speed of the nervous system in processing information. A basic measure of mental chronometry is the time it takes for a person to respond when presented with a stimulus. For example, a person might be told to press a button when a screen shows them a picture, and chronometry studies the time it takes between first seeing the picture and then pressing the button.
  8. https://community.atlasobscura.com/t/what-animal-blows-your-mind/11831Fact of the Day - ALIEN-LIKE CREATURES ON EARTH Did you know... There are Real Animals That Shouldn’t Exist, But Do Anyway Atlas Obscura readers nominated their favorite unlikely creatures, from pangolin to axolotl. by ERIC GRUNDHAUSER | APRIL 19, 2019 Peacock Mantis Shrimp FOR AS MANY FASCINATING, DOWNRIGHT unbelievable places as there are to explore on our planet, there are just as many, if not far more, mind-blowing animals. Sometimes it can feel like nature is taking its cues from a hyperactive 12-year-old with a big imagination, or that all the alien creatures we need already exist right here on Earth. A deer with long vampire fangs? Sure. A shrimp that punches so hard and fast that the water boils around it? Oh yes, that’s real. How about a pudgy little rodent-like creature with a mouth full of sharp teeth and elephants as its closest relative? Hello, rock hyrax. We recently asked Atlas Obscura readers in our Community forums to tell us about the most shocking and unbelievable animals they’d ever heard of, and the responses were both truly insane and delightfully based in reality. Check out some of our favorite bonkers-but-real animals below, and if you know of an another that seems like it can’t even be possible, tell us about it in the forums, and keep the conversation going! No need to look to the shadows for fantastical beasts, the real ones are unbelievable enough as is. Siphonophores “Colonial organisms, in general, are amazing. It’s like a bunch of organs with specialized functions, all with their own nervous system, got together and decided to be a bigger creature.” — Sluagh Immortal Jellyfish “This jellyfish doesn’t mean to brag, but it’s both beautiful and immortal. If it gets sick, or even stressed, it just reverts into it’s younger self so it can get strong and mature again, bouncing between youth and adulthood forever.” — tralfamadore Saber-toothed Deer “Hydropotes inermis more people need to know about these saber-toothed deer. When I first saw them, I totally thought they were photoshopped.” — Monedula Blobfish “I just can’t get past these guys.” — jonathancarey Philippine Tarsiers “I would not be surprised if it was the inspiration for Gizmo from Gremlins (before the change), the Ewoks, or Gollum.” — AnyaPH Shoebill Stork “How I lived so long and didn’t, until recently, know such a bird existed is beyond me. Looks like something a child with a big imagination might draw. I really want to see one.” — mbarretdaw Want to know what other animals are most alien -like, click the link below Source: Real Animals That Should Not Exist
  9. What's the Word: THITHER pronunciation: [THI-thər] Part of speech: adverb Origin: Middle English, 10th century Meaning: 1. Middle English, 10th century Example: "We drew the stranger directions to the service station and sent him thither." "I enjoyed Scotland when I went thither as a child." About Thither Based on the Middle English “thider,” and the Old English “þider,” both meaning “there.” Did You Know? The best way to understand “thither” is as an archaic version of “there” or “to that place,” since it’s often heard as part of the poetic expression “hither and thither” — an old and ornate way of saying “here and there.” “Thither” is often associated with “yonder,” meaning “there in the distance,” as both are charming replacements for the more common expressions “there” and “over there.” “Yonder” does not share any roots with “thither,” however, and while “yonder” appeared early in English (during the 14th century), “thither” is significantly older, having been first recorded in the early 10th century.
  10. Fact of the Day - GHOSTS IN THE WHITE HOUSE Did you know... The most famous address in America—1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—is also perhaps the country’s most famous haunted house. Presidents, first ladies, White House staff members and guests have reported feeling ghostly presences, hearing unexplained noises and even running into actual apparitions—even on the way out of the bathtub, in one particularly famous case. (HISTORY.COM EDITORS | UPDATED: AUG 12, 2019 | ORIGINAL:OCT 29, 2009) Famous Ghosts at the White House, “The Country’s Most Famous Haunted House” by Interesting Facts Do you believe in ghosts? If you do, you have something in common with 46% of Americans — not to mention several Presidents. Harry Truman, Abraham Lincoln, and even Winston Churchill are among the world leaders who may or may not have had supernatural experiences at the White House, which was first built starting in 1792 and rebuilt in 1817 after the British burned it during the War of 1812. The White House has been called “the country’s most famous haunted house,” and with good reason — some even count a former POTUS among the supposed spirits in residence. Here are a few of the most famous ghosts rumored to haunt the Executive Mansion. 1. First Lady, First Ghost John Adams was the first President to live in the White House after its completion at the turn of the 19th century, making his wife, Abigail Adams, the first First Lady to reside there. According to some, she still does. Because the newly completed East Room was the warmest and driest in the building, Abigail used to hang her wash there. Many have reported seeing her in or near the East Room in the two centuries since, often with her arms outstretched as though still carrying laundry — not the most menacing activity, perhaps, but surely quite the shock when you’re in the middle of a walk-and-talk. 2. A Rather Ghostly Rose Garden Abigail Adams isn’t the only First Lady who’s said to have taken up permanent residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Dolley Madison, who spent eight years there while her husband James served as President from 1809–1817, helped define the role of a presidential spouse and served as a model for future First Ladies. It would appear she was also quite protective of the Rose Garden. When two landscapers were tasked with moving the famous garden a century later at the behest of First Lady Edith Wilson, they apparently encountered Dolley’s angry ghost and abandoned their plans. The Rose Garden was never moved, and remains in the same spot to this day. 3. Harry Truman Hears Three Knocks Not even leaders of the free world are immune to the effects of hearing scary sounds at night. Just ask Harry S. Truman, who was awakened by three knocks on his bedroom door at about 4 a.m. one morning in September 1946 and described the experience in a letter to his wife Bess. “I jumped up and put on my bathrobe, opened the door, and no one there,” he wrote. “Went out and looked up and down the hall, looked in your room and Margie’s. Still no one. Went back to bed after locking the doors and there were footsteps in your room whose door I’d left open. Jumped and looked and no one there! The damned place is haunted sure as shootin’. Secret Service said not even a watchman was up here at that hour.” Truman’s letter concluded, “You and [daughter] Margie had better come back and protect me before some of these ghosts carry me off.” 4. Mary Todd Lincoln’s Séances Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln experienced every parent’s worst nightmare when their 11-year-old son William, often called Willie, died of typhoid fever on February 20, 1862, in the White House. This was doubly tragic, as their son Edward had died about a month before his fourth birthday 12 years earlier. In her grief, Mary Todd began holding séances in the Red Room (some say she held as many as eight of these supernatural gatherings), and she apparently found them to be an effective coping mechanism. “Willie Lives,” she later told her half-sister. “He comes to me every night and stands at the foot of the bed with the same sweet adorable smile that he always has had. He does not always come alone. Little Eddie is sometimes with him.” 5. When Churchill Met Lincoln(’s Ghost) Abraham Lincoln’s assassination is one of America’s defining historical events, and the trauma lasted long after his death. Our 16th — and, according to many rankings, best — President is the White House’s most famous ghost, having been sighted more than any other spirit. In a way, those sightings include a chilling prophecy Lincoln experienced himself. One evening early in 1865, Lincoln told his close friend Ward Hill Lamon of a troubling dream he’d had a week and a half earlier: “I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a deathlike stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs … I arrived at the East Room. Before me was a catafalque [raised platform for a coffin], on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face covered, others weeping pitifully. ‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers. ‘The President,’ was his answer. ‘He was killed by an assassin.’” Lincoln was assassinated just a few months later, and sightings of the fallen leader in the room now known as the Lincoln Bedroom began not long after. According to Jared Broach, founder of the ghost tour company Nightly Spirits, “They say Lincoln always comes back whenever he feels the country is in need or in peril. They say he just strides up and down the second-floor hallways and raps on doors and stands by windows.” It isn’t just humans who have felt this presence. Rex Scouten, then the White House curator, said in 1989 that Ronald Reagan’s dog felt comfortable roaming through every room in the White House except the Lincoln Bedroom, where “he’d just stand outside the door and bark.” No less a credible source than Winston Churchill himself reported encountering Lincoln’s ghost in that very room, albeit under different circumstances. He had just stepped out of the bath and was “wearing” nothing but a cigar when he saw the former President by the fireplace. “Good evening, Mr. President,” Churchill reportedly said. “You seem to have me at a disadvantage.” Indeed he did, but it’s hard to imagine anyone else being so witty in that moment. Source: Ghosts in the White House | Facts About the White House Ghosts
  11. What's the Word: ASWARM pronunciation: [ə-SWARM] Part of speech: adjective Origin: English, 19th century Meaning: 1. Crowded; full of moving beings or objects Example: "The hive was aswarm with bees, but the beekeeper was protected by a heavy veil and thick clothing." "So many people arrived for the store’s sale that the parking lot was aswarm with customers and cars." About Aswarm “Aswarm” was formed in English by adding the prefix “a-,” indicating increasing intensity, to the English word “swarm.” Did You Know? The key component of “aswarm” is “swarm,” which is connected to a variety of similar terms in several languages, including Old English (“swearm”), proto-Germanic (“swarmaz”), Saterland Frisian (“swoorm”), Danish (“sværm”), Swedish (“svärm”), and Icelandic (“svarmur”). All these terms are synonymous with “swarm” in English — meaning “multitude” or “a mass of individuals,” as well as the verb describing a multitude acting as one. The English addition of the prefix “a-” to “swarm” is intended to emphasize the activity and intensity of the swarm, and is similar to the adjective “swarming,” which means “moving in or forming a large or dense group.”
  12. Fact of the Day - TIGERS Did you know... The pattern of every tiger’s stripes is unique. Not unlike human fingerprints, the pattern of every tiger’s stripes is one of a kind. And though those markings are invariably beautiful, they aren’t just for decoration. Biologists refer to tiger stripes as an example of disruptive coloration, as their vertical slashes help them hide in plain sight by breaking up their shape and size so they blend in with tall grass, trees, and other camouflage-friendly environments. Tigers are solitary hunters who ambush their prey, so the ability to remain undetected while on the hunt is key to their survival. They’re also helped by the fact that their prey don’t see colors the way we do. Deer, for instance, can process short and mid-wavelength colors such as green and blue but not long wavelength hues such as red and orange. That means a tiger lurking in the grass won’t look bright orange — it will actually appear green to its prey, making it difficult to differentiate from its surroundings. Markings also differ among subspecies, with Sumatran tigers having the narrowest stripes and Siberian tigers having fewer than the rest of their big cat brethren. Tigers have stripes on their skin as well as their fur. It isn’t just a tiger’s fur that’s striped. Their skin is similarly marked, and the pattern mirrors that of their fur. Scientists have compared this to a beard’s five-o’clock shadow, as a tiger’s colored hair follicles are embedded in their skin and therefore visible to the naked eye. Here, too, we have something in common with these majestic creatures: Our skin is covered in a kind of stripes as well — called Blaschko’s lines — but ours are usually invisible except in the case of certain skin conditions. (Interesting Facts) Super Interesting Tiger Facts by Lauren Taylor | Published on June 30, 2022 Tigers are beautiful and amazing creatures, and you might be surprised to learn there's probably a lot you don’t know about them, too. For example, did you know that each tiger’s stripes are unique? Find out more fascinating tiger facts below. 1. Tigers are pretty big Tigers are the largest members of the cat family (which also includes domestic cats, lions, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, pumas and others). They can be up to 10 feet long and can weigh over 600 pounds! 2. There are two recognized subspecies of tiger Tigers used to be categorized into nine subspecies, but the different types of tigers (below) are now grouped into only two subspecies. These two subspecies are the continental tiger and the Sunda tiger. The continental tiger is the larger subspecies, with adult males weighing up to 660 pounds. Sunda tigers are smaller than continental tigers and weigh around 310 pounds when fully grown. Sunda tigers: Sumatran Javan (extinct) Bali (extinct) Continental tigers: Siberian Bengal South China Indochinese Malyan Caspian (extinct) 3. You can identify a tiger by his stripes Each tiger has his own unique pattern of stripes, which are similar to humans’ fingerprints as they’re different for each individual. And since their stripes are unique, this helps researchers identify and count tigers in the wild. Tigers have around 100 stripes, and they’re used for camouflage. Since the rest of their coats are orange, the dark stripes help tigers blend in with their surroundings and hide from their prey when they’re hunting in low-light conditions. 4. It’s not just tigers’ fur that’s striped Tigers’ skin underneath their fur is also striped! 5. Tigers don’t like company Unlike lions, who live and hunt in groups, tigers are solitary cats. Aside from mothers and their cubs, tigers usually live alone. Individual tigers have their own territory, which they mark to keep other tigers out of their space. 6. Some tigers are white White tigers are pretty rare, but they do exist. White tigers are actually Bengal tigers, and their white fur comes from a genetic mutation called leucism They typically have blue eyes, while orange tigers have yellow eyes. There are no white tigers left in the wild, so the only place you can find them is in captivity. These tigers are often inbred, because the white color comes from a recessive gene (meaning both parents have to carry the gene to produce the white color), leading to health problems. 7. Tigers are apex predators Tigers are apex predators, which means they have no natural predators. The only predators to tigers are humans. 8. Tigers actually like the water It’s pretty well-known that most cats hate water — but that’s not true for tigers. They actually love the water and are great swimmers. Tigers like to hang out in bodies of water to cool down since they live in tropical climates. 9. Tigers live in different types of habitats Tigers live in a variety of habitats, including rainforests, grasslands, savannas and mangrove swamps. They can be found in 13 countries: India, China, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Bhutan, Cambodia, Vietnam and Bangladesh. 10. Tigers are endangered There are three types of tigers who are already extinct (Javan, Bali and Caspian), and the remaining tigers are endangered. There are currently only about 3,900 tigers in the wild, and they live in as little as 4 percent of the land they once occupied. Many tigers are killed from illegal poaching. Tigers are also threatened by conflict with humans, which happens because of the destruction of their habitats, leaving them without much land, and overhunting of their prey, causing tigers to hunt livestock. You can help tigers by taking some of these steps: Don’t buy anything that comes from illegal tiger hunting. Reduce your use of products made from forests, like paper. Donate to tiger conservation efforts. “Adopt” a tiger to support conservation efforts. Source: Facts About Tigers | Fun Facts About Tigers
  13. What's the Word: FLAMBEAU pronunciation: [FLAM-bo] Part of speech: noun Origin: French, 17th century Meaning: 1. A flaming torch, especially one made of several thick wicks dipped in wax. 2. A large candlestick with several branches. Example: "Processions illuminated by flambeaus are common during seasonal holidays in both Europe and Asia." "The guides led us down the forest path with a flambeau, instead of a flashlight, to make the adventure feel more authentic." About Flambeau “Flambeau” is taken directly from the French, where it referred originally to a “small flame.” Did You Know? “Flambeau” is based on the Old French word “flambe,” meaning “a flame,” from the Latin root “flamma,” the basis of the English word “flame.” The French word is the root of other familiar English words, including “flamboyant,” which was initially used to describe the vivid light of a burning flambeau, but today it describes anything bright, bold, or audacious. Another related word is “flambé,” once again from the French, meaning “to cook by adding a spirit, like brandy, and setting alight.”
  14. Fact of the Day - HALLOWEEN-LIKE CELEBRATIONS Did you know... While we typically associate Halloween with costumes and candy these days, the holiday is rooted in spiritual beliefs from more than 1,000 years ago. Many trace Halloween back to the Celtic pagan celebration of Samhain, in which observants would wear costumes and light fires to ward off the souls returning back to their homes on November 1. As All Saints’ Day became a Christian take on Samhain, along with it came the festivities of the night before, or All Hallow’s Eve, which evolved into Halloween. The costume-wearing and trick-or-treating traditions popularized in the U.S. in the 1950s have turned into an annual $2.5 billion industry. But around the world, many other countries have their own sorts of similarly spirited occasions that recall the original intentions of Halloween. Here are 18 such celebrations and the stories behind them. (Interesting Facts) Popular Halloween-Like Celebrations by Sofie | updated on May 9, 2021 From Halloween in the US to the Day of the Dead in Mexico, the desire to connect with the supernatural is intrinsic to every race. Ghost stories terrify us but also thrill us, and it’s exactly because of this mysterious curiosity with the unknown that we’re drawn towards the extraordinary. But beyond the customary costume parties and jack-o-lanterns are a host of other Halloween-like events that celebrate the dead and the powers that lie beyond. From festive parades that summon the departed to more solemn ceremonies that ward off malignant spirits, here’s a list of some of the world’s most popular Halloween-alike traditions. 1. DIA DE LOS MUERTOS, MEXICO Skulls, skulls, and more skulls — the Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico is one of the world’s most popular events, and all because of its colorful costumes and iconic skull makeup. Originally celebrated in Mexico on November 1 to 2 but now observed around the world, Dia de Los Muertos celebrates the dead with lots of food — but they’re mostly for weary souls that have descended from heaven to join their families. Home altars are stocked with fruit, meat, beverages, and pan de meurto (bread of the dead), while toys are left for children who have passed away. In cemeteries, graves are adorned with Aztec marigolds and Calaveras (skull decorations made from sugar or clay). 2. DAY OF DRACULA, ROMANIA What better way to celebrate Halloween than in the legendary castle of Count Dracula, the world’s prototypical vampire? Each year during Halloween, people around the world flock to Transylvania’s Bran Castle where they can explore hidden tunnels and wander through secret staircases, all while learning about the history of the 14th century fortress and its significance to Bram Stoker’s 1987 novel. The vampires are fictional but the fun isn’t, as costume parties attended by more than a thousand revelers are held here every Halloween night. 3. HUNGRY GHOST FESTIVAL, HONG KONG On the seventh month of the Lunar Calendar, the Gates of Hell open in Hong Kong and allow spirits to roam free to haunt the living. Two weeks of lumbering around and visiting their families have made these restless spirits ravenous, so on the 15th day of the lunar month, members of the Chiu Chow community do their best to appease them by offering fruit, meat, and pastries. Hell money and paper goods are burned for spirits to use in the afterlife, while lanterns and candles are lit to help the deceased find their way back to spiritual world — and this is when the Hungry Ghost Festival begins. Although spooky for the uninitiated, the festival is a time for families to reconnect with the dearly departed and an opportunity to make amends for offenses committed against them. 4. KAWASAKI HALLOWEEN PARADE, JAPAN Trust in Japan to go all out on a costume party. Flocked by over 4,000 festival goers who are all decked from head to toe in outrageous costumes, the Kawasaki Halloween Parade held in Tokyo every October 28 is the biggest festivity of its kind in the country. This large-scale costume parade draws 130,000 spectators from around the world and features wacky parade floats and performances from DJs and musicians. First-timers who want to take part in the festivities should know that this isn't their run-of-the-mill costume party. In true Japanese fashion, costumes are taken very seriously with most clad in larger-than-life costumes, theatrical face paint, and prosthetics. To participate in the main parade, you must have a costume ready, fill out an application form, and pay about USD 10. 5. FASTELAVN, DENMARK Often touted as a cross between Halloween and a carnival, the Fastelavn celebrated in Denmark is a yearly tradition enjoyed by children every February. During the festivities, children wear costumes and go door to door for candy and delicious cream-filled buns called 'fastelavnsboller'. Akin to the Mexican piñata, children’s parties often include a parlor game called 'slå katten af tønden', or 'whacking the cat out of the barrel', where children take turns whacking a barrel decorated with images of black cats. Dive into the past and you'll discover that today's benign Fastelavn is rooted from darker and more heinous origins. Historically, Danes would put a live cat in the barrel, and the beating of the barrel and the cat was a practice done to ward off evil spirits. Today, however, the cat is cardboard and the barrel is filled with sweets. Whew! 6. AWURU ODO FESTIVAL, NIGERIA Nigeria’s Northern Igbo believe that every two years, a massive return of the dead occurs where the dearly departed spend up to six months communing with the living. During the festivities, the spirits are welcomed back into the world with feasts and drinking, summoned into their former homes, and sent off with an emotional departure that involves a theatrical Odo masquerade. To bid the spirits goodbye, masked actors reenact the excitement of their visit and the profound grief of their departure. 7. WALPURGIS NIGHT, GERMANY With dark origins of devil worship, witches, and pagan sacrifices, today’s Walpurgis in Germany held every April 30 is a family-friendly event where kids are more than welcome to attend. As opposed to the traditional practice of honoring the dead in most Halloween-like traditions, Walpurgis Night in Thale commemorates the folkloric get-together of witches as they fly in atop their broomsticks to the highest peak of the Harz Mountains. Celebrated all throughout the Harz region in around 20 festival locations, the all-day event includes costume parades, bonfires, bands, comedic performances, and streets flanked on all sides with food and crafts stalls. 8. CORREFOCS, SPAIN It might be frightening for the uninitiated to be a part of a Correfocs in Spain, but for the locals in Catalan, it’s a commonplace event that’s held to commemorate just about anything. A popular inclusion to holidays and public celebrations, the festivity is one big pyrotechnic party that involves blasting fireworks among crowds of spectators. Though it may sound dangerous, participants are geared for the occasion and injuries happen rarely. The Correfocs dates its origins back to the medieval practice of Ball de Diables (Devil’s Dances) — a theatrical performance where actors masqueraded as devils and recreated the battle between Good and Evil. 9. SAMHAIN FESTIVAL, IRELAND & SCOTLAND Millions celebrate Halloween around the world, but only a few know of its Celtic roots. Held every October 31 in Ireland and Scotland, the Samhain festival (Samhuinn in Scotland) found its origins 2,000 years ago as it marked the middle ground between summer and winter when the division between our world and the spirit world is at its thinnest. During this time, the living would summon their deceased ancestors while hiding from evil spirits by wearing masks and costumes. Today, these practices are carried over to the Halloween we now know, albeit more Christianized and child-friendly. The Samhuinn Fire Festival in Scotland commemorates this day with costumed parades, fire-dancing, wild drumming, and acrobatics. From grim and ghastly to fun and festive, it’s no surprise that different cultures have different ways of celebrating life after death and connecting with the dearly departed. There’s a common truth that spans nationalities and languages — the more we embrace death as a part of the human experience, the more we appreciate life as we live it. Source: Global Celebrations Like Halloween | Halloween-Like Celebrations Around the World
  15. What's the Word: HYPONYM pronunciation: [HAHY-pə-nim] Part of speech: noun Origin: Greek, 20th century Meaning: 1. A word of more specific meaning than a general or superordinate term applicable to it. For example, “spoon” is a hyponym of “cutlery.”. Example: "Human being” is a hyponym of many things, including “animal,” “earthling,” and “primate." "Tabby,” “tortoise-shell,” and “Siamese” are three of the many hyponyms of the word “cat." About Hyponym “Hyponym” was formed by combining two ancient Greek terms: “ὑπό” (“hupó,” meaning “under”) and “ὄνυμα” (“ónuma,” meaning “appellation”). Did You Know? A “hyponym” is a complicated idea: It describes a thing that is a subgrouping or sub-class of another greater thing. For example, “man,” “woman,” and “child” are all hyponyms of “person,” and “person” is a hyponym of “animal” and “primate.” In order for something to be a hyponym, it must belong to a more specific group than the larger group described by the original term. “Baseball player” is a hyponym of “professional athlete,” while “pitcher,” “catcher,” “fielder,” and “batter” are all hyponyms of “baseball player.”
  16. Fact of the Day - FRANKENSTEIN Did you know... A volcanic explosion caused a “year without a summer” in 1816 — and inspired “Frankenstein.” Difficult times can lead to great art. Case in point: the volcanic explosion that caused a “year without a summer” in 1816 — and inspired the novel Frankenstein. The eruption took place at Indonesia’s Mount Tambora, many thousands of miles away from author Mary Shelley’s home in England. In addition to a harrowing death toll, the April 1815 explosion ejected mass amounts of sulphur dioxide, ash, and dust into the atmosphere, blocking sunlight and plunging the global temperature several degrees lower, resulting in the coldest year in well over two centuries. In part because of the volcano, Europe and North America were subjected to unusually cold, wet conditions the following summer, including a “killing frost” in New England and heavy rainfall that may have contributed to Napoleon’s infamous defeat at Waterloo. So what does that have to do with Shelley’s masterpiece? Then 18 and still going by her maiden name of Godwin, she and her lover/future husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, traveled to Lake Geneva in April 1816, a time of extremely gloomy weather. One fateful night that July, the two were with their friend Lord Byron, the infamous poet, when he suggested, “We will each write a ghost story.” Shelley completed hers in just a few days, writing in the introduction to Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus that “a wet, ungenial summer, and incessant rain often confined us for days to the house.” Who knows: If it had been bright and sunny that week, we might never have gotten the endlessly influential 1818 book, which later spawned an assortment of movies, TV shows, plays — and of course, iconic Halloween costumes. Shelley claimed the idea for Frankenstein came to her in a waking dream. After agreeing to Lord Byron’s ghostly prompt, Shelley initially struggled to come up with an idea for her tale. “I busied myself to think of a story,” she later wrote. “‘Have you thought of a story?’ I was asked each morning, and each morning I was forced to reply with a mortifying negative.” The idea eventually came to her one sleepless night, when her “imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided [her].” She then saw “the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.” Two years later, her book was published, and Mary Shelley would eventually be hailed as the foremother of science fiction. (Interesting Facts) Surprising Facts About Mary Shelley's Frankenstein By Joy Lanzendorfer | August 30, 2018 | Updated: October 12, 2021 Frankenstein, the story of a mad scientist who brings the dead back to life, only to discover that he has created a monster, continues to be one of our lasting horror stories. Here are the nuts and bolts about the 200-year-old tale that forever touched on our fears about what can go wrong when people play God. 1. Frankenstein was written by a teenager. Mary Shelley’s teenage years were eventful, to say the least. At age 16, she ran away with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Over the next two years, she gave birth to two children. In 1816, the couple traveled to Switzerland and visited Lord Byron at Villa Diodati. While there, 18-year-old Mary started Frankenstein. It was published in 1818, when she was 20 years old. 2. The novel came out of a ghost story competition. The Shelleys visited Switzerland during the “year without a summer.” The eruption of Mount Tambora in modern Indonesia had caused severe climate abnormalities and a lot of rain. Stuck inside, the group read ghost stories from the book Fantasmagoriana. It was then that Lord Byron proposed that they have a competition to see who could come up with the best ghost story: Byron, Mary, Percy, or the physician John Polidori. In the end, neither Byron nor Percy finished a ghost story, although Polidori later wrote The Vampyre—which influences vampire stories to this day—based on Byron's offering. 3. Mary Shelley said she got the idea from a dream. At first, Mary had writer’s block, unable to come up with a good idea for a ghost story. Then she had a waking dream—“I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think,” she said. In the introduction to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein [PDF], she described the vision as follows: “I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life. … He sleeps; but he is awakened; he opens his eyes; behold, the horrid thing stands at his bedside, opening his curtains, and looking on him with yellow, watery, but speculative eyes.” Mary opened her eyes and realized she’d found her story. “What terrified me will terrify others,” she thought. She began working on it the next day. 4. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein in the shadow of tragedy. Before she started Frankenstein, Mary gave birth to a daughter, who died just days later. (In fact, only one of Mary’s four children lived to adulthood.) Soon after the baby died, she wrote in her journal, “Dream that my little baby came to life again—that it had only been cold & that we rubbed it by the fire & it lived—I awake & find no baby—I think about the little thing all day.” This circumstance, as well as the suicide of her half-sister, must have contributed to the novel. 5. Frankenstein was the name of the scientist, not the monster. In the novel, Victor Frankenstein is the scientist. The monster remains unnamed and is referred to as "monster," "creature," "dæmon," and "it." But if you’ve made the mistake of calling the monster Frankenstein, you’re not alone. As early as 1890 The Scots Observer complained that Frankenstein “presented the common pressman with one of his most beloved blunders”—confusing the two. 6. The novel shares its name with a castle. Mary made up the name Frankenstein. However, Frankenstein is a German name that means Stone of the Franks. What’s more, historian Radu Florescu claimed that the Shelleys visited Castle Frankenstein on a journey up the Rhine River. While there, they must have learned about an unbalanced alchemist named Konrad Dippel, who used to live in the castle. He was trying to create an elixir, called Dippel's Oil, which would make people live for over a hundred years. Like Victor Frankenstein, Dippel was rumored to dig up graves and experiment on the bodies. Not all historians are convinced there’s a link, however, pointing out that there’s no indication Frankenstein had a castle in the novel, and that Shelley never mentioned visiting the castle herself in any of her writing about her trip up the Rhine. 7. Many thought Percy Shelley wrote Frankenstein. Frankenstein was first published anonymously. It was dedicated to William Godwin, Mary’s father, and Percy Shelley wrote the preface. Because of these connections, many assumed that Percy Shelley was the author. This myth continued even after Frankenstein was reprinted in Mary’s name. In fact, some people are still arguing that Percy authored the book. While he edited the book and encouraged Mary to expand the story into a novel, actual authorship is a stretch. 8. Frankenstein was originally slammed by critics. When Frankenstein came out in 1818, many critics bashed it. “What a tissue of horrible and disgusting absurdity this work presents,” John Croker, of the Quarterly Review, wrote. But gothic novels were all the rage, and Frankenstein soon gained readers. In 1823, a play titled "Presumption; or The Fate of Frankenstein" cemented the story’s popularity. In 1831, a new version of the book was published, this time under Mary’s name. 9. Frankenstein is widely considered the first science fiction novel. With Frankenstein, Shelley was writing the first major science fiction novel, as well as inventing the concept of the “mad scientist” and helping establish what would become horror fiction. The influence of the book in popular culture is so huge that the term Frankenstein has entered common speech to mean something unnatural and horrendous. Mary went on to write other science fiction, such as her short story Roger Dodsworth: The Reanimated Englishman, about a man who has been frozen in ice, and her novel The Last Man, about a survivor in a world destroyed by plague, from the same year. 10. Thomas Edison adapted Frankenstein for film. In 1910, Thomas Edison's studio made a one-reel, 15-minute film of Frankenstein, one of the first horror movies ever made. It was thought lost until it was rediscovered in the 1980s. Watch it above. Source: Facts About Frankenstein | Monstrous Facts About Frankenstein
  17. What's the Word: PALMARY pronunciation: [PAL-mə-ree] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Latin, 17th century Meaning: 1. Worthy of the palm; preeminent; superior. 2. Principal; chief. Example: "Madison’s palmary performance during the spelling bee won her the grand prize." "As a teacher, her palmary role was educational, but she considered the emotional development of her students to be equally important." About Palmary From the Latin “palmarius,” meaning “deserving of the palm.” Did You Know? Today, palms are sometimes associated with prizes, such as the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or and the French Order of the Academic Palms. Fittingly, earlier in history, palm fronds were synonymous with honor. The adjective “palmary” refers to anything worthy of the honor of the palm — that which is palmary is exemplary and superior.
  18. Fact of the Day - MISHEARD LYRICS Did you know... A misheard song lyric is called a “mondegreen.” If you’ve confused “Takin’ Care of Business” with “Makin’ Carrot Biscuits” or “Bennie and the Jets” with “Betty in a Dress,” you’ve been tricked by a mondegreen. As Merriam-Webster explains, this phenomenon occurs when a word or phrase “results from a mishearing of something said or sung.” You can thank American writer Sylvia Wright for the term, which she coined in a 1954 Harper’s essay. When Wright was a child, her mother read to her from the book Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. A favorite entry featured the line, “And laid him on the green,” which Wright misheard as “And Lady Mondegreen.” A mondegreen occurs when there’s a communication hiccup between the syllables you hear and the meaning your brain assigns to them. Mondegreens are especially common when you hear music but cannot see the singer’s face, like when listening to the radio. (For example, when you interpret “Our Lips Are Sealed” as “Alex the Seal.”) They’re also more likely to happen when the singer has an accent. But although mondegreens are perhaps most famously associated with song lyrics, they can also happen when everyday words and phrases are misheard. Occasionally, a misconstrued phrase is so common that it enters our lexicon. Such was the case with “spitting image,” which originated as “spit and image” (“spit” once meant “a perfect likeness”), and “nickname,” which began life as “an ekename” (“also-name”). Bob Dylan claims he wrote “Blowin’ in the Wind” in 10 minutes. The lyrics of one of the most famous songs of the civil rights era allegedly came to Bob Dylan very quickly, while he was sitting at a cafe in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Dylan was partly inspired by Delores Dixon’s rendition of the enslavement-era protest song “No More Auction Block for Me.” Fittingly, Dixon was the lead vocalist of the New World Singers, the first band to record “Blowin’ in the Wind,” in 1962. The following year, Dylan performed the song himself on his sophomore album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan; Peter, Paul and Mary then covered the track in front of 250,000 people at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963. Both Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary’s versions of “Blowin’ in the Wind” are now part of the Grammy Hall of Fame. When some people listen to the song’s opening line — “The answer, my friend” — they hear “The ants are my friends,” a mondegreen that inspired its own book title. (Interesting Facts) The Most Absurd Misheard Lyrics of All Time by KAREN HAYNES | 18 JULY 2022 Picture this: you’re down the front seeing your favourite band with a group of mates. It’s time for your song. You belt the lyrics at the top of your lungs, look around at your bestie for that perfect moment of unity, only to see a confused look in their eye. “You what?” they say. It’s at this moment, you realise, the rest of the crowd is singing something entirely different. Could it be that you’ve had the words wrong this whole time? You’re not alone, friend, but we’re here to help. We’ve rounded up some common, ridiculous and obscure misheard lyrics to avoid looking red-faced at the festival. 1. OASIS – ‘WONDERWALL‘ Here’s hoping that Aunty G had kept her insurance up-to-date. Misheard Lyric: “Back Beat the word is on the street, that there’s a fire in your aunty’s house” Correct Lyric: “Back Beat the word is on the street, that the fire in your heart is out” 2. JASON DERULO – ‘WANT TO WANT ME Poor Jase, he clearly needs some Imodium. Misheard Lyric: “I got the shits on the floor” Correct Lyric: “I got the sheets on the floor” 3. SINÉAD O’ CONNOR – ‘NOTHING COMPARES 2U‘ Who doesn’t want to? A red sarong is de rigeur dinner attire. Misheard Lyric: “I can eat my dinner in a fancy red sarong” Correct Lyric: “I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant” 4. NANCY SINATRA – ‘JACKSON’ The band name is itself a misheard lyric of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Jackson’. The perfect example of owning your mistakes. Misheard Lyric: “We got married in a fever, hotter than a prefab sprout” Correct Lyric: “We got married in a fever, hotter than a peppered sprout” 5. MADONNA – ‘EROTIC‘ Who would have thought that Britain’s favourite twitcher was such a dirty birdy Misheard Lyric: “Bill Oddie, Bill Oddie, put your hands all over my body.” Correct Lyric: “Erotic, erotic, put your hands all over my body.” 6. KINGS OF LEON – ‘SEX ON FIRE‘ From foreplay to word play. This one’s funny on several levels. Misheard Lyric: “Dyslexics on fire” Correct Lyric: “Your sex is on fire” 7. B-52'S – ‘LOVE SHACK‘ Either those are very anti-social party goers or they’ve got one hell of a messy kitty cat! Misheard Lyric: “Litter on the front porch/Litter on the hallway” Correct Lyric: “Glitter on the front porch/glitter on the hallway” 8. PRINCE – ‘PURPLE RAIN‘ One of the many rumours surrounding The Purple One was that he kept his mum in the garden. Misheard Lyrics: “Maybe I’m just like my mother/she’s never sat inside.” Correct Lyrics: “Maybe I’m just like my mother/ She’s never satisfied” Want to know about more songs that have been misheard? Click below Source: Facts About Misheard Lyrics | Interesting Facts About Misheard Lyrics
  19. What's the Word: SPRECHGESANG pronunciation: [SHPREK-guh-zahng] Part of speech: noun Origin: German, 20th century Meaning: 1. A style of dramatic vocalization intermediate between speech and song. Example: "The singer of the opening band didn’t so much sing as engage in sprechgesang, varying between singing and talking over the music." "My father doesn’t care much for sprechgesang, and says he’d prefer singers just sing and not talk." About Sprechgesang “Sprechgesang” is taken from the same word in German, literally meaning “speech song.” Did You Know? While sprechgesang emerged out of the world of German opera, today, it is a style closely associated with pop music. Bob Dylan, whose vocal style runs the gamut from nearly talking to singing melodically, is the figure most closely associated with sprechgesang in the American songbook. In his wake, wry figures such as Lou Reed and the B-52s helped popularize sprechgesang in alternative music. Today, Billie Eilish is the most visible artist to fold sprechgesang into her music, and she uses the style to underline the intimacy and personal content of her lyrics.
  20. Fact of the Day - HIGH FIVE Did you know... Since 2002, the third Thursday of April is recognized as National High Five Day—a 24-hour period for giving familiars and strangers alike as many high fives as humanly possible. A few University of Virginia students invented the day, which has since evolved into a “High 5-A-Thon” that raises money each year for for a good cause. (For 2019, it's CoachArt, a nonprofit organization that engages kids impacted by chronic illness in arts and athletics.) Here are a few more facts about the history of the hand gesture to get you in the high-fiving spirit. ( Jessica Bloustein Marshall | Apr 17, 2019 ) How the High Five Started: A Brief History by Interesting Facts It’s a gesture so innate that we rarely think about it — reaching one hand out with a flat palm and slapping another person’s mirrored hand in joyous celebration. Whether it’s teammates bonding over success at a sporting event, strangers offering their hands out to marathon runners, or families teaching it to their babies — and even dogs! — there’s no doubt that there is a universality to the high five. While it would seem the habit has been ingrained in human DNA for generations, surprisingly, the origins of the action go back less than 50 years, no matter which story you choose to believe. Some say it began with women’s volleyball in the 1960s, while Magic Johnson once claimed that he invented the move. But in 2011, journalist Jon Mooallem did a deep dive into its history, finding out that for a simple tradition, the history is far more complicated. 1. Taking It From High to Low Since at least World War II, the low five had been a part of Black American culture, thought to be a sign of solidarity. During a college basketball practice session at the University of Louisville in the 1978 to 1979 season, forward William Brown reportedly went to slap teammate Derek Smith’s hands low. But Smith said to him, “No, up high,” and Brown obliged. After all, it made sense for this team since they were known for playing above the rim. “I thought, yeah, why are we staying down low? We jump so high," Brown said. And so a tradition was born, often seen in footage of the team on the court that season. “Occasionally, they're jerky, thrusting fives — more like spears thrown perpendicularly at the other guy's torso,” Mooallem wrote. “But they're clearly among the first high fives ever broadcast into American living rooms.” While Smith died in 1995 from a heart condition, Brown says that he wore the badge of honor as the high five’s inventor with pride: “[Smith would] talk about the high five constantly...It was one of those things he was most proud of, right up there with getting his degree, having his kids, and marrying his beautiful wife.” 2. A Symbol of Gay Pride While that is one beautiful origin story to the tradition, the actual tale may go back further — by just one sporting season — to a different kind of ball game. On October 2, 1977, 46,000 baseball fans were screaming at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium — and for good reason. It was the sixth inning of the final game of the regular season and with Dusty Baker’s 30th home run, they had just become the first team in baseball history to have four players with at least 30 homers. (Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, and Reggie Smith rounded out the foursome.) The crowd was going wild, and so was a young outfielder named Glenn Burke. The rookie couldn’t help but go up to Baker at that moment. “His hand was up in the air, and he was arching way back,” Baker remembers. “So I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed like the thing to do.” Even those on the sideline could tell what a momentous occasion it was — with the home run soon being overshadowed by the high five. Sports reporter Lyle Spencer, who covered the Dodgers from 1977 to 1981, said on the ESPN film The High Five, “I know I wrote about it that day — it was such a moment. It was the energy of it, it was just this explosion of emotion.” That was just the beginning of Burke’s legacy with the gesture. Despite a strong record, the young player was traded to the Oakland As in 1978. Though it was never articulated, Baker said in the film that they all knew it was because Burke was gay. At a time when the LGBTQ+ community wasn’t accepted in professional sports, he was often ridiculed — and eventually demoted to the minors, retiring in 1980. Instead, he started playing softball in a local gay league in San Francisco’s Castro district. “He was basically a symbol of what all these guys were showing the rest of America they could be which was masculine and athletic and the high five was really part of that mystique for Glen Burke,” Mooallem said in the film. Burke came out publicly in 1982 in Inside Sports magazine, and in the feature, gay activist Michael J. Smith wrote that the “legacy of two men's hands touching, high above their heads” became a symbol of gay pride. 3. A Fake Story Makes News Both Smith and Burke went to their graves believing that they originated the high five. Yet there’s a third man who also shares the credit. Lamont Sleets had played college basketball at Murray State University from 1979 to 1984 and was credited as the inventor of the high five in a 2007 press release from National High Five Day, celebrated every third Thursday in April. The founders of the holiday, comedy writer Conor Lastowka and Greg Harrell-Edge, said that Sleets’ father served in the Vietnam War in a unit dubbed The Five. So when his former army buddies would visit when Sleets was a kid, they’d hold their palms and say, “Five!” Little Sleets couldn’t remember each of their names, so he would slap their hands and say, “Hi, Five!” — later bringing that tradition with him to the basketball courts. The trouble was Sleets ignored all attempts to verify the story. No one, from Sleets’ old college coach to his high school principal, had concrete answers until Mooallem asked Lastowka and Harrell-Edge an unusual question: Was the story even true? Turns out it wasn’t. They confessed that they had come up with the story as a publicity stunt and pulled a name from a college basketball roster. 4. Cementing Its Place in History As turns out, the high five is as filled with folklore and fairytales as it is with momentous power and elation. It’s woven its way into pop culture with high five-addicted characters in Seinfeld and How I Met Your Mother, but also into hard-hitting headlines, like the New York Times March 2020 story, “In Coronavirus Outbreak, the High-Five Is Left Hanging.” While the future of the high five remains yet to be seen — they were even specifically banned from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics — one thing’s for sure, the instinct to share that energy and excitement with another human will never be replicated in any other way. Source: A Brief History of the High Five | Facts About the History of High Five
  21. What's the Word: FABULATION pronunciation: [fab-yə-LEY-shən] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin, 18th century Meaning: 1. The act or result of fabulating; a fabrication. 2. (literary criticism) A style of modern fiction, similar to magical realism and postmodernism. Example: "My grandson came home from school full of wild tales of kindergarten adventures I suspected were fabulations." "The fantasy movie presented an image of modern-day Athens that was pure fabulation." About Fabulation “Fabulation” is based on the Latin “fābula,” meaning “narrative,” and the Latin verb “fābulor,” meaning “to talk” or “to create a story.” Did You Know? “Fabulation” describes the action of “fabulating,” a verb associated with creating fables. (Both “fabulation” and “fable” share the Latin root “fābula.”) As a result, “fabulation” has always referred to the telling or creating of mythical or fictional stories, though over time the term began to refer to any invented story — including stories told as lies. In modern language, “fabulation” is a loaded term: It can be used to accuse the storyteller of inventing stories without a basis in fact in the same way as it can be used to describe a children’s story full of magic and imaginary creatures.
  22. Fact of the Day - POPULAR IDIOMS Can't Hold a Candle Did you know.... Most common sayings and expressions have unclear origins, but we can look back to the furthest recorded evidence of them to get an idea of when and where they came from. (Jeremy Hayes | November 17, 2021) The Origin Stories Behind 8 Popular Idioms by Interesting Facts Idioms are short phrases that often make no literal sense but are nonetheless usually understood by the native speakers of a language. They can be quirky, playful, and sometimes even strange, but the most charming thing about them is their specificity of culture — like an inside joke shared by millions. Someone still learning English might be baffled to hear that they’d been “let off the hook,” though almost anyone raised in an English-speaking community would understand the meaning. Over time, the original context of the phrase is usually lost, but the words find new meaning in their idiomatic form. Take, for instance, being let off the hook. Dating back to the 18th century, the phrase evokes the image of a worm on the end of a fishing line. If it can wiggle itself off the hook, it can avoid being eaten by a fish. Likewise, a child caught stealing a cookie might beg and plead themselves out of being reprimanded, thereby getting themselves off the hook. Here are the little-known origin stories behind eight other common English idioms. 1. “Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve” To wear your heart on your sleeve is to be honest and open about your feelings. The phrase is generally believed to have originated in the Middle Ages. It was the custom then for jousting knights to wear some sort of insignia on their arm that indicated the ladies for whom they were hoping to triumph, thus proclaiming their love to the world. 2. “Pardon My French” In England, in the early 1800s, people would “beg pardon” for using French words in conversation. Forgiveness was requested in these instances because most people did not speak French, and furthermore, the Napoleonic Wars had left a residue of animosity between the two countries. By the mid-1800s the phrase had evolved to refer to swear words specifically. It’s worth noting that the Cambridge dictionary defines the idiom as something to be said when pretending to be sorry for offensive language. 3. “The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread” In 1928, when inventor Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport, Iowa, first released his bread loaf-slicing invention, the advertisement claimed it was “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped.” Riffing on the theme, customers began to compare all later inventions to his, and the modern idiom evolved from there. 4. “With Flying Colors” This idiom dates back to the Age of Exploration, the period when European explorers first set off across the seas. If a captain had been successful in his venture, he would order the crew to fly their country’s flag (or “colors”) to announce their victory before arriving back at the home port. Originally, the phrase “with flying colors” simply meant that a mission had been completed without disaster, but over the centuries the idiom came to signify great success. 5. “Apple of My Eye” To be the apple of someone’s eye is to be their most adored companion, but what exactly is an eye apple? This idiom is one of the oldest in the English language, traced back to the ninth century. Back then, it was assumed that the pupil of the eye was a round, solid object, and it was often compared to an apple, as apples were a commonly known round object. The delicate nature of sight (and its tendency to fade with age) made vision precious and over the years the phrase “apple of my eye” came to be used in reference to anything or anyone a person held dear. 6. “Head Over Heels” If one stops to think about it, being “head over heels” is actually how most humans spend their days. So how did this common, everyday state of being come to signify romance? In the 1300s, the phrase “head over heels” was used more literally to describe someone tumbling through a handstand or cartwheel, but by the 1800s writers had begun to use the phrase idiomatically to describe someone who had fallen hopelessly in love. 7. “Buttering Up” To butter someone up is to beguile them, or to lavish them with praise to get what you want. The idiom evolved from the very literal buttering that takes place as part of the Hindu tradition of throwing balls of clarified butter (called ghee) at the statues of deities. In exchange for the offering, it was thought that buttered-up gods would reward the faithful with a good harvest. 8. “Cutting the Mustard” There is much speculation regarding the origin of this idiom, but the most reputable sources trace its usage from the late 1600s when the phrase “keen as mustard” was used to describe someone of high standards. Combined with “cutting,” which is often used in place of “exhibiting” (think: cutting a fine figure), and you get the modern, idiomatic equivalent of “exhibiting high standards.” Source: Weird Origins of Sayings | Facts About the Origin of Idioms
  23. What's the Word: EVENTUATE pronunciation: [ih-VEN-choo-eyt] Part of speech: verb Origin: Latin, 17th century Meaning: 1. Occur as a result. 2. (Eventuate in) lead to as a result. Example: "The arrival of many new guests to the party eventuated a second trip to the supermarket for more drinks and snacks." "A quick review of study skills ahead of midterms can eventuate in better grades for students." About Eventuate “Eventuate,” in the sense of “bring about,” is formed from “event,” styled off the pattern of “actuate.” “Event” comes from the Latin “eventus,” from “evenire,” or “result, happen.” Did You Know? “Eventuate” is a verb indicating actions that become necessary or inevitable as a result of other things occurring. Generally speaking, no one plans to eventuate an action. Instead, they may plan other actions and recognize those actions will eventuate further outcomes. For example, a school district that plans to admit more students knows that will eventuate in changes to both classroom sizes and cafeteria demands. As a result, aiming for one goal often requires planners to consider which other things will be eventuated as they achieve that goal, and planning for those outcomes as well.
  24. Fact of the Day - BRAM STOKER Did you know... Bram Stoker never visited Transylvania. If you know anything about Transylvania, it’s probably that Dracula calls it home. Yet the author of Dracula, Irish writer Bram Stoker, never even visited Romania’s spookiest region. The town of Whitby, England — home to a 13th-century monastery called Whitby Abbey, which is surrounded by gravestones and has been in ruins for hundreds of years — was actually the most direct influence on the setting of the 1897 vampire novel. Stoker spent four weeks in Whitby between July and August of 1890, a visit that helped inspire his depiction of Dracula’s lair. So why not simply have the world’s most famous vampire live in Whitby? Well, Stoker called Transylvania “one of the wildest and least known portions of Europe” in the book’s first chapter, an evocative description based on his research into the area and 19th-century travel literature. Dracula himself was also partly inspired by Romanian superstitions and Vlad III, whom history often remembers by a more colorful name: Vlad the Impaler. The son of Vlad Dracul, he may have been born in Transylvania, eventually became Voivode (ruler) of Wallachia (a region of Romania), and more than earned his nickname by impaling perhaps hundreds of enemies. Considering he was born in the 15th century, it’s almost surprising it took so long for someone to base a character like Dracula on him. Sunlight isn’t fatal to Dracula in the novel. Nor was it fatal to any other vampire for a full 25 years after Dracula was published. The trope was actually invented in the 1922 German movie Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, director F.W. Murnau’s unofficial adaptation of Stoker’s novel. Widely considered one of the best, most influential horror films ever made, the German expressionist masterwork almost passed out of existence immediately after its release. Stoker’s estate sued over it in Germany, reportedly leading to a court ordering all copies of the film to be destroyed. Fortunately, enough prints survived for it to eventually achieve its current reputation as a vampiric classic almost on the same level as Dracula itself. (Interesting Facts) Enlightening Facts About Bram Stoker by Brigit Katz | Sep 11, 2021 Bram Stoker, author of the Gothic masterpiece Dracula, created one of literature’s most iconic characters: a blood-slurping, shape-shifting, garlic-hating vampire, who dwells in a spooky Transylvanian castle and infuses his victims with the curse of the undead. Since the novel’s publication in 1897, an exuberant vampire subculture has swooped around the world, with Stoker’s creepy count inspiring everything from movies to ballets to breakfast cereals. It is quite possible that Stoker would have been surprised by Dracula’s tremendous popularity. He played many roles over the course of his lifetime—athlete, journalist, civil servant, fiction writer—but was best known in his day as the business manager of a famous stage actor. Here are 11 enlightening facts about the man behind the modern vampire legend. 1. Bram Stoker was a sickly child. Abraham (“Bram”) Stoker was born in 1847 in Clontarf, a coastal suburb of Dublin, Ireland. He was the third of seven children and his family was comfortably middle-class. But Stoker had a challenging start to life. Stricken by a severe, yet unexplained, illness, he was confined to bed during the early years of his childhood. “[T]ill I was about 7 years old,” the author later wrote, “I never knew what it was to stand upright.” 2. Bram Stoker became a star college athlete. Despite his mysterious childhood malady, Stoker grew to become a tall and robust young adult. He enrolled in Trinity College Dublin in 1864, and while he was just an average student, he excelled at a busy roster of extracurricular activities—particularly athletic ones. Stoker joined the college’s rugby team and participated in high and long jumping, gymnastics, trapeze, and rowing, among other pursuits. He won prizes for weight lifting and endurance walking, and was crowned “Dublin University Athletic Sports Champion” in 1867. Looking back on his university days, Stoker recalled being “physically immensely strong.” 3. While at university, Bram Stoker worked in Dublin Castle. Stoker entered the civil service while he was still a student at Trinity College. He landed a job at Dublin Castle, following in the footsteps of his father, who worked in the historic building as a clerk in the British administration. Stoker was eventually promoted to become Inspector of Petty Sessions, giving him oversight of magistrates’ courts. His first published book was in fact a manual for civil servants titled The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland. By Stoker’s own admission, the book was as “dry as dust.” 4. Bram Stoker was a manager for a famous actor. During his civil servant years, Stoker began moonlighting as an unpaid theater critic for the Dublin Evening Mail. A fan of the theater, Stoker had been dismayed with the drama coverage in Dublin newspapers, which often assigned reviews to staff reporters with no theater expertise. He offered his services to the owner of the Mail, and when he was told that there was no money for new critics, he volunteered to write his reviews for free. It was through this role that Stoker met his thespian idol, the formidable Victorian actor Sir Henry Irving, marking the start of one of the most important relationships in the author’s life. “Soul had looked into soul!” Stoker wrote of their first encounter. “From that hour began a friendship as profound, as close, as lasting as can be between two men.” Impressed by Stoker’s business sense—and flattered by his admiration—Irving invited Stoker to work as his manager. It was an all-consuming job: Stoker organized Irving’s tours abroad, co-hosted his dinner parties, and answered his letters—more than half a million of them, by Stoker’s estimation. He also oversaw the operations of Irving’s London theater, the Lyceum. Though Stoker enjoyed modest success as an author during his lifetime, he was primarily known as Irving’s right-hand man. Upon Stoker’s death in 1912, The New York Times attributed “much of Irving’s success” to him. 5. It took Bram Stoker seven years to write Dracula. Stoker reportedly liked to say that the vision for his iconic bloodsucker came to him in a nightmare, following “a too-generous helping of dressed crab at supper.” While the author’s notes suggest that some elements of the plot may have indeed originated from a dream, he also consulted a wide range of sources while preparing to write Dracula—from books on legends and superstitions, to natural history texts, to travelogues. A holiday in the seaside resort of Whitby provided color for his character’s backstory. (He never visited Transylvania, the historic Romanian region where Dracula famously resides.) Stoker ultimately spent seven years researching and writing his novel, struggling through “the overload of his own imaginative clutter” and crises of confidence in the narrative, according to biographer David J. Skal. “He had second, even third thoughts about almost everything,” Skal writes. “In the end, he wondered if the book would even be remembered.” 6. Dracula was almost named “Count Wampyr.” Stoker’s notes for Dracula reveal that he originally planned to give his dastardly vampire a rather on-the-nose name: “Count Wampyr.” But he seems to have changed his mind after reading An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, a survey of two Romanian provinces. Stoker borrowed the book from a public library in the summer of 1890 and copied a telling footnote into his papers, adding his own capitalizations for emphasis: "DRACULA in Wallachian language means DEVIL." At some point, Stoker went back to his notes and, in various places, crossed out “Wampyr” and wrote in “Dracula.” The new name appears to have made an impression on Stoker’s editor, too; the author titled his novel The Un-dead, but an editor changed it to Dracula before the book’s publication. 7. Bram Stoker staged a theatrical adaptation of Dracula before the novel was released. On May 18, 1897—eight days before Dracula was published—an adaptation of the novel was staged at the Lyceum Theater. It was a slapdash affair. All plays intended for public performance had to be submitted to the Lord Chamberlain’s Office for licensing, so Stoker had quickly put together a script in order to retain the dramatic rights to Dracula. Advertisements for the performance, which was more of a dramatic reading than a play, were put up just half an hour before the show was due to begin. Only two paying customers were in the audience—perhaps for the best, since the adaptation comprised “over 40 scenes in total, and would probably have taken a numbing six hours to read,” according to the British Library. The Count did not appear on stage again until 1924, when the Irish actor Hamilton Deane premiered his dramatic version of Dracula, adapted with the permission of Stoker’s widow. The show was a smash hit, and became even more popular when it made its debut in America, featuring a script revision by John L. Balderston and starring Bela Lugosi as Dracula. Stoker’s Gothic tale, which had sold moderately after its release as a novel, had become a cultural sensation. 8. Bram Stoker sent fan mail to Walt Whitman. Stoker first encountered Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman’s poetic opus, as a student at Trinity College. The work was controversial—for its overt sensuality and experimental style, among other things—but it deeply moved Stoker. In 1872, he wrote Whitman an effusive letter that ran nearly 2000 words, thanking the poet for his work and expressing the hope that the two could become friends. “If I were before your face I would like to shake hands with you,” Stoker confessed, “for I feel that I would like you.” It took him four years to muster the courage to send the letter to Whitman—and several weeks later, he received a letter in return. “You did well to write me so unconventionally, so fresh, so manly, and so affectionately, too,” the poet assured Stoker. “I too hope (though it is not probable) that we shall one day meet each other.” But Stoker and Whitman did meet—three times, in fact, thanks to Stoker’s travels to the United States with Henry Irving and the Lyceum Theater. Their conversations meandered over a range of subjects, from poetry to the theater to Abraham Lincoln, whom both men admired. “I found [Whitman] all that I had ever dreamed of,” Stoker recalled. And when Whitman died in 1892, he left Stoker a gift: the original notes to a lecture on Lincoln that the poet delivered in Philadelphia in 1886. 9. Bram Stoker also wrote a novel about a malevolent worm. Though he is best remembered as the author of Dracula, Stoker wrote numerous short stories and 12 novels over the course of his literary career. His fiction ranges in genre from adventure, to romance, to horror—but only one of his works, a novel called The Lair of the White Worm, claims the distinction of being, in the words of one critic, “one of the barmiest books ever written.” The narrative features a monstrous creepy-crawly, a kite-obsessed mesmerist, and numerous mongooses, among other oddities. Modern readers have criticized The Lair of the White Worm for being flagrantly racist, sexist, and just generally very bad. Published in 1911, it was Stoker’s last novel, written at a time when he was in poor health. Some have questioned whether the novel’s “unhinged nature” was a product of mental decline caused by syphilis—but despite much speculation on the matter, there is no definitive evidence that Stoker ever contracted the sexually transmitted disease. 10. Bram Stoker faced financial difficulties at the end of his life. Stoker’s later years were marked by illness and financial hardship. He suffered from kidney disease, and in 1906, he had a paralytic stroke that left him with lingering vision problems. Henry Irving had died the previous year, and with his long-time employer gone, Stoker turned to various other sources of income; he managed a West End musical production, worked as a journalist, and continued to write fiction. But these ventures did not bring in much money, and his health continued to decline. In 1911, he appealed to the Royal Literary Fund for financial help, explaining that he had suffered a recent “breakdown from overwork” and did not know if he would be able to “do much, or any, literary work” in the future. But the author did not live much longer; he died on April 20, 1912, at the age of 64. 11. Bram Stoker’s obituaries scarcely mentioned Dracula. Now one of the most famous novels in the English language, Dracula barely warranted a mention in Stoker’s obituaries, which focused instead on his professional relationship with Henry Irving. The New York Times opined that Stoker’s “stories, though they were queer, were not of a memorable quality,” while The Times in London predicted that his biography of Irving would be his “chief literary memorial”—only briefly noting that Stoker was also a “master of a particularly lurid and creepy kind of fiction.” Source: Facts About Bram Stoker | Facts About Author Bram Stoker
  25. What's the Word: ALLOCUTION pronunciation: [al-ə-KYOO-shən] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin, 17th century Meaning: 1. A formal speech giving advice or a warning. Example: "Before I left for college, my father sat me down for an allocution full of advice from his own student days." "After several practical jokes disrupted school events, the principal gave an allocution cautioning against future student pranks." About Allocution From the Latin allocutio(n-), from alloqui, (speak to). Did You Know? “Allocution,” meaning a formal address sometimes taking the form of an instructive lecture, is easily confused with its homophone “elocution.” The spoken words sound very similar, though they bear no similarity in definition, as “elocution” refers not to a formal speech but rather to the ability to express one’s self with practiced skill in public speaking. The difference between the two words is clear in their roots: “Elocution” is based on the Latin “ēlocūtiō,” meaning “oratorical delivery,” while “allocution” is from the Latin “allocūtiō,” meaning “address.” In modern English, “allocution” is the rarer of the two words, while “elocution” is still used to denote a speaker’s ability.
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