Michelangelo’s Illustrated Grocery List
when Michelangelo scrawled, he scrawled with both a craftsman’s practical precision and an artist’s evocative flair. “Because the servant he was sending to market was illiterate,” writes the Oregonian‘s Steve Duin in a review of a Seattle Art Museum show, “Michelangelo illustrated the shopping lists — a herring, tortelli, two fennel soups, four anchovies and ‘a small quarter of a rough wine’ — with rushed (and all the more exquisite for it) caricatures in pen and ink.”
Found on Open Culture.
The Practice of tsundoku!
Many readers buy books with every intention of reading them only to let them linger on the shelf.
Statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb believes surrounding ourselves with unread books enriches our lives as they remind us of all we don't know.
The Japanese call this practice tsundoku, and it may provide lasting benefits.
tsundoku. Tsundoku is the Japanese word for the stack(s) of books you’ve purchased but haven’t read. Its morphology combines tsunde-oku (letting things pile up) and dokusho (reading books).
The word originated in the late 19th century as a satirical jab at teachers who owned books but didn’t read them. While that is opposite of Taleb’s point, today the word carries no stigma in Japanese culture. It’s also differs from bibliomania, which is the obsessive collecting of books for the sake of the collection, not their eventual reading.
THE VALUE OF TSUNDOKU
Granted, I’m sure there is some braggadocious bibliomaniac out there who owns a collection comparable to a small national library, yet rarely cracks a cover. Even so, studies have shown that book ownership and reading typically go hand in hand to great effect.
One such study found that children who grew up in homes with between 80 and 350 books showed improved literacy, numeracy, and information communication technology skills as adults. Exposure to books, the researchers suggested, boosts these cognitive abilities by making reading a part of life’s routines and practices.
Many other studies have shown reading habits relay a bevy of benefits. They suggest reading can reduce stress, satisfy social connection needs, bolster social skills and empathy, and boost certain cognitive skills. And that’s just fiction! Reading nonfiction is correlated with success and high achievement, helps us better understand ourselves and the world, and gives you the edge come trivia night.
In her article, Jessica Stillman ponders whether the antilibrary acts as a counter to the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias that leads ignorant people to assume their knowledge or abilities are more proficient than they truly are. Since people are not prone to enjoying reminders of their ignorance, their unread books push them toward, if not mastery, then at least a ever-expanding understanding of competence.
“All those books you haven’t read are indeed a sign of your ignorance. But if you know how ignorant you are, you’re way ahead of the vast majority of other people,” Stillman writes.
Whether you prefer the term antilibrary, tsundoku, or something else entirely, the value of an unread book is its power to get you to read it.
“Mary Anne chose to pass into the eternal love of God”
Born and raised in Virginia—often a swing state, we might add—Mary Anne Alfriend Noland, a wife, mother, grandmother and 1970 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Nursing, up and died just six months before the 2016 presidential election, timing her obituary references as an extreme aversion to the choice of candidates.
And just in case this sounds maybe a little too much like poetic justice to be an actual obit, please know that Mrs. Noland’s obituary has passed the Snopes test and been deemed legit.
“If someone wants to contact me, that would be nice”
Clearly, Mrs. Mary “Pink” Mullaney was a giver of reliably pithy life advice, because when the widow died in 2013, one (or more) of her many loved ones crafted an obituary for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal that featured what we can only guess to be a mere handful of Pink’s chestnuts.
In addition to the above-quoted message-in-a-bottle-style advice, Mullaney had a suggestion for dealing with uninvited critters trespassing in your out-buildings: “If a possum takes up residence in your shed, grab a barbecue brush to coax him out. If he doesn’t leave, brush him for 20 minutes and let him stay.”
As for why you might be craving a chicken sandwich after church, it might be because Pink advised her loved ones to bring one to Sunday service and give it to a “homeless friend” after mass.
“Tell them that check is in the mail”
“Waffle House lost a loyal customer on April 30, 2013” begins the New York Times obituary of Antonia “Toni” Larroux of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. And it only gets more amusing from there. Larroux’s children from her marriage to Jean F. Larroux Jr., Jean Larroux III and Hayden Hoffman, decided to honor their mother with an obituary that reads like a standup comedian’s tight-five.
“The family started to write a normal obit,” Larroux III told HuffPost, before realizing that their mom wouldn’t want it that way. Some of the obituary’s greatest hits include a suggestion that Larroux III and Hoffman might be illegitimate (we assume from the context that folks had been speculating for years) and a spoiler alert to the effect that Toni and her sisters were not, in fact, natural blondes.
“Your father is a very sick man”
When Connecticut native Joe Heller, a chemist and former Yale Law School librarian, died in 2019 at the age of 82, he left behind a legacy of humor—literally, in the form of three witty daughters. They begin their dad’s Hartford Courant obituary as follows: “Joe Heller made his last undignified and largely irreverent gesture on September 8, 2019, signing off on a life, in his words, ‘generally well-lived and with few regrets.'” They go on to say, “When the doctors confronted his daughters with the news last week that ‘Your father is a very sick man,’ in unison they replied, ‘You have no idea.'”
He was a lifelong prankster, according to the obit, and when Heller was born “God thankfully broke the mold.”
“She loved [her family] more than anything else in the world, except …”
Jan Lois Lynch of Boston was a single mother who loved her family, including her four sons and eight grandkids—albeit maybe not quite as much as some of life’s other pleasures. When she died in 2018 at age 75, her loved ones authored this good-hearted Courier Press obituary, specifying exactly what those other pleasures were, and we quote: “the New England Patriots, the Boston Red Sox, Tom Brady, cold Budweiser, room temperature Budweiser, cigarettes, dogs, mopeds, clam chowder, boating, fishing, Florida, the Atlantic Ocean, grouper sandwiches, adventures, road trips, the beach, Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, fall foliage, airplane food, ingrown toenails, the O.J. chase and the O.J. trial—in that exact order.”
Weird History: The Megalodon, A Prehistoric Giant Shark That Ruled the Seven Seas
'Guard' Dog Follows Kids To The Park — And Has As Much Fun As They Do
The clip, believed to have been shared originally by Facebook user Reed Esme, contains a hint as to their relationship:
“[My husband said] bring the dog to look after the kids,” the caption reads.
A Blast From Hollywood's Past …
U.S. In 1925, a sled dog named Balto helped carry life-saving medicine through blizzards. A new DNA study reveals what made him so tough.
New York's Central Park has a statue dedicated to him, and there's even been a movie about him: a sled dog named Balto. Now he is the focus of a DNA study, 90 years after he died, to see what made the canine so famously tough.
In 1925, this Siberian husky was part of an expedition in Alaska called the serum run, the goal of which was to bring life-saving medicine to young people in the remote town of Nome that were threatened by diphtheria.
The mission in horrendous blizzards conditions involved a series of sled dog teams transporting the anti-toxin relay-style from the city of Anchorage -- a more than 600-mile-long trek.
Though more than 150 dogs in all took part in the record-breaking run, it was Balto who led the final 53-mile stretch, and wound up getting most of the glory. He went on to tour the country, a bona fide celebrity.
After Balto's death in 1933, his remains were preserved and put on display at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
"Balto's fame and the fact that he was taxidermied gave us this cool opportunity 100 years later to see what that population of sled dogs would have looked like genetically and to compare him to modern dogs," said Katherine Moon, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the main author of the study.
It was published here in the journal Science.
Her team took skin samples from the dog's belly and reconstructed its genome -- the complete set of genes in an organism.
They compared this genetic material with that of 680 contemporary dogs from 135 breeds.
Contrary to a legend that held that Balto was half wolf -- as suggested in an animated Universal Pictures film that came out in 1995 -- this analysis found no evidence he had wolf blood.
It turned out Balto shared ancestors with modern day Siberian Huskies and the sled dogs of Alaska and Greenland.
Moon's team also compared Balto's genes with the genomes of 240 other species of mammals as part of an international effort called the Zoonomia Project.
This allowed researchers to determine which DNA fragments were common across all those species and have not therefore changed over the course of millions of years of evolution.
This stability suggests that these stretches of DNA are associated with important functions in the animal, and that mutations there could be dangerous.
The bottom line from the research was that Balto had fewer potentially dangerous mutations than modern breeds of dogs did, suggesting he was healthier.
"Balto had variants in genes related to things like weight, coordination, joint formation and skin thickness, which you would expect for a dog bred to run in that environment," Moon wrote in a statement.
New York Cocktails!
The Dry Martini
The first Martini is thought to have originated in San Francisco around the 1850s, when a gold prospector headed for Martinez, California, asked celebrated bartender ‘Professor’ Jerry Thomas – the Pioneer of the American Cocktail – to mix him up ‘something special’. The mixture of Old Tom Gin, vermouth, maraschino and bitters was named the ‘Martinez’ in his honor. But the elegant dry martini – dry meaning just a dash of vermouth – traces its roots to a refined Beaux Arts hotel located amidst the din of New York’s Times Square.
John Jacob Astor’s Knickerbocker Hotel opened in 1906, and the bar room became such a welcoming haven to the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and John D. Rockefeller, that it was dubbed the ‘42nd Street Country Club.’ And it was here in 1912 that bartender Martini di Arma di Taggia is said to have invented his famous namesake. Today, you can enjoy what H.L. Mencken called, “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet” at either the Charlie Palmer bar, or at the St. Cloud rooftop bar. Afterwards, head down into the Times Square subway station and at the end of Track 1 on the S shuttle than runs between Grand Central Terminal and Times Square, you’ll spy an anonymous looking white door on the platform. But glance at the lintel and you’ll see an old metal sign stamped ‘KNICKERBOCKER’. In the hotel’s heyday, this was once a secret entrance to the bar where, so they say, the Dry Martini was first enjoyed.
One of our favourite cocktails traces its roots to one of our favourite places in the city, the Players. Set up among the exclusive and leafy surroundings of Gramercy Park, the Players is a glittering private members club dating back to the Gilded Age. An elegant haven for actors, artists, musicians and the bon vivant, the atmosphere at the Players is vibrant and fun as it was when it opened its doors on New Year’s Eve, 1888.
One evening, the celebrated illustrator Charles Dana Gibson stopped by the magnificent Stanford White designed mansion on Gramercy Park South in search of refreshment. Gibson was known for his popular pen and ink illustrations of the so-called ‘Gibson Girl’ that first appeared in the 1890s and soon became the visual personification of the modern American woman. “She appeared in a stiff shirtwaist, her soft hair piled into a chignon, topped by a big plumed hat,” wrote Susan E. Meyer, “infinitely more spirited and independent, yet altogether feminine. Though always well bred, there often lurked a flash of mischief in her eyes.” Inspired by models and socialites such as Evelyn Nesbit, Charles Dana Gibson explained, “I’ll tell you how I got what you have called the ‘Gibson Girl.’ I saw her on the streets, I saw her at the theatres, I saw her in the churches. I saw her everywhere and doing everything. I saw her idling on Fifth Avenue and at work behind the counters of the stores.”
As Players’ legend has it, Charles Dana Gibson challenged bartender Charley Connolly to improve upon the venerable gin martini. Connolly deftly replaced the olive with a cocktail onion, and named the drink after the famous illustrator.
There are many cocktails named for cities and countries, but whilst the Moscow Mule, Singapore Sling, and Cuba Libre all have their merits, none hold a candle to the cocktail that bears the name of the great Metropolis of Manhattan. A delicious mixture of whiskey (rye preferably), vermouth, and a touch of bitters, stirred in ice, strained and garnished with a simple cherry, from the moment it first appeared in the 1800s, the Manhattan swiftly became a staple of the New York cocktail menu. “The Manhattan should look and taste like Frank Sinatra in a glass,” wrote Tony Abou-Ganim, the great Modern Mixologist. “Holding one in your hand gives you an instant status of high class, sophistication, and quality.”
The most popular of legends has the Manhattan being invented in 1874 at the Manhattan Club an elite private members club that once occupied the north east corner of Madison Square Park on East 26th Street. Founded in 1865, the elegant building was sadly torn down by developers in the 1960s, the Club itself dissolving a decade after.
One story goes that a bartender was invited to create a new cocktail to honor the newly elected Governor Samuel Jones Tilden, whilst another has a club member being warned by his doctor that he was drinking too many martinis and had to reduce his caloric intake, and so a bar tender invented the supposedly more healthy Manhattan. Perhaps because of its simple and widely available ingredients, the Manhattan became one of the classic mixed whiskey drinks that hasn’t changed in a hundred and fifty years.
Vintage Films Archive
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