World’s Strangest

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Music History #6: “American Pie”

“American Pie” Written and performed by Don McLean (1971) Getty Images The Music “I can’t remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride But something touched me deep inside the day the music died” The phrase “The day the music died” is familiar to us today as shorthand for the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, [...]

The Word Counts of 11 American Things

1. “The Star-Spangled Banner” (National Anthem version): 80 2. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettsyburg Address: 271 3. The Emancipation Proclamation: 719 (title and signatures included) 4. Don McLean’s “American Pie”: 870 5. The Declaration of Independence: 1,458 (including signatures) 6. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech: 1,652 7. The U.S. Constitution: 4,543 (including signatures) 8. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. [...]

The mental_floss Guide to the NCAA Tournament: The West

We may not be much help in filling out your bracket, but we can promise one interesting fact about each of the 68 teams in the tournament. Let’s tip things off with the West Region. © Chris Bergin/Icon SMI/Corbis (1) Michigan State In May, a Michigan State professor from the School of Social Work will begin teaching an [...]

Starry Night is Everywhere!

Starry Night is a painting by Vincent Van Gogh that has proved to be an enduring iconic image. Painted in 1888, the scene shows a night sky filled with stars swirling over the French countryside, which includes a view of the village of Saint-Rémy. Since 1941, the painting has been at the Museum of Modern [...]

The Grand Rapids LipDub

(YouTube link) Back in January, Newsweek listed Grand Rapids, Michigan as one of “America’s Dying Cities.” Mayor George Hartwell did not agree, and said as much. The city responded by producing an epic LipDub video to Don McLean’s “American Pie,” featuring 5,000 of the city’s residents, recorded on May 22nd. Whether this makes any sense at [...]

The Mathematical Pi Song

Two weeks ago I wrote about The Story of Pi, a semi-educational retro video that visually explains Pi. One commenter (lynn) pointed out a song I hadn’t heard before, The Pi Song by Antoni Chan and Ken Ferrier. I present it below for your weekend edutainment. Set to the tune of the classic Don McLean [...]

3 Killer Songs About Vincent van Gogh

Did you know that Vincent van Gogh has inspired (at least) three great songs? The first I want to share with you is by Jonathan Richman with the Modern Lovers backing him up (iTunes link), and it’s really sweet — smart, funny, and even moderately educational. Here’s a music video a fan made on YouTube: “Vincent [...]

3 Kick-Ass Songs About Vincent van Gogh

Did you know that Vincent van Gogh has inspired (at least) three great songs? The first I want to share with you is by Jonathan Richman with the Modern Lovers backing him up (iTunes link), and it’s really sweet — smart, funny, and even moderately educational. Here’s a music video a fan made on YouTube: “Vincent [...]