World’s Strangest

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The Time Douglas Adams Met Jim Henson

“Kermit and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew in the digitally created world of the Muppet Institute of Technology, 1985.” -Image © The Jim Henson Company On September 13, 1983, Jim Henson and author Douglas Adams had dinner for the first time. Henson noted the event in his “Red Book” journal, in characteristic short-form style: ‘Dinner with Douglas [...]

26 Beatnik Slang Words and Phrases We Should All Start Using

Plenty of phrases from the first self-described hipster generation have lasted into modern conversation: people still get bent out of shape, annoying people bug us and muscular guys are still built, just to scan the b-words. Here are 26 words and phrases that don’t get much use any more but are worth sneaking into conversation. 1. [...]

10 Famous Literary Characters Based on Real People

“Write what you know,” they say. So it makes sense that many authors take a good look around at friends and family when creating characters for their books. 1. Mark Twain once admitted that he wasn’t terribly creative in creating Huckleberry Finn – he based the character almost precisely on his childhood friend Tom Blankenship. From [...]

17 Famous Literary Characters Almost Named Something Else

“Bladorthin the Grey” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Gandalf the Grey,” does it? Good thing J.R.R. Tolkien decided to do some name swapping. Turns out he’s in good company: here’s the story of Gandalf and other famous characters who experienced an identity change before publication. 1. The only Pevensie child [...]

Doctor Who: Mangling History

Doctor Who has a long and noble history of attempting to convey history to its young viewers. It has not always been completely successful, however. Here are a few stories where they dipped into history — but didn’t get the history quite right. The Gunfighters On Doctor Who: The TARDIS arrives in Tombstone, Arizona, just as the Clanton [...]

Hello Kitty Airport Gate

Douglas Adams noted: It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the phrase, ‘as pretty as an airport.’ Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort. The effort put into this gate at Taiwan’s largest airport [...]

Eaten by a Grue: A Brief History of Zork

Zork is a text-based video game, a genre also known as “interactive fiction,” whose defining feature is the absence of typical video game graphics. Instead, the game’s environments and the actions you take are described for you. For example, the first line of Zork is, “You are standing in an open field west of [...]

Lectures for a New Year: First Week in Review

For the month of January I’m bringing you a great lecture every weekday. This week we covered neurology, art, creativity, ecology, writing, achieving childhood dreams, and most importantly lots of jokes. In case you missed one, here’s a review of the lectures posted this week. The Last Lecture, First (Randy Pausch) To kick off the [...]

10 Hoopy Froods Who Know Where Their Towel Is

May 25th is Towel Day {wiki} in tribute to Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He wrote that a towel is “the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” On Towel Day, all of Adams’ fans are encouraged to carry a towel around with them, or to at least know [...]