Fun Stuff

November 25, 1952: Mousetrap opens in London

This Day in History - Thu, 11/24/2016 - 11:00pm

“The Mousetrap,” a murder-mystery written by the novelist and playwright Agatha Christie, opens at the Ambassadors Theatre in London. The crowd-pleasing whodunit would go on to become the longest continuously running play in history, with more than 10 million people to date attending its more than 20,000 performances in London’s West End.

When “The Mousetrap” premiered in 1952, Winston Churchill was British prime minister, Joseph Stalin was Soviet ruler, and Dwight D. Eisenhower was president-elect. Christie, already a hugely successful English mystery novelist, originally wrote the drama for Queen Mary, wife of the late King George V. Initially called “Three Blind Mice,” it debuted as a 30-minute radio play on the queen’s 80th birthday in 1947. Christie later extended the play and renamed it “The Mousetrap”—a reference to the play-within-a-play performed in William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

On November 25, 1952, 453 people took their seats in the Ambassadors Theatre for the London premiere of Christie’s “Mousetrap.” The drama is played out at “Monkswell Manor,” whose hosts and guests are snowed in among radio reports of a murderer on the loose. Soon a detective shows up on skis with the terrifying news that the murderer, and probably the next victim, are likely both among their number. Soon the clues and false leads pile as high as the snow. At every curtain call, the individual who has been revealed as the murderer steps forward and tells the audience that they are “partners in crime” and should “keep the secret of the whodunit locked in their heart.”

Richard Attenborough and his wife, Sheila Sim, were the first stars of “The Mousetrap.” To date, more than 300 actors and actresses have appeared in the roles of the eight characters. David Raven, who played “Major Metcalf” for 4,575 performances, is in the “Guinness Book of World Records” as the world’s most durable actor, while Nancy Seabrooke is noted as the world’s most patient understudy for 6,240 performances, or 15 years, as the substitute for “Mrs. Boyle.”

“The Mousetrap” is not considered Christie’s best play, and a prominent stage director once declared that “‘The Mousetrap'” should be abolished by an act of Parliament.” Nevertheless, the show’s popularity has not waned. Asked about its enduring appeal, Christie said, “It is the sort of play you can take anyone to. It is not really frightening. It is not really horrible. It is not really a farce, but it has a little bit of all these things, and perhaps that satisfies a lot of different people.” In 1974, after almost 9,000 shows, the play was moved to St. Martin’s Theatre, where it remains today. Agatha Christie, who wrote scores of best-selling mystery novels, died in 1976.

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Booth Tarkington

Quotes of the Day - Thu, 11/24/2016 - 6:00pm
"There are two things that will be believed of any man whatsoever, and one of them is that he has taken to drink."
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Robert Frost

Quotes of the Day - Thu, 11/24/2016 - 6:00pm
"The world is full of willing people, some willing to work, the rest willing to let them."
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Samuel Goldwyn

Quotes of the Day - Thu, 11/24/2016 - 6:00pm
"I don't want any yes-men around me. I want everybody to tell me the truth even if it costs them their jobs."
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Thomas A. Edison

Quotes of the Day - Thu, 11/24/2016 - 6:00pm
"To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk."
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riddle

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 11:00pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 24, 2016 is:

riddle • \RID-ul\  • noun

1 : a mystifying, misleading, or puzzling question posed as a problem to be solved or guessed : conundrum, enigma

2 : something or someone difficult to understand

Examples:

Despite Nick's outgoing nature, he doesn't share many details about his background and personal life, so he remains something of a riddle.

"Stewart's books are for children who like mysteries and riddles, and there are many scenes where readers hold their breath in suspense." — Clara Martin, The Clarion-Ledger, 16 Oct. 2016

Did you know?

It is not unusual for words to acquire and lose meanings over time, and riddle is no exception. Old English speakers—who had a variety of spellings for riddle, including hrædels, redelse, and rædelse—used the word as we do today to describe a question posed as a problem to be solved or guessed, but they also used it in the now obsolete senses of "counsel," "consideration," "debate," "conjecture," "interpretation," "imagination," and "example." (Not surprisingly, the Old English source of riddle is a cousin to Old English rǣdan, meaning "to interpret" or "to advise.") By the beginning of the 15th century riddle acquired the sense of "a puzzling or perplexing thing," and in the 17th century it also came to refer to "a puzzling or enigmatic person or being."



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riddle

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 11:00pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 24, 2016 is:

riddle • \RID-ul\  • noun

1 : a mystifying, misleading, or puzzling question posed as a problem to be solved or guessed : conundrum, enigma

2 : something or someone difficult to understand

Examples:

Despite Nick's outgoing nature, he doesn't share many details about his background and personal life, so he remains something of a riddle.

"Stewart's books are for children who like mysteries and riddles, and there are many scenes where readers hold their breath in suspense." — Clara Martin, The Clarion-Ledger, 16 Oct. 2016

Did you know?

It is not unusual for words to acquire and lose meanings over time, and riddle is no exception. Old English speakers—who had a variety of spellings for riddle, including hrædels, redelse, and rædelse—used the word as we do today to describe a question posed as a problem to be solved or guessed, but they also used it in the now obsolete senses of "counsel," "consideration," "debate," "conjecture," "interpretation," "imagination," and "example." (Not surprisingly, the Old English source of riddle is a cousin to Old English rǣdan, meaning "to interpret" or "to advise.") By the beginning of the 15th century riddle acquired the sense of "a puzzling or perplexing thing," and in the 17th century it also came to refer to "a puzzling or enigmatic person or being."



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November 24, 1859: Origin of Species is published

This Day in History - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 11:00pm

On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, a groundbreaking scientific work by British naturalist Charles Darwin, is published in England. Darwin’s theory argued that organisms gradually evolve through a process he called “natural selection.” In natural selection, organisms with genetic variations that suit their environment tend to propagate more descendants than organisms of the same species that lack the variation, thus influencing the overall genetic makeup of the species.

Darwin, who was influenced by the work of French naturalist Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck and the English economist Thomas Mathus, acquired most of the evidence for his theory during a five-year surveying expedition aboard the HMS Beagle in the 1830s. Visiting such diverse places as the Galapagos Islands and New Zealand, Darwin acquired an intimate knowledge of the flora, fauna, and geology of many lands. This information, along with his studies in variation and interbreeding after returning to England, proved invaluable in the development of his theory of organic evolution.

The idea of organic evolution was not new. It had been suggested earlier by, among others, Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus Darwin, a distinguished English scientist, and Lamarck, who in the early 19th century drew the first evolutionary diagram—a ladder leading from one-celled organisms to man. However, it was not until Darwin that science presented a practical explanation for the phenomenon of evolution.

Darwin had formulated his theory of natural selection by 1844, but he was wary to reveal his thesis to the public because it so obviously contradicted the biblical account of creation. In 1858, with Darwin still remaining silent about his findings, the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace independently published a paper that essentially summarized his theory. Darwin and Wallace gave a joint lecture on evolution before the Linnean Society of London in July 1858, and Darwin prepared On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection for publication.

Published on November 24, 1859, Origin of Species sold out immediately. Most scientists quickly embraced the theory that solved so many puzzles of biological science, but orthodox Christians condemned the work as heresy. Controversy over Darwin’s ideas deepened with the publication of The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871), in which he presented evidence of man’s evolution from apes.

By the time of Darwin’s death in 1882, his theory of evolution was generally accepted. In honor of his scientific work, he was buried in Westminster Abbey beside kings, queens, and other illustrious figures from British history. Subsequent developments in genetics and molecular biology led to modifications in accepted evolutionary theory, but Darwin’s ideas remain central to the field.

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Frank Zappa

Quotes of the Day - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 6:00pm
"Everybody believes in something and everybody, by virtue of the fact that they believe in something, use that something to support their own existence."
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Voltaire

Quotes of the Day - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 6:00pm
"It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets."
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Andy Rooney

Quotes of the Day - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 6:00pm
"Making duplicate copies and computer printouts of things no one wanted even one of in the first place is giving America a new sense of purpose."
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Oscar Wilde

Quotes of the Day - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 6:00pm
"Only the shallow know themselves."
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impute

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 11:00pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 23, 2016 is:

impute • \im-PYOOT\  • verb

1 : to lay the responsibility or blame for often falsely or unjustly

2 : to credit to a person or a cause

Examples:

"Now, one comment in reaction to my essay said that by talking about the city's problems and not its promise, I was in the business of tearing down Syracuse. At LeMoyne, I was taught that the most dangerous thing to do in argument was to impute motives to your opponent." — Carl Schramm, Forbes.com, 4 Mar. 2013

"The CAS panel concluded that Sharapova's case 'was not about an athlete who cheated.' Instead, the panel found, 'It was only about the degree of fault that can be imputed to a player for her failure to make sure that the substance contained in a product she had been legally taking over a long period … remained in compliance." — Tom Perrotta, The Wall Street Journal, 4 Oct. 2016

Did you know?

Impute is a somewhat formal word that is used to suggest that someone or something has done or is guilty of something. It is similar in meaning to such words as ascribe and attribute, though it is more likely to suggest an association with something that brings discredit. When we impute something, we typically impute it to someone or something. You may also encounter the related noun imputation, which appears in such contexts as "I deny all your imputations of blame." Another sense of impute means "to calculate as a value or cost (as for taxation)," as in "impute a benefit from the use of the car."



Categories: Fun Stuff

impute

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 11:00pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 23, 2016 is:

impute • \im-PYOOT\  • verb

1 : to lay the responsibility or blame for often falsely or unjustly

2 : to credit to a person or a cause

Examples:

"Now, one comment in reaction to my essay said that by talking about the city's problems and not its promise, I was in the business of tearing down Syracuse. At LeMoyne, I was taught that the most dangerous thing to do in argument was to impute motives to your opponent." — Carl Schramm, Forbes.com, 4 Mar. 2013

"The CAS panel concluded that Sharapova's case 'was not about an athlete who cheated.' Instead, the panel found, 'It was only about the degree of fault that can be imputed to a player for her failure to make sure that the substance contained in a product she had been legally taking over a long period … remained in compliance." — Tom Perrotta, The Wall Street Journal, 4 Oct. 2016

Did you know?

Impute is a somewhat formal word that is used to suggest that someone or something has done or is guilty of something. It is similar in meaning to such words as ascribe and attribute, though it is more likely to suggest an association with something that brings discredit. When we impute something, we typically impute it to someone or something. You may also encounter the related noun imputation, which appears in such contexts as "I deny all your imputations of blame." Another sense of impute means "to calculate as a value or cost (as for taxation)," as in "impute a benefit from the use of the car."



Categories: Fun Stuff

November 23, 1936: First issue of Life is published

This Day in History - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 11:00pm

On November 23, 1936, the first issue of the pictorial magazine Life is published, featuring a cover photo of the Fort Peck Dam by Margaret Bourke-White.

Life actually had its start earlier in the 20th century as a different kind of magazine: a weekly humor publication, not unlike today’s The New Yorker in its use of tart cartoons, humorous pieces and cultural reporting. When the original Life folded during the Great Depression, the influential American publisher Henry Luce bought the name and re-launched the magazine as a picture-based periodical on this day in 1936. By this time, Luce had already enjoyed great success as the publisher of Time, a weekly news magazine.

From his high school days, Luce was a newsman, serving with his friend Briton Hadden as managing editors of their school newspaper. This partnership continued through their college years at Yale University, where they acted as chairmen and managing editors of the Yale Daily News, as well as after college, when Luce joined Hadden at The Baltimore News in 1921. It was during this time that Luce and Hadden came up with the idea for Time. When it launched in 1923, it was with the intention of delivering the world’s news through the eyes of the people who made it.

Whereas the original mission of Time was to tell the news, the mission of Life was to show it. In the words of Luce himself, the magazine was meant to provide a way for the American people “to see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events … to see things thousands of miles away… to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed… to see, and to show…” Luce set the tone of the magazine with Margaret Bourke-White’s stunning cover photograph of the Fort Peck Dam, which has since become an icon of the 1930s and the great public works completed under President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Life was an overwhelming success in its first year of publication. Almost overnight, it changed the way people looked at the world by changing the way people could look at the world. Its flourish of images painted vivid pictures in the public mind, capturing the personal and the public, and putting it on display for the world to take in. At its peak, Life had a circulation of over 8 million and it exerted considerable influence on American life in the beginning and middle of the 20th century.

With picture-heavy content as the driving force behind its popularity,the magazine suffered as television became society’s predominant means of communication. Life ceased running as a weekly publication in 1972, when it began losing audience and advertising dollars to television. In 2004, however, it resumed weekly publication as a supplement to U.S. newspapers. At its re-launch, its combined circulation was once again in the millions.

Categories: Fun Stuff

John Green

Quotes of the Day - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 6:00pm
"The United States Congress, like a lot of rich people, lives in two houses."
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Mark Twain

Quotes of the Day - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 6:00pm
"The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot."
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Benjamin Franklin

Quotes of the Day - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 6:00pm
"Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody."
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Isaac Asimov

Quotes of the Day - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 6:00pm
"Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome."
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protocol

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 11:00pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 22, 2016 is:

protocol • \PROH-tuh-kawl\  • noun

1 : an original draft or record of a document or transaction

2 : a preliminary memorandum of diplomatic negotiation

3 : a code prescribing strict adherence to correct etiquette and precedence

4 : a set of conventions for formatting data in an electronic communications system

5 : a detailed plan of a scientific or medical experiment, treatment, or procedure

Examples:

"A protocol that arose from Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, research has led to U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of a biological drug for the treatment of a certain form of lung cancer." — USA Today, 1 Oct. 2016

"Throughout Obama's first term, critics described him as naïve, particularly in the area of foreign relations—so ignorant of practical realities that he didn't even understand the symbolic protocols of a state visit. In 2009, when he bowed to Emperor Akihito, on a trip to Tokyo, he was referred to on the far right as 'treasonous.'" — Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, 3 Oct. 2016

Did you know?

In Late Greek, the word prōtokollon referred to the first sheet of a papyrus roll bearing the date of its manufacture. In some instances, it consisted of a flyleaf that was glued to the outside of a manuscript's case and provided a description of its contents. Coming from the Greek prefix prōto- ("first") and the noun kolla ("glue"), prōtokollon gave us our word protocol. In its earliest uses in the 15th century, the word referred to a prologue or preface and also to a record of a document or transaction. In the late 19th century, it began to be used in reference to the etiquette observed by the Head of State of France in ceremonies and relations with other dignitaries. This sense has since extended in meaning to cover any code of proper conduct.



Categories: Fun Stuff