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Episode 1584

Sleepy Winks

It was a dark and stormy night. So begins the long and increasingly convoluted prose of Edwards Bulwer-Lytton’s best-known novel. Today the annual Bulwer-Lytton Contest asks contestants for fanciful first sentences that are similarly...

Episode 1582

Salad Days

A documentary film called My Beautiful Stutter follows youngsters at a summer camp specifically for stutterers. It’s a place for finding acceptance, support, and confidence for navigating the larger world. And:, “The High Priestess of...

To Scrape Acquaintance

George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 (Bookshop|Amazon) conjured the indelible image of Big Brother, the terrifying personification of an authoritarian state where all of one’s actions and thoughts are monitored. The book also helped...

Detective Gumshoes is Sneaky

Why are detectives in old movies and mystery novels called gumshoes? The term gumshoe derives from the image of shoes with soles made of gum rubber, which offered an improvement over the wood traditionally used for the bottom of a shoe, since those...

Episode 1532

Off the Turnip Truck

It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when people disagreed over the best word to use when answering the phone. Alexander Graham Bell suggested answering with ahoy! but Thomas Edison was partial to hello! A fascinating new book about...