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Episode 1514

Space Cadet

We have books for language-lovers and recommendations for history buffs. • How did the word boondoggle come to denote a wasteful project? The answer involves the Boy Scouts, a baby, a craft project, and a city council meeting. • Instead of reversing...

Episode 1615

Takes the Cake

What do you call a long sandwich filled with lots of ingredients? Whether you call it a sub, a hoagie, a grinder, or something else entirely depends on where you’re from. And: Martha’s visit to an Alaskan reindeer ranch reveals why you...

It’s Raining Reindeer Lingo

Martha recently spoke at a fundraiser for radio station KUAC in Alaska. While there in Fairbanks, she explored the University of Alaska’s magnificent Museum of the North, and paid a visit to Running Reindeer Ranch, where she learned a lot...

What’s a “Dead Man’s Hand”?

Artie in New Bern, North Carolina, wonders why a poker hand consisting of a pair of aces and a pair of eights is called a dead man’s hand. Legend has it that when Wild Bill Hickock was killed during a poker game in 1876 in the Dakota...

Episode 1552

Moon Palace

What happens in a classroom of refugee and immigrant youngsters learning English? Their fresh approach to language can result in remarkable poetry — some of which is collected in the anthology England: Poems from a School. Also, new language among...

Well-Crafted Bookstore Names

Just as books at independent bookshops are carefully curated and hand-sold, the names of the stores themselves often reflect the owner’s personal vision and preferences, such as The Wild Detectives in Dallas, Texas; Wild Rumpus and Moon Palace...

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