The Enchanting, Vanishing Land Art of James Brunt

James Brunt

Using only what his natural surroundings provide, James Brunt produces mesmerizing art. The next time you take a walk along a beach, look down. As stunning as the vista’s hug against the water will be, search the sand for what some artists consider their sole materials: whatever Mother Nature has given them that hour. Now you know what British artist James Brunt does every day. Brunt combs the beaches, forests and brush near his quaint Yorkshire home to do what he does best: assemble twigs, leaves, stones and other nearby foliage into jaw-dropping designs existing in their natural spaces, never to be transported or sustained. When the tide comes in, so go the spiral structures Brunt made with dozens of white stones. When a breeze floats through the trail where he’s laid a circular and colorful arrangement of leaves, the art disappears. But not before Brunt snaps several photos for        …read more

7 Sadistic Rulers of the Ancient World

rulers

If you thought King Joffrey of ‘Game of Thrones’ was scary, you should see what these ancient rulers did. Rulers of the ancient world spread massive empires all across the globe. While many of these emperors, kings and queens exhibited supreme leadership and courage, many others displayed cruelty and even sadism. Below is a list of seven particularly deviant rulers from ancient times. 1. Elagabalus, Emperor of Rome (203-22 AD) When Elagabalus assumed the Roman throne, he was 14 years old. With a reputation as a promiscuous hedonist, he was reportedly known to tie throngs of naked women to his chariot, whipping them as they wheeled him around the palace grounds. After creating a brothel in the palace, where he could commit a variety of indecencies, he reportedly stood nude at the door soliciting passersby. When he wasn’t seeking out men and women who could please him, he was disguising        …read more

Long Live the King of Horror, Stephen King

Stephen King

Master of small-town horror and spine-chilling stories, Stephen King celebrates his birthday September 21. We don’t know why fear strikes us. It works on an instinctual rather than rational level. Readers of Stephen King’s books know this feeling well: the shiver deep in your cells when IT’s clown smiles a row of sharp teeth from the sewer grate; the growl of a dog sparking sudden sweats, thanks to Cujo’s menacing St. Bernard; the way we cower in our bedsheets when Jack Torrance runs amok in the Overlook Hotel. If we had to dissect that gut reaction to King’s horror novels, it would begin with relating to characters King spins from his many years observing human nature carefully. He understands how to build protagonists and villains that could be the neighbor next door, the shopkeeper behind the counter. In The Body, which was later the film Stand By Me, the kids        …read more

The Warning Label That Should Come with Heredity Tests

heredity tests

If you hear only about happy reunions, interesting history and fun family tree developments, you don’t know everything you should about heredity tests. We’ve all heard those amazing reunion stories stemming from heredity tests like Ancestry.com and 23AndMe and the handful of other tests on the market that inform you of your ethnicity down to the single percentage, matching you with every other distant and not-so-distant relative who’s ever taken the test — all for the simple exchange of a swab of saliva and about $100. There are the adoptees who finally find their birth parents after years of searching, and they meet in a big family reunion party filmed by a local TV news station. Or there are those people who lost touch with members of their family and are reconnected after decades. It’s all so joyous — until it’s not. “Participants of genetic ancestry tests are often oblivious        …read more

6 Fantasy Shows Every ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Should Know About

Game of Thrones

The wait continues for the final season of ‘Game of Thrones.’ Here are 6 shows to get you through this difficult time. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, then you’re past ready for the eighth season of the epic fantasy drama. After all, season seven wrapped in August 2017. It’s the longest gap between seasons thus far. We should be back in Westeros now, right? Well, the wait for the conclusion of Game of Thrones will continue into 2019, as the final season still doesn’t have a premiere date (best guess is spring or summer 2019). But as much as we can’t wait to find out who’ll sit on the Iron Throne, most of us are dreading this season too. Not only will some of our favorite characters surely die, but we have only six episodes left of this epic story in which we’ve spent the better part        …read more

6 Sad Songs Based on True Stories

sad songs

Knowing the stories behind these sad songs makes these tearjerkers even better. We’ve all been brought to tears from hearing a song chronicling heartbreak, but the lyrics for a majority of these are vague enough to avoid touching on one specific moment. That isn’t always the case, however, as brave musical artists have used their platform to express sadness over real-life events. Some happened to them personally, while others were the experiences of others that the artists put into lyrics. Here are six sad songs based on true stories. 1. “Brick” – Ben Folds Five https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wt5EHAqhR1c Ben Folds Five’s “Brick” can make most listeners emotional within the first few seconds, as its melancholy piano melody sets the stage for one of Folds’ darkest moments. The song details a trip Folds and his high school girlfriend took to an abortion clinic just one day after Christmas, and the feeling of sorrow        …read more

Mrs. Beeton Cooks the World

Mrs. Beeton

How Mrs. Beeton’s cookbook gave its readers a recipe for power. Imagine, for a moment, that it’s 1893 and you’re a young British woman planning a dinner party. You’re a newly minted member of the middle classes, eager to impress your guests. But with a new and baffling array of foodstuffs on offer, how on earth will you decide what to serve? Steamships and refrigeration mean that produce can now be imported from the farthest reaches of the empire. There are fresh bananas, fragrant crates of Assamese tea, and cheap wheat imports from Canada. You sigh, remembering the sad remains of this week’s roast still sitting in the pantry. Then you reach for Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, a few cumin-scented pages the answer to your question. Thank goodness, you think, for Isabella Beeton. First published in 1861, Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management was a runaway best seller.        …read more

Fashion Psychology Can Change Your Wardrobe and Your Life

fashion

You can use fashion to express your emotions and heal from the inside out. Yes, it works. Here’s how. “What are you wearing?” Dawnn Karen asks me, as I interview her over the phone. It’s the first time I’ve been asked that question, though I’ve been a reporter for more than a decade. I was wearing all black. I’m always wearing all black. I’m from New York City. It’s sorta my uniform. Karen approves. I think. “You have a repetitious wardrobe complex,” she says. “Your mood isn’t fluctuating, you’re level-headed, and your emotions are pretty consistent. I applaud you, because most people don’t have the guts to wear the same thing every day. I’m all for it.” Karen, who holds a psychology master’s degree and is a candidate for a master of education degree, is the founder of the Fashion Psychology Institute, an online school dedicated to fashion psychology. She’s        …read more

Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Global Culinary Adventures

Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten

Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is building an empire of culinary art. In the culinary industry, few names carry as much prestige — or as many restaurants — as Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The chef, born in Alsace, France, first fell in love with food at home, where he lived with his mother and grandmother. He decided to pursue a career in the kitchen after visiting the three-Michelin-star-rated Auberge de l’Ill for a birthday dinner at the age of 16. He soon was working in that exact kitchen, as an apprentice to Chef Paul Haeberlin, before moving on to train with top French chefs including Paul Bocuse and Louis Outhier. After traveling through Asia, Vongerichten landed in the U.S. in 1985 — first in Boston, where he would open the Le Marquis de Lafayette restaurant, and then in New York, where he went on to open restaurants ranging from fine dining to casual. Vongerichten        …read more

7 Otherworldly Landscapes: The Most Beautiful Places on Earth

most beautiful places

Get ready to be awed by ethereal landscapes that rank among the planet’s most beautiful places. We’ve all seen them on Pinterest or Instagram: surreal, eye-popping landscapes that look more like photo illustrations than real-life places. Multicolored salt flats, marbled ice caves, limestone needle forests, and volcanic valleys that glow highlighter-yellow couldn’t possibly exist on Earth — could they? Not only do such landscapes exist, but they are among the most beautiful places on our planet. Occurring naturally due to phenomena like flash floods and magma eruptions, these otherworldly locales inspire awe and guarantee bragging rights. Some of these may be daunting to get to, but they yield unforgettable experiences. As a bonus, a selfie at the edge of a boiling lava lake will instantly earn the hashtag #adventuretravel and up your Instagram cred. We’ve rounded up seven of the world’s most unusual and beautiful places. Warning: may induce a        …read more

With Upcoming Release, Spider-Man Games May Never Be the Same

Spider-Man games

Peter Parker has never played a major role in Spider-Man games — until now. No superhero has seen video game success like Spider-Man. The popular Marvel hero has enjoyed a leading role in games dating back to the medium’s infancy. The first game based on the web-slinging crime fighter, simply called Spider-Man, launched on the Atari 2600 in 1982. Since then, our hero has led more than 30 Spider-Man games across a multitude of platforms and has been featured in many others. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, seeing as Spider-Man is one of the most popular superheroes of all time, perhaps outmatched by only Batman — a hero who’s also had his fair share of great games in recent years. What is surprising, however, is how consistently good Spider-Man games have been from generation to generation. Video game adaptations and those that use popular licenses from        …read more

Top 10 Football Movies of All Time

football movies

Kick off the season with these timeless football movies. The best football movies offer everything we love about the sport. They’re hard-hitting films full of underdogs, action, suspense, twists, defeats and triumphs, just like a good football game. These are 10 of my favorites, keeping in mind there are dozens (if not hundreds) of football movies in existence, which means I’m leaving off tons of films, including — I’m sure — your all-time favorites. I’m also probably including one or two movies you don’t care for. So blitz me with comments! Who knows? You just might introduce me to my next favorite football flick. 10. LEATHERHEADS (2008) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRRGj8Kmxi0 This charming football movie, a throwback to the screwball comedies of yesteryear, was directed by George Clooney, who also played the lead (and claims to have cowritten the screenplay). The film is set in 1925 during the early days of professional football,        …read more

Star Trek Leadership Philosophy 101

Star Trek leadership

All you really need to know, you can learn from Star Trek leadership and the Enterprise crew. If you’re on the lookout for a philosophy to live by, the beloved Star Trek franchise just might have your answer. Of course, the Enterprise has the Prime Directive of Starfleet Command, but the crew seem to find it difficult to avoid violating it. That said, Kirk and his crew have a few philosophies guiding them, even if they aren’t explicitly aware of them. The show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry (1921-1991), lived by the philosophy of humanism, which relies heavily on social ethics rather than individual morality (or technological futuristic gizmos). Perhaps what has endeared fans to the show over the years is Roddenberry’s hope for equal rights for people of every gender and race. In 1966, when the fight for civil rights was front and center in our culture in a way it hadn’t        …read more

When Curious George’s Creators Saved Him from the Nazis

Curious George

H. A. and Margret Rey escaped with their lives and their early draft of ‘Curious George.’ Fans of Curious George know: George is a master of escape. His inquisitive nature and mischievous antics require it. Adventuring with George is a must for young children. With 75 million copies of Curious George books sold in 25 languages, the world knows him well. He’s a treasured character from children’s literature. How George became the world’s most famous trouble-finding monkey, though, is astonishing. His creators — Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey — made a daring escape from the Nazis with George’s manuscript in tow. This is their unforgettable story. When in Paris… Hans Augusto (H.A.) Rey and Margarete Elisabeth Waldstein (later Margret Rey) were both born in Hamburg, Germany. Hans grew up near the Hagenbeck Zoo, cultivating his love of animals (he learned to imitate their sounds, Louise Borden notes in The        …read more

5 of the Most Memorable Sports Upsets in History

sports upsets

From a March Madness stunner to a perfect season spoiled, these five sports upsets were as improbable as they were thrilling. Everyone likes a David vs. Goliath story. The scrappy underdog, against all odds, prevails over the insurmountable favorite. In sports, the story line is particularly potent. The unpredictability of play leads to surprising outcomes on a regular basis. Upsets make sports endlessly fascinating for viewers. You never know what can happen. Some upsets have not just surprised but shocked the sports world, taking a place in our collective consciousness for years and even generations. The following five sports upsets are some of the most memorable of all time. 1. UMBC topples #1 Virginia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuHVvSsNY2E In the history of the NCAA basketball tournament, number-one seeds making it to the second round has been a foregone conclusion. In fact, it’s one of the safest bets in sports. Number-one seeds were 135-0        …read more

11 Shocking Labor Laws from around the World

labor laws

In honor of Labor Day, we’ve gathered the best and weirdest labor laws from across the globe. Labor Day is here! Many Americans treasure this well-earned three-day weekend as their final summer break. Labor Day celebrates the work we do all year, and when Tuesday hits and it’s time to get back to work, some of us may be happy about it while others lament returning to the grind. Working in another country could be better, or it could be a tad weird, depending on your feelings about said country’s labor laws. Here are 12 labor laws from around the world that will make you rethink how things are done in the United States, for better or worse. 1. Waistline Watching Extra pounds around your middle likely won’t affect your job status in the United States. In Japan, though, you could be in trouble. For employees aged 40 to 75,        …read more

James Wong Howe, Pioneering Chinese-American Cinematographer

Chinese-American cinematographer

Chinese-American cinematographer James Wong Howe was one of the greatest masters of the moving image. Everyone sees the cinematographer’s name in the credits of a film, but few fully understand the responsibilities involved in that role. Most think the cinematographer merely holds the camera, but the job is far more than that. The cinematographer is responsible for the placement of the camera, the composition of the image, the focus and the lighting. Sadly, the cinematographer is overshadowed in critics’ traditionally overwrought fetishization of the director, but it’s the cinematographer who’s the master of the moving image. Born August 28, 1899, James Wong Howe was a Chinese-American cinematographer who overcame institutionalized racism to become one of the most respected, award-winning cinematographers in cinema history. He was nominated for 10 Academy Awards for cinematography and won two — for The Rose Tattoo and Hud. In a 2003 survey of International Cinematographers Guild members,        …read more

John Krasinski as Action Hero Jack Ryan? It’s Not So Strange

Jack Ryan

Taking on the role of Jack Ryan, John Krasinski follows in the footsteps of then-unlikely action heroes Bruce Willis, Will Smith and Chris Pratt. On August 31, Amazon Prime Video debuts its most hyped series yet, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, featuring the late warmongering author’s CIA analyst hero portrayed in various films over the past 30 years by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine. This time, John Krasinski takes the mantle of the American hero, a casting choice at which some might smirk, given that Krasinski is best known for his role as Jim Halpert in the NBC sitcom The Office. For nearly a decade Halpert, the shaggy-haired, laconic wisecracker, defined John Krasinski’s on-screen persona. He has clearly attempted to shake it, most recently in A Quiet Place, the horror film he co-wrote and directed, and in 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. The casting of        …read more

A New Novel Expands the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien

Beyond the Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote an impressive number of works, and another one is being released this month. In April 2018 news broke that a “new” J.R.R. Tolkien novel would be published and available in August 2018. The Fall of Gondolin has been described as the first “real” story of Middle Earth. It will extend the Lord of the Rings canon, giving diehard fans something to do after their 11-plus-hour movie marathons. That’s right: It takes 11.4 hours to watch all three extended editions of the films to witness the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy — and that’s ignoring the new Hobbit trilogy (and the classic cartoon version). True fans of the works of J.R.R. (John Ronald Reuel) Tolkien know the LOTR saga is only a blip in the history of Middle Earth — the casual moviegoer has likely never even heard of The Silmarillion,        …read more

7 Unexpected Charitable Donations That Can Make a Real Difference

charitable donations

While you may give money to good causes, you might not have thought of these unusual charitable donations that can help in surprising ways. Earlier this year, the charitable donation of a secondhand cell phone changed the life of British man Charlie Hennessy, who was experiencing homelessness at the time. Within 10 days he’d used free Wi-Fi from a local coffee shop to set himself up with a Twitter account, he’d gained nearly 20,000 followers, and he’d been offered jobs, donations and support. “I’ve been extremely lucky,” he tweeted on March 17, 2018. “Many aren’t. Reach out. Be kind. It saved my life.” The person who donated the phone to Hennessy probably had no idea the simple gift would make such an impact. Plenty of charities and organizations now collect phones to pass on to people experiencing homelessness or to community initiatives (like this one run by Three), but this is        …read more

Long Live The Smiths!

The Smiths

British indie rock pioneers The Smiths had a brief but brilliant run in the ’80s, and it all started with a chance meeting 40 years ago. The Smiths were like one of their masterful pop songs: luminous, funny, heartbreaking and brief. They released only four studio albums, between 1982 and 1987, at which point the band broke up with such bitterness that they haven’t reunited and most likely never will. Steven Morrissey (who goes by Morrissey) and Johnny Marr formed the nucleus of the radioactive atom that was The Smiths. Together they wrote uniquely disaffected anthems, which Morrissey sang, while Marr laid down intricate guitar parts punctuated by Andy Rourke’s bass and Mike Joyce’s drums. I discovered The Smiths in college, where I majored in Abject Loneliness (and graduated with highest honors). Not only were their songs the perfect salve for the injuries I sustained during my fruitless quest for        …read more

‘Jane the Virgin’ Is One of the Most Important TV Series of the Century

Jane the Virgin

How ‘Jane the Virgin’ goes beyond the telenovela. Last summer I spent nearly every evening watching at least one episode of Jane the Virgin on Netflix. The CW series had received critical acclaim when it debuted in the fall of 2014 but had consistently been shut out of major award nominations. Watching those first three seasons, I was struck by the brilliance of the writing and acting and how the writers took a peculiar high concept and turned it into one of the most deeply felt, funny and enlightening series on television. In an era when nearly 500 original television series are produced every year, it’s easy to understand why some series are overshadowed, but Jane the Virgin deserves its place in the upper echelon of series of the 21st century, not only because it is well written and acted but also because of its homage to telenovelas, its simple representation of        …read more

The Axeman of New Orleans: A Jazz-Loving Jack the Ripper

axeman

The Axeman forced a city to listen to jazz to avoid his terrifying wrath. From May 1918 to October 1919, a serial killer aptly named the Axeman unleashed a wave of terror throughout the city of New Orleans. Though the total number of victims is unclear, at least 12 people across the metropolitan New Orleans area were attacked by the Axeman over a 17-month period, and at least seven died from their injuries. On May 22, 1918, the first victims, an Italian grocer named Joseph Maggio and his wife, Catherine, were butchered as they lay sleeping in their apartment at Upperline and Magnolia Street. The couple’s throats were slashed with a straight razor, their heads bashed in by an ax. When investigators arrived, they found the bloody clothes of the murderer as well as an ax and a chisel. A panel in the rear door had been chiseled out, and        …read more