November 18, 2017

When William Tell, a Swiss archer living in the early 14th century, skillfully sniped an arrow off his son’s head with a crossbow, he was neither showing off his marksmanship nor soaked to the gills with booze. He did it on order from a sadistic overlord, as a punishment for sedition. The same can’t be said of Tell’s copycats: Over the centuries, many a boastful, sloshed sharpshooter h...

July 14, 2017

At the 1853 World’s Fair in New York, some exhibits attracted larger crowds than others. Elisha Otis’s demonstration of a new elevator safety device—which involved Otis standing atop a suspended elevator platform above the exhibition hall while an assistant severed the suspension cable with an ax—was more popular than, say, the Philadelphia window salesman who presented his latest twea...

December 31, 2016

The clock strikes 12. Confetti rains down. Revelers plant the year’s first kiss on their loved ones’ lips. And everyone sings

Should all the Quakers be forgot

And never bought two mines?

Should all the Quinton’s beef, or what

In days of Old Man Time?

Well, not quite. “Auld Lang Syne,” the traditional song for ringing in the New Year, is one of the most misheard in the English language. (You...

October 9, 2015

According to a popular fan theory, John Lennon was in bed watching Monday Night Football when Howard Cosell broke in to announce that Lennon had been shot. Rather than come out and deny the reports (as Paul McCartney had done when his death rumors swirled in 1969), Lennon embraced them as an opportunity for privacy and quietly welcomed his fate.

Now, let’s extrapolate: A publi...

October 18, 2014

Kids today, they just don’t reminisce about baseball the way they used to. In my day, you walked to school wearing nothing but vague, sentimental longing for baseball’s golden age—both ways! Ah, nostalgia was so much purer then, and simpler. Don’t you just miss that old-time baseball nostalgia?

Case in point: Derek Jeter. This past season, the media machine known as Major Leag...

June 20, 2014

In September 1994, a rock musical about young artists living under the shadow of AIDS, based partly on Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème, was seen for the first time in a limited three-week workshop production at the New York Theatre Workshop. It was, to put it bluntly, a mess, with entangled story lines, vacant characters and a plot that seemed oddly more preoccupied (at least at this early...

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Our Recent Posts

William Tell and His Copycats

November 18, 2017

The 1853 World’s Fair: Dreams of Paradise

July 14, 2017

Should All the Lyrics Be for Naught?

December 31, 2016

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