Author Archives: Melissa

What Ever Happened to Miss Cleo the TV Psychic?

miss-cleo

Felix H. asks: Where did Miss Cleo disappear to? For those unfamiliar, around the turn of the century no psychic was more famous than the purportedly Jamaican-born Miss Cleo (née Youree Dell Harris) representing the Psychic Readers Network (PRN). Appearing on late-night infomercials, Miss Cleo hooked her audience with a combination of charisma, Tarot card readings, concerned looks, and imperatives […]

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Why Does the New Year Begin on January First in Many Countries?

newyears

Jamie asks: Why is New Year’s day January 1st? Because Julius Caesar said so. Early Roman Calendar Since long before Caesar’s time, date keeping was dicey. In fact, the 355-day Roman calendar that immediately preceded Caesar’s Julian, worked on a four year cycle where every other year, an additional month was inserted between February (Februarius), the last month of that […]

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The Curious Case of the Fruit That Transforms Sour to Sweet

Growing on tall shrubs with dense foliage, the small, red, mildly sweet berries known as miracle fruit seemingly magically can turn sour flavors sweet. The plant that produces the berries, Synsepalum Dulcificum, is native to West Africa, where the fruit was traditionally used to sweeten palm wine and make soured cornbread more palatable. Growing best in acidic soil in tropical […]

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What Caused the Red Rain of Kerala?

redrain

Between July 25 and September 23, 2001, the people of the southern India state of Kerala witnessed, on numerous occasions an extraordinary sight: blood colored rain. Although most reports limited the color of the rain to that striking red that resembled blood, some people also reported seeing green, black and even yellow rain as well. Eye-witnesses also reported that accompanying […]

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Are the “Snozzberries” in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Referring to Male Genitalia?

snozzberry

Domenic V. asks: Is it true that the snozzberries in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory were dicks? Given the dark undercurrent of Roald Dahl’s works, perhaps it wouldn’t be surprising if his famous snozzberries mentioned in the book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) made into the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), were, in fact, penises. […]

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How To Make a Proper Cup of Tea According to Famed English Author George Orwell

tea and biscuits

According to George Orwell, “tea is one of the main stays of civilization,” and like many of his countrymen, Orwell had rather strong opinions on the proper method of its preparation. Realizing one day in 1946 that the cookbooks of the age gave scant instruction in how to make tea, he decided to remedy that deficiency and published his personal […]

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The First Joke

joke

David N. asks: What is the first joke ever told? Born from cultures we can only read about and making fun of customs we don’t always understand, many of the world’s oldest jokes, to a modern audience, simply aren’t that funny. That said, humans being humans, with the oldest joke that has survived through today, it would appear little has […]

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