Author Archives: Emily Upton

In the Original Story, Pinocchio killed Jiminy Cricket, Got His Feet Burnt Off, and was Hanged and Left for Dead

You probably already knew that Disney has a habit of taking dark, twisted children’s fairy tales and turning them into sickeningly sweet happily-ever-afters. Take Sleeping Beauty for example: it’s based on a story where a married king finds a girl asleep, and can’t wake her so rapes her instead. The 1940 version of Pinocchio is no exception. The movie is […]

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The Man Who Parkinson’s Disease is Named After Was Implicated in a Plot to Assassinate King George III

Today I found out they named Parkinson’s disease after a man who was involved in an assassination attempt on King George III. Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder characterized by tremors or shaking, with this particular symptom of the progressive disease resulting from dopamine generating cell death in a part of the substantia nigra region of the brain . The […]

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The Year’s Free Wages That Resulted in the Novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”

Today I found out about the year’s “free wages” that led to Harper Lee writing To Kill a Mockingbird. The book, which was Lee’s first and only published novel until recently, was heralded as an “instant classic” when it was published in 1960, and it is a staple in high school classrooms today. But it might not exist at all […]

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73 Year Old Frank Sinatra Was Originally Offered The Leading Role in Die Hard

Today I found out that Frank Sinatra was originally offered the main role in the movie that would become Die Hard. This 1940s singer might not be the man who comes to mind when you think about the action-packed Die Hard movies. At the start of his movie-making career, Sinatra was cast mostly in singing roles, though he did manage […]

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Why We Say Gesundheit When Someone Sneezes

Today I found out about the meaning of the word “gesundheit” and other sneeze etiquette around the world. You are probably accustomed to hearing or saying “bless you” after someone sneezes. It’s simple sneeze etiquette, at least in English speaking countries. In Germany, it’s polite to say “gesundheit” after someone sneezes, which more or less means “health.” More specifically, it’s […]

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Why “Mac” and “Mc” Surnames Often Contain a Second Capital Letter

David asks: Why is the second “C” capitalized in names like “MacCleod”? The short story is that “Mc” and “Mac” are prefixes that mean “son of.” Early inconsistencies in records are what led to having both Mc and Mac prefixes. Mc is just an abbreviation of Mac, and both can actually be abbreviated further to the much less common M’. […]

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The Surprisingly Short History of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

The peanut butter and jelly sandwich is such a staple of American childhood these days that it seems like it’s been around, well, forever. In fact, it took a surprisingly long time after all the necessary ingredients were invented for someone to put them together, and several decades more before doing this became popular.  In fact, there are people alive […]

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