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Posts by Uncle John

Do You Know Your Christmas Capitals?

December 12, 2018

People all over the world celebrate the holidays in different ways, but there are some standards of the holiday that are nearly universal. Here are the cities and towns that can make a claim as the birthplace, chief production area, or “capital” ...

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“And the…” Bands Played On

December 6, 2018

If you think music today is weird, think of how many bands and singing groups in pop music history that had names where, after the name of the lead singer was given, the rest didn’t make any sense without a primer. Well, here’s that long lost pri...

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Ask Uncle John Anything: When Tongue Met Metal Pole

November 27, 2018

It’s one of the most famous scenes in one of the most popular holiday movies of all time. In A Christmas Story, the 1983 big-screen retelling of the embellished Midwestern Christmas recollections of humorist Jean Shepherd, a kid named Flick (Scott ...

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The Heroic Toilet from the Future

November 27, 2018

That’s no understatement — for the 2.3 billion people around the world who don’t have access to sanitation, a new kind of loo could save countless lives. Flush toilets aren't everywhere Flush toilets are commonplace in the U.S. and Europe...

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Some Impurrrrfect Truths About Cats

November 26, 2018

96 percent of the internet consists of cute cat pictures and funny cat videos. Okay, that’s not true, and neither are these long-held myths about cats. Myth: Cats love milk. Truth: It’s one of things we most associate with cats — they lov...

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The Hows and Whys of Coffee

November 22, 2018

Does Uncle John, the guy responsible for producing a 600-page book every year, drinking a lot of coffee? You better believe he does. Here’s how the good stuff works.  Awaken! Caffeine affects neurotransmitters. Normally, those keep blood ves...

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News That Just Blew In

November 22, 2018

Catch a whiff of these recent stories all about natural gas. (They’re about farts is what we’re saying.) The Air Up Here On a February 2018 flight from Dubai to Amsterdam on Transavia Airlines (a discount Dutcher carrier), an elderly man just c...

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The Strange and Twisted History of Thanksgiving

November 21, 2018

Here are some facts about Thanksgiving that are darker than the turkey’s dark meat, and more alarming than your aunt’s green gelatin casserole.  Be Glad You're Eating Turkey  We often think of the Pilgrims as the inventors of Thanksgi...

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The Simpsons

So Long, Springfield

November 20, 2018

The Simpsons has been on the air for more than 30 years now, and the setting of Springfield has expanded to include literally hundreds of characters. On occasion, the population contracts. Here are some characters no longer on the show…and why. A...

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It’s Almost Wolfenoot!

November 16, 2018

Here’s the lowdown — and adorable origin story — of the world’s newest and fluffiest holiday. A day just for dogs There are so many holidays to celebrate different members of the family — Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Grandparen...

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Facts about Soda

Actual and Factual Facts About Soda Pop

November 15, 2018

This article was first published in our 31st annual edition, Uncle John’s Actual and Factual Bathroom Reader. Generic name The generic name for a soft drink varies by region: In New England and the Southwest, it’s generally called “sod...

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When Canada Tried to Join America

November 14, 2018

If there’s ever a 51st state in the United States, it’ll most likely be Puerto Rico or the District of Columbia. But if these very small political movements had had their way, we’d already have more states: former Canadian provinces. All o...

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Stan Lee

Stan Lee Was Truly “Excelsior!”

November 13, 2018

Stan Lee passed away this week at the age of 95. As the chief creative mind at Marvel Comics for decades, he helped make comics a viable literary form and a distinctly American contribution to art with near-mythological-level by introducing everyone ...

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Mmm…Cameos

November 13, 2018

The Simpsons just started its unprecedented thirtieth season on the air. This one is sure to include some special celebrity guest stars…which is old hat for the series. Here are some stories behind some Simpsons cameos.  Leonard Nimoy  One of ...

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Keeping the Pace With Earl Bakken

November 12, 2018

In October of 2018, this former electronics repairman died at the age of 94. What did he go on to do? Revolutionize medicine and save lives. It started with Frankenstein Even as a child, Earl Bakken was obsessed with electronics, an inclination...

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Not Playing the Super Bowl

November 9, 2018

Performing at the Super Bowl halftime show is one of the biggest gigs in music — a singer or band has truly “made it” if they’re asked to play for a stadium full of 90,000 people and a TV audience of a billion or so. And yet quite a few of th...

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Interesting Ballot Measures

Interesting Things Americans Voted On This Week

November 7, 2018

On Election Day, millions of Americans cast their votes for senators, members of congress, local officer holders…and some quirky and fascinating ballot measures and initiatives. SOUTH POLL In Florida, voters passed Amendment 4. Previously...

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Queen Bohemian Rhapsody

Crazy Little Things About Queen

November 6, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody, a film about the life of rock legend Freddie Mercury, and his band, Queen, hits theaters soon. Before you see that eye-opener about the group’s impact on music, check out these unbelievable but true facts about Mercury and Queen...

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Giving It the Old College Try

November 5, 2018

College football is one of the oldest sports in the country, with east coast teams squaring off on the gridiron in the late 1800s. Here are some of the oldest players to ever play the game — as in they weren’t exactly of the “traditional” col...

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A World Series For the Record Books

November 2, 2018

The 2018 “Fall Classic” is all over. The Boston Red Sox defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games to win its ninth overall World Series. It was a bit of a nutty postseason, and here are some of the records that were set since the end of the ...

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Classroom Origins

November 1, 2018

Close your eyes and think back on your school days. Picture that chalkboard and the hand-cranked pencil sharpener, and that soft pink eraser in your desk. Here’s where all that stuff came from. (This article was first published in our 31st annu...

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Forgotten Halloween Traditions

October 30, 2018

How are you celebrating All Hallow’s Eve? Trick-or-treating, taking someone trick-or-treating, or bobbing for apples? You probably won’t get up to some of these old-fashioned things.  Apple Wedding  A Scottish tradition that spread to...

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What’s Really In a Witch’s Potion?

October 30, 2018

In countless movies, TV shows, and plays — particularly Shakespeare’s spooky Macbeth — witches are depicted stirring up a cauldron full of a nasty and powerful potion that will make others do who knows what. All the ingredients inevitably co...

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