I worked in a video store for 25 years. Here’s what I learned as my industry died.

If you’re actually in a video store, the stakes are different. You’re engaged. You’re on a mission to find a movie — the right movie. You had to get out of bed, get dressed, and go to a store. You had to think about what you want, why this movie looks good and not that one, perhaps even seeking guidance or advice. Whether it’s from nostalgia, advertising, packaging, reputation, recommendation,…

Why Is Othello Black?

To us today, the word “black” carries with it a specific cluster of associations informed by history, culture, stereotypes, and literature. Othello may have started in conversation with Shakespeare’s definition of blackness, but today, he speaks with ours. A much more interesting question, really, is: Why is Othello black? Why did Shakespeare write a domestic tragedy about jealousy, and make the husband a Moor? Is Othello’s race a canard, or…


Play-Doh was Originally Wallpaper Cleaner

The story of Play-Doh began when Kutol, a Cincinnati based soap company, was about to go under in the late 1920s.  Cleo McVicker, just 21 years old, was tasked with selling off the company’s remaining assets, which at the time comprised mainly of powdered hand soap. Once that was done, the company would be too.  Cleo, however, managed to turn a nice profit in performing his task, the result of…


Surprise: Humanities Degrees Provide Great Return On Investment

The conventional wisdom is that humanities majors are wasting all that tuition money and dooming themselves to lives of underemployment. The conventional wisdom is wrong. Humanities degrees are actually worth well more than the cost of college. […] The present value of the extra earnings that graduates in humanities majors can expect over their lifetime is $302,400 for drama majors, $444,700 for English majors, $537,800 for history majors, and $658,900…

Scan 10

It not only went VROOM, it carried chunky plastic letters that could *spell* VROOM.

Tonight, when I got home after all the evening’s ballet and piano lessons were over, I was plugging in my laptop at my desk and knocked down a little framed picture — it’s a photo my wife took of me on our first date. (On that same occasion, I also took a picture of her, and it’s framed on the other side of my desk.) I had completely forgotten that…

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Battle of Agincourt — 600 Year Anniversary of Henry V’s “St. Crispin’s Day Speech”

Sure, Marty McFly Day is interesting and all that, but Oct 25, 2015 marks the 600 year anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, the occasion for Henry V’s famous St. Crispin’s Day Speech, which, as Shakespeare rendered it around 1599, ends thus: This story shall the good man teach his son; And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it…