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YouTube Tuesday from Greg Veis: YouTube Hunter

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Denizens of the Floss,

Welcome to the first ever YouTube Tuesday. Let me just out and say it: this is a milestone. I don't feel as if I have to back that statement up with proof, so I won't. But I will say this: one of the great self-obvious truths of 2006 is that 2-1.jpgYouTube has grown from a place where amateur film geeks could post videos of their friend's gnarly skateboarding sessions to a massive cultural force. Some would even say a political one. That's not to say it's still not overrun with a mind-numbing library of whack skateboarding videos -- it clearly is (although I admit a fondness for the ones where a boarder takes it where it counts, like this one, which, reader beware!, has some naughty language -- but a truly superior, almost era-defining if you want to get all anthropological on it, title: "Scott racks his nutsack on a rail") -- but YouTube has undoubtedly tapped into something -- indeed, many things -- we crave: a sense of voyeurism or exhibitionism (depending on which side of the camera you're on), the desire to waste time, and the need to instantly retrieve whatever may be at the loudly blinking center of our cultural radar, whether it be a fake rap about white guys going to the movies on SNL (since removed by NBC's lawyers) or a pitch-perfect performance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

It's not for nothing that YouTube is now one of the most visited sites on the Internet, with its viewer numbers up 297% in the first six months of 2006. So I'll be the guy to help you navigate through the muck. To tell you which clips are worth your time, which aren't, and which you should stop mass-emailing around like some sort of mannerless ape.

2.jpgIt's grizzly terrain, but Greg Veis: YouTube Hunter is what the mental_floss brain trust calls me, and I intend to execute my duties with all the Hemingway-ian flair that name carries with it. Greg Veis: YouTube Hunter. You heard that right, ladies; that's what they call me.

But I'll need your help. So if you have suggestions for videos I absolutely must see, or ones that I absolutely must not but probably can't help myself from, email them to Working together, we could even take this guy. I have no doubt.

Until next week...

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Let Alexa Help You Brine a Turkey This Thanksgiving
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There’s a reason most of us only cook turkey once a year: The bird is notoriously easy to overcook. You could rely on gravy and cranberry sauce to salvage your dried-out turkey this Thanksgiving, or you could follow cooking advice from the experts.

Brining a turkey is the best way to guarantee it retains its moisture after hours in the oven. The process is also time-consuming, so do yourself a favor this year and let Alexa be your sous chef.

“Morton Brine Time” is a new skill from the cloud-based home assistant. If you own an Amazon Echo you can download it for free by going online or by asking Alexa to enable it. Once it’s set up, start asking Alexa for brining tips and step-by-step recipes customized to the size of your turkey. Two recipes were developed by Richard Blais, the celebrity chef and restaurateur best known for his Top Chef win and Food Network appearances.

Whether you go for a wet brine (soaking your turkey in water, salt, sugar, and spices) or a dry one (just salt and spices), the process isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. And the knowledge that your bird will come out succulent and juicy will definitely take some stress out of the holiday.

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Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.


Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.


Patrick Smith/Getty Images

In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.


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