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Contest winners: Your song, but butter (er, better)

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Last week's contest, in which we challenged you to tweak and improve the lyrics of your favorite songs, had a surprising but delightful side effect: a boatload of new mondegreens. I particularly liked one that reader Joel said belonged to his "buddy's high school girlfriend" -- yeah, Joel, we've all heard "my friend has a problem" before -- which substituted "God sent gravy" for "constant craving." Jordan alerted us to a lovely tune called "Alex the Seal," apparently written for the hundreds of confused Australian Go-Gos fans who called radio DJs to request it back in the '80s. Then there was "Big Ol' Jet Airliner." Note to Steve Miller -- next time you perform this in concert, someone in your audience will be singing:

  • "bingo Jed had a light on"
  • "big ol' jelly rhino"
  • "we're gonna jam at the lighthouse"
  • "pink hotel with the light on"
  • "big ol' Geralina"

But as much as we love these new lyrics ("big ol' jelly rhino" is definitely an improvement), we get the feeling they were unintentional and originally misheard. "Chant Macleod" thought so too, and suggested a different tweak for "Big Ol' Jet Airliner:"

How about changing "Big ol' jet airliner, don't carry me too far away" to something more topical, like: "Big ol' jet airliner, they took my carry-on bag away?"

I'd totally give this the prize if I weren't (a) traveling right now and (b) still smarting about the new carry-on regulations. It hits a little too close to home.

bacon.jpgThe winner, then, is Karen, who is right in tune with the fact that I'm writing this post over breakfast:

The Ramones' "I Wanna be Sedated" is way more interesting when you sing "I wanna piece of bacon" instead.

Joey and Dee Dee would have been proud. Karen, send us your mailing address, and we'll get your book on its way!

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
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While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at

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Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.


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