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Here's to you: Mrs. Webb

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Most of you probably know that Charles Webb wrote a novel in 1963 called The Graduate, which was turned into the film by Mike Nichols in 1967. Most of you probably also know that Benjamin Braddock is a big-time WASP in the book, and as such, the part was originally offered to Robert Redford. (You knew that, right?)

And as surely you're aware, before Dustin Hoffman came along, "ethnic" guys didn't get leading roles in major motion pictures. The unlikely success of The Graduate opened doors for folk like Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro.

But what you surely did not know, which I feel you really must, because it's just that wonderful, is the following, taken right from our friends at Wiki (are you strapped into your parachutes?):

As of 2006, [Charles] Webb has been with his long-term partner Eve for more than 40 years. Eve shaves her head and calls herself "Fred" in solidarity with a Californian support group called Fred, for men who have low self-esteem [2]. Fred is an artist and her work includes illustrations for Webb's 2002 novel New Cardiff. The couple have two sons, one of whom is now a performance artist who once cooked and ate a copy of The Graduate with cranberry sauce [3].

The Webbs removed their children from school so that they could tutor them at home. This was an illegal act in California at the time, and to evade the authorities they fled the state; at one point they managed a nudist camp in New Jersey. They also divorced - accounts vary as to why (it was not due to personal differences), either in protest against the institution of marriage [4] or against the US's lack of marriage rights for gays [5]. They sold their wedding presents back to their guests and having given away four houses in succession lived on the breadline, taking menial jobs as cleaners, cooks and fruit-pickers, working at K-Mart and living in a shack [6]. They currently live in Hove, East Sussex.

AND... lastly, you need to know:

In May, 2006 Webb announced that he has signed a deal with Random House to write a sequel to The Graduate. The sequel, which will be titled Home School, takes place ten years after the ending of the first novel

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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 bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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science
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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