Greatest Hits of '07: Local Trivia

As we near year's end, we're re-posting a few heavily commented-upon posts from earlier in 2007. Here's one of my favorites, from September.

According to Wikipedia, Babe Ruth once lived in my hometown. I'm surprised this never came up. I realize it might be suburban legend, and you probably don't care. Most conversations starting with "Did you know Babe Ruth once lived in my hometown?" probably end soon thereafter.

But we've had great comments under past posts soliciting your local trivia, including discussions of school names, school nicknames, famous classmates and unfortunate street names. So let's try again. What's the most fascinating fact about your hometown?

clocktower.jpgThat The Babe used to be my neighbor might not be Denville's claim to fame. Here are a few other facts:

"¢ During the last season of The Sopranos, Tony and Christopher crashed on their way from New York to the greater Caldwell area. They were taken to St. Clare's Hospital in Denville. This bypassed several closer major hospitals, representing major inefficiencies in our health care system. But still, the plug was nice.

"¢ When I was in third grade, parts of Torch Song Trilogy were filmed at Knuth Farm, across the street from Lakeview School. During shooting, Matthew Broderick occasionally had lunch in our cafeteria. We were not allowed to meet him or know what the movie was about.

"¢ Former Knick, Senator and Presidential candidate Bill Bradley and Just Shoot Me star Laura San Giacomo are Ruth's modern rivals for the title of Denville's Most Famous Resident (though I don't think either live there now.)

"¢ Denville Dairy and Pavolo's Pizza are among the world's best providers of ice cream and pizza. (Says me.)

Bone Broth 101

Whether you drink it on its own or use it as stock, bone broth is the perfect recipe to master this winter. Special thanks to the Institute of Culinary Education

Why Can Parrots Talk and Other Birds Can't?

If you've ever seen a pirate movie (or had the privilege of listening to this avian-fronted metal band), you're aware that parrots have the gift of human-sounding gab. Their brains—not their beaks—might be behind the birds' ability to produce mock-human voices, the Sci Show's latest video explains below.

While parrots do have articulate tongues, they also appear to be hardwired to mimic other species, and to create new vocalizations. The only other birds that are capable of vocal learning are hummingbirds and songbirds. While examining the brains of these avians, researchers noted that their brains contain clusters of neurons, which they've dubbed song nuclei. Since other birds don't possess song nuclei, they think that these structures probably play a key role in vocal learning.

Parrots might be better at mimicry than hummingbirds and songbirds thanks to a variation in these neurons: a special shell layer that surrounds each one. Birds with larger shell regions appear to be better at imitating other creatures, although it's still unclear why.

Learn more about parrot speech below (after you're done jamming out to Hatebeak).


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