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3 Famous Goldbergs

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1. Reuben Goldberg

The man behind the name: Reuben isn't just a famous sandwich, it's also the name of the American early 20th century cartoonist who inked a lot of cartoons depicting complex devices that performed simple tasks in amusing, convoluted ways. Yes, Reuben is the Goldberg behind Rube Goldberg.

Cool Reuben Goldberg fact: He graduated from UC Berkeley in 1904 but not with a fine arts or graphic arts degree, as you might expect, but rather an engineering degree, which clearly came in handy later.

Rube Goldberg on video (wild Japanese Rube Goldberg contest):

variations.jpg2. Johann Gottlieb Goldberg

The man behind the name: Johann was a German harpsichordist in the 18th century. He was also a composer but never achieved any long-lasting recognition. His name would all but be forgotten if another Johann didn't come along: Johann Sebastian Bach. Yes, Johann Goldberg is the Goldberg behind Bach's masterpiece: The Goldberg Variations, which most musicologists say was premiered by Johann Goldberg.

Cool Goldberg Variations fact: In the film The Silence of the Lambs, the "Aria" from the piece is used quite effectively as underscoring during the scene where Lecter breaks out of his courthouse cell.

Goldberg Variations on video: Check out the clip here [WARNING: some of the video, toward the very end, is not for those with weak constitutions] and then below it, be sure to check out this interesting jazz arrangement by Jacquess Loussier of the same "Aria."

whoopi-goldberg.jpg3. Whoopi Goldberg

The woman behind the name: Okay, so we all know who she is, but what about that name? Well, she was born Caryn Elaine Johnson but took the stage name Whoopee because people used to tell her she was so funny, she used to alleviate their flatulence. (I've also heard it was because SHE was rather gassy herself.)

Later she decided Whoopee Johnson sounded too bland, so she picked Goldberg, a name she once said was part of her ancestral line.

Cool Whoopi Goldberg fact: The woman has no eyebrows. None.

My favorite whoopee cushion clip on video:

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25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]


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