Famous Historical Figure Shopping List Contest Finalists!

Hillary has sent me her 10 finalists from our latest contest: Famous Historical Figure Shopping Lists. Very well done everyone! Please only vote once by dropping your ballot in the comments below. The winner will get a free copy of Hillary's new book: À la Cart.

And the finalists are"¦

a) Amelia Earhart:

Adult Diapers

Ipod nano with "20's greatest hits" on it

Iphone for the in-flight movie

Value Jet Inc. brand Life Preserver

American Airlines brand "Airplane safety check list"


b) Day 6 — trip to Lowe's

(1) potting soil
(2) apple tree (potted)
(3) snake repellent
(4) duct tape

"“ God

Note to self: create Lowe's
c) Jesus:

gauze bandages
aloe vera
Red Bull

d) Sir Isaac Newton:

Apple Peeler

e) Cleopatra at Walmart:

-hand-held mirror
-antibiotic (from pharmacy dept.)
-cat food

f) Thomas Edison:

6,600-volt AC source
Jumper cables

(Note to self: Don't forget the carrots and potassium cyanide!)

g) Beethoven
new piano- legs off this time
1 new doodle pad
1 box Kraft Cheese and Macaroni
new drinking cup- lead one is just not working.
Excedrin Tension Headache.

h) Emily Dickinson:
(first and last visit to corner store)

crackers, dry
eggs -
wry, oh, rye bread
truth, beauty - heart!

Oh! flour, 1 bag, large

i) Oscar Wilde
@ Wal-Mart (3 am)

Trapper Keeper
new underwear
Hebrew National hot dogs
Bic razors
IB Profren
circus peanuts
Cherry Garcia
Revitalizing shampoo
veal (lots of it)

j) Marie Antoinette:

Duncan Heinz Cake Mix
Latest issue of Glamour mag.
Excedrin migraine

How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?

Here’s something else to stress about for Thanksgiving: where to put the stress in the word Thanksgiving.

If you’re from California, Iowa, or Delaware, you probably say ThanksGIVing, with the primary stress on the second syllable. If you’re from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Texas Panhandle, you probably say THANKSgiving, with the primary stress on the first syllable.

This north-south divide on syllable stress is found for other words like umbrella, guitar, insurance, and pecan. However, those words are borrowed from other languages (Italian, Spanish, French). Sometimes, in the borrowing process, competing stress patterns settle into regional differences. Just as some borrowed words get first syllable stress in the South and second syllable stress in the North, French words like garage and ballet get first syllable stress in the UK and second syllable stress in the U.S.

Thanksgiving, however, is an English word through and through. And if it behaved like a normal English word, it would have stress on the first syllable. Consider other words with the same noun-gerund structure just like it: SEAfaring, BAbysitting, HANDwriting, BULLfighting, BIRDwatching, HOMEcoming, ALMSgiving. The stress is always up front, on the noun. Why, in Thanksgiving alone, would stress shift to the GIVE?

The shift to the ThanksGIVing pronunciation is a bit of a mystery. Linguist John McWhorter has suggested that the loss of the stress on thanks has to do with a change in our concept of the holiday, that we “don’t truly think about Thanksgiving as being about thankfulness anymore.” This kind of thing can happen when a word takes on a new, more abstract sense. When we use outgoing for mail that is literally going out, we are likely to stress the OUT. When we use it as a description of someone’s personality ("She's so outgoing!"), the stress might show up on the GO. Stress can shift with meaning.

But the stress shift might not be solely connected to the entrenchment of our turkey-eating rituals. The thanksGIVing stress pattern seems to have pre-dated the institution of the American holiday, according to an analysis of the meter of English poems by Mark Liberman at Language Log. ThanksGIVing has been around at least since the 17th century. However you say it, there is precedent to back you up. And room enough to focus on both the thanks and the giving.

TAKWest, Youtube
Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
TAKWest, Youtube
TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]


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