The Quick 10: The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

When I travel, I usually stay at pretty commonplace hotels: Ramadas, Hampton Inns, places like that. I'm not the kind of person who spends much time at the hotel when I'm on vacation, so it doesn't really matter to me how luxurious it is when I'm mostly just there to sleep.

However, I just booked the Hollywood Roosevelt for my trip in May and I'm pretty dang excited about it. It may be considered overrated these days thanks to people like Lindsay Lohan taking up residence there (not currently, thank God), but it's also steeped in history. And it's so deliciously Tower of Terror (I know, I know: Tower of Terror is actually deliciously Hollywood Roosevelt). Anyway, to fuel my fire, I thought I'd share a few Roosevelt Hotel facts with you today.

roosevelt1. The Roosevelt opened its luxurious doors on May 15, 1927 and was financed by an illustrious group including Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Louis B. Mayer.
2. The first-ever Academy Awards were held at the Roosevelt in the Blossom Room. Tickets cost $5, about 250 people attended and the whole ceremony lasted about 15 minutes"¦ quite a far cry from today's three-hour affair. Not surprisingly, one of the hosts of the event was Douglas Fairbanks.

3. It's rumored that Errol Flynn drummed up his famous recipe for bootleg gin in a big tub in the hotel's barber shop.

monroe4. Marilyn Monroe lived at the hotel when she was trying to break into the business. How do all of these starving artists afford to stay at a hotel like that for so long?! Anyway, Marilyn posed for her first real magazine shoot (she had some amateur photo shoots when she was still Norma Jeane).
5. If you believe in that sort of thing (I do), there are lots of ghosts lurking about the Roosevelt, and management definitely knows how to keep that buzz alive (even if the perpetrating celebs no longer are). Apparently there's a full-length mirror hanging in the basement that used to belong to Marilyn Monroe, so the Roosevelt has cleverly put a picture of Marilyn on the wall nearby so her face is reflected in the glass. Spooky. Montgomery Clift lived at the Roosevelt while filming From Here to Eternity and must have formed an attachment to the place, because nearly 43 years after his death, you can still spot him there. Or at least hear him. He is said to haunt his old room, 928, and if you stay there you can sometimes catch snippets of him reciting lines to himself and practicing his bugle. I wonder if I can request that room"¦ Other ghosts may include Carmen Miranda and Humphrey Bogart.

hockney6. Pop artist David Hockney is responsible for the underwater mural at the hotel's pool. He painted it in 1989; the pool was then promptly closed by overzealous officials who argued that the squiggles would be confusing to lifeguards. The hotel owners either had friends in high places or the state legislature realized how silly the whole thing was, because they stepped in and allowed guests back in the water.

7. There's a suite on the top floor known as the Gable-Lombard suite; it's where Clark and Carole used to have weekend dalliances while Clark was going through his divorce. It used to cost $1200, but the word is that the owner has taken up residence there and no longer rents it out.

8. David Niven has said that when he was first trying to make it as an actor, one of the desk clerks felt sorry for him and gave him a tiny little room between the elevator and the air conditioning unit and charged him practically nothing. So that explains how one actor could afford the Roosevelt; what about the rest?

9. Movies or T.V. shows with scenes filmed at the Roosevelt include Beverly Hills Cop II, Catch Me If You Can, Curb Your Enthusiasm and I Love Lucy.

strike10. The hotel played a small part in the Disney Studio Strike of 1941. A meeting at the Roosevelt was scheduled for employees to discuss the possibility of unionizing; when Walt heard this he asked them to delay the meeting so he could speak to them first. The group acquiesced and allowed Disney to have his say, but his argument ended up being unconvincing and condescending. Despite warnings that those in attendance would be severely reprimanded or fired, the rally at the Roosevelt went on as planned. It included rousing speeches from the likes of Donald Ogden Stewart and Dorothy Parker, who cleverly said, "Mr. Disney is going to have to decide if he is a man or a mouse!"

Can you tell I've got a bit of wanderlust right now? If you've been to the Roosevelt, share your experiences in the comments and let me know the dos and don'ts. Will I regret my splurge? Or is it totally worth the extra bucks?

Have a good Q10 suggestion for me? Send me a Tweet!

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These Sparrows Have Been Singing the Same Songs for 1500 Years
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iStock

Swamp sparrows are creatures of habit—so much so that they’ve been chirping out the same few tunes for more than 1500 years, Science magazine reports.

These findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, resulted from an analysis of the songs of 615 adult male swamp sparrows found in six different areas of the northeastern U.S. Researchers learned that young swamp sparrows pick up these songs from the adults around them and are able to mimic the notes with astounding accuracy.

Here’s what one of their songs sounds like:

“We were able to show that swamp sparrows very rarely make mistakes when they learn their songs, and they don't just learn songs at random; they pick up commoner songs rather than rarer songs,” Robert Lachlan, a biologist at London’s Queen Mary University and the study’s lead author, tells National Geographic.

Put differently, the birds don’t mimic every song their elders crank out. Instead, they memorize the ones they hear most often, and scientists say this form of “conformist bias” was previously thought to be a uniquely human behavior.

Using acoustic analysis software, researchers broke down each individual note of the sparrows’ songs—160 different syllables in total—and discovered that only 2 percent of sparrows deviated from the norm. They then used a statistical method to determine how the songs would have evolved over time. With recordings from 2009 and the 1970s, they were able to estimate that the oldest swamp sparrow songs date back 1537 years on average.

The swamp sparrow’s dedication to accuracy sets the species apart from other songbirds, according to researchers. “Among songbirds, it is clear that some species of birds learn precisely, such as swamp sparrows, while others rarely learn all parts of a demonstrator’s song precisely,” they write.

According to the Audubon Guide to North American Birds, swamp sparrows are similar to other sparrows, like the Lincoln’s sparrow, song sparrow, and chipping sparrow. They’re frequently found in marshes throughout the Northeast and Midwest, as well as much of Canada. They’re known for their piercing call notes and may respond to birders who make loud squeaking sounds in their habitat.

[h/t Science magazine]

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18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer
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iStock

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. ROSÉ WINE GLASSES; $60

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE; $25

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Hasbro Toy Shop

3. BUSHEL & BERRY PLANTS; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. INFLATABLE DONUT; $17

Doughnut float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. STAR SPANGLED SPATULA; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked ... with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. MLB HOT DOG BRANDERS; $8 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. UNA GRILL; $139

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, after hitting up MoMA, or anywhere in between.

Find It: MoMa Shop

8. HAMBURGER GRILLING BASKET; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon

9. COPPER FIRE PIT; $121

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. BENDY STRAW POOL NOODLE FLOAT; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. GRIDDLER DELUXE; $111

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. VINTAGE SNOW CONE MAKER; $30

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. DACHSHUND CORN ON THE COB HOLDERS; $7

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. ICE CREAM SANDWICH MAKER; $16

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. UE WONDERBOOM; $68

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. ROLLORS GAME; $38

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. HAMMOCK; $174

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS; $59

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Amazon

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