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The Late Movies: Classic Letterman

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I was just alerted to this trove of classic David Letterman clips on YouTube. They appears to be transferred from VHS tapes, and give a glimpse of what late-night TV looked like in the 1980's. Ah, memories.

Dave Gets Help Making a Phone Call, January 1988

With a telephone technician, a receptionist skilled at dialing, a production assistant, legal counsel, a staff runner, and a fireman...what could possibly go wrong?

The NBC Bookmobile, February 1988

Dave gets a visit from a bookmobile on a forklift. "It's all in preparation for the upcoming Battle of the Network Bookmobiles."

Top Ten List & Supermarket Finds, July 1986

Wow, a reference to the USFL (United States Football League). Now that's dated.

Gift Shop Finds (Including Intro), August 1985

Elvis Earmuffs. "Need to make a good impression on that important job interview?" Also an Elvis Presley Musical Jewelry Box.

Intro from Dave's First Month on the Air, 1982

A walk-and-talk on the way to the studio. You get to see Andy Rooney on the way, and an early appearance of Bud Melman.

Post Your Favorites

Got a favorite Letterman clip? Post a link in the comments!

(Via John Merriman's awesome Twitter feed.)


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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

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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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