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The All-Time Most Popular Posts From 21 Wonderful Websites

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While poking around in Google Analytics the other day, I was a little surprised to learn this was our all-time most popular story. I thought it was this. Or maybe this. So we decided to call people at various websites and ask everyone the same question — what was your #1 all-time most-clicked-on post? Here's what they told us.

1. Boing Boing — Classic Arcade Game Deaths

Directed by Rob Beschizza, this video has been viewed over 1.2 million times. I recommend watching it, then letting the music — a MIDI version of "Mad World" — play in the background the rest of the week.

Link: Classic Arcade Game Deaths (Boing Boing Video)

2. The Week — Why Do Smart Kids Grow Up to Be Heavier Drinkers?

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Two studies suggested a correlation between intelligence and a thirst for alcohol. The good people at our sister site The Week examined the connection.

Link: Why Do Smart Kids Grow Up to Be Heavier Drinkers?

3. Flavorwire — The 30 Harshest Musician-on-Musician Insults

Flavorwire followed up their popular lists of author-on-author and filmmaker-on-filmmaker insults with a look at music feuds. Like this Elton John zinger about Keith Richards: “It’s like a monkey with arthritis, trying to go onstage and look young.”

Link: The 30 Harshest Musician-on-Musician Insults

4. Lifehacker — Turn Your $60 Router into a $600 Router

This is one of at two posts in Lifehacker's 3 Million Pageviews Club. "How to Crack a Wi-Fi Network’s WEP Password" is the other.

Link: Turn Your $60 Router into a $600 Router

5. LIFE.com — 30 Dumb Inventions

Reg Speller/

Society made some great strides in the early 20th century. These inventions weren't among them.

Link: 30 Dumb Inventions

6. Neatorama — The 10 Most Magnificent Trees in the World

Image credit: Vladi22

A little tree porn from our friends at Neatorama.

Link: The 10 Most Magnificent Trees in the World

7. The Awl — Inside David Foster Wallace's Private Self-Help Library

"There are indications — particularly in the markings of his books — of Wallace's own ideas about the sources of his depression, some of which seem as though they ought to be the privileged communications of a priest or a psychiatrist. But these things are in a public archive and are therefore going to be discussed and so I will tell you about them."

Link: Inside David Foster Wallace's Private Self-Help Library

8. Geeks Are Sexy — The Geek Alphabet

Z is for Zork, indeed. That makes me so happy.

Link: The Geek Alphabet

9. BuzzFeed — The 24 Best Chat Roulette Screenshots

The photo above is from the sequel, 30 More Great Chat Roulette Screenshots.

Link: The 24 Best Chat Roulette Screenshots [NSFW]

10. The Atlantic — Caring for Your Introvert

"Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of introverts. It has even learned, by means of brain scans, that introverts process information differently from other people (I am not making this up). If you are behind the curve on this important matter, be reassured that you are not alone."

Written back in 2003, this one might not technically be most popular thing ever posted at TheAtlantic.com, but I'm told that if it's not #1, it's close.

Link: Caring for Your Introvert

11. Smithsonian Snapshot — Parachute Wedding Dress

"This wedding dress was made from a nylon parachute that saved Maj. Claude Hensinger during World War II."

Link: Parachute Wedding Dress

12. YesButNoButYes — 15 Unintentionally Hilarious Comic Book Panels

YesButNoButYes is no more, but several of their writers — Miss Cellania and myself included — spent good times writing over there. Nothing I contributed ever approached the pageview onslaught of this Rich Barrett masterpiece.

Link: 15 Unintentionally Hilarious Comic Book Panels [NSFW]

13. Go Fug Yourself — A Royal Fugging: Wedding Live-Blog

Excerpt: "1:22 a.m: Blah blah blah. Ann Curry is talking about balloons."

Link: Will & Kate's Wedding Live-Blog

14. The Daily Beast — Did the White House Pressure General Shelton to Help a Prominent Donor?

Narrowing down the top Daily Beast story was tough. Do we count all the old Newsweek content? We decided to go with the top story since the merge.

Link: Did the White House Pressure General Shelton to Help a Prominent Donor?

Bonus Newsweek Link (from 1995): The Internet? Bah! Why Cyberspace Isn't, and Will Never Be, Nirvana

15. Twaggies — That's Larsony!

As someone once said (on Twitter, of course), Twaggies is kind of like the Twitter Hall of Fame.

Link: That's Larsony!

16. The Daily Dish, Featuring Andrew Sullivan — The Odd Lies of Sarah Palin

© BRIAN SNYDER/Reuters/Corbis

Sarah Palin equals pageviews.

Link: The Odd Lies of Sarah Palin

17. PhillyMag — Jon + Kate + 8 = $$$

This lengthy 2009 profile on the Gosselins nabbed the top spot over at Philadelphia Magazine.

Link: Jon + Kate + 8 = $$$

18. Capital New York — Bloomberg to Protesters: Clear Zuccotti Park

Protests equal pageviews, too.

Link: Bloomberg to Protesters: Clear Zuccotti Park

19. MetroFocus — Observations of a Jailed Journalist

Probably the youngest site on the list, MetroFocus covers life in New York. Back in September, their editor John Farley was working on a story on citizen journalism and wound up in jail.

Link: Observations of a Jailed Journalist

20. Miss Cellania — Sadie Hawkins Day

When she's not working here (or Neatorama, or...), Miss Cellania maintains her own site. This piece on the history of Sadie Hawkins Day has been getting steady traffic for years.

Link: Sadie Hawkins Day

21. The Winslow Gardens — The Front in the Morning

This is our art director's Tumblr blog. He wouldn't let me see his stats, so I picked this post at random.

Link: The Winslow Gardens
* * * * * *
We're still waiting (hoping) to hear back from a bunch of other places. If we do, expect a sequel. If there are other sites you're curious about, let us know in the comments — and if you run or work for another web entity, feel free to give your most popular story a plug and a link below.

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15 Heartwarming Facts About Mister Rogers
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Though Mister Rogers' Neighborhood premiered 50 years ago, Fred Rogers remains an icon of kindness for the ages. An innovator of children’s television, his salt-of-the-earth demeanor and genuinely gentle nature taught a generation of kids the value of kindness. In celebration of the groundbreaking children's series' 50th anniversary, here are 15 things you might not have known about everyone’s favorite “neighbor.”

1. HE WAS BULLIED AS A CHILD.

According to Benjamin Wagner, who directed the 2010 documentary Mister Rogers & Me—and was, in fact, Rogers’s neighbor on Nantucket—Rogers was overweight and shy as a child, and often taunted by his classmates when he walked home from school. “I used to cry to myself when I was alone,” Rogers said. “And I would cry through my fingers and make up songs on the piano.” It was this experience that led Rogers to want to look below the surface of everyone he met to what he called the “essential invisible” within them.

2. HE WAS AN ORDAINED MINISTER.

Rogers was an ordained minister and, as such, a man of tremendous faith who preached tolerance wherever he went. When Amy Melder, a six-year-old Christian viewer, sent Rogers a drawing she made for him with a letter that promised “he was going to heaven,” Rogers wrote back to his young fan:

“You told me that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. It means a lot to me to know that. And, I appreciated the scripture verse that you sent. I am an ordained Presbyterian minister, and I want you to know that Jesus is important to me, too. I hope that God’s love and peace come through my work on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

3. HE RESPONDED TO ALL HIS FAN MAIL.

Responding to fan mail was part of Rogers’s very regimented daily routine, which began at 5 a.m. with a prayer and included time for studying, writing, making phone calls, swimming, weighing himself, and responding to every fan who had taken the time to reach out to him.

“He respected the kids who wrote [those letters],” Heather Arnet, an assistant on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2005. “He never thought about throwing out a drawing or letter. They were sacred."

According to Arnet, the fan mail he received wasn’t just a bunch of young kids gushing to their idol. Kids would tell Rogers about a pet or family member who died, or other issues with which they were grappling. “No child ever received a form letter from Mister Rogers," Arnet said, noting that he received between 50 and 100 letters per day.

4. ANIMALS LOVED HIM AS MUCH AS PEOPLE DID.

It wasn’t just kids and their parents who loved Mister Rogers. Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who understands 2000 English words and can also converse in American Sign Language, was an avid Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood watcher, too. When Rogers visited her, she immediately gave him a hug—and took his shoes off.

5. HE WAS AN ACCOMPLISHED MUSICIAN.

Though Rogers began his education in the Ivy League, at Dartmouth, he transferred to Rollins College following his freshman year in order to pursue a degree in music (he graduated Magna cum laude). In addition to being a talented piano player, he was also a wonderful songwriter and wrote all the songs for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood—plus hundreds more.

6. HIS INTEREST IN TELEVISION WAS BORN OUT OF A DISDAIN FOR THE MEDIUM.

Rogers’s decision to enter into the television world wasn’t out of a passion for the medium—far from it. "When I first saw children's television, I thought it was perfectly horrible," Rogers told Pittsburgh Magazine. "And I thought there was some way of using this fabulous medium to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen."

7. KIDS WHO WATCHED MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD RETAINED MORE THAN THOSE WHO WATCHED SESAME STREET.

A Yale study pitted fans of Sesame Street against Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood watchers and found that kids who watched Mister Rogers tended to remember more of the story lines, and had a much higher “tolerance of delay,” meaning they were more patient.

8. ROGERS’S MOM KNIT ALL OF HIS SWEATERS.

If watching an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood gives you sweater envy, we’ve got bad news: You’d never be able to find his sweaters in a store. All of those comfy-looking cardigans were knitted by Fred’s mom, Nancy. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Rogers explained how his mother would knit sweaters for all of her loved ones every year as Christmas gifts. “And so until she died, those zippered sweaters I wear on the Neighborhood were all made by my mother,” he explained.

9. HE WAS COLORBLIND.

Those brightly colored sweaters were a trademark of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but the colorblind host might not have always noticed. In a 2003 article, just a few days after his passing, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that:

Among the forgotten details about Fred Rogers is that he was so colorblind he could not distinguish between tomato soup and pea soup.

He liked both, but at lunch one day 50 years ago, he asked his television partner Josie Carey to taste it for him and tell him which it was.

Why did he need her to do this, Carey asked him. Rogers liked both, so why not just dip in?

"If it's tomato soup, I'll put sugar in it," he told her.

10. HE WORE SNEAKERS AS A PRODUCTION CONSIDERATION.

According to Wagner, Rogers’s decision to change into sneakers for each episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was about production, not comfort. “His trademark sneakers were born when he found them to be quieter than his dress shoes as he moved about the set,” wrote Wagner.

11. MICHAEL KEATON GOT HIS START ON THE SHOW.

Oscar-nominated actor Michael Keaton's first job was as a stagehand on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, manning Picture, Picture, and appearing as Purple Panda.

12. ROGERS GAVE GEORGE ROMERO HIS FIRST PAYING GIG, TOO.

It's hard to imagine a gentle, soft-spoken, children's education advocate like Rogers sitting down to enjoy a gory, violent zombie movie like Dawn of the Dead, but it actually aligns perfectly with Rogers's brand of thoughtfulness. He checked out the horror flick to show his support for then-up-and-coming filmmaker George Romero, whose first paying job was with everyone's favorite neighbor.

“Fred was the first guy who trusted me enough to hire me to actually shoot film,” Romero said. As a young man just out of college, Romero honed his filmmaking skills making a series of short segments for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, creating a dozen or so titles such as “How Lightbulbs Are Made” and “Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy.” The zombie king, who passed away in 2017, considered the latter his first big production, shot in a working hospital: “I still joke that 'Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy' is the scariest film I’ve ever made. What I really mean is that I was scared sh*tless while I was trying to pull it off.”

13. ROGERS HELPED SAVE PUBLIC TELEVISION.

In 1969, Rogers—who was relatively unknown at the time—went before the Senate to plead for a $20 million grant for public broadcasting, which had been proposed by President Johnson but was in danger of being sliced in half by Richard Nixon. His passionate plea about how television had the potential to turn kids into productive citizens worked; instead of cutting the budget, funding for public TV increased from $9 million to $22 million.

14. HE ALSO SAVED THE VCR.

Years later, Rogers also managed to convince the Supreme Court that using VCRs to record TV shows at home shouldn’t be considered a form of copyright infringement (which was the argument of some in this contentious debate). Rogers argued that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family. Again, he was convincing.

15. ONE OF HIS SWEATERS WAS DONATED TO THE SMITHSONIAN.

In 1984, Rogers donated one of his iconic sweaters to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

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Art
5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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