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Weekend Links: 88 Books That Shaped America

The Library of Congress has chosen 88 books that shaped America, do you agree with their choices? They are willing to take your suggestions as well!
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From James (link-hero this week): "For some reason this one made me laugh out loud.  Maybe it is my memory of seeing John Boorman's 'Excalibur' and hearing this during one of the pivotal scenes - or maybe it was the memory of one of the Stanley Cup winners using O Fortuna to present the Cup to their team at the first game of the following season, but for whatever reason, I will now be singing this as Gopher Tuna - sorry Carl Orff." Point is, this misheard lyrics video is hilarious.
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Here's a dose of creepy for you - famous American death masks. Reminds me a bit of Victorian death photography
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Is it a bird? Or a plane? No, it's a dragon fight in the heart of Orion!
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A fascinating graphic of tornado tracks in the United States through history, highlighted for intensity. Also a guide for where not to live if tornados are your #1 fear.
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I know the Sh*t People Say meme died a long time ago, but I think its worth resurrecting for this incarnation which focuses on American soccer fans (I am guilty of a few of these but it did make me laugh). KAKA!
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Classic Movie Stars Spending Time With Their Pets. Get the Kleenex ready if you watch that video at the end with Jimmy Stewart talking about his beloved dog.
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"It's the economy, stupid!" At least, that's the advice that could have possibly prevented these Ten Economic Blunders from History.
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In case you missed it, the San Diego fireworks show had a mishap that resulted in everything exploding in 15 seconds. Honestly I have always wondered what it would look like if they just set off all fireworks in a mass explosion … now I know! Thank you, City of San Diego!
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Stay tuned - more links tomorrow! In the meantime send your submissions to FlossyLinks@gmail.com

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How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?
iStock
iStock

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.

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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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