CLOSE
Original image
Youtube

John Hodgman's Powerful Documentary: "Hobo Matters"

Original image
Youtube

"They called it the war to end all wars. The called it the London Fire. They called it the Trail of Tears. But they were all wrong. It was called the Great Depression, and the hobos saw it coming." So begins the powerfully hilarious eight-minute mockumentary "Hobo Matters," assembled by Andrew Quitmeyer using audio from John Hodgman's audiobook rendition of The Areas of My Expertise, along with still photography from the PBS documentary American Experience: Riding the Rails. I'm stunned that I didn't spot this when it came out in 2007.

I should point out the three operative jokes here, just so we're clear. First, Hodgman's fake hobo history is the main thrust. Second, this is of course not an American Experience episode, though it almost could be one, given the overall tone. Third, I very much enjoy the repeated use of a single photograph, endlessly Ken Burns Effected, for nearly eight minutes. More like this one, please.

For more on Hodgman, see That is All: John Hodgman’s Transcendent Final Audiobook of Complete World Knowledge or THAT IS ALL, John Hodgman’s Final Book of Complete World Knowledge (the latter contains significantly more Nick Nolte material). Also weirdly pertinent: Amenities Available at the Original "Big Rock Candy Mountain."

(Via Kottke.)

Original image
Kyle Ely
arrow
school
Dedicated Middle School Teacher Transforms His Classroom Into Hogwarts
Original image
Kyle Ely

It would be hard to dread back-to-school season with Kyle Ely as your teacher. As ABC News reports, the instructor brought a piece of Hogwarts to Evergreen Middle School in Hillsboro, Oregon by plastering his classroom with Harry Potter-themed decor.

The journey into the school's makeshift wizarding world started at his door, which was decorated with red brick wall paper and a "Platform 9 3/4" sign above the entrance. Inside, students found a convincing Hogwarts classroom complete with floating candles, a sorting hat, owl statues, and house crests. He even managed to recreate the starry night sky effect of the school’s Great Hall by covering the ceiling with black garbage bags and splattering them with white paint.

The whole project cost the teacher around $300 to $400 and took him 70 hours to build. As a long-time Harry Potter fan, he said that being able to share his love of the book series with his students made it all pay off it. He wrote in a Facebook post, "Seeing their faces light up made all the time and effort put into this totally worth it."

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Though wildly creative, the Hogwarts-themed classroom at Evergreen Middle School isn't the first of its kind. Back in 2015, a middle school teacher in Oklahoma City outfitted her classroom with a potions station and a stuffed version of Fluffy to make the new school year a little more magical. Here are some more unique classroom themes teachers have used to transport their kids without leaving school.

[h/t ABC News]

Images courtesy of Kyle Ely.

Original image
Tim Boyle/Getty Images
arrow
literature
How the Rise of Paperback Books Turned To Kill a Mockingbird Into a Literary Classic
Original image
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

If you went to middle or high school in the U.S. in the last few decades, chances are you’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee's now-classic novel (which was adapted into a now-classic film) about racial injustice in the South. Even if you grew up far-removed from Jim Crow laws, you probably still understand its significance; in 2006, British librarians voted it the one book every adult should read before they die. And yet the novel, while considered an instant success, wasn’t always destined for its immense fame, as we learned from the Vox video series Overrated. In fact, its status in the American literary canon has a lot to do with the format in which it was printed.

To Kill a Mockingbird came out in paperback at a time when literary houses were just starting to invest in the format. After its publication in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was reviewed favorably in The New York Times, but it wasn’t the bestselling novel that year. It was the evolution of paperbacks that helped put it into more hands.

Prior to the 1960s, paperbacks were often kind of trashy, and when literary novels were published in the format, they still featured what Vox calls “sexy covers,” like a softcover edition of The Great Gatsby that featured a shirtless Jay Gatsby on the cover. According to a 1961 article in The New York Times, back in the 1950s, paperbacks were described as “a showcase for the ‘three S’s—sex, sadism, and the smoking gun.’” But then, paperbacks came to schools.

The mass-market paperback for To Kill a Mockingbird came out in 1962. It was cheap, but had stellar credentials, which appealed to teachers. It was a popular, well-reviewed book that earned Lee the Pulitzer Prize. Suddenly, it was in virtually every school and, even half a century later, it still is.

Learn the whole story in the video below from Vox.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios