50 Amazing Skills You Can Learn on YouTube

iStock.com/Ermolenko
iStock.com/Ermolenko

We at Mental Floss are always eager to learn new things and develop new skills. If you resolved to pick up a new hobby this year or just need to finally figure out how to do some home repairs on your own, we have you covered. Here, we've collected 50 YouTube tutorials that will give you all the basics to learn both the fun (like poker or calligraphy) and the practical (like CPR or how to clean a cast iron pan). Happy learning!

1. How To Whistle With Your Fingers

This one definitely takes some practice, but it will come in handy should you ever need to hail a cab, call a dog, or get someone's attention from afar. The video shows you exactly how to position your mouth in order to get that perfect whistle.

2. How To Unclog A Kitchen Sink

For everyday clogs, you can often avoid the plumber by putting chemistry to good use. The principles Pan the Organizer uses here are the same that made your volcano bubble over at the elementary school science fair—baking soda and white vinegar, plus some heavy helpings of boiling water. It's a method that's great for people short on time, patience, or tolerance for plumber's crack.

3. How To Make Kombucha

Kombucha may seem complicated, but with a little know-how, it's actually one of the easiest drinks to make at home. All you need is a SCOBY (a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, the kombucha starter that is also sometimes called "the mother"), tea bags, sugar, water, and a big jar. Follow the recipe, set it out of the way, and watch it ferment for anywhere between one and four weeks before bottling and refrigerating it.

4. How To Speed-Read

If you made a resolution to read more books this year, then this is the tutorial for you. Memory expert Ron White highlights a few techniques you can use to double, triple, or even quadruple your reading speed. One of the tips is to stop sub-vocalizing, or reading to yourself in your head using "silent speech." A bit of Bach in the background doesn't hurt, either.

5. How To Remove A Stain From A Couch Or Carpet

Stains are a fact of life, but watching Oprah's method for removing them in this Vanity Fair video makes them a little easier to bear—and remove. Her secret involves several doses of club soda, which loosens the stain and makes it bubble up, followed by a modest application of dishwashing detergent. You'll not only learn a handy trick here, but you get to watch Oprah's face light up with glee as she watches the club soda do the job. Who doesn't love bubbles?

6. How To Build A Campfire

Grab your tinder, kindling, and fuel wood and let this video from REI show you how to build a great campfire. Along with teaching you how to build a classic "teepee-style" fire, the instructor also explains the "log cabin technique" and the "pyramid technique." These two types of long-lasting campfires require minimal attention, giving you extra time to eat an another s'more.

7. How To Do A Cartwheel

For the young at heart who want to frolick and flip in the meadows come spring (or, just teach some kids a skill you never quite mastered), a cartwheel is a far more attainable gymnastic goal than, say, a back handspring. Warm up with some stretches, and then follow these instructions on how to find your dominant side, where to place your feet and arms, and how to begin straightening your legs so there's some semblance of grace.

8. How To Remove A Red Wine Stain

First, blot as much of the liquid out of the stain as possible. Then, pour cool water on the fabric, followed by a generous pour of salt. Next, take boiling water and pour that over the stain. Let it sit for a while. If that doesn't do the trick, mix one part vinegar and two parts water, soaking the stain in that solution. Toss it in the wash to make it good as new. Then, pour yourself another glass of red.

9. How To Fix A Candle With A Buried Wick

If you can't light your favorite candle because the wick has gotten buried by wax, it's relatively easy to fix the issue. All you have to do, according to eHow Home, is heat up the candle with a torch or other heat source (a hair dryer will work, as long as you watch out for splash) so that the top layer of wax melts. Then pour off the hot wax to reveal the lost wick. Keep heating the candle until you've melted and poured out enough wax to expose a significant piece of wick. You can use tweezers or another tool to straighten out the wick and then re-light the candle.

10. How To Say "Hello" In Nearly 50 Languages

You might already know namaste and konnichiwa, but what about zdravo, ahoj, or annyeong? Let Lingualizer be your guide to cross-cultural greetings in 46 different languages. Whether you're planning a trip around the world or just want to impress at a party, this two-minute tutorial will help you make friends no matter where you go.

11. How To Change A Tire

Sometimes you need to be your own roadside assistance, which is why Howdini's quick and simple tutorial on how to get back on track after a flat tire is a must-watch. You’ll not only learn how to mount a spare, but how to do it safely and without risking injury from passing traffic.

12. How To Tie A Tie

Never fear another formal event with this guide to tying a necktie with a simple knot. Only four steps—behind, across, out, and through—need to be mastered. After only minimal practice, you should easily be able execute a knot in less than 10 seconds.

13. How To Cut An Onion (Without Crying)

There's no need to break out the industrial goggles every time you chop onions. It is possible to prepare the ingredient without weeping all over your cutting board—you just need to know which part of the pungent veggie to avoid.

14. How To Survive A Shark Attack

In the exceedingly rare, infinitesimally small chance that you could be attacked by a shark, Joe Bereta of Epic How To has a few tips. First, avoidance is key: keep out of the water at night, don't swim near river deltas where sharks like to hunt small fish, and never go swimming in Florida's open waters. If you do encounter a shark, stay calm, remain vertical in the water (it's more difficult to bite you that way), and move quickly toward shore. If the shark isn't getting the hint, bonk it on the nose with a rock or your fist and just get the hell out of there.

15. How To Clean A Cast Iron Pan

Cooking great food with a cast iron pan is easy. It's the part that comes after the meal that scares many home cooks away from owning this essential piece of kitchen equipment. Unlike some other pans, you can't stick a dirty cast iron skillet in the dishwasher. Scrubbing it with soap will damage the pan's layer of seasoning, and letting it sit around wet can cause it to rust. Fortunately, when you know how to clean and season a cast iron pan (rub it down with a mild oil, like flaxseed or vegetable oil—not olive oil!), maintaining one isn't so intimidating.

16. How To Make A Bed Properly

Ever wonder how hotels manage to make their bed sheets look so perfect? It's a skill you can easily master with this HGTV primer on creating a Four Seasons-ready bedding ensemble, including how do a proper "hospital corner" tuck at the foot of the bed. You'll even learn the secret for having crisp, wrinkle-free sheets. (Hint: It's not ironing.)

17. How To Make Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

Have you ever tried to boil an egg and ended up with a squishy, sulfurous mess? Tasty is here to help. Place eggs in a saucepot, cover completely with water, and bring to a full boil. Then remove the pot from the heat and cover with a lid. Timing is important: For soft boiled eggs, keep the pot covered for 4 to 6 minutes; for medium-hard, 8 to 10 minutes, and for hard, 14 to 16 minutes. Then, pop them in a quick icebath to make peeling easier, and enjoy!

18. How To Make A Simple Bouquet

Want to add a personal touch to a romantic gift? Flowers are always welcome—but a gorgeous bouquet, crafted with your own two hands (and creative abilities) is even better. Prep the flower and filler greens by stripping the stems of any thorns or excess leaves, arrange in three equal bunches with the focal flowers supported by the accent greens, and then bind the three bunches together with string. This clip even shows how to wrap your bouquet in brown paper for that straight-from-the-farmers'-market look. It's a skill that will come in handy on Mother's Day, anniversaries, birthdays, and beyond.

19. How To Be A Better Dancer In Three Steps

No matter how awkward or insecure you may be (and you're not alone), there comes a time when everyone must hit the dance floor with pride, or (maybe) die trying. Thankfully, this video from The Wall Street Journal breaks down the art of dancing into three easy steps: finding the basic beat of the music; step-touching with your feet; and trying variations of the step-touch to make it your own. It's an incredibly simple way to make the terrifying task of dancing in front of your friends and relatives a bit less daunting.

20. How To Save A Burnt Cake

Have your cake and then eat it, too. It takes so much work to bake a cake, and with this easy trick using a basic cheese grater to smooth off any blackened sections, you can avoid the massive letdown of a burned-looking dessert. Even better, the same trick will also work on a loaf of bread.

21. How To Play The Piano

Even if you never took piano lessons as a child, you can learn the basics with this series of short lessons. Whether it's learning the names of each key (like in this four-minute clip) or the follow-up videos on how to play various major and minor chords, a few minutes on YouTube will certainly get you past the "Chopsticks" playing level.

22. How To Repair Drywall

Fixing a hole in drywall isn't necessarily the sexiest skill, but it is one of the most satisfying—and essential. Rather than hiring a handyman to make the fix, use this video from Lowe's, which runs you through fixes for everything from tiny holes (which require some spackle and a drywall knife) to dents from door knobs (you'll need a patch kit) to bigger holes (get yourself some drywall, furring strips, and joint tape!). They might seem intimidating, but it's surprisingly easy to DIY.

23. How To Hit A Baseball

Many people can attest to the difficulty of hitting a baseball; some have even said it's the hardest thing "in the galaxy" to do. This video by ProSwingNY, however, breaks down the basic logistics in just seven fundamental steps, from squaring up to the pitcher to, of course, breathing. It might not take you to major league level, but it'll certainly give you a major advantage!

24. How To Juggle

Juggling is one of those skills that looks hard but is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. This video will help you learn to juggle three balls at once, starting from the very basics (learn to toss one ball back and forth with your eyes closed) up until you feel comfortable adding the second and third ball.

25. How To Pack A Suitcase

This video from Heathrow Airport uses flight attendant tips to help travelers maximize space in their suitcase. First, lay out everything you're thinking of bringing, then eliminate a third of it. Shoes go first: Stuff underwear and socks inside, then pop the shoes into the suitcase heel to toe. Pack the space between them with soft items like T-shirts (roll them if you have to!). Next, layer bulkier items like jeans and dresses by putting each item half in, half out of the suitcase, alternating sides; then, fold the parts outside the suitcase back into the suitcase. The next layer is a bag for your dirty clothes, over which you'll pack items like toiletries and books (make sure they're in the middle!). Snake belts around the inside edge of your suitcase. The last layer is collared shirts.

26. How To Improve Your Handwriting

Nearly everyone's handwriting can devolve into illegible chicken scratch without some practice and upkeep. If you want to spruce up your penmanship, this tutorial will walk you through some tips that you might have forgotten over the years, like how you shouldn't over-embellish any cursive loops and that proper spacing is key.

27. How To Do Calligraphy

If you've mastered cursive and want to take your writing skills to the next level, or if you just want to be able to enhance your next handwritten invitation, this how-to on modern calligraphy gives you a broad scope of the basics. Start by practicing all of letters individually to get used to making a thin upstroke and thick downstroke—and while you're at it, you'll be able to hone in on your favorite lettering style.

28. How To Get Wax Out Of A Tablecloth

Candle wax on the tablecloth is one of those unavoidable dinner party realities. But you won't cry over spilled wax if you have this video from Real Simple, which shows how to remove the melted material from fabric in two (or less) easy steps: First, freeze the waxed fabric, then scrape the wax off with a knife and throw the item in the laundry. If there's still wax remaining, it's time to get out some wax paper and an iron.

29. How To Ride A Bike

Biking is a great way to get around town—and a fun way to stay in shape—but if you didn't learn as a kid, riding on two wheels can seem pretty intimidating. This video by Cycling UK helps makes learning to ride as an adult easy, breaking down each step to properly guide you. It also emphasizes one particularly important fact: Practice makes perfect!

30. How To Make Balloon Animals

Balloon animals are irresistible. If you want to be a hit at the next children's birthday party you attend, this video by Balloon Animals on how to make a balloon dog is the place to start. It's commonly the first animal twisters learn to make, and because it requires three "lock" twists (at the ears and each set of legs), you'll learn how to make a sturdy animal from the get-go.

31. How To Knit

Though it may seem daunting at first, knitting is one of those skills that only becomes more rewarding over time. This how-to takes a look at the very first step necessary to knit anything: casting on. Let the soothing voice of Kristen Mangus of Goodknit Kisses be your guide as you learn to make your first stitch. Once you master that skill, GoodKnit Kisses has hundreds more videos of different techniques and tutorials for you to tackle.

32. How To Make A Paper Airplane

The fun of paper airplanes is often in the customization (hint: fancy wing fins), but it's also in the satisfaction of a successful flight. This video shows you how to not just make an airplane that will fly, but one that will fly fast. One you have the hang of this particular fold, you can move on to adding more embellishments.

33. How To Perform A Magic Trick

What's a great way to make your presence felt at whatever event you're attending? Magic, obviously. This video by Troom Troom SELECT shows you how to prepare and perform not just one, but 20 wildly different magic tricks. Each bit is designed for beginner magicians, but they'll still dazzle your unsuspecting audience.

34. How To Teach Your Cat To High-Five

Cats are notorious for doing only what they want to do, but don't let that fool you: They can be trained. To teach your cat how to high-five, stock up on a treat she loves, find an area that's distraction-free, and try to get her to bat at the treat. Interrupt the batting with your hand, make a clicking noise, and give her the treat; repeat. As with any skill, practice makes perfect, so keep at it with the tips in this video from Woman's Day—your kitty will be high-fiving in no time.

35. How To Meditate

Maybe you're stressed over that final paper you have due in a week, or there's a family gathering that you have been tasked with putting together. Finding ways to help your brain relax is important—and one of those ways is meditation. Achieving serenity isn't always easy, but this video breaks down the process into five easy steps: having the right location, keeping a straight spine, pre-mediation preparation, focusing on your breath, and observing without judgment.

36. How To Code

Coding—a.k.a. computer programming—is one of the most desirable and valuable skills to have in the 21st-century workplace. The complex system of symbols, letters, and commands can be intimidating, and learning the basics will take quite a bit longer than many of the other skills on this list. But starting with this video from Clever Programmer will help you understand what to look for in an online course and how to narrow down which language makes the most sense for you and your goals. Think of it as the tutorial before you begin your tutorials.

37. How To Dive

If you ever watch the summer Olympic Games, you might have been awestruck by the ways athletes made diving look so elegant. While this video by Sikana English can't guarantee you a spot on the podium, it does show you three methods—the pencil, sitting, and standing dives—for beginner divers, which will help you make a graceful entry into the water.

38. How To Play Poker

Don't know a flush from a flop? In under 10 minutes, get schooled on Texas Hold 'Em by a couple of professional British players from PokerStars, who up your ante by helping you learn the most important terms and the hierarchy of betting hands.

39. How To Drive Stick

Driving stick is almost a lost art form these days, but the delicate dance between clutch, brake, gas pedal, and gearshift can be mastered with help from Jalopnik's six-minute video. The goal is to avoid stalling the car; to do that, push the clutch all the way down to shift gears and brake, then ease slowly off the clutch as you press down on the gas. For your maiden voyage, it might help to have someone in the passenger seat giving you instructions.

40. How To Moonwalk

Learn to mimic the moves made famous by the King of Pop with this helpful guide from DZRCK, a dancer who offers a wealth of hip-hop tutorials on his YouTube channel. In this video, he breaks the magical glide of the moonwalk into three, easy-to-understand steps (and also addresses basic mistakes regularly made by beginners).

41. How To Do Basic CPR

CPR saves lives—just ask Michael Scott. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is easy to get the hang of (especially if you keep this playlist in mind), but it's more complicated than it appears, and updated information on proper techniques has changed over the years. This quick, 2-minute guide covers basic, compression-only CPR.

42. How To Play Chess

With over 100 million different variations of possible games, chess is the antithesis of what you might call simple. This video by Triple S Games won't make you a chess wiz, but it provides a succinct explanation of the basic principles of the game, including the rules and how each separate piece can move. Who knows, you might get hooked!

43. How To Play Pool

If you've seen movies featuring characters who enjoy a good hustle, chances are there was a game of pool involved. But it's not always as easy as it looks on the screen. This video by FargoBilliards teaches you how to play pool in under 10 minutes, so next time you find yourself at a local bar, you won't embarrass yourself pretending to be Paul Newman.

44. How To Play Guitar

At one point or another, the allure of being a rock star has probably crossed your mind. This video by onlineguitarschool may not lead you down the path of eternal glory, but it will give you the steps it takes to begin your journey in under 10 minutes, including an explanation of how each part of the guitar works and the function of the chords and strings on it. There's even a helpful mnemonic, "Elephants and Donkeys Grow Big Ears," to help you remember the order of the strings!

45. How To Take Better Photos

Ever heard of the "rule of thirds"? Using the grid feature in your camera app (or by conjuring up a mental grid), you'll want to position the most interesting elements of the photo along the points where those lines intersect. This could be a person standing on one side of the frame, or a tree in the bottom left corner. The off-balance effect will make your photo all the more appealing, and in this video, landscape photographer Joshua Cripps walks you through how to make your next vacation photos the envy of your whole network.

46. How To Frost A Cake Like A Pro

If you've ever cut into a homemade layer cake and realized the tiers of frosting inside looked a bit lopsided, this video from Martha Stewart's Kitchen Conundrums is for you. As host Thomas Joseph shows, all you need is a frozen cake, a serrated knife, an ice cream scoop, and—the secret ingredient—a rotating cake stand.

47. How To Fold T-shirts To Maximize Drawer Space

Make your drawers spark joy. Though this how-to calls for a folding tool (like this one), you can still achieve the tight fold for your various shirts without one. Once you get the hang of it, your dresser drawers will seem much more spacious (not to mention pretty, if you manage to also color-code them).

48. How To Order Wine At A Restaurant

Multi-page wine menus can be intimidating, even to those who have a general idea of what they like. But with this quick tutorial from a Texan sommelier, you'll have the basics covered with food pairing, price ranges, and what to say when ordering. (Hint: If you buy by the glass, the best bet is the second-cheapest option.)

49. How To Beatbox

Do you ever find yourself trying to replicate that cool beat you heard on the radio, but your unpolished skills produce a sound reminiscent of a car malfunctioning? Have no fear; this video by Howcast teaches the basics of beatboxing in just seven steps, and all you need is your mouth and a rhythm to focus on.

50. How To Fold An Origami Crane

Folding paper planes is a satisfying endeavor, but sometimes you might have greater aspirations in the paper-folding arts. Origami, in many ways, is the next step of this hierarchy of paper machinations. This video by EzOrigami gives you a detailed guide of how to create the iconic crane model, and the only thing you'll need is one square sheet of paper.

By Colin Ainsworth, Erika Berlin, Michele Debczak, Shaunacy Ferro, Kat Long, Bess Lovejoy, Erin McCarthy, Emily Petsko, Lucas Reilly, Javier Reyes, and Jake Rossen.

12 Strange-But-Real Ice Cream Flavors

ipekata/iStock via Getty Images
ipekata/iStock via Getty Images

I scream, you scream, we all scream for … horse flesh ice cream? Okay, so maybe “we all" don’t. But some people do. A lot of people, in fact. Lobster, foie gras, and ghost pepper, too. Next time you’re craving an ice-cold cone, why not step out of your vanilla/chocolate comfort zone to try one of these 12 strange-but-real ice cream flavors.

1. Horse Flesh

There are two dozen attractions within Tokyo’s indoor amusement park, Namja Town, but it would be easy to spend all of your time there pondering the many out-there flavors at Ice Cream City, where Raw Horse Flesh, Cow Tongue, Salt, Yakisoba, Octopus, and Squid are among the flavors that have tickled (or strangled) visitors' taste buds.

2. Pickled Mango

As one of the country’s most decorated ice cream makers, Jeni Britton Bauer—proprietor of Ohio-based Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams—is constantly pushing the boundaries of unique treats, as evidenced by her lineup of limited edition flavors, including last summer's Pickled Mango (a cream cheese-based ice cream with a slightly spicy mango sauce made of white balsamic vinegar, white pepper, allspice, and clove) and this year's Goat Cheese With Red Cherries.

3. Corn on the Cob

Since opening Max & Mina’s in Queens, New York in 1998, brothers/owners Bruce and Mark Becker have created more than 5000 one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors, many of them adapted from their grandfather’s original recipes. Daily flavor experiments mean that the menu is ever-changing, but Corn on the Cob (a summer favorite), Horseradish, Garlic, Pizza, Lox, and Jalapeño have all made the lineup.

4. Foie Gras

New York City's OddFellows takes the "odd" in its name seriously, and has become synonymous with experimental flavors. Since opening their doors in 2013, they've concocted more than 300 different kinds of the cold stuff—including a Foie Gras varietal.

5. Pear and Blue Cheese

“Salty-sweet” is the preferred palette at Portland, Oregon-based Salt & Straw, where sugar and spice blend together nicely with flavors like Strawberry Honey Balsamic Strawberry With Cracked Pepper and Pear With Blue Cheese, a well-balanced mix of sweet Oregon Trail Bartlett Pears mixed with crumbles of Rogue Creamery's award-winning Crater Lake Blue Cheese. Yum?

6. Ghost Pepper

“Traditional” isn’t the word you’d choose to describe any of the 100 ice cream varieties at The Ice Cream Store in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. They don’t have vanilla, they have African Vanilla or Madagascar Vanilla Bean. But things only get wilder from there, and the shop’s proprietors clearly have a penchant for the spicy stuff. In addition to their Devil's Breath Carolina Reaper Pepper Ice Cream—a bright red vanilla ice cream mixed with cinnamon and a Carolina Reaper pepper mash—there's also the classic Ghost Pepper Ice Cream, which was featured in a Ripley's Believe It or Not book in 2016. Just be warned: you'll have to sign a waiver if you plan to order either flavor.

7. Bourbon and Corn Flake

You never know exactly which flavors will appear as part of the daily-changing lineup at San Francisco’s Humphry Slocombe, but they always make room for the signature Secret Breakfast. Made with bourbon and Corn Flakes, you’d better get there early if you want to try it; it sells out quickly and on a daily basis.

8. Fig and Fresh Brown Turkey

The sweet-toothed scientists at New York City’s Il Laboratorio del Gelato have never met a flavor they didn’t like—or want to turn into an ice cream. How else would one explain the popularity of their Fig & Fresh Brown Turkey gelato, a popular selection among the hundreds flavors they have created thus far. (Beet and Cucumber are just two of their other fascinating flavors.)

9. Lobster

Don’t let the “chocolate” in the title fool you: Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium in Bar Harbor, Maine makes the most of The Pine Tree State’s most famous delicacy with its signature Lobster Ice Cream, a butter ice cream-based treat with fresh (again buttered) lobster folded into each bite.

10. Creole Tomato

The philosophy at New Orleans’ Creole Creamery is simple: “Eat ice cream. Be happy.” What’s not as easy is choosing from among their dozens of rotating ice creams, sorbets, sherbets and ices. But only the most daring of diners might want to swap out a sweet indulgence for something that sounds more like a salad, as it the case with the Creole Tomato.

11. Eskimo Ice Cream

If you happen to find yourself in an ice cream shop in Juneau, remember this: Eskimo ice cream—also known as Akutag—is not the same thing as an Eskimo Pie, that chocolate-covered ice cream bar you’ll find in just about any grocery store. Though the statewide delicacy has usually got enough fresh berries mixed in to satisfy one’s sweet tooth, its base is actually animal fat (reindeer, caribou, possibly even whale).

12. Cheetos

Big Gay Ice Cream started out as an experimental ice cream truck and morphed into one of New York City’s most swoon-worthy ice cream shops, where the toppings make for an inimitable indulgence. One of their most unique culinary inventions? A Cheetos-inspired cone, where vanilla and cheese ice cream is dipped in Cheetos dust.

10 Surprising Facts About Ernest Hemingway

Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Ernest Hemingway was a titan of 20th-century literature, converting his lived experiences in multiple wars into rich, stirring tales like A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls. The avid sportsman also called upon his love for the outdoors to craft bittersweet metaphorical works like Big Two-Hearted River and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Old Man and the Sea. Here are 10 facts about the writer known as Papa, who was born on July 21, 1899.

1. Ernest Hemingway earned the Italian Silver Medal of Valor and a Bronze Star.

Hemingway served as an ambulance driver in Italy during World War I, and on July 8, 1918, he was badly wounded by mortar fire—yet he managed to help Italian soldiers reach safety. The action earned him an Italian Silver Medal of Valor. That honor was paralleled almost 30 years later when the U.S. awarded him a Bronze Star for courage displayed while covering the European theater in World War II as a journalist. His articles appeared in Collier’s and other magazines.

2. Ernest Hemingway was also accused—and cleared—of war crimes.

Following D-Day on June 6, 1944, when Hemingway, a civilian, was not allowed to disembark on Omaha Beach, he led a band of Resistance fighters in the French town of Rambouillet on a mission to gather intelligence. The problem was, war correspondents aren't supposed to lead armed troops, according to the Geneva Convention. The Inspector General of the Third Army charged Hemingway with several serious offenses, including removing patches from his clothing that identified him as a journalist, stockpiling weapons in his hotel room, and commanding a faction of Resistance operatives. Eventually, he was cleared of wrongdoing.

Hemingway always maintained that he’d done nothing but act as an advisor. He wrote to The New York Times in 1951, stating he “had a certain amount of knowledge about guerilla warfare and irregular tactics as well as a grounding in more formal war, and I was willing and happy to work for or be of use to anybody who would give me anything to do within my capabilities.”

3. Gertrude Stein was godmother to Ernest Hemingway's son, Jack.

Renowned American modernist writer Gertude Stein moved to Paris in 1903 and hosted regular salons that were attended by luminaries and artists of the time. They included Pablo Picasso, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and a young Ernest Hemingway. Stein became godmother to Hemingway’s first son, Jack, in 1923.

4. Ernest Hemingway was allegedly a KGB spy—but he wasn't very good at it.

When Collier's sent the legendary war correspondent Martha Gellhorn to China for a story in 1941, Hemingway, her husband, accompanied her and filed dispatches for PM. Documentation from the Stalin-era KGB (revealed in a 2009 book) shows that Hemingway was possibly recruited as a willing, clandestine source just prior to the trip and was given the codename “Argo.” The documents also show that he didn’t deliver any useful political intel, wasn’t trained for espionage, and only stayed on their list of active sources until the end of the decade.

5. Ernest Hemingway checked out F. Scott Fitzgerald's penis in the men's room.

Hemingway chronicled his life in Paris in his 1964 memoir A Moveable Feast, and revealed one notorious encounter with the Great Gatsby author in the book. Fitzgerald remarked that his wife Zelda has mocked his manhood by claiming he wouldn't be able to satisfy a lover. Hemingway suggested he investigate for himself. He took Fitzgerald to the bathroom at Michaud's, a popular restaurant in Paris, to examine his penis. Hemingway ultimately told his friend that his physical endowment was of a totally normal size and suggested he check out some nude statues at the Louvre for confirmation.

6. One of Ernest Hemingway's best works came about from him leaving some luggage at the Ritz Hotel in Paris.

Speaking of A Moveable Feast, Hemingway wrote it later in life (it was published posthumously) after a 1956 stay at the Ritz Hotel in Paris wherein he was reminded that he’d left a steamer trunk (made for him by Louis Vuitton) in the hotel’s basement in 1930. When he opened it, he rediscovered personal letters, menus, outdoor gear, and two stacks of notebooks that became the basis for the memoir of his youth in Paris's café culture.

7. The famous "Baby Shoes" story is most likely a myth.

Oddly enough, a story many people associate with Hemingway probably has nothing to do with him. The legend goes that one night, while drinking, Hemingway bet some friends that he could write a six-word short story. Incredulous, they all put money on the table, and on a napkin Hemingway wrote the words “For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.” He won the bet. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence it ever happened. Some newspapers had printed versions of the six-word plotline in the 1910s without crediting Hemingway, and there's no record of his link to the phrase until 1991 (in a book about the publishing business), three decades after Hemingway’s death.

8. Ernest Hemingway almost died in back-to-back plane crashes.

In 1954, Hemingway and his fourth wife, Time and Life correspondent Mary Welsh, were vacationing in Belgian Congo when their sightseeing charter flight clipped a utility pole and crashed. When attempting to reach medical care in Entebbe the following day, they boarded another plane, which exploded upon takeoff, leaving Hemingway with burns, a concussion, and his brain leaking cerebral fluid. When they finally got to Entebbe (by truck), they found journalists had already reported their deaths, so Hemingway got to read his own obituaries.

9. Ernest Hemingway dedicated a book to each of his four wives.

Each time he got divorced, Hemingway was married again within the year—but he always left something behind in print. The dedication for The Sun Also Rises went to his first wife, Elizabeth Hadley Richardson; Death in the Afternoon was dedicated to second wife Pauline Pfeiffer; For Whom the Bell Tolls was for third wife Martha Gellhorn; and Across the River and Into the Trees went “To Mary with Love.”

10. Ernest Hemingway's house in Key West features a urinal from his favorite bar.

Hemingway wrote several iconic works, including To Have and Have Not, at his house in Key West, Florida. It’s also where he converted a urinal from a local bar into a fountain. Local haunt Sloppy Joe’s was a favorite watering hole of the irascible author, so when the place went under renovation, Hemingway took one of the urinals as a memento, quipping that he’d already poured enough money into it to make it his.

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