National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel

WATCH THIS: Going Deep With David Rees

National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel

A new TV series debuts tonight on the National Geographic Channel. And it's totally bananas. Going Deep With David Rees reveals the hidden complexity of topics you thought were simple, like "How to Make an Ice Cube" (the premiere episode), or "How to Tie Your Shoes" (also airing tonight). The joy of the show comes from Rees's ability to embrace the silliness of spending a half hour of TV on ice-cube-making while actually teaching you how to make really great ice cubes. I implore you to check this out. This is the kind of TV we need.

Recommended for: fans of deadpan humor and/or people who think explainer TV shows have gotten out of hand.

When it airs: Monday nights at 10pm ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel, starting Monday, July 14, 2014. Each Monday you get a Rock Block of two half-hour episodes.

Here's a trailer, though other videos below may give you a better sense of the show's tone:

Just Look at This

In the third episode of the series, host David Rees goes deep on
"How to Dig a Hole." He consults miners in his quest to dig the hole of his dreams (mild spoiler: it's a party hole), but it turns out that digging a party hole is extremely difficult when you pick a spot right above a layer of shale. Here's a brief promo video from mid-dig:

"It's so much work making this much emptiness," Rees says, laughing, sitting in his unfinished party hole. That really is deep. It's also a dumb joke, and that's the beauty of this show. The show comments on this tension when Rees visits a Buddhist monk to explore the impermanence of sand mandalas, and meditate on the impermanence of ice cubes. Rees gets to play the dumb host when he "gets schooled" by the monk, but he's also presumably the guy whose idea it was to go talk to monks for his cable TV show. It's not every day that we get such a smart injection of practical Buddhist wisdom in the middle of an explainer show.

Also, here's an important outtake from the "How to Shake Hands" episode. Note that Rees plays at least three characters here: Fake David Rees (at the beginning), Cable TV Host (at 0:23), and a glimpse of Real David Rees right at 0:39 when he breaks. I mean, COME ON:

This show requires viewers to confront ambiguity. This is a pretty minor challenge in the larger scheme of things, but judging from fan reaction to Rees's previous work (he's the artisanal pencil-sharpener), sometimes this really bugs people. A common reaction to Rees's recent work is for someone to ask, "Is this a joke?" That is the wrong question. The right question is simply: "Do you enjoy this?"

Layering the Joke

Let's go deep on Going Deep for a moment. Here is a genuinely educational show on a channel that carries educational programming—okay, so it's an educational applied-science show. However, the show is presented by a (very deadpan) comedian, and the premise of each episode is totally absurd—okay, so I guess it's comedy. Add to that a healthy layer of parody of the "educational TV" genre itself (and a very refreshing parody of the everyman host character), and you're left with a crazy layer cake of meaning, in which the show parodies itself as it's happening, but also has actual educational stuff that pokes through. For me, this is hilarious and beautiful. For others, it's just confusing. This is a true "love it or hate it" show. I love it.

Here's another outtake, from an episode I haven't seen yet. The fact that this is happening while a slow loris is just kinda hanging around...well, again, I think you simply need to experience this, and see whether you'd like to watch a half hour of it:

Now Watch This

The show premieres tonight, Monday, July 14, 2014 at 10pm ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel. There are two episodes each airdate, each running a half hour. Go have a look (or check out the show online) and come back to thank or yell at me.

Previous coverage of Rees: Attention to Detail With David Rees; How to Sharpen Pencils; How to Sharpen Pencils (With a Wu-Tang Shirt); and The Late Movies: Codefellas.

Live Smarter
How to Rescue a Wet Book

Water and books don't usually go together. If you're one of the many sorting through waterlogged possessions right now—or if you're just the type to drop a book in the bath—the preservation experts at Syracuse University Libraries have a video for you, as spotted by The Kid Should See This. Their handy (if labor-intensive) technique to rescue a damp book features paper towels, a fan, some boards, and a bit of time. Plus, they offer a quick trick if you don't have the chance to repair the book right away.

The Kid Should See This also notes that literary magazine Empty Mirror has further tips on salvaging books and papers damaged by water, including how to clean them if the water was dirty (rinse the book in a bucket of cold water, or lay flat and spray with water) and what to do if there's a musty smell at the end of the drying process (place the propped-open book in a box with some baking soda, but make sure the soda doesn't touch the book).

Of course, prevention is the best policy—so store your tomes high up on bookcases, and be careful when reading in the bath or in the rain. (That, or you could buy a waterproof book.)

[h/t: The Kid Should See This]

15 Common Stains and Easy Ways to Get Them Out

There's a stain solution to nearly anything you've spilled, smeared, squirted, or slopped.


Four people sitting on a bench with the photo cropped from the waist down. All of their denim-clad knees are covered in grass stains.

Everyone loves a lush, green lawn—except when it’s smeared on your clothes. The next time you’ve got a Kentucky Bluegrass mess, just apply some pre-wash stain remover and let it sit for 15 minutes. You can also go the natural route and mix up a solution consisting of one part vinegar to two parts water. Then, use a old toothbrush or other small brush to work it in. Finally, launder as usual.


When it comes to bloodstains, look to the experts: ER nurses. According to them, the first step is to rinse the spot with cold water ASAP and blot it until you’ve gotten as much blood up as possible. Then, dab a bit of hydrogen peroxide directly to the stain and watch it magically rinse away.

If the problem is upholstery or carpet, you’ll also want to use the cold-water-and-blotting method, but this time, add a tablespoon of dish detergent to two cups of cold water. Carpet cleaner intended for pet stains may also work well.


A blob of spilled ketchup on a white background.

The next time you find yourself with this condiment running down your shirt, don’t despair. First, flush the spot with water, starting with the back side of your shirt. Pretreat the spot with a liquid laundry detergent and let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse well. Repeat this step until you’ve removed as much of the condiment as possible, then treat with a pre-wash stain remover and launder as usual.


Dribbling Crest on your shirt before heading out the door to work is certainly annoying, but it’s definitely not the end of your apparel as long as you act quickly. Remove the excess goop first, then get a cloth wet with warm water and blot the area. Next, add a few drops of laundry detergent to the warm water and continue blotting. Blot with clean, warm water to rinse and allow the spot to air dry.


A glass of red wine tipped on its side. Some liquid remains in the glass, while the rest has been spilled out onto a white napkin and tablecloth.

This solution almost feels like a science experiment: Find the affected area and stretch the fabric over the opening of a bowl, securing it in place with a rubber band. Generously sprinkle salt on top of the fabric, then pour hot water through the fabric into the bowl and watch the stain disappear. Finally, toss it in the washer as normal.


Got a grease stain? There’s a good chance that the antidote is sitting next to your kitchen sink. Any petroleum-based dish detergent, like Dawn or Sunlight, is designed to cut grease. While you probably use it to get your pots and pans sparkling, it has a similar effect on clothes. Just saturate the grease spot with the soap, let it soak in for a few minutes, then toss in the washer.


A yellow coffee cup tipped sideways, sitting on top of a blue dress shirt. The coffee has spilled all over the blue shirt.

If it’s a really fresh stain, you might be in luck (and also scalded). Running the stain under cold water from the back of the stain just might do the trick. If that doesn’t work, rub liquid laundry detergent on it and let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes. For old stains, soak the garment in cold water after you treat with detergent, then rub the fabric every 5 minutes to loosen up the stain. If it’s still stubbornly hanging on after about 30 minutes, soak it in warm water for another 5-15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

If this all sounds like a lot of work, try a gel stain remover, which does a good job at getting into the fibers of the fabric.


Even if you’re extremely careful, putting on your shirt after you’ve already put deodorant on can be a tricky affair. But you don’t have to find a new shirt after those telltale white stripes show up on your shirt. Rub the smudges with pantyhose, knee highs, foam rubber from a padded hanger, or a dryer sheet. If you don’t have any of those things available, you can even rub the fabric of your shirt against the stain to loosen the residue.


Various circular and square pans containing liquid and powder makeup, with brushes dipping into some of them.

If it’s concealer, eyeliner, blush, eyeshadow, or mascara, just use a little prewash stain treatment and wash as usual. Lipstick or lip balm may be a little more stubborn. If stain stick followed by laundering doesn’t work, try sponging the stain with a dry-cleaning solvent and washing again.


When the baby douses your shoulder with the remains of her lunch, you’re better off if she's breast-fed. Simply wash your clothes in normal detergent, then hang to dry in the sun. The sun’s bleaching properties should do the trick if the detergent didn’t.

Because of formula’s chemical makeup, formula stains are another matter entirely. After scrubbing at the stain with a stiff brush to remove as much of it as possible, sprinkle the entire stain generously with baking soda. Then pour club soda over the stain and let it soak until the mixture stops fizzing. Then, launder as usual, air dry, and cross your fingers.

11. MUD

The ankles of a pair of mud-splattered blue jeans hanging in front of a washing machine.

First, resist the urge to work on the stain while the mud is still wet. Most of the time, it pays to work on a stain while it’s fresh, but wiping at mud is only going to smear it around and make the stain bigger. Once it’s dry, shake off the dirt or vacuum it up. Then rub liquid detergent into the stain and let it soak for about 15 minutes. Rub the stained area with your fingers every few minutes to loosen the dirt. If the stain remains after 15 minutes, apply some stain stick, gel, or spray, and let it sit for five minutes. Wash with detergent as usual.


Remove as much of the paint as possible with a paper towel, or, if the paint is dry, scrape it off with a dull knife or spoon. If the paint is water-based, all you have to do is rinse the stain in warm water until the color has run out, then wash as usual. If it’s oil-based, you’ll need to treat the mark with turpentine first, then rinse and launder.

13. INK

A pen in the pocket of a white dress shirt, with a blue ink stain starting to form in the bottom of the pocket.

The ink removal method will depend on what type of fabric you’ve marked with ink, but in many cases, rubbing alcohol or a solution of vinegar and dishwashing detergent will take care of it. Better Homes and Gardens has a quite comprehensive list of fabrics, from cotton to velvet, including detailed instructions for each. Your ink stain doesn’t stand a chance.


Just because it’s permanent marker doesn’t mean you’ve got a permanent problem. Get the stain damp first, then spritz it with a non-oily hairspray. Blot at the marker stain with a paper towel until you see the color transfer from the fabric to the paper towel. You can also try the same method with rubbing alcohol, putting paper towels underneath the stain to absorb the color.

If you’re up for a bit of an experiment, soak the affected area in a bowl of milk and watch the marker ink change the milk colors. Repeat with a fresh bowl of milk until the stain is gone.


A clear glass tipped sideways on an off-white colored carpet, spilling red juice out onto the rug.

Contrary to most of the other advice for stain removal, you don’t want to get liquid detergent anywhere near a fruit juice stain—it will only set it. Instead, use white vinegar to blot the stain, then rinse with cool water. If the stain persists, try a digestant enzyme paste (unless your fabric is silk or wool) and let it dry for 30 minutes, then rinse.


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