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The Story Behind Times Square's New Year's Eve Celebration

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Tonight, over a million revelers will pack into New York’s Times Square to watch 2014 turn into 2015. The festivities will be marked by the descent of 2688 crystal triangles and 32,256 lights that comprise the iconic New Year's Eve ball, which has its own Twitter account with more than 15,000 followers. So before the champagne starts flowing and the countdown kicks off to a proverbial clean slate, let's take a look back at the history of this annual celebration.

How did Times Square become “Times Square”?

In 1904, construction was completed on a 25-story skyscraper on the triangle of land created by the intersections of 42nd Street, 43rd Street, 7th Avenue, and Broadway. It was to be the new headquarters of the New York Times. That same year, the city had plans to open the first set of underground subway lines with 28 different stations. Grand Central Station was also located on 42nd Street, and a number of stations followed Broadway’s route through the city. It was, supposedly, an attempt to avoid nominal confusion regarding the station at the base of the Times’ tower that first led to the suggestion that the city should change the name of the surrounding area from “Long Acre Square” to "Times Square." Reports differ as to whether the idea to rename the relatively underutilized collection of intersections originally came from Adolph S. Ochs, the publisher of the Times from 1896 to 1935, or from August Belemont, President of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company. Regardless of who first thought to apply the paper’s name from the building to the geography, in early April, the Board of Aldermen approved the resolution and, on April 8, the signature of Mayor George B. McClellan made it official. The next morning a headline on Page 2 of the Times read ''Times Square Is the Name of City's New Centre.''

A New New Year's Celebration

As 1904 drew to a close, Ochs wanted to celebrate the paper’s impending move in January to their recently completed Times Tower, officially bearing the address of One Times Square. In prior years, the city had celebrated New Year’s Eve at Trinity Church in downtown Manhattan, where the ringing of bells marked the change in the calendar. But sparing no expense, Ochs officially launched a new tradition with an opulent celebration, to the delight of 200,000 attendees. Fanciulli’s Concert Band, featured performers at the St. Louis World’s Fair earlier in the year, provided the soundtrack to the final moments of 1904. TheTimes touted its own publicity stunt the next morning in an article called “BIG NEW YEAR FETE AT TIMES SQUARE: Mammoth Crowd Centres There for Celebration.” 

“As the old year died and 1905 was born the news flared out from the tower of the Times Building to the north and to the south, in giant figures which took on all the colors of the rainbow and bore the tidings to thousands who waited and watched over many miles of territory,” the article read. The rainbow came in the form of fireworks that transformed the building into “a torch to usher in the new born, funeral pyre for the old.”

But What About The Ball?

New York rang in the New Year with fireworks as 1905 turned into 1906, and again as 1906 turned into 1907. But then, in 1907, the city banned the fireworks display for safety reasons, and Ochs had to find a different means to signify the city’s annual rebirth. In a January 1, 1908 article, the Times commemorated the event: “At ten minutes to midnight the whistles on every boiler in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and the waters thereof began to screech. Tens of thousands stood watching the electric ball and then—it fell.” The new ceremony was chosen to mimic the ball drop at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, which has signaled 1pm for Londoners and ship captains on the Thames since 1833. There, the object of focus is a simple bright red ball. But for Times Square, Ochs commissioned something a little more elaborate: a behemoth 700-pound wood-and-iron creation, five feet in diameter and illuminated by 100 25-watt bulbs. It was built by Russian immigrant Jacob Starr while he worked for Benjamin Strauss in a family-owned sign making company, Strauss Signs. Strauss and Starr later formed Artkraft Strauss, which produced the ball drop up through 1996.

Notable Exceptions

The ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve has been a remarkably consistent tradition since that first voyage on the precipice of 1908—with two notable exceptions. The New York Times noted the melancholy of the event’s first absence: “New Year’s Eve in Times Square had a weird quality last night …There was a note of sluggishness, an absence of real gayety. The restless thousands lacked zest. War somehow laid its hand on the celebration and tended to mute it. At midnight, the crowd watched in vain for the glowing white ball to slide down the flag staff atop the New York Times tower.” That was the story on January 1, 1943, after a wartime dim-out on lights replaced the glowing orb and a respectful moment of silence hung heavy in place of cheers or jubilation. A similar story the following year noted another New Year's darkened by the War.

The New Year’s Ball Ever Since

The iconic symbol has seen several upgrades through the past century-plus. In 1920, an entirely wrought-iron version lobbed 300 pounds off the original weight. Aluminum got the heft down to roughly 200 pounds in 1955. The same aluminum construction got a makeover in the early 1980s, when red lights and a green stem turned the classic orb into a Big Apple in accordance with the “I <3 NY” campaign. A short-lived white ball sat at the center of the ceremony from 1987 through 1998, during which time computer controls replaced manual labor. Waterford Crystal designed the Millennium Ball for the 2000 ceremony, which has undergone aesthetic adjustments each year since. 

As for One Times Square, the original raison d'etre of the whole shebang? The New York Times outgrew the building in 1913 and these days, apart from a Walgreens on the first floor and the offices of New Year's Eve production company Countdown Entertainment on the 22nd floor, the skyscraper is completely empty. But it remains the focus of the nation’s gaze on New Year’s Eve.

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50 Amazing Coloring Books to Celebrate National Coloring Book Day
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As recent studies have shown, adult coloring books aren't just trendy—they may be used as an effective relaxation technique, too. To celebrate National Coloring Book Day, why not reap the benefits and unwind with one that speaks to your unique tastes in entertainment, literature, and design? From Golden Girls to Shakespeare, we've rounded up 50 of our favorite coloring books that we've written about through the years.

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1. ART OF COLORING: GOLDEN GIRLS

Create a colorful world around Blanche, Dorothy, Sophia, and Rose with this 100-plus page coloring book, which features images of the main characters, plus a few of their favorite things (like cheesecake).

Find it: Amazon

2. THE PRINCESS BRIDE: A STORYBOOK TO COLOR

The classic 1987 movie The Princess Bride can now be found in colorable form. You can add bursts of flames to the Fire Swamps and give young Fred Savage a creatively hued bedspread as you color your way through 80 pages of illustrations by Rachel Curtis.

Find it: Amazon

3. LOST OCEAN

This nautical coloring book by Johanna Basford is sure to tickle any seafarer's fancy.

Find it: Amazon

4. TROPICAL WORLD

You'll probably want to break out your brightest colored pencils and pens to make the tropical animals of this book really pop.

Find it: Amazon

5. COLOR ME JANE: A JANE AUSTEN ADULT COLORING BOOK

The sparkling world of Jane Austen offers up a whole slew of designs and clothing to fall under the tip of your colored pencil. Illustrated by Jacqui Oakley, the book is inspired by all of Austen's greatest stories, from Pride and Prejudice to Sense and Sensibility. The 80-page book offers characters, patterns, and accessories that all need a splash of color.

Find it: Amazon

6. TOLKIEN'S WORLD

This unofficial coloring book takes inspiration from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There are over 90 pages in the book that come from six different artists. You can enjoy coloring all the fantastical locations and creatures, including elves, orcs, and hobbits.

Find it: Amazon

7. THE OFFICIAL BOB'S BURGERS COLORING BOOK

Grab some crayons and color all your favorite Bob's Burgers characters in a variety of amusing situations, from striking power poses to dressing up for Halloween. The book also comes with lots of fun activities like designing your own burger and, of course, making up your own punny specials for the chalkboard.

Find it: Amazon

8. HARRY POTTER COLORING BOOK

Enter the magical world of Hogwarts once more with this new series of coloring books. This book has over 90 pages just waiting for your colored pencils to give them life. When you're finished, you can try one of the other books in the series, like Magical Places & Characters, or Magical Artifacts.

Find it: Amazon

9. THE TIME CHAMBER

Follow a small fairy as she enters the human world and sees everything from a new viewpoint. Color in the ornate objects that the tiny magical being encounters on her journey.

Find it: Amazon

10. COLOR THERAPY

This book was specially made with stress relief in mind. Each section utilizes a different hue, so users can pick the color that matches their mood.

Find it: Amazon

11. THE INDIE ROCK COLORING BOOK

If you have a music lover in your life, this is the perfect gift. Illustrated by Andy J. Miller, this delightful book features bands like Bon Iver, Broken Social Scene, and The National. All the profits are split between the bands' charities of choice. Rilo Kiley's Pierre de Reeder writes a heartfelt forward that really captures the charm of the project.

Find it: Amazon

12. BUN B'S RAP COLORING AND ACTIVITY BOOK

This is the perfect activity book for any hip-hop lover. There are 48 pages of coloring and activities including some notable names like Kanye West, Earl Sweatshirt, Tupac, and Drake.

Find it: Amazon

13. COLOR ME CALM

Therapist Lacy Mucklow and artist Angela Porter worked together to create 100 different designs to color when you're feeling stressed out.

Find it: Amazon

14. SPLENDID CITIES

This delightful coloring book features a number of different real-life cities like London and Moscow—and some imaginary ones as well.

Find it: Amazon

15. COLOR THIS BOOK: NEW YORK CITY

If you love Broad City, you need this book. It's illustrated by Abbi Jacobson, who actually went to MICA before becoming an actress. Her art school background is showcased in this beautifully drawn book of various New York sights. If the west coast is more your style, you can also check out her San Francisco book. And if that's still not enough for you, check out this one by Mike Perry (the guy who does Broad City's cool opening titles).

Find it: Amazon

16. WUTHERING HEIGHTS

Emily Brontë's gothic novel paints a pretty vivid picture of the Yorkshire moors, and the misty landscapes and brooding characters make for excellent subjects in a coloring book. Each illustration is coupled with a quote from the book, so you can relive the drama once again as you color.

Find it: Amazon

17. ANNE OF GREEN GABLES

Anne Shirley might not have been able to get rid of her carrot-colored locks, but with this coloring book, you can give her the raven- or auburn-hued hair she always wanted. Unlike many other coloring books, this one offers a coherent storyline that unfurls as you color. Illustrations are done by Jae-Eun Lee, who breathes new life into the iconic characters.

Find it: Amazon

18. WONDERLAND

The surreal and colorful world of Wonderland is a prime coloring book candidate because it welcomes bold and adventurous choices. If you want to give the Mad Hatter pinstripes and Alice a black dress, no one's stopping you—just don't mess with the Red Queen. Amily Shen gives the world and its characters a highly detailed look and even adds in new elements, like Alice's tiny bowler hat.

Find it: Amazon

19. THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA

This official coloring book offers a new way to enter the wardrobe. Color through the world of Narnia and enjoy scenes, characters, and designs from all seven books.

Find it: Amazon

20. ESCAPE TO SHAKESPEARE'S WORLD

Experience the stories of William Shakespeare in a completely new and interactive way. This 96-page coloring book features designs and patterns directly inspired by The Bard's work.

Find it: Amazon

21. COLOR ME SWOOOOON

Every once in a while, you need to pour yourself a glass of wine and indulge in some good old fashioned swooning. This book of dreamy hunks does not discriminate; you can be any skill level to color in all your favorite heartthrobs.

Find it: Amazon

22. THRILL MURRAY

Bill Murray lovers (everyone) can rejoice! Twenty-three illustrators were commissioned to create the pages of Thrill Murray, which takes scenes from all your favorite Bill movies, from Groundhog Day to The Life Aquatic.

Find it: Amazon

23. EDGAR ALLAN POE: AN ADULT COLORING BOOK

You're going to need a lot of black and red before diving into this Poe-themed coloring book. Illustrator Odessa Begay brings the creepy motifs of Poe's work to each page, which are all laid out on thick, high-quality paper.

Find it: Amazon

24. THE DR. SEUSS COLORING BOOK

This new coloring book is an ode to the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss. Inside, you can color familiar characters like Horton, the Lorax, and the Cat in the Hat.

Find it: Amazon

25. THE OFFICIAL A GAME OF THRONES COLORING BOOK

This is not a coloring book for the faint of heart—besides the graphic content, the intricate linework makes for some intensely difficult coloring. You can color the Weirwood trees, house sigils, and scheming characters from the books.

Find it: Amazon

26. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ADULT COLORING BOOK

This 45-page tome, from Dark Horse Publishing, features classic scenes and characters from the Joss Whedon series created by a number of artists, including Buffy comic book veterans like Karl Moline, Rebekah Isaacs, and Georges Jeanty.

Find it: Amazon

28. CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL

This coloring book is both relaxing and educational, providing the owner with valuable information about the subjects on each page.

Find it: Amazon

29. THE ANCIENT ALCHEMY COLORING BOOK

Color in sacred symbols and designs like celtic knots, mandalas, and more.

Find it: Amazon

30. COLOR ME LISA FRANK

Fans of Lisa Frank are in for a book bursting with gleeful unicorns, castles, and of course, rainbows. You're going to need a huge pack of crayons if you want to do this thing justice.

Find it: Amazon

31. DOODLERS ANONYMOUS EPIC COLORING BOOK

Doodlers Anonymous is a collective of artists that works as a home for eccentric and unconventional illustration art. For this unique coloring book, 90 contemporary artists from all over the world came together to lend their illustrations. Each page features a different artist and a different style.

Find it: Amazon

32. OUTSIDE THE LINES

If you're unimpressed by 90 different artists, how about 100? All sorts of creative minds—like animators, cartoonists, fine artists, graphic artists, illustrators, musicians—offered their talents to make this incredible coloring book a reality. 

Find it: Amazon

33. ANIMORPHIA

You may know artist Kerby Rosanes from his Sketchy Stories blog. Rosanes creates mind-bending scenes of objects and animals bursting into tinier objects and animals. The wildly detailed illustrations promise hours of coloring enjoyment. For added fun, certain pages are intentionally unfinished and encourage the colorer to draw their own designs.

Find it: Amazon

34. MID-CENTURY MODERN ANIMALS

Illustrator Jenn Ski has a flair for mid-20th century art and design. She created a series of coloring books in this style that ranges from folk art to botanicals. This animal-themed coloring book features simplistic but beautiful designs that are perfect for animal and design lovers alike. 

Find it: Amazon

35. NATURAL WONDERS

Patrick Hruby’s artwork is striking for its solid blocks of contrasting colors that pop right off the page. Now you can pick your own color scheme for his blocky, minimalist style. The 32 illustrations feature natural scenes of animals, flora, and landscapes. There’s even a guide in the back of the book that shows what each picture looks like with color.

Find it: Amazon

36. CHARLEY HARPER COLORING BOOK

American illustrator Charley Harper is also an artist known for his blocky and colorful artwork. These pieces are perfect to translate into black and white linework to put in a coloring book. The horizontal coloring book features Harper’s iconic drawings of birds and illustrations he did for Ford Times. When you're done, you can peel the work right out of the book and stick on a wall or fridge.

Find it: Amazon

37. THE OFFICIAL OUTLANDER COLORING BOOK

Lovers of the novels and Starz television series Outlander will enjoy reliving it all with this official coloring book. You’ll need to grab a lot of green pencils to fill in the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands.

Find it: Amazon

38. SECRET NEW YORK

Created by Paris-based artist Zoe de Las Cases, this coloring book focuses on the little things in New York City. Color your way through Manhattan to Brooklyn, one tote bag or sneaker at a time.

Find it: Amazon

39. WILD SAVANNAH

Illustrator Millie Marotta creates extremely intricate coloring books that are so beautifully detailed, they almost don’t need to be colored. Her patterns of the savannah’s flora and fauna offer a great way to relieve stress and be creative.

Find it: Amazon

40. DISNEY VILLAINS

Break out your red and purple crayons, because you’re going to need them if you want to do Disney’s best villains justice. Color in the extravagant outfits of villains like Cruella De Vil and Ursula (preferably while cackling maniacally). The fancy cover, a thick board with double metallic foil stamping, is fitting for any villain.

Find it: Amazon

41. THE MAGICAL CITY

Illustrator Lizzie Mary Cullen takes cityscapes and deconstructs them into swirly abstract designs perfect for the creative colorer. Cullen took inspiration from cities like London, Rome, and Luxor when creating this unusual coloring book. 

Find it: Amazon

42. THE ART OF NATURE COLORING BOOK

For the budding scientist in your life: a coloring book filled with scientific drawings from the 18th and 19th centuries. There are 60 pages of vintage illustrations of animals and flora to fill in.

Find it: Amazon

43. ALEXANDER GIRARD COLORING BOOK

Bring home the illustrative magic of Alexander Girard with this coloring book that transforms some of his work into simple line art to color. Girard, also known as Sandro, was an interior and textile designer who made some extremely charming and retro artwork.

Find it: Amazon

44. COLOUR ME GOOD HARRY STYLES

Get lost coloring in the eyes of One Direction’s front man Harry Styles. Ever wonder what Harry would look like as a blonde? Now you can find out! You can also design and draw some cool tattoos for the singer to sport. Once you finish coloring, you hang up your work with this themed duct tape.

Find it: Amazon

45. BAIT: OFF-COLOR STORIES FOR YOU TO COLOR

Palahniuk contributed eight brand-new short stories to this book, and a slew of comic book artists provided nearly 50 black-and-white accompanying illustrations. Artists involved in this project include Hellboy's Duncan Fegredo, Lady Killer's Joelle Jones, and The Suiciders’s Lee Bermejo.

Find it: Amazon

46. THE WALKING DEAD COLORING BOOK

Illustrated by comic book artist Robert Kirkman, the creator of the iconic comic book series, the book features 96 pages of images. Sure, the comic may be in black and white, but this coloring book is your chance to finally give the story some color. Think the walkers should be green like traditional zombies? No problem! Want them to be blue? Hey, it's your coloring book.

Find it: Amazon

47. DOCTOR WHO COLORING BOOK

Attention Whovians: It might be time to break out your wallets and purchase this 96-page-long coloring book featuring planets, galaxies, doctors, and of course, the TARDIS. The illustrations are done by artists James Newman Gray, Lee Teng Chew, and Jan Smith.

Find it: Amazon

48. WONDER WOMAN COLORING BOOK

Celebrate Wonder Woman throughout the years with this new coloring book that comes out in October. Color in the star-spangled hero as she explores her homeland, Themyscira and fights crime in the United States. The 80-page coloring book offers hours of entertainment.

Find it: Amazon

49. COLOUR ME SWIFTLY

The “Colour Me Good” series has a ton of different celebrities to choose from, including Ryan Gosling and Harry Styles. Another option is pop star Taylor Swift. Illustrator Mel Elliott has created 16 line drawings of the singer for you to color in.

Find it: Amazon

50. SUPERNATURAL

Color in your favorite fraternal paranormal hunting duo as they drive across the country in their black 1967 Chevy Impala (or any color car you want, really). This 96-page coloring book features a whole host of characters, angels, and monsters from the CW show Supernatural that could all use a bit of color. Each page is intricately detailed, so colorers will need plenty of time on their hands to get through it all.

Find it: Amazon

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7 Surprising Uses for Tequila
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Happy National Tequila Day! While you could celebrate by having a few drinks, you could also skip the hangover by unlocking one of tequila's amazing abilities outside of a glass. Many spirits are useful for activities beyond sipping (vodka, for example, is a great stain and odor remover), but tequila holds some particularly magical powers. Here are just a few of them.

1. SYNTHETIC BAUBLE

In 2008, a team of scientists in Mexico discovered that when the heated vapor from an 80-proof tequila blanco was combined with a silicon or stainless steel substrate, it resulted in the formation of diamond films. These films can be used in commercial applications, such as electrical insulators, or to create one big fake diamond. Who knew that spending $50 on a bottle of Don Julio was such a wise investment?

2. ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCE

Keeping with the science theme: In 2011, researchers at England’s University of Oxford suggested that we may one day be gassing up our cars with tequila. They identified agave, the plant from which tequila is produced, as a potential biofuel source—and a particularly attractive one, as the plant itself is not consumed by humans and can thrive in desert climates.

3. WEIGHT LOSS SUPPLEMENT

Scientists have long promoted the potential benefits of the agave plant for its ability to help dissolve fats and lower cholesterol. The bad news? These properties get a bit diluted when the plant is distilled into alcohol. Even more so when it's whipped into a sugary margarita.

4. SLEEP AID

Take three or more shots of tequila and you’re bound to pass out. A single shot can have the same effect—just not in that drunken stupor kind of way. Relaxation is one of the positive side effects of tequila drinking; a small amount (1 to 1.5 ounces) before bedtime can reportedly help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.

5. COLON CLEANSER

Too much of a good thing may not bring a welcome turn of events for your liver … but your colon will thank you! Researchers at Mexico’s University of Guadalajara have identified the blue agave as a potentially helpful source for delivering drugs to the colon in order to treat colitis, IBS, Crohn’s disease and even cancer.

6. DIABETES PREVENTATIVE

If Ernest Hemingway had known about the healing properties of tequila, his signature drink might have been a margarita instead of a daiquiri. In 2010, experiments conducted at Mexico’s Polytechnic Institute of Guanajuato revealed that the agave plant (which is high in fructans, a fructose polymer) could stimulate the GLP-1 hormone, aiding in increased insulin production.

7. COLD REMEDY

“Plenty of liquids” is a well-known remedy for getting oneself out from under the weather. But expanding that definition to include a kicked-up shot of tequila makes a day laid out on the couch sound much more appealing. In the 1930s, doctors in Mexico recommended the following concoction to fight off a cold.

.5 ounce of tequila blanco
.5 ounce of agave nectar (to eliminate bacteria and soothe sore throats)
.5 ounce of fresh lime juice (for Vitamin C) 

Though some people (including tequila companies) swear by its healing powers, others say it's hogwash.

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