In 1941, almost exactly five months after Hitler had offered to end the war and a few nights before Christmas, a 2,750-pound German bomb fell into a married London couple's wooden kitchen, which was already "flimsy." But the bomb did not explode. Alf Fry and his wife waited four weeks for the bomb to be dug up from the clay, dismantled, and hauled away. But before that, they came to call the bomb "Max."
Max's impotence was both normal and odd. As the war progressed, bombs that large—named, quite literally, blockbusters—were more commonly used by the Royal Air Force in night raids on German military centers along its rivers or in Berlin. One killed 200 in Berlin's fashionable Hotel Bristol. And those R.A.F. bombs, which needed to be craned into the planes' bomb bays, were notoriously volatile. Sometimes, they would not explode at all when deployed. At other times, they unexpectedly would, even if being dropped in safe zones with their detonation devices disarmed, and fall "to earth like a fiery comet."
But Max, an early and light edition (the R.A.F. bombs tripled in size over the course of the war, from 4,000 to 12,000 pounds; propaganda would claim the latter could blast an area of ten city blocks), only destroyed a flimsy kitchen and a Sunday morning later that January, when about a thousand neighbors needed to evacuate their homes at 7:30 a.m. for his disposal. It only took an hour and a half.READ MORE
For many writers struggling for publication, advertising has proven a useful field (it does pay, after all): F. Scott Fitzgerald, Salman Rushdie, Dorothy Sayers, Don DeLillo, Joseph Heller and Helen Gurley Brown all worked as copywriters early in their careers—some with more success than others. Rushdie came up with "Naughty. But nice" cream cakes for Ogilvy & Mather; Sayers introduced "Just think what Toucan do" to Guinness and founded a dotty, fictional (and wildly popular) "Mustard Club"; and, thanks to Fitzgerald, streetcars in Iowa once ran with the promise "We keep you clean in Muscatine" sparkling on their sides. READ MORE
Right now, many young summer campers are frolicking beneath the open sky, the wind on their faces perfumed by the rough fragrances of pine and their parents' jet exhaust; on the horizon, the mountains shrug, "whatevs." Their families will pay one-fifth of the median national household income so they can go "rough it." And The New York Times has been on it. READ MORE
So you have the hiccups, and you'd like to get rid of them. Chances are, if you're out, that your companions will have advice to offer (hold your breath, drink backwards from a glass, etc.). But how can you know which folksy cure works best? Science. READ MORE
Back in 1940, some bars and nightclubs began replacing their jukeboxes with a newfangled contraption called a Panoram that could play short musical videos. Patrons couldn't choose the order of the movies they saw; they'd plunk in a dime and whichever of the eight three-minute videos was next on the reel would be projected onto the machine's two-foot screen. Although the reels sometimes featured sketch comedians, most of the movies showed quite literal enactments of a pre-recorded song, some by musical greats in their prime like Louis Armstrong, others by artists who were then still on their way to stardom, like Duke Ellington, Doris Day, Lena Horne and a young Liberace (if you can imagine that). READ MORE
Yesterday the FCC issued a report saying that, despite that Internet thing with all those “websites,” there's less news being created at the local level. But you already knew that, right? (The report was also supposed to give recommendations for righting the trend, but it didn’t really.) READ MORE