You Won't Believe These Seven Amazing Papal Elections

The Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church are gathering, right now, to start the process of electing the next pope. Exciting stuff, eh? No, not really, to be honest! What will almost certainly happen is that this group of old ecclesiastics, all of whom were chosen by one of the last two popes, will be shut up in the mildly cramped but relatively posh digs of the Apostolic Palace, and will take a few days, tops, to come to a consensus on who the next pope will be. Maybe the winner will be a surprise, and maybe the conclave will end on the first vote for once, or will extend out for a week or two. But the era of fun papal elections—and by "fun" we mean elections that were violent, weird, chaotic, overtly corrupt, or that elected more than one pope—is sadly over. We present this list as a public service to memorialize the days when papal transitions were significantly less efficiently managed. READ MORE

The One Edit That Would Make 'North By Northwest' Perfect

North By Northwest is fantastic. Can we agree on this? I hope so. If you disagree, you're probably a perfectly nice person, but I'm afraid you are factually incorrect on this point, and I'm not going to deign to argue with you. Sorry. "Propulsive" is a word that has been beaten to death by movie critics, but really, the plot gets underway immediately—Cary Grant is kidnapped less than four minutes after the opening credit sequence ends—and does not really let up for the next two wonderful hours. READ MORE

Love And Other Conspiracies Of "The X-Files"

The best time to get involved in a conspiracy theory is in media res. A really good conspiracy needs years to pile up the evil plans and secret knowledge into a baroque edifice worth caring about. At its beginning, it's just a bunch of people with some sinister ideas, and where's the fun in that? READ MORE

My Misbegotten Historical Romance

As National Novel Writing Month gets underway, here's the first in a month-long series about the novels that we started writing but, for whatever reason, never finished. READ MORE

The Slave Who Circumnavigated The World

Part of a month-long series on terrible trips, great journeys and getting lost. READ MORE

Why All The Unpleasantness Over The House Of Lords?

If you've accidentally stumbled onto the BBC news website while looking for information on when the new "Doctor Who" season is starting, you might have discovered that the government (British for "administration") is in a bit of a spot of bother over plans to reform the House of Lords! And by "bit of a spot of bother" we mean "there is a small but non-negligible chance it might collapse and force early elections." As regular readers will know, this site takes its commitment to Knifecrime Island coverage seriously (including its celebrities) and while your correspondent is not a UK resident, he does like to read obsessively about British antics, and has prepared this FAQ on the House of Lords: what it does, why it still against all odds exists, why it's been so hard to reform over the past century or so, and why everyone is so mad about what should by right be a quaint tourist draw, like Buckingham Palace or Stonehenge. READ MORE

Nicknames For French Kings, In Order

37. "From Overseas" (Louis IV)
36. "The Posthumous" (John I)
35. "The Lazy" (Louis V)
34. "The Young" (Louis VII)
33. "The Stammerer" (Louis II)
32. "The Fat" (Louis VI)
31. "The Bald" (Charles II)
30. "The Short" (Pepin)
29. "The Tall" (Philip V)
28. "The Simple" (Charles III)
27. "The Handsome" (Philip IV, Charles IV) x
26. "The Pious" (Louis I, Robert II)
25. "The Father of the People" (Louis XII)
24. "The Great" (Charlemagne, Louis XIV, Napoleon I)
23. "The Good" (John II)
22. "The Fortunate" (Philip VI)
21. "The Saint" (Louis IX)
20. "The Prudent" (Louis XI)
19. "The Wise" (Robert II, Charles V)
18. "The Just" (Louis XIII)
17. "Good King Henry" (Henry IV)
16. "The Quarreller" (Louis X)
15. "The Amorous" (Philip I)
14. "The Affable" (Charles VIII)
13. "The Mad" (Charles VI)
12. "Augustus" (Philip II)
11. "The Victorious" (Charles VII)
10. "The Citizen King" (Louis-Philippe I)
9. "The Father and Restorer of Letters" (Francis I)
8. "The Bold" (Philip III)
7. "The Lion" (Louis VIII)
6. "The Beloved" (Charles VI, Louis XV)
5. "The Well-served" (Charles VII)
4. "The Green Gallant" (Henry IV)
3. "The Sun King" (Louis XIV)
2. "The Debonnaire" (Louis I)
1. "The Universal Spider" (Louis XI)

Related: Roman Emperors, Up To AD 476 And Not Including Usurpers, In Order Of How Hardcore Their Deaths Were

Josh Fruhlinger has a Twitter and a Tumblr. If you believe that writing monarch-related listicles is a good warm-up to writing a novel, you can pre-order a copy of his upcoming novel on Kickstarter.

Giving Bad Advice To Kings

Part of a two-week series on the pull of bad influences in our lives and in the culture. READ MORE

Roman Emperors, Up To AD 476 And Not Including Usurpers, In Order Of How Hardcore Their Deaths Were

84-65 (tie). Titus (died in AD 81), Nerva (98), Trajan (117), Hadrian (138), Antoninus Pius (161), Marcus Aurelius (180), Septimius Severus (211), Tacitus (276), Constantius I (306), Gallerius (311), Constantine I (337), Constantius II (361), Theodosius I (395), Arcadius (408), Constantius III (421), Honorious (423), Marcian (457), Libius Severus (465), Olybrius (472), Leo I (474): Natural causes. READ MORE