Wednesday's special Google doodle wished a happy birthday to Mark Twain. The American writer was born 176 years ago. Well, Twain wasn't born then. A fellow named Samuel Clemens was. The pen name "Mark Twain" came many years later. Twain stands among many great pseudonyms. Some are obviously fake – Vin Diesel and Sting. But others might surprise you – John Wayne and Alan Alda. Here are 30 of the best from books, movies, TV, and music.
Today is the 176th birthday of Mark Twain, or as his parents knew him, Samuel L. Clemens. Twain is best known for his American fiction, including “Tom Sawyer,” but he was also an intrepid traveler and travel-writer who paved the way for the Bill Brysons of our day. In “Innocents Abroad" he wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” Here are five delightful travel quotes from Twain's writings:
Samuel Johnson once famously noted that a man who is tired of London “is tired of life.” Some of us feel the same way about children’s picture books. While it’s true that many cover familiar ground – animals, the great outdoors, adventures with family and friends – no two ever do so in quite the same way. And the best of them rediscover the world with such a fresh and inspired gaze that they turn even the most adult of us into children all over again. Some of the gems that have arrived in bookstores this season include a couple of classic winter tales, a retold Aesop’s fable, poetry about dogs, a baby penguin, and a chicken awash in blue ink.
Dunder Mifflin paper – the product at the heart of NBC’s hit comedy “The Office” NBC Universal – is now a real product. It's even on sale, $34.95 for a 20-pound carton, at online office supplier quill.com and the NBC online store. Manufactured by quill.com, the paper bears the Dunder Mifflin logo and slogans “Limitless paper in a paperless world” and “Quabity first." Dunder Mifflin paper is the latest in a long line fictional TV and film goods that turn into successful products. Will "The Office" office paper do as well as these Top 6 items?
William Faulkner called him “…the first truly American writer.” Ernest Hemingway declared that all American writing comes from “Huckleberry Finn,” and “there has been nothing as good since." And Norman Mailer said “Huck Finn” stands up “page for page” to the “best modern American novels.” Wednesday marks the 176th anniversary of the birth of the matchless Samuel Clemens, who wrote under the pen name Mark Twain. His genius lay in his distinctive ability to convey profound wisdom and profane wit in the same breath. Here, in tribute to the man Faulkner called the “father of American literature,” are 10 quotes from Mark Twain.
When public opinion in other countries turns on the West, the ire is often poured on the most visible representative of the West overseas – foreign embassies. The best-known example of what happens when hostility reaches a breaking point is the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979, but numerous embassies have been stormed since then, including the Nov. 29 attack on the British Embassy in Tehran. Here are five high profile attacks:
On Dec. 5, leaders from Afghanistan, NATO, and neighboring countries will meet in Bonn, Germany, to discuss the future of Afghanistan after US troops withdraw. The second conference comes 10 years after the first Bonn Conference, which took place months after the Sept. 11 attacks and the American-led invasion of Afghanistan. Here’s a look at what it is, what’s at stake, and why it matters.
Today Egyptians are wrapping up the first of several rounds of voting for the first Egyptian parliament since the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak. Two-thirds of the parliamentary seats will be chosen via a proportional list system, and the other third will be chosen as individual candidates. Every voter will choose two candidates from their governorate and one local list of candidates, often including candidates from multiple parties. The more votes a list gets, the more candidates on its list will be in parliament. Below are the options facing Egyptians as they go to the polls.
With its whopping 2.5 million-copy print run, “Inheritance” is very likely the fantasy book in which your favorite teen has his or her nose buried this month. The fourth and final installment of Christopher Paolini’s books about Eragon, the orphaned farm boy-turned-dragon rider, offers all the action and answers its fans have waited eight years for. But “Inheritance” is also darker than its predecessors, and its graphic violence includes the prolonged torture of a young woman. Knopf recommends it for ages “12 and up,” and I wouldn’t hand it to anybody younger. For those seeking alternatives, this fall offers four excellent adventure tales for young readers. There are museums, pirates, gods, rodents, runaways, and lots and lots salt water.
With more Americans turning to the Internet for more of their holiday shopping needs, good cybersecurity is vital to avoid a raft of scams – from promises of "free iPads" to "holiday screensavers" that install malware on your computer. To shop safely, it's wise to avoid what might be called the "12 cyber scams of Christmas." They include:
A Scrabble match. A new school. Pie recipes. A lost coat. The ballet. For young teens and preteens, life is generally eventful. But nothing matters as much as relationships. With the right friends, everything seems possible. And without them, well – no one wants to go there. This fall’s crop of books aimed at readers from age 8 into the early teens offers an absorbing range of adventures – but none greater than the adventure of finding a true friend.
Since the first Thanksgiving occurred, reportedly in 1621, historians and pop culture have spread a cornucopia of tall tales, half truths, and straight-up lies. But this Thanksgiving, we're thankful for the truth. So before you succumb to the delights of turkey day, allow us separate fact from fiction for you.
The Thanksgiving turkey on Google's home page comes with a full wardrobe. You can change the bird's feathers, hairstyle, and even footwear. In fact, by our calculations – keeping in mind that all of our finance and tech support staff have already left for the holiday, leaving us with an office full of liberal arts majors – Google's turkey has 2,985,984 possible combinations. Among those, there are 12 secret combinations. Find the right outfit and – poof! – the turkey reveals several bonus accessories. However, discovering all 12 could take you longer than cooking a Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings. Fear not! We found each of the outfits so that you don't have to. Sit back and enjoy.
Thanksgiving Day is one of America's most cherished holidays, yet the 24 hours before the celebration begins seem to create the biggest challenges. Will you get to your destination safely? Will you be on time? It's no surprise that Americans encounter snags. Some 42.5 million people will be traveling more than 50 miles this year to their Thanksgiving destinations, according to AAA, a 4 percent increase over last year. Here are three methods to help you plan ahead and avoid travel delays:
Black Friday 2011 offers huge savings on popular holiday gift items, like televisions, gaming systems, laptops, clothing, and so on. But some retailers are using the traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season to offer deals on stuff that's on (practically) no one's gift list. Here are our Top 6 wackiest product deals for Black Friday 2011. Have you got a better one? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook:
You've heard of the butterfly effect: If one small event is different, all of history is changed forever. And it's a game people have loved to play for decades. What if the South had won the Civil War? What if Hitler had won World War II? What if Europe hadn't lasted beyond the Black Plague? Stephen King's new novel "11/22/63" imagines what would have happened if President Kennedy had lived beyond 1963, but he's not the first to rearrange history. Here's six novels that explore a slightly alternate version of very familiar events.
The 2011 National Book Award winners will be chosen tonight at 8 p.m at a black-tie ceremony in New York hosted by actor and author John Lithgow. This year's nominees were not without controversy, most notably in the Young Adult category, where author Lauren Myracle was first erroneously listed as a nominee for her novel, “Shine” and then was asked to withdraw her nomination. (At Myracle's request, the National Book Foundation made a $5,000 donation to the Mathew Shephard Foundation in exchange.) In the adult fiction category, judges chose to honor some less-publicized books over some of the bigger “event” novels of the year, such as Ann Patchett's “State of Wonder” and Jeffrey Eugenides's “The Marriage Plot.” Here's a look at the five finalists for the fiction prize.
A loya jirga, or grand assembly, is really just a traditional meeting that serves to bring local leaders from all over the country together to discuss a critical issue during a time of instability. While the meetings are seen as a critical part of Afghan political life, they are a relatively rare occurrence. In the past 300 years, Afghanistan has had fewer than 20 loya jirgas, about a quarter of which have taken place in the past decade. But as the Afghan political system grows stronger and develops democratic institutions such as the parliament, many now question their value altogether. Here are the four most pivotal jirgas of the past decade and what came out of the meetings: