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Arnold the Munching Monster

McSorley's Ale House

Though there is some doubt about whether McSorley’s Ale House opened exactly in 1854 or sometime near that year, at some point in the middle of the 19th century it did open. Founder John McSorley, an Irish immigrant, insisted his saloon, originally called the Old House at Home, was opened at 15 East 7th Street in New York City in 1854, while city records state that the building it occupies didn’t exist before 1858. At any rate, the place has been around for a while. One of the establishment’s slogans is “We were here before you were born.” This wasn’t always true, but it’s certainly true today. Their second slogan is “Be Good or Be Gone.” Bars don’t mind drunks, but rowdy drunks are just bad for business. At one time, McSorley’s had a third slogan: “Good Ale, Raw Onions, and No Ladies”. It’s certainly true you could always get good ale there, and raw onions are still available as part of the cheese platters the saloon offers. And these days, ladies can be found at McSorley’s,…

Planet George

Ancient astronomers discovered the first five planets.  (Six, if you count Earth, which I don't, since Earth was "discovered" well before there ever was such a thing as an astronomer.)  The word planet comes from the ancient Greek planan (πλαναν) meaning to wander.  The word moved from Greek to Latin to French and finally to English, through a bit of wandering itself.  These special stars got this wanderer name because they seemed to wander around the sky, while the other stars remained fixed, more or less, only moving when the rest of the sky did.
There were two more planets wandering around in the sky, of course, that were not really known on Earth.  They were harder to see, since they were so far out, despite their being gas giants.  These other two planets aren't as big as the two known gas giants.  Saturn is about 9.5 times the size of Earth, and Jupiter is about 11 times the size of Earth, and both are closer.  The two outer planets are each about 4 times the si…

Alcock and Brown: The First Transatlantic Flight

Since his celebrated landing in Paris 90 years ago, we often hear of Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic.  He flew solo, taking off from Roosevelt Field in Brooklyn and landing in Le Bourget field in Paris after a flight of 33½ hours in his cramped, lightweight plane, The Spirit of Saint Louis.  Lindbergh was one of several individuals or teams who were competing for the Orteig Prize: a $25,000 purse offered to the first to fly from New York to Paris, offered by wealthy New York hotelier Raymond Orteig.  Lindbergh took off and landed perfectly, and managed to navigate the whole way without getting lost.  This was quite a feat in the days before computers to aid navigation, or the elaborate system of air traffic control that would come into being, once commercial airlines started to develop.  What Lindbergh did immediately made him an international hero and a household name for years after, with streets and buildings and yes, airports, named after him.  To this day, Charles …

Genesis 24: Isaac Marries His Cousin

Abraham was now a widower in his 120s and very much feeling his age.He was obviously pretty thin-skinned for feeling so old, since others like Noah and Adam lived well past age 800.Abraham was still pretty young, by Genesis standards.Still, it was time to start planning for what came next.What came next, of course, was his son Isaac’s future bride, whoever she might be.Since Abraham was so concerned, he took the reasonable course of action and talked to his household’s chief servant about this.
“Place your hand under my thigh,” Abraham told the servant.
“Er… beg pardon, sir?”
“Place your hand under my thigh.”
“Sir, I don’t suppose I need to tell you that this is not an orthodox demand to make of one’s own butler.I may be your servant, but I am still an individual with rights and dignity, and…”
“Enough!” interrupted Abraham.“This is so you can swear something to God.”
“Oh,” said the servant, “that’s different,” and he placed his hand where his boss told him to, no matter how squeamish…