Index

In the following Index, you'll find the (sometimes unlinked) titles of every one of the lessons I've written for the Shenzhen Daily (over 2000!), plus a few more. The titles will be linked to the lessons and descriptions added as each lesson is posted.

There are several ways to find lessons on Buzzwords:

  • skim the list below for lessons of interest;
  • use the "Find" function of your browser to find specific lessons on this page;
  • use the Search box at the top of every page to search the entire site; or
  • go to the "Topics" page to find lessons grouped by, well, topic.

Of course, if you can't find what you’re looking for, use the contact form below and I'll see if I can help!

Click a link to "jump" down the page, or simply scroll on down.

2,176 and counting...



Part 1: Miscellaneous Lessons
(August 6, 2007 to May 18, 2009)

When I began working for the Shenzhen Daily, I was free to write about whatever I wanted (and I still am!) so I covered a wide range of topics: a lot of idioms, including those from other languages and those associated with certain professions; slang, figures of speech, and clichés; common mistakes and grammar; jokes; literature and other school subjects; and so on. I wrote around 260 such articles from my starting date in August of 2007 until May of 2009, nearly two years. It's a real hodge-podge; see the "Topics" page for a bit of organization.

Quite a number of articles--around 75--were essentially notes on two series of articles in the newspaper, entitles "Boomtown Chronicles" and "Sino-African Culture." You'll see these listed below, and while they may not be useful for everyone, they were drawn from real newspaper articles and, as such, reflect a different kind of lesson. I hope you enjoy them!
Between Lesson #01-128 and #01-207, I wrote 72 lessons explaining expressions in articles published in the Shenzhen Daily. Read more about "Reading Boomtown Chronicles."
  • 01-136: Happy Birthday to You
    • Please indulge the old Professor as he talks about his birthday (when he was a young pup of 53) and the people who share it.
  • 01-193: Reading the Newspaper: SQ3R - Part I
    • SQ3R stands for "Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review." It's an excellent way to build vocabulary as you read a newspaper or other text. In this lesson we'll focus on the first step, "Survey."
  • 01-194: Reading the Newspaper: SQ3R - Part II
    • SQ3R stands for "Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review." It's an excellent way to build vocabulary as you read a newspaper or other text. In this lesson we'll focus on the second step, "Question."
  • 01-195: Reading the Newspaper: SQ3R - Part III
    • SQ3R stands for "Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review." It's an excellent way to build vocabulary as you read a newspaper or other text. In this lesson we'll do the last three steps, "Read, Recite, and Review."
  • 01-199: Learning Vocabulary from Context - Part I
    • One good way to learn vocabulary is to find the meaning yourself--without a dictionary--by taking clues from the context. Learn four different ways to do this!
  • 01-200: Learning Vocabulary from Context - Part II
    • Let's apply the techniques we learned in Lesson #01-199 to some real English sentences from the newspaper. Do you have what it takes?
  • 01-201: Merry Christmas!
    • The Nativity, Noel, Yule--English has several words for the holiday we usually call Christmas. Learn the background of these words, and how to say "Merry Christmas" in several languages.
  • 01-208: Reading the "Great Books": Meet Homer - Part I
    • The 20th century saw a boom in reading what some call "The Great Books," starting (according to some) with the works of Homer.
  • 01-209: The Iliad: Homer - Part II
    • The first of Homer's two "Great Books" was about the Trojan War; Troy was also called "Ilium," so the book is called The Iliad.
  • 01-210: The Odyssey I: Homer - Part III
    • Homer's second great work, The Odyssey, tells of the wanderings of one leader, Odysseus, on his way home from the Trojan War.
  • 01-211: The Odyssey II: Homer - Part IV
    • Homer's works have contributed a number of expressions that have survived into English. Learn a few more, and see how the Trojan War started.
  • 01-212: Who Are the Muses? - Part I
    • The nine Muses are (mythical) women who have embodied the idea of artistic inspiration throughout the ages. The very word "muse" has affected our language in several ways.
  • 01-213: Meet the Muses - Part II
    • Nine arts--four forms of poetry, two more kinds of writing, plus dance, music, and astronomy--are represented by the nine Muses.
  • 01-214: Fates, Furies, and Harpies
    • Meet three trios of "weird sisters" (long before Macbeth) that play important roles in the lives of all humans.
  • 01-215: Meet the Titans - Part I
    • The Titans and their kin play important roles in most of the early Greek myths. Meet four of the twelve in the first of this two-part lesson.
  • 01-216: Meet the Titans - Part II
    • Let's meet the balance--eight more--of the twelve Titans, along with some info about their names and relationships.
  • 01-217: Two Titanic Battles
    • One regime displaces another: just as the Titans overthrew their parents, they were overthrown by their children in turn.
  • 01-218: The Olympians - Part I: The First Generation (draft)
  • 01-219: The Olympians - Part II: The Second Generation (draft)
  • 01-220: The Olympians - Part III: Two More, and a Recap (draft)
  • 01-221: Greek Drama - Part I
  • 01-222: Greek Drama - Part II
  • 01-223: Greek Drama - Part III
  • 01-224: Greek Philosophy - Part I: Socrates and Plato
  • 01-225: Greek Philosophy - Part II: Plato and Aristotle
  • 01-226: Virtues - Part I: Greco-Roman Ideas
  • 01-227: Virtues - Part II: The Seven Deadly Sins
  • 01-228: The Eras of Western History
  • 01-229: Classical Idioms - Part I
  • 01-230: Classical Idioms - Part II
  • 01-231: Classical Proverbs - Part I
  • 01-232: Classical Proverbs - Part II: Latin
  • 01-233: Classical Proverbs - Part III: Latin
  • 01-234: Latin Expressions - Part I
  • 01-235: Latin Expressions - Part II
  • 01-236: Latin Expressions - Part III
  • 01-237: Latin Expressions - Part IV
  • 01-238: Latin Expressions - Part V
  • 01-239: Latin Expressions - Part VI
  • 01-240: Some University Degree Abbreviations
  • 01-241: A Graphic Description - Part I
  • 01-242: A Graphic Description - Part II
  • 01-243: A Graphic Description - Part III
  • 01-244: Roman Numerals
  • 01-245: For the Birds - Part I
  • 01-246: For the Birds - Part II
  • 01-247: You're Number One
  • 01-248: Earth Day Vocabulary
  • 01-249: By the Numbers
  • 01-250: Horsing Around - Part I
  • 01-251: Horsing Around - Part II
  • 01-252: Dog Eat Dog - Part I
  • 01-253: Dog Eat Dog - Part II
  • 01-254: A Pig in a Poke I
  • 01-255: A Pig in a Poke - Part II
  • 01-256: A Pig in a Poke - Part III



Part 2: English Proverbs
(May 19, 2009 to December 29, 2011)

For another two-plus years, I wrote about around 320 well-known English proverbs. I started with a list from one of my "Bibles," the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, and, when I completed those, began working on another list based on my own research.

Each lesson tells a little about where the proverb came from, and of course its meaning; and adds an imaginary dialogue between me and a student (or friend) in which the proverb is used. Each dialogue also incorporates plenty of slang terms, which are explained in an exercise at the end.

This is a great way to build your "real" vocabulary!
  • 02-001: Actions speak louder than words
  • 02-002: Absence makes the heart grow fonder
  • 02-003: All roads lead to Rome
  • 02-004: All that glitters is not gold
  • 02-005: All work and no play...
  • 02-006: All for one and one for all
  • 02-007: All's fair in love and war
  • 02-008: All's well that ends well
  • 02-009: Any port in a storm
  • 02-010: An apple a day keeps the doctor away
  • 02-011: April showers bring May flowers
  • 02-012: An army marches on its stomach
  • 02-013: Bad news travels fast
  • 02-014: A bad penny always turns up
  • 02-015: The bad workman always blames his tools
  • 02-016: His bark is worse than his bite
  • 02-017: Beauty is only skin deep
  • 02-018: Beggars can't be choosers
  • 02-019: The best of friends must part
  • 02-020: The best things in life are free
  • 02-021: The best-laid plans of mice and men
  • 02-022: Better late than never
  • 02-023: Better safe than sorry
  • 02-024: Beware of Greeks bearing gifts
  • 02-025: The bigger they come, the harder they fall
  • 02-026: A bird in the hand
  • 02-027: Birds of a feather flock together
  • 02-028: Blood is thicker than water
  • 02-029: Boys will be boys
  • 02-030: Brevity is the soul of wit
  • 02-031: The buck stops here
  • 02-032: Business before pleasure
  • 02-033: Carpe diem
  • 02-034: The chickens have come home to roost
  • 02-035: Cleanliness is next to godliness
  • 02-036: Close, but no cigar
  • 02-037: Cold hands, warm heart
  • 02-038: The course of true love never did run smooth
  • 02-039: Curiosity killed the cat
  • 02-040: De gustibus non est disputandum
  • 02-041: The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose
  • 02-042: The Devil is in the details
  • 02-043: Discretion is the better part of valor
  • 02-044: Do unto others
  • 02-045: A dog is a man's best friend
  • 02-046: Don't cast your pearls before swine
  • 02-047: Don't count your chickens before they hatch
  • 02-048: Don't cry over spilled milk
  • 02-049: Don't cut off your nose to spite your face
  • 02-050: Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes
  • 02-051: Don't give up the ship
  • 02-052: Don't hide your light under a bushel
  • 02-053: Don't judge a book by its cover
  • 02-054: Don't close the barn door after the horse has gone
  • 02-055: Don't look a gift horse in the mouth
  • 02-056: Don't put all your eggs in one basket
  • 02-057: Don't put the cart before the horse
  • 02-058: Don't throw out the baby with the bath water
  • 02-059: The early bird catches the worm
  • 02-060: Early to bed and early to rise
  • 02-061: East is East, and West is West
  • 02-062: Easy come, easy go
  • 02-063: Eat, drink, and be merry
  • 02-064: Every cloud has a silver lining
  • 02-065: Every dog has his day
  • 02-066: Your fifteen minutes
  • 02-067: Experience is the best teacher
  • 02-068: Familiarity breeds contempt
  • 02-069: Feed a cold, starve a fever
  • 02-070: Finders keepers, losers weepers
  • 02-071: Fish or cut bait
  • 02-072: A fish out of water
  • 02-073: A fool and his money are soon parted
  • 02-074: A foolish consistency
  • 02-075: Fools rush in where angels fear to tread
  • 02-076: For want of a nail the kingdom was lost
  • 02-077: Forewarned is forearmed
  • 02-078: Frailty, thy name is woman
  • 02-079: A friend in need is a friend indeed
  • 02-080: From the sublime to the ridiculous
  • 02-081: The game is not worth the candle
  • 02-082: Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration
  • 02-083: Give him enough rope and he'll hang himself
  • 02-084: Give the devil his due
  • 02-085: God helps those who help themselves
  • 02-086: Good fences make good neighbors
  • 02-087: A good man is hard to find
  • 02-088: The grass is always greener
  • 02-089: Great oaks from little acorns grow
  • 02-090: Half a loaf is better than none
  • 02-091: Haste makes waste
  • 02-092: He who hesitates is lost
  • 02-093: He who laughs last, laughs best
  • 02-094: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned
  • 02-095: Here today, gone tomorrow
  • 02-096: Hitch your wagon to a star
  • 02-097: Honesty is the best policy
  • 02-098: Hope springs eternal
  • 02-099: If at first you don't succeed
  • 02-100: If the mountain will not come to Muhammad…
  • 02-101: If the shoe fits, wear it
  • 02-102: If wishes were horses
  • 02-103: If you can't stand the heat
  • 02-104: Ignorance is bliss
  • 02-105: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
  • 02-106: A young man's fancy
  • 02-107: In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes
  • 02-108: It ain't a fit night out for man or beast
  • 02-109: It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home
  • 02-110: It takes a thief to catch a thief
  • 02-111: It takes two to tango
  • 02-112: It's never over till it's over
  • 02-113: It's never too late to mend
  • 02-114: It's not whether you win or lose
  • 02-115: Knowledge is power
  • 02-116: Laugh, and the world laughs with you
  • 02-117: Leave well enough alone
  • 02-118: The leopard cannot change its spots
  • 02-119: Let bygones be bygones
  • 02-120: Let sleeping dogs lie
  • 02-121: Let them eat cake
  • 02-122: Let's cross that bridge when we come to it
  • 02-123: Life is short; art is long
  • 02-124: Lightning never strikes twice in the same place
  • 02-125: A little learning is a dangerous thing
  • 02-126: Little pitchers have big ears
  • 02-127: Little strokes fell great oaks
  • 02-128: Live and learn
  • 02-129: Live and let live
  • 02-130: Look before you leap
  • 02-131: Love conquers all
  • 02-132: Love makes the world go 'round
  • 02-133: The love of money is the root of all evil
  • 02-134: Make haste slowly
  • 02-135: Make hay while the sun shines
  • 02-136: Man does not live by bread alone
  • 02-137: A man is known by the company he keeps
  • 02-138: Man proposes, God disposes
  • 02-139: A man's home is his castle
  • 02-140: Many hands make light work
  • 02-141: Do You Think English Is Easy? - Part I
  • 02-142: Do You Think English Is Easy? - Part II
  • 02-143: Do You Think English Is Easy? - Part III
  • 02-144: Marry in haste, repent at leisure
  • 02-145: The meek shall inherit the Earth
  • 02-146: Misery loves company
  • 02-147: A miss is as good as a mile
  • 02-148: Money is the root of all evil
  • 02-149: The more the merrier
  • 02-150: Murder will out
  • 02-151: Music has charms to soothe a savage breast
  • 02-152: Necessity is the mother of invention
  • 02-153: Never give a sucker an even break
  • 02-154: Never put off until tomorrow
  • 02-155: Never say die
  • 02-156: A new broom sweeps clean
  • 02-157: Nice guys finish last
  • 02-158: No man can serve two masters
  • 02-159: No man is an island
  • 02-160: No news is good news
  • 02-161: No one ever went broke…
  • 02-162: No rest for the weary
  • 02-163: Nothing succeeds like success
  • 02-164: Nothing ventured, nothing gained
  • 02-165: Nothing will come of nothing
  • 02-166: Oil and water don't mix
  • 02-167: Old soldiers never die
  • 02-168: Once bitten, twice shy
  • 02-169: One picture is worth a thousand words
  • 02-170: One good turn deserves another
  • 02-171: One man's meat
  • 02-172: One bad apple
  • 02-173: Pay the piper
  • 02-174: An ounce of prevention
  • 02-175: Out of sight, out of mind
  • 02-176: Out of the frying pan, into the fire
  • 02-177: The pen is mightier than the sword
  • 02-178: A penny saved is a penny earned
  • 02-179: People who live in glass houses
  • 02-180: A place for everything
  • 02-181: Poets are born, not made
  • 02-182: Politics makes strange bedfellows
  • 02-183: Practice makes perfect
  • 02-184: Practice what you preach
  • 02-185: Pride goeth before a fall
  • 02-186: Procrastination is the thief of time
  • 02-187: The proof of the pudding…
  • 02-188: Render unto Caesar
  • 02-189: The road to Hell
  • 02-190: A rolling stone gathers no moss
  • 02-191: Rome wasn't built in a day
  • 02-192: Seeing is believing
  • 02-193: The show must go on
  • 02-194: Sic transit gloria mundi
  • 02-195: Silence is golden
  • 02-196: Slow but steady wins the race
  • 02-197: A soft answer turneth away wrath
  • 02-198: Step on a crack, break your mother's back
  • 02-199: Still waters run deep
  • 02-200: A stitch in time saves nine
  • 02-201: Stone walls do not a prison make
  • 02-202: Strike while the iron is hot
  • 02-203: Take the bitter with the sweet
  • 02-204: There are plenty of fish in the sea
  • 02-205: There's many a slip between the cup and the lip
  • 02-206: There's more than one way to skin a cat
  • 02-207: There's no accounting for taste
  • 02-208: There's no fool like an old fool
  • 02-209: There's no place like home
  • 02-210: Those who cannot remember the past...
  • 02-211: Two heads are better than one
  • 02-212: Time heals all wounds
  • 02-213: Time and tide wait for no man
  • 02-214: Time is money
  • 02-215: To err is human, to forgive divine
  • 02-216: Too many cooks spoil the broth
  • 02-217: Truth is stranger than fiction
  • 02-218: Truth will out
  • 02-219: Turnabout is fair play
  • 02-220: Two wrongs don't make a right
  • 02-221: Two's company, three's a crowd
  • 02-222: Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown
  • 02-223: Variety is the spice of life
  • 02-224: Walls have ears
  • 02-225: Waste not, want not
  • 02-226: A watched pot never boils
  • 02-227: We have met the enemy, and they are us
  • 02-228: Well begun is half done
  • 02-229: What will be, will be
  • 02-230: What's good for the goose
  • 02-231: When in Rome, do as the Romans do
  • 02-232: When it rains, it pours
  • 02-233: When the cat's away, the mice will play
  • 02-234: When the going gets tough, the tough get going
  • 02-235: Where are the snows of yesteryear
  • 02-236: Where there's a will, there's a way
  • 02-237: Where there's smoke there's fire
  • 02-238: While there's life, there's hope
  • 02-239: Win one for the Gipper
  • 02-240: Winning isn't everything...
  • 02-241: The wish is father of the deed
  • 02-242: A woman's work is never done
  • 02-243: A word to the wise is sufficient
  • 02-244: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion
  • 02-245: The worm turns
  • 02-246: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus
  • 02-247: You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar
  • 02-248: You can lead a horse to water
  • 02-249: You can't fit a round peg in a square hole
  • 02-250: You can't go home again
  • 02-251: You can't have your cake and eat it too
  • 02-252: You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear
  • 02-253: You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs
  • 02-254: You can't squeeze blood from a turnip
  • 02-255: You can't take it with you
  • 02-256: You can't teach an old dog new tricks
  • 02-257: You can't unring a bell
  • 02-258: You cannot serve God and Mammon
  • 02-259: You've made your bed, now lie in it
  • 02-260: All things come to those who wait
  • 02-261: All the world loves a lover
  • 02-262: All things must pass
  • 02-263: All you need is love
  • 02-264: April is the cruellest month
  • 02-265: Accidents will happen
  • 02-266: The apple never falls far from the tree
  • 02-267: As you sow so shall you reap
  • 02-268: Ask a silly question...
  • 02-269: Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies
  • 02-270: A barking dog seldom bites
  • 02-271: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
  • 02-272: Behind every great man there's a great woman
  • 02-273: The best defense is a good offense
  • 02-274: Better the Devil you know than the Devil you don't
  • 02-275: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool...
  • 02-276: A cat may look at king
  • 02-277: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link
  • 02-278: Charity begins at home
  • 02-279: Cheaters never prosper
  • 02-280: The child is father to the man
  • 02-281: Children should be seen and not heard
  • 02-282: Clothes make the man
  • 02-283: The cobbler's children always go barefoot
  • 02-284: Comparisons are odious
  • 02-285: Count your blessings
  • 02-286: Cowards may die many times before their death
  • 02-287: Crime doesn't pay
  • 02-288: The customer is always right
  • 02-289: The darkest hour is just before the dawn
  • 02-290: Dead men tell no tales
  • 02-291: Do as I say, not as I do
  • 02-292: Don't bite the hand that feeds you
  • 02-293: Don't burn your bridges behind you
  • 02-294: Don't change horses in midstream
  • 02-295: Don't rock the boat
  • 02-296: Don't wash your dirty linen in public
  • 02-297: The ends justify the means
  • 02-298: Enough is enough
  • 02-299: Every Jack has his Jill
  • 02-300: Every man for himself
  • 02-301: Every man has his price
  • 02-302: Everybody wants to go to heaven...
  • 02-303: The exception which proves the rule
  • 02-304: Faint heart never won fair lady
  • 02-305: Faith will move mountains
  • 02-306: Fight fire with fire
  • 02-307: First impressions are lasting impressions
  • 02-308: First things first
  • 02-309: Fish and visitors smell after three days
  • 02-310: Flattery will get you nowhere
  • 02-311: Forgive and forget
  • 02-312: Give credit where credit is due
  • 02-313: The good die young



Part 3: "The Common Room": Dialogues about college studies
(January 2, 2012 to April 2, 2015)

Starting at the beginning of 2012, I wrote well over 450 lessons--my largest collection (so far!)--as dialogues between a group of American and international students in the "common room" of their college dorm, a sort of lounge where students hang out.

The students talk about a variety of subjects, the sorts of things "every college student ought to learn." I'm pretty proud of these, and I hope you'll find them useful.
  • 03-001: Little Red Riding Hood
    • Mark, an American student, and his Indian friend Sunil talk in their dorm about a new movie adaptation of an old fairy tale.
  • 03-002: Latitude
    • The first of three conversations about the earth's geography, between Lily (from China) and Antonio (from Spain).
  • 03-003: Zones, Solstices, and Equinoxes
    • As the sun seems to move north and south through the latitudes, it creates geographic zones and four "events." Learn more in this lesson.
  • 03-004: Longitude
    • Lily and Antonio complete the conversation they started in the two previous lessons about the earth's "grid" of lines.
  • 03-005: The Big Bang Theory
    • Mark, an American student, talks with his Indian friend about the TV show, The Big Bang Theory.
  • 03-006: Visiting Japan
    • Keesha's going to Japan! Follow as she tells Akemi where she plans to go and what she plans to see on her upcoming trip.
  • 03-007: How to Say Big Numbers
    • Most of us can write big numbers--say, thousands, millions, or billions--but saying them out loud can be a challenge. Learn how in this lesson.
  • 03-008: The Branches of Science
    • We live in the age of science. Let's listen in as Sunny and Antonio discuss the many branches of this important field of study.
  • 03-009: The Common Kitchen - Part I
    • Roberto and Becky are looking at the major appliances in the kitchen area of their dormitory, and talking about their use.
  • 03-010: The Common Kitchen - Part II
    • This time, Roberto and Becky look at the smaller appliances in their dorm's kitchen, and talking about how they're used.
  • 03-011: Social Networking Jargon
    • This lesson and the next were written in 2012. Social media has become more popular--and more challenging--since then, but I think most of what you'll read here is still useful.
  • 03-012: More Networking Jargon
    • This lesson, like the previous one, was written in 2012. Although a lot of things have changed on the internet, lurkers still lurk, and memes are still fun!
  • 03-013: Morning - Afternoon - Evening - Night
    • Morning becomes afternoon at 12 noon, but the other periods of the day are a little more slippery. Learn the different ways of dividing them.
  • 03-014: Six Big Joints of the Body
    • Wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle: most of these important joints have idioms to go with them, some of which you can learn in this lesson.
  • 03-015: The Fab Four
    • In 1964, America was struck by BEATLEMANIA! In that year, the Lads from Liverpool landed on our shores. Read about them and their impact on music history.
  • 03-016: The Dutch Boy and the Dike
    • We all know the famous Dutch legend of the Boy and the Dike--which was actually made up by an American woman! Get the whole story here.
  • 03-017: Habitats and Ecology
    • Ecology is much more than just recycling cans and bottles; it's the study of the relationships of living organisms to their habitats.
  • 03-018: Aesop and His Fables
    • A freed Greek slave has remained famous through the ages for his moral teachings, often put in the mouths of animals. Meet Aesop!
  • 03-019: Talking about Fractions
    • What are numerators? And denominators? And how do we keep them straight? And how do we pronounce fractions in English? The answers are here!
  • 03-020: Celebrations of Spring
    • Each of the four great turning points--solstices and equinoxes--is widely celebrated across cultures. Let's look at some springtime celebrations.
  • 03-021: Instruments of the Orchestra
  • 03-022: How to Read a Book
  • 03-023: IT and THEY
  • 03-024: Approving and Disapproving Words
  • 03-025: Levels of Language
  • 03-026: Technical Usage
  • 03-027: Funny English
  • 03-028: Irregular Plurals
  • 03-029: Horoscopes - Part I
  • 03-030: Horoscopes - Part II
  • 03-031: Parts of Trees
  • 03-032: Top Ten Jobs
  • 03-033: Ten Worst Jobs
  • 03-034: Colors of the Rainbow
  • 03-035: Lifecycle of the Butterfly
  • 03-036: Grimm's Fairy Tales
  • 03-037: Reference Books
  • 03-038: Old English
  • 03-039: Sir Isaac Newton
  • 03-040: Napoleon
  • 03-041: The Three Teachings
  • 03-042: Punctuation Marks
  • 03-043: Paris, France
  • 03-044: China's Cuisines
  • 03-045: Give Me a Hand
  • 03-046: Chaucer and Middle English
  • 03-047: A. Lincoln
  • 03-048: China's Provinces
  • 03-049: Chinglish - Part I
  • 03-050: Chinglish - Part II
  • 03-051: Chinglish - Part III
  • 03-052: Evolution
  • 03-053: Incredible India
  • 03-054: Modern Art
  • 03-055: Elvis Presley
  • 03-056: Fun with Grammar I
  • 03-057: Fun with Grammar II
  • 03-058: Fun with Grammar III
  • 03-059: Fun with Grammar IV
  • 03-060: Fun with Grammar V
  • 03-061: Fun with Grammar VI
  • 03-062: The Roman Empire
  • 03-063: Visiting China
  • 03-064: The Land Down Under
  • 03-065: The Avengers
  • 03-066: The Great Books
  • 03-067: The Middle Ages
  • 03-068: Photography
  • 03-069: Alfred Hitchcock
  • 03-070: The Olympics
  • 03-071: English as She is Spoke - Part I
  • 03-072: English as She is Spoke - Part II
  • 03-073: English as She is Spoke - Part III
  • 03-074: King Arthur
  • 03-075: World Religions - Part I
  • 03-076: World Religions - Part II
  • 03-077: Gone with the Wind
  • 03-078: New Computing Slang - Part I
  • 03-079: New Computing Slang - Part II
  • 03-080: Astronomy Terms
  • 03-081: In the Atlas
  • 03-082: The Wizard of Oz
  • 03-083: Doctor Jokes
  • 03-084: Children's Classics
  • 03-085: Old Disney Films
  • 03-086: New Disney Films
  • 03-087: The Body's Systems - Part I
  • 03-088: The Body's Systems - Part II
  • 03-089: Shakespeare
  • 03-090: What's Sauce for the Goose
  • 03-091: Mark Twain
  • 03-092: Regions of the U.S. - Part I
  • 03-093: Regions of the U.S. - Part II
  • 03-094: Regions of the U.S. - Part III
  • 03-095: Dead Poets' Society - Part I
  • 03-096: Dead Poets' Society - Part II
  • 03-097: The Western Canon
  • 03-098: Inclusiveness
  • 03-099: Ancient Epics
  • 03-100: Greek Drama - Part I: Aeschylus
  • 03-101: Greek Drama - Part II: Sophocles and Euripides
  • 03-102: Greek Drama - Part III: Aristophanes
  • 03-103: Ancient Chinese Literature
  • 03-104: Ancient History
  • 03-105: Socrates's Students
  • 03-106: The Ramayana
  • 03-107: The Mahabharata
  • 03-108: Latin Literature
  • 03-109: Persian Literature
  • 03-110: Japanese Literature
  • 03-111: The Divine Comedy
  • 03-112: The Thousand and One Nights
  • 03-113: Machiavelli
  • 03-114: Don Quixote
  • 03-115: Classic Chinese Novels - Part I
  • 03-116: Classic Chinese Novels - Part II
  • 03-117: Great Essays
  • 03-118: John Donne
  • 03-119: John Milton
  • 03-120: Great French Writers
  • 03-121: Allegory and Satire
  • 03-122: British Political Philosophers
  • 03-123: British Novelists
  • 03-124: Goethe, Mann, Kafka
  • 03-125: Four Poets in English
  • 03-126: British Women Novelists
  • 03-127: Poe, Hawthorne, Melville
  • 03-128: Forms of Words
  • 03-129: Assume, Benefit, Distribute
  • 03-130: Economics and Technology
  • 03-131: Words Ending in -ate
  • 03-132: Ten-Word Review
  • 03-133: Victor Hugo
  • 03-134: Alexandre Dumas, pere
  • 03-135: New Words - Part I
  • 03-136: New Words - Part II
  • 03-137: New Words - Part III
  • 03-138: Charles Dickens
  • 03-139: Taxonomic Ranks
  • 03-140: Paleontology and Archeology
  • 03-141: Famous Biologists
  • 03-142: Moby Dick
  • 03-143: More New Words - Part I
  • 03-144: More New Words - Part II
  • 03-145: More New Words - Part III
  • 03-146: Four 20th-century American Authors - Part I
  • 03-147: Four 20th-century American Authors - Part II
  • 03-148: European Art
  • 03-149: Classical Music
  • 03-150: More Classical Music
  • 03-151: The Oscars - Part I
  • 03-152: The Oscars - Part II
  • 03-153: The Oscars - Part III
  • 03-154: Trouble at Work
  • 03-155: Party Hearty
  • 03-156: Road Trip - Part I
  • 03-157: Road Trip - Part II
  • 03-158: In the Lunch Room
  • 03-159: Another Party
  • 03-160: Dueling Proverbs - Part I
  • 03-161: Dueling Proverbs - Part II
  • 03-162: In a Café
  • 03-163: Using a Camera - Part I
  • 03-164: Using a Camera - Part II
  • 03-165: Using a Camera - Part III
  • 03-166: Making Suggestions
  • 03-167: Giving Advice
  • 03-168: Stating Preferences
  • 03-169: It Looks Like
  • 03-170: Yes, But: Disagreeing with others
  • 03-171: I Gotta Hand it to You
  • 03-172: You're Pulling My Leg
  • 03-173: Let's Face It
  • 03-174: Head over Heels
  • 03-175: A Pain in the Neck
  • 03-176: You're Breakin' My Heart
  • 03-177: Bad Business Jargon - Part I
  • 03-178: Bad Business Jargon - Part II
  • 03-179: Bad Business Jargon - Part III
  • 03-180: Bad Business Jargon - Part IV
  • 03-181: Unknown Shakespeare
  • 03-182: Othello
  • 03-183: Everything Looks Like a Nail
  • 03-184: Entertain a Thought without Accepting It
  • 03-185: King Lear
  • 03-186: Shakespeare's Language
  • 03-187: Shakespeare's Grammar
  • 03-188: Bad Management - Part I
  • 03-189: Bad Management - Part II
  • 03-190: The Taming of the Shrew
  • 03-191: Listicles
  • 03-192: British and American Spelling
  • 03-193: Julius Caesar
  • 03-194: Interview Mistakes
  • 03-195: Alexander Pope
  • 03-196: The Tempest
  • 03-197: Most-Spoken Languages - Part I
  • 03-198: Most-Spoken Languages - Part II
  • 03-199: Much Ado About Nothing
  • 03-200: National Parks
  • 03-201: Nature in the City
  • 03-202: Romeo and Juliet
  • 03-203: Museums - Part I
  • 03-204: Museums - Part II
  • 03-205: Influential People Who Never Lived
  • 03-206: Top Movies
  • 03-207: Top Movie Stars: Men
  • 03-208: Top Movie Stars: Women
  • 03-209: Movie Quotes - Part I
  • 03-210: Movie Quotes - Part II
  • 03-211: As You Like It
  • 03-212: Brush Up Your English - Part I
  • 03-213: Brush Up Your English - Part II
  • 03-214: Hamlet
  • 03-215: More Movie Quotes - Part I
  • 03-216: More Movie Quotes - Part II
  • 03-217: A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • 03-218: TV Catchphrases - Part I
  • 03-219: TV Catchphrases - Part II
  • 03-220: Antony and Cleopatra
  • 03-221: TV Catchphrases - Part III
  • 03-222: TV Catchphrases - Part IV
  • 03-223: Measure for Measure
  • 03-224: TV Catchphrases - Part V
  • 03-225: TV Catchphrases - Part VI
  • 03-226: The Merchant of Venice
  • 03-227: Commonly Confused Expressions - Part I
  • 03-228: Commonly Confused Expressions - Part II
  • 03-229: The Winter's Tale
  • 03-230: Commonly Confused Expressions - Part III
  • 03-231: Commonly Confused Expressions - Part IV
  • 03-232: Twelfth Night
  • 03-233: Commonly Confused Expressions - Part V
  • 03-234: Commonly Confused Expressions - Part VI
  • 03-235: Two Gentlemen of Verona
  • 03-236: New Words - Part I
  • 03-237: New Words - Part II
  • 03-238: Pericles, Prince of Tyre
  • 03-239: New Words - Part III
  • 03-240: New Words IV
  • 03-241: The Boss's Kid
  • 03-242: Bread
  • 03-243: Back to...
  • 03-244: As Old as the Hills
  • 03-245: As Easy as Pie
  • 03-246: As Cute as a Bug's Ear
  • 03-247: You Can Lead a Horse to Water
  • 03-248: Straight from the Horse's Mouth
  • 03-249: Gone to the Dogs
  • 03-250: A Dog in the Manger
  • 03-251: A Shaggy Dog Story
  • 03-252: Bacon and Eggs
  • 03-253: Forbidden Fruit
  • 03-254: What's Bugging You
  • 03-255: A Foot in the Door
  • 03-256: Hands Down
  • 03-257: By and Large
  • 03-258: A May-December Romance
  • 03-259: For All Intents and Purposes
  • 03-260: Cat Got Your Tongue
  • 03-261: Writ in Water
  • 03-262: Pardon my French
  • 03-263: Carpe Diem
  • 03-264: Be Still, My Beating Heart
  • 03-265: Hit the Nail on the Head
  • 03-266: High School Novels - Part I
  • 03-267: High School Novels - Part II
  • 03-268: High School Novels - Part III
  • 03-269: To Light One Candle
  • 03-270: Face the Music
  • 03-271: Music Has Charms
  • 03-272: Above and Below
  • 03-273: So-so at Ping Pong
  • 03-274: Boxing Day
  • 03-275: On the Ball
  • 03-276: New Year's Eve
  • 03-277: The New Year
  • 03-278: Old New Expressions - Part I
  • 03-279: Old New Expressions - Part II
  • 03-280: Old New Expressions - Part III
  • 03-281: Goody, Goody Gumdrops
  • 03-282: Good to Go
  • 03-283: Bad to the Bone
  • 03-284: The Sheep from the Goats
  • 03-285: An Arm and a Leg
  • 03-286: Begging the Question
  • 03-287: Flesh and Blood
  • 03-288: A Fine Kettle of Fish
  • 03-289: Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
  • 03-290: Nip It in the Bud
  • 03-291: Out of the Blue
  • 03-292: The Secret Admirer
  • 03-293: Kind of Blue
  • 03-294: The Green-Eyed Monster
  • 03-295: Get Over It
  • 03-296: The Salt of the Earth
  • 03-297: Lady Mondegreen
  • 03-298: Eat Your Heart Out
  • 03-299: Keep It Simple, Stupid
  • 03-300: Madder Than a Wet Hen
  • 03-301: He Pulled a Fast One
  • 03-302: The Madding Crowd
  • 03-303: SWAK
  • 03-304: Run of the Mill
  • 03-305: Life is Short
  • 03-306: A Fate Worse than Death
  • 03-307: The Life of the Party
  • 03-308: Heavens to Betsy
  • 03-309: No Laughing Matter
  • 03-310: High Hopes
  • 03-311: Walk, Don't Run
  • 03-312: PDQ
  • 03-313: Laugh All the Way to the Bank
  • 03-314: Living High on the Hog
  • 03-315: Every Man Jack
  • 03-316: Sacred Cows
  • 03-317: By the Book
  • 03-318: Say Cheese
  • 03-319: Too Much of a Good Thing
  • 03-320: The Oldest Trick in the Book
  • 03-321: Bet Your Bottom Dollar
  • 03-322: More Power to You
  • 03-323: Put Up Your Dukes
  • 03-324: At Sixes and Sevens
  • 03-325: Keep Your Nose Clean
  • 03-326: Bells and Whistles
  • 03-327: To the Manner Born
  • 03-328: Cold Turkey
  • 03-329: He's a Flake
  • 03-330: She's a Kook
  • 03-331: What a Wuss
  • 03-332: Don't Rain on My Parade
  • 03-333: A Penny for Your Thoughts
  • 03-334: Playing with Fire
  • 03-335: To Coin a Phrase
  • 03-336: Between Heaven and Hell
  • 03-337: Doubles
  • 03-338: More Doubles
  • 03-339: One of the Boys
  • 03-340: A Renaissance Man
  • 03-341: The Birds and the Bees
  • 03-342: A Bird's Eye View
  • 03-343: Put That in Your Pipe and Smoke It
  • 03-344: I Can't Stand This Heat
  • 03-345: Cool under Pressure
  • 03-346: Just My Luck
  • 03-347: No Such Luck
  • 03-348: Man's Inhumanity to Man
  • 03-349: A Homebody
  • 03-350: Boxed In
  • 03-351: Blind Luck
  • 03-352: This'll Put Hair on Your Chest
  • 03-353: Famous Last Words
  • 03-354: Get a Word in Edgewise
  • 03-355: The Finger
  • 03-356: Wanderlust
  • 03-357: Happy
  • 03-358: To Utopia
  • 03-359: Don't Be So Bumptious
  • 03-360: Immersed in a Genre
  • 03-361: Going to a Picnic
  • 03-362: A Chortling Nerd
  • 03-363: A Quark in Cyberspace
  • 03-364: The Grammar Quiz I
  • 03-365: Ya Gotta Have Heart
  • 03-366: Not Just Kittens and Puppies
  • 03-367: All That Jazz
  • 03-368: Holed Up in a Burger Joint
  • 03-369: An Easy Mark
  • 03-370: Carrying a Portmanteau
  • 03-371: Presidential Palaver
  • 03-372: Legalese
  • 03-373: Blunders
  • 03-374: The Sonnet - Part I
  • 03-375: The Sonnet - Part II
  • 03-376: A New Broom Sweeps Clean
  • 03-377: Unbelievable
  • 03-378: More Unbelievable
  • 03-379: Converse, Diverse, Reverse
  • 03-380: Murple
  • 03-381: Apprehend and Comprehend
  • 03-382: Oh, Man
  • 03-383: Cave Men
  • 03-384: En- Means In
  • 03-385: What's the Difference
  • 03-386: Homonyms
  • 03-387: Literary Terms - Part I
  • 03-388: Literary Terms - Part II
  • 03-389: Contradiction and Paradox
  • 03-390: Famous Paradoxes
  • 03-391: New Meanings for Old Words
  • 03-392: Sailor Talk
  • 03-393: More Sailor Talk
  • 03-394: Tips for Essay Tests
  • 03-395: Talking about Autumn
  • 03-396: Words with -esque
  • 03-397: Webster's Weird Words - Part I
  • 03-398: Webster's Weird Words - Part II
  • 03-399: Learning New Words
  • 03-400: Monsters
  • 03-401: Borrowing from German
  • 03-402: Borrowing from Yiddish
  • 03-403: Phobophobia
  • 03-404: First to Third Idioms
  • 03-405: Fourth to Tenth Idioms
  • 03-406: Easily-Confused Words
  • 03-407: Great American Novels
  • 03-408: Using Slang
  • 03-409: Great Short-Story Writers
  • 03-410: Types of Artists
  • 03-411: Types of Writers
  • 03-412: The Job Interview
  • 03-413: Your Greatest Weakness
  • 03-414: Phrasal Verbs
  • 03-415: Some American Poets
  • 03-416: Who is Santa Claus?
  • 03-417: Three Morals
  • 03-418: You're a Lunatic
  • 03-419: Talking Turkey
  • 03-420: Computer Jargon
  • 03-421: X Marks the Spot
  • 03-422: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Part I
  • 03-423: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Part II
  • 03-424: Games, Games, Games
  • 03-425: The L Words
  • 03-426: Coming or Going
  • 03-427: Sir Francis Bacon
  • 03-428: More Games
  • 03-429: The Research Paper
  • 03-430: Eponyms
  • 03-431: English Corner - Part I
  • 03-432: English Corner - Part II
  • 03-433: In a Nutshell
  • 03-434: Writing Better - Part I
  • 03-435: Writing Better - Part II
  • 03-436: Reduced Forms
  • 03-437: Data and News
  • 03-438: Crutch Words
  • 03-439: Paired Roots
  • 03-440: The Alphabet
  • 03-441: Charlemagne
  • 03-442: Dinosaurs
  • 03-443: The Planets
  • 03-444: About A, An, and The
  • 03-445: Weird Band Names
  • 03-446: Bartlett's Familiar Quotations
  • 03-447: Aliens and Earthlings
  • 03-448: Inspirational Quotes
  • 03-449: Dog Breeds - Part I
  • 03-450: Dog Breeds - Part II
  • 03-451: Boldness Has Magic in It
  • 03-452: In Like a Lion
  • 03-453: Marching to a Different Drummer
  • 03-454: What Counts
  • 03-455: Borges's Library
  • 03-456: A Potty Break
  • 03-457: Pulling the Plug
  • 03-458: Misheard Words - Part I
  • 03-459: Misheard Words - Part II
  • 03-460: It's Spring
  • 03-461: Some Funny Cards: Work
  • 03-462: Some Funny Cards: Weekends
  • 03-463: Verbing Nouns



Part 4: Great People: Biographies
(April 6, 2015 to January 26, 2017)

In April of 2015, at my editor's suggestion, I started writing around 280 short biographies of great scientists, inventors, mathematicians, musicians, artists, philosophers, writers, and historical figures. These are not exhaustive, of course, but serve as a quick introduction.

You'll notice that they tend to come in groups of three: a scientist, inventor, or mathematician; someone from the world of the arts; and an author. (And, from time to time, I subbed in a world leader, like Abraham Lincoln or Alexander the Great.) In the early days, I was able to find triads from the same country; over time, this got harder. By the end, I was writing about legendary figures!
  • 04-001: Mr. Newton's Universe
    • What keeps us stuck to the earth? Sir Isaac Newton figured out exactly how this "glue" works! Find out what else he did!
  • 04-002: The Musical Handel
    • Though he was born in what is now Germany, George Frideric Handel rose to fame in England. Learn how he entertained two English kings with his compositions.
  • 04-003: John Milton, Blind Poet
    • John Milton was a genius with languages, which earned him the reputation of being second only to Shakespeare as an English poet. Let's look at his career in literature and civil service.
  • 04-004: Louis Pasteur, Father of Microbiology
    • If your milk isn't "Pasteurized," you'd probably be better off not drinking it! Learn about the French scientist who lent his name to the process.
  • 04-005: Victor Hugo, Author of Les Miz
    • From miserable Jean Valjean to the pathetic hunchback Quasimodo, Victor Hugo peopled his beloved Paris with anti-heroes we still love and admire today.
  • 04-006: Edouard Manet, Early Impressionist
    • Edouard Manet was a painter ahead of his time, the forerunner to the tradition-smashing movement known as "Impressionism."
  • 04-007: Linus Pauling, Double Nobel Winner
    • One Nobel prize is amazing, but TWO?! And in entirely different fields: chemistry and peace activism. Come meet this amazing man.
  • 04-008: Aaron Copland, Dean of American Composers
    • Born in humble circumstances in an immigrant community, Aaron Copland became the most American of composers. Follow his path to success.
  • 04-009: Ernest "Papa" Hemingway
    • The wimpy, bespectacled writer hunched over his keyboard was transformed by Ernest Hemingway into the robust, manly man we picture writers to be today.
  • 04-010: Galileo, the Father of Science
    • Though the theory wasn't his, by championing the idea of the sun-centered solar system, Galileo advanced science and changed the way we see ourselves in the cosmos.
  • 04-011: Tommaso's Utopian City
    • Tommaso Campanella was a freethinker and ahead of his time--which caused him no end of trouble with the Roman Catholic Church!
  • 04-012: Caravaggio, Renaissance "Bad Boy"
    • Caravaggio painted his subjects in action, not in the "calm before the storm" as was common in his day. The results were astounding.
  • 04-013: Ramon y Cajal, Father of Modern Neuroscience
    • It's never been easy to do research in Spain, a country with little support for science. But Santiago Ramón y Cajal found a way, becoming a trailblazing scientist!
  • 04-014: Picasso, THE Artist of the 20th Century
    • "You're no Picasso" we might tell a dabbler. Pablo Picasso's surname has become a byword for "artist," and the range and quality of his work shows us why.
  • 04-015: Garcia Lorca, Poet of the People
    • The tragically brief life of Federico García Lorca--he died at 38--was nonetheless one filled with amazing work.
  • 04-016: Albert Einstein, THE Scientist of the 20th Century
    • His bushy hair and soulful eyes are as familiar as his famous formula. But do you really know what it means? Find out here!
  • 04-017: Richard Strauss, a Pretty Good Composer
    • This great composer wouldn't be on the radar of most of us were it not for a couple of "classical pops" numbers still played today--especially the one from that space movie.
  • 04-018: Thomas Mann, Einstein of Literature
    • One of the greatest figures of 20th-century literature is (alas!) little-read by English speaking audiences. Meet Thomas Mann and his creations in this lesson.
  • 04-019: Aristotle and Early Science
    • In the olden days, it was hard to distinguish science from philosophy; but Aristotle was a master of both. See some of his theories in this lesson.
  • 04-020: Praxiteles and Phryne
    • When you say "Greek," I think "sculpture"! And Praxiteles was one of the greatest of Greek sculptors. Meet him and his (supposed) GF.
  • 04-021: Aristophanes, Father of Comedy
    • The Greeks are known for their tragedies on stage, but equally entertaining (and insightful) were their comedies, some of which were written by Aristophanes.
  • 04-022: Mendeleev and the Periodic Table
    • If you've ever studied chemistry, you've benefited from the efforts of Mendeleev, a great (and largely unsung) Russian scientist.
  • 04-023: The Tragic Tchaikovsky
    • From the charming dances of the Nutcracker Suite to the bombastic 1812 Overture, Tchaikovsky's music has entertained us for well over a century.
  • 04-024: Count Leo Tolstoy
    • A Russian nobleman who took up the cause of the poor, Leo Tolstoy was a literary giant. Follow his spiritual journey in this lesson.
  • 04-025: Pliny the Elder
    • A true scientist who went into the field and "got his hands dirty," the Roman naturalist Pliny died while observing a the effects of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.
  • 04-026: The Artists of Pompeii
    • The eruption that killed Pliny also destroyed several towns, incidentally preserving their art for us to enjoy today.
  • 04-027: Seneca (the Younger), Stoic
    • Seneca promoted a philosophy called "Stoicism"--though he didn't exactly practice what he preached! Witness his hypocrisy in this lesson.
  • 04-028: Eli Whitney and the Cotton Gin
    • Eli Whitney's cotton gin "saved" the economy of the American South--at the same time that it contributed to its downfall. Read on to learn how that can be.
  • 04-029: The Famous Unknown Gilbert Stuart
    • Most of us have seen Gilbert Stuart's work hundreds or thousands of times--and never knew his name! Find the solution to this mystery in this lesson.
  • 04-030: Washington Irving, International Best-Seller
    • One of America's first international artists, Washington Irving's reputation rests largely on two short stories--but they're familiar to almost all American readers.
  • 04-031: Niels Bohr, Atomic Pioneer
  • 04-032: Karen Isak Dinesen Blixen
  • 04-033: Maurice Utrillo of Montmartre
  • 04-034: Charles Darwin, Evolutionist
  • 04-035: Abraham Lincoln, Self-Made Man
  • 04-036: Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  • 04-037: Sir Thomas Browne
  • 04-038: Rembrandt
  • 04-039: The KJV
  • 04-040: Marie Curie, Scientist
  • 04-041: The Wild Henri Matisse
  • 04-042: Pioneer Girl Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • 04-043: Charles Lyell, Darwin's Inspiration
  • 04-044: Hiroshige, Ukiyo-e Master
  • 04-045: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein's Mother
  • 04-046: The Redoubtable René Descartes
  • 04-047: Nicolas Poussin, First Painter to the King
  • 04-048: Calderon and Life is a Dream
  • 04-049: Charles Richter, Seismologist
  • 04-050: Uncle Walt Disney
  • 04-051: Margaret Mitchell, Southern Apologist
  • 04-052: Nikola Tesla, Mad Scientist
  • 04-053: John Singer Sargent, Expat Painter
  • 04-054: L. Frank Baum, Dreamer
  • 04-055: James Clerk Maxwell, A Second Newton
  • 04-056: John Everett Millais, Pre-Raphaelite
  • 04-057: Lewis Carroll, Creator of Wonderland
  • 04-058: Copernicus, a Revolutionary Astronomer
  • 04-059: The Divine Michelangelo
  • 04-060: Sir Thomas More and Utopia
  • 04-061: Andreas Vesalius, Father of Modern Anatomy
  • 04-062: Giorgio Vasari, Artist-Historian
  • 04-063: Saint Teresa of Avila
  • 04-064: Erwin Schrodinger and His Cat
  • 04-065: Georgia O'Keeffe, Southwestern Artist
  • 04-066: Robinson Jeffers, Poet of the California Coast
  • 04-067: Antoine Lavoisier, Father of Modern Chemistry
  • 04-068: Jean-Antoine Houdon, Sculptor Extraordinaire
  • 04-069: Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence
  • 04-070: Tycho Brahe and His Golden Nose
  • 04-071: El Greco, the Spanish Greek
  • 04-072: Miguel de Cervantes, Creator of Don Quixote
  • 04-073: William Harvey and Circulation of the Blood
  • 04-074: Peter Paul Rubens, Baroque Painter
  • 04-075: John Fletcher, Successor to Shakespeare
  • 04-076: Werner Heisenberg and the Uncertainty Principle
  • 04-077: Ansel Adams, Photographer of the West
  • 04-078: John Steinbeck, California Chronicler
  • 04-079: Franz Boas, Father of American Anthropology
  • 04-080: Giacomo Puccini, Scion of Italian Opera
  • 04-081: Edith Nesbit, First Modern Children's Writer
  • 04-082: Rudolf Virchow, Father of Modern Pathology
  • 04-083: Louis Vuitton, Box-Maker Extraordinaire
  • 04-084: Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russia's Greatest Writer
  • 04-085: Arthur Eddington, Science Popularizer
  • 04-086: Georges Braque, a Creator of Cubism
  • 04-087: James Joyce, Irish Expat
  • 04-088: Edwin Hubble, Pioneer of the Distant Stars
  • 04-089: Thomas Hart Benton, Regionalist
  • 04-090: Erle Stanley Gardner, One-Time Bestseller
  • 04-091: Max Planck, Father of Quantum Physics
  • 04-092: Georges Seurat, Pointillist
  • 04-093: Theodore Roosevelt, Writer and Conservationist
  • 04-094: William Herschel, Discoverer of Uranus
  • 04-095: Charles Willson Peale, Artist and Museologist
  • 04-096: Edward Gibbon, Historian of Rome
  • 04-097: Enrico Fermi, Architect of the Nuclear Age
  • 04-098: Sir Kenneth Clark, Chronicler of Civilisation
  • 04-099: Langston Hughes, Poet of the Harlem Renaissance
  • 04-100: Ferdinand Magellan, Circumnavigator
  • 04-101: Raphael, One of the Trinity
  • 04-102: Martin Luther, Reformer and Writer
  • 04-103: Machiavelli: Not a Prince
  • 04-104: Albrecht Durer, German Woodcut Artist
  • 04-105: Erasmus, Renaissance Humanist
  • 04-106: Stephen Hawking, Master of the Universe
  • 04-107: Jamie Wyeth, Artistic Heir
  • 04-108: Garrison Keillor, Radio Humorist
  • 04-109: Alfred Nobel, Maker of Dynamite
  • 04-110: James McNeill Whistler, Temperamental Artist
  • 04-111: Louisa May Alcott and Her Little Women
  • 04-112: John James Audubon, Ornithological Painter
  • 04-113: Louis Daguerre, Father of Photography
  • 04-114: Jacob Grimm, Philologist
  • 04-115: Gregor Mendel, Founder of Genetics
  • 04-116: John Ruskin, Artist and Critic
  • 04-117: Matthew Arnold, Poet and Critic
  • 04-118: Euclid, Father of Geometry
  • 04-119: Alexander the Great
  • 04-120: Menander, a New Comedian
  • 04-121: H. G. Wells, A Father of Science Fiction
  • 04-122: Arthur Rackham, Children's Lit Illustrator
  • 04-123: Beatrix Potter, Creator of Peter Rabbit
  • 04-124: Richard Feynman, Nobelist and Bongo Player
  • 04-125: Helmut Newton, Bad Boy Fashion Photographer
  • 04-126: Madeleine L'Engle, Author for Young Adults
  • 04-127: Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Father of Microbiology
  • 04-128: Christopher Wren, Architect of St. Paul's
  • 04-129: John Locke, Father of Liberalism
  • 04-130: Johannes Kepler and the Planetary Laws
  • 04-131: Jan, the Middle Brueghel
  • 04-132: John Donne, Enigma
  • 04-133: Sigmund Freud, Father of Psychoanalysis
  • 04-134: Eugene Atget, Pioneer Documentary Photographer
  • 04-135: George Bernard Shaw, Nobel and Oscar Winner
  • 04-136: Lucretius, Roman Naturalist
  • 04-137: Julius Caesar, Roman Emperor
  • 04-138: Cicero, Latin Prose Stylist
  • 04-139: Carl Linnaeus, Father of Modern Taxonomy
  • 04-140: Charles Wesley, Hymnist
  • 04-141: Henry Fielding, Author of Tom Jones
  • 04-142: Jean Froissart, Chronicler of France and England
  • 04-143: Dame Julian of Norwich, English Mystic
  • 04-144: Geoffrey Chaucer, Father of English Literature
  • 04-145: James Watt, Inventor of the Steam Engine
  • 04-146: Aloysius Galvani, Discoverer of Animal Electricity
  • 04-147: Alessandro Volta, Inventor of the Electrical Battery
  • 04-148: James Watson, Co-Discoverer of DNA's Structure
  • 04-149: Andy Warhol, Pop Artist
  • 04-150: Maya Angelou, Author and Activist
  • 04-151: Rachel Carson, Conservationist
  • 04-152: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Photographer of The Moment
  • 04-153: James A. Michener and his Family Sagas
  • 04-154: Claude Lévi-Strauss, Father of Modern Anthropology
  • 04-155: Yousuf Karsh, Studio Portrait Photographer
  • 04-156: Ian Fleming, Creator of James Bond
  • 04-157: Mircea Eliade, Historian of Religion
  • 04-158: Robert A. Heinlein, Dean of Science Fiction
  • 04-159: Leslie Charteris, Creator of The Saint
  • 04-160: Jacob Bronowski and The Ascent of Man
  • 04-161: Roger Tory Peterson, the Bird Man
  • 04-162: Louis L'Amour, Pulp Westerner
  • 04-163: John of the Mountains Muir
  • 04-164: Georges Bizet, Composer of Carmen
  • 04-165: Henry Adams, of the Boston Adamses
  • 04-166: Aldo Leopold, Environmental Ethicist
  • 04-167: Marc Chagall, Modern Jewish Artist
  • 04-168: Nikos Kazantzakis, Creator of Zorba
  • 04-169: Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist
  • 04-170: Alfred Hitchcock, Master of Suspense
  • 04-171: P. L. Travers, Creator of Mary Poppins
  • 04-172: Noam Chomsky, Father of Modern Linguistics
  • 04-173: Fats Domino, Rock Legend
  • 04-174: Maurice Sendak, Friend of Wild Things
  • 04-175: Vladimir Nabokov, Author of Lolita
  • 04-176: Jorge Luis Borges, Creator of Magical Realism
  • 04-177: C. S. Forester and Horatio Hornblower
  • 04-178: B. F. Skinner, Behaviorist
  • 04-179: Salvador Dali, Surrealist
  • 04-180: Dr. Seuss, Creator of The Cat in the Hat
  • 04-181: Robert Goddard, Father of Modern Rocketry
  • 04-182: Edward Hopper and Nighthawks
  • 04-183: A. A. Milne, Father of Winnie the Pooh
  • 04-184: Rockwell Kent, Art Deco Artist
  • 04-185: Igor Stravinsky, Modern Composer
  • 04-186: Virginia Woolf, Literary Feminist
  • 04-187: Booker T. Washington, Black Educator
  • 04-188: George Washington Carver, Black Leonardo
  • 04-189: Woodrow Wilson, Scholar-President
  • 04-190: They All Laughed: Columbus
  • 04-191: They All Laughed: Edison
  • 04-192: They All Laughed: The Wright Brothers
  • 04-193: They All Laughed: Marconi
  • 04-194: They All Laughed: Rockefeller
  • 04-195: They All Laughed: Fulton
  • 04-196: They All Laughed: Hershey
  • 04-197: They All Laughed: Ford
  • 04-198: They All Laughed: The Song
  • 04-199: James Joyce's Ulysses
  • 04-200: James Joyce's Portrait
  • 04-201: The Garden of Earthly Delights
  • 04-202: Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby
  • 04-203: Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury
  • 04-204: Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling
  • 04-205: Joseph Heller's Catch-22
  • 04-206: Lawrence's Sons and Lovers
  • 04-207: Three by Klimt
  • 04-208: Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath
  • 04-209: Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano
  • 04-210: Botticelli's La Primavera
  • 04-211: Butler's The Way of All Flesh
  • 04-212: I, Claudius, by Robert Graves
  • 04-213: Leonardo's Last Supper
  • 04-214: Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five
  • 04-215: Dreiser's An American Tragedy
  • 04-216: Dali's Metamorphosis of Narcissus
  • 04-217: Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man
  • 04-218: Richard Wright's Native Son
  • 04-219: Van Gogh's Starry Night
  • 04-220: Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
  • 04-221: Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
  • 04-222: Botticelli's The Birth of Venus
  • 04-223: Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King
  • 04-224: John O' Hara's Appointment in Samarra
  • 04-225: Rubens's Adoration of the Magi
  • 04-226: Dos Passos's U.S.A. Trilogy
  • 04-227: Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio
  • 04-228: Monet's Cathedral of Rouen
  • 04-229: E. M. Forster's A Passage to India
  • 04-230: Henry James's The Wings of the Dove
  • 04-231: Mencken's The American Language
  • 04-232: Strunk and White's The Elements of Style
  • 04-233: Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop
  • 04-234: James T. Farrell's Studs Lonigan Trilogy
  • 04-235: Seneca's On the Shortness of Life
  • 04-236: James's Varieties of Religious Experience
  • 04-237: Gould's Mismeasure of Man
  • 04-238: Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises
  • 04-239: Marcus Aurelius's Meditations
  • 04-240: T. S. Eliot's Selected Essays
  • 04-241: Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men
  • 04-242: Augustine's Confessions
  • 04-243: Beowulf
  • 04-244: Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
  • 04-245: Montaigne's On Friendship
  • 04-246: Kafka's The Metamorphosis
  • 04-247: Jack Kerouac's On the Road
  • 04-248: Plato's Symposium
  • 04-249: Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
  • 04-250: The Background of Gilgamesh
  • 04-251: Behind The Iliad
  • 04-252: Program Music
  • 04-253: Homeric Allusions - Part I
  • 04-254: Homeric Allusions - Part II
  • 04-255: Icelandic Sagas
  • 04-256: The Song of Roland
  • 04-257: The Poem of the Cid
  • 04-258: The Matter of Britain
  • 04-259: King Arthur in Europe
  • 04-260: Irish Cycles and the Cattle Raid at Cooley
  • 04-261: The Buddhacharita
  • 04-262: American Characters
  • 04-263: Charles F. Lummis
  • 04-264: Charlie Chaplin
  • 04-265: Preston Sturges
  • 04-266: Woody Allen
  • 04-267: Francis Ford Coppola
  • 04-268: Mel Brooks
  • 04-269: Steven Spielberg
  • 04-270: Clint Eastwood
  • 04-271: The Oldest Person Ever
  • 04-272: The Tallest Person Ever
  • 04-273: The Shortest Man Ever
  • 04-274: Myths, Fairy Tales, and Legends
  • 04-275: Legends of King Arthur - Part I
  • 04-276: Legends of King Arthur - Part II
  • 04-277: The Legend of William Tell
  • 04-278: Jason and the Golden Fleece
  • 04-279: Hercules



Part 5: Holidays
(February 6 to June 22, 2017)

Again at the urging of my editor, in 2017 I wrote around 60 articles on holidays from around the world. Some were quite well known, others obscure, but all were interesting!
  • 05-001: New Years' Celebrations
    • Scholar Mircea Eliade describes New Years' celebrations as like hitting a "reset button" on our lives. See how two different cultures do this.
  • 05-002: Some Peculiar January Holidays in England
    • England has begun to revive some old customs, such as one that rewards the contribution of workers, and another that recognizes the start of the agricultural season.
  • 05-003: Of Wise Men and Fools
    • Two holidays in January celebrate opposite ideas--wisdom and foolishness--in different ways.
  • 05-004: Two Japanese '"Age"' Days
    • Japan recognizes both the passage from youth into adulthood, and the one from adulthood into senior status, in two public holidays.
  • 05-005: Martin Luther King: and Others
    • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is widely respected for his civil rights work. But some opposed the establishment of a holiday in his honor, and others even watered it down by including a Confederate general in the celebrations!
  • 05-006: Frivolous January Holidays
    • There seems to be a "National Day" for almost anything. So how do YOU celebrate "National Hot Sauce Day"?
  • 05-007: Groundhog Day
    • A surprising number of universal celebrations cluster around February 1st, seen in ancient days as the start of spring.
  • 05-008: The Run-Up to Lent
    • People speak of "giving up something for Lent," but actually, preparation for the season begins weeks before Ash Wednesday, the official start of Lent.
  • 05-009: Major Buddhist Holidays
    • Most Buddhists celebrate three events in the life of the Buddha: his birth, enlightenment, and death--though different cultures celebrate them according to very different schemes.
  • 05-010: Other Buddhist Holidays
    • Buddhist across many cultures celebrate a holiday in remembrance of their ancestors, sometimes called the "Hungry Ghost Festival." There are many, many other observances, too.
  • 05-011: Valentine's Day
    • By all means, let's celebrate Saint Valentine--even though we don't have a clue who he really was! Come explore the mystery.
  • 05-012: "The Third Monday in February"
    • I guess something good happened on "the Third Monday in February"--but we can't decide what to call the holiday that celebrates it! It's a puzzle...
  • 05-013: February: Black History Month and More
    • Recognition of the contributions of African Americans to America's success was long overdue. Learn how it finally got started--less than 100 years ago.
  • 05-014: Frivolous February Holidays
    • Some silly-seeming celebrations actually support good causes, like awareness of women's heart disease and domestic violence.
  • 05-015: Three More February Holidays
    • Remember some musical greats, be nice for no particular reason, or chase away the winter "blahs" on these three days in February.
  • 05-016: March: Women's History Month and More
    • Women's history, nutrition, and reading awareness are some of the month-long observances in March.
  • 05-017: The Spring Equinox
    • The March equinox, called by some the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere, is the cue for several other observances as well.
  • 05-018: St. Patrick's Day
    • The long-standing tradition of St. Patrick's Day has evolved into a full-blown "Irish-American Heritage Month" throughout March.
  • 05-019: Lent and Easter
    • The most important Christian holiday is not Christmas, as you might guess, but Easter, which also inspired a number other traditional observances, including Lent.
  • 05-020: A Potpourri of March Holidays
    • Johnny Appleseed, π, Saint Joseph, and the announcement of Jesus's birth--March has a lot going on!
  • 05-021: Month-Long April Observances
    • It's spring! Write a poem, listen to some jazz, donate your organs, or volunteer!
  • 05-022: April Fools' and Tomb-Sweeping Day
    • From the foolishness of April 1st, we pivot to the "grave" activity of sweeping the ancestral tombs, in Chinese culture.
  • 05-023: April Birthdays - Part I
    • April birthdays (in 2017) included 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, whom some Muslims believe to be Muhammad's first successor; and Queen Elizabeth, whom some believe to be the ruler of England!
  • 05-024: April Birthdays - Part II
    • April celebrants include the Buddha, Thomas Jefferson, a founder of modern Puerto Rico, numerous Scandinavian royals, and an African king.
  • 05-025: Songkran
    • New Years is one of the world's most widely celebrated holidays, and it's celebrated in a wide variety of ways! As an example, notice the flinging of water in some Buddhist countries.
  • 05-026: International Jazz Day
    • Find out how American jazz rose from its humble beginnings to become an important force in international relations.
  • 05-027: New Beer's Eve and Other Frivolous April Days
    • Fads come and go, but people will have their beer! Find out about "New Beer's Eve" and the end of Prohibition in the U.S.
  • 05-028: MAYDAY!
    • There seems to be some connection between May Day--the ancient beginning of the northern hemisphere's summer--and honoring the labor of workers.
  • 05-029: Mother's Days
    • The official recognition of Mother's Day in the U.S. was long in coming. But today, nearly half of the world's 175 celebrations use approximately the same date!
  • 05-030: Memorial Day and Summer
    • Traditionally, America's "summer social season" (not summer itself) began on Memorial Day at the end of May and ended with Labor Day at the start of September.
  • 05-031: Ascension and Pentecost
    • Forty Days after Easter comes the Feast of the Ascension, commemorating Jesus's ascent into heaven; ten days after that is Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit founded the church.
  • 05-032: May Potpourri
    • May plays host to everything from the Mexican fiesta of Cinco de Mayo to the silly Star Wars Day, as well as Russia's end-of-school celebration, "The Last Bell."
  • 05-033: May Birthdays
    • Three very different birthday celebrants: Mexican Founding Father Miguel Hidalgo; longtime Malawian leader Hastings Banda; and the Irish monk-explorer Saint Brendan.
  • 05-034: Dads and Grads
    • Two celebrations fortuitously rhymed by the advertising industry: Father's Day ("Dads") and commencement exercises ("Grads")!
  • 05-035: Midsummer's Day
    • A pale counterpart to the better-known December solstice, the magic of this date was admirably captured by no less than William Shakespeare.
  • 05-036: Helen Keller Day
    • Many of us have heard of Helen Keller (sometimes as the butt of cruel jokes), and picture her as a simple, cheerful woman. But she is much more complex than that.
  • 05-037: June Potpourri - Part I
    • From recognition of ecological challenges to simple acts of friendliness, June holidays have a lot to offer.
  • 05-038: June Potpourri - Part II
    • From an Irish pub crawl to the luring of rats to their deaths--and with a group of mystical sleepers thrown in--June is just weird!
  • 05-039: America's Independence Day
    • Bang the drums! Ring the bells! Wave the flags! It's the Fourth of July, and all Americans celebrate, albeit each in his or her own way.
  • 05-040: July Independence Days - Part I
    • Forty-four of the world's Independence Days--some 35% of the 126--occur in July and August. See some of them in this lesson.
  • 05-041: July Independence Days - Part II
    • Let's look at another round of countries that celebrate their independence in July, in South America, Africa, the Pacific, and more.
  • 05-042: Tanabata (Qixi)
    • Two lovers--actually, stars--are banished to opposite sides of the river called the Milky Way, and can meet only once a year.
  • 05-043: World UFO Day
    • July 2, 1947. Something strange happens in the skies over Roswell, New Mexico, and the rumors begin almost instantly, resulting in... is a holiday!
  • 05-044: July Potpourri
    • Canadians moving house en masse, a British "invasion," and the overthrow of the French monarchy--July still has a lot going on!
  • 05-045: Lazy August (Potpourri)
    • There's not much happening in August--maybe due to the heat! Still, a major pagan holiday and a major Christian one will do nicely.
  • 05-046: September Start-up (Potpourri)
    • A tribute to workers, another to the heroes of September 11, and a silly day that encourages people to "talk like a pirate," all in September
  • 05-047: Columbus Day Myths
    • No, Columbus was not "Italian," he did not "discover America," and he didn't even touch the North American continent.
  • 05-048: Halloween
    • Halloween has its roots in one of the dates on the Great Wheel of the Year, between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice--the beginning of the Season of the Dead.
  • 05-049: October Potpourri
    • In October we celebrate Guardian Angels, teachers (another kind of angel!), the Canadian recognition of women as persons, and Basque Country.
  • 05-050: Thanksgiving
    • They used to tell us that our Thanksgiving dinners went back to "the Pilgrims" in an unbroken chain. Not so!
  • 05-051: Guy Fawkes Night - Part I
    • This celebration has its roots in the arcane rules of succession by which an English king or queen was chosen.
  • 05-052: Guy Fawkes Night - Part II
    • The celebration is named after Guy Fawkes for his role in the "Gunpowder Plot" to blow up the English king. He was caught, and it failed.
  • 05-053: Culture Day
    • This quintessentially Japanese holiday has its roots in the birthday of the Meiji Emperor, many of whose successors also have "themed" birthday celebrations.
  • 05-054: November Potpourri
    • Remembering those who served our country, the rights of "ugly" women, and the importance of sanitation and clean water.
  • 05-055: Chalica
    • In December (or January) Unitarian Universalists celebrate their important principles and sources of wisdom.
  • 05-056: Christmas and St. Nick
    • When we think of Christmas, we think of Santa Claus. But it wasn't always so! Meet Saint Nicholas and learn his story.
  • 05-057: Hanukkah and Kwanzaa
    • Two December holidays very similar in some ways--Hanukkah and Kwanzaa--have different origins and serve different communities.
  • 05-058: December Potpourri
    • Faith in the Virgin of Guadalupe, the loyalty of the 47 Ronin, and the renewal promised by New Years Eve: December is a time of beginnings as well as endings.



Part 6: Countries of the World
(June 26, 2017 to November 20, 2018)

In mid-2017 I undertook to write one profile for every country in the world. With 201 articles, I'd say I pretty much nailed it!
  • 06-001: Azerbaijan, The Land of Fire
  • 06-002: Namibia, The Land of the Brave
  • 06-003: Latvia: "Fatherland and Freedom"
  • 06-004: Grenada, the "Island of Spice"
  • 06-005: Moldova: "Hospitality. Tradition. Mystery."
  • 06-006: Paraguay: "The Heart of South America"
  • 06-007: Sudan: "Victory is Ours"
  • 06-008: Tahiti: "Embraced by Mana"
  • 06-009: Oman: "Beauty Has an Address"
  • 06-010: Guatemala: "Soul of the Earth"
  • 06-011: Andorra: "The Pyrenean Country"
  • 06-012: Guyana: "South America, Undiscovered"
  • 06-013: Benin: "The Birthplace of Voodoo"
  • 06-014: Vanuatu: "Discover What Matters"
  • 06-015: "Experience Haiti"
  • 06-016: "I Wish I was in Finland"
  • 06-017: Maldives, the "Sunny Side of Life"
  • 06-018: Djibouti is "Djibeauty"
  • 06-019: "Beautiful Samoa"
  • 06-020: Kuwait, Home to Expats
  • 06-021: Belize: A Curious Place
  • 06-022: My Serbia
  • 06-023: Peru: Land of the Incas
  • 06-024: Liberia: "The love of liberty brought us here"
  • 06-025: There's Nothing Like Australia
  • 06-026: Brunei: A Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures
  • 06-027: Antigua and Barbuda: The Beach is Just the Beginning
  • 06-028: Romania: Explore the Carpathian Garden
  • 06-029: Uruguay Natural
  • 06-030: Beautiful Burundi
  • 06-031: Kiribati: For Travellers
  • 06-032: Mongolia: Go Nomadic
  • 06-033: Panama Surprises
  • 06-034: Made in Italy
  • 06-035: All You Need Is Ecuador
  • 06-036: Zambia: Let's Explore
  • 06-037: Nauru: The World's Least-Visited Country
  • 06-038: Georgia: For the Best Moments of Your Life
  • 06-039: Trinidad and Tobago: The True Caribbean
  • 06-040: Belgium: The Place to Be
  • 06-041: Mexico: Live It to Believe It
  • 06-042: Seychelles: Another World
  • 06-043: Timeless Tuvalu
  • 06-044: Iraq: The Cradle of Civilization
  • 06-045: El Salvador: The 45 Minute Country
  • 06-046: Portugal: Europe's West Coast
  • 06-047: Argentina Beats to Your Rhythm
  • 06-048: Morocco: Much Mor [sic]
  • 06-049: New Zealand: 100% Pure
  • 06-050: Vietnam: Timeless Charm
  • 06-051: Turks and Caicos Islands: Beautiful by Nature
  • 06-052: Vatican City: Seat of the Roman Catholic Church
  • 06-053: Brasil: Sensational
  • 06-054: Eritrea
  • 06-055: Papua New Guinea: A Million Different Journeys
  • 06-056: Nepal: Once is Not Enough
  • 06-057: Saint Kitts and Nevis: Follow Your Heart
  • 06-058: Albania: Go Your Own Way
  • 06-059: The Bahamas: Life is Grand
  • 06-060: Burkina Faso: Land of the Honest People
  • 06-061: Fiji: Where Happiness Finds You
  • 06-062: Israel: Land of Creation
  • 06-063: Autentica Cuba
  • 06-064: San Marino for All
  • 06-065: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Discover SVG
  • 06-066: The Gambia: The Smiling Coast of Africa
  • 06-067: Solomon Islands: Seek the Unexplored
  • 06-068: Wonderful Indonesia
  • 06-069: See Puerto Rico
  • 06-070: Spain in Detail
  • 06-071: Colombia is Magical Realism
  • 06-072: Algeria: Tourism for Everybody
  • 06-073: Marshall Islands: Gifts from God
  • 06-074: Laos: Simply Beautiful
  • 06-075: Nicaragua: Unique... Original
  • 06-076: Netherlands: The Original Cool
  • 06-077: Egypt: Where It All Begins
  • 06-078: Tonga: The True South Pacific
  • 06-079: Bhutan: Happiness is a Place
  • 06-080: Dominican Republic Has It All
  • 06-081: United Kingdom: Home of Amazing Moments
  • 06-082: Canada: Keep Exploring
  • 06-083: Nigeria: Good People, Great Nation
  • 06-084: Pristine Paradise Palau
  • 06-085: Beautiful Bangladesh
  • 06-086: Essential Costa Rica
  • 06-087: Austria: Arrive and Revive
  • 06-088: Bolivia Awaits You
  • 06-089: Cameroon: All of Africa in One Country
  • 06-090: Micronesia: Experience the Warmth
  • 06-091: It's Beautiful: It's Pakistan
  • 06-092: Ethiopia: Land of Origins
  • 06-093: Rendez-Vous en France
  • 06-094: Reveal Your Own Russia
  • 06-095: Magical Kenya
  • 06-096: Germany: Simply Inspiring
  • 06-097: Turkey: Be Our Guest
  • 06-098: Ghana: Akwaaba
  • 06-099: Greece: All Time Classic
  • 06-100: Saudi Arabia: Experience to Discover
  • 06-101: Madagascar: A Genuine Island, A World Apart
  • 06-102: Jamaica: Get All Right
  • 06-103: It's More Fun in the Philippines
  • 06-104: South Africa: Inspiring New Ways
  • 06-105: Visit Sweden
  • 06-106: Sri Lanka: Wonder of Asia
  • 06-107: I Feel Like Tunisia
  • 06-108: Switzerland: Get Natural
  • 06-109: Myanmar: Let the Journey Begin
  • 06-110: Cape Verde: No Stress
  • 06-111: Ukraine: It's All About U
  • 06-112: Malaysia: Truly Asia
  • 06-113: Tanzania: The Land of...
  • 06-114: Honduras: Everything is Here
  • 06-115: Incredible !ndia
  • 06-116: Uganda: You're Welcome
  • 06-117: Poland: Move Your Imagination
  • 06-118: Amazing Thailand: It Begins with the People
  • 06-119: Mozambique: Come to Where it All Started
  • 06-120: Think Hungary: More Than Expected
  • 06-121: Iran: You Are Invited
  • 06-122: Niger: Fraternity, Work, Progress
  • 06-123: Inspired by Iceland
  • 06-124: Imagine Your Korea
  • 06-125: Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • 06-126: Cyprus in Your Heart
  • 06-127: Uzbekistan: Naturally Irresistible
  • 06-128: Angola: Virtue Is Stronger When United
  • 06-129: French Guiana, a Part of France
  • 06-130: Kazakhstan: The Land of Wonders
  • 06-131: Zimbabwe: A World of Wonders
  • 06-132: Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Heart of Southeast Europe
  • 06-133: East Timor: Being First Has Its Rewards
  • 06-134: Libya, Libya, Libya
  • 06-135: Macedonia: Timeless
  • 06-136: Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder
  • 06-137: Côte d'Ivoire: Home to the World's Largest Church
  • 06-138: Easy Going Monaco
  • 06-139: Visit Armenia, It Is Beautiful
  • 06-140: Somalia, a Failed State
  • 06-141: Venezuela is Your Destination
  • 06-142: Explore Yemen
  • 06-143: Senegal: One People, One Goal, One Faith
  • 06-144: Liechtenstein: Experience Princely Moments
  • 06-145: Botswana: Our Pride, Your Destination
  • 06-146: United Arab Emirates: Discover All That's Possible
  • 06-147: Denmark: Happiest Place on Earth
  • 06-148: Mauritania: Proceed with Caution
  • 06-149: Your Singapore
  • 06-150: Suriname: A Colorful Experience…
  • 06-151: Remarkable Rwanda
  • 06-152: Syria: Always Beautiful
  • 06-153: Malta: Truly Mediterranean
  • 06-154: Malawi: The Warm Heart of Africa
  • 06-155: Tajikistan: Feel the Friendship
  • 06-156: Reveal Your Own Russia
  • 06-157: Mauritius: It's a Pleasure
  • 06-158: Qatar: Where Dreams Come to Life
  • 06-159: Live Your Unexpected Luxembourg
  • 06-160: Equatorial Guinea: Open at Last
  • 06-161: Kyrgyzstan: Oasis on the Great Silk Road
  • 06-162: Norway: Powered by Nature
  • 06-163: Lesotho: The Kingdom in the Sky
  • 06-164: Ours. Yours. Bahrain
  • 06-165: Bulgaria: A Discovery to Share
  • 06-166: Sao Tome and Principe: Paradise on Earth
  • 06-167: Live, Love, Lebanon
  • 06-168: Saint Lucia: Simply Beautiful
  • 06-169: Bienvenue au Togo
  • 06-170: Japan: Endless Discovery
  • 06-171: The Czech Republic: Land of Stories
  • 06-172: Republic of the Congo: Unity, Work, Progress
  • 06-173: Yes, It's Jordan
  • 06-174: Jump into Ireland
  • 06-175: Central African Republic: Proceed with Caution
  • 06-176: Turkmenistan: Middlest Country of Central Asia
  • 06-177: Lithuania: Real is Beautiful
  • 06-178: Chile: All Are Welcome
  • 06-179: Chad: Oasis of the Sahel
  • 06-180: Afghanistan the Unconquerable
  • 06-181: Guinea: Work, Justice, Solidarity
  • 06-182: Palestine, a Partially Recognized State
  • 06-183: Comoros, in the Mozambique Channel
  • 06-184: Kosovo, Another Disputed Country
  • 06-185: Dominica: The Nature Island
  • 06-186: The Former Spanish Sahara
  • 06-187: Belarus: Hospitality Beyond Borders
  • 06-188: Sierra Leone: The Freedom to Explore
  • 06-189: Guinea-Bissau, Country and Capital
  • 06-190: Travel in Slovakia: Good Idea
  • 06-191: China Like Never Before
  • 06-192: Swaziland: A Royal Experience
  • 06-193: Croatia: Full of Life
  • 06-194: Brilliant Barbados
  • 06-195: Mali, Cradle of Empires
  • 06-196: I Feel sLOVEnia
  • 06-197: The United States: All Within Your Reach
  • 06-198: Prosperous Gabon
  • 06-199: Montenegro: Wild Beauty
  • 06-200: South Sudan, the World's Newest Country
  • 06-201: Epic Estonia



Part 7: Wars and Battles
(November 22, 2018 to October 22, 2020)

Wow. Around 275 articles about "man's inhumanity to man." (Yes, "wars and battles" have mostly been at the hands of men.) Some were farcical, but most were downright depressing. Still, it's an aspect of culture that can't be ignored; many countries' histories are best defined by the conflicts in which they've engaged. <sigh>
  • 07-001: The Siege of Yorktown
  • 07-002: The Battle of Leipzig
  • 07-003: War: What Is It Good For
  • 07-004: The Trojan War
  • 07-005: Custer's Last Stand
  • 07-006: The Battle at the Milvian Bridge
  • 07-007: The Battle of Hastings
  • 07-008: The Battles of Lexington and Concord
  • 07-009: The War of Jenkins' Ear
  • 07-010: Emperor Qin and the Unification of China
  • 07-011: Remember the Alamo
  • 07-012: The Attack on Pearl Harbor
  • 07-013: A Pyrrhic Victory
  • 07-014: Meeting His Waterloo
  • 07-015: Dracula Attacks at Night
  • 07-016: The Maid of Orleans
  • 07-017: Washington Crosses the Delaware
  • 07-018: The Siege of Masada
  • 07-019: The Battle of Magnesia
  • 07-020: Boudicca's Defeat
  • 07-021: The Conquest of Mecca
  • 07-022: The First Battle of Bull Run
  • 07-023: The Battle of the Nile
  • 07-024: The Siege of Tenochtitlan
  • 07-025: Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho
  • 07-026: The Battle of Gettysburg
  • 07-027: The Battle of the Somme
  • 07-028: The Defeat of the Spanish Armada
  • 07-029: The Battle of Megiddo
  • 07-030: The Battle of Tours
  • 07-031: The Battle of Ain Jalut
  • 07-032: The Battle of Shanhai Pass
  • 07-033: The Battle of Roncevaux
  • 07-034: Saint Valentine's Day Massacre
  • 07-035: The Battle of Gaugamela
  • 07-036: The Gallipoli Campaign
  • 07-037: The "Battle" of Cajamarca
  • 07-038: The Wounded Knee Massacre
  • 07-039: The Mandekalu Army of Mali
  • 07-040: The Battle of Sekigahara
  • 07-041: The Israel War of Independence
  • 07-042: The Battle of Grunwald
  • 07-043: The Kurukshetra War
  • 07-044: The Battle of Agincourt
  • 07-045: The Battle of Bosworth Field
  • 07-046: The Battle on the Ice
  • 07-047: Las Navas de Tolosa
  • 07-048: The Battle of the Dunes
  • 07-049: The Spanish American War
  • 07-050: The Punic Wars
  • 07-051: The Anglo-Sikh Wars
  • 07-052: The War of the Holy League
  • 07-053: The Boer Wars
  • 07-054: Farrukhsiyar's Rebellion
  • 07-055: The Pueblo Revolt
  • 07-056: The Anglo-Zanzibar War
  • 07-057: The Pig War
  • 07-058: The Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years' War
  • 07-059: The War of the Stray Dog
  • 07-060: The Pastry War
  • 07-061: The Lincoln County War
  • 07-062: The Charge of the Light Brigade
  • 07-063: The Crusades
  • 07-064: The Battle of Yarmouk
  • 07-065: The Battle of Hattin
  • 07-066: The Battle of Lake Trasimene
  • 07-067: The Second Battle of Tarain
  • 07-068: The Battle of Manzikert
  • 07-069: The Battle of Emmaus
  • 07-070: The Battle of the Metaurus
  • 07-071: The Battle of Blenheim
  • 07-072: The Battle of Lechfeld
  • 07-073: The Battle of Poltava
  • 07-074: The Battle of Valmy
  • 07-075: The Battle of Antietam
  • 07-076: The Capture of the Fleet at Den Helder
  • 07-077: The Victoria-Camperdown Collision
  • 07-078: The "Battle of Cape Lookout"
  • 07-079: The War of the Oaken Bucket
  • 07-080: The Pork and Beans War
  • 07-081: Lijar vs France
  • 07-082: The Paraguayan War
  • 07-083: A Smashing Ending
  • 07-084: The Great Emu War
  • 07-085: The Battle of Los Angeles
  • 07-086: The Blind Charge at Crecy
  • 07-087: The Combat of the Thirty
  • 07-088: Fun Times at the Siege of Halicarnassus
  • 07-089: The Football War
  • 07-090: The Nika Riots
  • 07-091: The War of the Golden Stool
  • 07-092: The Chincha Islands War
  • 07-093: The Battle for Castle Itter
  • 07-094: The Battle of Karansebes
  • 07-095: The Great Arab Revolt
  • 07-096: The Flagstaff War
  • 07-097: The Phoney War
  • 07-098: The Fall of the God of Battles
  • 07-099: The Siege of Kut Al Amara
  • 07-100: The Invasion of Grenada
  • 07-101: Wyatt's Rebellion
  • 07-102: The End of the Roman Republic
  • 07-103: The Jacobite Rebellions
  • 07-104: The Roman Expansion
  • 07-105: The Unification of Italy
  • 07-106: The Bataan Death March
  • 07-107: The Great Siege of Gibraltar
  • 07-108: The Battle of Bladensburg
  • 07-109: The Quasi-War
  • 07-110: The Cold War
  • 07-111: The Mongol Conquests
  • 07-112: La Noche Triste
  • 07-113: The Huguenot Wars
  • 07-114: Shaka's Conquest
  • 07-115: The Mexican Revolution
  • 07-116: The Battle of Actium
  • 07-117: The First Battle of Panipat
  • 07-118: The Battle of Stamford Bridge
  • 07-119: The Battle of Cape Bon
  • 07-120: The Battle of Solway Moss
  • 07-121: The Battle of Stirling Bridge
  • 07-122: The Battle of New Orleans
  • 07-123: The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
  • 07-124: The North-West Rebellion
  • 07-125: The Battle of Gravia Inn
  • 07-126: The Athenian Defeat at Syracuse
  • 07-127: The Battles of Saratoga
  • 07-128: The Battle of Chalons
  • 07-129: The Battle of Marathon
  • 07-130: The Battle of the Yellow Ford
  • 07-131: The Battle of the Caudine Forks
  • 07-132: The Battle of Diu
  • 07-133: The Battle of the Camel
  • 07-134: The Battle of the Delta
  • 07-135: The Battle of Lepanto
  • 07-136: The English Armada
  • 07-137: The Battle of Flodden
  • 07-138: The Battle of Adrianople
  • 07-139: The Battle of Singapore
  • 07-140: The Battle of Red Cliffs
  • 07-141: The Raid on the Medway
  • 07-142: The Battle of Narva
  • 07-143: The Battle of Majuba Hill
  • 07-144: Holmes's Bonfire
  • 07-145: The Battle of Achelous
  • 07-146: The Battle of San Jacinto
  • 07-147: Operation Eagle Claw
  • 07-148: Yermak Conquers Siberia
  • 07-149: The Massacre of Elphinstone's Army
  • 07-150: The Battle of the Northern Desert
  • 07-151: The Battle of the Golden Spurs
  • 07-152: The Battle of the Kalka River
  • 07-153: The Battle of Koregaon
  • 07-154: The Battle of Nicopolis
  • 07-155: The Apache Wars
  • 07-156: The Battle of Adwa
  • 07-157: The Battle of Salamis
  • 07-158: The World's Most Peaceful Modern Nations
  • 07-159: The Battle of Longewala
  • 07-160: The Battle of Isandlwana
  • 07-161: The Six-Day War
  • 07-162: The Battle of the Trebia
  • 07-163: The Battle of Chancellorsville
  • 07-164: The Battle of Kilimanjaro
  • 07-165: The Battle of Arausio
  • 07-166: The Tale of the Heike
  • 07-167: The Battle of the Monongahela
  • 07-168: The Battle of Placentia
  • 07-169: The Miracle of the Vistula
  • 07-170: The Refuge Rock Massacre
  • 07-171: The Battle of Iwo Jima
  • 07-172: Julian's Persian War
  • 07-173: The Battle of Varbica Pass
  • 07-174: The Battle of Vienna
  • 07-175: Battles on the Rio de la Plata
  • 07-176: The Battle of Okehazama
  • 07-177: The Battle of Edessa
  • 07-178: The Siege of Alesia
  • 07-179: The Battle of Annual
  • 07-180: The Battle of Camden
  • 07-181: The Infamous Red Baron
  • 07-182: The Battle of Isly
  • 07-183: The Siege of Calais
  • 07-184: The Vikings in England
  • 07-185: Sherman's March to the Sea
  • 07-186: The Siege of Jadotville
  • 07-187: The Sack of Rome
  • 07-188: The Blockade of Saint-Domingue
  • 07-189: Totila and the Gothic War
  • 07-190: The Battle of Stalingrad
  • 07-191: "The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World" - Part I
  • 07-192: "The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World" - Part II
  • 07-193: The Battle of Chrysopolis
  • 07-194: L'Escalade
  • 07-195: The Battle of Holy Apostles Monastery
  • 07-196: The Difficult Rise of Temujin
  • 07-197: The Battle of the Herrings
  • 07-198: The Battle of Dresden
  • 07-199: The 300-Plus at Thermopylae
  • 07-200: Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan
  • 07-201: The Battle of Changping
  • 07-202: The Battle of Tolentino
  • 07-203: Legendary Spoils of Conquest
  • 07-204: Napoleon Picks the Top Generals - Part I
  • 07-205: Napoleon Picks the Top Generals - Part II
  • 07-206: Guerilla Warfare
  • 07-207: The Iron Bridge--and Antioch
  • 07-208: The Battle of Castillon
  • 07-209: The Battle of Oxus River
  • 07-210: The Battles of Timbuktu
  • 07-211: Battling Lizards
  • 07-212: The Battle of the Bulge
  • 07-213: The Battle of Trafalgar
  • 07-214: The Battle of Thymbra
  • 07-215: Operation Desert Storm
  • 07-216: The Battle of Britain
  • 07-217: The Battle of Plassey
  • 07-218: The Battle of Dien Bien Phu
  • 07-219: The Battle of Badr
  • 07-220: The Brusilov Offensive
  • 07-221: The Battle of Leuctra
  • 07-222: The First Battle of the Marne
  • 07-223: The Battle of Tel el Kebir
  • 07-224: The Battle of Zama
  • 07-225: The Battle of Borodino
  • 07-226: The Battle of Ayacucho
  • 07-227: The Battle of Midway
  • 07-228: The Battle of Beth Horon
  • 07-229: The Battle of Manila Bay
  • 07-230: The Battle of Quebec
  • 07-231: The Battle of Bouvines
  • 07-232: The Battle of Tricamarum
  • 07-233: The Battle of Ipsus
  • 07-234: The Battle for Mexico City
  • 07-235: The Siege of Jerusalem
  • 07-236: The Battle of Breitenfeld
  • 07-237: The Battle of Glorieta Pass
  • 07-238: The Anglo-Satsuma War
  • 07-239: The Battle of Sedan
  • 07-240: The Battle of Pydna
  • 07-241: The Second Battle of the Marne
  • 07-242: Lafayette, We Are Here
  • 07-243: Dogs for Defense
  • 07-244: ''Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead''
  • 07-245: Tippecanoe (and Tyler too)
  • 07-246: Operation Overlord
  • 07-247: The Battle of Granada
  • 07-248: The Battle of Pharsalus
  • 07-249: The Battle of Rivoli
  • 07-250: The Battle of Fort Donelson
  • 07-251: David versus Goliath
  • 07-252: The Seven Days Battles
  • 07-253: Fifty-four Forty or Fight
  • 07-254: The Fall of France
  • 07-255: The Battle of Ceresole
  • 07-256: The Potsdam Conference
  • 07-257: Robert the Bruce
  • 07-258: The Mongols
  • 07-259: The Battle of Culloden
  • 07-260: Thomas Paine, American Propagandist
  • 07-261: The Just War
  • 07-262: The Battle of Formigny
  • 07-263: The Legend of St. Maurice
  • 07-264: Saladin and the Nubians
  • 07-265: German Refugee Scientists
  • 07-266: The First Anglo-Ashanti War
  • 07-267: The Battle of Fontenoy
  • 07-268: The Dancing Queen
  • 07-269: The Battle of Leyte Gulf
  • 07-270: "Coronado's Children"
  • 07-271: Abram and the War of Nine Kings
  • 07-272: The Battle of Arnemuiden



Part 8: Stories and Tales: Retellings
(October 26, 2020 to the present)

Late in 2020 I got permission to do my favorite thing: retell some of the great (and some of the small) stories of humankind. At first, bowing to pressure from my editor, I included the "stories" of some inventions and discoveries, but after awhile I was free to tell the basic outlines of famous fairy tales, dramas, short stories, novels, poems, and movies. And I'm still at it!
  • 08-001: Newton and the Apple
    • Isaac Newton got bonked on the head by an apple (or did he?) and as a result we understand gravity!
  • 08-002: Von Beringe's Gorilla
    • Are big beasts still out there waiting to be found? Mountain gorillas weren't "discovered" until 1902! Find out how.
  • 08-003: The Language of the Universe
    • Not all languages are made of words! Galileo (maybe) described mathematics as "the language of the universe." Decode it in this lesson.
  • 08-004: The Wheel
    • Few inventions are as important as the wheel--but no one knows when or by whom it was invented! Find wheels all around you!
  • 08-005: Bell's Telephone
    • Unusual indeed is the person who doesn't have a telephone. Find out Alexander Graham Bell's place in a chain of inventors.
  • 08-006: Darwin's Life-Changing Discovery
    • A natural disaster in a far-away land contributed to the development of Darwin's theory of evolution. Read some lines from his account!
  • 08-007: The Telescope
    • The telescope helps us "see far" (the meaning of its name). Find out how Galileo and others brought us this great power.
  • 08-008: Penicillin
    • How many would have died young if not for the development of penicillin by Alexander Fleming? Here's his inspiring story.
  • 08-009: Global Time
    • What time zone do you live in? Find out where the idea came from--and why it's important.
  • 08-010: The First Photograph
    • What we know of people and places we've never actually seen is mostly thanks to photography. Find out where it started!
  • 08-011: Babbage's Analytical Engine
    • The computer or phone you might be using right now is a direct grandchild of a cranky man named Babbage.
  • 08-012: Crossword Puzzles
    • "A fad." A "sinful waste." A "mark of a childish mentality." And a hundred years later more popular than ever!
  • 08-013: The Mercator Projection Map
    • How do you transfer marks on a 3D ball onto a 2D piece of paper? Mercator's solution is one of the best.
  • 08-014: Plywood
    • Cheap, sturdy, and flexible: the manufacture of the underrated material called "plywood" has a proud history.
  • 08-015: Terms from The Iliad
    • "Achilles' Heel," "to hector," and "Trojan Horse" were all born in one work, Homer's Iliad. Learn their context in this lesson.
  • 08-016: Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev
    • This classic Russian "symphonic fairy tale for children" has delight audiences since 1936. Here's its story.
  • 08-017: Ancient Art or Early Doodle?
    • Archaeologists in South Africa have found the earliest known drawing, 73,000 years old. Learn about this exciting discovery.
  • 08-018: Aucassin and Nicolette
    • Forbidden lovers: not Romeo and Juliet, but an earlier couple, a Christian and a Muslim! Read their timeless love story.
  • 08-019: The "Real" Aladdin from the Arabian Nights
    • The Disney version is fun, but for sheer excitement, give me the version found in the Arabian Nights. Read a summary in this lesson.
  • 08-020: The Internet
    • A phone is just a phone, a computer just a computer. But the internet brings the world to your hands! Learn about its birth in this lesson.
  • 08-021: Robin Hood
    • Medieval tales tell of Robin, an outlaw with a band of merry men. Maid Marian, Prince John, and the Sheriff are all here!
  • 08-022: "The Wife of Bath's Tale" by Geoffrey Chaucer
    • One of King Arthur's men has to learn "What it is that women most desire?" The answer may surprise you!
  • 08-023: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
    • R. L. Stevenson's classic psychological tale of an experimenting doctor bringing out his dark side.
  • 08-024: "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore
    • "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"--the poem that gives us our modern ideas about Santa Claus.
  • 08-025: "The Monkey and the Crocodile" from the Indian Panchatantra
    • A charming animal fable from India's Panchatantra about the limits of a friendship between two unlikely fellows.
  • 08-026: The Twelve Labors of Hercules - Part I
    • Hercules, son of Zeus, is cursed with madness, and afterward must atone for the damage done in a frenzy. The story begins here.
  • 08-027: The Twelve Labors of Hercules - Part II
    • Strongman Hercules continues his penance with six more labors before his atonement is complete.
  • 08-028: The Divine Comedy
    • Dante's moving inner experience "midway upon the road of life" carries him through hell, purgatory, and at last heaven.
  • 08-029: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    • Victor Hugo's rousing tale of a homely bell ringer's love for a beautiful gypsy girl--and all of Paris.
  • 08-030: Culhwch and Olwen
    • A Welsh knight is cursed to love only Olwen, daughter of a giant, but to win her, he must perform forty tasks.
  • 08-031: Kleobis and Biton
    • The happiest man is he who dies at the peak of happiness, before misfortune befalls him. Witness the case of two brothers in this lesson.
  • 08-032: A True Story, Word for Word as I Heard It
    • Mark Twain's account of joy and sorrow in the life of "Aunt Rachel," formerly enslaved and now his sister-in-law's cook.
  • 08-033: Life is a Dream
    • A scrappy prince is duped into believing he's awake when asleep, and vice versa, setting up his cousins to usurp his throne.
  • 08-034: Travelers' Tales
    • Before the days of fact-checking, people believed the wildest tales--like some about odd variations on humanity. See some here.
  • 08-035: Alexander Meets the King of China
    • Alexander the Great did some amazing things--but meeting the "king" of China wasn't one of them! But there's a legend...
  • 08-036: Rumpelstiltskin
    • A miller's daughter-turned-princess learns not to make deals with mysterious little men! Find out what happened.
  • 08-037: The Man Who Never Laughed Again
    • From the Arabian Nights, another story about what happens when someone does "the one forbidden thing." You'll see!
  • 08-038: David Copperfield
    • Davy, "Trot," David: the life and career of one of Dickens's archetypal heroes, with dozens of colorful characters.
  • 08-039: Pecos Bill, the Cowboys' Hero
    • A bigger-than-life Western legend, and "the toughest critter west of the Alamo": meet Pecos Bill, a hero to the cowboy.
  • 08-040: Romeo and Juliet
    • Romance, or a tale of young love gone terribly, terribly wrong? In any case, read the tragic story of these "star-crossed lovers."
  • 08-041: The Boy Who Cried Wolf
    • Aesop's familiar story of a lying prankster who gets his comeuppance (and may have been eaten!), a cautionary tale.
  • 08-042: The Hound of the Baskervilles
    • A case for Sherlock Holmes! A huge beast terrorizes the heirs of Sir Hugo Baskerville, and only Holmes can figure it out.
  • 08-043: Nala and Damayanti
    • An ancient Indian love story from the Mahabharata: with a swan's help, a prince and princess fall in love sight unseen.
  • 08-044: The Groundhog and the Witch
    • Punxsutawney Phil, star of Groundhog Day, traces back to an ancient Celtic witch who created the mountains with a hammer.
  • 08-045: Tales of Nasruddin
    • Some might say a crazy fool is the last man they'd turn to for wisdom; others would say he's the first! You be the judge.
  • 08-046: The Tell-Tale Heart
    • Poe's chilling story of a man who murders his roommate because of his "evil eye"--then has to deal with the police.
  • 08-047: Citizen Kane
    • Cinematic genius Orson Welles's masterpiece about a wealthy man who dies clutching a child's toy and uttering "Rosebud."
  • 08-048: The Legend of Saint Valentine
    • The holiday of love, doves, and candy's truly gruesome beginnings in the life and death of a Christian martyr.
  • 08-049: Frankenstein
    • Victor Frankenstein's monster stars in Mary Shelley's classic tale of horror--but there's more to it than that!
  • 08-050: Don Quixote
    • A mad man tilts at windmills--and shows us that chivalry is not dead, that we can "dream the impossible dream." Meet him in this lesson.
  • 08-051: The Marriage of Figaro
    • Some call Figaro "the best opera ever written." True or not, it's a hilarious comedy of errors.
  • 08-052: The Scarlet Letter
    • Hester Prynne's plight brings out the dark side of American Puritanism, exposing the hypocrisy of some religious leaders.
  • 08-053: The Frogs Ask for a King
    • Aesop, who may formerly have been enslaved, seemed to take a dim view of government, as revealed in this fable of misrule.
  • 08-054: The Metamorphosis
    • Franz Kafka's tale of a hapless fellow who wakes up as a giant bug can at times feel oddly familiar to some of us.
  • 08-055: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
    • - C. S. Lewis's surprisingly deep "children's" story places four ordinary children in a world of witches, fauns, and Father Christmas.
  • 08-056: The Ramayana
    • One of India's two great epics features a kidnapping and rescue, with a prominent place for demons and a battling monkey.
  • 08-057: Pinocchio
    • This familiar tale of a wooden boy who becomes "real" is actually based in an almost dream-like novel.
  • 08-058: To Kill a Mockingbird
    • Harper Lee's classic story of a noble father fighting injustice in the American South is read by most American students.
  • 08-059: The Happy Prince
    • Oscar Wilde's bittersweet tale of a prince who develops a conscience too late will leave you pitying him, the bird, and the world.
  • 08-060: Goldilocks and the Three Bears
    • This little blonde girl has something to teach us about the "Golden Mean" or the "Middle Way"; it's "just right"!
  • 08-061: Echo and Narcissus
    • Narcissus is doomed to love only himself, and Echo to love only him, and to repeat the words of others. Sad!
  • 08-062: The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
    • Mark Twain's "Jumping Frog" is one of this humorist's funniest stories. Have a good laugh at the duping of Jim Smiley.
  • 08-063: Sina and the Eel
    • Read how a king's love for a great beauty led to the origin of the coconut tree, a crucial plant for survival in Oceania.
  • 08-064: Odin, the Norse All-father
    • Read about Odin (or Woden), the Norse god whom we honor in the name of "Wednesday," and learn how he attained wisdom.
  • 08-065: Heart of Darkness
    • Joseph Conrad's novel is the acknowledged inspiration for Francis Ford Coppola's film, Apocalypse Now.
  • 08-066: The Highwayman: A Ghost Story
    • Every culture has ghost stories; many of them are about love. Such is "The Highwayman," by Alfred Noyes.
  • 08-067: The Blue Mountains - Part I
    • Three men sleep in a castle, but only one frees the enchanted Princess who lives there! This is the first part of two.
  • 08-068: The Blue Mountains - Part II
    • The Princess's betrothed must search far and wide to find her--before she marries another! Here's the end of the story.
  • 08-069: Uncle Tom's Cabin
    • U.S. President Abraham Lincoln supposedly said that the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin started the Civil War!
  • 08-070: The Forty-Seven Ronin
    • Japan's epic story has a haughty courtier, a sincere bumpkin, and a revenge plot worthy of the Count of Monte Cristo!
  • 08-071: La Belle Dame sans Merci
    • Read about John Keats's ghostly poem of a knight's love for a "faery's child," and the dire results it brought him.
  • 08-072: King Alfred and the Cakes
    • "Uneasy lies the head..." Hear a story about how the burdens of kingship can distract one from a simple task like baking.
  • 08-073: The Wizard of Oz
    • One of my favorite films (featuring one of my favorite songs) tells about a girl who learns "there's no place like home."
  • 08-074: Treasure Island
    • R. L. Stevenson's rousing tale of young Jim Hawkins setting out to sea, looking for buried treasure, and battling pirates.
  • 08-075: The Hobbit - Part I
    • In Part I of the story, homebody Bilbo Baggins is convinced to help some dwarves recover their treasure--from a dragon!
  • 08-076: The Hobbit - Part II
    • In Part II, Bilbo succeeds, with a lot of help from his friends. Learn more about this modern folk tale.
  • 08-077: The Tiger, the Brahmin, and the Jackal
    • See how a lowly jackal proves wiser than a priest in this story from the Indian Panchatantra collection of fables.
  • 08-078: Around the World in Eighty Days
    • Travel along with the delightful story of an English gentleman's bet that he can circle the globe in "just" 80 days--but in 1872!
  • 08-079: Moby Dick
    • Melville's epic story of the revenge of mad Captain Ahab on the great white whale that took his leg off below the knee.
  • 08-080: The Swiss Family Robinson
    • A story of castaways and the moral lessons they learn while living on a "desert isle," just like Robinson Crusoe.
  • 08-081: Medea
    • Medea, a renowned witch, takes revenge on her cheating husband by killing a rival, the rival's father--and her own children! There's never been a woman like this one.
  • 08-082: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
    • The mysterious Captain Nemo (meaning "no one") cruises the world under the sea--long before that technically became possible!
  • 08-083: Call of the Wild
    • You never know what a pampered pup can do until he faces his feral fellows, and emerges as a leader.
  • 08-084: Charlotte's Web
    • Who's more terrific, a spider that can weave letters, or the pig she praises? Join Fern's conspiracy to save Wilbur the "runt"!
  • 08-085: The "Real" Cinderella
    • A coach made from a pumpkin, a fairy godmother, and a glass slipper lost at midnight? NOPE! As we see in this lesson, Grimm wrote of none of these.
  • 08-086: The Hatfields and the McCoys
    • A few violent skirmishes between two rural families has become a model "feud" in this oft-told historical tale.
  • 08-087: Rip Van Winkle
    • An idler drinks a brew with some "little men" in the mountains--and sleeps it off for 20 years, becoming an iconic sleeper.
  • 08-088: The Little Prince
    • An aviator downed in the Sahara learns lessons about what's important from a little boy visiting from Asteroid B 612.
  • 08-089: Anne of Green Gables
    • Anne, an orphan girl, is adopted by elderly siblings Marilla and Matthew, and blossoms in her life at Green Gables Farm.
  • 08-090: And Then There Were None
    • No one wrote mysteries like Agatha Christie, and none of her mysteries was as successful as this one!
  • 08-091: Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
    • Byron's "world-weary" Harold (a childe, not a child) sets out on a poetic cultural tour of the European continent to spice things up.
  • 08-092: The Necklace
    • Madame Loisel wants to look her best, so she borrows an expensive necklace from a rich friend--and loses it, ruining her family.
  • 08-093: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Part I
    • When King Arthur's feast is disrupted by a not-so-jolly green giant, his nephew Gawain must step up and defend his honor--with dire consequences.
  • 08-094: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Part II
    • In this part of the story, Gawain trades kisses in a strange castle with a mysterious couple, and nearly pays for it with his life.
  • 08-095: The "Real" Frog Prince
    • We all know the story: the princess kisses the frog, and he turns into a handsome prince, right? WRONG! Learn the true story in this lesson.
  • 08-096: The Music Man
    • "Professor" Harold Hill comes to River City to start a boys' band--and scam the townsfolk in one of my favorite movies.
  • 08-097: Dune
    • When you gotta have spice, nothing else will do, so when House Atreides gains control of it, everyone comes gunning for them.
  • 08-098: A Tale of Two Dogs
    • Two noble dogs, Argos in ancient Greece and Hachiko in modern Japan, became exemplary models of loyalty to their masters.
  • 08-099: Superman
    • Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's the first modern superhero and the "gold standard" for all others.
  • 08-100: The Allegory of the Cave
    • Plato taught that the world we see is an imperfect reflection of the "world of Forms"; this allegory will make it all clear.
  • 08-101: Edison vs Tesla
    • Thomas Edison was a titan of invention, but part of his success was due more to his business skill and temperament than to genius. Find out how he used this edge to beat out Nikola Tesla.
  • 08-102: Lake Wobegon
    • "Well, it's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon" Garrison Keillor always starts out his monologue, before going on to tell hilarious stories of his Minnesotan "hometown."
  • 08-103: The Belle of Amherst
    • She wrote the words, "I'm nobody"--but this just isn't true of shy, retiring Emily Dickinson, one of America's greatest poets.
  • 08-104: The Devil and Daniel Webster
    • The devil's contracts were always thought to be unbreakable--that is, until he met the formidable American lawyer and statesman Daniel Webster!
  • 08-105: The Pardoner's Tale
    • In one of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, three young men want to meet and challenge Death, but they get more than they bargained for!
  • 08-106: One Hundred and One Dalmatians
    • With the help of her comical henchmen, Cruella de Vil wants a coat made of the fur of Dalmatian puppies--but a network of dogs (and one cat) spoil her plans!
  • 08-107: Blackbeard the Pirate
    • The pirate Edward Teach, known as "Blackbeard," is remarkably famous considering that his career spanned only two years!
  • 08-108: The Tale of Peter Rabbit
    • Peter is a naughty little rabbit who can't seem to stay out of Mr. McGregor's garden, despite his mother's warnings. Read about his tale is in this lesson!
  • 08-109: The Death of Socrates
    • Socrates was executed for "corrupting the morals of the youth." Learn the story behind this "crime" and "see" how he died.
  • 08-110: Ramona, a Tale of Mission Days
    • Helen Hunt Jackson's novel Ramona tells the trials of a half-Indian orphaned girl in the days of the California missions.
  • 08-111: Thoreau's Walden
    • "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately," Thoreau wrote--and he only cheated a little in doing so. Meet a foundational American philosopher and hear his thoughts.
  • 08-112: Robinson Crusoe
    • Meet literature's most famous castaway as he sets up house and learns to live the good life on the "Island of Despair."
  • 08-113: The Outcasts of Poker Flat
    • A group of ne'er-do-wells is exiled from a California mining camp--and proves they're better than most of the townsfolk!
  • 08-114: The Velveteen Rabbit
    • "When a child loves you for a long, long time... then you become Real." Find out how this worked for the Velveteen Rabbit.
  • 08-115: Kubla Khan
    • Few fantastic realms have captured the imagination like Coleridge's Xanadu, domain of the emperor Kubla Khan. Let's visit!
  • 08-116: Alice in Wonderland
    • Alice's adventure begins when she goes "down the rabbit hole"--and ends up in Wonderland! Join her on her absurd journey.
  • 08-117: The Story of Merlin
    • Move over, Harry Potter: Meet the prototypical wizard named Merlin--advisor to King Arthur and a true wonder worker!
  • 08-118: Mark Twain
    • The author's colorful life provided the inspiration for many of his best-known works. Find out where it all came from!
  • 08-119: The Destruction of Da Derga's Hostel
    • Read of the killing of Conaire Mor, High King of Ireland, after circumstances forced him to break a number of taboos.
  • 08-120: A Doll's House
    • Nora craves liberation in a way unsuitable for a woman in 1879. Watch as she gradually breaks out of her "doll's house."
  • 08-121: Peter Pan
    • Peter Pan, the boy who won't grow up, comes to the Darling's house and whisks away Wendy and her brothers to Never Land.
  • 08-122: The Tempest
    • Prospero the magician and his daughter Miranda have for twelve years been stranded on an island by his brother, Antonio. But all will be set right, as we shall see.
  • 08-123: Pyramus and Thisbe
    • Two young lovers separated by the enmity of their families--no, not Romeo and Juliet, but a couple who "lived" centuries before them and helped inspire their story.
  • 08-124: Three Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
    • An ugly duckling, a naked emperor, and a sensitive princess--meet three of the creations of Danish fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen.
  • 08-125: The Song of Hiawatha
    • Meet one of the most famous culture heroes from Native American mythology--and American poetry!--and visit the shores of Gitche Gumee in this lesson.
  • 08-126: Vanity Fair - Part I
    • Becky Sharp was a gold digger, a social climber, a designing woman--and somehow managed to remain likeable through it all!
  • 08-127: Vanity Fair - Part II
    • Becky Sharp continues to depend on the kindness of friends until at last she attains a measure of respectability--but ends up friendless.
  • 08-128: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
    • Schoolmaster Ichabod Crane is in love with the wealthy Katrina Van Tassel, but bully Brom Bones has other plans for him--which involve a horseman with no head!
  • 08-129: Bluebeard
    • A gruesome tale of what happens when a fearsome man's young wife enters a locked room, and does "The One Forbidden Thing."
  • 08-130: Casey at the Bat
    • In the early days of baseball, a humorous poem captured the imagination of fans and gave us an anti-hero, the "mighty" Casey.
  • 08-131: Tarzan of the Apes
    • Prolific American "pulp" author Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote almost 80 novels, 24 of them about "Tarzan." Let's see the first one!
  • 08-132: The Great Departure of Prince Siddhartha
    • Buddhists mark four key events in the life of their founder: his birth, departure from home, enlightenment, and death. In this story, let's see how he renounced a life of luxury.
  • 08-133: The Blind Men and the Elephant
    • The famous Indian tale about six blind men "examining" an elephant and coming to very different conclusions was amusingly put into verse by a 19th-century American poet. Here's the story.
  • 08-134: Gulliver's Travels
    • You might know about Gulliver among the Lilliputians (little people), but what about the giants? Or the talking horses? And how about those Yahoos?
  • 08-135: The Three Musketeers
    • Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and their protégé d'Artagnan--the Three (plus one) Musketeers! Read about their swashbuckling adventures and political intrigues.
  • 08-136: The Hero's Journey - Part I
    • In 1949, Joseph Campbell introduced the "Monomyth": the idea that all hero stories share a similar pattern. Find out what it is in this lesson and the next.
  • 08-137: The Hero's Journey - Part II
    • The "call," the journey, the return: these are the basic elements of the "Monomyth" of hero's journey. Get more details in this lesson.
  • 08-138: Dracula
    • Vampires still sell, but the first "big hit"--and still scary today--is Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, Dracula. It was written in the form of diary entries, letters and other "real" documents, giving it a feeling of authenticity.
  • 08-139: The Jungle Book
    • Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book stories explore the boundaries between law and freedom, nature and civilization. And they're darned good reading!
  • 08-140: King Solomon's Mines
    • The works of H. Rider Haggard represent a 19th-century Englishman's idea of "adventure"--and the limited rights (or even humanity) of non-European peoples. This is among the most famous.
  • 08-141: The Wind in the Willows
    • Read the adventures of four animal friends who enjoy "messing about in boats"--when they're not trying to get their friend Mr. Toad out the predicaments he keeps getting himself into!
  • 08-142: Ozymandias
    • At the height of the power of the British Empire, British poet Percy Bysshe Shelley offered a poetic reminder that power is not permanent, and that all empires fall.
  • 08-143: Rabbit Tricks Coyote
    • Many cultures have stories about a character who likes to play tricks on others, called a "trickster." But some tricksters aren't as clever as other ones, as we learn in Native American stories about Coyote.
  • 08-144: Paul Bunyan and his Pal Babe
    • Many traditional jobs have inspired stories about characters like the men (usually men) who worked them. One such examples ifs the lumberjacks' stories of Paul Bunyan.
  • 08-145: The Golem
    • Jewish folk stories tell us of creatures made of clay by holy men, just as God made Adam. But sometimes when people trifle with magic, things can go horribly wrong...
  • 08-146: Thar Be Giants
    • Giants are found in stories the world over. But two particular "giant tales" are found in England, and both feature boys named Jack.
  • 08-147: The Time Machine
    • In one of literature's great "firsts," Englishman H.G. Wells explores the idea of time travel, while effectively commenting on the results of current trends in society.
  • 08-148: Of Mice and Men
    • Even men down on their luck can dream, can't they? Here's the story of two drifters, their dream, and the tragic results it brings.
  • 08-149: The Aeneid
    • The Aeneid takes its place among the great national epics of the world, providing a mythical basis for the foundation of Rome, as well as tying it to the tale of Troy, one of the ancient world's great tragedies.
  • 08-150: The Last of the Mohicans
    • James Fenimore Cooper captured the historic imagination of America--and in the process irritated Mark Twain. Let's see if we can figure out why.
  • 08-151: Parzival
    • One of the great Arthurian stories telling of a pure but simple knight who became the finder of the Holy Grail and liberator of the famed Fisher King, was written in German by a man who was a knight himself.
  • 08-152: Sherlock Holmes
    • Few fictional characters have been mistaken for real people, but Arthur Conan Doyle's famous "consulting detective" has just that distinction. Let's meet him and his sidekick, Dr. John Watson.
  • 08-153: Hamlet
    • Considered by many to be Shakespeare's greatest work, Hamlet tells the story of a "modern man" who is unable to choose his best path forward--he was lost, like many people today.
  • 08-154: The Faerie Queene
    • Centuries before us considered The Faerie Queene to be one of the greatest works in the English language. Though it's not easy to read, it's still a fascinating work today, with many a moral lesson.
  • 08-155: Percy Jackson, Demigod
    • Perseus "Percy" Jackson is, like Harry Potter, an unlikely hero. The son of a Greek god and a human mother, he's an "all-American boy" who does battle with gods--and wins!
  • 08-156: Odysseus and the Cyclops
    • When "clever Odysseus" and his men are trapped in a cave with the fiercesome Cyclops named Polyphemus, it takes all his cunning to set them free again.
  • 08-157: The Legend of Wyatt Earp
    • One of America's most famous "lawmen" often crossed over to the other side...
  • 08-158: P. T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman
    • The "Greatest Showman" or the "Prince of Humbugs," P.T. Barnum was a model of American ingenuity, with a bit of the con man thrown in.
  • 08-159: Jack the Ripper
    • Jack the Ripper remains one of the most fascinating killers in history, and the mystery of who he was remains unsolved.
  • 08-160: Saints Barlaam and Josaphat
    • The story of the Christian saint named Josaphat was actually just an echo of the life of the Buddha--yet for many years he was venerated by the Church!
  • 08-161: Rapunzel
    • Many people know about Rapunzel "letting down her hair." But there's more to the story than that!
  • 08-162: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
    • Coleridge's eerie story of an old man doomed to wander the earth telling his tale or "rime" has left a number of expressions scattered about in our language.
  • 08-163: Cyrano de Bergerac
    • A classic play about a man with a big nose and a bigger heart, as good at swordplay as at wordplay.
  • 08-164: Casablanca
    • Everybody comes to Rick's, including his old flame Ilsa Lund--who dumped him in Paris--now seeking help to get her and her handsome husband away from the Nazis.
  • 08-165: A Rough Guide to the Wee Folk
    • Most cultures have stories about magical little people who interact with humans, sometimes to help and sometimes not. Here are some who are popular in Europe.
  • 08-166: Huckleberry Finn
    • A candidate for the Great American Novel, Twain's masterpiece is also a scathing indictment of the practice of slavery.
  • 08-167: Orpheus and Eurydice
    • The legend of Orpheus lives on in words like "orphic," meaning "entrancing," and "Orphism" (or "Orphic Cubism"), a form of abstract art.
  • 08-168: Carl Sagan's Cosmos
    • Few scientists have popularized science for the masses like the late Dr. Carl Sagan, and nothing he did had a bigger effect than his television series and book, Cosmos.
  • 08-169: A Christmas Carol
    • The Industrial Revolution has brought many blessings--and not a few problems, including the grinding poverty experienced by people brought together into cities. Enter writers like Charles Dickens, who sought to bring the public's attention to the plight of many.
  • 08-170: Childe Rowland
    • References to this story appear widely, from Shakespeare's King Lear to Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Alan Garner's Elidor is also based on it. It has become one of my favorite stories.
  • 08-171: Theseus and the Minotaur
    • The Hero Theseus was just the man to best the monstrous Minotaur and save the youths and maidens of Athens. But how to find his way out of that labyrinth?
  • 08-172: Lludd and Llefelys
    • A classic tale of three problems (and three solutions) played out against a backdrop of Celtic magic: unbeatable!
  • 08-173: The Seven Voyages of Sinbad, Part I
    • The adventures of Sinbad were probably drawn from many sources, including Homer's Odyssey. In any case, they're great fun to read!
  • 08-174: The Seven Voyages of Sinbad, Part II
    • We continue with the ever more incredible adventures of the doughty Sinbad.
  • 08-175: The Count of Monte Cristo
    • This classic tale of revenge remains popular, having been produced at least 50 times for film and television, in many languages.
  • 08-176: Butch Cassidy
    • For a long time, movie heroes were the "good guys." Then along came films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid that glorified small-time crooks into tragic heroes, so that they are household names in America even today.
  • 08-177: Chanticleer
    • This popular story was retold in "The Nun's Priest's Tale," one of The Canterbury Tales by the great English poet Geoffrey Chaucer.
  • 08-178: Pegasus, the Winged Horse
    • Have you ever seen a picture of a flying horse? This is probably Pegasus, a winged horse from Greek mythology. Here is his story.
  • 08-179: Casey Jones, the Railway Engineer
    • It rarely happens that a folk tale turns out to be almost entirely true! But that's exactly what happened with the story of the railroad engineer Casey Jones.
  • 08-180: The Catcher in the Rye
    • Many American high school students are required to read J.D. Salinger's 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye. Though dealing with complex issues of adolescence, it has found a spot on many recent surveys of adult readers favorites.
  • 08-181: A Midsummer Night's Dream
    • A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of Shakespeare's "funnest" plays, set on the summer solstice.
  • 08-182: Hansel and Gretel
    • "Hansel and Gretel" is a German fairy tale collected by the German Brothers Grimm and published in 1812.
  • 08-183: The Selfish Giant
    • A modern fairy tale written by the Irish author Oscar Wilde.
  • 08-184: The Riddle of the Sphinx
    • You may know of the magnificent statue of the Sphinx in Egypt. But do you know about the Sphinx in Greece?
  • 08-185: The Tar Baby (Part I)
    • This famous story was published in 1881 by American author Joel Chandler Harris as one of his "Uncle Remus" stories.
  • 08-186: How Brer Rabbit Escaped (Part II)
    • When Brer Fox put Brer Rabbit in the predicament of being stuck to a doll made of tar, it took all of Rabbit's cleverness to get loose again.
  • 08-187: Kim
    • Kim is a cracking good adventure story, as well as an accurate description of the situation in India around the turn of the 20th century and the "Great Game" between Great Britain and Russia for dominance of Afghanistan and neighboring territories.
  • 08-188: The Panpipes
    • Panpipes are found the world over, but Greco-Roman mythology gives them a unique origin.
  • 08-189: The Cask of Amontillado
    • Of Poe's many horrifying tales, this one has always stuck in my mind as the most frightening.
  • 08-190: Seven Classic Books about Dogs
    • If you love dogs, you'll surely love one of these books (and they're all available FREE on the internet!)
  • 08-191: It Could Always Be Worse
    • Yiddish stories often combine wisdom with humor--and they're fun to tell!
  • 08-192: The Tongue-Cut Sparrow
    • This Japanese folktale was collected by the great Irish-Greek writer Lafcadio Hearn, among others.
  • 08-193: The Seven Ages of Man
    • We generally count a life in three or four phases: childhood, adolescence, ad adulthood (perhaps adding "old age"). Shakespeare saw seven!
  • 08-194: The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky
    • Sometimes a good story will capture a moment in history as it affects the lives of everyday people. Here we see what happens as the "Wild West" becomes more civilized.
  • 08-195: The Little Red Hen
    • This American fable teaches the importance of hard work and taking personal initiative.
  • 08-196: The Elves and the Shoemaker
    • This is another great story about the virtue of kindness from the Brothers Grimm.
  • 08-197: The War of the Worlds
    • Of his many books--in many genres--nothing by H. G. Wells has had a bigger impact than The War of the Worlds, for reasons that will become clear.
  • 08-198: Bartleby, the Scrivener
    • Bartleby is symbolic of the "modern man" who just can't seem to get motivated. In this he is a child of Hamlet.
  • 08-199: The Sword in the Stone
    • This story from the tales of King Arthur was retold as the first section of T.H. White's book, The Once and Future King. It was later made into a popular Disney animated film.
  • 08-200: Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
    • Once again the kind man prospers and the selfish one dies, in this famous tale from the Arabian Nights.
  • 08-201: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
    • Mark Twain introduced his character Huckleberry Finn in this previous book, about Huck's friend Tom Sawyer.
  • 08-202: The Kalevala
    • A national epic can be a key part of a country's identity; though it was not compiled until the 19th century, the Kalevala plays just such a role for the people of Finland.
  • 08-203: In Tartarus
    • Sisyphus, Tantalus, and Ixion are just three of the many denizens of Tartarus. Let's see what they did, and how they were punished for their actions.
  • 08-204: Cabeza de Vaca
    • Few works of fiction rival the Relación of Cabeza de Vaca, a supposedly objective report of explorations in North America.
  • 08-205: The Mujina
    • The Japanese have a rich folklore of supernatural beings and other creepy apparitions. This one is one of my favorites.
  • 08-206: The King and the Corpse: In the Palace
    • The stories in this collection are set in a frame story and, as often happens, it is every bit as interesting as the tales themselves.
  • 08-207: The King and the Corpse: In the Cemetery
    • Having heard what happened in the palace, let's see what happened to King Vikram (and his son) in the cemetery.
  • 08-208: Three Men in a Boat
    • Few books are as popular as travelogues filled with humor and local color. Such books helped Mark Twain's career tremendously, as this little book did for its author.
  • 08-209: The Princess Bride
    • William Golding's The Princess Bride introduced many common expressions into our conversation, including my favorite: "Inconceivable!"
  • 08-210: Edward Lear
    • Many of us have heard "The Owl and the Pussycat," but the author wrote perhaps hundreds other fun "nonsense" poems.
  • 08-211: The Ransom of Red Chief
    • "O. Henry" is famous for his surprise endings; this story features one of the best!
  • 08-212: The Prince and the Pauper
    • Less well-known than Twain's other works--but still popular--this simple "switching places" story becomes a vehicle for Twain to examine ideas of social justice.
  • 08-213: "The Hill We Climb"
    • Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old from Los Angeles, rocketed to national fame when she read a poem she composed at the presidential inauguration in January, 2022.
  • 08-214: Bond. James Bond
    • No fictional spy is more famous than the debonair "Bond. James Bond," former spy Ian Fleming's masterful creation.
  • 08-215: Rikki-Tikki-Tavi
    • This story was included in Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book; it is another example of the author's keen observations of interactions between the animals of India.
  • 08-216: Siegfried and the Dragon
    • Few culture heroes have made an impression like that of Siegfried in the Nordic tales. Here he slays a dragon and receives a very special gift.
  • 08-217: Smokey (the) Bear
    • How a "spokesbear" rose from the ashes of a natural disaster to help prevent more such catastrophes.
  • 08-218: Maung Pauk Kyaing
    • How a poor student followed his teacher's advice and became the founder of a great Burmese dynasty.
  • 08-219: How Robin Hood Met Little John
    • How the famous outlaw met his "right-hand man."
  • 08-220: The Big Bad Wolf
    • The wolf is a common villain in Eurasian folk tales. Here are three.
  • 08-221: Three Foxes
    • The fox has the reputation of being clever--even sly! But as two of these stories show, that's not always true.
  • 08-222: Fagin and the Artful Dodger
    • It's said that the English author Charles Dickens created 989 named characters. Let's get to know two of them a little better.
  • 08-223: Dick Tracy
    • The "Sunday funnies" were our favorite source of reading material when I was a kid, and are still around today.
  • 08-224: Faust
    • There is a long tradition in literature of people "selling their soul to the devil"; the most famous example is the German scholar Faust (or Faustus).
  • 08-225: Julius Caesar
    • The question has been asked whether "art imitates life" or "life imitates art." Whatever the answer, there's no doubt that much of our historical "knowledge" actually comes from creative works rather than actual history. Shakespeare's play presents an excellent example.
  • 08-226: The Brisingamen Trilogy
    • Most people know the "big famous" series of Young Adult books, but there are so many more. Here's a good one.
  • 08-227: Billy the Kid
    • In just over two decades of life, young Henry McCarty made himself a name as "Billy the Kid." the legend lives on.
  • 08-228: Momotaro
    • Many folk tales feature an old couple wishing for a child, and their request is fulfilled in a most unusual way. Here's a fine example from Japan.
  • 08-229: Mont Saint Michel and Chartres
    • The historian Henry Adams uses two tourist destinations in France as a "hook" to discuss the European Middle Ages in a beautiful little book.
  • 08-230: Billy Budd, Sailor
    • Herman Melville once again writes a moving story of life at sea, and the rough justice under which sailors must live.
  • 08-231: Old English Literature
    • Some people think Shakespeare's language was "Old English." Bad news: that's Early Modern English! Read on to see what Old English is all about.
  • 08-232: Star Trek
    • Sometimes a TV series transcends its humble origins and becomes an important cultural phenomenon. That's what happened with the show Star Trek.
  • 08-233: A Young Man's Greed
    • Here's another moral tale cautioning against greed.
  • 08-234: Puss in Boots, Part I
    • A miller's third son is left with only a cat for his inheritance. But what a cat! See how he helps the youth to get ahead in the world.
  • 08-235: Puss in Boots, Part II
    • As the story continues, we see even more of the cat's cleverness.
  • 08-236: The Feynman Algorithm
    • Richard Feynman was a larger-than-life character as well as an absolutely brilliant physicist. His technique for problem-solving is worth memorizing.
  • 08-237: Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile
    • Brains, beauty, and power: the Greco-Egyptian Queen Cleopatra had it all, plus some big-name lovers!
  • 08-238: Macbeth by William Shakespeare
    • Macbeth is another of Shakespeare's great tragedies, in which a power-hungry couple fails in their attempt to usurp the throne of Scotland.
  • 08-239: "The Open Window by "Saki" (H.H. Munro)
    • Like the American O. Henry, the British author H.H. Munro was brilliant at creating surprise "twists" at the end of his stories, as he did in this one.
  • 08-240: "The Call of Cthulhu," Part I by H.P. Lovecraft
    • Few stories have chilled me like this one, the work of H.P. Lovecraft.
  • 08-241: "The Call of Cthulhu," Part II by H.P. Lovecraft
    • We continue with one of the most frightening stories I've ever read, about the "Great Old One," Cthulhu.
  • 08-242: "Little Red Riding Hood" from the Brothers Grimm
    • The familiar tale of a little girl, her granny, a wolf, and--sometimes--a hero.
  • 08-243: A Legend of Confucius from Chinese tradition
    • This story teaches us that even an emperor should not trifle with the powers of a great scholar!
  • 08-244: Courtly Love, a Medieval virtue
    • Every society has rules that people of various classes are supposed to live by. In Medieval Europe, the nobles were to abide by, among other things, the Rules of Courtly Love.
  • 08-245: Johnson's Dictionary by Samuel Johnson
    • We often take dictionaries for granted, but they haven't been around as long as you might think.
  • 08-246: Mordred, King Arthur's nemesis
    • Sometimes the villain of a story is more interesting than the hero. King Arthur was almost boringly good, but his enemy Mordred was fascinatingly bad.
  • 08-247: The New England Transcendentalists
    • Transcendentalism was one of the first uniquely American philosophies, and has had a widespread effect.
  • 08-248: Ceres, Proserpine, and Pluto; or "Why do We Have Winter?" from Roman mythology
    • Ancient peoples often created stories to "explain" various aspects of nature. here's one that explains how we got agriculture, and why we have winter.
  • 08-249: Silas Marner by George Eliot
    • George Eliot's stirring novel tells how a child's love redeems a man who has lost everything--or so he thought.
  • 08-250: King Lear by William Shakespeare
    • Shakespeare's tragedy about a foolish old king who governs by whim, and ends in disaster.
  • 08-251: "To Build a Fire" by Jack London
    • Like thousands of others, Jack London joined the Klondike Gold Rush looking for gold. Instead, he found experiences that contributed to his Call of the Wild and White Fang, as well as this jewel of a story.
  • 08-252: Beowulf Fights Grendel and his Mother from medieval British literature
    • The earliest epic in what became English didn't occur in England at all! learn about the pic hero Beowulf and his victory over a monster and his mother.
  • 08-253: Beowulf Fights a Dragon from medieval British literature
    • How does a young hero top his own celebrity? By becoming an old hero! Let's see how Beowulf seals his reputation, and suffers death for his troubles.
  • 08-254: The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams
    • The world knows the fantasy works of C.S. Lewis (Narnia) and J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings), but fewer are aware of the work of one of their colleagues, the OUP editor Charles Williams.
  • 08-255: "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll
    • Lewis Carroll's poem "Jabberwocky" is a great example of nonsense literature--or is it? Find the sense underlying this "nonsense"!
  • 08-256: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
    • George R. R. Martin, the "American Tolkien," has created a complex world of medieval warfare that has spun off numerous books and TV series. Let's find out the secret of their popularity!
  • 08-257: Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
    • Sir Walter Scott's 1819 historical novel has given rise to many films, the earliest in 1911; and many television adaptations, including three series, the latest in 2002.
  • 08-258: I Love Lucy, a popular American TV show
    • A scrappy redheaded comedienne dominated the "Golden Age of Television." Meet Lucille Ball of I Love Lucy fame.
  • 08-259: Tennyson's "Ulysses"
    • We often hear stories of heroes in their full vigor of life, but don't think about what happens to them when the adventure is over. In this stunning poem, Tennyson does just that with Odysseus, a hero in the works of Homer.
  • 08-260: "Gareth and Lynette" from Tennyson's Idylls of the King
    • Tennyson's highly readable Idylls of the King is a stirring revisiting of twelve of the tales of King Arthur, from a modern (Victorian) point of view. "Gareth and Lynnette" is one of the best of them.
  • 08-261: When Jason Met Medea from Greek mythology
    • Greek playwrights like Euripides were drawing on a much larger body of traditional literature. While Medea's cruelty is infamous, there's more to her story than that. Let's find out!
  • 08-262: "Una and the Lion" from The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
    • Spenser's Faerie Queene works as an allegory, in which each character represents a virtue (or vice). Let's meet a few of them now.
  • 08-263: Gulliver among the Houyhnhnms from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
    • Many of us know that Jonathan Swift's protagonist in Gulliver's Travels met little people and giants, but there were other interesting encounters on subsequent voyages. Here's one.
  • 08-264: "The Overcoat" by Nikolai Gogol
    • In Gogol's short story, a simple tale of a piece of clothing takes us into the world of an impoverished Russian clerk and the influence a possession can come to have over us.
  • 08-265: Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers
    • The popular films about the "magical" Mary Poppins are based on a series of books about a woman who may actually be a witch!
  • 08-266: Meet the Addams Family by Charles Addams
    • Few cartoons have transitioned as successfully into television and film as the work of Charles Addams. Let's learn its background and meet the key Family members.
  • 08-267: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
    • Few novels explore the nexus of esthetics and morality--with a little magic thrown in--like Oscar Wilde's masterpiece.
  • 08-268: The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
    • John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress was a favorite for many, many years, read alongside the Bible as a means of bringing up proper Christians. It no longer shares widespread popularity.
  • 08-269: Daedalus and Icarus from Greek mythology
    • The famous fall of Icarus may be an allegory for the dangers of pride, or simply a warning for what happens when a boy disobeys his dad.
  • 08-270: "The Luck of Roaring Camp" by Bret Harte
    • A little boy is born in a rough mining camp, and the miners believe he brings them luck. Turns out, he's not so lucky himself.
  • 08-271: "The Canterville Ghost" by Oscar Wilde
    • A "modern" American family deals with a ghost in the house; the ghost loses, but "wins" in the end.
  • 08-272: Horatio Hornblower by C. S. Forster
    • The novels about Horatio Hornblower start in mid-career and through prequels and sequels cover his entire life's work in the Royal Navy.
  • 08-273: Underworld by Don DeLillo
    • This modern masterpiece follows, in reverse chronological order, the career of a baseball caught by a young fan at New York's Polo Grounds.
  • 08-274: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe
    • In his only novel, Edgar Allan Poe seems to get a little lost--like his protagonist--in trying to horrify the reader.
  • 08-275: Urban Legends
    • We are all suckers for a good story--true or not. Here's a whole category of them!
  • 08-276: The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
    • H. G. Wells created a "creature" who is often grouped with Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and the Werewolf--not an easy thing to do! Dozens of films and TV shows have been derived from his idea.
  • 08-277: The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    • A young man falls in love with a woman pledged to another. This is just the beginning of Werther's "sorrows."
  • 08-278: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    • This classic novel is set against the horrors of the American Civil War, but is really about the stormy relationship between two passionate people.
  • 08-279: "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" from German folklore
    • A town's leaders refuse to pay a debt--and as a result pay the ultimate price.
  • 08-280: "Fantastic Beasts" from the world of Harry Potter
    • In the history of science, many imaginary animals were once thought to be real (though some were just literary inventions). Let's meet a few.
  • 08-281: Gilgamesh Part I: "Gilgamesh and Enkidu" from Mesopotamian literature
    • The oldest known epic is a cracking good "buddy movie," one which explores friendship, love, loss, death, and immortality.
  • 08-282: Gilgamesh Part II: "The Quest for Immortality" from Mesopotamian literature
    • Gilgamesh goes on a quest to find the secret of immortality--with mixed results.
  • 08-283: "The Elephant's Child": A Just So Story by Rudyard Kipling
    • Rudyard Kipling wrote a huge number of short stories, many of them for children. This one is from a collection that is one of his most famous.
  • 08-284: Go to Hades! from Greek Mythology
    • The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but here it features rivers, a boatman, and an unusual dog!
  • 08-285: "Elijah and the Rabbi" from Jewish folklore
    • The Jewish tradition has given the world many inspiring folk stories; here's a good example.
  • 08-286: "The Adarna Bird" from Philippine mythology
    • This is one of the few works of Filipino literature that virtually every schoolchild knows. Sadly, it's not widely available online in English.
  • 08-287: The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Step aside, Sherlock. You're not the only famous character to spring from the fertile mind of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Meet Professor George Edward Challenger!
  • 08-288: Cu Chulainn, from Irish mythology
    • Setanta, better known as Cu Chulainn or "The Hound of Chulainn," may be the most important hero you've never heard of. Lend an ear.
  • 08-289: OOPArts, a science phenomenon
    • Someone said "There's a sucker born every minute"--and many manufactured OOPArts prove this statement to be true!
  • 08-290: "Romulus and Remus" from Roman mythology
    • Many great cities have their origins in the "mists of time," and stories are concocted to account for their existence. Here's the story of Rome.
  • 08-291: "The Cisco Kid" by O. Henry
    • The Cisco Kid is best known as a hero. Who knew that in his first appearance he was a murderous desperado?
  • 08-292: "The Phantom 'Rickshaw" by Rudyard Kipling
    • This terrifying story comes from the same benign pen that gave us Mowgli and the "Just So stories." Be warned!
  • 08-293: "The Bear" by William Faulkner
    • Faulkner's short story "The Bear" has a complicated publication history, but the first--and shortest--version is my favorite.
  • 08-294: The Book of Esther from the Hebrew scriptures
    • Despite her lack of historical status, Queen Esther has been held up as a model Jewish hero for generations, and her act is commemorated in a holiday even today.
  • 08-295: "Issun Boshi," a Japanese Folk Tale
    • The charming story of "Issun Boshi" proves that size really doesn't matter!
  • 08-296: Three Novels by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    • These three novels can give us a "feel" for the work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982.
  • 08-297: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
    • Ken Kesey's 1962 novel captured the zeitgeist (the "spirit of the age") of personal freedom and any restrictions that might be placed on it by external authority. The film version drove this point home.
  • 08-298: "The Feathered Robe," a Japanese fairy tale
    • This charming story blurs the boundaries between heaven and earth as a fisherman gets an angel to dance for him before recovering her robe of feathers.
  • 08-299: The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot
    • This modernist poem about the effects of the First World War has its roots in the magnificent medieval story of Parzival (Perceval) and the Fisher King.
  • 08-300: Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
    • Conrad's anti-hero Jim is, like Kurtz in Heart of Darkness, a European who gets tangled up in local affairs, with tragic results.
  • 08-301: "The Bremen Town Musicians" from the Brothers Grimm
    • The amusing tale of how four animals built a life together after getting rid of some bandits.
  • 08-302: Four Long Poems by William Shakespeare
    • Think Shakespeare only wrote plays, and perhaps short sonnets? Think again! He also wrote four longer (and fascinating) narrative poems: Venus and Adonis; The Rape of Lucrece; The Phoenix and the Turtle; and A Lover's Complaint
  • 08-303: "Susanna and the Elders" from the Biblical Apocrypha
    • Some Bibles have extra books or passages, called "Apocrypha," which contain "extra" materials. Nevertheless, some of these are of great interest. Here's one such story.
  • 08-304: The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
    • This is by far Poe's most famous poem, and one of his most famous works in any genre. It is much reprinted--and much parodied.
  • 08-305: The Other Avengers, a popular TV show
    • Before the rise of the Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (but around the time the Avengers superhero team first "assembled" in the comic books, in 1963) there was another team of "avengers" on British television--not as awesome, but a lot more fun!
  • 08-306: "Little Snow-White" by the Brothers Grimm
    • Who doesn't know the story of Little Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs? Still, it's always good to look back at the details to see what "really" happened.
  • 08-307: "Shahmaran, Queen of the Snakes" from a Turkish folktale
    • I am always delighted to find a story well-known in another culture but almost unknown in mine. Shahmaran, buried deep in the 1001 Nights, is just such a story.
  • 08-308: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
    • A young girl's diary brings home the horrors of World War II in a way that few other books have.
  • 08-309: "Ivan the Fool" by Count Leo Tolstoy
    • This moral tale, itself simple, teaches the virtues of simplicity. It's also fun to read!
  • 08-310: Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett
    • To a certain generation of Americans, "Little Lord Fauntleroy" inspired a way of dress; for the next, he inspired ridicule.
  • 08-311: Winnie-the-Pooh, by A. A. Milne
    • Winnie-the-Pooh--whose prototype lives today at the New York Public Library--is probably the world's most famous stuffed toy. Let's learn more about him.
  • 08-312: "Dogedog," a Filipino folk tale
    • I love this Filipino tale, in which a lazy man succeeds with a little (or a lot) of help from his friends.
  • 08-313: Bigfoot, an American urban legend
    • "Bigfoot" is the subject of fairly recent urban legends, and was most likely born as a hoax, or a series of them. But that doesn't stop the true believers from truly believing!
  • 08-314: Dubliners, a short story collection by James Joyce
    • Dubliners is the most accessible of James Joyce's fiction, and contains 15 superb short stories.
  • 08-315: "When Rhiannon Met Pwyll," from Welsh mythology
    • The Welsh myths found in The Mabinogion contain many wonderful stories. This is one of my favorites.
  • 08-316: "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," a short story by Ursula K. LeGuin
    • This devastating story asks the question: can the benefit of the many justify the abuse of the few (or even one)?
  • 08-317: The Cottingley Fairies, an "urban legend"
    • One of the most amusing affairs in the history of fakery is the time two young girls fooled one of the most famous "smart guys" of his time.
  • 08-318: "Bearskin," Part I, by Howard Pyle
    • Howard Pyle not only illustrated and rewrote the stories of others, but also wrote a few of his own--though with heavy borrowing of common motifs. This one is sheer fun.
  • 08-319: "Bearskin," Part II, by Howard Pyle
    • As Bearskin's story continues, we see him overcome an adversary in much the same way Queen Esther overcame Haman (see Lesson #08-294).
  • 08-320: Swan Lake, a ballet by Tchaikovsky
    • Few works of ballet have penetrated the popular consciousness like Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. Here's the story it depicts.
  • 08-321: "Cap o' Rushes," a folk tale by Joseph Jacobs
    • Not all the great fairy tales collected in the 19th century were brought to us by the Brothers Grimm. Joseph Jacob's collection English Fairy Tales gives us "Jack and the Beanstalk," "The Three Little Pigs," "The Three Bears," and many others, including this lovely little tale that opens with a "Lear test" motif.
  • 08-322: "Rothschild's Fiddle," a short story by Anton Chekhov
    • Anton Chekhov is usually better known for his plays, but he also wrote hundreds of excellent short stories. This is one of the best.
  • 08-323: Sophie's World, by Jostein Gaarder
    • When it was first published, this philosophy text disguised as a young adult mystery story took the world by storm. Give it a try and see if you like it!
  • 08-324: Porgy and Bess, by George Gershwin
    • Some of America's greatest tunes have come from the pen of George Gershwin; in popular music, this is his masterpiece.
  • 08-325: The Land of Little Rain, by Mary Hunter Austin
    • Mary Austin's little book is a masterpiece of nature writing, a sure-fire antidote for city living.
  • 08-326: "The Green Man," from European folklore
    • This charming legend personifies nature and gives an ancient basis to the modern push for ecological awareness.
  • 08-327: Phaeton, from Greek mythology
    • The story of Phaeton feels like modern accounts of "climate chaos"--but this was caused by a spoiled son-of-a-god!
  • 08-328: "All Summer in a Day," by Ray Bradbury
    • Ray Bradbury's story reminds us that even if we find a planet with the conditions necessary for life, they may not be conducive to good mental health. Kids can be so cruel!
  • 08-329: "The Seventh Princess," by Eleanor Farjeon
    • This modern fairy tale has a most satisfying "twist" at the end.
  • 08-330: Iphigenia, from Greek mythology
    • No one did tragedy--or the power of redemption--like the Greeks. This is one of the great stories they produced.
  • 08-331: "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," by Ernest Hemingway
    • Another amazing story from the hand of Hemingway, this time about love and cowardice.
  • 08-332: "Iron Hans," by the Grimm Brothers
    • This has become a "men's story," but it really appeals to a much wider audience than that now-outdated demographic.
  • 08-333: The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman
    • As usual. Neil Gaiman has created a convincing alternate reality, this one influenced by seven supernatural beings called "The Endless."
  • 08-334: "The Otter's Ransom," from Norse mythology
    • The Loki we see in the Marvel movies is nothing like the traditional figure--but his impetuous behavior is still a problem!
  • 08-335: Two Legends of St. Francis, from Roman Catholic tradition
    • No Christian saint has captured the world's heart like Francis of Assisi. Here are two early legends of the saint's connection to "God's creation."
  • 08-336: "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," by Ambrose Bierce
    • A Buddhist sutra tells us life is "a bubble in a stream, A flash of lightening in a summer cloud, A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream." No story I know illustrates the point better than this one.
  • 08-337: The Stranger, by Albert Camus
    • This story has also been published under the English title, The Outsider--perhaps a better description of the main character's relationship to the world.
  • 08-338: The Bayeux Tapestry, a medieval artwork
    • The most important date in English history--1066, the year a French count took England as his own--is commemorated in this stunning work of art.
  • 08-339: "The Legend of Tristan and Isolde," a medieval romance
    • This is one of the great love stories of all time, with traces of Guinevere and Lancelot--and Romeo and Juliet.
  • 08-340: "The Stone Fish," an unpublished legend of Virgil
    • Virgil represents here the power of kindness--and Luigi, the power of love. This is one of 50 stories about Virgil collected by Charles Godfrey Leland in the 19th century, but dating back to the Middle Ages.
  • 08-341: Dido and Aeneas, from Virgil's Aeneid
    • Love and war--two of the great themes of literature merge in this moving story from Virgil's Aeneid.
  • 08-342: "Puff, the Magic Dragon," a song by Peter Yarrow
    • This sweet nostalgic story has been a favorite for generations--and it's fun to sing!
  • 08-343: The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux
    • This "haunting" tale of love and madness seems to be perfect for the modern stage, but in fact started out as a French novel over 100 years ago.
  • 08-344: Florante and Laura, by Francisco Balagtas
    • Two sets of lovers meet in a forest, reminiscent more of Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night's Dream?) than a long 19th century Filipino poem!
  • 08-345: Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography
    • "Founding father" Benjamin Franklin was in may ways "larger than life." His legend is enhanced by his constant writing and publication--often in promotion of his own virtues.
  • 08-346: "All Stories Are Anansi's," from African folklore
    • This story asserts that without stories, there is no civilization. Learn how the tricky trickster god Anansi brought the power of storytelling to society.
  • 08-347: Monsters in the Odyssey, by Homer
    • Any good story pits the protagonist against a challenge. But Odysseus faced a whole list of them!
  • 08-348: Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates, by Mary Mapes Dodge
    • Mary Mapes Dodge's book is a wonder in many ways: an accurate portrayal of a country she had never seen, and a made-up "legend" that even people of that country believe!
  • 08-349: "The Knight's Tale," a Canterbury Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer
    • "There is no new thing under the sun": another love triangle, this one with a Chaucerian twist at the end.
  • 08-350: Oklahoma!, by Rodgers and Hammerstein
    • This smash hit on Broadway and. later, on the "silver screen," brought us such memorable tunes as "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!" and "People Will Say We're in Love."
  • 08-351: The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins
    • Wilkie Collins may be a minor shadow of Dickens, but his novels give the same pleasure to the reader. Here, the intrigue ends with a surprise, and coincidences abound.
  • 08-352: "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You My Lad," by M. R. James
    • I have long considered this to be one of the scariest stories I know; it plays on the conventional idea of a ghost looking like a person wearing a sheet.
  • 08-353: "The Red-Headed League," by Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Here's another clever story--with a surprise solution--featuring the estimable Sherlock Holmes!
  • 08-354: John Carter of Mars, created by Edgar Rice Burroughs
    • Tarzan wasn't the only "manly man" created by Edgar Rice Burroughs: Meet John Carter, veteran Civil War officer and beloved of a Martian princess!
  • 08-355: "Ode on a Grecian Urn," by John Keats
    • Note: Some people are just--different. John Keats saw the world with fresh eyes, and left it at age 25, after creating such masterpieces as this poem.
  • 08-356: Fitzcarraldo, a film by Werner Herzog
    • This is one of the most harrowing movie experiences ever, made more so by its backstory.
  • 08-357: Gunsmoke, a popular "cowboy show"
    • One of my dad's favorite TV shows--and mine, too!
  • 08-358: Say "Uncle"! Three idioms
    • When we want someone to give up, we tell them: "Say Uncle!" But the word has lots of other idiomatic uses besides.
  • 08-359: The Death of Merlin, by Thomas Malory and others
    • Even the wisest of wizards can be a fool for love. Case in point: the humbling of Merlin.
  • 08-360: The Magic School Bus, a kids' TV show
    • The best learning happens in an atmosphere of fun! And this program from the 1990s managed to offer up heavy doses of both.
  • 08-361: The 1,001 Nights, a famous story collection
    • This amazing collection is like a library unto itself; some tales are familiar, but there are lots of hidden gems waiting to be discovered!
  • 08-362: The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James
    • The "unreliable narrator" is a fairly recent storytelling technique, coming into its own in the 19th century. This is an excellent example.
  • 08-363: The Thirty-Nine Steps, by John Buchan
    • A thrilling movie, and an even more thrilling book, featuring one of the prototypes for James Bond.
  • 08-364: The Rape of the Lock, by Alexander Pope
    • One way to trivialize a potentially serious event is the logical technique called reductio ad absurdum--taking an idea all the way to a ridiculous conclusion. See how the poet Alexander Pope applied this to a social squabble.
  • 08-365: "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter," from Japanese folklore
    • Japanese literature is filled with old childless couples who find wonderful babies and grow rich as a result of their kindness. This is a good one.
  • 08-366: Ovid's Metamorphoses
    • If you had been educated in the 19th century (or before), you would certainly have read the stories of Ovid in Latin. Alas, we "threw the baby out with the bathwater": in not requiring Latin, we lost our familiarity with these great stories, too!
  • 08-367: Jacob Marley - The Forgotten Ghost, from Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol
    • Like any good book (or film), Dickens's novella never gets old, and we can find something new in it each time we read it. Let's zero in on the often-forgotten character of Jacob Marley: the fourth ghost.
  • 08-368: Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier
    • Du Maurier's suspenseful novel has a Hitchcockian twist at the end. No wonder Hitchcock made such a successful film of it!
  • 08-369: The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
    • Wilkie Collins was a popular novelist, but this and The Moonstone are his two best-known works.
  • 08-370: Batman, a popular TV show in the '60s
    • The show Batman brought a whole new idea to the superhero genre: heroes could be funny!
  • 08-371: "The Twelve Days of Christmas," a fun, traditional carol
    • Some people think that the giver in this song gave only one partridge in a pair tree. But it was twelve!
  • 08-372: The Mabinogion, a Welsh compilation of mythology
    • One person--and a 19th-century woman at that!--is responsible or bringing us some of the earliest prose stories about King Arthur written down in what is now Great Britain.
  • 08-373: Abelard and Heloise, a real-life (and real weird) medieval French romance
    • This may be the weirdest love story you've ever heard--and it really happened!
  • 08-374: Satan as Hero in John Milton's Paradise Lost
    • Can Satan in any way ever be considered a hero? The answer of some literary scholars is YES!
  • 08-375: Monkey, a Chinese Classic
    • Great books often lend themselves to a deeper way of reading. Let's see how that works with this popular Chinese novel.
  • 08-376: Captains Courageous, by Rudyard Kipling
    • Kipling is famous for placing stories in exotic settings--India, for example. But this one happens mainly off the coast of Canada and New England!
  • 08-377: "The Three Snake-Leaves," by the Brothers Grimm
    • The Grimms published over 200 stories--most of which we never hear about, even though some, like this one, are really great!
  • 08-378: "The Bottle Imp," a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson
    • This story throws some twists into the old "genie in a lamp" motif. Fascinating!
  • 08-379: Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
    • Ahh, James Joyce. Some of his work seems more like a puzzle or guessing game than like literature. At the top of that list is this book, Finnegans Wake.
  • 08-380: "The Soul of a Regiment" by Talbot Mundy
    • There was a time--before television, even before movies--when people got their entertainment from weekly and monthly magazines--stories we still read today. Here's one.
  • 08-831: "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" by Arthur Conan Doyle
    • British doctor Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 56 stories about the adventures of Sherlock Homes, and four novels. This story was his personal favorite.
  • 08-832: "The Lion and the Mouse," a fable by Aesop
    • Who doesn't know--and love--the fables of Aesop? These simple tales contain a wealth of wisdom. Plus, they're entertaining!
  • 08-833: The Silverado Squatters by Robert Louis Stevenson
    • Quick: What did Robert Louis Stevenson write? Would you be surprised to learn he wrote about his personal travels?
  • 08-834: Israel Gets a King, from the Book of First Samuel in the Bible
    • No one in the history of Israel made a bigger splash than King David. Here is the story of his unlikely rise to power.
  • 08-835: Jeeves and Wooster, characters created by P.G. Wodehouse
    • Like Holmes and Watson, Jeeves is a capable problem solver, and his follower Bertie writes the "adventures" down. But here, the follower is technically the boss!
  • 08-836: "The Legend of Kynast," a Polish Folk-Tale
    • This is a story of cruelty--and revenge, a warning to all who would trifle with the hearts of others.
  • 08-837: "The Great Stone Face," by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    • This is a story of inspiration, and how a boy spent his life looking for genius in all the wrong places.
  • 08-838: Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
    • I first read Great Expectations in 8th grade, and again in adulthood; it was stunning both times.
  • 08-839: The Queen of Sheba, a figure from the Bible
    • For a woman who is barely mentioned at all, the fabulously-wealthy Queen of Sheba has had an out-sized effect on culture. Just ask my sister!
  • 08-840: "The King of the Golden Mountain," a story from the Brothers Grimm
    • Magic almost never delivers on its "promise"; seems there's always a catch, as in this story. Still, an honest person can come out all right in the end!
  • 08-841: Pudd'nhead Wilson, a novel by Mark Twain
    • We take for granted some of the most common "CSI"-type technology. But there was a time when fingerprint technology was unknown. This combines with a story of racial inequality to make one of Twain's more interesting novels.
  • 08-842: "The Story of Kisa Gotami," a story of the Buddha
    • How hard it is to let go of a loved one at his or her death! This heart-breaking story gives us a clue as to how to survive such a tragedy.



    Extra! Extra!

    At one point I shared a few lessons online that were never submitted to the Shenzhen Daily. Some of these I'm holding back to be published as eBooks; the others I offer you here. One of them, the Aesop's Fable titled "The Ants and the Grasshopper," received nearly 12,000 hits in less than ten years!
    • X-001: Talking about Ooze
    • X-002: "Ooze" Words
    • X-003: The Staffordshire Hoard - Part I
    • X-004: The Staffordshire Hoard - Part II
    • X-005: Locations
    • X-006: Popular Christmas Songs
    • X-007: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    • X-008: Aesop's Fables 1: The Lion and the Mouse
    • X-009: Aesop's Fables 2: The Tortoise and the Hare
    • X-010: Aesop's Fables 3: The Frogs Asking for a King
    • X-011: Aesop's Fables 4: The Crow and the Pitcher
    • X-012: Aesop's Fables 5: The Hen and the Golden Eggs
    • X-013: Aesop's Fables 6: The Ants and the Grasshopper

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