The forgotten medieval habit of ‘two sleeps’


A couple of hours later, people would begin rousing from this initial slumber. The night-time wakefulness usually lasted from around 23:00 to about 01:00, depending on what time they went to bed. It was not generally caused by noise or other disturbances in the night – and neither was it initiated by any kind of alarm (these were only invented in 1787, by an American man who – somewhat ironically – needed to wake up on time to sell clocks). Instead, the waking happened entirely naturally, just as it does in the morning. The period of wakefulness that followed was known as “the watch” – and it was a surprisingly useful window in which to get things done. “[The records] describe how people did just about anything and everything after they awakened from their first sleep,” says Ekirch.

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Zaria Gorvett — BBC

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Your Favorite Scary Movie: The Oral History of ‘Scream’


It’s hard to imagine now that the franchise has been spilling gallons of fake blood for a quarter-century—Paramount Home Entertainment recently released a remastered anniversary edition on 4K Ultra HD, and the fifthinstallment of the franchise will hit theaters in January—but there was a time when no one wanted to direct Scream. At first, even Wes Craven passed. Several times. The man behind horror classics like A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Last House on the Left was tired of being confined to the genre that he’d mastered. Yet the pull of Williamson’s script eventually turned out to be too much to resist, and with its elements at his fingertips, Craven reinvented big-screen horror.

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Alan Siegel — The Ringer

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Indian woman, 104, fulfils dream of learning to read


For almost a century, Kuttiyamma’s daily routine had been much the same. Rising early at home in the village of Thiruvanchoor in Kerala, the 104-year-old would begin her day’s work of cooking, cleaning and feeding the cows and chickens. But now, every morning, there’s something new to get up for. She eagerly awaits the paperboy to deliver Malayala Manorama, the local newspaper.

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Hannah Ellis-Petersen — The Guardian

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Real-life Indiana Jones


The passports—which had either expired over the years or been completely filled with stamps—showed Miller had visited about 100 countries, but Carpenter says agents didn’t find any evidence that Miller was ever permitted to dig. The FBI also examined the items with the more extraordinary backstories. Carpenter says the atomic bomb detonator Miller told people about was in fact a radio communications system, which wasn’t seized and has been cleared by the government. But Carpenter added that it appeared to be the same radio unit seen with Miller in photos at Los Alamos. The agents analyzed skulls pierced with arrowheads and determined that Miller hammered in those arrowheads himself. The skeleton Miller said was Crazy Horse was actually several people. Miller had taken pieces from other skulls, a different mandible, someone else’s teeth and bones, and glued it all together, Frankenstein-like. Miller, it turns out, was a stager. He thought less like an archaeologist and more like a storyteller. “Just like he created his entire persona,” Archer said.

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Josh Sanburn — Vanity Fair

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The secrets of France’s top serial killer expert


“I went too far,” he said. “It’s my fault, after all! I recognise that.” He had not met 77 serial killers, he acknowledged, but rather about 30, and some of them only briefly. Still, 30 struck him as a reasonably impressive total, all things considered. “My accomplishments might have been enough on their own, without my additions,” he reflected. He had had himself psychoanalysed; the trouble was, of course, with his parents. He had also begun a census of all known French serial killers, and was in the midst of expanding his book on Kemper. “I love to write!” he told me.

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Scott Sayare — The Guardian

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How Nike founder Phil Knight is giving a fortune to his family while avoiding billions in U.S. taxes


Knight is now 83, and since founding Nike in 1964 he’s built a fortune worth about $60 billion. He’s hardly the only American billionaire to take advantage of lawful tax­-avoida­­nce tricks—filings show JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, Zoom Video Communications Inc. founder Eric Yuan, and many others employ such tools. The family of Walmart Inc. founder Sam Walton pioneered one of the techniques Knight appears to have used. But because Nike is publicly traded and both Knight and his surviving son, Travis, play roles on the company’s board and must report their stock transactions, theirs is the rare case that can be examined in detail from public filings, exposing a process that’s usually shrouded in secrecy. Bloomberg Businessweek identified about $9.3 billion in Nike shares and other assets Knight has moved to his descendants, starting in 2009. The full total could be more.

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Ben Steverman, Anders Melin, and Devon Pendleton — Bloomberg Businessweek

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How Hollywood’s toxic (and worsening) addiction to franchises changed movies forever in 2014


And that leaves aside the movies that aren’t getting made — the original scripts or adaptations of novels that make it into development and then go nowhere, with apologies and sighs from the people who bought them, unless a very big studio feels like doing a very big favor for a very big star, director, or producer. People who believe in the primacy of the marketplace will tell you that this winnowing process is a Darwinian, survival-of-the-fittest thing. It’s not, but even if it were, are we really supposed to cheer creative decisions that are based on nothing more than a nervous determination to avoid extinction? Yes, some good movies get through, but many that once would have now don’t, won’t, can’t. And a generation of midlevel executives that in the not-too-distant past would have been trained to develop and champion them now knows that doing so isn’t the way to move up in the ranks; these days, you make your bones by showing you can maximize the potential monetization of a preexisting brand or reawaken a dormant one. Stand-alone, non-repeatable hits are nice, but only in an outside-the-system way; they’re for people who don’t know how to think big.

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Mark Harris — Grantland

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Marie Calloway Was Reviled By The Internet. Then She Disappeared.


If you were on the internet in the 2010s, you’re probably aware of Calloway’s work, even if you can’t quite remember the specifics. Her writing appeared on websites like Thought Catalog and Vice, which were dedicated to archiving the feelings of upwardly mobile white millennials. Then in 2012 came the story that brought her both notoriety and ridicule; “Adrien Brody” was published online by Muumuu House, a small press founded by alt-lit writer Tao Lin in 2008. (The actor Adrien Brody has no apparent link to the piece.) In it, Calloway describes meeting a man online and sleeping with him. He’s significantly older than her, has more power in their dynamic, and has a girlfriend. “I know you said you don’t want me to say this,” “Brody” — a pseudonym seemingly selected because of the absurdity of naming him after someone so famous — tells her at the end of their encounter, “but you will connect with someone one day. It’s just not going to be me.” Amidst the female personal essay boom of the 2010s, the lengthy piece went viral.

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Scaachi Koul — Buzzfeed

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The dream of owning a home is increasingly out of reach


Soaring property prices are forcing people all over the world to abandon all hope of owning a home. The fallout is shaking governments of all political persuasions. It’s a phenomenon given wings by the pandemic. And it’s not just buyers — rents are also soaring in many cities. The upshot is the perennial issue of housing costs has become one of acute housing inequality, and an entire generation is at risk of being left behind. 

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Alan Crawford — Bloomberg

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The Keanu Reeves Phenomenon


Though Ted has become an enduring favorite, Variety recognized Reeves’ charm, but wasn’t entirely sold when the film opened in 1989. “Not since Sean Penn’s send-up of an airhead California high-schooler in ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ has the screen seen young characters as witlessly appealing as this pic’s Bill and Ted,” Variety’s reviewer wrote. “Keanu Reeves, with his beguilingly blank face and loose-limbed, happy-go-lucky physical vocabulary, and Alex Winter, with his golden curls, gleefully good vibes and ‘bodacious’ vocabulary, propel this adventure as far as they can.”

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Tim Gray — Variety

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