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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: What Do Headbangers and Bookworms Have in Common?

July 18, 2016

Heavy Metal Rock Band | UncommonGoods
There is nothing a heavy metal rocker loves more–after taking off his skull mask, corpse makeup, and studded leather bat wings–than curling up in a quiet corner with a good book. Or so one might think, considering the chosen names of some bands that consider “11” a reasonable sound volume.

Iron Maiden, for example, unlocked its name from the pages of The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas, while Black Sabbath was inspired by a novel from the British adventure writer Dennis Wheatley. As I Lay Dying is an iconic novel by William Faulkner—not to be confused with As I Lay Dying, the Christian metalcore band from California. And the band Of Mice and Men takes its reference to John Steinbeck’s novella seriously, addressing themes of the American Dream—like playing a sweet riff on your Flying V in front of tens of thousands of adoring fans.

Heavy Metal Rock Band | $48.00

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Has the Loch Ness Monster Been Found?

July 13, 2016

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In case you haven’t been keeping tabs on the news of the weird lately, the body of the Loch Ness monster has been found. Well, sort of. Researchers surveying the depths of the Scottish loch with sonar imaging technology have rediscovered a 30-foot prop Nessie used in the 1970 film “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.” Sunk during filming in 1969, the model monster has been hanging out 180 meters deep on the loch bed ever since. The researchers with the Loch Ness Project didn’t expect to encounter any mysterious creatures—real or artificial—so finding the film artifact was a quirky coincidence to their scientific search for Nessie’s lair. “We have found a monster, but not the one many people might have expected,” commented Loch Ness expert Adrian Shine. In a bit of mythical monster synchronicity, a drone has captured what may be footage of a Bigfoot scampering through the Idaho landscape.

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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Which City Could Have Become the 51st State?

July 11, 2016

NY Token Watch | UncommonGoods

It would make sense that the novel idea of slicing off the Big Apple from the rest of the state would come from a novelist.

In the 1960s, New York City was suffering as crime rates climbed and the mighty metropolis lurched toward bankruptcy. While long-standing politicians offered few new ideas on how to wake the City That Never Sleeps from its fatal slumber, the unlikely duo of novelist Norman Mailer and columnist Jimmy Breslin seized the opportunity to shake up the status quo during the 1969 Democratic Mayoral Primary election–by running for Mayor and City Council president, respectively.

Trumpeting slogans like “New York Gets an Imagination—Or It Dies!”, the grassroots campaign ran on the ultimatum that for New York City to survive, it had to achieve independent statehood. They proposed putting power in the hands of the neighborhoods, and offered creative yet logistically impossible solutions to air pollution and traffic congestion, including providing every occupant with a bicycle, banning all private cars from Manhattan, and endorsing “Sweet Sundays,” a monthly event when absolutely all mechanized transport—including elevators—would be shut down. Although the candidates lost and the city is still firmly affixed to the rest of the state, New York is now more bike friendly than ever before, showing that even a fictitious-sounding idea can lead to a real solution.

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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Why Do Newlyweds Fall for the Falls?

July 5, 2016
Waterfall Ring | UncommonGoods

Waterfall Ring | UncommonGoods

Cascading water, misty sprays, rainbow skies: Niagara Falls offers some pretty obvious aesthetic benefits. But other than its Instagram-worthy backdrop beauty, why, exactly, did the Twin Cities — which straddle the Canadian and U.S. borders — become known as the Honeymoon Capital of the World?

Chalk it up to the rich and famous. In 1801, then Vice President Aaron Burr’s daughter Theodosia visited the Falls following her wedding to future South Carolina governor Joseph Alston. Three years later, Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother Jerome drove by stagecoach with his bride Elizabeth “Betsy” Patterson to the majestic northern falls following their Baltimore nuptials. Commoners soon followed, but the phrase “Honeymoon Capital of the World” didn’t start appearing on promotional materials for Niagara Falls until the early 1900s. By then, railways and the Erie Canal — not to mention cars — offered much easier access to the falls.

These days, newlyweds are more likely to toast their new life together in a tropical locale, yet the Niagara Falls Tourism board estimates the geographical wonder still hosts about 50,000 honeymoons a year — almost 962 every week!

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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: What Do Poetry and Planets Have in Common?

June 29, 2016

26598_EarthMoonandSunSterlingSilverNecklace

Here’s a secret weapon word for serious Scrabble competitors: syzygy. The shortest word to incorporate three y’s, it’s also a term shared by poetry and astronomy. For poets, the phenomenon takes two forms: phonetic syzygy (similar to alliteration but including sounds within words), and metrical syzygy (the repetition of rhythms in the meter of the poem). For astronomers, syzygy is shorthand for the straight-line alignment of celestial bodies in the same system—a line-up of Jupiter and Mars, for example. But to understand why poetry and astronomy share this weird word, we need to look at its etymological root. It enters English via Latin (suzugia) from the Greek syzygos, meaning yoked or paired. From there, it was broadly applied to describe linked things in literature, astronomy, and other fields. Lest you think that applications of the term are rare and unrelated across these fields, you’re witnessing an example every time you look up at the full moon. And what could be more poetic than that?

Earth, Moon, and Sun Necklace | $75