" I believe, my dears, that I am the proudest story-teller that ever lived...To have pleased you, to have interested you, to have won your friendship, and perhaps your love, through my stories, is to my mind as great an achievement as to become President of the United States. "
L. Frank Baum

Back in the day


Pope Urban VII Dies Just 13 Days into Papacy

Urban VII was chosen to succeed Sixtus V as pope on September 15, 1590. His death from malaria 13 days later made his the shortest papal reign in history. His very short time as pope nevertheless gave rise to the world's first known public smoking ban when he threatened to excommunicate anyone who "took tobacco in the porchway of or inside a church, whether it be by chewing it, smoking it with a pipe, or sniffing it in powdered form through the nose." Who succeeded him?



The Sikha

The sikha is a long tuft or lock of hair left on the top or back of the shaven head of an orthodox Hindu male. During childhood, many Hindu boys have their heads shaved in a special ritual. Sometimes, a lock of hair is left at the crown and allowed to grow throughout the man's life. Although traditionally all Hindus were required to wear a sikha, today it is seen mainly among ascetic monks. The sikha signifies one-pointed spiritual purpose and is always knotted, except under what circumstances?

Born on a day like today


Grazia Deledda

Influenced by the verismo—"realism"—school, Nobel Prize-winning Italian novelist Grazia Deledda wrote her first stories while just a teen and was still having her works published after her death. Her work is lyric and in part naturalistic and combines sympathy and humor with occasional touches of violence. In her approximately 40 novels, the ancient ways of her native Sardinia often come into conflict with modern mores. What are her most famous works?

Last updated on Tuesday, 27th September 2011

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