Film Icon James Dean Killed in Car Crash (1955)

Though he would become one of the most iconic actors in the history of Hollywood, Dean starred in only three movies—East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant. The moody actor was acclaimed as the epitome of the mid-1950s, representing the alienated American youth of the time. In 1955, his career and life were cut short when he was killed in a highway crash while driving his Porsche to compete in a racing event. He was just 24. What “curse” is associated with his death? Discuss

Truman Capote (1924)

Capote’s first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, launched a literary career that included the novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s and his innovative “nonfiction novel” In Cold Blood, a chilling account of the senseless, brutal murder of a Kansas family that is widely considered his finest work. Capote cultivated celebrity and was famous in later years for his jet-setting lifestyle as well as his writing. Capote was reportedly the inspiration for a character in what famous novel? Discuss

Extreme Ironing

The sport of extreme ironing, in which people take an iron and ironing board to a remote location and perform the typically mundane household chore in an extreme setting, was developed by Englishman Phil Shaw in 1997. Shaw’s 1999 international tour promoted the activity, which, according to the official website, is “the latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.” In what adventurous settings has it been done? Discuss

Inventor Rudolf Diesel Disappears (1913)

A German thermal engineer, Diesel invented the internal-combustion engine that bears his name, producing a series of increasingly successful models that culminated in his demonstration in 1897 of a 25-horsepower, four-stroke, single vertical cylinder compression engine. It was an immediate success and earned him a fortune. In 1913, while traveling by steamer to London for a business meeting, Diesel disappeared, presumably having fallen, jumped, or been pushed overboard. Was his body ever found? Discuss


The Feast of the Archangel Michael, or the Day of St. Michael and All Angels, is a traditional feast day in the Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, and Orthodox churches. Churches dedicated to Michael can be found in Asia and throughout coastal Europe, usually in places where Michael is reputed to have saved the community from the threat of a monster or giant. The ninth-century abbey Mont St.-Michel, off the coast of Normandy, France, once held the shield said to have been worn by Michael in his fight against the dragon. Discuss

Enrico Fermi (1901)

Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi is known today as the “father of the atomic bomb.” Fermi conducted early experiments with neutrons and was awarded the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics. After receiving the award in Stockholm, Fermi and his family chose not return to Fascist Italy and instead settled in the US. There, he created the first self-sustaining chain reaction in 1942 and later worked on the atomic bomb. What so-called paradox named for Fermi involves extraterrestrial intelligent life? Discuss

Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee is prepared in a special pot called a cezve and is made from finely ground coffee, cold water, and sometimes sugar. In Turkey, sugar content is determined based on a ranking system that includes 4 levels of sweetness. The coffee is served in small fincan similar to Italian espresso cups, and its sludgy grounds settle in a thick layer at the bottom. Often, a finished cup is turned upside down on a saucer and the patterns left by the grounds are examined for what? Discuss