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Sept. 22 2018 8:32 AM

Why Is Autumn the Only Season With Two Names?

This article originally appeared in the fall/autumn of 2012. We’ve reprinted the post for the first day of the season, below.

It’s the first week of fall—or perhaps I should say “autumn.” How did autumn become the only season with two names?

Before it was autumn and fall, it was harvest. While the modern names of winter and summer have been around for more than 1,000 years, the names of fall and spring are more recent—and less constant. This is partly because the two seasons were long viewed as secondary to summer and winter. As late as the 18th century, English speakers were less likely to think of the year as having four seasons, focusing instead on the coldest and warmest portions of the year. Even when they spoke of fall, they couldn’t agree when, exactly, it took place. In the 17th and 18th centuries, dictionaries by both Thomas Blount and Samuel Johnson noted that some thought that fall began in August and ended in November, while others contested that it began in September (at the equinox) and ended in December (with the solstice).

April 26 2018 5:50 PM

A Complete List of the Women Who Have Accused Bill Cosby of Sexual Assault


The following women have alleged as a matter of public record that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted or raped them. They are listed in the order their allegations became public.




1. Lachele Covington. Covington, an actress who was 20 at the time, filed a police report alleging that Cosby pushed her hand toward his penis after inviting her to his New York home on Jan. 25, 2000 to give her career advice. The New York Postreported that authorities "decided no crime had been committed because until the very moment Covington pulled her hand away, all actions had been consensual." A Cosby spokesperson called the story "not true."


Dec. 18 2017 4:04 AM

A Prairie Home Companion Has a New, Garrison-Keillor-Free Name

When Minnesota Public Radio abruptly cut ties with Garrison Keillor, who hosted public radio staple A Prairie Home Companion from 1974 until 2016, they announced that not only would Keillor’s episodes of the show—decades of them—be pulled from reruns immediately, but the show, hosted by Chris Thile since Keillor’s retirement, would also be renamed. It still isn’t clear exactly what Keillor did—he originally said he’d accidentally brushed a woman’s back with his hand, but later referenced “two employees” who made allegations against him—but we finally know A Prairie Home Companion’s new title. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Thile opened a live performance in New York on Sunday by announcing the new name: Live From Here.

Presumably, that’s Live From Here as in Live From The Apollo, not as in Live Through This, but either way, one thing is clear: wherever “Here” is, it’s not Lake Wobegon.

Dec. 18 2017 2:04 AM

What Would the Original Star Wars Trilogy Look Like if Luke Skywalker Never Abandoned His Dream of Going to Tosche Station?

Long before he became famous for pummeling Ted Cruz on Twitter, actor Mark Hamill appeared in a little science fiction film called Star Wars. Although it did well at the box office, the narrative has one fatal flaw: the hero almost immediately abandons his original goals. Real heroes stay true to themselves and display perseverance in the face of adversity, but Luke Skywalker drops everything he ever wanted the second a space wizard tells him to. What did Luke want at the beginning of the original trilogy? Well, see for yourself:

Clear stakes, clear goals, clear obstacles: George Lucas promises a film here that he never quite delivers. (N.B.: While it’s true that Lucas shot a scene in which Luke finally gets to Tosche Station, he didn’t use it, leaving the trilogy’s central quest abandoned.) So what would Star Wars have looked like if Skywalker—or Lucas—had had a little more gumption, a little more stick-to-itiveness, a little more integrity, a little more heart? To find out, the Gregory Brothers re-edited the entire original trilogy into a 15-minute long autotuned musical called “Tosche Station (Star Wars but Luke Only Wants To Go to Tosche Station and Doesn’t Care About Politics).” It’s exactly what it sounds like from the title and you will never get it out of your head. After so many years, it’s great to see that the original Star Wars trilogy has gotten a Special Edition rerelease that fans really enjoy.


If that’s not enough “Tosche Station” for you, here it is again in a 10-hour loop:

Dec. 17 2017 5:12 AM

Saturday Night Live Discovers the Secret Ingredient to Staging the Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Christmas pageants are an inevitable, inevitably terrible part of the holiday season, but as Barbara Robinson knew, they can sometimes be tolerable if—and only if—everything goes horribly wrong. That’s just what happened in this Saturday Night Live sketch, in which a llama saves Christmas by appearing in a nativity pageant in the role of a camel, then saves Christmas again by getting a gigantic llama-sized erection. It’s great to see a Saturday Night Live llama graduate from running gag to featured player, and host Kevin Hart and the rest of the cast do a great job of playing off their new co-star.

But just what was going on behind that blanket? To find out, I consulted Llama and Alpaca Care: Medicine, Surgery, Reproduction, Nutrition, and Herd Health, where I discovered the following facts about llamas:

The camelid penis is fibroclastic and is retracted into its sheath via a prescrotal sigmoid flexur. The length of the penis ranges from 35 to 45 cm in llamas and alpacas. The penis is cylindrical, gradually decreasing in diameter from its root at the ischiatic arch to the neck of the glans penis (collum glandis, preputial reflection). The penis originates…

Ok, we’re just going to throw a blanket over that block quote and move along like it never happened. As you have probably noticed, Slate articles rarely incorporate clinical descriptions of llama penises, and I am coming to realize that this lack of llama penis articles was less a “grave oversight” and more of a “sensible editorial stance,” so I hope you’ll forgive this error. There are many articles on Slate that do not include facts about llama penises, and I’d encourage you to read them, lest you draw mistaken conclusions about Slate’s editorial focus. In the meantime, let’s talk about something other than llama penises. How’s politics? Do you like reading about politics? How about we make a little deal: you tell anyone who asks that this article was about politics, and I won’t tell anyone you ended up reading an article about llama penises.

Dec. 17 2017 3:59 AM

Dave Grohl, Who Used to Be in Nirvana, Plays Crowd-Pleasing Christmas Ditties With the Foo Fighters on Saturday Night Live

Dave Grohl, who many lifetimes ago was in a band called Nirvana, stopped by Saturday Night Live with his new band the Foo Fighters, and he brought some Christmas cheer with him! After starting off with “Everlong,” from 1997’s The Colour and the Shape, the Foo Fighters turned in a rocking performance of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love (off Phil Spector’s 1963 Christmas album) and a guitar arrangement of the Vince Guaraldi classic, “Linus & Lucy,” which first appeared on A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965.  It’s everything you’d ever want from a Saturday Night Live musical guest during the holiday season: a respectful treatment of some treasured Baby Boomer Christmas classics, with something for everyone to enjoy!

Here, incidentally, is a little number from Dave Grohl’s first Saturday Night Live appearance, 25 years ago. He played a song with the crowd-pleasing title of “Territorial Pissings,” which begins with bass player Krist Novoselec howling a lyric from boomer-favorite “Get Together” by the Youngbloods, not respectfully at all, and ends with Grohl smashing his drum set while Kurt Cobain beats up a stack of amplifiers until someone at NBC cuts to commercial.


Which isn’t to say Grohl never sang Christmas carols back in the day. Here he is claiming to not know “Silent Night” or “Joy to the World,” before half-assing his way through a chorus of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” with the rest of Nirvana.

Twenty-five years is a long time!

Dec. 17 2017 2:10 AM

Scarlett Johansson Stops by Saturday Night Live to Hang an Ornament on Donald Trump’s Tree of Shame

This week’s Saturday Night Live started off with a visit to the Trump White House, where Alec Baldwin’s Trump was celebrating Christmas with his staff. Or, more accurately, forcing the remaining members of his administration to hang an ornament on Trump’s “Tree of Shame” with the face of one of his enemies, which sort of counts as a Christmas celebration.. The gang’s all here, from outright enemies like James Comey to friends-turned-enemies like Mike Flynn to recently-minted enemy Omarosa, who doesn’t rate an ornament, but shows up in person outside the windows, trying desperately to get back into the sunlight of Trump’s love.

The highlight is an unexpected visit from Scarlett Johansson as Ivanka, a role she memorably inhabited in an ad for the Trump daughter’s signature fragrance (“Complicit”) when she hosted in the spring. That part didn’t require much of an impersonation, which is exactly how much of an impersonation Johansson does this week. Still, she gets the best line, revisiting Ivanka’s statement about Roy Moore shortly before her father endorsed him:  “As I said, there’s a special place in hell, and we’re all there.” Second place goes to Trump’s recap of the Moore campaign, one of those things that would be funny if it weren’t exactly what happened:

Poor Roy. I thought for sure he would win. Until he lost. Then I said I always knew he would lose. But at least America knows that I finally supported an accused child molester.

Besides Johansson, it’s a highlight reel of the Saturday Night Live cast’s impersonations from Trumpland: Alex Moffat and Mikey Day as the Trump boys, Aidy Bryant as Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Beck Bennett as Mike Pence, and, above all, Kate McKinnon in dual roles as Kellyanne Conway and Jeff Sessions. It’s also something of an in memoriam tribute all the Trump hangers-on who fell off the gravy train this year, from Sebastian Gorka to Carter Page. God willing, we’ll never have to see Sean Spicer again, but it’s kind of sad to realize we’ll never see Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer impersonation. Or maybe we will. Unfortunately, Jeff Sessions’ Christmas message has the ring of truth:

Merry Christmas! Everybody is going to get away with everything!

Dec. 15 2017 8:33 PM

Genius Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle Is the Instant Gift We All Need

This post originally appeared in Genius Recipes on Food52.

This chocolate chip cookie variant should get its own special bookmark in your brain right now, for the next time you need a last-minute party snack or cookie swap entry or a gift for pretty much anyone (including yourself).


It's speedier, easier, and—especially for us crispy cookie devotees—leaps and bounds better than the standard back-of-the-bag chocolate chip experience.

The reason why is so simple: This is just what happens if you take out any trace of leavener in chocolate chip cookies—no eggs, no baking powder or soda, no airy creamed butter—and mash the dough into a thin layer on a baking sheet.


James Ransom

It sounds like something curious kids would make by mistake and has all the makings of a terribly ill-fated idea. But instead, thanks to a generous proportion of melted butter and raw sugar, this dough turns into an addictive, crunchy brittle that falls somewhere between candy and cookie.

Cookbook author and blogger Shauna Sever developed this naturally sweetened recipe for her cookbook Real Sweet based off a version she had found in The American Country Inn Bed and Breakfast Cookbook. After her recipe was pinned a half million times on Pinterest, she ended up demoing it on the Today Show to an incredulous Al Roker.


James Ransom

I first learned about Sever's mystical recipe from Luisa Weiss of The Wednesday Chef. "It is so addictive and so good and so insanely easy that you'll never want to make choc chip cookies again (well, not really, but you know what I mean)," Weiss wrote to me. "It's worth the price of the book."

Conveniently, the brittle packs up well in a big jar for holidays, birthdays, and sugar-fueled road trips and plane rides. It's also quite friendly to swap-ins for the nuts and chocolate—coconut? chile? pretzels?—if you need a place to set yourself, Al Roker, or other curious kids free.

Makes about 3 dozen 3-inch pieces

·       3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (200g) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

·       1 cup (200g) turbinado sugar

·       2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

·       1 teaspoon fine sea salt

·       2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour

·       3/4 cup (90g) coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

·       3/4 cup (130g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (60% to 70% cacao)

See the full recipe on Food52.

More from Food52

Dec. 15 2017 4:57 PM

Is The Last Jedi’s Ending a Travesty—or the Best Part of the Movie? Three Slate Critics Discuss.

On the Spoiler Special podcast, Slate critics discuss movies, the occasional TV show, and, once in a blue moon, another podcast, in full, spoiler-filled detail. In this week’s episode, Slate’s movie critic, Dana Stevens, Slate senior editor Sam Adams, and Slate culture editor Forrest Wickman spoil Star Wars: The Last Jedi. What do we make of the big reveal about Rey’s parents? Does the movie do justice to Carrie Fisher? And do the third-act twists make sense, or are there plot holes so big you could drive a Star Destroyer through them?

Listen to them discuss these and other questions below. You can also check out past Spoiler Specials, and you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts. Note: As the title indicates, each installment contains spoilers galore.


Podcast production by Daniel Schroeder.

Dec. 15 2017 2:26 PM

The Last Jedi Finally Revealed the Identity of Rey’s Parents. It Was the Right Choice.

Spoilers for Rey’s parentage and a major Last Jedi plot point ahead.

She’s not a Skywalker. She’s not a Solo. She’s not even a Kenobi or a Jinn or a Palpatine or an Erso. Since The Force Awakens, the Star Wars franchise has been teasing out the mystery of Rey’s parentage, and The Last Jedi finally gave us an answer, though it’s one that will surely have its detractors. Rey’s parents are … nobody.


Well, nobody important, at least. The revelation comes about two-thirds into The Last Jedi, during a confrontation between Rey and Kylo Ren, who is tempting her to join him so that they can establish a new order together. He urges Rey to let go of the past—and suggests that, despite all her searching, she already knows why she was abandoned on Jakku and who her parents are.

KYLO REN: You know the truth. Say it.
REY: They were nobody.
KYLO REN: They were filthy junk traders who sold you off for drinking money. They’re dead, in a paupers’ grave in the Jakku desert.

And so all the elaborate fan theories—She’s Luke’s daughter! She’s Obi-Wan’s granddaughter!—fall away as we learn that Rey doesn’t belong to any pre-established dynasty in the Star Wars universe. It’s bound to disappoint some fans, but it's also a smart choice on the part of the filmmakers, one that honors the franchise’s roots while also giving it a path forward beyond the neverending Skywalker drama.

First things first: Could Kylo be lying about who Rey’s parents are? Sure. He is, after all, trying to convince Rey to cut ties with the Resistance and join him, and “You’re nothing—but not to me” is a smart recruiting tactic. But even if Rey’s parents aren’t actually dead, there’s no reason to doubt it when she says she knows that they were “nobody.” The Last Jedi is full of parallels to The Empire Strikes Back, the film in which Luke learns his own origins, but Rey's story is always a little different. When Rey has a Force vision of her parents on Ahch-To, for instance, she doesn’t see herself in a Darth Vader mask; she just sees herself, as she is. And when she finally learns the secret of her identity, it's during a confrontation that mirrors the one between Luke and Darth Vader in Empire, right down to the offer to join forces and the familial truth-telling. Kylo’s insistence, “You know the truth,” even has a ring of Vader’s “Search your feelings, you know it to be true.” These are signals to the audience that the revelation is meant to be every bit as true and devastating as “I am your father,” if not quite as surprising.

Let’s assume, then, that we can take the fact that Rey does not have some deeper genetic connection to the conflict of the galaxy at face value. That means that a very powerful Force user is essentially a random player in this story, which fits nicely with The Last Jedi’s overarching philosophy, that heroes can come from anywhere, whether they’re ex-Stormtroopers or humble maintenance workers or Force-sensitive kids in the far reaches of the galaxy. It also creates yet another interesting parallel between Rey and Luke; before he learned he was the son of Darth Vader, Luke, like Rey, was just a poor kid from a desert planet who happened to stumble across the right droid.

Making Rey a very important “nobody” also sets the stage for the future of Star Wars, one in which the movies will no longer need the Skywalker family as an anchor. It’s a big galaxy out there, and The Last Jedi’s director, Rian Johnson, is already working on a new trilogy that will explore new characters and an unexplored corner of the galaxy. That makes the Force Awakens trilogy something of a transition period between the old Star Wars and the new, and since Kylo Ren is already the son of two of the franchise’s major players, Han Solo and Leia Organa, the family soap opera angle is well covered. It’s time for some new blood in whatever future the Jedi Order, a family in its own right, will have.

Of course, there’s still a chance that we’ve been tricked and that Rey’s parentage could still be explored further in Episode IX—but that would take away from what Johnson has accomplished in The Last Jedi, and Rey’s unassuming parentage raises other, much more interesting questions to ponder in the meantime. Why is she so powerful with the Force? What’s fueling her psychic connection with Kylo in particular? What made the Skywalker lightsaber call to her, anyway? Is she the next Chosen One? The Chosen One reincarnated, maybe?

Good thing we have two long years to speculate.