The best answer to any question.

Jan. 7 2015 7:21 AM

How Does a Transgender Woman Shop for Clothes in Stores?


Answer by Tamara Wiens, I am happy now:


Being transgender can present some particular challenges when shopping for clothes, particularly when first starting. In general, I would say that, unless you are in a jurisdiction that has laws and penalties for being in the "wrong" bathroom, change room, etc., just do it. If you are in a situation where you are going to transition to full time, you need to start doing it sooner or later, and as others have said, it can still be nerve-wracking after you are full time. And if you plan on ever going out in public "en femme," even without transitioning, the same argument applies.


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Jan. 6 2015 7:21 AM

Are Shakespeare’s Characters the Most Interesting and Universal?

Answer by Joshua Engel, director and actor, The Rude Mechanicals:

Well, here's a slightly weird perspective on the question: I don't think Shakespeare's characters are all that great.

Recently I was talking with some fellow actors after a rehearsal of Julius Caesar. My co-star in the show was quite livid about King Lear. She finds Lear totally unsympathetic and has no interest in the play. She would much rather see Henry IV Part 1 for a better treatment of the same themes.

Jan. 5 2015 7:48 AM

What’s It Like to Be the Only Cuban in Iceland?

This question originally appeared on Quora, the best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Answer by Leonardo Moran, author of Cuba: A Leap of Faith and the blog Cuban Lives:

In 2001, I found myself in an awkward situation: I was Iceland’s only Cuban. One day I got a call from the Office of the President. This honor is not as unusual as you might think. Iceland’s population then numbered 285,000, not counting puffins. You could run into him at the public swimming pools, at a bar, even at McDonald’s.

The Buena Vista Social Club was coming to Reykjavík. He was holding a reception in their honor at Bessastaðir, the presidential residence. I was invited because “you’re our only Cuban.”

Icelanders invited to the reception numbered perhaps 30, plus me. The band was late. “This is quite normal,” I explained to first lady Dorrit Moussaieff. “They are Cuban, after all.” The bus finally pulled up. In trotted two dozen beaming musicians and handlers. Rubén Gonzalez, Omara Portuondo, and Ibrahim Ferrer were in the lead. The president gave a brief but elegant welcoming speech. His wife made gracious introductions. It being too early in the day to be inebriated, the other Icelanders reverted to type. Terminally cool, they for the most part stood aloof and did not approach or speak to the Cubans. It was very un-Cuban and (to us) a bit rude. So I stepped up.

“Am I the only guy here from Santiago?” I laughed to Ibrahim. He was then 74 years old and like me, a santiaguero. He lit up with a big smile. Before you knew it we were chatting away like old friends. Omara, still beautiful at 71, was elegant, sophisticated, and flirtatious. She would have been a seductress back in the day. Pianist Rubén Gonzalez was 81. His hands on the keyboard, he said, did not obey his will as they once did. Despite that, all three musicians were spry and chipper as children. My father always said that you don't know who you are until you find out who you're not. That day I finally figured out what he meant. Whatever else I may become, for better or for worse, I am Cuban first.

They played two sold-out shows at Laugardalshöllin, then Iceland’s largest venue, capacity 5,000. When the band started “Candela” the crowd was cheering and on its feet. Even the president was dancing at his seat.

I later asked another Icelandic friend how he enjoyed the show. Bear in mind, he was (when sober) like many of his kin: big, tough, cold, reticent, and without a trace of sentimentality.

“Leo,” he admitted, “we cried.”

“Why did you cry?”

“Because ... I’ve never in my life felt so much love coming from the stage. So we cried!”

I'd underestimated my Icelanders. He was right. Buena Vista was filled with love. Listen for yourself.

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Jan. 4 2015 7:27 AM

Why Don’t Artists Like the Current Art Market?

Answer by Michelle Gaugy, owner, Gaugy Gallery:

Many artists feel scorned and rejected. They want to paint what they want to paint, dammit, and they want galleries to represent those paintings and people to love them and buy them. Or rather, they often feel certain that if only galleries wouldrepresent those artworks, people would love them and buy them. I wish it were that simple.

Jan. 2 2015 8:12 AM

Do Soldiers in Combat Really Yell and Scream Like in Movies?


Answer by Dan Rosenthal, Operation Iraqi Freedeom I/II vet, infantry/reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition team:



Of course we do. Firing a gun is loud. Firing repeatedly within a short timespan can cause hearing loss. With larger rounds, firing even a single shot might temporarily deafen you without ear protection. You have to make sure that people can hear you over the racket and clamor going on. Even within armored vehicles (that fire guns orders of magnitude louder than a rifle) it can be deafening, and most modern tankers wear headsets for communication like pilots do.


Jan. 1 2015 7:47 AM

How Did Jane Austen Write Great Novels Without Much Life Experience?


Answer by Stephanie Vardavas, 500 books behind in my to-read list:


Jane Austen lived her entire too-short life (1775-1817) as the genteelly impoverished daughter of a clergyman in rural England, with the exception of a few years' residence in the glittering metropolis of Bath (which she hated) and some visits to London. She was engaged once, for less than 24 hours (maybe less than 12), and never married. She may have been in love or close to it once or twice (although certainly she was not in love with her short-term fiancé), but she was almost certainly a virgin. She lived a generally quiet and retired life, with little in the way of "life experience" as that is understood in the modern world.

Dec. 31 2014 7:07 AM

How Did France and England Influence Views About Spain’s South American Colonies?

Answer by David Bliss, former graduate student at the University of New Mexico:

First, Hernán Cortés in particular did not conquer the Mexica Empire (commonly known as the Aztecs, though this isn't really correct) with just his Spanish soldiers. He had a tremendous number of indigenous allies who didn't like being subjugated by Tenochtitlan and likely thought they could deal with the Spaniards afterward.

Dec. 30 2014 7:16 AM

What Can an Aspiring Actor Do to Improve His or Her Craft?


Answer by Danielle Panabaker, actress, foodie, Bruin, dog lover, The FlashSharkPiranha 3-DThe Crazies:


My biggest piece of advice for an aspiring actor is to push yourself and to continue to study your craft. When I started acting, my sister and I were going to school during the day, auditioning in the afternoon, and taking acting classes almost every night. We studied with a number of different coaches and teachers—everyone has his own method, and my sister and I responded to different approaches. The benefit of finding a teacher who challenges you is something that has stuck with me throughout my career. To this day, I continue to study with a coach, and getting feedback has always been important to me so I can grow as an actor.

Dec. 29 2014 7:23 AM

What’s It Like to Be a Healer in World of Warcraft?

Answer by Jonathan Brill, Level 80 shadowpriest, retired:

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be the best-looking woman at a party? The one where, when you walk in, all the heads turn your way and everywhere you go, you get all the attention? That's what it’s like to be a geared-out healer in World of Warcraft.

Dec. 26 2014 7:13 AM

Why Is the 1992 Consensus So Important to Beijing and Taipei?

Answer by Paul Denlinger, have lived in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong:

The 1992 Consensus is a very important milestone that affects relations between Beijing's People's Republic of China and Taiwan (official name of the government is the Republic of China).