Tag Archives: Conversation Starters

The Transgender French Spy History Forgot

The Transgender French Spy History Forgot

The Chevalier d’Eon knew how to turn heads. She was charming to boot, and an unmatched swordfighter; an impeccable spy for the French government, and capable of dazzling the Empress of Russia. Above all, she found the courage to publically affirm her identity as a transgender woman ­— an especially intimidating task in 18th century.

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She Taught Amelia Earhart to Fly

She Taught Amelia Earhart to Fly

Without Neta Snook, there may never have been an Amelia Earhart. “The Lone Aviatrix” of Iowa had been shattering the proverbial glass ceiling with her plane long before the Earhart took to the skies, and she did it in a plane she assembled in her parents’ backyard. In other words, Snook was the kind of woman who saw what she wanted, and didn’t just ask for it — she built it with her own two hands.

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So Matisse, Chagall, and the Headless Horseman Walk into a Church…

So Matisse, Chagall, and the Headless Horseman Walk into a Church…

Tucked along New York’s Hudson River is the town of Sleepy Hollow, where old carriage roads can still be walked, and the woodlands feel just a bit darker than they should. It’s also home to the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, a gothic style church built in 1921 by the Rockefellers. Oh, and it happens to house works by two of the 20th century’s greatest artists — nine by Chagall, and the last ever work created by Henri Matisse.… Read the rest

The Truth Behind the Pope’s Ruby Red Slippers

The Truth Behind the Pope’s Ruby Red Slippers

Jude Law in HBO’s The Young Pope

If the clothes make the man, then the shoes make the Pope – and more specifically, his ruby red shoes. The scarlet slippers have been reincarnated for thousands of years for his Holiness, and each pair has a story to tell…

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Meet the Walt Disney of Eastern Europe

Meet the Walt Disney of Eastern Europe

For those whose taste in fairytales favours a darker touch, we’re traveling to the far reaches of Eastern Europe, and into the enchanting world of animator Jiří Trnka. The late Czech animator (whose name is pronounced “Yershy Trinka”) created nearly two-dozen films over his lifetime, from folksy gems like Grandfather Planted a Beet (1945) to the gutsy anti-Stalin short, The Hand (1965).

Craftsmanship ran in Trnka’s blood. He was born in Bohemia in 1912, where his grandmother sold toys for a living and his mother worked as a seamstress.… Read the rest