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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Inside Theme Park Connection, The Treasure Trove Disney Guests Rarely See, by Carlye Wisel, Racked

Theme Park Connection isn’t just a memorabilia store or a collectibles gallery. It’s an empire. Since it got its start 17 years ago, TPC has sold and continues to sell souvenirs, props, decor, figurines, artwork, relics and, rather unbelievably, bits and pieces direct from Disney park attractions.

Making a purchase here holds the promise of taking something better than a balloon or stuffed animal home with you — a promise General Manager Brian Ramsey tries each day to make a reality. Having spent 18 years in the business and seven of those at Theme Park Connection, he’s a bona-fide king of keepsakes, running both day-to-day operations and a company with a dozen employees. There are things you find out from spending an afternoon with the memorabilia middle man, like that John Stamos personally owns a Space Mountain vehicle. Or that Johnny Depp supposedly had a set of doors formerly of the Pirates of The Caribbean attraction installed on his boat. (So meta.)

The King's Letters, by Marisa Brook and Christine Ro, Damn Interesting

In the late 1430s and early 1440s, a certain Korean scholar embarked on a massively ambitious project, working almost single-handedly and spurred on largely by personal interest. Although the Korean language had existed for almost 1,500 years, it had never had its own dedicated writing system. Korean writers had long tended to rely on Chinese writing, which was logographic—that is, it was a system of symbols that stood for concepts. Adapting the Chinese characters to Korean meant borrowing some Chinese symbols because of the way they were pronounced, and others because of the concept they conveyed.

This approach had centuries of tradition behind it, but it was not ideal. In particular, Korean had more prefixes, suffixes, and short grammatical words (e.g., prepositions) than Chinese did, and Chinese logographs were not well-suited to capturing these. More practically, learning the thousands of Chinese characters required a good deal of study, which meant that only the most well-educated Koreans could read and write. The Korean scholar in question was determined to bring literacy to the masses. His insight was that they needed an alphabet—that is, a writing system based entirely on pronunciation, and one that required far fewer characters than the logographs.

Scream By Tama Janowitz Review – Memoirs Of The Reluctantly Famous, by Judy Berman, The Guardian

Once you get over your disappointment at Janowitz’s refusal to detail her wildest nights of “semi-fame”, the irreverence of an author who’s desperate for money but still won’t submit to expectations is thrilling. There’s an unspoken rule that women who write about their own lives must make readers empathize with them. So many memoirs take on the revelatory voice of Cheryl Strayed or the charmingly self-deprecating tone of the many famous female comedians who’ve recently published bestsellers. Scream is different. Though she loves to play the victim, Janowitz couldn’t care less about appearing reasonable. “I did not write books to be liked,” she announces, sounding more like a reality-TV contestant than a literary author. This aggressive approach to memoir can’t match the elegance of Strayed’s work, but at least it’s novel.

When Parks Were Radical, by Nathaniel Rich, The Atlantic

An unmistakable irony creeps vinelike through Olmsted’s landscape theory: It takes a lot of artifice to create convincing “natural” scenery. Everything in Central Park is man-made; the same is true of most of Olmsted’s designs. They are not imitations of nature so much as idealizations, like the landscape paintings of the Hudson River School. Each Olmsted creation was the product of painstaking sleight of hand, requiring enormous amounts of labor and expense.

You Can Eat It Here And There: Green Eggs And Ham Are Everywhere (On Menus), by Tove Danovich, NPR

It's hard to blame the hero of Dr. Seuss' famous Green Eggs and Ham — which turns 56 this month — for being suspicious of the title dish. The illustrated lump of green meat and two eggs with alien yolks would look off-putting to the most adventurous eaters. Yet decades after Theodor Geisel's beloved children's book was first published, chefs across the United States are tickled by the idea of putting the infamous dish on their menus.