Category Archives: Trivia

What is the Worst Color to Wear to a Job Interview?

alex atkins bookshelf educationIf you are going to a job interview, most people are guided by two timeless maxims: “Dress for success” and “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” We can thank John Molloy, author of the best-selling book Dress for Success (1975), for popularizing the expression and the concept of “power dressing,” i.e., dressing like you are already successful and have the job. And we can thank film star and social commentator Will Rogers for the second adage. At bottom, both of these sayings reinforce the notion that in the real world, especially in the competitive business world, people are judged by the way they present themselves — more specifically, by the way they dress. Darlene Price, author of Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results, reviewing extensive research on first impressions states “Clothing plus communication skills determine whether or not others will comply with your request, trust you with information, give you access to decision makers, pay you a certain salary or fee for contracted business, hire you, or purchase your products and services.” Well said!

In the interest of finding the best and worst colors to wear to a job interview, CareerBuilder asked over 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals to discuss how they perceived different colors worn by job seekers. Let us begin at the bottom of the list; that is to say, the worst color to wear to a job interview. Can you make a guess? Overwhelmingly, survey respondents indicated that orange was the worst color to wear to a job interview. Sorry, orange is not the new black. Orange is well… the old orange. They considered orange to be loud, attention-seeking, and inappropriate in formal business settings. Other colors to avoid include: green, yellow, and purple.

Here are the colors that hiring managers and HR professionals recommended for a more favorably-viewed job interview, ranked in order of preference:

Blue: conveys trust, confidence, and suggests person is a team player

Black: conveys sophistication, seriousness, and exclusivity

Gray: conveys that person is independent and self-sufficient

White: conveys that person is well organized and careful

Brown: communicates warmth, safety, reliability, and dependability

Red: conveys power, passion, excitement, and courage

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For further reading:

What is Most Covered Song of All Time?

alex atkins bookshelf musicSome songs are so admired by fellow musicians that they can help but honor it by recording it, adding their own spin to the famous song. Some of the covers are inspired, some are dubious, and some are outright disasters. Of course, purists always prefer the original song. Hey, why mess with a classic? So what is the most covered or recorded song of all time? Think Beatles. Have you guessed it? Here is the first verse: “Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday.” That’s it — “Yesterday,” which was released in 1965 on the album Help!

In the song, the narrator/singer regrets something he said to his loved one that leads to their breakup. Musicians must really dig sad love songs, because “Yesterday” has been covered more than 2,200 times! The song’s melody popped into Paul McCartney head while he was sleeping. When he woke up, he rushed to the piano and played it to make sure he wouldn’t forget it. Later he and John Lennon developed the lyrics we all recognize today. So before the song had lyrics and a title it was simply referred to as “Scrambled Eggs.” In terms of royalties, the BBC reported that as of 2012, the Beatles’ “Yesterday” had earned more than $25 million! Who knew that a lover’s lament could be so lucrative?

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: Who is Major Tom in the Bowie Songs?
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For further reading: The Beatles Lyrics: The Stories Behind the Music, Including the Handwritten Drafts of More Than 100 Classic Beatles Songs by Hunter Davies (2015)
All The Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release by Philippe Margotin (2013)
A Hard Day’s Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song by Steve Turner (2005)
From Me To You: Songs the Beatles Covered and Songs They Gave Away by Brian Southall (2014)
100 Best Beatles Songs by Stephen Spines and Michael Lewis (2004)

What is Your Birthday Word?

alex atkins bookshelf wordsCould a birthday word be that epithet that your mother unleashed after an agonizing eight hours of labor as you slid, screaming into the world? Actually, a birthday word is far more innocuous — it is a word that was coined or added to the English language the year you were born. The hard way of finding your birthday word is to dive into a dictionary and focus on the etymology notes to find the year a word came into usage. But fear not, such a tedious endeavor is not necessary thanks to the helpful and clever folks at the Oxford English Language who cobbled together a birthday word generator for those curious enough to find out their distinctive birthday word but not willing to actually read a dictionary. You simply enter your birth year and the generator returns with a word and its definition. For example, if you enter the year 1964, the last year Baby Boomers were born, you will find “aw – shucks” (to behave with bashfulness); if you enter the year 1980, the last year Gen-X were born, you will see “air guitar” (playing an imaginary guitar); and if you enter year 1996, the last year Millennials were born, you will come across “shipper” (a person who discusses or advocates a romantic pairing of two characters in a work of fiction, when that pairing is not found in the original work). You can find the OED birthday word generator at: And don’t forget to thank your mother for bringing you into the world.

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Does the Bible Contain a Pangram?

alex atkins bookshelf wordsA pangram, as you may know, is a sentence that uses all the letters of the alphabet. A pangram is also known as a holoalphabetic sentence, or more simply as an alphabet sentence. Anyone who learned to type, back when typewriters existed (remember those?) would know the most famous one: “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” — a sentence that is very offensive to most dogs, but we digress. But the question before us today is: does the Bible, one of the most ubiquitous books in the world, contain a pangram? That is to say, was God enough of a word lover (after all, recall John 1:1: “in the beginning was the Word”) to inspire a scribe to write out a pangram.

Consider that the King James Bible contains 783,137 words that make up more than 31,102 verses. Surely there must be a pangram lurking in there somewhere, no? Sorry to say, pangram lovers, but the answer is no; however, lest ye abandon all faith, the Good Book does come really close — if you read the Old Testament closely enough, thou shalt find a verse that contains 25 letters of the alphabet; the only letter missing is “j”. Sweet Jesus! Really, no “j”?  The elusive pangrammatic verse is Ezra 7:21: “And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily,”

So the next time you are in Bible study or talking to your rabbi or priest, test their knowledge of the Bible by asking if they know if the Bible contains a pangram. For the first time, you will be the one walking away feeling righteous. Word.

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For further reading:

What are the Most and Least Visited States in America?

alex atkins bookshelf triviaQuick — which state in America attracts the most tourists? The top most visited states in America are: California, Florida, Nevada, Texas, New York, Virgina, South Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, and Hawaii. It makes sense: California is the country’s largest state with a wide range of tourist attractions. In addition to its natural beauty (coastlines, beaches, rivers, lakes, mountains, valleys, National Parks, etc), it has some of the world’s most famous landmarks and destinations: the Golden Gate Bridge, Yosemite, Hollywood, Disneyland,  and Napa Valley — to name a few. Each year, California hosts more than 250 million visitors. And how much money does that bring in? A whopping $126.3 billion in 2016, according to the state’s tourism agency.

Naturally, the list of the most visited states invites the question: what are the least visited states. At the bottom of the list are: Nebraska, Delaware, Iowa, North Dakota, Kansas, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Iowa. Recently, in an earnest attempt to encourage tourism to the least visited state, Nebraska, the optimistic members of the Nebraska Tourism Commission hired brand consultants to come up with a catchy, compelling slogan. Here’s the best they could come up with: “Nebraska: Honestly, it’s not for everyone.” Seriously.

The writers of at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert could not resists lampooning this self-deprecating tourism slogan. On the October 19 show, Stephen Colbert wondered if the consultants, who found that “most consumers don’t consider Nebraska to be a leisure travel destination” were with the firm of “No Shit & Sherlock.” He then expressed genuine concern for the state: “Nebraska, are you OK? Seriously, it seems like you could use a vacation to not Nebraska.” “I know what they are trying to do here,” he explained, “they are trying to charm us with brutal honesty. And I get that. But being honest about something bad doesn’t really make it better.” He went on to share new tourism slogans for some of the other least-visited states:

North Dakota: “You can’t visit all 50 states without visiting North Dakota”

South Dakota: “When North Dakota’s full”

Arkansas: “Two more letters than Kansas”

Missouri: “Remember us?”

Utah: “Utah backwards is Hatu — is that something?”

Ohio: “You can afford Cavs tickets now!”

Vermont: “Not gonna win any awards for best state or nothin but have you seen New Hampshire?”

Delaware: “Are we even a place?”

Rhode Island: “At least it’ll be over quickly!”

New Mexico: “Turquoise and cow skulls, a combination we made up”

New Jersey: “Look, we’re not happy about it either”

What other tourism slogans should exist for the least visited states?

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The Worst Sentence Ever Written: 2018

catkins-bookshelf-literatureThe Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (BLFC), established in 1982 by English Professor Scott Rice at San Jose State University, recognizes the worst opening sentence (also known as an “incipit”) for a novel. The name of the quasi-literary contest honors Edward George Bulwer Lytton, author of a very obscure 1830 Victorian novel, Paul Clifford, with a very famous opening sentence: “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” 

Each year, contest receives more than 10,000 entries from all over the world — proving that there is no shortage of wretched writers vying for acclaim. The contest now has several subcategories, including adventure, crime, romance, and detective fiction. The winner gets bragging rights for writing the worst sentence of the year and a modest financial award of $150 — presumably for writing lessons.

The winner of the 2018 BLFC was Tanya Menezes of San Jose, California:
Cassie smiled as she clenched John’s hand on the edge of an abandoned pier while the sun set gracefully over the water, and as the final rays of light disappeared into a star-filled sky she knew that there was only one thing left to do to finish off this wonderful evening, which was to throw his severed appendage into the ocean’s depths so it could never be found again — and maybe get some custard after.

The runner up was submitted by Shelley Siddall of West Kelowna, Canada:
Dreaded Pirate Larry was somewhat worried, as he looked down at his boot, where his first mate was stretched out, making whooshing sounds, attempting to blow him over, that despite having the fastest ship, the most eye patches, and the prettiest parrots, his crew may need a few lessons on the difference between literal and figurative, as evidenced by the rest of the crew applying ice to the timbers.

The winner in the category of Crime/Detective was Dave Agans of Wilton, New Hampshire:
He glanced at his unsuspecting guests, his slight smile hiding his hateful mood, his calm eyes hiding his evil intentions, and his smooth skin hiding his tensed muscles, skeletal structure, and internal organs.

The winner in the category of Vile Puns was Peter Bjorkman of Rocklin, California (again!):
As Sheriff (and choral conductor) Patrick “Pitch-Perfect” McHenry assessed his perfectly mediocre chorus upon the saloon stage (sopranos that could only sing melody, serviceable altos, screechy tenors, and basses dropping the pitch by more than a quarter step), a wrinkled scowl protruded from under his pristine Stetson and he growled, “I don’t like your tone” at his “okay” chorale.

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For futher reading:
Dark and Stormy Rides Again by Scott Rice, Penguin Books (1996)

Daily Rituals of Writers: Herman Melville

atkins-bookshelf-literatureAmerican novelist Herman Melville (1819-1891), best known for writing Moby-Dick (or The Whale), wrote six to eight hours a day. It took Melville 18 months to write Moby-Dick. In September 1850, Melville had purchased a 160-acre farm, located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, from his father-in-law for $3,000. In this remote, bucolic setting, he learned how to balance writing with farm life. In a letter (dated December 1850) to a friend, Melville wrote: “I rise at eight — thereabouts — and go to my barn [where I feed my horse]… Then, pay a visit to my cow [and feed her]…. My own breakfast over, I go to my work-room and light my fire — then spread my manuscript on the table… take one business squint at it, and fall to with a will. At 2:30 PM I hear a preconcerted knock at my door, which (by request) continues till I rise and go to the door, which serves to wean me effectively from my writing, however interested I may be.” He goes on to describe how he spent most evenings: feeding the horse and cow, eating dinner, and taking his sisters and mother on a sleigh ride to the nearby village. When he returned home he spent time “skimming over some large-printed book” since he was too tired to read.

Incidentally, students of American literature know that Melville’s magnum opus, Moby-Dick, about man’s epic struggle with evil was a commercial failure when it was first published in 1851. The 600-page book sold only 3,215 copies in America; he earned about $1,259. Melville died in 1891, and it took about 100 years, specifically the 1919 centennial of his birth, for literary critics and scholars to discover his works. This critical reassessment of his work (known as the “Melville Revival) finally established Melville in the pantheon of America’s greatest writers and recognized Moby-Dick as a classic of American literature and certainly one of the Great American Novels. Today, a first edition of Moby-Dick is worth more than $60,000 and the novel has sold millions of copies.

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For further reading: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey (2013)

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