It’s the Most Wonderful Time-Wasters of the Year

You’ll never have more fun than you will by making your way through Wall Street Daily’s trove of (mostly holiday-inspired) treasures.

We’re taking it light today to mark our final issue before the holidays are in full swing.

There’s fun stuff to look at, maybe some fun stuff to buy with gift cards, and, above all, fun stuff to share with your spouse, siblings, and spawn.

Merry Christmas, Blessed Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays — whatever your angle, may this be the best ever for you and yours.

Here’s wishing everyone — investors, traders, speculators, indexers, stock pickers, Trumpkins, Clintonites, Bernie Bros, environmental whackos, climate-change deniers, nerds, hipsters, luddites, geeks, cat people, dog lovers, Friends…Romans…Countrymen — a fantastic 2017.

First things first: You’ll need a drink. Here, as told by his niece Kate, is how William Faulkner got through winter:

Pappy alone decided when a Hot Toddy was needed, and he administered it to his patient with the best bedside manner of a country doctor. He prepared it in the kitchen in the following way: Take one heavy glass tumbler. Fill approximately half full with Heaven Hill bourbon (the Jack Daniel’s was reserved for Pappy’s ailments). Add one tablespoon of sugar. Squeeze 1/2 lemon and drop into glass. Stir until sugar dissolves. Fill glass with boiling water. Serve with potholder to protect patient’s hands from the hot glass. Pappy always made a small ceremony out of serving his Hot Toddy, bringing it upstairs on a silver tray and admonishing his patient to drink it quickly, before it cooled off. It never failed.

Continuing the drink bent, here’s a set of two whiskey glasses perfected by science, as described at Huckberry:

Master distillers spent nearly two years designing the Norlan Whiskey Glass ($48, 2-set), testing over three dozen prototypes until they arrived at a model that met their exacting specifications (and raised a whopping $807k on Kickstarter).

Continuing the literary bent, here’s Shane Parrish of Farnam Street with an ode of sorts to the particularly American author Louis L’Amour, who wrote the following in 1980:

Often I hear people say they do not have the time to read. That’s absolute nonsense. In one year during which I kept that kind of record, I read 25 books while waiting for people. In offices, applying for jobs, waiting to see a dentist, waiting in a restaurant for friends, many such places. I read on buses, trains and planes. If one really wants to learn, one has to decide what is important. Spending an evening on the town? Attending a ballgame? Or learning something that can be with you your life long?

And here’s multimedia legend Neil Gaiman reading Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.

While were on books, here’s one for a slice of film fans: Bad Dads: Art Inspired by the Films of Wes Anderson. From the introduction to the Spoke Gallery’s exhibit, by Christine Ro via Boing Boing:

Bad Dads lets the art do the talking. This collection stems from an annual gallery exhibition of artworks paying homage to Wes Anderson films. There’s brief introductory text by Anderson himself, as well as from critic Matt Zoller Seitz and curator Ken Harman, but the book is almost entirely made up of images.

My favorite pieces are the dioramas, which capture the caught-in-their-own-world quality of Wes Anderson’s movies. But there’s something here for everyone: Mr. and Mrs. Fox action figures? Yes. Nude paintings of Margot Tenenbaum? Check. Models of the ship from the Life Aquatic and the train from The Darjeeling Limited? This book has you covered. More portraits of Bill Murray than you can shake a stick at? They’re all here. The creativity on show is astonishing.

And while we’re on the cinematic theme, here’s a fantastic Christmas tree ornament based on that classic of the season Die Hard. (See more ways to spend time with your family in front of the big screen in Old Things New, at the end of this issue.)

Many of you will venture out to see the box-office champion of this holiday season, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; better to go armed with knowledge.

The good folks at FiveThirtyEight have prepared a solid visualization of the epochal Dark Side vs. Light Side conflict, “with apologies to Charles Joseph Minard and his visualization of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.” Here’s the Galactic Civil War in one chart.

Staying “seasonal,” here’s a great “White Christmas” visual. Snow in the Sahara? Snow in the Sahara!

More “White Christmas”? More “White Christmas”! Check out this video depicting what can happen with a DIY snowboarder-tugging drone. (Warning: There’s some salty language here.)

Leaving Earth via drone is one thing. Leaving the planet via rocket is another thing altogether.

Here’s a slideshow of some incredible images of Earth captured by NASA astronaut Don Pettit during trips to the International Space Station between 2002 and 2011. Here’s Pettit, from the accompanying Q&A at Scientific American:

Well, most astronauts take photographs up there. Why wouldn’t you? It’s a rare privilege to go. I look at space travel as kind of like how Arctic and Antarctic exploration was, circa 1910. You look at Shackleton and Scott, Byrd and Amundsen, and they were going places where most had no clue as to what it was really like, but all these explorers took pictures and shared the experience with as many people back home as were willing to look and to listen. That’s what we’re doing in space right now — going somewhere most people can’t and bringing back photographs and videos to tell the stories. Even if there is no replacement for simply being there, I feel a moral obligation to try to explain what it’s like and to share my experience with the people who really made it possible — the taxpayers who support NASA and projects like the International Space Station. Without everybody on Planet Earth, I wouldn’t be able to go off-planet.

(By the way, Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, December 20/December 21, was the darkest night of the past 500 years.)

We turn it over to Maddie Stone of Gizmodo for this one: “Oh My God, NASA Launched a GIPHY Page and It’s Glorious.”

Go see it all, including “glorious planetary and deep space imagery, fiery rocket launches, and unforgettable moments in spaceflight history.”

Speaking of the celestial, Astrophile Joshua Sokol of New Scientist explains that a “giant ball of gas is a totally stinky galactic chemistry lab.” And it may explain how we got our start:

It’s possible that these substances, delivered through crash landings on early Earth, provided some of the ingredients life needed to start. But before that — long before — they may have been grown in the thin, icy rind of irradiated dust grains, drifting in space, bathed in the light of newborn stars.

Speaking of the elements, here’s the periodic table, in pictures and words.

These planetary string lights would make a great gift for the space geek in your life.

Finally! This gadget turns your air guitar into actual music. Boing Boing explains:

The AirJamz Bluetooth Air Pick & Music Toy creates music out of thin air — literally. It looks like a big, electronic guitar pick, but the accompanying iOS/Android app packs over 100 instruments and sounds.

All you have to do is connect to your device via Bluetooth, pick a song, and get playing that air guitar (or piano, or flute…). The app will register the physical guitar strums or finger movements, and play the sounds just like as if you were playing the instrument. I prefer to download songs via the app to add background music to my amateur instrument playing, but you can play solo, too.

I hear toy and think of kids, but this gadget is just as much made for adults.

OK, here are some things to pass the time and/or create some nightmares.

If you’re not onto The Slow Mo Guys yet, maybe this will do it: Yes, do “Watch a Soccer Ball Slam Into This Guy’s Head in Super Slow Motion.”

Sploid has another great video to entertain us. Yes, “Repairing a $30,000 Tire Is an Insanely Complicated and Satisfying Experience.”

These are stills, but Stephen McMennamy’s Combophotos are enthralling.

Yes, yes it is: “Real photograph of the horrible Muriwai Monster!” Boing Boing’s David Pescovitz is on the case:

Behold the Muriwai Monster, a horrifying beast that washed up last weekend on Muriwai Beach in Auckland, New Zealand. It’s thought that the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit New Zealand’s South Island, raising the sea bed by two meters, spurred this evil behemoth to surface.

Unfortunately, some nonbelievers are insisting that the Muriwai Monster is actually a hunk of driftwood covered in gooseneck barnacles. They’ll learn, as soon as the Muriwai Monster awakens.

Here are some more gore-ious pictures of stuff from the sea: “This Deep Sea Fisherman Posts His Discoveries on Twitter and OH MY GOD KILL IT WITH FIRE.”

Speaking of beasts, you gotta take care of your best friend.

Dogs don’t know Christmas from Shinola, so these things you’re free to gift any time of year… but now’s as good a time as any. But it never hurts to make your family pet feel included. Courtesy of Popular Science, here’s my favorite:

Puzzle for Puppers

Help your pup get smarter by teaching him or her how to solve puzzles. You can start with beginner level if your doggie is kind of an idiot, then work your way up. Or jump right into the intermediate level if your pooch is a genius. Either way, she gets treats!

$36 on Amazon

Let’s turn it over to Vince Guaraldi to take us out with A Charlie Brown Christmas

Old Things New

Here are 21 Great Christmas movies, according to Wall Street Daily — some more obvious than others:

Action-Adventure Division

  • Lethal Weapon (1987)
  • Die Hard (1988)

Animated Division

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
  • Arthur Christmas (2011)

Black Comedy Division

  • Bad Santa (2003)
  • Brazil (1985)

Comedy Division

  • A Christmas Story (1983)
  • Trading Places (1983)
  • Elf (2003)

Dickens Division

  • Scrooge (1951)
  • A Christmas Carol (1984)
  • Scrooged (1988)
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Golden Age of Hollywood Division

  • Holiday Inn (1942)
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Tim Burton Division

  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
  • Edward Scissorhands (1990)

War Division

  • Stalag 17 (1953)
  • A Midnight Clear (1992)
  • Joyeux Noël (2005)

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You’ll never have more fun than you will by making your way through Wall Street Daily’s trove of (mostly holiday-inspired) treasures. We’re taking it light today to mark our final issue before the holidays are in full swing. There’s fun stuff to look at, maybe some fun stuff to buy with gift cards, and, above...

David Dittman

, Contributing Writer

View More By David Dittman