What do you think of when you hear the phrase “Mother Goose?” A kindly old woman telling stories to children by the fire? An actual goose with anthropomorphic qualities? Just an image of a book of nursery rhymes? Well, no matter what comes to mind, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the phrase. It does, however, prompt a highly specific question: Was Mother Goose a real person?
From the aliens of Toy Story to The Flintstones’ Great Gazoo, images of extraterrestrial beings—no matter how wide and varied they might be—often have one thing in common: Their bright green color. But why do we call aliens “little green men” at all? Why have we so frequently imagined them as that single shade for so long? The answer, it turns out, is more complicated than you might think.
You might be familiar with the phrase “A very merry unbirthday to you”—but what is an unbirthday, exactly? Well, they’re absolutely worth celebrating, for one thing—and if you haven’t been observing your own thus far, this may just convince you to start doing so.
Sure, we’re all familiar with “Sleeping Beauty,” “Cinderella,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” and other well-known folktales and stories from childhood. But the world of fairy tales is wide and vast—and many of the more obscure fairy tales out there are also among the creepiest. Stories of people voluntarily removing their own skin or chopping off various body parts sound more like the stuff of horror movies; yet, you’ll find all of these and more within the pages of the very collections you thought peddled primarily in “Once upon a times” and “happily ever afters.”
Whether you’re a certifiable bookworm or not, the vast majority of us have benefited significantly from the ready availability of print media in this day and age. But if you’ve always thought that we have the Gutenberg Bible to thank for that, think again: Johannes Gutenberg didn’t invent movable type, and the Gutenberg Bible wasn’t the first book ever printed.