All out of Fourth of July sparklers? Perhaps this edition has a few scintillating facts to toss around during your summer barbecues.
✦ What do Margaret Mitchell, Albert Camus, Randall Jarrell, and David Halberstam have in common? Along with a number of other writers on this non-exhaustive list, they all came to untimely ends in motor vehicle accidents.
✦ "Columbo", starring the late Peter Falk (he died in June), was one of the three most popular segments of NBC's Mystery Movie series from the 1970s. The other two? "McCloud" and "McMillan and Wife".
✦ Publishing Perspectives, not wanting to give ground to Huffington Post's list of top 15 best-sellers of all time, came up with its own most-copies article. By its reckoning, among the top all-time 5 of the top 25 are Quotations from Chairman Mao, Chairman Mao's Poems, and Selected Articles of Mao Zedong (numbers 1, 3, and 5, respectively). Doing their own fact-checking, commenters on the Publishing Perspectives post took issue. It's too hot to argue; may we all just agree to disagree.
✦ Could your grill accommodate this? According to this UK BBQ site, in 1952 (notably, the year I was born), a fully grown crocodile that had consumed a springbok was cooked up on a 20-foot-long grill and served with a garnish of fresh mango. I've had alligator in Florida and kudu in South Africa. Do you suppose this might have tasted like chicken?
✦ According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, 82 percent of all U.S. households owned a grill or smoker in 2009. This fact is not nearly so fun as the UK BBQ's (see above) but, grilling occasion aside, there are just not that many backyards, campsites, public parks, and tailgating venues here at home where you're likely to encounter crocodile.
✦ Inviting someone French to share a few smoked ribs before Labor Day? Be a good host and learn to say, de barbe a queue ("whiskers to tail").