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Radio City Music Hall Opens

radiocityOn December 27, 1932, Radio City Music Hall, a famous entertainment venue located in New York City‘s Rockefeller Center was opened. The hall was the number one tourist attraction in the city at one time, and gained the nickname the Showplace of the Nation.

In 1929, when the stock market in the United States had crashed and the Great Depression began, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., a member of the extremely wealthy Rockefeller family, was holding a $91 million, 24-year lease from Columbia University on a piece of property located in midtown Manhattan known as the “speakeasy belt.” Because the economy was starting to crumble, plans to gentrify the area and build a new Metropolitan Opera House at this location were thrown out. Rockefeller made a risky decision to build a series of spectacular buildings that would attract huge commercial tenants despite the bleak outlook of the forthcoming depression in a city that was full of vacant rental spaces.

The first tenant in Rockefeller’s complex was the Radio Corporation of America. RCA was a very young company who was producing popular radio programs and motion pictures through the National Broadcasting Company and RKO Studios, both of which were desired distractions in this depressed era. Rockefeller, RCA chairman David Sarnoff, and Samuel Roxy Rothafel, who was the well-known theatrical genius behind the Roxy Theater, teamed up to build an elaborate venue that would entertain, inspire, and elevate the deflated American public.

Originally named the International Music Hall, the venue was soon renamed “Radio City” due to the complex’s first tenants. The space was designed by architect Edward Durell Stone and interior designer Donald Deskey in a grandious Art Deco style. The main idea behind its construction was to build an elaborate tribute to “human achievement in art, science and industry.” Various materials were used in the construction including precious materials like gold foil and marble, and industrial materials including aluminum, permatex, glass, and cork. Deskey made art a major focus of the interior, enlisting fine artists to create murals, sculptures, and wall coverings to add to the already spectacular interior decoration. The most famous and noteworthy part of the interior is the Great Stage which measures 60 feet wide and 100 feet long and resembles a setting sun. Technical experts consider the stage to be the most well-equipped stage in the world featuring hydraulic-powered elevators which allow for incredible special effects and quick scene changes during performances.

For its opening in 1932, the first performance was an extravagant stage show featuring  Ray BolgerDoc Rockwell and Martha Graham. The high-class variety show that was presented was not successful because of its longevity and the individual acts seemingly getting “lost” in the huge space. Soon after, the theater changed its performances to include playing feature films with a concurrent stage show performance. This format continued until the 1970s, with four performances happening every day. In the 70s, the films the hall could secure for showing were limited due to new film distribution and their preference to only show G-rated movies. Because of this setback, regular film showings at Radio City ceased in 1979.

After the discontinuation of film showings, plans were made to convert Radio City into an office space. These plans were met with vehement opposition by preservation committees and commercial stunts, like one famous response by John Belushi on Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update. In 1980, the theater was renovated and once again opened up to the public. Under new management by the Madison Square Garden Company, Radio City still sometimes hosts feature films and film premieres, but the vast majority of performances are concerts and live stage shows. Various award shows have also been held in the venue such as the MTV Video Music Awards, the Grammy Awards, and the Tony Awards. The Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, which started in 1933, is still a major attraction and has featured the dance troupe The Rockettes since its inception in the 30s.

In 1999, Radio City went through another major renovation costing $70 million. The theater still boasts the title today as the largest indoor theater in the world.

Sources: Wikipedia, RadioCity.com, History.com

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New Year’s Resolution: Spend More Time With Your Kids

Family schedules can be crazy and hectic. Between school, work, chores, extracurricular activities and whatever else your family has on its plate, it can be difficult to spend quality time together. The new year is approaching fast, so if you’ve felt that you did not get enough bonding time in with your kids this past year, we have thought of some excellent ways to resolve this.

familygame1. Start a family board game night. Pick one night of the week to keep everyone’s schedules clear – don’t schedule any extra curricular activities, make sure all your chores are done that night, and set aside those distracting electronic devices you are constantly glued to. Switch it up every week by letting a different member of your family pick the game for the week. Playing games together is a great way for your family to actively engage with one another, and having a specific night for this will give your children and yourself a sense of stability and relaxation to interject into your busy schedules.

2. Cook together. Even if your child is very young, they can still help you do simple things like mixing pre-measured ingredients together, tearing up lettuce, or garnishing dishes. If you ask your children to help you plan meals, it will make them feel special for contributing to an important part of family life. As your children grow older and begin making their own meals, they will appreciate the time you took showing them how to plan and prepare meals.

3. Have family dinners. Segwaying from cooking together, having dinner together is another important step in building relationships with your children. Studies on families have shown that having family dinners together have a  significant impact on your child’s life. Children who often eat dinner with their families tend to make better grades and are less likely to develop rebellious habits. Families can discuss their daily happenings over dinner, sharing successes, failures, and staying constantly tied in with each other’s lives.

4. Work together. No matter the size of your family, there are always chores to do and projects to work on at home. Including your children in chore duties and house projects can help them feel a sense of accomplishment and pride while working alongside you and spending quality time together. It can also help them feel independent and responsible as they grow older because they will have the know-how to take care of themselves and their future homes.

drsuess5. Read together. Reading with your child, especially starting at a young age, is not only a wonderful way to spend time with them, but they will also learn a great deal about language, rhythms, sounds, and grammar. It’s no secret that exposing your child to a variety of literature while they are young will help them a great deal in school. Reading with your children is also an excellent opportunity to bring up topics that might not come up in normal conversations. It’s a calming and relaxing experience as well as a way to increase brain power!

Use these methods and any others you can think of to bring your family together and create lasting and loving relationships that are sure to last a lifetime!

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First iPod Released

The original iPod, released October 23, 2001.

The original iPod, released October 23, 2001.

The first line of the groundbreaking Apple iPods were released on October 23, 2001, approximately 8.5 months after iTunes was released. The unexpected announcement of the portable music player was a major turning point for the world of digital music and Apple as a company.

When Steve Jobs, Apple’s now deceased CEO, was given the first prototype of the iPod, he told the engineers who had worked on it that it was too large. He was told that with all of the technology that was packed into it, it could not be made any smaller. Upon hearing these words, as the story goes, Jobs dropped the prototype in a fish tank. As air bubbles rose out of the drowning iPod, Jobs told engineers that if there was air, there was space, and insisted that they make it smaller. This perfectionism started a revolution in digital music technology.

The iPod was not completely embraced by the general public at first because of it’s “Mac only” status (iTunes was not yet available for Windows users) and its high price tag of $399. Since it was also not the only MP3 player on the market at the time, many were skeptical of its effect on the industry. A New York Times article from the day of the iPod launch said, “It’s a nice feature for Macintosh users, but to the rest of the Windows world, it doesn’t make any difference.” Aside from the skepticism, the iPod began to garner attention because it was able to hold 1,000 songs and boasted 10 hours of battery life – something no other MP3 player at the time could do. These factors, along with its ability to transfer songs quickly from your computer and it’s small size made the iPod turn into a mass market product, selling 125,000 units by that Christmas.

In the summer of 2002, the iPod phenomenon began to take off when they made a Windows compatible version of the device which held up to 4,000 songs. Apple launched the iTunes music store with over 200,000 songs for just 99¢ in April of 2003 along with their third generation iPod which was their lightest version yet and capable of holding 7,500 songs. By June 2003, Apple sold it’s one millionth iPod. By the end of 2003, that number doubled. Sales began to skyrocket and by the end of 2004, Apple had sold 10 million iPods. By 2010, a staggering 275 million iPods had been sold. The iPod Touch with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities was introduced in 2007, and the most recent version of the Touch introduced in 2012 has 16, 32, or 64 GB worth of storage space, and has an audio battery life of up to 40 hours.

In recent years, the iPad and iPhone have overtaken sales of the iPod, with iPod sales only making up 8 percent of Apple’s revenue. While the future of the iPod is uncertain, its legacy is something that will go down in history.

Sources: Apple.com, PCMAG.com, The Telegraph, Wikipedia

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Abbey Road Released

British sensation The Beatles released their 11th studio album, Abbey Road, on September 26, 1969 in the United Kingdom and October 1, 1969 in the United States. Abbey Road was the last album recorded by The Beatles, although Let it Be was the last album released before they disbanded in 1970.

Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, Abbey Road was a commercial success and continually tops all-time lists year after year. The cover art features John, Ringo, Paul, and George on a crosswalk (on Abbey Road) and has become quite an iconic album cover.

The album features such classic Beatles songs as “Come Together”, “Something”, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, “Oh! Darling”, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and “Here Comes the Sun”.  The songs and the album itself have been covered many times by a variety of artists across different genres.

Celebrate the anniversary of Abbey Road by checking out this live feed of people crossing Abbey Road or browsing our awesome Beatles merchandise!

Sources: Rolling Stone, Wikipedia

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“The Twist” Reaches Number One

“The Twist” rose to the #1 spot on The Billboard Hot 100 chart for the first time on September 19, 1960 and again resurfacing on January 13, 1962.

Although the popularity of “The Twist” soared in 1960, the song was first introduced to the music scene in early 1959 by Hank Ballard. It achieved only moderate success and peaked at number 28 that year. After the song was covered by Chubby Checker, however, “The Twist” rose to the number one spot and stayed there.

“The Twist” also inspired a dance move of the same name that swept the nation – adults and teenagers alike. Chubby Checker described the dance as “putting out a cigarette with both feet and coming out of a shower and wiping your bottom with a towel to the beat”.

Check out this YouTube video of Chubby Checker performing “The Twist”.

Sources: Wikipedia, Last.fm

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According to Hoyle Day

August 29 is According to Hoyle Day!

Today is a day devoted to fun and games – just make sure you’re playing by the rules! Edmond Hoyle was an 18th century writer best known for his literature on the rules of card games, specifically “whilst”, which was a predecessor to bridge.  Hoyle made extra money by teaching whilst to the upper class in England, and eventually his name became aligned with the proper way to play. So, when someone says “According to Hoyle”, they’re referencing the correct method of playing a game.

Celebrate today by playing your favorite card game!  Check out our variety of card games on sale and in stock now.

Sources: Wikipedia, The Year of Living Unofficially

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Animal Farm Published

George Orwell’s dystopian novel Animal Farm was published in America on August 26, 1946. The book was originally titled Animal Farm: A Fairy Story and was first published in England on August 17, 1945.

Animal Farm takes place on Manor Farm where the inhabiting animals band together to form a revolution against the humans that oppress them. According to Orwell himself, the novel is a direct criticism on the Russian Revolution of 1917 and events that took place during the “Stalin Era” in the Soviet Union. The novel comments on the corruption of revolutions from its leaders, and feelings of greed, ignorance, and indifference.

Sources: Wikipedia, Mondo Politico

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Woodstock Opens in New York

The Woodstock Music & Art Fair opened in Bethel, New York on Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm on August 15, 1969. The festival, billed as “3 Days of Peace & Music”, lasted until Monday, August 18.

Considered one of the most pivotal moments in Rock and Roll, and in music history in general, the Woodstock Festival saw 32 acts perform in front of over 400,000 attendees. Some of the lineup highlights include: Jefferson Airplane, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Jimi Hendrix.

Sources: History Channel, Wikipedia

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Catcher in the Rye Published

J.D. Salinger’s only full-length novel, The Catcher in the Rye, was published on July 16, 1951 by Little, Brown.

Since its publication, Salinger’s novel has been credited for being extremely controversial while simultaneously having mass appeal – not an easy feat. In the past few decades, The Catcher in the Rye has been banned and then reinstated in many high school curricula due to vulgar language, sexual situations, blasphemy, encouragement of rebellion, use of drugs, and underage drinking, etc.

Due to the novel’s treatment of issues surrounding individuality, disillusionment, isolation and other complex but common adolescent themes, The Catcher in the Rye has become immensely popular among young people. The protagonist, Holden Caulfield, has become somewhat of a symbol for rebellion, thus the appeal of the novel to teenage readers. The Catcher in the Rye is regarded as one of the best novels of the 20th century and over 65 million copies have been sold worldwide.

Sources: History, Wikipedia

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Alice in Wonderland Published

Under the pen name Lewis Carroll, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wrote one of the most popular stories of all time, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The book was published by Macmillan on July 4, 1865.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland chronicles the escapades of young girl, Alice, after she falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy realm and meets all sorts of interesting characters. The tale originates from a boat trip that Dodgson took with the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church; when they asked him to tell them a story, what came out was the earliest version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The girls loved the story so much that Dodgson began drafting it out on paper the very next day.

Dodgson’s novel has had such a tremendous impact that it has been adapted numerous times for the big screen, television, comic books, and plays. The most notable of these would be Disney’s animated movie (1951) and Tim Burton’s version, which was released in 2010.

Sources: Alice in Wonderland, The Lewis Carroll Society

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