Stuff Explained Ep20: Christmas

We love Christmas time but do we know the true origins of the holiday? In this episode of Stuff Explained, Aristidis Marousas traces the history of Christmas all the way back to neolithic times. Tune in to learn about the impacts of society and religion on how people celebrated this time of the year throughout the ages.

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Newsworthy – Dec 19th, 2019

Donald Trump has become the third president of the United States to become impeached, obesity and undernutrition are becoming increasingly connected, almost half of American workers are stuck in low wage jobs, Congress to raise legal age to purchase tobacco products.

These, and more, are the newsworthy stories from this past week.

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Stuff Explained Ep19: Santa Claus

Where did our modern idea of Santa Claus originate from? In this episode, Aristidis Marousas explores the long history of how a man named Nicholas went from being a bishop, to a saint, to a globally recognized icon and legend of the Christmas season.

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Newsworthy – Dec 13th, 2019

The New England fishing industry is being affected by changing climate, the Catholic Church has been using charitable donations to offset its budget, the FCC is creating a 911-like hotline for suicide prevention.

These, and more, are the newsworthy stories from this past week.

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Stuff Explained Ep18: Growing Up (Big Idea)

Inspired by the Christmas and holiday seasons, Aristidis Marousas ponders what it means to grow up. What were the expectations of adulthood in our minds as children? What are they now? How can we hold on to Joy, Wonder, and Innocence?

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Newsworthy – Dec 6th, 2019

Birds are getting smaller, using an oral contraceptive might shrink your hypothalamus, the Trump administration wants to put tariffs on French cheese and champagne.

These, and more, are the newsworthy stories from this past week.

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Book of the Month – December 2019

At the beginning of each month, we spotlight a staff-favorite book that meets our objective of thoughtfully sharing stories to help our audience experience their world in a smarter, healthier, and happier way.

December’s Book of the Month is:

A Gentleman in Moscow

What is it?

The mega-bestseller with more than 1.5 million readers that is soon to be a major television series

One of five Summer 2019 reading picks by Bill Gates

“The novel buzzes with the energy of numerous adventures, love affairs, [and] twists of fate.” —The Wall Street Journal


He can’t leave his hotel. You won’t want to.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility—a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel.

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

Amazon.com description

What are our thoughts?

I was skeptical at first about reading this book. I added it to my wish list after seeing it appear on some “best of 2016” lists. What made me unsure was when I read the synopsis, I thought I would find it boring.

Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try.

I was rewarded for my efforts.

The book is beautifully written. The characters are charming. The overall pacing felt right. The ending was a bit of a twist.

What made this a 4.5 instead of a 5 star review is that there were points where I found myself asking if whatever section I was reading was relevant. I easily forgave the author because of how well written everything was. However, the issue I had still remains.

There also didn’t seem to be a driving plot. Instead, it was about the life of the main character within the confines of the hotel.

Despite this, I still don’t hold any hard feelings.

“A Gentleman in Moscow” is a charming story. I would say it is especially perfect for reading during the colder months of the year.

I am very glad I gave it a chance and I hope you do too!

– GoodReads review by The Motley Experience founder and editor, Aristidis Marousas

Why should you read it?

December, and the holiday season in general, always feels like the beginning of novel reading season to me. Not that it is the exclusive time to read novels, but there’s something very uniquely special about curling up with a good work of fiction when the season turns dark and cold.

That is why I’d like to start this season off with one of my absolute favorite works of fiction, A Gentleman in Moscow.

While the overall subject matter might seem a bit boring, the writing is absolutely transfixing. I truly felt transported to a bygone era where class (especially how one carried themselves) was of particular importance.

You will grow immensely fond of the characters and fascinated by the day-to-day activities they engage in.

I’ve mentioned in previous installments of Book of the Month that it is important to sprinkle some fiction into your reading diet. For more on the topic a balanced reading “diet”, you can read my recent article, You Are What You Read.

Give yourself (or a loved one) the gift of a wonderful work of fiction this holiday season.


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Stuff Explained Ep17: Crisis in The Marshall Islands

This episode was inspired by a recent article from the Los Angeles Times depicting the harrowing ordeal faced by The Marshall Islands. Tune in to hear how the Marshall Islands ended up being the largest dumpsite of American radioactive waste, how climate change could exacerbate the nuclear pollution problem, and what, if anything, is being done to fix it all.

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The Thing About Expectations

Expectations that we have for ourselves and others can get tricky. This is because most of our disappointments, frustrations, and heartbreaks stem from some expectation not being met by someone or something. But aren’t expectations necessary to some extent, or should we abandon them completely?

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Stuff Explained Ep16: Thanksgiving

What is the history of American Thanksgiving? Was the (in)famous Thanksgiving held by the Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation really the first of its kind? The truth is revealed in this episode of Stuff Explained from The Motley Experience.

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