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Mona Lisa, shaved

In 1919, Marcel Duchamp drew a moustache and goatee on a postcard of the Mona Lisa, renamed it with a bawdy French pun L. H. O. O. Q., and called it art. Half a century later, he framed an unmodified Mona Lisa postcard and named it L. H. O. O. Q. Shaved.


Slim Gaillard had one of the more remarkable lives of the 20th century: when he wasn’t inventing words or writing songs about cement mixers he was jamming with Charlie Parker, running bootlegged whiskey in a hearse, or wowing Jack Kerouac in On the Road.

Pilot out the window

In 1990 a British Airways plane heading to Spain had a windscreen malfunction mid-flight. The captain was sucked out of the gap, but a flight attendant caught his belt and the plane landed safely with the captain stuck halfway outside.

The universal antidote

For more than 1700 years, mithridate and theriac were Europe’s ultimate medicines. A concoction of up to sixty-four ingredients – including cinnamon, turpentine, and poppy – they were supposed to neutralise any poison or plague.