The Latest

  • The Chop Master

    October 7, 2019 by

    Early on a Sunday morning in Hong Kong, nestled away in a pedestrian alleyway in the residential neighborhood of Sheung Wan, one stall among dozens is open. It belongs to Ng Kam Chun, a reserved 57-year-old man whose work most Hong Kongers have likely seen without knowing it. Ng’s business, like that of all the… Read more

  • Hong Kong’s Last Female Mahjong Tile Carver

    June 10, 2019 by

    Ho Sau-Mei, a slight, spry 62-year-old, is the only female mahjong tile carver left in Hong Kong — that she knows of. Her shop, Kam Fat Mahjong, is a tiny alcove squeezed beneath a staircase, about 6 feet wide and twice as deep. It’s partially enclosed by a glass-topped counter that displays tiles engraved with… Read more

  • The Merriam-Webster Lexicographer

    July 24, 2017 by

    When people learn about Kory Stamper’s job, some respond with confusion. “They ask, Hasn’t the dictionary already been written? I have it right here, I got it when I graduated from high school,” Stamper says. What they don’t understand is that language is always growing and evolving — and so must the dictionary. Stamper, who… Read more

  • The Guru of Good Manners

    March 20, 2017 by

    Myka Meier doesn’t own a single pair of sweatpants. Or jeans. Those statements make a little more sense when you learn her background. Meier is an etiquette expert who trained under a former member of Queen Elizabeth II’s royal household, and now runs a finishing program called Beaumont Etiquette. That might conjure memories of The… Read more

  • The Only Female Pro Skywriter in America

    March 8, 2017 by

    The first time Suzanne Asbury-Oliver flew a plane, she was 14 years old. That was the easy stuff, in a sailplane, back when she could actually see in front of her. As a skywriter for Pepsi, Asbury-Oliver spent 25 years crafting messages with smoke in the sky, frequently taking her dog along for the ride… Read more

  • The Voice of the Scripps National Spelling Bee

    January 28, 2017 by

    During the Scripps National Spelling Bee, your eyes are probably glued to a single microphone: the one on stage, which students grip each year as though their lives depended on it. But behind another mic, just a few feet away, sits a man who’s been at every Scripps bee since 1991: the official pronouncer, Jacques Bailly, who… Read more

  • The Bubble Queen

    January 17, 2017 by

    Since age 3, Melody Yang’s life has always revolved around bubbles. And not the wimpy bubbles that are emitted from a tiny plastic wand that fits in your back pocket. Serious, record-breaking bubbles. Bubbles run in her family’s blood: Along with her siblings, Yang is one of the stars of the Gazillion Bubble Show, which her… Read more

  • The Paparazzi for Hire

    January 8, 2017 by

    If you want to be famous, you can spend your life striving for success and acclaim. Or you can hire a few actors. Scott Cramton is the founder of Famous for a Day, which lets you rent any number of paparazzi and even bodyguards to make you feel special. The company, which he started in 2006,… Read more

  • The Reindeer Trainer in Santa’s Village

    December 22, 2016 by

    You know Alpi and Aituri and Jukka and Jussi, Kaapo and Laukko and Taisto and Juntti. But do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all… OK, those aren’t the reindeer in the song you grew up with. But in Rovaniemi, Finland, an almost magical city in the Arctic Circle known as “the official hometown… Read more

  • Hollywood’s Go-To Prosthetics Makeup Artist

    October 27, 2016 by

    “How are we gonna kill that person this week?” is a question that Matthew Mungle would periodically ask himself when working on the set of The X-Files in the late 90s. “I couldn’t wait to get the script to see what monster we had to create next.” That might seem strange for a man with a… Read more

  • The Marijuana Czar of Colorado

    September 26, 2016 by

    Outside of work, Andrew Freedman tries not to tell anyone about his job. Not because it’s a top-secret government position; yes, it’s a government job, but probably one you never knew existed. His official, jargon-y title is director of marijuana coordination for Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado—a title that didn’t exist before he got the job… Read more

  • The Guy Who Designs Puzzles for Escape the Room

    September 7, 2016 by

    If you haven’t heard of Escape the Room, you’re missing out. The concept, which was initially inspired by online games, is much more thrilling as a live experience. You’re locked inside a web of 150-square-foot rooms for an hour, maybe with your closest friends or maybe with strangers (you decide which is scarier), where you must work… Read more

  • The Professional Bridesmaid

    August 24, 2016 by

    Here’s an alternate ending for 27 Dresses: Katherine Heigl is fed up with the bridesmaid schtick. But instead of letting that take her down a vulnerable path to love, it takes her down a path to a self-sufficient business plan. Perhaps that’s not a recipe for box office success. But it’s Jen Glantz’s story. She… Read more

  • The Man With His Head in the Clouds (Quite Literally)

    August 8, 2016 by

    Gavin Pretor-Pinney distinctly remembers the time he traveled halfway across the world to the middle of nowhere. To see a cloud. A few years ago, he trekked from his home in the English countryside to the Australian outback to see a Morning Glory cloud, which stretches horizontally across the sky like tubes, a rather rare… Read more

  • The Costume Wizard for ‘Hamilton’

    June 13, 2016 by

    There’s a little show on Broadway right now that you may have heard of — it’s a musical about the life of a Founding Father. Yes, that’s the one. Jennifer Raskopf is an assistant costume designer for Hamilton, the show that picked up 11 Tony Awards last night (no biggie). She’s seen the show about… Read more

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