Filmmaker, photo hound, author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Ransom was a daily contributor to mentalfloss.com for many, many years.
You know what they say -- once bitten, twice shy. That didn't hold much water with Ali Khan Samsudin, 48, a snake charmer who until a few days ago was known as Malaysia's "Snake King." He claimed to have been bitten 99 times in his life while performing his act. 100 times, it seems, was a charm.
How does one earn the moniker "Snake King"? In Ali's case, he lived 12 hours a day for 40 days in a room with 400 snakes. Keen to outdo himself, in 1997 he acquired the name "Scorpion King" by shutting... READ ON
My wife was just out of town for a week, visiting her family in Florida. Suddenly I found I had a lot more time on my hands, so I hunkered down to work. I checked off everything on my to-do list, and the house was suddenly cleaner than it had been in recent memory. But according to Floyd Kinney, Jr., a man currently on trial in Pennsylvania for molesting two girls, my wife's absence could've led to activities much more sinister than just scrubbing the bathtub.
Like, for instance, molesting people.... READ ON
Every year around this time, with the scent of cooked turkey yet hanging in the air, America goes Christmas crazy. Must everything be decorated, themed, painted green and red or otherwise Xmas-fied? (I always wonder how people who work retail can stand it -- six weeks of holiday music eight hours a day.) Unfortunately, even some of our most vaunted -- and, some would argue, least Christmasy -- celebrities and personalities have gotten into the act over the years. Here some of our favorite (fake but... READ ON
Polonium: it's much more than just a convenient way to assassinate people. In fact, it's among the most interesting elements on the periodic table, for one reason: it's the only element named to highlight a 19th century political controversy. Marie Curie discovered in it in 1898 and named it for her then-beleaguered homeland, Poland. Tangled in a web of domineering control between neighboring Austria, Germany and Russia, Poland's quiet struggle for independence needed all the publicity it could... READ ON
"He knows when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake; Clocky, the alarm clock that runs away and hides to get you out of bed." Everybody knew somebody like this in college: the guy who would hit snooze seventeen times before waking up in the morning; who finally had to put his alarm clock in the bathroom so he'd have to get out of bed to turn it off. Looks like somebody out there with some engineering smarts had this problem too, and did something about it.
Clocky works like this: if you hit... READ ON
This is the worst lost dog notice I've ever read. Was the dog ever found? We don't know. But the note was -- in Union, Kentucky -- and ended up in the pages of the woefully unheralded zine/website... READ ON
It's widely known that King George III was crazy as a loon. His bouts of madness are legendary: between 1780 and 1820 he suffered five serious breakdowns, during which he was known to hold hours-long conversations with trees and clouds and was considered dangerous enough to spend years locked in Windsor Castle's padded rooms. One popular theory is that he may have suffered from the blood disease porphyria (the effects of which were exacerbated by the arsenic-based powder in his powdered wig),... READ ON
They broke up in 1982, after ten chart-topping years and at least five songs I can't get out of my head, even today, despite hypnotherapy. But just because the band hasn't released an album in nearly 25 years doesn't mean they can't be in our faces -- their hit Broadway musical Mamma Mia premiered in 2001 and now there's talk of a film adaptation. What's more, the city of Stockholm has just announced that it will build an ABBA museum, featuring personal effects donated by the band, instruments and... READ ON
Cabbage Patch Snacktime... READ ON
Divers in Lake Michigan recently discovered something that could cast a pall over anyone's holiday season: a 94-year-old shipwreck, complete with the personal effects of the 17 men who went down with the ship and the more than 5,000 Christmas trees the ship was carrying. Around the turn of the century, being in the Christmas tree shipping business was a great way to make a seasonal buck -- and undoubtedly make you very popular as you docked at Chicago's harbor.
The captain of the Rouse Simmons,... READ ON
When dragonflies mate, their tails form a heart.