Filmmaker, photo hound, author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Ransom was a daily contributor to mentalfloss.com for many, many years.
The Mountain Goats are a band, one that has a giant rabid following of nerds and hipsters, but who haven't exactly penetrated mainstream radio -- probably because of the two things that make the Mountain Goats great, songwriter John Darnielle's style of singing, in staccato, sort of shrill little bursts of words, and the subject matter of the songs themselves, which are always a little unconventional, and the best of which knock the listener for a loop. (Pitchfork describes their sound as "passionate... READ ON
Last month I wrote about Abandoned Psych Wards Photographers Love Sneaking Into, and mentioned that my buddy Martino is one of my favorite urban explorer photographers. Well, he's got some new images up on his flickr stream that are some of the most beautiful -- and the most remarkably preserved -- photos of abandonment I've ever seen. The subject itself makes them remarkable -- the inside of a palatial home, which if it existed and was empty (and unguarded) in the United States, I'm almost certain... READ ON
My father-in-law is a college professor. He teaches English and Drama, and in his many years behind the podium, he's seen -- and caught -- just about every form of cheating you can imagine. Whole papers copy-pasted from the encyclopedia, or more recently, Wikipedia. Papers he remembers, word for word, that had been turned previously in by students in semesters past. His school pays for anti-cheating software that can detect when large chunks of an essay have been copied, unattributed, from another... READ ON
You guys may or may not know Hank Green -- 1/2 of the video-blog YouTube phenomenon Vlogbrothers, and the brother of John Green, novelist and former flosser. In the last few years, Hank's taken to writing songs every few weeks for his YouTube audience, and they were so popular he actually released them last year in an album called So Jokes. (You can find it on iTunes.) Anyway, many of his songs are full of nerdy facts that seem just right for the mental floss audience, so I thought I'd share a few with... READ ON
My phone thinks it's smarter than I am. It has a nasty habit of twisting my words -- before I'm even done typing them -- into things that are radically different from what I meant to type. A recent example: "I'm almost done with lunch" became "I'm almost done with linchpin." Huh? That, combined with how quickly I hit "send" after writing a text message, makes for a really high error rate.
Damn You, Autocorrect! is a blog that celebrates the mistakes that such aggressive autocorrecting can create,... READ ON
There are around 60,000 words in the English language, but today almost everything we say and write is communicated using only about 7,000 of them. Every year, hundreds of underused and forgotten words are dropped from the dictionary. Once hard-working and meaningful words are dying a death of lonely neglect just because we choose to embiggen our vocabularies with cromulent neologisms rather than turning the the tried-and-true language of our forebears. It's totes whack, yo.
But what can you do?... READ ON
After last week's Talking Pictures post, featuring plagues of locusts and lightning-struck horses, and the previous week's, all about death, I figured it was time to lighten things up a bit. So I dug through the archives to find all my favorite shots of sassy broads and glamor girls (and guys) vogue-ing for the camera -- and, since this is Talking Pictures, writing notes about how hot they are. Think of these as the Facebook profile pictures of days gone by, complete with tags and captions!
Let's... READ ON
For the last year, filmmakers Alex Jablonski and Michael Trotten have made one short documentary film every month -- twelve in all. They were inspired by a musician friend who consistently released one album a month for several years. It sounds insane, but the films are quite good, and beautifully shot, and often moving, so the proof is in the pudding. Totten says, “In the past I’ve let this idea of ‘I don’t have the right money or equipment or subject matter’ prevent me from moving forward.... READ ON
I wrote about the mad sculptor Messerschmidt last week, and in the comments one reader mentioned that his work reminded them of an English painter named Louis Wain (1860-1939) -- who I then proceeded to look up, and become totally fascinated by. So here's the story. Louis Wain was a man of some artistic talent, and he adored cats. While his young wife was gradually succumbing to illness over a period of several years, Wain often used the household cat, Peter, to amuse her, dressing him up in glasses and... READ ON
Suppressed by his own government and almost unknown in the West until the 1980s, today Czech animator and filmmaker Jan Švankmajer is one of the world's most celebrated animators, and can count Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam among his legions of devoted fans. His work is uniquely bizarre, always creepy, and sometimes disturbing. He seems to have a fascination with food and with inanimate objects coming to life.
Darkness / Light / Darkness could've come right from the nightmares of Kafka. Warning:... READ ON
A baby can cost new parents 750 hours of sleep in the first year.