Filmmaker, photo hound, author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Ransom was a daily contributor to mentalfloss.com for many, many years.
I thought I'd seen or done just about everything you could do with old found photos -- collect them obsessively, cut them up and make collages, invent stories about them, make freaky digital art like the guy from Devo -- and then a friend drew my attention to this, which I don't know how I missed but somehow did. The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players are many things: a family of three, a gang of garage-sale photo hunters, and an indie band. They describe themselves as an "indie-vaudeville conceptual... READ ON
Plenty of people make their living as taxidermists, so I don't want to say -- and don't really agree -- that taxidermy is itself intrinsically creepy. It can serve important functions, like creating displays at museums of natural history. But there's something undeniably creepy about taxidermy that's done badly, which is the modus behind the Facebook group Badly Stuffed Animals. It features taxidermied beasts like this poor housecat, whose owners must've taken it to the taxidermy school for students to... READ ON
Having grown up in Florida, I can attest to the fact that there's a lot of weird stuff hiding in the undergrowth out there. It seems like there's no plant matter on Earth that grows faster or covers things up more quickly than Florida underbrush -- vines, palmetto bushes, wild grass -- which is pretty handy if you're trying to hide things. There was a big weedy patch of undergrowth around the corner from my old house that my neighbor friends and I used to explore as kids; it was years before we realized... READ ON
I admit it: I'm a leg-bouncer. My wife will often elbow me during a movie to make me stop; it's distracting, she says. It's also semi-involuntary, and unless my bouncing knee is directly in your line of sight (or juddering the couch you happen to be sitting on with me) it seems like a victimless crime. I actually have video proof that I do this: Lisa Yee, a friend of mine, came to a reading/signing event I had in Los Angeles a week ago and brought her video camera -- but instead of videotaping my face... READ ON
When I was a kid, my uncle had an old CB radio in his kitchen, and some nights we'd sit around listening to the police and fire bands, just to "see what was going on" around town. It was a strange feeling, spying on these crackly voices of authority coming from who-knew-where, as they reported on trouble in all its varied forms in a dependable, businesslike monotone.
That was the 80s, but apparently, there are lots of people who still enjoy listening in on police frequencies -- so many, in fact, that... READ ON
Old photographs have been finding their way onto the Internet in new and unexpected forms lately (I blogged about one of them, Back to the Future, a few months ago). Dear Photograph is one of these projects, a website that invites submissions of photographs of photographs from the past in the present, accompanied by a bit of text (which is the "dear photograph" part of the package). For... READ ON
Some of our readers may remember my Strange Geographies columns from April and May, all about my time in Amsterdam and my road trip through Belgium and Luxembourg, where with the expert help of a Dutch urban explorer I sought out grand old abandoned buildings to play the role of Miss Peregrine's house in the trailer I made for my novel. But those columns were different from my usual Strange Geographies photo essays -- most of the pictures were stills lifted from the hours of video I shot. After editing... READ ON
This is sure to be controversial, but a study by psychologists and anthropologists from the University of New Mexico finds that "Humor ability reveals intelligence, predicts mating success, and is higher in males." Here's the abstract:
A good sense of humor is sexually attractive, perhaps because it reveals intelligence, creativity, and other ‘good genes’ or ‘good parent’ traits. If so, intelligence should predict humor production ability, which in turn should predict mating success. In this... READ ON
A surprising number of great short films have been made in parking lots. I'm not certain why. I can't think of a less likely place to find an interesting story or make something good -- but they keep popping up.
For instance, just the other day, like ten of my friends shared this music video called WHOLE FOODS PARKING LOT. Anyone who shops there regularly but hasn't quite made peace with themselves about it will be able to relate. This was shot at my local Whole Foods, where it is indeed getting... READ ON
Last week it was human breast milk from genetically-altered cows. Now I'm hearing about something even more squicky: a scientist in Japan who's figured out how to make apparently-edible faux meat out of human feces. Professor Poo (I mean Ikeda) extracts lipids and protein from "sewage mud," does a little lab magic, then adds soy protein and umami to taste. (Oh, and a little food coloring, too.) According to its creator, the stuff isn't bad -- though I'm not sure I know anyone who'd be willing to take a... READ ON
12+1 = 11+2, and "twelve plus one" is an anagram of "eleven plus two."