Filmmaker, photo hound, author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Ransom was a daily contributor to mentalfloss.com for many, many years.
Cat owners will tell you they can detect the difference between a contented meow and an annoyed meow, a scared meow and a playful meow, and so on. This is, perhaps, by design -- cats, as it turns out, rarely meow to one another. Most often their meows are directed at their owners, and slight modulations can carry different meanings. For instance, when I've been away for a few days, my cat starts in with the Hey, quit leaving, I missed you meows, which are clipped and rapid, and come out in a long... READ ON
Our DIY friends over at Boingboing have an amazing, years-deep archive of how-to-make-stuff posts, which include a great many videos. Here are the coolest and wackiest how-tos I could find.
HOW TO MAKE DECAPITATION SPECIAL EFFECTS
Making a low-budget horror film in your backyard? This little how-to should prove indispensable.
HOW TO BUILD A ROCKET -- FOR KIDS!
Young maker Sylvia shows you... READ ON
The Adult Swim pilot Welcome to Eltingville didn't get picked up to be a full-fledged show, but if this snippet is any indication, it would've been a scream. It's a blistering trivia battle between two dedicated nerds, which goes on for several minutes uninterrupted. There are more facts crammed into this short clip than probably any of the blogs I've written for mental_floss! Let us know how many answers you got in the... READ ON
I just discovered this in the dusty depths of my YouTube account -- a very strange video I made with mental_floss about three years ago. Not a lot of people saw it, so I thought it might be fun to pull out of obscurity for a day. It's a primer on a few of the odder and more gruesome types of parasites in the world, but but rather than gross footage of people infected with parasites, it's composed entirely of footage from old B-movies. (Thanks, Archive.org!) To be fair, there are still a couple of... READ ON
Remember all those movies from the turn of the millennium where a giant comet or asteroid plummets toward Earth and threatens to destroy life as we know it? Well, that's exactly what happened on the sun over the weekend -- without the attendant chaos or loss of life, of course. In fact, it was kind of like throwing a golf ball into a bucket of water: splorsh! And that was it. The coolest part, though, is that we have moving pictures of the event.
Interestingly, the "splash" you see apparently... READ ON
I've become increasingly fascinated with Siberia lately, that most evocative and extreme of geographies. It's so embedded in our language that it's become a by-word for other things: a terrible seat in a restaurant might be referred to by waiters as "Siberia." "Siberia" can be a social condition, too, when someone is ostracized. But where did the word itself come from? As Ian Frazier, author of the wonderful (and very long) book Travels in Siberia notes, "Officially, there is no such place as Siberia."... READ ON
In case you missed last week's post, my first novel is coming out June 7 and the beginning chapters are being made available online, one at a time. Thanks to everyone who read the prologue and chapter one last week (and especially those who pre-ordered the book!) -- hopefully you're hooked enough to keep reading. If so, here's chapter two! (This link takes you to the Quirk Books site, where you’ll find the PDF for chapters one and two linked to in bright red. Can’t miss 'em!)
In other news, the... READ ON
It's become a kind of meme on YouTube of late: projects in which people document themselves over long periods of time and then compress the footage -- or series of stills -- so that their aging, or weight loss/gain, or what-have-you over the course of years is squeezed into just a few minutes. The results are often mesmerizing.
Here's an interesting variation on the time-lapse theme which just went viral -- a man who videotaped himself giving annual "personal progress reports" at the end of every... READ ON
I've always thought that smells were one of the strongest indicators of place -- the beach smells of tangy salt; my high school smelled, oddly, of undercooked potatoes; certain streets in my neighborhood are overwhelmed, at the moment, with blooming jasmine. There's something psychological about it, and indeed it's been proven that smells can stimulate memory in astounding ways. So why not map the world's smells?
Sure, it's pretty subjective -- something that smells like greasy burgers to me might... READ ON
I've been dropping not-so-subtle hints about my upcoming YA novel for weeks now, but the day is finally here when I can share a little of it! Quirk, my publisher, is serializing the first three or four chapters, with a chapter being released every week until June 7th, the book's release date. So without further ado, here are the prologue and first chapter! (This link takes you to the Quirk Books site, where you'll find the PDF link in bright red. Can't miss... READ ON
Pentheraphobia is the persistent fear of your mother-in-law.