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Call for Photos: Our Magazine, out in the World

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If you turn to page 9 of the March-April issue of mental_floss, you'll find a great photo of the magazine in its natural habitat, sent in by reader Sarah from Mountain View, California.

Photos of people with our magazine or wearing our t-shirts make us happy. If you take an interesting shot, send it to flossypics@gmail.com. Perhaps you'll end up on the Letters page or here on the blog.

(Note: I think we've met our quota of on-the-toilet photos, so let's keep the camera out of the bathroom.)

Here are some of my favorite pictures we've received over the years:

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The pics above are from Carrie and Steve. They enjoy a good _floss on the beach near their home in Curacao, where we hope to one day open a satellite office.

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Here's John, a dentist from Kilmarnock, Virginia, reading mental_floss on Mental Floss. If you choose to name your vessel after our publication (or if, like John, you named your boat long before you heard about the magazine), we'll happily display your photo here. If you name a non-aquatic vehicle after us, we'll evaluate those on a case-by-case basis.

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Lilah created such a masterpiece in her "My First Jackson Pollock" onesie, her parents framed her outfit along with her painting.

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I started my daughter young. She's coming around.
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If you read this before 11:59pm EST on March 3rd, 2010, you can take advantage of our buy-2-get-1-free t-shirt sale. Then go do something interesting while wearing your shirt(s), take a photo, and email it to flossypics@gmail.com.

Can't wait to see what you guys come up with!

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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fun
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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