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11 Niche Blogs to Start Your Summer

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Goldblumings

You come to mental_floss for a great variety of news, knowledge, and trivia. That's wonderful, but just scratch the surface of the internet and you'll find blogs dedicated to very specific subjects -subjects you'd never know had enough material for an ongoing blog. But many of them do -and those that don't will at least have a decent archive of material. Every once in a while, I collect a bunch of them that you might want to look over, because you never know when you'll find a new passion or a new community to enjoy on the internet. Here are eleven such blogs, in no particular order.

1. My Dad Was in a Band

It seems that forming a band was a rite of passage for young men in the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Those young men now have grown children. Right before Fathers Day, a new blog was launched with the intriguing name and concept My Dad Was in a Band. The entries contain photographs, stories, audio recordings, and sometimes videos of dads who were rock stars in their day, submitted by their proud progeny. The music can be awesome, and the pictures will make you smile. So far, there are only two pages of entries, but if your dad was in a band, you are welcome to submit him.

2. Mean Mad Men

Mean Mad Men is a mashup of the AMC TV show Mad Men and the movie Mean Girls. Quotes from Mean Girls are laid over appropriate screenshots from Mad Men. There are four pages now, with new items being added very slowly as they are created.

3. Racial Misprofiling

There has been a recent boom in posts, and even blogs, dedicated to weird stock photography. Between trying to please all possible clients and fulfilling specific orders, stock photo companies offer some of the most ridiculous staged illustrations that it's a wonder no one mined this rich vein of content years ago. Racial Misprofiling is one such blog, where you'll find ridiculous stock photos that come up when you search for the word "Arab." Each has a caption. The caption for the picture above is “He’s starting to ask questions, Jack. I’ve told him you’re Arab a hundred times, but he says the kids at school told him Arabs don’t suffer from rosacea.”

4. Reasons My Son is Crying

One of the hottest recent tumblr blogs is Reasons My Son is Crying. Launched in April, it began when Greg Pembroke was perplexed by how little it took to set his sons, ages 20 months and three years, off on a crying jag. Each picture is accompanied by the reason for the meltdown. Pretty soon, other parents were submitting photos of their children crying for strange reasons. Well, they are strange reasons to an adult, but some things are as important as life and death to a small child. This one shows the son crying because his father broke his cheese in half. The blog went viral so hard and so fast that Conan O'Brien's Team Coco launched a parody site called Reasons My Talk Show Host Is Crying

5. Food Replicator

Food Replicator is a blog of Star Trek recipes. How fun! You'll find recipes like Balso Tonic, Klingon Octopus, Jellied Gree-worms, and Earl Grey Tea. Some are foods mentioned in the various Star Trek series and movies; others are something that one of the characters might have cooked. There's a handy index of recipes, too. 

6. These Boots Are Made For Walkin'

These Boots Are Made For Walkin' lists cover versions of the 1966 Nancy Sinatra song. The blog was started on April 8 and was updated regularly until April 25th. That seems like a short time, but in all it lists 172 versions of the song! So even though it is a Tumblr blog, it is now a website with a respectable archive covering a single subject.

7. Zombie Dead Blog

No, it's not a blog about zombies (although that would be cool). Zombie Dead Blog is a tribute to the weirdness of abandoned blogs. Some of the blogs featured haven't been updated for years, and many seem to be started for a particular rant and then forgotten when the author ran out of steam. Here's an entry of a found blog called Why I Hate Sears, which only lived for two months in 2005.

When I first started working at Sears there were 3 pregnant women. Within the last month we have a grand total of 7 pregnant women. I am not even with a guy yet I am a bit nervous about ending up #8. It's like there are sperm floating in the air! If I go to the bathroom are they going to fly in?!

Recently my fear has subsided thanks to pregnant woman #3. She told me quite firmly to stop drinking the Break Room Dr.Pepper.

The curator of the Zombie Dead Blog spends time combing through the muck of dead and forgotten blogs just so we can enjoy gems like this.

8. Goldblumings

Goldblumings is nothing but flowers in bloom featuring the face of Jeff Goldblum. Because we need more silliness on the internet.

9. The Folk Ye Bump Intae

The Folk Ye Bump Intae is a webcomic of life. Stuart Murray takes home the things people say to him during the day in Glasgow, Scotland. Then he draws them. That's it, but some of them are pretty funny. And many contain NSFW language.

10. Movies in Color

Here's one for pop culture design enthusiasts and movie fans, too. Movies in Color features stills from famous films and their corresponding color palettes. Why? Because it's a neat idea. Blogger Roxy Radulescu says,

So far, the blog has not only been an aesthetic pursuit but also an educational pursuit that showcases the relationship between color, cinematography, set design, and production design. Overall, it is a study of color in films, but has other uses and applications. One of the goals is to give artists color palettes they can use in paintings, films, videos, graphic design, and other pursuits.

It turns out to be pleasing to the eye, for sure.

11. The Metropolitan Museum of Butts

How do you make fine art more fun? Or conversely, how do you publish nude pictures without getting anyone upset? Dedicated to the curation of the backside of fine art, The Metropolitan Museum of Butts manages to do both. The tagline is "Gay or straight, man or woman... everybody likes butts. And everybody has a butt." Most of the pictures are of classical sculptures, taken from the rear view, so to speak, although there are some images of paintings, ceramics, and other artworks. Even animals are represented!

Find more in our previous posts on Niche Blogs.

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History
84 Years Ago Today: Goodbye Prohibition!
A huge queue outside the Board of Health offices in Centre Street, New York, for licenses to sell alcohol shortly after the repeal of prohibition. The repeal of prohibition was a key policy of Franklin Roosevelt's government as it allowed the government an opportunity to raise tax revenues at a time of economic hardship.
A huge queue outside the Board of Health offices in Centre Street, New York, for licenses to sell alcohol shortly after the repeal of prohibition. The repeal of prohibition was a key policy of Franklin Roosevelt's government as it allowed the government an opportunity to raise tax revenues at a time of economic hardship.
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It was 84 years ago today that the Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, repealing the earlier Amendment that declared the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcohol illegal in the United States. Prohibition was over! Booze that had been illegal for 13 years was suddenly legal again, and our long national nightmare was finally over.


A giant barrel of beer, part of a demonstration against prohibition in America.
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Prohibition of alcohol was not a popular doctrine. It turned formerly law-abiding citizens into criminals. It overwhelmed police with enforcement duties and gave rise to organized crime. In cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis, the dismantling of breweries left thousands of people unemployed.


Photograph courtesy of the Boston Public Library

Homemade alcohol was often dangerous and some people died from drinking it. Some turned to Sterno or industrial alcohol, which was dangerous and sometimes poisoned by the government to discourage drinking. State and federal governments were spending a lot of money on enforcement, while missing out on taxes from alcohol.


New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach (right) watches agents pour liquor into sewer following a raid during the height of Prohibition.

The midterm elections of 1930 saw the majority in Congress switch from Republican to Democratic, signaling a shift in public opinion about Prohibition as well as concerns about the depressed economy. Franklin Roosevelt, who urged repeal, was elected president in 1932. The Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution was proposed by Congress in February of 1933, the sole purpose of which was to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment establishing Prohibition.


American men guarding their private beer brewing hide-out, during Prohibition.
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With passage of the Constitutional Amendment to repeal Prohibition a foregone conclusion, a huge number of businessmen lined up at the Board of Health offices in New York in April of 1933 to apply for liquor licenses to be issued as soon as the repeal was ratified.

The Amendment was ratified by the states by the mechanism of special state ratifying conventions instead of state legislatures. Many states ratified the repeal as soon as conventions could be organized. The ratifications by the required two-thirds of the states was achieved on December 5, 1933, when conventions in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah agreed to repeal Prohibition through the Amendment.


Workmen unloading crates of beer stacked at a New York brewery shortly after the repeal of Prohibition.
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A brewery warehouse in New York stacked crates past the ceiling to satisfy a thirsty nation after the repeal of Prohibition.


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Liquor wouldn't officially be legal until December 15th, but Americans celebrated openly anyway, and in most places, law enforcement officials let them.

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Miss Cellania
10 Famous Birthdays in May
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Some of our favorite historical figures were born in May. We couldn't possibly name them all, so here are just a few of the notable people we'll be celebrating.

1. SIGMUND FREUD: MAY 6, 1856


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Getty Images

Sigmund Freud is known as the Father of Psychoanalysis. The Vienna psychiatrist developed a theory of the unconscious mind, where the id, ego, and superego struggle to balance each other out in the human psyche. Freud attributed his patients' neuroses to childhood trauma, often cloaked in a sexual conflict. His work was at first deemed perverted, but his ideas started to spread after a series of lectures in the U.S. in 1909. After Freud's death in 1939, Freudian theory was hailed as genius in mainstream culture. But beginning in the 1960s, Freud's theories started to fall out of favor in academia and are largely discredited today. However, his attempts to map the psyche gave us the language we still use to discuss personality and mental health.

2. FRED ASTAIRE: MAY 10, 1899


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Getty Images

Fred Astaire began dancing when he was just four years old. Soon he and his sister Adele were in a performing arts school and started dancing professionally. First came vaudeville, then Broadway, and when Adele married, Fred headed to Hollywood. Producers were at first reluctant to cast Astaire as a leading man because of his looks, but his dancing soon won them over. Astaire appeared in dozens of films between 1933 and 1981, 10 of them with with dance partner Ginger Rogers. Although his later films did not revolve around dance numbers, Astaire was seen dancing in an episode of Battlestar Galactica as late as 1979, when he was 80 years old.

3. MARTHA GRAHAM: MAY 11, 1894


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Getty Images

Martha Graham wanted to dance from an early age, but her parents disapproved, so she didn't study dance until college. Her wildly emotional dancing led her to performances in New York, and in 1926 she established the Martha Graham Dance Company. Through the company, Graham promoted modern dance as a spiritual and emotional outlet. Over time, she came to be seen as a genius of the genre. Graham danced until she was in her '70s, and continued to choreograph dances until her death at age 91.

4. KATHARINE HEPBURN: MAY 12, 1907


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Getty Images

Katharine Hepburn caught the acting bug in college and headed to the stages of New York upon graduation. She was spotted in a Broadway production and was offered the lead in RKO's 1932 film A Bill of Divorcement. That kicked off a movie career of more than 60 years, in which she was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won four. Hepburn was a certified box office draw, but off screen she refused to behave like a Hollywood star. She spoke her mind, wore pants, and even appeared in public without makeup occasionally. Hepburn was also known for her devotion to the love of her life, actor Spencer Tracy, who was separated from his wife but refused to divorce her. The last of nine films they made together was Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in 1967, just before Tracy died. Hepburn continued making movies through 1994, when she was 87 years old.

5. PIERRE CURIE: MAY 15, 1859


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Getty Images

French physicist Pierre Curie is often overlooked in favor of Marie Curie, his brilliant student and later wife. Together they discovered radium and polonium, and did extensive research into radioactivity. Pierre, Marie, and Henri Becquerel jointly won the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics for their research. Curie might have gone onto many further discoveries, but he was killed in 1906 when a horse-drawn cart ran over him in Paris. If he had lived longer, Curie might have also succumbed to illness caused by radiation, as did his wife, daughter, and son-in-law—all Nobel Prize winners.

6. MARY CASSATT: MAY 22, 1844


Mary Cassatt via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Renowned American painter Mary Cassatt wanted to become an artist, but her parents objected and her Philadelphia art school didn't take women students seriously. So she went to Paris and studied privately under teachers from Ecole des Beaux-Arts, as the school did not admit women. Gradually, Cassatt's works sold and her reputation grew. She drew the attention of Impressionist Edgar Degas, and worked with him for years. By 1886, she left the Impressionist movement behind, and afterward refused to be defined by any art genre. Cassatt's body of work often featured women and children in their everyday lives. Her most memorable painting, Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, broke with tradition by portraying a child in a naturalistic, casual pose instead of a formal portrait.

7. SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE: MAY 22, 1859


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Arthur Conan Doyle is best remembered for his many short stories and novels featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes. But Conan Doyle worked full time as a medical doctor until an illness convinced him he had to choose between writing and medicine. Years later, Conan Doyle volunteered with the British army to fight in the Second Boer War, but because of his age (40), he was only allowed to serve as a medical doctor. Upon his return from South Africa, he entered politics in Scotland, but he lost his only race. In 1907, Conan Doyle became involved in a real criminal case in which he helped George Edalji, a solicitor of Indian heritage, beat an animal cruelty conviction by employing the observational technique that Sherlock Holmes used. The fallout from that case led to the establishment of the appeals system in Britain. Conan Doyle also wrote a science fiction novel The Lost World, published in 1912. It was so successful that he wrote four sequels.

8. MARGARET FULLER: MAY 23, 1810


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Getty Images

Born in Massachusetts in 1810, Margaret Fuller was a precocious child who learned several languages but was not welcome at college because of her sex. She became friends with both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, who admired her philosophical thinking. Fuller became a literary critic for the New-York Tribune and a well-known intellectual.

In 1845, Fuller made history with Woman in the Nineteenth Century, often considered the first major feminist work published in the United States. This groundbreaking book began as an essay in Emerson's transcendentalist journal The Dial called "The Great Lawsuit. Man versus Men. Woman versus Women," in which Fuller argued that men and women must see each other as equals before they can transcend to divine love. Fuller reasoned that ignoring our commonality was the base of much of America's sins, from the slaughter of Native Americans to the slavery of African Americans.

Fuller went on to become a foreign correspondent and the first American female war correspondent, covering the Italian revolution. She also fell in love with an Italian man and had a child with him. On their return trip to the U.S. in 1850 aboard a merchant ship, a hurricane struck the ship near Fire Island, killing all three. Only Fuller's 20-month-old son was found.

9. SALLY RIDE: MAY 26, 1951

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to travel into space, aboard the space shuttle Challenger. Ride was a nationally ranked tennis player when she was a teenager. Billie Jean King urged her to turn pro, but Ride went to Stanford University instead. She earned both a bachelor of arts in English and a bachelor of science in physics in 1973, and a PhD in physics in 1978. Ride then immediately applied for NASA's astronaut program. She flew two shuttle missions, in 1983 and '84, and was scheduled for a third, but that mission was canceled after the Challenger explosion in 1986. After leaving NASA in 1987, Ride devoted her life to encouraging students to study science—especially girls. She founded the organization Sally Ride Science for just that purpose, and wrote five children's books encouraging interest in science. Ride died of cancer at age 61 in 2012.

10. "WILD BILL" HICKOK: MAY 27, 1837


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Getty Images

James Butler Hickok was a farmer, soldier, stagecoach driver, spy, lawman, scout, sharpshooter, gambler, and Wild West showman. Many of those occupations came after "Wild Bill" Hickok gained publicity for killing three men in an 1861 shootout. The newspapers followed his exploits from that time on, often embellishing the details until Hickok was more of a legend than the adventurer he was. His various occupations took him to different parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Wyoming, and South Dakota. Hickok was playing poker in Deadwood, South Dakota, when Jack McCall shot him in the back of the head and killed him in 1876. The hand Hickok was holding at the time—a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights—became known as the "dead man's hand."

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