Original image

17 Awesome and Weird Bill Murray-Inspired Products

Original image

Here at mental_floss, we love Bill Murray, who is always doing awesome stuff—so when I decided to brainstorm art for our newly renovated office, it wasn't hard to decide where to start. In the process, I discovered so many awesome Bill Murray-inspired things available for purchase, so I threw this list together. You're welcome!

1. You’re Awesome Journal, $10

This journal from Chronicle Books is peppered with more illustrations of Murray spouting affirmations of awesomeness. I currently have it sitting up against the books on my desk, as you can see above.

2. Nail Art Decals, $6

Regular nail polish is boring compared to these fabulous Murray decals.  

3. Russian General, $25 - $56

If you've ever wondered what your favorite actor would look like as a Russian general, here's the answer. The original painting was by English artist George Dawe, who created more than 300 portraits of Russian generals during Napoleon's invasion.

4. Pinback Button, $2

Two things everyone loves on one fun button!

5. Collage, $63

This would look very nice on the walls of mental_floss's newly renovated office. 

6. Baby Bodysuit, $16

Your kid will be automatically cooler when he or she wears this adorable onesie, available in 11 colors.

7. I Heart Bill Murray Coasters, $35

These cherry-wood coasters, which come in a set of four, are an easy way to quirk up your coffee table.

8. iPhone Case, $35

A little Bill, a little Bowie. The combination works.

9. T-shirt, $20

Love puns, love this shirt. You can buy the original, by Andrew Gregory (also known as lunchboxbrain), for $15 here.

10. Pop Art Pillow, $19

Perfect for Warhol fans and Bill Murray devotees.

11. Flat Plans, $20

Build your own Bill Murray, and put on a little knit Steve Zissou hat!

12. Unicorn Print, $30

Like both Bill Murray and unicorns, this work of art is unique and beautiful.

13. Etch-A-Sketch Portrait, $90

The artist swears up and down that this portrait is frozen and won't be erased during shipping. 

14. B. Rex Tote, $22

The only way that dinosaurs could have been cooler.

15. TuneSquad Jersey, $40

SpaceJam fans, this one is for you.

16. Night Light, $45

What better way to quell a fear of the dark?

17. Dr. Venkman Narwhal Print, $18

Most appropriate for Ghostbusters-loving marine biologists.

Original image
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
Original image

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]

Original image
Courtesy Chronicle Books
Inside This Pop-Up Book Are a Planetarium, a Speaker, a Decoder Ring, and More
Original image
Courtesy Chronicle Books

Designer Kelli Anderson's new book is for more than just reading. This Book Is a Planetarium is really a collection of paper gadgets. With each thick, card stock page you turn, another surprise pops out.

"This book concisely explains—and actively demonstrates with six functional pop-up paper contraptions—the science at play in our everyday world," the book's back cover explains. It turns out, there's a whole lot you can do with a few pieces of paper and a little bit of imagination.

A book is open to reveal a spiralgraph inside.
Courtesy Chronicle Books

There's the eponymous planetarium, a paper dome that you can use with your cell phone's flashlight to project constellations onto the ceiling. There's a conical speaker, which you can use to amplify a smaller music player. There's a spiralgraph you can use to make geometric designs. There's a basic cipher you can use to encode and decode secret messages, and on its reverse side, a calendar. There's a stringed musical instrument you can play on. All are miniature, functional machines that can expand your perceptions of what a simple piece of paper can become.

The cover of This Book Is a Planetarium
Courtesy Chronicle Books


More from mental floss studios