Was it a sign that while flossing last night, my gums started bleeding? No but really: as of tomorrow I'll be handing in my mental_floss jersey, perhaps to resurface at some point, in some avuncular (why not?!) capacity. So to celebrate the new era, here's a pensive shot of my parents' husky (who is looking for a home if you live in MI--and preferably on a lot of land) & here are some random "final blog entries" still glimmering somewhere out there:
Wednesday, May 9th
Final blog post...recap time.... READ ON
I've... READ ON
Judging from Maggie's How To Get Out of Jury Duty & David's dispatches from jury duty (maybe: "How to Get Into Jury Duty"?), we at mental_floss definitely haven't shied away from how to cope with the litigious life. I haven't actually had to/had the pleasure to serve on a Los Angeles jury yet, but I did cast the syndicated "Jury Duty" television show last year...Maybe there's some viable conflict of interest there that would get me off the hook.
But at least I haven't yet encountered "emergency jury... READ ON
Every time all my favorite people leave town, you're liable to find me whining about how "this place is a ghost town," etc. That feeling either fades or it doesn't, but if ghosts were sandmen, they'd be all over this town:
Kolmanskop is a ghost town in southern Namibia, a few kilometres inland from the port of LÃ¼deritz. In 1908, Luederitz was plunged into diamond fever and people rushed into the Namib desert hoping to make an easy fortune. Within two years, a town, complete with a casino, school,... READ ON
So the only other thing I'd like to add to Miss Cellania's Weird Week-in-Review is actually from a few weeks back, but still pertinent--the New Jersey kitten who was found with its head stuck inside a bottle. Which was, with the pragmatic assistance of Crisco, safely removed. But the idea of something--almost anything--inside a bottle is practically always riveting. SD Jones runs a great folk art site that boasts an impressive index of artwork in bottles, including miniature meat markets (pictured!),... READ ON
Where was "Bully Police USA" when I needed them? My self-defense training growing up was limited to my father coaching me to "hit back" or crush hypothetical scenarios with some zinger (outside of the I=rubber; you=glue genus). Well, at the Bully Police USA headquarters, you can check if your state has anti-bullying laws (32 states do). Among those 32, the only state that received an "A++" was Delaware. If you were bullied in Delaware, you probably won't be anymore...The site also claims that:
90% of... READ ON
A friend of mine just returned from Costa Rica, where stray dogs act as sherpas & if you want to get your drink on in a Fairchild C-123 cargo plane--a vestige from the Iran-Contra affair--you can do so at a place called El Avion. It's a bar, it's a coffee shop, it's a store, and it is, my friend reports back, amazing! The Hotel Costa Verde acquired the plane for $3k in 2000, and details the journey here:
We then disassembled and shipped the pieces of the Iran-Contra relic to Quepos.... READ ON
Yes, there's something transparently cool about Truth or Consequences, NM, or Hell, MI, but there's coolness AND precision in cities bearing numbers in their names:
Twentynine Palms, CA
Three Notch, AL
Two Rivers, AK
Seven Trees, CA
Four Corners, MT
Five Points, NC
Seven Oaks, TX
Ninety Six, SC
Last month my boyfriend and I loitered in Twentynine Palms. We tried to count the palms, but they were, somehow, scarce. Still a jolly old freezing desert time and I fully plan on going back... READ ON
So if you haven't heard, it's that time again: The New Yorker is holding their 2008 Eustace Tilley Contest. Tilley, drawn by Rea Irvin (also responsible for the headline type) in 1925, has been famously rendered by the likes of Chris Ware, Robert Crumb, William Wegman, and others. The deadline for submissions is January 24th, and you can check out the competition here. In 2005, Louis Menand wrote about Tilley's evolution and eventual deconstruction.
New Yorker readers have become used to him, but... READ ON
Postal service in my neighborhood isn't very consistent, so it can make for some interesting deliveries. The other day, a neighbor two blocks over walked to my door to personally re-direct a newsletter she also receives. It was touching, and perhaps something that would only happen in a small town or at least on the West Coast.
And just yesterday I arrived home to see the February issue of Field & Stream on the kitchen table, and was saddened a little to realize it was merely mis-delivered & if I were a... READ ON
I'm going to go ahead and use of my personal quota (1) of cat posts. First off, this post is much indebted to Higgins' classic borrowed cat post. Secondly, I'm not a cat person. Cats are far too human, i.e. moody, for me to pursue them in addition to human companions. Cats sense this about me, and thus we tolerate each other; perhaps occasionally (some stormy night after a glass too many of Chambord), you'll find us curled up on the couch together: me guilty, watchful, the cat practically rolling its eyes.... READ ON
One of the major disappointments I suffered this week was realizing I'd never heard about "Hollywood is Calling"--the phone service where "you can have a real celebrity make a live phone call to someone you know for just $19.95." The correlative disappointment, being, of course, that I've never received such a call.
But! Now that I'm aware of its services, the next time I stumble upon any of their advertised occasions ("motivational call" or "just calling to say hi" but maybe not "thank you for the job... READ ON
Over at the Boston Globe today, there's an interesting story about the buzz surrounding "embodied cognition." As in, when squirming helps you solve that quadratic equation.
A series of studies, the latest published... READ ON
Last November, Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling negotiated himself an eight-digit one-year contract...with a built-in "fat clause" that would give him $2 million in "weight incentives." Stay tuned to his blog for weigh-in updates! That's a nice statement coming after a year in which companies began fining workers for unhealthy lifestyles. Clarian Health docks workers $10/paycheck for being overweight, but then IBM offers $150 for their employees to enroll their children in programs that combat obesity. Right... READ ON
It's Thursday, just one day closer to opening night of the American Idol, Season 7! Will there be a Sanjaya redux? Will Seattle be crowned the worst audition city yet again? (Randy famously trashed the city thusly: "'it must be something in the rain water,' and tried to explain the ineptness as 'wild, insane. Maybe depressed.'") While Simon may gripe about how painful is it to endure the dregs of the talent pool, people who work in casting ('sup!) usually drool over the especially horrid auditions. Those... READ ON
Even though I no longer live in the town where I was raised, I have its local newspaper saved in my bookmarks. The Record-Eagle of Traverse City, MI helped me become literate and gave me something to strive for: everyone wanted to be in the Record-Eagle--not for anything unsavory, surely (all those boring legal notices were saved for the free weeklies)--but maybe some bolded action on the high school sports page.
These days, I rarely check in on my old Record-Eagle, but that's mostly because I have some... READ ON
Since we aren't too far removed from the holiday gauntlets, it seems likely that more than a few of us have suffered through something for the sake of politeness. The search for "the politest little girl" or boy was an annual competition held by the Junior Inspectors Club of New York City's Department of Sanitation. In 1940, the competition's panel of judges (aged 10-15) awarded the honor to 9 year-old G. William Kennell, who demonstrated a thorough command of his craft:
Suppose you were... READ ON
We've had our share of sign fun on this site, and we're still riding Ransom's recent sign post wave, so why not more? Signs of the most popular genus: "For Sale"; "Help Wanted"; "Beware of Dog" are, naturally, a dime a dozen, and we've all used them or can at least concede their usefulness. Then there are the weird signs, as mentioned by Higgins, rarer signs, the collectibles. My friend just got the best gift--a packet of vintage signs his mother-in-law picked up at a yard sale. They were bleached from... READ ON
If you're still sad about the Coney Island revamps and Astroland's swan song, here's something to rub in the melancholy a little. Last week, Wired commemorated January 4th, 1903, the day Thomas Edison decided he needed to electrocute an elephant to prove his point: that DC was superlative, AC atrocious.
Edison had established direct current at the standard for electricity distribution and was living large off the patent royalties, royalties he was in no mood to lose when George Westinghouse and Nicola... READ ON
Every left-brained dude needs a right-hand man, so here's a salute to some notable bro-bro teams who rocked... READ ON
The SFGate recently crowned "subprime" the 2007 Word of the Year, over "surge" and the terms "carbon footprint" and "wide stance." Merriam-Webster, as we reported, picked the interjection "w00t" and the new Oxford American Dictionary chose "locavore." And on January 4th the American Dialect Society will vote for their pick of '07; among the finalists: "astronaut diaper," "bacn," "earmarxist" and "smeet." Also a bunch of other more sexist, racist, and otherwise offensive terms (though definitely circulating... READ ON
Remember those salad days when we thought we could all be Houdini or, well, Dorothy Dietrich? (there just aren't that many noted female magicians from which to choose; even the ones on display in Vegas seem pressured to veer burlesque). Kid magicians are a dime a dozen. I know I certainly thought I was one--always filching hardboiled eggs and begging my mother to buy me dramatic kerchiefs. The easiest tricks to learn were always thanks to some bullet-pointed recipe, and usually came out with variegated... READ ON
If you're a little heavier and more hirsute than you intended for the holidays, perhaps you're considering stumping as a Santa. There are a ton of makeshift to full-fledged institutions out there that purport to help you pull off such an extreme identity, including:
"School 4 Santas--International University of Santa Claus" (IUSC)
"Santa School" ("Home of Canada's Top Santa")
The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School ("The World's Oldest"--est. 1937
The Ministry of Fun--it includes a "Santa's... READ ON
There's been a lot of excitement recently over methane-chomping bacteria currently being studied in New Zealand. These methanotrophic bacteria act like catalytic converters on the methane they ingest from toxic environments; they can transform methane to carbon dioxide, which, as greenhouse gases go, is 20 times less powerful.
University of Calgary biology professor Peter Dunfield and colleagues discovered a methane-eating microorganism in the geothermal field known as Hell's Gate, near the city of... READ ON
M... READ ON
Back when I was getting paid to scour the earth for Trekkies, I naturally tried looking up the cast of the 1999 documentary, Trekkies. There were many stand-outs who were lovingly showcased in all their fan-tastic glory, but perhaps none so brilliantly as the Orlando-based dental office, Starbase Dental, where the hygienists have been known to rock Enterprise jumpsuits and you can watch sci-fi films as your molars are tapped for... READ ON
In a city (LA, holla) overflowing with strikers and "collateral damage," unemployment is on the agenda. After a period of what production people call hiatus (e.g. show canceled, creative differences, internal restructuring, blah blah blah: no work), I'm back on the TV show wagon again, and it feels good to leave the fetid batting cage of the for-all-practical-purposes unemployed. But lest I soon forget what it's like to be, um, radiating lack, I thought I'd take a poll and see if anyone else out there... READ ON
So this week I met a woman who works as a narcotics detective and also heads the canine unit. She loves her job--mainly because her black lab accompanies her everywhere. How much more agreeable would your work day become if you could look down and see your doggie curled up at your power strip, commiseration reified as you yip and yap into the phone?
When this woman heads to the park, she brings a plastic baggie like everyone else, but she also brings a small suitcase filled with drug samples--a little... READ ON
Earlier this week, I encountered a man who boasted of having run naked (and through sprinklers) across the 18th green. It was the agreed-upon tax of a lost best. I have no interesting bet stories to divulge, probably because I've already willingly engaged in the kinds of activities (the predictable ones, at least--the legal but insane ones) that are smoldering at the ends of well-placed bets; my little brother bet his friend $20 to eat a AA battery once, but they were intercepted before it ever went too... READ ON
Ok, so I'm going to consider this a corollary to yesterday's consciousness post. The relationship kids have to money has always fascinated me. Change seems paramount--it's shiny and can seem very much like loot. It makes chiming sounds and shrines called piggy banks are constructed to house it. I do blatantly wish that I still had the awe and respect for money that I rocked throughout my childhood. And I also wish that I could hit up those initial revenue streams that were only available to me then. I had... READ ON
There's something intrinsically trippy about being a child; before graduating into the venal world and its cabinet of chemically-induced everythings, kids have to scrape by on their imaginations. And it's funny to think back on all the consciousness-altering games/activities I supported and engaged in as a kid, and how many of them featured consciousness-altering elements. These games all revolved around a breathtakingly simple and honest premise: "What if?" or also "Something looks like something else?!"... READ ON
Reality show ideas. You know you have them. They come to you in dreams or in traffic or during commercials. Some people ignore them, some people sue when others bring them to life, and some people head West with a treatment and a ticket to a pitch slam. Others broadcast their ideas online, hoping either to be praised, discovered, or ripped off. Here, in no particular order, are five shows you may--in some alternate universe or, hey, some slightly distant future--find yourself TiVoing.
1. THE SHOW: a game... READ ON
I was once a Girl Scout, so I felt the pain of the youth who recently solicited my doorstep, toting miserable little items some wholesaler had signed off on. The details of his pitch were lost in the miasma of pity I was projecting out to him. I begged off by taking one of his pamphlets, but what I didn't know at the time was that his presence was in fact illegal according to the U.S. Department of Labor. For-profit door-to-door sales by minors are handled thusly in CA:
California (1994) - Prohibited for... READ ON
My father (of the high seas, the Great Lakes) sent me these two pictures from a Sturgeon Bay, WI dry dock he was visiting yesterday. He was gazing at the stern of a 640' freighter, as he is wont to do and as his job requires, when suddenly all the moisture in the air froze, causing momentary panic--"I thought I had something in both eyes"--until he realized what was going on. That's the beauty of -12Âº F. Within thirty seconds, the air was clear again, and the next shot is the same stern five minutes... READ ON
Even if you consider yourself immune to the charms of coyotes, the blog Daily Coyote might still win you over. It's run by Shreve Stockton, the writer behind Vespa Vagabond (notes on a cross-country trip on a Vespa) and Eating Gluten Free who now lives in Wyoming and is the recent recipient of an orphaned coyote named Charlie. His parents were shot after they were caught killing sheep, and he ended up on her doorstep. The pictures on the site are not recent--those are reserved for subscribers to the weekly... READ ON
You know when you want to back up that urban legend with something official like a press release? Well, after spending all weekend listening to Outkast covers, I remembered how Polaroid issued a press release admonishing all those who were suddenly quick to shake their Polaroid pictures, as "Hey Ya!" urges. Well I couldn't find that press release, but that doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't exist (I'd just have to leave my Philip Marlowe hat on a little longer); however, I did cruise through the Polaroid... READ ON
So I just finished The Long Good-Bye, by Raymond Chandler, which I loved for its priceless assessments: "She opened her mouth like a fire-bucket and laughed. That terminated my interest in her. I couldn't hear the laugh but the hole in her face when she unzippered her teeth was all I needed." And also because it helped me go a little easier on LA. Whenever I don't feel like I'm understanding or appreciating someone or thing in my life, it always helps to take a step back and re-enter through the eyes of... READ ON
Wow, I had no idea there was a Samantha Stevens--"Bewitched"--statue in Salem, MA. But there is, and she was part of a campaign TV Land launched in 2000, commemorating shows they planned on continuing in re-runs; other statues included Opie & Andy in Raleigh, NC, MTM's Mary Richards in Minneapolis, and Bob Newhart's Dr. Robert Hartley in Chicago. The 8-ft bronze Samantha was erected in June of '05, to the delight of some TV Land die-hards and the chagrin of some who didn't embrace the irony. Most recently,... READ ON
Today I met a man who intends to walk across the country, and I bought him some sardines, his top request. My, some of those sardine tins are pretty--I thought I was at Sephora! I have to admit I've never had sardines, nor have I been to Sardinia. But my new friend spoke so passionately about sardines (generally how they're addressed when they're young; grown, they're usually called pilchards, akin to herrings, and they're all part of the family Clupeidae), especially since they outdo milk in calcium... READ ON
A friend of mine is studying in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and she recently participated in Loi Kratong, an all-out lantern lighting festival that falls on the full moon of the 12th lunar month (usually... READ ON
So I'm going to be really obvious and talk about gratitude...First of all: thanks to all our readers! I always look forward to reading your comments, which are guaranteed to be full of expertly hewn gems of facts, wisdom, and hilarity. There's that lovely Meister Eckhart quote: If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is "thank you," that would suffice. But in the latter day of all sorts of spiritual maxims, there are more than a few outspoken factions who support the ritualized giving of thanks... READ ON
Yes, it's November, and apparently National Peanut Butter Month. If you get into these sorts of occasions, maybe, as J-Plautz reported, you could start investing in peanut butter diamonds, or if you're "feeling art" maybe Vik Muniz's "Double Mona Lisa (Peanut Butter and Jelly)" is the way to go.
Honestly, I couldn't care less that it's Peanut Butter Month, and when March comes & it's straight-up Peanut Month, I'll be equally enthused. That's because I still can't stand to be in the same room as peanuts,... READ ON
One of the more common kinds of situs inversus--the condition in which one's internal organs appear on the opposite side of the body--is dextrocardia, when the heart sets up headquarters on, yes, the right... READ ON
One of the best things about calling LA home is the opportunity to live unabashedly through your actor friends. If I think I've had a bad day, say, maybe received a couple rejection slips in the mail or some line producer isn't calling me back, my actor friends will come back with something like: "well try standing in a hatefully long line in a bikini top with 300 other girls, waiting to screen test a kiss with a man you've never seen before, and after that being told you should consider having yours ears... READ ON
When my father poured a slab of cement to build a dog kennel, he called my family out into the yard to sign it before it dried. To date, that's the only time I've ever carved my name into anything--not a tree, not a bathroom wall, nothing. I've never even signed off in spray paint. The most I've done is hide a piece of a broken typewriter in a hard-to-reach place on my college campus. It was there six months later; not so sure about now. I'd love to track down some mottled birch in twenty years and hope... READ ON
China is facing a couple of major soirÃ©es in the next few years: the Beijing Olympic Games in '08 and the Shanghai Expo in '10. A recent Dissent feature looks at China's past attempts at updating hygienic etiquette:
The [YouTube] posting includes footage from a propaganda film shot in Maoist times (1949-1976). Back then, as now, spitting on the ground is targeted as not just unhygienic but symbolic of backwardness. (It is no accident that in the YouTube footage young people are shown telling people... READ ON
I've touched on absinthe before, but I'm going to revisit it in honor of a friend who is currently planning the LA launch party of one of the two Absinthes imported sans trouble into the U.S. One is the French brand, Lucid (!), and the other, KÃ¼bler, debuted just weeks ago from Sweden. And neither are green! A party pumping KÃ¼bler absinthe into the probably-planning-on-driving-at-some-point crowd, well, it makes me shudder. Vehicle-free partiers in NYC are likely to party harder; indeed, The NYTimes... READ ON
We have the Raeliens to thank for so many things, not least of all the human cloning company, Clonaid, and the sadly defunct Raelien theme park, UFOland. The Canadian park, before its recent closure, featured the largest hay structure in the world, along with the tallest DNA structure--it measured 26 ft. Rael (nÃ©e Claude Vorilhon) is the founder of the religion; his initiation dates back to December of '73, when he was a sports journalist living and working in France.
He was loitering in a crater... READ ON
Last night, Patricia Canale owned the stage on FOX's popular game show, "Don't Forget the Lyrics." The only sad thing about her win of $100,000 was that it signaled the end of her vocal performance! At a packed viewing party in the Valley, Patricia caught her breath to dish on karaoke bars, shuffling-off-to-Buffalo, and knowing when to walk away.
Congratulations on beating the system! Are you prepared for people to interrupt you in the grocery store asking you to sing "Maniac"?
I can't wait!... READ ON
The fax machine was invented more than a quarter-century before the telephone.