The Light Show in the Great Smokey Mountains

Today, the rare Smoky Mountain fireflies are a tourist attraction. Twenty years ago, science didn’t believe they existed.  

(Image credit: Flickr user Ryan Atkins)

 

At exactly 9:27 P.M., when dusk slips into darkness in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the “light show” begins. It’s June, and for two weeks in Elkmont, Tennessee, the fireflies pool their efforts. Instead of scattershot blips of light in the summer sky, the fireflies—thousands of them—pulse this way for hours, together in eerie, quiet harmony. It’s as if the trees were strung up with Christmas lights: bright for three seconds, dark for six, and then bright again, over and over. It continues this way for hours.

As a child, Lynn Faust would huddle with her family on the cabin porch to watch the spectacle. They’d sit, mesmerized by the “drumbeat with no sound.” And though they’d appreciated the show for generations, Faust never thought the event was newsworthy. “I’d assumed there was only one kind of firefly and thought they did a nice show in the Smokies,” she says.

The natural world has long enchanted Faust. In college, she majored in forensic anthropology and minored in forestry. In her twenties, she circumnavigated the globe for three years, visiting islands you could only get to by boat, learning about cultures before they disappeared, pursuing underwater photography. Today, at 60, she’s a naturalist who writes scientific papers and field guides about fireflies. But she wasn’t always obsessed with the insect. In fact, her academic interest began only in the ’90s, when she read an article by Steven Strogatz, a Cornell mathematician, in which he marveled at a species of Southeast Asian firefly that synchronized its flashes. Highlighting how rare this phenomenon was, Strogatz noted that there were no synchronous fireflies in the Western Hemisphere.

This struck Faust as odd. It contradicted the light shows she had seen growing up. As she dug deeper, Faust found that while there had been more than 100 years of colloquial accounts of North American fireflies flashing in sync, scientists discounted those reports, attributing them to lore or optical illusion. Faust knew the truth: that her Tennessse fireflies were every bit as special as the species in Asia. But how could she prove it?

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The Ladder Dancer


(Video Link)

His name is Uzeyer Novruzov. He's the Ladder Dancer. Give him a ladder and a tune, and he'll dance up a storm.

Novruzov recently appeared on America's Got Talent and danced to Al Hirt's Green Hornet theme. His act begins at the 1:44 mark, but I suggest watching the entire video because his awkward pre-performance shtick is hilarious.

-via Miss Cellania


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Awesome Images Of Pop Culture Icons Created Using Stock Photos

Photoshopped art pieces generally fall into two different categories- addition and subtraction. Either something is added to the original image or subtracted from it, which generally makes spotting a Photoshopped image quite easy.

But the digital artworks created by Jeff Chapman aren’t so easy to categorize, and the way Jeff creates these amazing looking images of iconic characters from pop culture is quite complicated.

Jeff uses various pieces from stock photographs, with some additional digital painting and visual effects, to create highly detailed images of strong and sexy pop culture superstars. Here's a glimpse into the making of this striking portrait of Elsa from Frozen:

(Image Link)

See more of Jeff Chapman's amazing digital artwork over at Dorkly


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Three Bear Cubs Up in a Tree


Photo: Valtteri Mulkahainen

Wildlife photographer Valtteri Mulkahainen snapped this photo of three bear cubs climbing up a tree in Suomussalmi, Finland, while mama bear waited below.

No, the cute cubs aren't playing hide-and-seek with their mom. Rather, they were actually hiding from a male bear that's nearby. Mulkahainen told Ilta-Sanomat that the three cubs climbed up the tree for safety, while the female bear stayed on guard below. The cubs stayed in the tree for quite some time, but the male never showed up.

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Astronaut Selfies

Retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin attended the SciTechLeaders Conference (because he is the Science Director of The National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists), and took this photo with the other attendees. I wonder if this could be some kind of record for the most people in one selfie. One thing I found out is that Aldrin already holds a selfie record.

(Image credit: NASA)

Buzz Aldrin took the first spacewalk selfie when he reached out to the camera and snapped it during the Gemini 12 mission in 1966, although Michael Collins had taken a selfie inside a space capsule a few months earlier on the Gemini 10 mission. Neither astronaut could imagine at the time how ubiquitous that photography technique would become in the 21st century.


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The Time R2-D2 and C-3PO Had a Pro Wrestling Match


(Photo: Lucasfilm)

It was the 1970s. As anyone who lived through it can testify, it was a weird time to be alive (oh, the stories that Miss Cellania can tell!).

Specifically, it was 1979. The scene: a professional wrestling arena in Japan. Two men enter the ring, both dressed in sleek full body suits. One looks like R2-D2. The other looks like C-3PO. Yes, the droids who captured the world's attention just 2 years previously in Star Wars need cash, so they're taking a chance in the world of wrestling.


(Video Link)

So much depends upon this unique tag team match that, unfortunately, is not paired with Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin in appropriate leotards. But it's still a thrilling fight even without special effects.

-via Uproxx


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Horror Villains Who Aren't As Bad As They Seem

Most horror movie villains epitomize evil, becoming the living embodiment of hatred, bloodlust, vengeance, anger or sheer psychopathia, but believe it or not there are some villains who simply don’t deserve all the hate.

These misunderstood monsters are simply acting on instinct, following their primal urges to devour primates who get in their way, or they’re simply searching for some existential thrills in their painful afterlife.

Cracked has put together a philosophically (and biologically) compelling article about 5 Horror Villains Who Aren't As Bad As They Seem, which may make you rethink your position on what makes a horror villain tick.


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Dog Learns the Joy of Jumping on the Bed

Loco the pit bull sees his girls having fun jumping on a mattress, and he wants to get in on the fun, too!

(YouTube link)

When you think about it, this dog has a great life: he’s got a mattress on the floor, two little girls to play with, and parents who are laid back about things like jumping on a mattress. What else could a puppy want? A T-bone, maybe? Then Loco’s life would be perfect! -via Daily Picks and Flicks

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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15 Albums That Cost Way Too Much Money To Make

Cost may not seem like a key factor in the recording of an album, as many artists are willing to show up and play for free if it means having an album recorded, but then the needless markups and inflated egos start jacking up the price.

Sadly, these costs often go to the recording staff, and the rental of the recording studio itself, and the artists see very little of the money used to record an album.

However, in the case of recording The Beach Boys album Smile, the star (Brian Wilson) was almost wholly responsible for the cost, which included:

an Arabian-style tent built in his house for the consumption of sandwiches, weed, and LSD, which ran $30,000 (about $220,000 now with inflation factored in). The placement of his piano in a sandbox filled with eight tons of premium beach sand could not have been cheap either. The economics behind "Good Vibrations," the song produced first and placed last on the track listing, was made public, approaching $75,000 ($550,000 today), including use of the Electro-Theremin itself (responsible for $15,000).

Read about 15 Albums That Cost A Fortune To Make at mental_floss


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Hell Of A Lot Of Fun - Having A Bad Day? Buy A Balloon!


Hell Of A Lot Of Fun by Jeremy Hawkins

Never let it be said that the powers that rule Hell don't have a sense of humor, and there's a common misconception that those unfortunate souls who end up in Hell don't know how to party. Truth is, many of them ended up there because they let themselves become pinheads by partying way too hard, so when they all ended up in the home of the Cenobites it just gave them all an excuse to keep on partying for the rest of their afterlife!

Show the world you're a hellraiser, and a Hellraiser fan, with this Hell Of A Lot Of Fun t-shirt by Jeremy Hawkins, it's the colorful way to celebrate all the happiness spread by those fun loving Cenobites.

Visit Jeremy Hawkins's Facebook fan page, official website, Twitter and Tumblr, then head on over to his NeatoShop for more horrifyingly good designs:

"War" Hol Hey Kids,Get Your Headphones On! Guitar Solo Gogh'tcha

View more designs by Jeremy Hawkins | More Funny T-shirts | New T-Shirts

Are you a professional illustrator or T-shirt designer? Let's chat! Sell your designs on the NeatoShop and get featured in front of tons of potential new fans on Neatorama!


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Forget Magic Mike XXL, Here Comes Regular Mike M/L

Step aside, Channing Tatum, and take your Magic Mike XXL home because there's a new man in town and he's wow-ing all the girls with attentiveness and consideration.

Ladies, meet Regular Mike M/L, and swoon! You're welcome. And thank you. You look great!


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Kitten and Owl Napping Together

(Photo: Hukulou Coffee)

Hukulou Coffee in Osaka, Japan is an owl café. That’s like a cat café, but with owls. But sometimes other animals visit, such a rabbit and this cat. One of the resident owls has already made friends with the kitten. Together, they’ve become darlings of the internet. You can see more photos of this supremely adorable couple at Rocket News 24.

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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14 Fun Facts About The Terminator

From our pal Today I Found Out, here's the new FlickFacts YouTube channel that promises to bring fun facts about some of your favorite movies. The first video is this one: 14 Interesting Facts You Probably Didn't Know About The Terminator.

For example:

... According to James Cameron, the idea for the Terminator came to him in a nightmare while he was directing the little known budget horror movie Piranha II: The Spawning. In the nightmare, Cameron claims he was chased by a mechanical skeleton, the image of which became the basis for the T-800 and the plot. [...]

Cameron was [...] hesitant to hire Schwarzenegger to play the film’s hero because at 6 feet 2 inches tall with the body of a Greek god, there were few actors in Hollywood Schwarzenegger wouldn’t tower over. Cameron actually planned to turn Schwarzenegger off the role by intentionally antagonising him over dinner and then going back to the studio to claim they’d clashed over “creative differences”. According to Cameron, the last thing he said to his roommate before leaving for lunch that day was “Do I owe you any money? Because I have to go pick a fight with Conan.”

Thanks Daven!


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The Worlds Weirdest Ice Cream Trucks

We all scream for ice cream, but you know what makes us scream even louder? Zombies. Fortunately, this brutal ice cream truck is ready to serve up all kinds of screams to unsuspecting victims patrons. And that's only one of the crazy trucks out there delivering delicious ice cream to the masses. Check out the rest of the list over at InventorSpot.

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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Ten Out Of This World TV Shows From The 1980s

Sci-fi TV shows are super fun to watch, with strange science theories and wondrous otherworldly technology that make the whole storyline totally mind blowing. But do you know what really makes a sci-fi show out of this world? Aliens, that's what!

Here are ten classic 80s TV shows that feature aliens, or alien technology, as a main part of the plot:

1. The Greatest American Hero (1981-1983)-

(Image Link)

Mild mannered teacher Ralph Hinkley is given the opportunity of a lifetime when a group of aliens bestow a supersuit upon him, giving him a bunch of super powers he must learn to control before he can become a true hero.

(YouTube Link)

2. The Great Space Coaster (1981-1986)-

(Image Link)

The Great Space Coaster took children's television to an asteroid called Coasterville on the outer edge of the galaxy, and introduced them to all kinds of fun creatures like newscaster Gary Gnu, Edison the alien elephant thing and the space clown Baxter.

(YouTube Link)

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Chris Pratt’s Favorite #JurassicZoo Photo

We’ve posted the #JurassicZoo or #PrattKeeping meme a few times already because it’s so much fun. You can handle one more! Chris Pratt, the actor whose Jurassic World zookeeper pose inspired hundreds of hilarious imitations, posted this picture at Facebook with the message

Thank you to the parents of this little one. You've made my day. Oh man! I'm crying laughing.

You’ve got to look through the photos people posted in the comments of that Facebook post, with “zookeepers” corralling children, motorcycles, movie monsters, cartoon characters, and more. -via Uproxx

See more of this meme here, here, and here.

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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Fight Traffic Ticket with Grammar!

Andrea Cammalleri of Middletown, Ohio, fought the law ... with a comma and the comma won!

Cammalleri got a traffic ticket back in 2014 in the village of West Jefferso when she parked her pickup truck in a zone that prohibited parking there for longer than 24 hours. The Ohio woman pointed out that the law stated that the types of car that couldn't be parked included "motor vehicle camper" not "motor vehicle, camper" so her pickup truck clearly didn't qualify.

The town's attorney argued that the law's meaning was clear in context, but the judge ruled for Cammalleri. Score 1 for grammar!

So the next time someone said to you that grammar doesn't matter, tell 'em that you can use it to fight traffic tickets!

Image: Grammar Police by SteveOramA


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A Shark Cage Won’t Protect You from Terror

Hillary Rae and friends went diving in a shark cage off the coast of South Africa. They encountered a 13-foot great white shark. Or, more accurately, the shark tried to eat the cage!

(YouTube link)

I’d be screaming, too, if there were any chance you could get me into one of those thing! -via Boing Boing


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Night of the Deadly Lights


Photo: Ary Bassous/Wildlife Photographer of the Year - Natural History Museum

That mound looks like it belongs in a sci-fi movie, but it's actually real. Photographer Ary Bassous took a photo of an old termite mound in the savannah of Emas National Park, central Brazil, that is inhabited by click beetle larvae. The beetles shine their bioluminescent glow in order to attract prey.

Previously on Neatorama: Predatory Glow Worms Found in Peruvian Amazon

To catch the bioluminescent beetle, Bassous spent the night at the wildlife preserve. Despite "bouts of crippling fear" at the thought of jaguars and other animals that hunt in the night, Bassous told Natural History Museum, he was glad that he was able to get the perfect photo of the eerie, glowing mound against the dark's sky.


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Minimalist Movie Posters by Chungkong


Dutch artist Chungkong creates clever posters of all kinds. You can see quite a few of them in our previous posts. But along the way, he found himself really getting into redesigning movie posters in minimalist style. Chungkong enjoyed it as a new hobby, and thought he work on the project until there were an even 100 posters ("A nice round number."). But he got carried away, because he enjoyed it so. Before you know it, there are 500 Chungkong movie posters!

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See more featured images over at Spotlight

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Kill - A Bounty On The Head Of Binks


Kill by Karlangas

Ever since that annoying Gungan made an appearance during the Clone Wars there has been a bounty on his head, put there by super fans across the galaxy. It seems his jar-ing brand of comedy didn't jive with audiences, and the fact that they made Binks a star of the show made sci-fi fans want to go to war. But Lucas had built an empire on the backs of goofy characters like him, so what is it about that floppy eared idiot that people find so appalling? Two words- me sir.

Spread an intergalactic message of hate with this Kill t-shirt by Karlangas, it's one funny way to badmouth Binks!

Visit Karlangas's Facebook fan page, official website and Twitter, then head on over to his NeatoShop for more mighty geeky designs:

Not A Simply Portal Splash Party The Raptors

Observe

View more designs by Karlangas | More Funny T-shirts | New T-Shirts

Are you a professional illustrator or T-shirt designer? Let's chat! Sell your designs on the NeatoShop and get featured in front of tons of potential new fans on Neatorama!


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Rarely Seen Photos Of Marilyn Monroe

The silver screen goddess known as Marilyn Monroe began life as mild mannered Norma Jeane Mortenson, which her mother quickly changed to Baker, and like the story behind her name the story of her life was rather complicated.

Despite growing up in foster homes, suffering with mental illness and searching for a new identity to help leave her old one behind, Marilyn became one of the most famous and enduring people in Hollywood.

Marilyn is so famous, in fact, that it’s easy to believe you’ve seen every picture ever taken of Marilyn during her all too brief life. 

But there's a treasure trove of rare images from Marilyn's pre-Hollywood movie modeling career with the Blue Book Modeling Agency that are about to be released in a book called Before Marilyn: The Blue Book Modelling Years by Astrid Franse and Michelle Morgan.

These images reveal the real girl behind the platinum blonde bombshell, the girl who once claimed to have no ambitions to become an actress and was just happy having a slice of the spotlight.

See more of these rare early photos of Marilyn here


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Hollywood Street Characters, The Dead End of the American Dream


Photo: Ken Hermann

When he was in Los Angeles on assignment, photographer Ken Hermann stayed at a hotel close to Hollywood Boulevard. Walking down the street, he became fascinated by the street artists who dress up as various characters from Hollywood movies - from superheroes to villains to cartoon characters.

Hermann became curious about these impersonators and decided to talk to a few of them to find out what made them do what they do day in, day out. That led to a project called Hollywood Street Characters: The Dead-End of the American Dream, where Hermann took portraits of these impersonators, unmasked to reveal their true faces.

In an interview with The Phoblographer, Hermann explained further:

After talking to several of the impersonators it became clear to me that many of them are, or once were, pursuing the American dream of becoming someone special and famous. I found this struggle and pursuit of the ambition meshed with the innocent fantasy world of dressing up intriguing.

Some of the street characters does a really good job acting as look-alikes and they actually look a lot like some of the big Hollywood stars while others just look like silly grownups in poor and dirty costumes. I was fascinated by this big contrast between the good look-alikes and the poor ones. And I also noticed that the success of the street characters was-n’t about being the most perfect look alike – it also depended upon acting as the most hyped or popular characters or maybe just having a funny or crazy attitude.

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Family Forced Out Of Their Million Dollar Home By "The Watcher"

Sometimes real life can be even more terrifying than the movies, and real life is generally devoid of happy endings.

A family from Westfield, New Jersey was forced to move out of their new million dollar home when they began receiving dark and disturbing messages from someone calling themselves “The Watcher”.

This mysterious messager began leaving threatening, and very specific, notes for the family that ultimately forced them to move out and pursue a law suit against the previous owners, citing they must have had some knowledge of "The Watcher":

After moving in to the spacious new home, the couple say they received a letter in May of 2014 from The Watcher informing them that the home “has been the subject of my family for decades,” and that “I have be (sic) put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming.”

The Watcher claims that his father and grandfather before him watched the house, and that “It is now my time . . . you don’t want to make 657 Boulevard unhappy.”

The couple claims the previous owners knew about the disturbing letters and withheld the information.

“I asked the Woods (the previous owners) to bring me young blood,” the letter menaced. “Have they found what is in the walls yet?  In time they will.”

“Who has the bedrooms facing the street?  I’ll know as soon as you move in . . . then I can plan better,” the chilling letter reads. “I am pleased to know your names now and the name of the young blood you have brought me.”

-Via KTLA 5


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How to Prepare a Traditional English Breakfast


YouTube Link

In Episode 32, the most recent episode of Anglophenia, host Kate Arnell explains all of the culinary components that make up a full English breakfast. How does it look to you, people not of English descent? Americans who've traveled to England, what did you think when you were met with your first English breakfast as shown in this video? Was it to your liking? I wish I could say I was a fan, but I can't honestly say that. I generally opted for an egg (cooked a bit longer than their usual time), some of their delicious tea and a slice of toast. -Via Laughing Squid

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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Venus de Milo Action Figure, Now with Arms

The famous Venus de Milo, discovered in the soil of the Greek island of Melos in 1820, has captivated artistic and popular attention for nearly 200 years. She is a mystery—in particular, her arms. They were never found, so it’s uncertain how they were arranged.

Now you can make your own decisions about her arms. Japanese toymaker Figma offers a posable 6-inch plastic Venus de Milo action figure. She has her arms back, which you can arrange to taste.

-via Geek Art Gallery


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Ten Strange Facts About Famous Historical Villains

Ted Kaczynski, The Unabomber | Image: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Often when individuals make the news for being murderers, they are painted in the press as monsters, and the public often thinks of them as more inhuman than human. But people are complex, and even the most cold and emotionless mass murderers share characteristics with other law-abiding, even upstanding citizens. 

In the case of the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, an issue that has been in the news of late with regard to the former Bruce and now Caitlyn Jenner was present in his psychiatric profile. According to Kaczynski, it was the impetus for him committing violence.  

Kaczynski claims that prior to his planting and mailing bombs that killed three people and injured 23 others, he visited a psychiatrist. One main reason he sought help was due to his growing desire to change sexes from male to female. Yet during the appointment, Kaczynski lost the nerve to bring up his gender identity issues with the doctor. 

“Just then there came a major turning point in my life. Like a Phoenix, I burst from the ashes of my despair to a glorious new hope. I thought I wanted to kill that psychiatrist because the future looked utterly empty to me.”

Eventually, after isolating himself further and further from human contact, Kaczynski began his crime spree, which continued for some 18 years. 

Read other strange facts about notorious criminals and villains here. 


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What Is It? game 338

Hey look! It's time to play a game, from Neatorama and the wonderful What Is It? Blog, back for a limited time. Do you know what the object in this picture is? It doesn't really matter if you do, because we are looking for the funniest guesses. You can win a t-shirt from the NeatoShop! But first, read the rules:

Place your guess in the comment section below. One guess per comment, please, though you can enter as many as you'd like. Two winners who submit funny and/or clever (albeit ultimately wrong) answers will each win a T-shirt from the NeatoShop.

If you guess the correct answer, you'll get a big pat on the back.

Please write your T-shirt selection alongside your guess. If you don't include a selection, you forfeit the prize, okay? May we suggest the Science T-Shirt, Funny T-Shirt and Artist-Designed T-Shirts?

Check out more pictures of this thing, and other mystery items, too, at the What Is It? Blog. Good luck!

Update: This is a true mystery item, and we still don't know what it is. But that doesn't stop us from giving t-shirts away! One goes to David Gunn, for this strange guess:

This is a second generation mediaeval leg shaving device, known as a Limb-Defluffer Duo created by Benedict Tinklebottom, the Fifth Earl of Giblet. Despite being the improved second generation device, it was found to be completely unusable for its original purpose (unless the user had particularly slender legs, a loving staff of at least 4). However Tinklebottom found fame when the Limb-Defluffer Duo was adopted for use as an “inquisitorial encouragement” device by the Spanish Catholic church, and ultimately learned how effective it was in its revised role when he was Defluffer Duo’ed to death for sins against personal grooming.

And another goes to Lucas Gentry, for a guess that made a little sense (not much):

This is actually the precursor to movable scissors. You place the object that you want to slice into the V's of this tool. The closer you got to the center of the V, the more were cut. It worked fantastically for carrots, cigars, and fingers, but it was terrible at cutting paper.

Thansk to everyone who played along! We'll do it again, as long as we have more mystery items at the What Is It? blog!

Love games and puzzles? Visit NeatoPuzzles for more!

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Brothers Exchange the Same Birthday Card for over 40 Years

Greeting cards are absurdly expensive. So when your brother of all people expects one, send him a cheap one. And then re-use it, just as the instructions say. Brothers Ron and Jeff have been doing that with this Peanuts card since approximately 1973. They’ve probably saved at least $100 this way. Good work!

-via Geekologie


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The Love Life of Clark Gable

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

He was called "the King" long before anyone had ever heard of Elvis Presley. He was quite possibly the most famous, enduring, beloved leading man in the history of motion pictures. The ultimate "movie star,” Clark Gable was the fantasy of countless millions of women all over the world. And countless millions of men, from postmen to clerks to guys who pumped gas, would look in the mirror and wish they were clark Gable.

Some say Gable had a fixation for "older women" and point to his first two marriages as proof. But those marriages seem to have been more a matter of convenience than passion.

Interestingly- and ironically- Gable's first marriage was not consummated. Gable's first wife, Josephine Dillon, who was his acting coach and 17 years older than him, later claimed that she and Gable actually had no physical relationship, that theirs was a marriage "in name only.”

Gable next married a wealthy 46-year-old Houston divorcee named Ria Langham, who encouraged him considerably during his early career.

Gable himself admitted to a preference for older women and once remarked: “The older woman has seen more, and knows more than the demure young girl... I’ll take the older woman every time.” Still, Gable wasn't "fixed" in some "older-woman" syndrome.

In his thirties, he had a red-hot affair with one of his early leading ladies, Joan Crawford, who was 27 at the time. Crawford said Gable had "animal" attractiveness, and added that she didn't believe any woman who ever worked with Gable "did not feel twinges of sexual urge beyond belief.” Although Gable and Crawford were to remain best friends, they cooled off their romance on studio orders since they were both married to other people at the time.

Then he met Carole Lombard, the Hollywood screwball comedy actress, who was, according everyone who ever knew Gable, unequivocally, the greatest love of his life. Gable and Lombard actually did a film called No Man of Her Own in 1932 and no fireworks or sparks went off. They finished the film and went they own separate ways, Gable having many other women at his beck and call.

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