The difference between fruits and vegetables depends on whether you are talking to a botanist or a cook, but Daven at Today I Found Out gives us a decent short course in telling the difference. He also explains the difference between jelly and jam, kosher salt and table salt, and the different colors of pepper. What blew my mind was the difference between green olives and black olives. I thought they were different kinds of olives! Personally, I much prefer the taste of green olives. -Thanks, Daven!
There are uninhabited islands and abandoned islands, and then there are these: ghost islands, with a past that sinks over you like a specter. There are mostly sad reasons these islands aren’t inhabited, like Poveglia Plague Island.
Poveglia served as a plague quarantine station for Venice from 1793 to 1814, and some rumors state that 50% of the soil is composed of the remains of the dead. A mental hospital was later opened, and remains in ruins in the overgrowth of ivy. It's also not the only ghost island in the Venice area, which is spotted with these abandoned relics of eras gone by.
Other islands were abandoned due to war, starvation, industrial decline, border disputes, and there’s even one that sank too much to live on. Read about all eight at Atlas Obscura.
(Image credit: Flickr user ntenny)
For the Halloween edition of the mental_floss List Show, John Green has a whole long list of facts about Halloween! The biggest pumpkin, the origin of Jack-o-Lanterns, why people used to eat chicken feed for Halloween, and a whole lot of superstitions about the holiday. He says he is wearing Halloween masks because he’s being punished, but I prefer to think it’s a fortunately seasonal workaround for some kind of facial blemish.
Josh Sundquist is an athlete, a math nerd, a rapper, and an author. He lost his left leg to cancer as a child. Lately he’s become internet-famous for his imaginative Halloween costumes: the Gingerbread Man from Shrek in 2010, the leg lamp from A Christmas Story in 2012, a flamingo in 2013, and we couldn’t wait to see what he’d cook up next.
Only Kevin Richardson, the lion whisperer (previously at Neatorama) could strap a GoPro camera on a lion. And that’s just what he did. Richardson also has a camera, but he can’t keep up with a lioness on the hunt. Watch Meg stalk her prey on the African plain, and take a waterbuck down in the blink of an eye. -via Viral Viral Videos
Harry Houdini is, far and away, the most famous magician and escape artist in world history. Like Shakespeare, Babe Ruth, Elvis and the Beatles, he is the undisputed number one in his field. But Houdini, beside being a gifted artist, was also a very fascinating person who lived an amazing life. Okay, let's take a look at a few things you may not have known about the one and only Harry Houdini.
He was a man of many names.
Houdini was born Erik Weisz to Jewish parents in Budapest, Hungary. He changed his name to Erich Weiss. His friends called him “Ehrie,” which inspired his Americanized first name “Harry.” He changed his surname to “Houdini" in honor of legendary magician Robert Houdin. Houdini's other stage names include “Eric the Great,” “The King of Cards,” and “Eric, Prince of the Air.”
Early performance and abilities.
One of Houdini's early performances was escaping from being sewed up inside the belly of a whale. In another early gig, he was billed as "the wild man.” Clothed in a loincloth, Houdini was locked in a cage and ate raw meat.
Houdini was ambidextrous and could manipulate cards easily with both hands. He would practice card tricks over and over without looking at the cards, while casually talking with friends. He also could calmly untie knots repeatedly with his feet.
Houdini’s first public performance.
Fascinated with magic at an early age, Houdini’s first performance was at the age of 9. He picked up pins with his eyelids while hanging upside-down. Admission was 35 cents.
I have to say I was honestly surprised by an article at Sploid that explains how KFC makes fried chicken. First, I was surprised that so many people did not already know how fried chicken is made, and also by how many people were surprised by KFC’s technique. But then I remembered that I live down the street from Colonel Sander’s first restaurant (now a museum) and that I’ve made fried chicken all my life. I also worked at KFC for a short time, which I’m sure many folks have. But if it’s new to you, it’s worth telling you about.
The process is pretty much how your grandmother would make chicken (and you should have paid attention), with one big difference: the pressure frying. Grandma would love to be able to fully cook chicken pieces in ten minutes like KFC does, but the equipment to do it is large and expensive. Read the entire procedure at Sploid.
Ambition is a short film to advertise the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Mission. Rosetta met up with comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in August, and will deploy the the Philae lander to land on the surface of the comet on November 12th. It will be a major event in the history of space exploration.
Aidan Gillen (Littlefinger) and Aisling Franciosi star as master and apprentice talking about the mission as ancient history. The film was produced by Platige Image and directed by Tomek Bagiński. -via Digg
See also: more on the Rosetta Mission.
Hey, you wanna see something really scary? Then be warned before you watch this montage of horror movie clips that it is graphic and gory. If you’ve seen the movies, it shouldn’t bother you, but it will bring back memories of that first frightful time you saw them. If you haven’t seen a lot of horror movies, the clips are disturbing and you might want to just skip it. This horror fest is set to the song “Panic Station” by Muse. Another masterful supercut by Robert Jones.
Put some fun in your Halloween festivities with a horror comedy that’s more family-friendly than anything you’ll find under the horror label: Beetlejuice! The 1988 movie was Tim Burton’s second feature film as director, sandwiched between Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Batman. And here’s some neat things you might not know about Beetlejuice:
5. Sammy Davis Jr. was Burton's first choice for Beetlejuice.
The laid-back Rat Pack member would have likely brought a very different vibe to Beetlejuice. Burton described the reaction from his producers to this casting suggestion as "deer caught in headlights." Producer David Geffen stepped in and suggested Michael Keaton. Though the star had already seen success with Mr. Mom, Johnny Dangerously, and Gung Ho, Keaton was an actor totally unknown to Burton. But once he saw him in action, Beetlejuice proved to be the start to a fruitful period of collaboration between the director and star that went on to include Batman and Batman Returns.
10. Beetlejuice was nearly called Scared Sheetless.
In the book Burton on Burton, the Beetlejuice director revealed that studio execs weren't fans of the film's title and pushed to change it to House Ghosts. Repulsed by this idea, Burton jokingly suggested Scared Sheetless as an alternate name, and was appalled when Warner Bros. actually considered it.
We’re glad they settled in the title Beetlejuice, even though it didn’t make any sense until you met the character. You can read the rest of the 15 things about the movie at mental_floss.
Carl Tanzler was a German immigrant with a wife and two daughters in Zephyrhills, Florida. But when he took a job as an x-ray technician at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Key West in 1927, he called himself Count Carl von Cosel and lived as a single man. Tanzler met a tuberculosis patient less than half his age named Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos and fell deeply in love. Despite Tanzler’s best efforts, Maria Elena died, and was interred in a mausoleum the Count bought for her. At least for a while. Unbeknownst to Maria Elena’s family, Tanzler retrieved her body from the mausoleum and took it home with him.
Over the years, Tanzler kept Elena “alive” using wire hangers to preserve her frame, stuffing her abdominal cavity with rags, routinely reapplying wax to her face, replacing her decaying scalp with real hair, and constantly dousing her in disinfectants and oils to mask the rotting smell of her body. While attending to the physical demands of his moldering bride, Carl attended to her material needs as well, purchasing her clothing and perfume, and even installing a curtained cloth veil for privacy on the bed they shared (apparently feminine modesty was a prerogative for a man who routinely saw Elena’s innards). This domestic Ed Gein’s style bliss went on for seven years.
Everything was going great, until people inevitably started asking questions. The combination of Carl’s habit of routinely buying women’s clothing, his absence from the mausoleum, and a local boy’s sighting of him through a window dancing with what appeared to be a giant doll, aroused some serious suspicion. The rumors began to swirl that Tanzler was keeping Elena in his house.
Find out what happened to Tanzler, and to what was once Maria Elena, when the story became public at Atlas Obscura. Be warned that the story is gruesome and may be disturbing.
(Image credit: Flickr user Florida Keys Public Libraries)
If it seems all your friends are having babies at the same time, or you just like to look at babies on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you might have noticed they all appear to be wrapped in the same white blanket with blue and pink stripes. It’s called the Kuddle-Up blanket, and it’s made by hospital supplier Medline, a company founded by A.L. Mills in 1910.
In the early 1950s, receiving blankets were usually made from dull beige cloth. Mills, ever the innovator, wanted to do for blankets what he had done for scrubs. “He asked the women in the office what they would do differently to spice it up a little bit,” says Abrams. They went through a number of iterations and finally settled on the blue- and pink-striped version because, as you might have suspected, it’s good for both girls and boys. The pattern is strangely appealing—before I knew that 99% of newborns are wrapped in identical blankets, I thought it was handsome. It never appears dated or cutesy or Disney. It is truly a classic.
Clearly, many people agree. Sixty years later, Medline sells 1.5 million Kuddle-Up blankets in Candy Stripe every year (the other patterns, with elephants or ducks, are less pervasive). At the HealthAlliance Hospital in Kingston, NY, for instance, the housekeeping staff buys 3,100 100% cotton blankets a year, and often uses four to five of them for each newborn.
But few people realized how ubiquitous the blanket was until social media gave parents a platform for showing off their newborns even before they leave the hospital. It’s very possible that three or four generations of families have been swaddled in a striped Kuddle-Up. Read the history of the blanket and see some adorable newborns in an article at Quartz. -Thanks, Daniel Kim!
(Image credit: Bonnie U. Gruenberg)
A backlot known as “the 40 acres” in Culver City, California, has been the setting of so many movies and TV shows that it takes an extensive website to cover all of it. It was owned successively by RKO, Desilu, and Paramount, among other owners. The lot contained the entire town of Mayberry used for The Andy Griffith Show, but that wasn’t the only use for the fake town. It was built long before Andy Taylor and his family inhabited it. You might recognize the buildings when you watch old reruns of Superman from the 1950s, because the town was also Metropolis.
Hardcore Star Trek fans already know this, but casual fans might be surprised to know that a couple of episodes of the original series were filmed on the Mayberry set: "Miri" and "The City on the Edge of Forever.” They didn’t even change the name of Floyd’s Barber Shop.
You think you spent a lot of time carving a Jack-o-Lantern for Halloween? Yuliya Tsukerman took a bunch of pumpkins and carved images from the iconic Psycho shower scene on them. Several dozen images, in fact, with up to three images on a pumpkin. She spent two weeks carving pumpkins.
She then lit up the pumpkins, took photographs of each carved image, and synchronized them with the soundtrack from the original Hitchcock film.
You can see that video at Tsukerman’s site, as well as the full gallery of carved pumpkin images, and photographs of process. You can even see a comparison of the pumpkin video with the original Hitchcock footage. -Thanks, Yuliya!
Max-Arthur, the cat who became famous by riding a roomba dressed as a shark, has his Halloween costume ready for 2014! Here he is dressed as Princess Jasmine from the Disney movie Aladdin, riding a magic carpet that moves by the power of the roomba. When you combine a cat, a robot, and a Disney princess, you've got a surefire viral video. -via Buzzfeed
Friday on Twitter, Commander Chris Hadfield (previously) announced a Halloween costume contest for the cool kids who choose to dress as an astronaut. Great idea!
He got a reply that just floored everyone. Inked Frog’s son is in a wheelchair. His father made it into the Mars Curiosity Rover for Halloween! And her son is made up to look like like NASA engineer Bobak Ferdowsi, who wore a red, white, and blue mohawk during Curiosity’s historic landing on Mars.
Dave Hax always finds a clever and easy way to do things you were going to do anyway. He’s been super busy lately making Halloween decorations, most of which are perfect for kids to participate in making, like these spooky Halloween eyes. I love the idea of shoving these into the shrubbery around your porch just as it gets dark on trick-or-treat night! -Thanks, Dave!
See also: Dave’s Jack O’Lantern Tips.
When you don't have a home, the list of difficulties goes beyond a meal and a place to sleep. Cleaning your clothing and bedding is both difficult and low priority, but cleanliness not onlly contributes to good health, but makes one feel human.
Orange Sky Laundry is two guys with a van (and some other volunteers) who go to homeless people in Brisbane, Australia, and wash their clothes and bedding. Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi, both 20 years old, founded the nonprofit just this year in order to help improve the hygiene of people with no access to laundry facilities. They hope to expand the project with bigger vehicles to serve more people, and partner with a food charity to feed those waiting for their laundry to finish. See pictures of the project at imgur, and even more at Facebook. -via reddit
Did you know that an instance of cosplay back in 1910 led to a man being arrested for “public masquerading”? What made that costume different from the usual fancy dress was that it was designed to resemble a well-known pop culture character, instead of animals or literary characters. In 1939, the first costumed characters showed up at a science fiction convention. We didn’t yet have the term “cosplay,” or even “sci-fi” for that matter, but the hobby itself is a lot older than you thought.
These are things you’ll learn in the new book Cosplay World by Brian Ashcraft and Luke Plunkett of Kotaku. Ashcraft and Plunkett talked to writers, historians, photographers, and costume builders about the history and culture of cosplay, but the book is also packed with profiles and pictures of top cosplayers from around the world. Neatorama is proud to present an excerpt, featuring cosplayer Julian Checkley.
(Image credit: Julian Checkley)
‘I’ve been cosplaying almost all my life, ever since I made my first Darth Vader costume at the age of seven,’ says cosplayer Julian Checkley. ‘It was one of those papier mâché jobs plastered onto a balloon, and I had to steal my grandfather’s sunglasses so I could pop the lenses out and glue them on to complete the helmet eyepieces.’
This boyhood love of papier mâché developed, and Checkley decided to pursue an education and a career in making costumes.
(Image credit: Kamil Krawczak)
But he may have thought he’d made a mistake when he found himself studying hair and make-up alongside fashion industry hopefuls in London. A job in TV creating monster suits and special effects would soon follow, however, where he would not just learn how to develop visual effects and make fantastical creatures, but gain experience performing inside them as well.
Tom Burns and his young daughter have a tradition of coordinating their Halloween costumes. When she talked about dressing as Hermione Granger this year, he expected to don a costume from Hogwarts. But then Burns showed his daughter Star Wars. The first movie. She loved it.
“Do you think I could be Han Solo for Halloween?”
Immediately, I responded “Yeah, why, of course, you could. That would be amazing. Why couldn’t you be Han Solo?” And, even though I didn’t want her response to come, it did. “Welll…. I’m a girl.”
There’s no reason a girl can’t be Han Solo for Halloween. It’s been done before. And if she’s going to dress as a male Star Wars character, it only made sense to her that Dad dress as Princess Leia. And that’s just what he did. The two wore their costumes to an event at the zoo.
All in all, I think my daughter and I will make a great pair for Halloween. We got nothing but smiles at the Halloween event we attended last night and even got a few laughs when I came face-to-face with a mom dressed as Princess Leia and said “Well, this is embarrassing…”
For many of us, just the mention of the name Jack Bruce makes the ten note bass line of “Sunshine of Your Love” play in one’s head. The bass player/singer made up a third of the band Cream, along with Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker, and co-wrote many of their songs with Clapton. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. After Cream disbanded in 1968, Bruce had a successful solo career and collaborated with many other musicians.
Jack Bruce never retired, and released a studio album titled Silver Rails in 2014. Bruce passed away today at his home in Suffolk, reportedly from liver disease. He was 71.
(Image credit: Heinrich Klaffs)
Before we had the many tools of forensic science we employ in crime investigation today, it was easier to get away with murder. At the same time, it was easier to be convicted of a crime you didn’t commit. Over the years, but by bit, scientific ways of determining what happened were developed, and each are tied with its “first use” case. Consider Spanish scientist Mathieu Orfila, who was forced to solve a problem he himself identified.
Mathieu Orfila determined that, in cases when the victim had been buried for some time, the body might become contaminated with arsenic from the ground. The accused might then be executed for the death of a "victim" who had actually died of natural causes.
His philosophy came back to bite him in the 1830s, when he was called in to argue for the prosecution in the case of a man who was accused of poisoning his own son. The body had been exhumed, and tested positive for arsenic. The defense was insisting that it came from the ground in which the body was buried. Orfila fought back, first doing tests on exactly how a body in the ground picks up arsenic, and then testing the ground around where that particular body had been buried for traces of arsenic. He proved that, although a body might absorb arsenic from the ground, this one hadn't. The man was convicted, and from then on, those who exhumed bodies collected soil samples as well.
The migration of mullet takes place every year off the east coast of Florida. The small fish are like a buffet for big fish, so look out for tarpon, jacks, sharks, snook, and other big fish to step up to the table. I would presume that quite a few fish are left behind on the beach, which will be nice and fragrant by the next day. -via Daily Picks and Flicks
Gav and Dan, the Slow Mo Guys (previously) were challenged to illustrate internet memes in super slo-mo video. The memes they selected are actually just internet slang terms, and whether you are familiar with them has little bearing on how enjoyable the vignettes are. You can bet your bottom dollar that this will be made into animated gifs that will be used on reddit and other forums for eternity. Some of these stunts were really difficult to get right, but my favorite was the easiest: flipping the table. The biggest mess they've ever made! -via Viral Viral Videos
How can we misspell “yard sale’? Let me count the ways -because there are a lot more than two. Oh, I can’t count because after a few, I just giggled too much. And they go on and on, in a picture post at Buzzfeed that includes some non-yard sale misspellings and miswordings that are just as funny. Too bad there's no spellcheck for poster board! Everyone makes mistakes, but when this many people don’t catch their mistakes, it becomes entertainment.
In March of 1876 in Bath County, Kentucky, pieces of meat started falling from the sky. Not just a little bit, but enough to have all the neighbors gathering to figure out what happened. The meat was dropped over an area 100 yards long and 50 yards wide.
The shower drew plenty of attention, and curious neighbors and newspaper reporters flocked to the Crouchs’ farm to see the mystery meat and offer their opinions on it. Many locals said it looked like beef, but one neighbor who was a hunter, “on being shown a piece of the flesh, declared it to be bear meat, and stated that it had ‘that uncommonly greasy feel’ peculiar to the flesh of that animal.”
Others took it upon themselves to taste it, and two men said it was “either mutton or venison.” A local butcher who tried a piece “declared that it tasted neither like flesh, fish or fowl. It looked to him like mutton, but the smell was a new one.”
With no one able to identify the meat by sight or taste, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported, “a great deal of the flesh was sent to chemists and others in various parts of the country, and analyses were made by several well-known scientists.”
This game works a bit like Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero, in that you have to play an instrument at the right time in the music in order to score. That said, the score is the least of your concerns because you are playing the cymbal and the cannon for the 1812 Overture! There are certain points during which you can fire the cannon and cause a massive explosion whether or not the song calls for it. That’s the fun! I scored 45 or something, but also managed to wreck the opera hall quite a few times. Play it yourself and see what I mean. -via b3ta
A group of seminarians are entertaining the crowd at a fundraiser at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. We have a musical number going when things go all Jimmy Cagney. The Rev. David Rider (of Hyde Park, New York) starts tap dancing. He is challenged by the Rev. John Gibson of Milwaukee, who shows off his Irish dance. The two try to one-up each other until they come to a moratorium and stage a duet. It was a real crowd-pleaser! -via Buzzfeed
Remember the stranger who ran into a burning house to save a man? He left the scene without talking to the media, and managed to lay low for a couple of days. But Jimmy Kimmel found out his name is Tom Artiaga and invited him to a taping of Jimmy Jimmel Live! That’s when Artiaga’s cover was blown, so he could receive some recognition -and appropriate rewards for an avid baseball fan. -via Viral Viral Videos
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