Hollywood seems to have lost the art of originality. Or at least, lost the art of greenlighting original stories. In the decade between 2004 and 2014, the number of movie releases that were sequels, prequels, remakes, or reboots doubled, and 2016 has even more. In fact, there are 252 planned sequels, prequels, remakes, and reboots between now and 2020. The reason is money, of course. A familiar universe based on an successful existing franchise is a safer bet than an unknown. Studios take that into account, and so do distributors, and so do moviegoers, because they are all risking more money than ever before on theatrical entertainment. This is the latest comic from Thor’s Thundershack. -via Geeks Are Sexy
One of the reasons we have ancient Greek literature at all was the competition between the kings of the Greek Empire. After Alexander the Great expanded the Greek Empire to its apex, regional rulers wanted to display their fitness to succeed him. A library full of classic texts was one way to signal the world that your city was the most educated and cultured. However, those charged with building the collections of their libraries, particularly those of Alexandria and Pergamon, weren’t above using force or shenanigans.
“The Ptolemies aimed to make the collection a comprehensive repository of Greek writings as well as a tool for research,” wrote former classics professor at New York University, Lionel Casson in Libraries of the Ancient World. To obtain this comprehensive collection, “the Ptolemies’ solution was money and royal highhandedness.”
During the Ptolemaic hunt for centuries-old books from Greece, it’s said that a new industry emerged of forging ancient books to look more antique, thereby increasing the rarity and value. While the evidence of such a forgery trade is difficult to determine, Coqueugniot finds it probable since the kings were so bent on having the most prestigious texts in their library.
To us, those books are all ancient, forgery or not. Libraries also competed for resident scholars, offering high salaries for those who would come and imprisoning those who might leave. Read about the Greek library wars at Atlas Obscura.
(Note: this video is only aimed at drivers in countries where you drive on the right.) When you drive down an interstate highway, you constantly see signs that say “slower traffic keep right” or “use left lane for passing only.” There’s a reason for this. The narrator of this video apparently had never heard of the rule, which says something about his driving instructor, and also tells us that he does not read signs.
Nevertheless, there will be people who prefer to use the left lane of a four-lane road because the pavement is better. Or they are afraid that the right lane will end. Or they are going the speed limit, and no one should go faster than that. None of those reasons are good for the flow of traffic. Feel free to send this video to someone who needs it. The next lesson: turn signals. -via reddit
As the U.S. National Park Service turns 100 years old, we are learning more and more about the parks, like the questions over crime jurisdiction in Yellowstone and how it became the first National Park. Now let’s learn something about the park rangers who work in our national parks.
9. THE FIELD IS HIGHLY COMPETITIVE.
Even those who put in the hard work to become a ranger might not get a job or get placed where they want to be. According to Gifford, “There is so much competition for every single position within the agency. One of my coworkers applied to 90 different jobs before getting on with us.”
As far as compensation goes, it varies quite a bit based on the location and scope of the park, the position itself, and the employee's education history. Most NPS jobs—like other government jobs—have their pay based on the General Schedule pay scale [PDF]. But while most on the GS pay scale are full-time workers, many parks employees are seasonal, meaning they have to find work in other areas during the off-season. For a few specific examples of jobs (and their pay brackets) check out the USAJOBS site; some positions are hourly while others are salaried.
10. A PARK RANGER DOESN’T NECESSARILY WORK FOR THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.
Of course, not every park with a ranger falls under the umbrella of the NPS. There’s also the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and other state agencies that employ the term “park ranger.” It might seem like a small distinction, but the agencies have different approaches and missions, which means their rangers can have different roles and responsibilities. For example, while national parks emphasize preservation and work under the Department of Interior, the US Forest Service is under the Department of Agriculture and is focused on both preservation and uses—such as lumber, cattle grazing, and mining.
Read more about the life of a park ranger at mental_floss.
In 1870, a group of prominent citizens of the Montana Territory set out on an expedition to map the area known as the Yellowstone country. The Washburn Expedition hoped to confirm or disavow the tall tales of geysers, boiling lakes, and other wonders. Among their number was one Truman Everts, who was very nearsighted and totally unsuited for a wilderness experdition.
A desk-jockey all his life, Everts had run the Montana Territory’s Internal Revenue department in Helena for the past five years. The Grant administration wanted its own man collecting taxes in Montana, though, and by the summer of 1870, the taxman had been unemployed for seven months. Enamored with the idea of exploring the unknown with Montana’s fellow leading citizens, the middle-aged widower enthusiastically joined the Washburn Expedition. The jaunt into the unknown was to be “sort of a between-jobs vacation for him,” Whittlesey says. Little did Everts know his holiday would become a comic wilderness odyssey—think The Revenant meets National Lampoon’s Vacation—of grit, luck, and utter incompetence that would, against all odds, help lead to the creation of the nation’s first national park.
The first thing Everts did was fall behind the group and become lost. Then his horse ran away with his supplies. The rest of the expedition looked for him for a week, then decided he must have frozen to death. With neither tools nor supplies, Everts continued the best he could. When a prospector found him 37 days later, Everts weighed only 50 pounds. The story of his terrifying time alone in the wilderness, strangely, aided the push to make Yellowstone the United States’ first national park in 1872. Read about Everts’ ordeal at Outside.
(Image credit: Erin Wilson)
Raymond Mazzarella of Pittston Township, Pennsylvania, was upset that his neighbor’s tree was dripping sap on Mazzarella’s car. Saturday afternoon, he took a chainsaw and cut through the tree’s 36-inch trunk. The tree fell on Mazzarella’s apartment building, rendering it uninhabitable and leaving five people homeless.
Police said Mazzarella was being checked out at a hospital. Upon his release Monday afternoon, a neighbor saw Mazzarella trespassing near the apartment house and called police. When the neighbor confronted him, Mazzarella punched him. The neighbor pulled out a stun gun to protect himself. Mazzarella then started hitting him with a baseball bat.
Mazzarella is charged with assault and harassment and is locked up in the Luzerne County jail on $10,000 bail.
The Red Cross is providing the other apartment residents with temporary housing. -via Arbroath
An animation of Dragonite and Charizard dancing has Twitter users trying to one-up each other with the music they add.
Ashley Feinberg has a roundup of the Pokémon dancers set to various songs (post title contains NSFW language). But it doesn’t contain “All Star” by Smash Mouth. -via Metafilter
BTW: Enlarging this video caused Sandyra's screen to freeze. Besides, it looks better small size.
Once you’ve learned to scuba dive and invested in the necessary equipment, you’ll certainly want to explore the undersea world. The rest of us can just dream of seeing some of the most beautiful undersea sights around the globe. Check out some destinations for scuba divers and what they have to offer. Somewhere in the middle of the list is Bikini Atoll.
Many know Bikini Atoll as the site of nuclear weapons testing in the mid 1900s, but now it’s a popular spot for those who want to explore wrecks while deep water scuba diving. The area is a veritable graveyard of different ships that you can swim around, including naval ships from World War II. The waters are clear enough to search what’s below, and even today those who dive there commonly find well preserved historical artifacts and other items.
A Brazilian musician sings with his parrot, who knows the songs and even harmonizes in places! I’d like to know how long they’ve been making music together for the bird to be such a good performer. -via Digg
So you got a tattoo, and it isn’t right. The artist wasn’t as good as you thought they were, you changed your mind about the design, or it started to fade over time. You could get expensive and painful laser treatments, or you could find a much better tattoo artist and do a cover-up design. Buzzfeed asked readers to submit pictures of their regrettable tattoos and the cover-ups. Some are just plain awesome. The tattoo shown here has an intermediate image that shows where the old one is under the cover-up, but many other original tats are impossible to find in the “after” pictures. See 24 “before and after” pictures of tattoo cover-ups.
Forget trojans, lions, or bulldogs. Nothing’s more intimidating than a mascot capable of giving you food poisoning.
1. FIGHTING PICKLE
When the University of North carolina School of the Arts needed a name for its 1972 intramural team, they honored pickles. The school still lacks an athletic program. Or as Chancellor JohnMauceri said in 2012, "The fighting pickles are peerless and remain undefeated."
2. FIGHTING OKRA
Delta State University’s official team name is the “Statesmen,” but when students realized that a politician didn’t stir fear in opponents, they chose vegetable meanus, “a large, prickly, bipedal vegetable with an inherently bad temperament.”
3. KERNEL COBB
In the spring of 1965, dentist John Riley slipped LSD into after dinner tea for John Lennon, George Harrison, and their wives Cynthia and Patti. John Lennon later recalled the experience in a radio interview, which became the narration for this animation.
Rolling Stone has some thoughts from the others who were present, and the story of what happened afterward. John and George introduced LSD to Ringo that summer, but Paul resisted until the next year. That fact created some problems in the group as they worked on their next album, Revolver. -via Uproxx
The subject of crossing the equator came up in a discussion of the Rio Olympics, and we all slightly recalled that you had to go through some kind of ritual, but no one could recall what they heard it was. We figured it varied by the organization you were with. Ben Marks went through that experience recently on a French research vessel and lived to tell about it. Then he did more research on such rituals, which are really a form of hazing. Marks talked to Dr. Simon Bronner of Penn State University, author of Crossing the Line: Violence, Play, and Drama in Naval Equator Traditions.
“Well, I can give you a manifest reason and a latent reason for the practice,” Bronner begins, referring to the obvious and subconscious justifications for the tradition. “The manifest reason is around the idea that the equator itself is some kind of a liminal twilight zone, if you will, because its latitude is 0, 0, 0. There is a certain religio-magical connotation to the equator, so the ceremony is a way to indicate that one is traveling not only through space but also time, through some kind of a liminal reversal zone.”
For the record, Pascal never mentioned anything about liminal reversal zones when he was binding my wrists, smashing raw eggs on my head and face, or offering me a sip of water after I’d been standing in the sun for an hour, only to find out that it was seawater. After I realized what I was about to swallow, I spat the stuff in his face, which elicited from Pascal a loud, staccato laugh, and earned me another wink.
“Latently,” Bronner continues, “there is a lot of tension when you’re on a ship because you’re in this master-servant role. On a ship, the idea of discipline and obedience is much more emphasized than in other branches of the armed forces because a ship is a danger zone—discipline and obedience can save lives. So, I think the ceremony is partly a release from all that. Often the officers who are crossing the equator for the first time are treated the harshest. But there is a sense among the participants that there is license to do many of the ceremony’s activities within the framework of play that you couldn’t do anywhere else. The activities serve as an equalizer and ice breaker, especially in institutions, organizations, or groups whose members are strangers to one another.”
Collectors Weekly has a history of equator crossing rituals, and a blow-by-blow description of Marks’ two-hour ordeal -with pictures.
But that’s not all. Edge also shows off some moves at a skate park, which can’t be easy wearing a plush bear. At least when he falls, he has plenty of padding! -via Tastefully Offensive
It might seem a little premature to be ranking the films of the century, but there’s nothing wrong with ranking the films of the past 16 years. A list at BBC Culture used the input of 177 movie critics from 36 countries. Yes, they included movies from 2000, although some will argue whether that year is in the 21st century. At the top of the list:
10. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
9. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
8. Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Edward Yang, 2000)
7. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
5. Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014)
4. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
3. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
2. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
1. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
Check out the entire list of 100 movies and how the list was compiled at BBC Culture. If you’re like me, you might want to save the list for future use when you have time on a weekend, or for when you retire.
Depending on your age, you might recall Betty White from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, or Hot in Cleveland. However, the 94-year-old actress had a long list of television credits before any of those shows. She was cast in an experimental TV show in 1939! Yes, there was television back then, although very few people had receivers before the postwar boom. Over the years, Betty White has been involved in talk shows, game shows, and dramas that made her a fan favorite and brought her seven Emmy Awards. Let’s learn more about Betty White.
1. She has a Guinness World Record
In 2014, when the record keeping show was being auditioned, Betty White received a title for the Longest TV Career for a Female Entertainer. The record showed seventy four years+ in show biz. The year before, the title for the Longest TV Career for a Male Entertainer had been given to Bruce Forsyth, who’d been a long time British Television host. Since the two both started their careers in ’39, they would be competing for the same title, were it not for the gender disparity.
12. She is not a big fan of reality TV
Betty White has made it clear that she does not like reality TV. Although she has not clarified why, most people assume it’s her history in creating and writing conflicts with how random people with virtually no talent gain fame by simply recording their lives and frequently acting like morons. Surprisingly, Betty White hosts a kind of reality television show known as Betty White’s Off Their Rockers in which old people play pranks on young guys.
In the past few years, filmmakers have set up shop in Detroit to film horror flicks. Where else can you find huge empty buildings, run-down homes you can buy for a pittance, and overgrown fields? Justine Smith looks at how several movies used and treated the city in scary movies: Lost River, Don’t Breathe, It Follows, and Only Lovers Left Alive. The influx of business has to be good for the city, but its image may suffer from being portrayed as a continually terrifying place. -via The A.V. Club
(Image credit: Flickr user Michelle Kinsey Bruns)
Going to the bathroom might be the one and only activity in America that's cheaper than it used to be. Pay toilets used to be the rule in airports and bus and train stations, and one would often encounter them in gas stations and restaurants.
The earliest pay toilets in history were erected in ancient Rome in 74 AD, during the rule of Vespasian, after a civil war greatly effected the Roman financial scene. His initiative was derided by his opponents, but his reply to them became famous: "Pecunia non olet," i.e. "money does not smell.”
Okay, here's your "question of the day" folks: “Who had the first pay toilets in North America installed?" The first pay toilets in North America were installed by Walt Disney. Walt disney? The cartoon guy? The Mickey Mouse guy? In 1935, Walt opened “Walt’s,” a popular cafe on Hollywood Boulevard, and the first restaurant ever run by an animation studio. In 1936, Walt's became the first establishment in North America to install pay toilets.
Pay toilets spread across America and were soon common sights in almost all the major cities.
Welcome to the world of competitive social media. Victoire is obsessed with her selfies and how popular they are. But look! Roxy is doing better, because she took a selfie with a cat! What Victoire needs is a better selfie with her cat!
The only thing is, this puss isn’t at all enthusiastic about her scheme. After all, he had business to do when all the kerfuffle started. This video is from ArtFX Studios. -via Kuriositas
This is a staircase with four different surfaces. These are radio drama stairs, which are used for sound effects. An actor or Foley artist would walk or run up and down the stairs to simulate, er, walking or running up and down stairs. The different surface would make different sounds, because you don't want every instance to sound like the same house, particularly in the same drama. Here’s a set made of wood, carpet, and concrete.
Radio drama staircase, BBC Maida Vale. Wood, carpet, concrete: three acoustics. Been running up these half my life pic.twitter.com/LCQy6shgRK— Samuel West (@exitthelemming) August 24, 2016
Both sets belong to the BBC, and both appear to be functional stairs that lead somewhere when they're not in use for sound effects. -Thanks, John Farrier!
(Image credit: Andrew Ho)
I was reminded that summer is almost over Friday night when I could hear the local high school football game from my backyard. The NFL season begins in two weeks. You might be a big football fan, but you probably don’t know all the trivia John Green has for us in this week’s episode of the mental_floss List Show.
Mine's the red one!! pic.twitter.com/Z68nxrDyJ6— Nick Dempsey (@nickdempsey1) August 23, 2016
Silver medalist Nick Dempsey posted pictures of the British Olympic team’s flight home from Rio. They traveled together on a chartered British Airways 747. And they were all given luggage for the trip. The same red luggage. It took about two hours for everyone to find their bags. -via reddit
Photographer Dirk Nienaber watched a a group of processionary caterpillars make their way across Perth, Australia. They don’t go this fast; it’s a time-lapse video. These are probably Ochrogaster lunifer, or the bag-shelter moth. They exude a silk trail as they walk, and other caterpillars of the same species will follow that trail -and leave one of their own as they do.
There are quite a few species of processionary caterpillars. I found an experiment in which pine processionary caterpillars were induced to walk in a circle.
Fabre conducted a famous study on the processionary pine larvae where a group of them were attached nose-to-tail in a circle with food just outside the circle; they continued marching in the circle for a week; he described the experiment in his 1916 book The Life of the Caterpillar.
While it could be argued that any brick home is “made from mud,” that’s not what this is about. These homes are made from cob, which is an ancient combination of clay-rich soil, water, and straw. When formed and dried, cob is strong, eco-friendly, economical, and versatile. With care and imagination, cob homes can be gorgeous, like the one shown here.
The 832 square foot house was built by Austin senior systems analyst for the University of Texas, Gary Zuker. He built his own home out of pure economics. He couldn’t afford to have his home built, so he used common sense to build it himself, resourcing books about architecture from the university. He spent a fair amount on timber, and created the roof with scissor trusses on the recommendation of an architect friend. He wanted to have a maintenance free home, and finally the old world style of stone appealed to him. He spoke with an indigenous building expert, where he learned how to build with mud and straw. Batches of straw are covered with clay mud which is mixed until it becomes a form of clay. Then, the clay is thrown onto forms for the walls. The walls are gradually built from the bottom up, and the forms removed. The straw clay dries hard as concrete. It took him “millions of hours” and he started completely without building plans. He used curved logs to build the curved front door. He used logs from the oldest log cabin in Austin to build the fireplace and exterior porch. The home is filled with reclaimed building supplies. Exquisite details include the hammered copper coverings he added to traditional white, basic appliances. The house cost $25,000 to build, and an additional $15,000 was required for its septic system and a well. He built the entire home by hand, contriving what he needed as the interior emerged.
Cob houses range from traditional styles you’d never recognize as mud homes to Hobbit homes and whimsical art structures. See them all at Housely.
Screen Junkies takes a look at the CGI/live action version of The Jungle Book, which will be available on DVD and Blu-ray next week. While they tend to tear movies apart with their Honest Trailers, the critique of this one is downright positive.
That doesn’t mean they won’t point out all the silliness that went into it, including some jabs at the 1967 animated version. We also get to see some of the work that went on behind the scenes. -via Uproxx
A pearl retrieved off the coast of Palawan Island in the Philippines appears to be the biggest natural pearl ever found, much bigger than the current record holder known as the Pearl of Allah. This one was brought up by a fisherman whose anchor got stuck. He dove down to free it, and found it was wedged in a giant clam shell. He brought the clam up and saw it had a gigantic pearl inside. The yet-unnamed fisherman put the pearl away under his bed as a good luck charm. That was ten years ago.
According to various online reports a fire in his residence forced the fisherman to move house prompting him to turn the priceless piece over to a local tourism officer.
The prize pearl measures in at a jaw dropping 1ft in width and 2.2 feet in length making the world’s former biggest pearl –The Pearl of Allah- look like a lightweight.
A supernatural force is threatening the nation, so a secret government agency must locate and assemble a group of mutants with super powers to save the day. Sound familiar? What’s different is that this Russian movie is set in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
The top comment at reddit:
I smirk when I see a sickle guy, someone who controls concrete, and a bear... because those are the most stereo typically Russian things ever.
Then I realize I'm American and we've had 5 Captain American movies.
Guardians is set to debut in Russia in February of 2017. It will no doubt be distributed internationally sooner or later.
Is that neat rock you found a meteorite? Probably not, but to be sure, you might want to use this handy flowchart by Randy L. Korotev of the Washington University Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. It was adapted from a simpler chart from Deborah Guedes. But if you want a really simple chart, check out Randall Munroe’s version. -via Boing Boing
Young people might be forgiven for thinking that Kraft invented macaroni and cheese. Thomas Jefferson enjoyed it on a diplomatic mission to France- so much that he championed its adoption in America. But even before that, macaroni and cheese was an old and established European dish. How far back does it go?
The Liber de Coquina, or Book of Cooking, was published around the beginning of the 1300s. That’s roughly the same time William Wallace was marauding around Britain and killing English. Liber de Coquina includes recipes for baked pasta dishes with parmesan and other cheese sauces. Basically your average mac and cheese casseroles. If you can read Latin, the cookbooks are available online. They’re a fascinating snapshot into our shared culinary past.
The development of the ubiquitous and comforting macaroni and cheese from its earliest documentation until today is chronicled at Uproxx.
(Image credit: Ralph Ordaz)
There have only been 12 people in the world who have gone over 400 miles an hour in a piston-powered car. One of them was legendary racer Mickey Thompson in 1960, when he became the first American to exceed 400 mph. The twelfth man to do it was his son Danny Thompson, who broke his father’s speed of 406.6 miles last week at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
At Bonneville you have to make the trip twice to enter the record books. You go straight out, foot to the floor, for 5 miles or more on the first day -- the down run. Then you do the same thing again on the next day: the return run. Your official time is the average of both speeds at the 5-mile mark.
Mickey Thompson was never able to accomplish that. His car broke down on the return leg. He tried in 1968, but rain stopped him. He was going to try a third time in 1988, this time teaming up with Danny, when a bullet stopped him forever.
Danny couldn't bear the thought of continuing the project alone, and so he put Challenger in storage. Half a century after his dad broke 400, he decided to go for the official recognition that comes with two successful runs. He spent nearly seven years working on the car, getting it just right.
Danny Thompson’s speed was 411.191 on the first run and 402.348 on the second, for an official average of 406.767, just above his father’s speed and a new American record for his vehicle’s class. Read the story of the race at CNN.
Danny Thompson posted an image from that day to reddit to announce "It took almost 50 years, but I set 400mph speed record in my dad's car last weekend." He said his lips were chapped and kissing the salt after the second run tasted like "pain, sweet pain."
(Image credit: Holly Martin)
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