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Mental Floss This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     I am part of a small group of people who believes in the wonderful world that is mental_floss. We are the people who watch “Jeopardy!,” know half the answers, and read books to learn the rest. We are the knowledge junkies of the world. Our minds are filled with trivia. Our magazine is mental_floss.

Mental_floss is a bimonthly magazine based in Alabama that has been around for five years. It continues to improve, adding and refining features with each issue. Its most prominent section is “Scatterbrained,” which takes a single word, like “hair” or “disco” and compiles several short articles on anything remotely related to it, relying on homonyms, clichés, and other oblique connections.

Other recurring articles exist on a smaller scale. A variant version of “Scatterbrained” called “Six Degrees of Ken Jennings” gives “Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings two subjects - like string theory and silly string, or Isaac Newton and Apple Computer - and leave him to find four intermediates to connect them.

Usually the last article in the magazine, “The Dead Guy Interview,” is a fictionalized interview between a mental_floss writer and a famous figure from the Great Beyond, like Billie Holiday or Alfred Hitchcock. The questions would not be breached if the person were alive. This format brings the person to life - not just literally, but in the mind of the reader.

These are only a few of the features of each issue of mental_floss. The real attraction is the information presented that can vary from how coffee affected the Civil War to a breakdown of Joyce’s Ulysses to the difference between jogging and speed-walking. Mental_floss can teach the history of the conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis, the story of Blackbeard (the pirate), how gas prices work, and why you should visit Argentina. A knowledge junkie may be truly satisfied with the sheer volume of information packed in each issue, all without pretense but lots of humor.

There are many places to gain an education. If you want to become a teacher, read a textbook. If you want to be a writer, read Shakespeare. If you want to have interesting conversations on any topic, read mental_floss.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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