It's when you carry a frame and door to someone else's door, while dressed as someone who's staying at home and giving out candy; you interpose your door between you and their door, ring the bell, and when they answer, they're confronted with your door, with a PLEASE KNOCK sign. They knock, you open up, and offer them candy. Trick-airity ensues. (via Reddit) Read the rest
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It’s always about the candy. The Candy Hierarchy is full up with this “joy induction” measurement, this thing that the co-principle investigators (PIs) Cohen and Ng go on about each year. From 2006 to 2013, the PIs conducted a longitudinal study, more or less guided by PI expertise and whim (or whimsical expertise) and possible corporation sponsorship. Research by others in the field sought to refute the findings, obviously unsuccessfully. Yet the PIs were so moved by the yearly outpouring of commentary that they opened up the study to additional data sources, namely people. People who the PIs surveyed. Or is it whom? Anyway, nobody cares - this is about sugar. The 2014 Candy Hierarchy was thus defined by data analysis of 43,767 votes obtained from 1286 individuals. Good for them. But not good enough for science. Because the 2015 Candy Hierarchy doubled down and reworked the whole thing with all kinds of more stuff. This hierarchy therefore presents the newly calculated 2015 rankings, based on a total of 518,605 data points obtained from 5459 individuals in a randomized fashion. It also provides the raw data from a secondary study that sought to understand the character of the survey takers, or rather how character affects joy induction. It’s all in there, just go check out the figures. TRANSCRIPTION OF THIS MORNING’S CONFERENCE PROCEEDING DISCUSSION, WITH DR. COHEN AND DR. NG.
BC: Don’t you love how they call us Dr.?
DN: I don’t mind. Read the rest
A poster from Scarfolk, the English horror-town that loops through the decade 1970-1980, over and over, warns of the Infant Catcherbots that roam the town's roads, looking for children whose parents unwisely hid them from the civic trials of the 1970s. Read the rest
Watching TV as a little kid in the early 1960s, I yearned very deeply— an insatiable craving sucking at my guts — for a Hootin’ Hollow Haunted House, a tin toy produced by Louis Marx. I saw this commercial on our small black and white TV (I was between four and six years old at the time) and immediately began pestering my parents:
It was probably too expensive, but Robot Commando from Remco cost just as much and that showed up under the Christmas tree although I didn’t ask for it. I think my father really wanted to play with it and that’s why I got it. But he didn’t care about ghosts, witches, and haunted houses, and so my desire was doomed.
What is so special about the Hootin’ Hollow Haunted House? To a six-year old boy it was probably the coolest thing on earth. There are eight typewriter style buttons on the right side of the house, each neatly labeled with the effect that is produced when you push it down. And it was like they took every neat spooky thing a kid could wish for and stuffed it into this beautifully lithographed tin house—an example of great toy design. The sides of the house are not straight verticals, but splay outward from the bottom up, as if viewed in a foreshortened image; the roof and windows are a-kilter, all influenced by German Expressionism in the art design of films like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
Of course, I didn’t know crap from Caligari as a little kid, but damn I wanted a Hootin’ Hollow Haunted House so badly it seemed like my life could not continue without it. Read the rest
If you really want to be scared this Hallowe'en, spare a moment to ponder six ways that the state engages in widepread and indiscriminate surveillance, from social media monitoring to license plate and toll-transponder readers to IMSI catchers, biometrics and more. Read the rest
Halloween is almost upon us; apropos of the season, here’s a tale of terror in a Manhattan movie theater, and a horror film that changed cinema.
Living in New York City in my 20s, I was one of those geeks who saw a helluva lot of movies on opening day, back when you had to wait in line for an hour in order to make sure you actually got into the theater. Benefits? I saw the cut scene at the end of The Shining where Shelly Duval is in the hospital; saw Heaven’s Gate twice at its full length before it got the chop; saw At Long Last Love before it got the chop; and so on.
As an aside, I saw E.T. on opening day on June 11, 1982. Yuck … thought it was a bucket of emotional diarrhea for kids. A genuinely awful movie that was beloved by many, and why that is so remains a complete mystery to me, even today. It’s just bleh.
Also saw lots of films previewed before they were released, including a completely different cut of Capricorn One that was almost an hour longer than the final edit. These types of previews were always “blind” — you never knew what film you were going to see. However, the rumor got around that a new film by John Carpenter was going to preview at the Kips Bay Cinema on Second Avenue at midnight on June 24, 1982. Before the Internet, there were only rumors, but the dedicated knew it was a pretty good bet that it was going to be his remake of John Campbell’s novella Who Goes There? Read the rest
The FBI has warned the New York Police Department that a group called the National Liberation Militia has planned a "Halloween Revolt" that involves attacking NY police officers, and news organizations are lapping it up.
According to a "NYPD Officer Safety Alert" the National Liberation Militia has "no known New York City members" and "there is currently no known nexus between this threat and the NYPD or New York City." Nevertheless, NYPD officers are "strongly encouraged to remain vigilant" for the non-existent ruffians.
From Jesse Walker at Reason:
That's quite a tale. It's almost as if someone took one of those old urban legends about gang initiations, mashed it up with those recurring fears of a war on cops, and replaced the gangsters with a cabal of well-worn political villains. (Anarchists! Militias! No, wait: an anarchist militia! For "national liberation," 'cause anarchists are all about nations, right?) And then baked the batter in what may be America's biggest urban-legend-producing oven, Halloween.Read the rest
Len Peralta writes, "Ken Plume, John Robinson and I have been releasing different celebrity readings of our book There's A Zombie In My Treehouse just in time for Halloween. We've been releasing one track a day for the past week and a half up until Halloween. Some of the readers include Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants/Adventure Time), Billy West (Futurama), Dana Snyder (Aqua Teen Hunger Force) and the whole cast of MST3K. Upcoming celebrity readers include The Venture Brothers Doc Hammer and Jackson Public, John Hodgman and Jonathan Coulton. It's a fun read and listen for Halloween." Read the rest
Alewis sends us the Royal Institution's video: "A scene of explosive Halloween mayhem as one Jack-o'Lantern spews molten iron into another filled with gun cotton, all in the name of science."
It's a few years old, actually, but this video of a cute baby owl "dancing" to a fuzzy owl-shaped comforting toy that sings “Monster Mash” is well deserving of a viral revival. Read the rest