S'More Monsters for Your Halloween Party



Look at these monster s'mores! Sure they are cute, and you can tell just by looking that they are extremely sweet, too. They're made with cut-up marshmallows, heated up in the oven. The pupils are chocolate chips.

You might have thought that s'mores were a campfire treat, since the marshmallows must be properly toasted. My youngest kid started toasting them over the gas stove with a wire coat hanger as soon as we put out the bonfire when she got her first taste of them. In the case of these monster s'mores, they are toasted in a broiler oven to make sure they don't wander off their chocolate bed.

Click to the right on the above image to get the full instructions for these Halloween treats by Jodi Levine for the New York Times. The messiest part would be cutting the marshmallows with kitchen shears, but compared to the mess of eating s'mores made around a campfire, that's nothing.  -via Everlasting Blort


Drones Were to Rescue Dogs Stranded by Volcano, But Someone Beat Them to It

Communities on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands have been evacuated one by one as lava flowing from a volcanic eruption engulfs them. Small drones have been recording the carnage. One such surveillance flight revealed that four dogs were left behind at a home in an evacuated area. Confined to a fenced-in area, they looked to be starving. Drones were sent in to drop food and water, but the situation looked hopeless for the canines. An animal rights group looked into the possibility of rescue, but there was no way to approach the home. So they turned to Aerocamaras, a company that uses large drones that can carry up to 50 pounds per flight. It was an ambitious plan, using remote-control nets to capture the dogs and airlift them, and it had never been done before.

However, when the Aerocamaras drones set off to get the dogs, they found none! Who had taken the dogs, and how did they get there? The rescuers had left a note on a large banner, but the drone operators did not see it as the wind had blown the fabric over. The note was revealed in a video that was posted to YouTube yesterday. It showed the banner at the house, a message spray painted in red indicating that the dogs had been rescued by "The A Team." The theme music from the '80s TV series was used in the video. The animal advocacy group that enlisted Aerocamaras received a message along with the video, thanking them for their efforts. There's no word yet on who the A team is, how they did it, or where the dogs are, but the pets are no longer surrounded by lava. Read the story and see the video at NPR. -via Digg


A Song About Really Scary Things



When you're a little kid, there's nothing scarier than thinking about what might be under your bed, or who's watching you from the closet. Then you get a little older and the scariest things are xenomorphs and serial killers in masks. But it's when you become an adult and in charge that you really find out what's scary. They are the things that really happen and you can't just get rid of them by turning off the TV or going to sleep. You have to deal with them, and that's what's terrifying. The Holderness Family sings about what's truly scary, and those things are not anything to do with Halloween. -via Geeks Are Sexy


Saudi Arabia is Turning an Oil Rig into an Extreme Theme Park

🎒 What do you do with an old decommissioned oil rig? Saudi Arabia has a wild idea: turn it into an oil-themed extreme theme park. Rides include heart-thumping roller coasters, bungee jumping and other thrilling rides for adventure seekers. Meanwhile, us normal people get heart palpitations just looking at the rising gas prices.

πŸ‘» A Babylonian clay tablet dating from 3,500 years ago was revealed to have the oldest known drawing of a ghost ever. Bonus: the back of the tablet contained instructions on how to get rid of such a ghost. No wonder the Babylonians ain't 'fraid of no ghost.

πŸ“˜ Here are some homes of famous authors that you can visit.

πŸ• Aww story of the day: couple driving through the Spanish mountainside noticed a small Shorkie chasing their car in the middle of nowhere, so they adopted it (Maybe the dog was just running away from high gas prices)

πŸŽ₯ Studson Studio made Howl's Moving Castle out of trash and pieces of junk, and we are absolutely enchanted by it.

🍦 I scream, you scream, we all including even the dog - scream for ice cream. Here's a dog getting excited to see the ice cream truck.

🏠 The house featured in Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street is for sale for $3.25 million, and if you love horror movies (and have $3.25 million), it may just be your dream house.

🚒 What do you do when you want to move your house but there's no overland route? You float the house across the bay, of course. The REAL nightmare started when the house sprung a leak and began to sink, and one of the boats pushing it stalled. Not even Wes Craven could've thought that up.

Find more neat and interesting stories over at our new network of sites: Pictojam, Supa Fluffy, Homes & Hues, and Pop Culturista. Thank you for checking 'em out!


Sleeping Bus Tour: A 5-Hour Tour for People Who Like to Sleep While Riding the Bus

Kenneth Kong saw a social media post from his friend saying that he was so stressed out by his work that he couldn't sleep at night, but he could fall asleep while riding the bus. That was the spark that gave birth to this genius business idea: a 5-hour bus tour for people to take a nap on wheels.

Kong, the marketing manager for a local travel company in Hong Kong named ulu travel, organized the first "Sleeping Bus Tour" with tickets ranging from HK$129 to $399 (US$13 to $51) per person depending on whether they sit on the lower or upper deck.

According to ulu travel's website, the bus tour features "zero-decibel sleeping cabin," eye-mask and ear plugs, as well as a "food coma lunch" before starting the bus ride.

The Sleeping Bus Tour's first trip was sold out entirely, with some passengers bringing their own pillows and blankets, according to AP News.

But why do people (especially in Hong Kong) like to sleep on the bus? "People in Hong Kong don’t have enough time to sleep," said Shirley Li of the Sleep Research Clinic and Laboratory at the University of Hong Kong, "That’s why we have to kind of use other times to sleep, which is our daily commute, especially when we are travelling on public transport. For some people, they may tend to associate public transport with their sleep. And that’s why they found it easier to fall asleep on the bus."

Images: Kin Cheung/AP

The Giant Robot Doll from Squid Game tells bus riders to "Keep Quiet" ... or else!


A Few Possible Explanations for Werewolves



The legend of the werewolf, a man who changes into a wolf, goes way back in European history. However, in Africa there are similar old tales of men who turn into hyenas, and in Asia of men who turn into leopards. What could be behind those stories? It may be a confluence of several exceptional circumstances that bled into each other with time and retelling.

There is a form of mental illness called lycanthropy, in which a person is convinced that they change into an animal. This delusion may be exacerbated by the use of drugs like belladonna.

True serial killers, like Peter Stumpp in 1589, may use the story of turning into a wolf as an explanation of his behavior, or a confession under torture.

As is suspected in some tales, a gang of men would dress as animals to terrorize people to exert control over them.

While not causing murderous rampages, there are medical conditions like hypertrichosis and porphyria that can cause one to appear more like a wild animal, making the idea of a hybrid or transformation more plausible.

And in all those places and eras, there were actual wild predators who occasionally developed a taste for human flesh, or became unafraid to attack due to rabies. When livestock and even children are ripped apart by a wild animal, the terror that follows can easily be blamed on supernatural forces.      

When these various stories were retold over generations, the myth of a bloodthirsty man-wolf was an easy way to cover them all. Read more about the many possible contributions to the werewolf myth at the Daily Grail. -via Strange Company


TODAY IS INTERNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY!

INTERNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY IS CELEBRATED EVERY OCTOBER 22, but -and this is important-  that doesn't mean you have to use it. The caps lock button on your keyboard is there to, well, no one is really sure what it's supposed to be for, but some internet users keep it on all the time. The holiday was invented in 2000, when millions of people were starting to use the internet to communicate, even though they were not typists. Many of them decided it was easier to type everything in upper case than it was to switch back and forth between upper case and lower case to create sentences. In other words, it was a shortcut to reduce errors. However, the effect on the reader was that they were being shouted at.

Times have changed, and as a new generation has grown up with internet technology, you are more likely to encounter textspeak or a barrage of acronyms than uppercase messages. Some people still use all caps in order to emphasize how important their message is -which is akin to actual deliberate shouting. Others just cannot give up the habit because they don't want to deal with a shift key. But we still observe International Caps Lock Day for the fun of it. In fact, it comes around twice a year, the other holiday being on June 28. Metafilter, as always, is making a field day of it.

Read the history and significance of International Caps Lock Day at the Caps Lock Day website. Be assured that the website is not in all caps.


Dropping a 1200-pound Pumpkin from 100 Feet



Growing giant pumpkins for competition can be a satisfying hobby, but there's always the question of what to do with the pumpkin afterward. In Portland, a bunch of them were donated to the elephants of the Oregon Zoo. Another pumpkin found a different kind of glory. It grew to 1200 pounds, but then developed a hole that disqualified it for competition.

The organizers of Bauman's Harvest Festival, held by Bauman's Farm and Garden in Gervais, Oregon, came up with an idea. To entertain the crowd, they brought in a crane and a pool and dropped the pumpkin from a height of 100 feet! While waiting for the splash, you kind of wish that they'd dropped this gourd without a pool underneath. But when you see the aftermath, you realize that even small chucks of a 1200-pound pumpkin could have caused some real misery if it had bounced into the crowd. A good time was had by all. -via Digg


The Mysterious Tragedy of the S.S. Ourang Medan



Sometime in the 1940s, the cargo ship S.S. Ourang Medan was found somewhere near Indonesia drifting without control. The crew was found dead, along with a dog which also died. There was no sign of violence, but one lifeboat was gone. Nearby ships had reported hearing a radio distress call the night before.

“All officers including captain dead,” the voice said, “lying in chartroom and on bridge, probably whole crew dead ... I die.”

With those words, the S.S. Ourang Medan cargo ship would go down in infamy. For decades, stories have circulated of the crew being found dead following the distress call, with no obvious cause. Worse, their faces were said to be frozen in horror, anguish, or a combination of the two.

Accounts of the disaster made their way around the world over the next few years, but they raised more questions than there were answers. Surely there was an investigation into the deaths! But no, the evidence was erased when the Ourang Medan's engine blew up, producing four explosions that destroyed the ship shortly after it was found. What cargo was the ship carrying? No one knew, because the ship apparently wasn't properly registered, which means it could have been carrying anything, including dangerous chemicals. Where did the information we have come from? Again, the answers are quite murky. Read what we know and what we don't know about the Ourang Medan at Mental Floss. 


New Ohio License Plate Design Corrected

Ohio's governor Mike DeWine unveiled the design for the state's new automotive license plate Thursday morning. The design features a wheat field, the Ohio River, cities, and mountains all in front of a sunrise. Overhead, the state shows off its pride in the Wright Brothers as the Wright Flyer pulls a banner saying "Birthplace of Aviation." No matter that the first flight took place in North Carolina, as Orville and Wilbur Wright were from Dayton, Ohio. But it was only a matter of minutes before someone discovered an error. The Wright Flyer is backwards, and appears to be pushing the banner from the front! You can see the proper orientation of the Wright Flyer in this colorized photo of Wilbur Wright.



What looks to a casual observer to be the tail of the plane were what the Wrights called "elevators" and were in the front of the plane. Obviously, the plate was designed by someone outside of Ohio, since they surely covered the momentous flight in school.

Colorful and packed with references, the “Sunshine in Ohio” plate was designed by Bureau of Motor Vehicles staff with direction from the governor and First Lady Fran DeWine, who wanted to showcase the state’s agriculture, nature, cities and flight history.

Oops. According to NBC 4, the design had since been corrected- but not before going viral. There's no word on what will happen to the plates that have already been printed at Ohio's Lebanon Correctional Facility. If any survive, they will certainly become collector's items. -via Fark

(Wright image colorized by Jared Enos)


How Finger Counting Works in Different Languages

If someone asks you to count with your fingers, how do you do it? Anand Jagatia writes for the BBC that this practice varies by culture.

Like a good American, I count off starting on my index fingers. Europeans tend to start with the thumb. Iranians start with the pinky finger. In Japan, the norm is to start with an open palm, then curl fingers in as they are counted.

Here’s where it starts to get complicated. In India, it’s common to count off the lines of the finger segments. In Tanzania, both hands are used, with counts switching from hand to hand, forming a symmetrical pattern. The Northern Pame people of Mexio prefer to count on knuckles. The Yuki people of California used to take a different approach: counting the spaces between the fingers. Read about these customs at BBC Future.

-via Kottke


When Colonel Sanders Created Kentucky Roast Beef

Harland Sanders came to financial success only in his sixties. By then, he was firmly committed to his restaurant vision as not only a means of making money, but serving particular types of food. He was a perfectionist, which sometimes caused conflicts with his business partners, such as former Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown.

In Colonel Sanders and the American Dream, Josh Ozersky describes some of the spin-off businesses that Brown encouraged as Sanders lost control over the company he founded. Among these were a motel chain named Colonel Sanders Inns and a line of British-inspired fish-and-chips shops called H. Salt., Esq., Authentic Fish and Chips (89-91).

Perhaps the most daring venture to accompany Kentucky Fried Chicken was Kentucky Roast Beef and Ham. It was modestly successful, both as freestanding restaurants and as additional menu items, but as it was not as wildly popular as the fried chicken, the company eventually dropped the chain in favor of a focus on fried chicken.

-via Weird Universe | Image: Kawanee Historical Society


Looking Into the Origin of Vampires

Stories of vampires have been around for about a thousand years, as far as we know, but those Eastern European tales did not involve bats or Romanian despots or anything we see from Hollywood. At its core, the vampire myth was a way of explaining terrible things that happened to people by blaming the dead. Disease was particularly troubling. Before germ theory, it was difficult to understand why a remote village would be stricken by horrific illnesses such as rabies or pellagra that caused such strange symptoms and usually death. In these isolated villages, every family knew at least one dead person who might be seeking revenge on the living when an outbreak occurred. Over time, they developed defenses against the dead, which often involved digging up graves to destroy the remains, a practice that continued well into the relatively modern times. Research into the matter is hampered by a centuries-old restriction on saying the name of the demon who caused the calamity. Read about the origins of the vampire legend at Atlas Obscura.


The Portuguese Diplomat Who Saved Thousands From the Nazis

Before reading this story, you should picture the movie Casablanca, and the desperation of the many refugees who just wanted to go somewhere safe. The following true story about desperate World War II refugees actually plays into the movie eventually.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes was a diplomat at the Portuguese consulate in Bordeaux, France, when Hitler's army invaded France in 1940. Refugees from Paris and all over the country headed south, hoping to cross into a safe country. Portugal was officially neutral regarding Hitler's march across Europe, and seemed a likely destination. But Portugal was ruled by the dictator António de Oliveira Salazar, who had forbidden Portuguese consulates to issue visas for refugees. Salazar wanted to keep the war at arm's length. Sousa Mendes had already gotten into trouble with his superiors for issuing a few visas here and there. Then he met a Polish rabbi named Chaim Kruger (pictured above with Sousa Mendes) who had fled from Belgium with his family ahead of the Nazis. Sousa Mendes told the rabbi that no visas could be arranged.    

Quietly, however, Sousa Mendes did request permission from Lisbon to issue the visas, and on June 13 the Foreign Ministry responded: “Recusados vistos.” Visas denied. Flouting his superior, Sousa Mendes offered Kruger the papers anyway. Kruger declined them. “It is not just me who needs help,” he told Sousa Mendes, “but all my fellow Jews who are in danger of their lives.”

Suddenly, Sousa Mendes’ selfless effort to help a new friend, to aid a single Jewish family, was revealed for what it truly was: A choice between saving himself and saving thousands, between obeying his government and obeying his conscience. The dilemma was so destabilizing that Sousa Mendes stumbled into his bedroom “as though he had been struck down by a violent disease,” his son recalled.

He finally emerged three days later. “I am going to issue a visa to anyone who asks for it,” he announced. “Even if I am discharged, I can only act as a Christian, as my conscience tells me.”

And so he did. Sousa Mendes issued thousands of visas in the next couple of weeks in Bordeaux, then moved to other French cities where refugees had gathered to sign more, to anyone who wanted to escape. Some of those refugees were people you've read about here at Neatorama. He even went to the Spanish border, where word had been sent not to honor Sousa Mendes' visas, and he managed to personally escort refugees across the border. But in Portugal, Salazar made sure Sousa Mendes paid for his actions. Read the story of the diplomat who followed his conscience at Smithsonian. 

(Image source: sousamendes.org)

See also: Holocaust Hero Chiune Sugihara


A Honest Trailer for Sean Connery as James Bond



The latest video from Screen Junkies is less an Honest Trailer and more of a tribute to the greatest James Bond ever, the original played by Sean Connery. His Bond was the ultimate role model for 1960s men: skilled, handsome, brave, sophisticated, clever, cool, and very lucky. He was also attractive to the women who could buy into the misogyny and objectification of the time. These movies offered action, intrigue, sex, comedy, and the good guy always won in the end. It was a standard formula, but one that worked. The Connery Bond movies were far from perfect, but they were enjoyable in a simple way.






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