The Late Movies: Welcome Home, Soldier

For Veterans Days past, we've shown you videos of military servicemembers being welcomed home by their dogs. (See the 2009 and 2011 editions.) Today's videos are also of servicemembers' homecomings (and that of one contractor), but in this round-up, it's not the dogs who are being surprised. You might want to grab some tissues.

1. Luke, I Am Your Father

This servicemember showed up at his son's Star Wars-themed birthday party dressed as Darth Vader. The birthday boy was dressed as Luke Skywalker and his sister as Princess Leia.

2. Captain America

One little boy is surprised to find Captain America at his door; he's even more surprised to discover Captain America is his dad.

3. Biggest Present from Overseas

This boy thought he was opening the most recent--and biggest--package sent from his dad overseas, only to find his actual dad inside.

4. Scavenger Hunt

Mom Kim arranged a scavenger hunt with her husband at the end as a surprise for their 3 sons.

5. Football Game Coin Toss

This soldier surprised her son at his high school football game as the guest coin tosser.

6. Sitting on Santa's Lap

This servicemember's wife was expecting to land on the lap of one of Ellen's hunky Santas during Ellen Degeneres' talk show; she was surprised to find herself sitting on her husband's lap instead.


Asked to spell the word sergeant in a school spelling bee, a girl is shocked when her sergeant dad emerges from behind the stage.

8. Blue and the Indianapolis Colts

Blue, the mascot of the Indianapolis Colts, surprised Ashley Pezan and her daughter with not just a message from their servicemember, but with the man himself.

9. School Assembly

Cpl. Gerardo Benavides was the big prize for his children when they "won" a school Spirit Day game.

10. Movies on Valentine's Day

One servicemember took advantage of his early homecoming to plan a Valentine's Day surprise for his girlfriend. (I particularly like the crowd of moviegoers that gathers to watch the moment.)

11. All I Want For Christmas

Bethany Arnold asked Santa to bring her dad home from Iraq, and Santa delivered.

How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?

Here’s something else to stress about for Thanksgiving: where to put the stress in the word Thanksgiving.

If you’re from California, Iowa, or Delaware, you probably say ThanksGIVing, with the primary stress on the second syllable. If you’re from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Texas Panhandle, you probably say THANKSgiving, with the primary stress on the first syllable.

This north-south divide on syllable stress is found for other words like umbrella, guitar, insurance, and pecan. However, those words are borrowed from other languages (Italian, Spanish, French). Sometimes, in the borrowing process, competing stress patterns settle into regional differences. Just as some borrowed words get first syllable stress in the South and second syllable stress in the North, French words like garage and ballet get first syllable stress in the UK and second syllable stress in the U.S.

Thanksgiving, however, is an English word through and through. And if it behaved like a normal English word, it would have stress on the first syllable. Consider other words with the same noun-gerund structure just like it: SEAfaring, BAbysitting, HANDwriting, BULLfighting, BIRDwatching, HOMEcoming, ALMSgiving. The stress is always up front, on the noun. Why, in Thanksgiving alone, would stress shift to the GIVE?

The shift to the ThanksGIVing pronunciation is a bit of a mystery. Linguist John McWhorter has suggested that the loss of the stress on thanks has to do with a change in our concept of the holiday, that we “don’t truly think about Thanksgiving as being about thankfulness anymore.” This kind of thing can happen when a word takes on a new, more abstract sense. When we use outgoing for mail that is literally going out, we are likely to stress the OUT. When we use it as a description of someone’s personality ("She's so outgoing!"), the stress might show up on the GO. Stress can shift with meaning.

But the stress shift might not be solely connected to the entrenchment of our turkey-eating rituals. The thanksGIVing stress pattern seems to have pre-dated the institution of the American holiday, according to an analysis of the meter of English poems by Mark Liberman at Language Log. ThanksGIVing has been around at least since the 17th century. However you say it, there is precedent to back you up. And room enough to focus on both the thanks and the giving.

TAKWest, Youtube
Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
TAKWest, Youtube
TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]


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