CLOSE
Original image

Pictures From Our Readers: Their "Pants"

Original image

Last week, we asked our ever-growing army of reader-photographers to send us pictures of their "pants," which was our in-jokey way of referring to some funny, absurd or incongruous thing in their neighborhood. (Why "pants"? This post explains.) So this past weekend, flossers from all over the country scoured their 'hoods, cameras in hand, and now the frequently-hilarious fruits of their labor are in! So without further ado ... these are your pants. Many of the submissions fell into a few categories, which is how I'll organize them here.

Pictures Relating to Psychics and Religion

Reader Ellen spotted this graffiti on the outside of a bar in Towson, Maryland. I'll be up all night trying to figure out what it means.

psychic-manger.jpg
Reader Kate thought there was something incongruous about this elaborate Nativity scene on a psychic's front lawn. (I think Ellen's picture makes it obvious, Kate: this psychic was a Catholic until she developed psychic abilities.)

Creepy Visual Jokes on the Side of the Road
hillshaveeyes.jpg
Beth Layton writes: "With just some simple white boards, someone turned two boring holes in a hill into the feeling you're being watched. This adds a little something to the desolate drive to my nearest gambling town, Wendover Nevada, two hours from my home."

restarea.jpg
Reader Daniel snapped this photo from his car. "Apparently someone wanted to accommodate travelers along this stretch of rural road in upstate NY. Bless their hearts for thinking of others. This discarded toilet has been there for well over a year, and some kind soul added the sign, should anyone need to 'rest.'" (Great find, Daniel! Though it would be a little more fun if you'd caught someone taking advantage of this "rest area.")

Signs That Don't Make Sense
signs.jpg
Left: "I Fought the Claw," found by Juliet in Seattle. Right: "We Need A Hovercraft," bafflingly posted in front of Elizabeth McDowell's workplace in Charlotte, NC.

alien.jpg
Found by Njdu while visiting his family in Utah. (I called the number, it appears to be some kind of phone sex hotline? If so, this has got to be the world's weirdest ad for porn.)

adult-movie.jpg
... and speaking of porn, this photo was snapped by a reader (who prefers to remain anonymous) who says this sign is "somewhere along Interstate 10," though the gas station it advertises is long-gone. Too bad -- looks like that place had everything!

soleman.jpg
Chicken Soup for the Sole: Swapna Gupta found this sign in Hoover, Alabama, next door to a church. Seems like the shoe-repair guy is trying to steal some of the church's business!

Continue reading...

Cars That Make A Statement
cellphone.jpg
Reader Pete sent this in, and writes "One man's philosophy, carefully stenciled onto his truck. Near New Hope, PA."

log.jpg
It's log! From Hamilton Carter in Boulder, CO.

The Topiary That Should Not Be
topiary.jpg
... just in case they couldn't read it on your mailbox. Found in San Diego by Lebetho.

topiary-ass.jpg
The gigantic, buttocks-shaped topiary of Van Nuys, CA. (Thanks, Joe Maz!)

Really Bad Art
selleck.jpg
This painting of Tom Selleck hangs in the Midwest Museum of Art in Elkhart, Indiana. Thanks to Jennifer for sending it in. (By the way, Jennifer, I'm dying to know: what does the museum call this masterpiece?)

stop-chicken.jpg
Keri Woodward says this scrap metal bird is known as St. Paul, MN's "Stop Chicken" (although it looks more like a seagull to me). Maybe the Stop Chicken is saying "Stop making horrible public art!"

wooden-head.jpg
This happy-go-lucky cousin to Easter Island's menacing heads is the work of Wichita-based chainsaw sculptor Gino Salerno. (Thanks to Danielle Kelly for sending it in.)

fish.jpg
"This most decidedly ugly fish is the pride and joy of the Muskie Bar and Grill in my hometown of Ventura, IA. It is about the length of a full-size pickup truck, and the tackiness is completed by the "No Trespassing" sign nailed to its back fin. The giant muskie sits right on the busiest road in town, which runs along the lake shore. I consider this tree-turned-muskie my "pants" because every time I drive past it I say out loud, "there's that ugly fish!" (Thanks, Mindy!)

Graffiti

thatsright.jpg
Andre writes: "I'm a student at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Ga, and I came across this (what i assume to be commissioned...it was too intricate to not be) graffiti on a wall in a back alley we call 'sketchy alley.'" (Cool pic, Andre! But what were you doing hanging out in a sketchy alley?)

Continue reading...

live.jpg
"This is spray painted by my home in Layton, UT, on a small retainer wall next to the road. Behind 'Live and Let Live,' it says 'Live in the now.' I think both are good advice for anyone. It makes me happy!" Thanks, Zerra! (By the way, it occurs to me we've got a lot of flossers in Utah! Must be an intellectual state.)

Unusual Houses
hippie-house.jpg
Reader Lorena lives near this colorful house in Eugene, Oregon. Damn hippies!

house.jpg
This house outside Philadelphia was voted Most Likely to Give Children Nightmares by the local neighborhood association. (We especially love the happy plastic deer in the foreground. Shudder ...) Thanks, Pete!

mailbox.jpg
This worn-out mailbox comes with instructions, so you'll be sure to get your mail no matter how stupid your mailperson is. Pic courtesy Adam in Echo Park, LA, CA. (We love you too, Adam!)

The Saddest Christmas Tree (Both of Them)
Charlie-Brown.jpg
Kellie writes: "Every year my neighbor trims her Christmas tree and then takes one of the branches she cut off and puts it in my yard - with one decoration. Therefore, I have my very own Charlie Brown Christmas tree every year. I would take it down as it's almost February, but when she plants it in my yard, she "waters" it ... freezing it to the bottom of the snow bank. I should also note that I live in Duluth, MN, where it's winter 9 months out of the year, so by the time I am able to take it down, it'll be time for her to put a new one up!"

treecaughtinbars.jpg
Kath Oltsher in Edmonton, Alberta "found this tree caught by security bars against the window in an underused building. There it was, off an alley, to the side of an empty lot, in an area that could be called the "inner city," where the poorest live and where many of the people that used to be in mental health facilities were "mainstreamed into society" ended up. Who hung the Christmas balls, tinsel and ribbon on it?" (Some poor, mentally ill Charlie Brown, we'd imagine.)

Unsettling Juxtapositions in the Workplace

suggestionbox.jpg
Adrienne writes: "I work as an R&D supervisor in a cosmetics manufacturing plant in southwest Oklahoma. The factory is your typical industrial warehouse-type operation. In an effort to boost employee morale, upper management decided to put out a box where we could place suggestions for fun and great ideas like "have holidays off with pay," or "how about a raise, that sounds fun." Occasionally there are a few good ideas, but the suggestions, in general, are sarcastic and a little depressing. I included pictures of the Fun Suggestion Box as well as the factory. It is sadly out of place."

duckies.jpg
From reader Karen: "I work in the Chattanooga State Office Building (in TN), which is a very ugly government building. We have a fountain in the side lobby. Sometime last year, a lone rubber ducky appeared in that fountain. Then friends started to show up. Soon we had a whole flock of ducks. (Plus one blue whale.) Every so often, some will go missing, and a ransom note will get posted to the wall, usually demanding chocolate or coffee. We all like the ducks a lot."

And Finally ... Unclassifiable, from Liza!
bank-signs.jpg
"Though perhaps not as random as the example in the assignment, these
bank time/temp signs are the figurative "pants" I pass on my daily
walk to work in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. (2 views, the closer one
has one of the signs partially blocked by a street sign.) What's so
pants-y about them? 2 things:

(1) Their sheer redundancy. There's nowhere that you can stand to
see the leftmost/furthest sign that you can't also see the middle one.
Moreover, the two perpendicular signs on the corner (the middle and
right ones) could easily be replaced by a single sign extending
diagonally from the corner of the building. And yes, they all display
the same logo and time/temp on both sides, for a total of six displays
on a single building.

(2) Though you can't tell from the photos, all of the signs always
read exactly 10 degrees F higher than the actual outside temperature,
as confirmed by the other two bank time/temp signs within a two-block
radius and the weather.com report. They've read high since installed
last summer. It's beyond me how a professional sign installing
company can post 6--six! displays and not calibrate the thermometer (I
suspect a central feed, as all always read the same time/temp). At
least the time is correct."

Thanks to everyone who participated (and apologies if your photos weren't included in this challenge -- we'll getcha next time!) Anyone interested in participating in our next photo challenge, leave a comment here and let me know!

Original image
Netflix
arrow
entertainment
5 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 2
Original image
Netflix

Stranger Things seemed to come out of nowhere to become one of television's standout new series in 2016. Netflix's sometimes scary, sometimes funny, and always exciting homage to '80s pop culture was a binge-worthy phenomenon when it debuted in July 2016. Of course, the streaming giant wasn't going to wait long to bring more Stranger Things to audiences, and a second season was announced a little over a month after its debut—and Netflix just announced that we'll be getting it a few days earlier than expected. Here are five key things we know about the show's sophomore season, which kicks off on October 27.

1. WE'LL BE GETTING EVEN MORE EPISODES.

The first season of Stranger Things consisted of eight hour-long episodes, which proved to be a solid length for the story Matt and Ross Duffer wanted to tell. While season two won't increase in length dramatically, we will be getting at least one extra hour when the show returns in 2017 with nine episodes. Not much is known about any of these episodes, but we do know the titles:

"Madmax"
"The Boy Who Came Back To Life"
"The Pumpkin Patch"
"The Palace"
"The Storm"
"The Pollywog"
"The Secret Cabin"
"The Brain"
"The Lost Brother"

There's a lot of speculation about what each title means and, as usual with Stranger Things, there's probably a reason for each one.

2. THE KIDS ARE RETURNING (INCLUDING ELEVEN).

Stranger Things fans should gear up for plenty of new developments in season two, but that doesn't mean your favorite characters aren't returning. A November 4 photo sent out by the show's Twitter account revealed most of the kids from the first season will be back in 2017, including the enigmatic Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown (the #elevenisback hashtag used by series regular Finn Wolfhard should really drive the point home):

3. THE SHOW'S 1984 SETTING WILL LEAD TO A DARKER TONE.

A year will have passed between the first and second seasons of the show, allowing the Duffer brothers to catch up with a familiar cast of characters that has matured since we last saw them. With the story taking place in 1984, the brothers are looking at the pop culture zeitgeist at the time for inspiration—most notably the darker tone of blockbusters like Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

"I actually really love Temple of Doom, I love that it gets a little darker and weirder from Raiders, I like that it feels very different than Raiders did," Matt Duffer told IGN. "Even though it was probably slammed at the time—obviously now people look back on it fondly, but it messed up a lot of kids, and I love that about that film—that it really traumatized some children. Not saying that we want to traumatize children, just that we want to get a little darker and weirder."

4. IT'S NOT SO MUCH A CONTINUATION AS IT IS A SEQUEL.

When you watch something like The Americans season two, it's almost impossible to catch on unless you've seen the previous episodes. Stranger Things season two will differ from the modern TV approach by being more of a sequel than a continuation of the first year. That means a more self-contained plot that doesn't leave viewers hanging at the end of nine episodes.

"There are lingering questions, but the idea with Season 2 is there's a new tension and the goal is can the characters resolve that tension by the end," Ross Duffer told IGN. "So it's going to be its own sort of complete little movie, very much in the way that Season 1 is."

Don't worry about the two seasons of Stranger Things being too similar or too different from the original, though, because when speaking with Entertainment Weekly about the influences on the show, Matt Duffer said, "I guess a lot of this is James Cameron. But he’s brilliant. And I think one of the reasons his sequels are as successful as they are is he makes them feel very different without losing what we loved about the original. So I think we kinda looked to him and what he does and tried to capture a little bit of the magic of his work.”

5. THE PREMIERE WILL TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF HAWKINS.

Everything about the new Stranger Things episodes will be kept secret until they finally debut later this year, but we do know one thing about the premiere: It won't take place entirely in the familiar town of Hawkins, Indiana. “We will venture a little bit outside of Hawkins,” Matt Duffer told Entertainment Weekly. “I will say the opening scene [of the premiere] does not take place in Hawkins.”

So, should we take "a little bit outside" as literally as it sounds? You certainly can, but in that same interview, the brothers also said they're both eager to explore the Upside Down, the alternate dimension from the first season. Whether the season kicks off just a few miles away, or a few worlds away, you'll get your answer when Stranger Things's second season debuts next month.

arrow
Food
The Gooey History of the Fluffernutter Sandwich

Open any pantry in New England and chances are you’ll find at least one jar of Marshmallow Fluff. Not just any old marshmallow crème, but Fluff; the one manufactured by Durkee-Mower of Lynn, Massachusetts since 1920, and the preferred brand of the northeast. With its familiar red lid and classic blue label, it's long been a favorite guilty pleasure and a kitchen staple beloved throughout the region.

This gooey, spreadable, marshmallow-infused confection is used in countless recipes and found in a variety of baked goods—from whoopie pies and Rice Krispies Treats to chocolate fudge and beyond. And in the beyond lies perhaps the most treasured concoction of all: the Fluffernutter sandwich—a classic New England treat made with white bread, peanut butter, and, you guessed it, Fluff. No jelly required. Or wanted.

There are several claims to the origin of the sandwich. The first begins with Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere—or, not Paul exactly, but his great-great-great-grandchildren Emma and Amory Curtis of Melrose, Massachusetts. Both siblings were highly intelligent and forward-thinkers, and Amory was even accepted into MIT. But when the family couldn’t afford to send him, he founded a Boston-based company in the 1890s that specialized in soda fountain equipment.

He sold the business in 1901 and used the proceeds to buy the entire east side of Crystal Street in Melrose. Soon after he built a house and, in his basement, he created a marshmallow spread known as Snowflake Marshmallow Crème (later called SMAC), which actually predated Fluff. By the early 1910s, the Curtis Marshmallow Factory was established and Snowflake became the first commercially successful shelf-stable marshmallow crème.

Although other companies were manufacturing similar products, it was Emma who set the Curtis brand apart from the rest. She had a knack for marketing and thought up many different ways to popularize their marshmallow crème, including the creation of one-of-a-kind recipes, like sandwiches that featured nuts and marshmallow crème. She shared her culinary gems in a weekly newspaper column and radio show. By 1915, Snowflake was selling nationwide.

During World War I, when Americans were urged to sacrifice meat one day a week, Emma published a recipe for a peanut butter and marshmallow crème sandwich. She named her creation the "Liberty Sandwich," as a person could still obtain his or her daily nutrients while simultaneously supporting the wartime cause. Some have pointed to Emma’s 1918 published recipe as the earliest known example of a Fluffernutter, but the earliest recipe mental_floss can find comes from three years prior. In 1915, the confectioners trade journal Candy and Ice Cream published a list of lunch offerings that candy shops could advertise beyond hot soup. One of them was the "Mallonut Sandwich," which involved peanut butter and "marshmallow whip or mallo topping," spread on lightly toasted whole wheat bread.

Another origin story comes from Somerville, Massachusetts, home to entrepreneur Archibald Query. Query began making his own version of marshmallow crème and selling it door-to-door in 1917. Due to sugar shortages during World War I, his business began to fail. Query quickly sold the rights to his recipe to candy makers H. Allen Durkee and Fred Mower in 1920. The cost? A modest $500 for what would go on to become the Marshmallow Fluff empire.

Although the business partners promoted the sandwich treat early in the company’s history, the delicious snack wasn’t officially called the Fluffernutter until the 1960s, when Durkee-Mower hired a PR firm to help them market the sandwich, which resulted in a particularly catchy jingle explaining the recipe.

So who owns the bragging rights? While some anonymous candy shop owner was likely the first to actually put the two together, Emma Curtis created the early precursors and brought the concept to a national audience, and Durkee-Mower added the now-ubiquitous crème and catchy name. And the Fluffernutter has never lost its popularity.

In 2006, the Massachusetts state legislature spent a full week deliberating over whether or not the Fluffernutter should be named the official state sandwich. On one side, some argued that marshmallow crème and peanut butter added to the epidemic of childhood obesity. The history-bound fanatics that stood against them contended that the Fluffernutter was a proud culinary legacy. One state representative even proclaimed, "I’m going to fight to the death for Fluff." True dedication, but the bill has been stalled for more than a decade despite several revivals and subsequent petitions from loyal fans.

But Fluff lovers needn’t despair. There’s a National Fluffernutter Day (October 8) for hardcore fans, and the town of Somerville, Massachusetts still celebrates its Fluff pride with an annual What the Fluff? festival.

"Everyone feels like Fluff is part of their childhood," said self-proclaimed Fluff expert and the festival's executive director, Mimi Graney, in an interview with Boston Magazine. "Whether born in the 1940s or '50s, or '60s, or later—everyone feels nostalgic for Fluff. I think New Englanders in general have a particular fondness for it."

Today, the Fluffernutter sandwich is as much of a part of New England cuisine as baked beans or blueberry pie. While some people live and die by the traditional combination, the sandwich now comes in all shapes and sizes, with the addition of salty and savory toppings as a favorite twist. Wheat bread is as popular as white, and many like to grill their sandwiches for a touch of bistro flair. But don't ask a New Englander to swap out their favorite brand of marshmallow crème. That’s just asking too Fluffing much.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios