Original image

The Quick 10: Happy Belated Guy Fawkes Day!

Original image

I guess with all of the election stuff going on here in the States, we here at the _floss completely overlooked that yesterday was Guy Fawkes Day. While it may not be a huge celebration (or even a celebration at all) in the U.S., it's quite a big deal in Great Britain. It's also observed in certain parts of Canada, South Africa, the Caribbean and New Zealand). So, in at attempt to make it up to the late Mr. Fawkes, I thought we'd honor him (I suppose "honor" him would be more appropriate) with the Q10 today.


1. First of all "“ why does Guy Fawkes deserve his own holiday? Well, in 1605, he was in charge of carrying out the Gunpowder Plot: he and his group of men conspired to kill the King, his family, and lots of other important people by blowing up the House of Lords. The plot was foiled. It's my understanding (I know you guys will correct me if I'm wrong) that the festivities are basically a mockery of Guy Fawkes and a celebration that the King was safe. Although there are certain factions of people who celebrate Fawkes himself, I'm sure.

2. In order to blow up the House of Lords while Parliament was meeting (thus taking out the most number of people possible), Guy Fawkes and his group hid more than 1,800 pounds of gunpowder underneath the building in the cellar. They hid it beneath various scraps of wood and iron.

3. Legend has it that the plan was foiled at the very last possible second "“ Guy Fawkes himself was just about to touch his torch to the gunpowder (he had made it quite clear that he didn't mind blowing himself up as well as the House of Lords) when magistrate Peter Heywood grabbed the torch.

4. Fawkes was severely tortured for his actions. At first he refused to give his name, insisting that he went by "John Johnson." The King instructed that the torture should get increasingly worse the longer Fawkes held out. It took four days before Fawkes admitted anything, and that was only after he found out his friends had already been captured.

5. Fawkes and his co-conspirators were ultimately all hanged, drawn and quartered for their crimes.

6. Anarchists love this guy: a famous poster in the mid-20th century declared that Guy Fawkes was "The only man ever to enter Parliament with honest intentions." But the phrase has been around for a long time "“ probably since the day after he was captured.

vendetta7. He's also very popular in literature. J.K. Rowling named Dumbledore's phoenix after him and he is referenced in everything from Jane Eyre and David Copperfield to Fahrenheit 451 and V for Vendetta. The masks, specifically, are based on him.

8. Traditional food eaten on Guy Fawkes night include bonfire toffee, toffee apples, baked potatoes and black peas with vinegar. I get the bonfire toff and the baked potatoes, but black peas and toffee apples are beyond my comprehension. I bet one of you _flossy readers knows, though.

9. There are all kinds of rhymes and songs and poems based on Mr. Fawkes. I really like this one:

Guy guy guy
Poke him in the eye,
Put him on the bonfire,
And there let him die.

It's the perfect rhyme for school children, don't you think? But it goes well with our final fact:

10. It's not uncommon for people to burn effigies of Guy Fawkes in giant bonfires. It used to be much more widely practiced, however. Kids also get to collect pennies for "the guy" "“ for his eyes, I presume?? It's kind of like trick-or-treating for UNICEF, except the kids get to keep the money.

So, happy belated Guy Fawkes Day. if you celebrated, leave us a comment and let us know what traditions you followed.

Original image
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
Original image

According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

Original image
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
Original image

If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]


More from mental floss studios