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The Weekend Links

A sundry of spooky links this week: we begin with the curious case of Mary Roff and Lurancy Vennum. From Merinda, "Short version is ... Mary Roff was crazy and died. Fifteen years after she died Lurancy Vennum went into a trance and when she woke up she claimed she was Mary Roff and was so convincing everyone believed it. She stayed 'Mary Roff' for a few months until Lurancy came back and went on to live a normal life."
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Last week I featured a link to some terrible Halloween costumes - but here are some that might actually be fun ideas (Thanks Andi), and a few more that are definitely topical!
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So there's this guy who shoots anvils 100 feet into the air. Yeah. I am not one of those women he mentions who asks why he does it, I'm one who exclaims "THAT'S. AWESOME."
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Local (and national news) at its finest: a fabulous list of Caption Fails.
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Say hello to flu season in style with these 10 Swanky Swine Flu Masks
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Wikipedia does many things right (probably not as many as we would like to think), but it does a few things wrong ... in particular, 5 searches that, for populist reasons, should reconsider the first source you are directed to!
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Celebrity yearbook photos remind us that before all the plastic surgery and money for hair and clothes that deep down, they're just like us (right?). Well the same goes for these political figures, too.
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In case you were wondering what kind of space exploration we've done in the past 50 years, here's a handy (and beautiful) map. Speaking of maps, here's another unusual but fantastic rendering of Europe, 1914.

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It's raining cats and dogs as I am preparing the Weekend Links, so here are two apropos offerings about each: First, cats in wigs (yes, seriously, this is probably why the internet was invented), and dogs with the best in home architecture.
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From the Annals of Too Much Time: "This is a video montage of every single Cosmo Kramer entrance in Seinfeld history, and it will hypnotize you into a dream-like state within 1 minute. It's really quite impressive how his slide/twitch move progressed over the years."
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More spooky fun: 10 of the Creepiest Art Toys
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From Jan, "I know Mental Floss mentioned this last week, but don't remember if there was a link to these great pictures." So without further ado ... here they are: Celebration of the Reunification of Berlin (how freaking creepy are those gigantic marionettes??)
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I see you, gecko! Though admittedly, not at first. "A mossy leaf-tailed gecko is almost invisible while resting on a lichen-covered sapling in the eastern forests of Madagascar. This is one of the most dramatic examples of crypsis that we have ever photographed."
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Don Draper would be proud (perhaps) at the staying power of these 10 Food Mascots.
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From top-notch links-finder Sarah (this is but one of her many contributions this week) comes an interesting and uplifting tale of a Cub Scout who saved his teacher from choking.
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Great Photoshop skills can do more than just create silly pictures or make you look not SO disastrous from that one wild night, but it can also do great things like helping to find missing kids.
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And if all this wasn't enough for you, here are 50 Kick-Ass Websites You Need to Know About.

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Thanks as always to everyone who sent in links this week - keep it up! Send all finds to FlossyLinks@gmail.com, and have a great weekend!

[Last Weekend's Links]

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iStock
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How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?
iStock
iStock

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.

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TAKWest, Youtube
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entertainment
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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