Shopping Carts That Aren't Shopping Carts

When is a shopping cart not a shopping cart? When it's a car, a work of art, a mobile farm, or a piece of furniture. Here are some ways that creative folks have thought outside the cart corral when it comes to the typical grocery basket on wheels.

A Grocery-Getter That Can Really Get Groceries

Of course the original intention was for shopping carts to carry food, but some folks have adapted them to carry more precious cargo – people. Charles Guan, an MIT student, took an old cart and gave it new life in the form of his LOLrioKart, named in homage to the classic series of Nintendo games, Mario Kart. Watching the videos as he zips around MIT's campus, powered using rechargeable batteries and an electric motor capable of 12 HP, the only thing missing are turtle shells, banana peels, and Yoshi.

But that's kid stuff compared to Britain's Andy Tyler and his rocket-powered shopping cart. In 2004, Tyler pulled an old "trolley" from a river, spent £50 on some scrap wheels, brakes, and a steering wheel, then strapped it to a homemade jet engine that he cobbled together from instructions he got off the internet. The cart can reach up to 50mph before it gets too unstable to control, but that's ok, because it runs out of gas in about two minutes anyway. Tyler has said, "People think I'm off my trolley, but it's exhilarating." No argument on the first part, Andy, but we'll just take your word on the second part if that's ok.

Tyler's cart is impressive, but it's not really practical, especially if you actually needed to carry food. For that chore, nothing beats Rodney Rucker and his 16-foot tall, V8-powered cart.

While not the only giant motorized shopping cart in the world, his is the only one that seats 6 comfortably in the basket, with another person behind the wheel in the kid's seat. This cart can cruise along at 60mph, so getting to the store and running errands is no problem at all. Just don't expect it to fit through the Starbucks drive-through on your way home.

If the motorized ones are a little too fast for your style, there's always the "cartrider," a shopping cart with its own built-in pedals and handlebars, by Korean artist Jaebeom Jeong.

Kickstart My Cart

While there's no Shopping Cart 500 just yet, if it has wheels, there's bound to be someone who will race it. And shopping carts are no exception.

The biggest shopping cart race is the Idiotarod, an urban endurance race inspired by the Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska. Except here, the sleds are shopping carts and the dogs are (usually inebriated) humans. The race was started in San Francisco in the mid-90s, but has since spread to cities all across the country, including Chicago, New York, Denver, Portland, L.A., and even our nation's capital. The race is less a race and more of a bar crawl, as the "dawgs" make their way from checkpoint bar to checkpoint bar by whatever route they choose, dressed in outlandish costumes, tied to their equally absurdly dressed carts. Part of the fun of the race is trying to sabotage each other's chances along the way with roadblocks, misinformation, and even dirty pool, like sticking your foot out as the competition runs by. While not the original intention, many Idiotarods now have an element of charity to go along with the fun. For example, at the 2010 Chiditarod in Chicago, each of 120 teams had to have at least 40 pounds of canned goods in their cart as they crossed the finish line. In all, the event brought in 14,525 pounds of food for local charities. But there are also plenty of fun prizes to be had by racers, who can win in categories ranging from 1st Place, Best Sabotage, Best Team Concept, and Dead F**king Last.

For Idiotarod racers, their shopping cart grand prix is a fun, one-day event. But for some, racing carts has become a way of life. The documentary film Carts of Darkness by Murray Siple tells the story of homeless men who turn their shopping carts full of recyclables into screaming hunks of metal and plastic, reaching speeds of 40mph as they go careening down the steep mountain roads of North Vancouver. With no brakes, no steering wheel, and nothing to lose, these daredevils find a thrill that many of us who live a "normal" life would never have the guts to even try. You can check out the whole film online thanks to the National Film Board of Canada, but the following YouTube clip will give you a sample of the excitement.

Old MacDonald Had a Cart

Thanks to the recent emphasis on locally grown produce and organic farming, many urbanites are looking for ways to grow their own food. But rooftop gardens aren't always allowed, and you can only get so much food out of a windowsill flower box. So the folks at Set and Drift, a design collective based out of San Diego, are trying to make urban farming more realistic with their Farm Proper project. The group takes abandoned or retired shopping carts and turns them into mobile, temporary organic gardens. The idea is to set a small group of carts in an empty lot and grow food there as long as possible for members of the surrounding community. If the lot is ever developed, you simply push the carts over to the next empty lot and keep growing.

A Truly Mobile Home

When the zombies start rising from the grave, here's hoping you're friends with Kevin Cyr. His Camper Kart combines everything you'll need to survive in one rolling package. Tucked inside a simple shopping cart is a pop-up camper big enough for one person, a mattress, a small table, a hatchet, a lantern, and storage space for other necessities that will come in handy while living on the outskirts of a city overrun by the living dead. The next morning, you can simply collapse everything back into the wire frame cart and continue the search for another rag tag group of survivors. With the Camper Kart, maybe the zombie apocalypse won't be so bad after all.

Cart Art

The iconic design of the shopping cart inspires many artists of many different styles. Perhaps one of the most famous is Frank Scheiner who, in 1983, built "Consumer's Rest," a chair made out of the body of a shopping cart. Artist Ramon Coronado has followed in Scheiner's footsteps with his project "Mercado Negro" (Black Market), a heavy duty, red plastic cart that has been cut up, bent around, and molded into an entire furniture set – a chair, a side table, a lamp, and even a swing. And while we don't condone stealing shopping carts, if you happen to wind up with a cart in your possession, you could always make your own version of Scheiner's classic design thanks to Tim Anderson's very informative Instructables post.

For a 2006 project, artist Ptolemy Elrington got his shopping carts out of the rivers surrounding Norwich, England, and turned them into sculptures of some of the region's water-dwelling creatures. It was all part of an effort by RiverCare, a British environmental organization, to raise awareness of their efforts to clean up local waterways. The sculptures won numerous awards and generated enough interest within the region to found over a dozen new groups to help keep their rivers clean.

Know of any other modified shopping cart projects out there? Ever raced in an Idiotarod? Have a favorite cart from the list? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

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Bad Moods Might Make You More Productive
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iStock

Being in a bad mood at work might not be such a bad thing. New research shows that foul moods can lead to better executive function—the mental processing that handles skills like focus, self-control, creative thinking, mental flexibility, and working memory. But the benefit might hinge on how you go through emotions.

As part of the study, published in Personality and Individual Differences, a pair of psychologists at the University of Waterloo in Canada subjected more than 90 undergraduate students to a battery of tests designed to measure their working memory and inhibition control, two areas of executive function. They also gave the students several questionnaires designed to measure their emotional reactivity and mood over the previous week.

They found that some people who were in slightly bad moods performed significantly better on the working memory and inhibition tasks, but the benefit depended on how the person experienced emotion. Specifically, being in a bit of a bad mood seemed to boost the performance of participants with high emotional reactivity, meaning that they’re sensitive, have intense reactions to situations, and hold on to their feelings for a long time. People with low emotional reactivity performed worse on the tasks when in a bad mood, though.

“Our results show that there are some people for whom a bad mood may actually hone the kind of thinking skills that are important for everyday life,” one of the study’s co-authors, psychology professor Tara McAuley, said in a press statement. Why people with bigger emotional responses experience this boost but people with less-intense emotions don’t is an open question. One hypothesis is that people who have high emotional reactivity are already used to experiencing intense emotions, so they aren’t as fazed by their bad moods. However, more research is necessary to tease out those factors.

[h/t Big Think]

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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
The 10 Wildest Movie Plot Twists
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

An ending often makes or breaks a movie. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as having the rug pulled out from under you, particularly in a thriller. But too many flicks that try to shock can’t stick the landing—they’re outlandish and illogical, or signal where the plot is headed. Not all of these films are entirely successful, but they have one important attribute in common: From the classic to the cultishly beloved, they involve hard-to-predict twists that really do blow viewers’ minds, then linger there for days, if not life. (Warning: Massive spoilers below.)

1. PSYCHO (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock often constructed his movies like neat games that manipulated the audience. The Master of Suspense delved headfirst into horror with Psycho, which follows a secretary (Janet Leigh) who sneaks off with $40,000 and hides in a motel. The ensuing jolt depends on Leigh’s fame at the time: No one expected the ostensible star and protagonist to die in a gory (for the time) shower butchering only a third of the way into the running time. Hitchcock outdid that feat with the last-act revelation that Anthony Perkins’s supremely creepy Norman Bates is embodying his dead mother.

2. PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

No, not the botched Tim Burton remake that tweaked the original movie’s famous reveal in a way that left everyone scratching their heads. The Charlton Heston-starring sci-fi gem continues to stupefy anyone who comes into its orbit. Heston, of course, plays an astronaut who travels to a strange land where advanced apes lord over human slaves. It becomes clear once he finds the decrepit remains of the Statue of Liberty that he’s in fact on a future Earth. The anti-violence message, especially during the political tumult of 1968, shook people up as much as the time warp.

3. DEEP RED (1975)

It’s not rare for a horror movie to flip the script when it comes to unmasking its killer, but it’s much rarer that such a film causes a viewer to question their own perception of the world around them. Such is the case for Deep Red, Italian director Dario Argento’s (Suspiria) slasher masterpiece. A pianist living in Rome (David Hemmings) comes upon the murder of a woman in her apartment and teams up with a female reporter to find the person responsible. Argento’s whodunit is filled to the brim with gorgeous photography, ghastly sights, and delirious twists. But best of all is the final sequence, in which the pianist retraces his steps to discover that the killer had been hiding in plain sight all along. Rewind to the beginning and you’ll discover that you caught an unknowing glimpse, too.

4. SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)

Sleepaway Camp is notorious among horror fans for a number of reasons: the bizarre, stilted acting and dialogue; hilariously amateurish special effects; and ‘80s-to-their-core fashions. But it’s best known for the mind-bending ending, which—full disclosure—reads as possibly transphobic today, though it’s really hard to say what writer-director Robert Hiltzik had in mind. Years after a boating accident that leaves one of two siblings dead, Angela is raised by her aunt and sent to a summer camp with her cousin, where a killer wreaks havoc. In the lurid climax, we see that moody Angela is not only the murderer—she’s actually a boy. Her aunt, who always wanted a daughter, raised her as if she were her late brother. The final animalistic shot prompts as many gasps as cackles.

5. THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995)

The Usual Suspects has left everyone who watches it breathless by the time they get to the fakeout conclusion. Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), a criminal with cerebral palsy, regales an interrogator in the stories of his exploits with a band of fellow crooks, seen in flashback. Hovering over this is the mysterious villainous figure Keyser Söze. It’s not until Verbal leaves and jumps into a car that customs agent David Kujan realizes that the man fabricated details, tricking the law and the viewer into his fake reality, and is in fact the fabled Söze.

6. PRIMAL FEAR (1996)

No courtroom movie can surpass Primal Fear’s discombobulating effect. Richard Gere’s defense attorney becomes strongly convinced that his altar boy client Aaron (Edward Norton) didn’t commit the murder of an archbishop with which he’s charged. The meek, stuttering Aaron has sudden violent outbursts in which he becomes "Roy" and is diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, leading to a not guilty ruling. Gere’s lawyer visits Aaron about the news, and as he’s leaving, a wonderfully maniacal Norton reveals that he faked the multiple personalities.

7. FIGHT CLUB (1999)

Edward Norton is no stranger to taking on extremely disparate personalities in his roles, from Primal Fear to American History X. The unassuming actor can quickly turn vicious, which led to ideal casting for Fight Club, director David Fincher’s adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel. Fincher cleverly keeps the audience in the dark about the connections between Norton’s timid, unnamed narrator and Brad Pitt’s hunky, aggressive Tyler Durden. After the two start the titular bruising group, the plot significantly increases the stakes, with the club turning into a sort of anarchist terrorist organization. The narrator eventually comes to grips with the fact that he is Tyler and has caused all the destruction around him.

8. THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)

Early in his career, M. Night Shyamalan was frequently (perhaps a little too frequently) compared to Hitchcock for his ability to ratchet up tension while misdirecting his audience. He hasn’t always earned stellar reviews since, but The Sixth Sense remains deservedly legendary for its final twist. At the end of the ghost story, in which little Haley Joel Osment can see dead people, it turns out that the psychologist (Bruce Willis) who’s been working with the boy is no longer living himself, the result of a gunshot wound witnessed in the opening sequence.

9. THE OTHERS (2001)

The Sixth Sense’s climax was spooky, but not nearly as unnerving as Nicole Kidman’s similarly themed ghost movie The Others, released just a couple years later. Kidman gives a superb performance in the elegantly styled film from the Spanish writer-director Alejandro Amenábar, playing a mother in a country house after World War II protecting her photosensitive children from light and, eventually, dead spirits occupying the place. Only by the end does it become clear that she’s in denial about the fact that she’s a ghost, having killed her children in a psychotic break before committing suicide. It’s a bleak capper to a genuinely haunting yarn.

10. MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)

David Lynch’s surrealist movies may follow dream logic, but that doesn’t mean their plots can’t be readily discerned. Mulholland Drive is his most striking work precisely because, in spite of its more wacko moments, it adds up to a coherent, tragic story. The mystery starts innocently enough with the dark-haired Rita (Laura Elena Harring) waking up with amnesia from a car accident in Los Angeles and piecing together her identity alongside the plucky aspiring actress Betty (Naomi Watts). It takes a blue box to unlock the secret that Betty is in fact Diane, who is in love with and envious of Camilla (also played by Harring) and has concocted a fantasy version of their lives. The real Diane arranges for Camilla to be killed, leading to her intense guilt and suicide. Only Lynch can go from Nancy Drew to nihilism so swiftly and deftly.

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