Our Readers' Best Halloween Costumes

At the beginning of the month, we asked for photos of your best Halloween costumes — the geeky ones, the nerdy ones, the ones of which you're particularly proud. After sifting through all the e-mails, we're proud to present our readers' best Halloween costumes. Enjoy!

(40 photos is a lot for one post, so we've paginated it as a courtesy to those of you with slower internet connections.)

Sheila S. (second from left) and friends, who know that a "group costume is infinitely more fun," spent one Halloween as Odlaw, Wizard Whitebeard, Wenda, Woof, and—of course—Waldo (Wally). "Costumes were complete with accessories (scroll, binoculars, cane, etc.), and Woof even had a personalized dog tag reading 'If found please return to Waldo'."

Amanda M. and her boyfriend dressed up as Jamie and Adam from MythBusters.

Reader Jessica V., at left, knows how to turn lemons into lemonade: "I'm going through chemo right now which means I don't have any hair, so I figured what better time to rock a Borg costume?" We couldn't agree more, Jessica. At right is reader Jen B., who made her great Stargate Jaffa Serpent Guard costume from cardboard.

At left, reader Meg B. as Edward Scissorhands. At right, reader Jason B. as his interpretation of Lady GaGa based on her song "Poker Face."

Two instantly recognizable TV characters: reader Anneke M. as Carmen Sandiego and reader Robert H. as Mr. Rogers. Anneke discovered that her classmates at BYU are quite the geography fans: "I had people screaming they'd "found" me everywhere I went."

Both Kerri (left) and Molly U. (right) invested some serious time into their home-made costumes.

For her Luna Lovegood costume, Kerri made the necklace, earrings, scarf, wand, glasses, and robe.

Molly made her entire Zelda costume from scratch, including the hand-painted tapestry hanging on the front.

Stephanie S. has dressed up as Agent Scully, E.T. (complete with bag of Reese's Pieces), and, breaking away from the alien-theme, Marge Simpson, although she says many people mistook her for Thing 1: "I think the hair is too bright of a blue."

The Rodgers family got creative with cardboard boxes: mom Sara dressed up as the TARDIS, kids Oliver and Landon were the Transformers Starscream and Megatron (that transformed "weakly, but still awesome when they used the right noises!"), and dad Mike was a red LEGO brick.

Landon has also dressed up as Dr. Horrible, "with FREEZE RAY!", as seen below left.

Reader Chris S. and family, above right, dressed as The Riddler, Poison Ivy, and Batgirl this year. All 3 costumes were home made.

Reader Betsy's 12-year-old daughter won't have any trouble trick-or-treating in the dark!

In 1988, "totally nerdy" reader Brian M. went trick-or-treating as Michael Dukakis, accompanied by a blow-up Ronald Reagan.

Shana C. as (a female) Alex from A Clockwork Orange.

Reader Jennifer W. dressed her 2-year-old twin boys in homemade Mario and Luigi costumes, because "Good Nerd Parents Raise Good Nerd Babies."

Robyn's stepson and his father have matching homemade Mario costumes for this year, accompanied by an 8-months-pregnant Robyn as Boo.

Our last Mario-inspired costume: Reader Augustus F. and his grandson teamed up as (big) Mario and (little) Luigi for Halloween this year.

Reader Lilly, at left, spent last Halloween as Firefox; she's repeating the costume this year but "expanding her search engine entourage." Reader Miranda O., at right, dressed as the Prince(ss) from Katamari; she brought along the booklet to explain her costume.

At left: Reader and law student Annie G. dressed as a LOLcat. At right: Reader Venus M. as an awkward turtle.

Tracie S. submitted this photo taken at the Halloween party held at her husband's independent game store; this guest was dressed as the "Nyan Cat."

Kimberly W. is going as SNL's Land Shark skit this year: "I'm the door. And when someone comes near my door I knock on it. They say "Who's there?" If I say "Landshark", I turn around and there's a picture of a landshark on one side, with "Trick or Treat?!" on the sides. If I say "CandyGram", I give them a piece of candy through the mail slot."

The daughters of reader Kathie R., Anna (5) and Liz (9), are trick-or-treating as Darth Vader and Princess Leia tonight, making Kathie one "proud mama right now!"

Continuing the Star Wars theme is Rohr Chamberlain in costumes made by his dad, Alex. This year they're doing Halo armor.

At left is reader Lisa K. as Beaker, holding the "severed head of Bunsen." At right, Lisa is dressed as Bender, accompanied by her boyfriend dressed as Dr. Zoidberg.

On the left: Kyla S., who won her work costume contest with her wedding cake costume. On the right: Jennifer W. (a different reader than the previously mentioned Jennifer W.), who used an Athena costume and a hand-drawn scale to dress as Lady Justice.

The very first photo we received was from Cassidy N., who built a mock-up of the Iron Man arc reactor and then "gave [him]self the hostage treatment from the beginning of the first Iron Man movie."

5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.


Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.


Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.


If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.


While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.


Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

Svetlana Ivanova, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0
What It's Like to Live in Yakutsk, Siberia, the Coldest City on Earth
Svetlana Ivanova, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0
Svetlana Ivanova, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

The residents of Yakutsk, Siberia are experts at surviving harsh winters. They own thick furs, live in houses built for icy environments, and know not to wear glasses outdoors unless they want them to freeze to their face. This is life in the coldest city on Earth, where temperatures occupy -40°F territory throughout winter, according to National Geographic.

Yakutsk has all the features of any other mid-sized city. The 270,000 people who live there have access to movie theaters, restaurants, and a public transportation system that functions year-round. But look closer and you’ll notice some telling details. Many houses are built on stilts, and if they’re not, the heat from the building thaws the permafrost beneath it, causing the structure to sink. People continue going outside during the coldest months, but only for a few minutes at a time to avoid frostbite.

Then there's the weather. The extreme low temperatures are cold enough to freeze car batteries and the fish sold in open-air markets. Meanwhile, a thick fog is a constant presence in the city, giving it an otherworldly aura.

Why do people choose to live in such a harsh environment? Beneath Yakutsk lies a literal treasure mine: Mines in the area produce a fifth of the world’s diamonds. Valuable natural gas can also be recovered there.

While Yakutsk may be the coldest city on Earth, it’s not the coldest inhabited place there is. That distinction belongs to the rural village of Oymyakon, 575 miles to the east, where temperatures recently dropped to an eyelash-freezing -88°F.

Snow-covered road.
Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna- CAFF, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Road covered in snow.
Magnús H Björnsson, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Church surrounded by snow.
Magnús H Björnsson, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

[h/t National Geographic]


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