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Facts About Every Student From the 30th Story of Wayside School

Louis Sachar's Sideways Stories From Wayside School series is still a favorite of elementary-age kids, decades after the first book hit the shelves. Each of the three books features 30 chapters -- one for each floor of the Wayside School building -- and each chapter (usually) features one student. Here are a few facts about each of the 30 students in Mrs. Jewls' class on the 30th story.

1. Allison was once stuck in Miss Zarves' class on the 19th floor for a week after she wondered whether Mrs. Jewls' class was really on the 29th floor, since the 19th story doesn't exist. (Sorry.) She knocked out Rondi's adorable front teeth.

2. Bebe Gunn's little brother Ray is trapped on the 19th story. (He's there because she made him up, and like a lot of things that don't exist, he's in Miss Zarves' class.) Bebe Gunn is the fastest drawer in class; she can knock out a picture of a flower in under 8 seconds.

3. Benjamin Nushmutt is called Mark Miller by everyone in class because he was too shy to correct Mrs. Jewls when she first introduced him. A student named Mark Miller is in Miss Zarves' class, but everyone calls him Benjamin Nushmutt. He has no idea why.

4. Calvin has a tattoo of a potato, and is best friends and drawing partners with Bebe. He has a cat named Mrs. Jewls. He was once sent to deliver a note to the 19th story, but Mrs. Jewls (the teacher) forgot to give him the note, and he didn't know how to find the 19th story because it doesn't exist. (Sorry.) So he went back to class, where Mrs. Jewls (the teacher) thanked him for being such a good helper.

5. Dameon runs up and down the stairs a lot, and is in love with Mrs. Jewls. Joy once stole his lunch and lied about it, then gave him hers when her mom dropped it off.

6. Dana owns a dog named Pugsy, who was instrumental in Myron's demotion from Class President. When she comes to class with a ridiculous number of mosquito bites, Mrs. Jewls turns Dana's mosquito bites into numbers so they won't itch anymore.

7. Deedee loves sports so much that she disguises herself as a dead rat (Mrs. Jewls' least favorite thing) so she'll get tossed out of the window at recess, giving her a jump on snagging one of the coveted green balls, which bounce the highest.

8. D.J. has a dog named O.K. D.J. is super-happy all the time. His best friend is Dameon, but he gets along with everyone because he's just so happy. (He says no explanation is required to be happy. Kid's onto something.)

9. Eric Bacon is the skinniest kid in class. Everyone calls him Fatso, because all Erics are fat. He may have been the left-handed Eric who called Miss Zarves the principal, Mr. Kidswatter, a mugworm griblick. He's a pretty great breakdancer, too, but he breaks things when he dances so breakdancing is banned at Wayside. His dog's name is Billy.

10. Eric Fry is the fattest kid in class, and the best athlete (even though he once dropped the ball during a game). Everyone calls him Butterfingers, because all Erics are terrible at sports. He has a goat named Billy.

11. Eric Ovens is the nicest kid in class. Everyone calls him Crabapple, because all Erics are grumpy. His cat's name is Billy.

12. Jason is in love with Allison. He has a big mouth (literally) and chews on pencils all the time. His dentist is a scam artist who extracts healthy teeth for extra money. Jason was once stuck to his chair, thanks to a wad of gum placed there by Joy. Joy kissed his nose and made him fall over, which freed him from his chair.

13. Jenny wears a helmet to class, for which she is always late. Jenny is famous for turning the evil Mrs. Gorf into an apple (by holding up a mirror as Mrs. Gorf tried to turn her into an apple) and for coming to school on a Saturday, where she encounters the men with attache cases.

14. Joe can't count but he always gets the right answer on math problems. One day he wakes up and is able to count perfectly, and then he announces that he has 55,006 hairs on his head. (All curly, as fans will remember.)

15. John sees the blackboard upside-down, which is a problem because Mrs. Jewls only writes right-side-up. Dana is afraid she has a crush on him. After trying to learn to stand on his head, John discovers that he can read right-side-up.... but now everything else is upside-down.

16. Joy is a lunch thief. She doesn't know why she does it, but she felt so guilty after stealing Dameon's lunch that, for a whole year, every item she took from him tastes like Miss Mush's cooking. (So, the worst ever.) She likes Todd's lunches especially, but has also been known to take Maurecia's ice cream. Joy is never punished herself, but manages to get other students in trouble in nearly every chapter.

17. Kathy is a terrible kid who doesn't like anyone but Sammy. The reasons she hates everyone else are really specific, but she also hates the person reading the Wayside books.

18. Leslie has long pigtails, which Paul likes to pull. Leslie's toes are useless to her, so she tries to sell them to Louis (the schoolyard teacher). He won't pay full price, but offers to pass them along to Miss Mush to make little hot dogs from. She declines, because she'd really like to get at least 50 cents for her toes. When Louis offers to buy her pigtails, Leslie is shocked. "Cut my hair! Are you crazy?"

19. Mac was once named Nancy, which was terrible for him because he was a boy. Nancy traded names with a girl named Mac, who later became his girlfriend. He also named his dog Mac.

20. Everyone loves Maurecia (except Kathy), and Maurecia loves ice cream and Todd (but only secretly). After trying every flavor of ice cream, her love for it disappears. But she still (secretly) loves Todd.

21. Myron is the only person ever brave enough to try Miss Mush's Mushroom Surprise. (The surprise was that he liked it.) He does not like dancing the tango in Mrs. Waloosh's class, though, which the other students think is crazy. After Myron was late for school because he rescued Dana's dog on the way, he is demoted from his role as Class President.

22. Paul pulls Leslie's pigtails every single day. First one, then the other. Despite this, Paul and Leslie are best friends.

23. Ron is the worst kickball player in school. No one will play with him, except the time Louis decided to give it a go. They were defeated two days in a row.

24. Rondi's best feature is her front teeth, according to everyone. Her best friend Allison punched them out. When Rondi's front teeth come back in, no one thinks she's cute anymore.

25. Sammy has a bad attitude and wears a bunch of raincoats to class. He's so rude and smells so terrible that only Kathy, the meanest girl in school, actually likes him. It is revealed that Sammy is actually a dead rat, Mrs. Jewls' least favorite thing, and she tosses him out.

26. Sharie has very, very long eyelashes and a non-stop life, so she wears an enormous coat to class, which she sleeps inside of during class. She fell out of the building once, only to have Louis save her at the last possible moment.

27. Stephen is a natural blond who took in a little too much pool time, turning his hair green from the chlorinated water. He always wears a bad outfit, and is the only student to dress up for Halloween (because it fell on a Sunday that year). When Pet Day comes around in the third book, Stephen doesn't have a pet. He names an orange Fido and brings that instead.

28. Terrence is really bad at playing ball, so he kicks it over the fence whenever he has a chance. Secretly, he really wants to play, but his reputation as a bully is better than being the new Ron of kickball, so he keeps it up even though he doesn't actually want to be mean.

29. Poor Todd gets in trouble every day, but it's never his fault. As a result, he goes home on the kindergarten bus at noon, and has no idea what happens in class from 12 to 2. Maurecia is in love with him, but talks badly about him when he isn't around, which is every afternoon.

30. A girl named Sue is featured in a spin-off book, Sideways Arithmetic From Wayside School, but never appears in the three novels. She can't understand Mrs. Jewls' method for doing math, and no one in class can understand her "normal" way of doing math. Mrs. Jewls finally suggests Sue try a different school.

My favorite student was Sammy. Do you have a favorite Wayside story? Or better yet, a potato tattoo?

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Food
Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
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You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

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Pop Culture
The Strange Hidden Link Between Silent Hill and Kindergarten Cop
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

by Ryan Lambie

At first glance, Kindergarten Cop and Silent Hill don't seem to have much in common—aside from both being products of the 1990s. At the beginning of the decade came Kindergarten Cop, the hit comedy directed by Ivan Reitman and starring larger-than-life action star Arnold Schwarzenegger. At the decade’s end came Silent Hill, Konami’s best-selling survival horror game that sent shivers down PlayStation owners’ spines.

As pop culture artifacts go, they’re as different as oil and water. Yet eagle-eyed players may have noticed a strange hidden link between the video game and the goofy family comedy.

In Silent Hill, you control Harry Mason, a father hunting for his daughter Cheryl in the eerily deserted town of the title. Needless to say, the things Mason uncovers are strange and very, very gruesome. Early on in the game, Harry stumbles on a school—Midwich Elementary School, to be precise—which might spark a hint of déjà vu as soon as you approach its stone steps. The building’s double doors and distinctive archway appear to have been taken directly from Kindergarten Cop’s Astoria Elementary School.

Could it be a coincidence?

Well, further clues can be found as you venture inside. As well as encountering creepy gray children and other horrors, you’ll notice that its walls are decorated with numerous posters. Some of those posters—including a particularly distinctive one with a dog on it—also decorated the halls of the school in Kindergarten Cop.

Do a bit more hunting, and you’ll eventually find a medicine cabinet clearly modeled on one glimpsed in the movie. Most creepily of all, you’ll even encounter a yellow school bus that looks remarkably similar to the one in the film (though this one has clearly seen better days).

Silent Hill's references to the movie are subtle—certainly subtle enough for them to pass the majority of players by—but far too numerous to be a coincidence. When word of the link between game and film began to emerge in 2012, some even joked that Konami’s Silent Hill was a sequel to Kindergarten Cop. So what’s really going on?

When Silent Hill was in early development back in 1996, director Keiichiro Toyama set out to make a game that was infused with influences from some of his favorite American films and TV shows. “What I am a fan of is occult stuff and UFO stories and so on; that and I had watched a lot of David Lynch films," he told Polygon in 2013. "So it was really a matter of me taking what was on my shelves and taking the more horror-oriented aspects of what I found.”

A scene from 'Silent Hill'
Divine Tokyoska, Flickr

In an interview with IGN much further back, in 2001, a member of Silent Hill’s staff also stated, “We draw our influences from all over—fiction, movies, manga, new and old.”

So while Kindergarten Cop is perhaps the most outlandish movie reference in Silent Hill, it’s by no means the only one. Cafe5to2, another prominent location in the game, is taken straight from Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers.

Elsewhere, you might spot a newspaper headline which references The Silence Of The Lambs (“Bill Skins Fifth”). Look carefully, and you'll also find nods to such films as The Shining, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, and 12 Monkeys.

Similarly, the town’s streets are all named after respected sci-fi and horror novelists, with Robert Bloch, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury, and Richard Matheson among the most obvious. Oh, and Midwich, the name of the school? That’s taken from the classic 1957 novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, twice adapted for the screen as The Village Of The Damned in 1960 and 1995.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Kindergarten Cop'
Universal Pictures

The reference to Kindergarten Cop could, therefore, have been a sly joke on the part of Silent Hill’s creators—because what could be stranger than modeling something in a horror game on a family-friendly comedy? But there could be an even more innocent explanation: that Kindergarten Cop spends so long inside an ordinary American school simply gave Toyama and his team plenty of material to reference when building their game.

Whatever the reasons, the Kindergarten Cop reference ranks highly among the most strange and unexpected film connections in the history of the video game medium. Incidentally, the original movie's exteriors used a real school, John Jacob Astor Elementary in Astoria, Oregon. According to a 1991 article in People Magazine, the school's 400 fourth grade students were paid $35 per day to appear in Kindergarten Cop as extras.

It’s worth pointing out that the school is far less scary a place than the video game location it unwittingly inspired, and to the best of our knowledge, doesn't have an undercover cop named John Kimble serving as a teacher there, either.

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