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What Kevin McCallister's Awful Family Is Doing Now

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It’s that time of year again: travel, annoying family, scary neighbors and, of course, bumbling burglars. Yep, I’m talking Home Alone. Since the movie is now 24 years old, Kevin McCallister’s jerky siblings are all grown up. Here’s how they've been keeping themselves busy since they were last seen harassing poor Kev.

1. Angela Goethals, AKA Linnie.

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What she’s up to: Linnie has been busy. Since her turn as Kevin’s snooty sister in 1990, Angela Goethals has been in a ton of television dramas, including 24, Six Feet Under, Grey’s Anatomy, Boston Public, Crossing Jordan and Law & Order. Basically, she’s one of those actresses that makes you go, “Hey, I know her from somewhere...” every time she appears on your television.

2. Devin Ratray, AKA Buzz.

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What he’s up to: Like his movie sister, Ratray has been steadily making appearances on TV ever since he pretended to puke up Kevin’s precious cheese pizza. You might have seen him on Supernatural, Law & Order and The Good Wife. He was in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska last year, and has several movies scheduled to be released in 2015.

3. Gerry Bamman, AKA Uncle Frank.

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What he’s up to: Guess who else has been on Law & Order? Yep: Uncle Frank. As four different characters over a period of nearly 15 years, actually.

4. Hillary Wolf, AKA Megan.

Line: “The dope was whining about a suitcase. What was I supposed to do? Shake his hand and say, ‘Congratulations, you're an idiot’?”

What she’s up to: Well, after landing the role of Laura in the 1992 movie Big Girls Don’t Cry... They Get Even, Wolf put acting on hold to join the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympic Judo team for the U.S. She didn’t medal, but she is a second-degree black belt. And you thought Kevin was the tough McCallister.

5. Michael Maronna, AKA Jeff.

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What he’s up to: You’re almost definitely familiar with Maronna’s work in the mid-’90s. The Adventures of Pete & Pete was basically one of the best shows to ever run on Nickelodeon (and this is coming from a huge Clarissa Explains It All fan). Though he has had some notable parts since then - Slackers, for one - Maronna is mostly working behind the camera these days. He’s done electrical rigging for movies ranging from Sex and the City to The Smurfs.

He was also in Law & Order.

6. Kristin Minter, AKA Heather.

Line: “Eleven, including me. Five boys, six girls, four parents, two drivers, and a partridge in a pear tree.”

What she’s up to: She was only the subject of the best movie tagline ever written: “When a girl has a heart of stone, there’s only one way to melt it. Just add ice.” In case that doesn’t immediately ring a bell, let me jog your memory:

Kristin Minter played Kathy, Ice’s love interest. Though she has had parts on Ray Donovan, The Mentalist, and Nip/Tuck, among others, she has not been on Law & Order. Yet.

7. Kieran Culkin, AKA Kevin’s cousin Fuller.

Line: No lines, just a lot of references to his incontinence problem.

What he’s up to: Little Fuller has since had a pretty successful career on stage and screen. He received lots of critical acclaim for his title role in Igby Goes Down in 2002 and was also enjoyable in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World in 2010. In between, he’s been starring on stages from New York to London and Sydney. He's currently starring in This Is Our Youth on Broadway with Michael Cera and Tavi Gevinson.

8. Anna Slotky, AKA Kevin’s cousin Brooke.

Line: Brooke is one of the cousins who tells Joe Pesci that yes, her parents are home, but no, they don’t live there.

What she’s up to: After about a decade in the entertainment industry - she was Ruth Ann in The Torkelsons and had parts on Third Rock From the Sun and Sister, Sister - Slotky went to the University of California to get her JD and is now practicing law in the Los Angeles area.

9. Senta Moses, AKA Kevin’s cousin Tracy.

Line: Tracy doesn’t talk much. I think her only line in the movie is when she asks for shampoo.

What she’s up to: Moses is another one of those actresses who has been getting consistent TV work, but my favorite is her part as the bubbly Delia Fisher on My So-Called Life. However, if you weren’t into watching Angela Chase constantly make bad decisions about Jordan Catalano, you’ve still probably seen Senta Moses on Greek, General Hospital, The Mentalist, Beakman’s World, Sister, Sister and about a million other things.

10. Jedidiah Cohen, AKA Kevin’s cousin Rod McCallister.

Line: Rod is mostly notable for the conversation he has with Buzz about French girls not shaving their pits and how France’s nude beaches are shut down for the winter.

What he’s up to: After getting a BA in Astrophysics and Astronomy at Harvard, Cohen was the Vice President and Operations Manager at New York real estate firm Cooper & Cooper. Then he founded RocketHub, a crowdfunding site similar to Kickstarter.

This post originally appeared in 2012.

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Autumn Equinox 2017: Today Is the First Day of Fall
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On September 22, at 4:02 p.m. ET, the Sun will shine directly over the equator—the midpoint of the Earth. The whole world will thus experience a day and night of equal length. In the Northern Hemisphere, we call this the autumn equinox. It marks the first day of fall. Around the world, people are marking the day with ceremonies, some of them ancient (and some less so).

You might be wondering two things: 1. Why on almost every other day of the year (the vernal equinox being the other exception) do different parts of the world have days and nights of differing length? 2. What do they call the day in the Southern Hemisphere?

A DAY AT THE BEACH

The answer to each of these questions resides in the Earth's axial tilt. The easiest way to imagine that tilt is to think about tanning on the beach. (Stay with me here.) If you lay on your stomach, your back gets blasted by the Sun. You don't wait 30 minutes then flop over and call it a day. Rather, as you tan, every once in a while, you shift positions a little. Maybe you lay a bit more on one side. Maybe you lift a shoulder, move a leg a little. Why? Because you want the Sun to shine directly on a different part of you. You want an even tan.

It might seem a little silly when you think about it. The Sun is a giant fusion reactor 93 million miles away. Solar radiation is hitting your entire back and arms and legs and so on whether or not you adjust your shoulder just so. But you adjust, and it really does improve your tan, and you know this instinctively.

An autumn equinox celebration at the Neris River waterfront in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Petras Malukas/AFP/Getty Images

The Earth works a lot like that, except it's operating by physics, not instinct. If there were no tilt, only one line of latitude would ever receive the most direct blast of sunlight: the equator. As the Earth revolved around the Sun, the planet would be bathed in sunlight, but it would only be the equator that would always get the most direct hit (and the darkest tan). But the Earth does have a tilt. Shove a pole through the planet with one end sticking out the North Pole and one end sticking out the South, and angle the whole thing by 23.5 degrees. That's the grade of Earth's tilt.

Now spin our little skewered Earth and place it in orbit around the Sun. At various points in the orbit, the Sun will shine directly on different latitudes. It will shine directly on the equator twice in a complete orbit—the fall and spring equinoxes—and at various points in the year, the most direct blast of sunlight will slide up or down. The highest latitude receiving direct sunlight is called the Tropic of Cancer. The lowest point is the Tropic of Capricorn. The poles, you will note, are snow white. They have, if you will, a terrible tan—and that's because they never receive solar radiation from a directly overhead Sun (even during the long polar summer, when the Sun never sinks below the horizon).

WHEN DO THE SEASONS CHANGE?

A Maya priestess conducts an autumn equinox ceremony at El Salvador's Cihuatan Archeological Park.
Jose Cabezas/AFP/Getty Images

The seasons have nothing to do with the Earth's distance from the Sun. Axial tilt is the reason for the seasons. The Sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer (66.5 degrees latitude in the Northern Hemisphere) on June 21 or 22. When that occurs, the Northern Hemisphere is in the summer solstice. The days grow long and hot. As the year elapses, the days slowly get shorter and cooler as summer gives way to autumn. On September 21 or 22, the Sun's direct light has reached the equator. Days and night reach parity, and because the Sun is hitting the whole world head-on, every latitude experiences this simultaneously.

On December 21 or 22, the Sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning the Northern Hemisphere is receiving the least sunlight it will get all year. The Northern Hemisphere is therefore in winter solstice. Our days are short and nights are long. Parity will again be reached on March 21 or 22, the vernal equinox for the Northern Hemisphere, and the whole process will repeat itself.

Druids on London's Primrose Hill marking the autumn equinox.
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Now reverse all of this for the Southern Hemisphere. When we're at autumnal equinox, they're at vernal equinox. Happy first day of spring, Southern Hemisphere!

And welcome to fall, Northern Hemisphere! Enjoy this long day of sunlight, because dark days are ahead. You'll get less and less light until the winter solstice, and the days will grow colder. Take solace, though, in knowing that the whole world is experiencing the very same thing. Now it's the Southern Hemisphere's turn to get ready to spend some time at the beach.

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11 Sweet Facts About Rosh Hashanah
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The first Rosh Hashanah supposedly occurred in the Garden of Eden. But what does this important Jewish holiday involve today?

1. IT LITERALLY TRANSLATES AS "HEAD OF THE YEAR."

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, can fall any time between the fifth of September and the fifth of October on the Gregorian Calendar. On the Jewish calendar, it is the first day of the month of Tishrei and marks the start of the High Holy Days. These days are also known as the days of awe, ushering in the final phase of atonement. The holiday celebrates the anniversary of the creation of the world.

2. FOR THE MONTH BEFORE, JEWS ASK FOR FORGIVENESS FROM FRIENDS AND FAMILY.

In order to have a clean slate going into the New Year, Jews ask for forgiveness from those close to them. The idea here is that God cannot forgive transgressions against people until those wronged have forgiven.

3. TRADITIONALLY, ROSH HASHANAH HAPPENS OVER TWO DAYS.

These days are combined into the yoma arichta, or "long day." At sunset on the first evening, candles are lit by the lady of the house. Then blessings are recited: a traditional holiday blessing over the candles, followed by the shehecheyanu, a thanksgiving prayer for special occasions. Both evenings also feature a festive meal.

4. UNLIKE DECEMBER 31, THE JEWISH NEW YEAR IS A TIME OF SERIOUS REFLECTION AND REPENTANCE.

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Even Jews who go to synagogue at no other time of year will often go on the high holidays, which include Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Religious poems called piyyutim are recited and a special high holy day prayer book called the machzor is used. The service is often longer than Sabbath services, and centers around the theme of God’s sovereignty, remembrance, and blasts of the shofar (see below).

5. DESPITE NOT BEING A HUGE PARTY, JEWS ARE EXPECTED TO ENJOY THE YOM TOV, OR HOLIDAY.

People often get fresh haircuts and new clothes in order to celebrate. The tradition is to wear white clothing as a sign of purity and renewal. Some avoid wearing red, since it's the color of blood.

6. ACCORDING TO THE TALMUD, ON ROSH HASHANAH, GOD INSCRIBES EVERYONE'S NAMES INTO ONE OF THREE BOOKS.

The metaphorical understanding is that good people go into the Book of Life, and evil ones into the Book of Death; those who are in the middle are put in an intermediate one and have judgment put off until Yom Kippur. Since virtually no one is all good or all evil, you're supposed to assume you fall somewhere in the middle, and in order to be inscribed in the Book of Life for the coming year, it is important to do everything possible to atone before Yom Kippur.

7. THE SOUNDING OF THE SHOFAR IS THE MOST ICONIC IMAGE OF THIS HOLIDAY.

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The shofar is a ram’s horn that is curved and bent. It is hollowed out and blown during religious ceremonies to make three different sounds. Hearing it is meant to call you to repent.

8. WHILE SOME JEWISH HOLIDAYS INVOLVE FASTING, ROSH HASHANAH INVOLVES A FEAST.

It is traditional to eat apples dipped in honey to represent having a sweet year ahead. A round challah bread symbolizes the cycle of the year (another interpretation is that it represents a crown and thus God’s sovereignty). Sometimes a fish, or just its head, is included, possibly to represent that as fish cannot survive without water, Jews cannot survive without the Torah. Pomegranates contain many seeds, which have long been associated with the commandments that Jews follow, so by eating them they remind themselves to be good in the coming year. Other common foods include dates, leeks, gourds, and black-eyed peas, all of which are mentioned in the Talmud as foods to eat on New Year’s.

9. SOME BRANCHES OF JUDAISM PARTICIPATE IN THE RITUAL OF TASHLIKH, OR "CASTING OFF."

The ritual involves standing near water, like a river, and reciting prayers. Then participants symbolically cast away their sins by throwing bread crumbs or stones into the water. This is supposedly derived from the Biblical passage “You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19), although most Jewish sources trace it back to 15th century Germany. In New York City, large groups gather on the Brooklyn Bridge, while in Israel—where there is much less open water—people might use something as small as a fish pond.

10. THERE ARE VARIOUS TRADITIONAL GREETINGS FOR ROSH HASHANAH.

L'Shana Tova Tea-ka-tayvu is Hebrew for “May you be inscribed for a good year,” referring to that person’s name being put in the Book of Life. This is often shortened to Shana Tova, which just means “Good Year.” This isn’t to be confused with wishing each other a “Happy New Year.” Happy implies a level of superficiality, while the Jewish wish for a good year hopes the person will achieve their purpose.

11. THE HAVDALAH PRAYER IS PERFORMED AS NIGHT FALLS ON THE SECOND AND LAST DAY.

It involves saying blessings over a full cup of kosher wine or grape juice, although other drinks can be used in a pinch. After this, Rosh Hashanah is over.

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