Thinking Cap: Podcasts, Articles And Clips To Make You Smarter

Thinking Cap: Podcasts, Articles And Clips To Make You Smarter

This week we’re sharing some spooky stories, a trick-or-treat safety video from the ’70s, endangered dog breeds and the market forces behind them and why those preview ads before movies are called “trailers”.

Welcome to Lifehacker’s Thinking Cap, a series where we round up interesting, informative and thought-provoking podcasts, interviews, articles and other media that will teach you something new, inspire you and hopefully cap off your week nicely.

A Haunted Hotel in Niagra Falls

If you’re a fan of spooky stories, you might consider a night in the Red Coach Inn, in Niagra Falls. From the outside it looks cosy, even comfortable, but Oyster explains that it’s hiding a secret:

The sky may be an ominous blue-grey, but the 93-year-old, English Tudor-style inn, with a red-bricked first floor, black wrought iron gates, and deep-steeped roof, appears warm and welcoming. You can almost picture a fire roasting inside. Outside, there’s a large covered seating area where several guests are munching away on appetizers and sipping wine. And, just a few paces across the road, visitors can spy a gorgeous view of Niagara’s upper falls.

So you’d never guess that a young woman was murdered on the inn’s third floor.

Yikes. And yes, if you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking, you’re right. The late bride roams the hallways and facilities of the hotel, murdered on her wedding night, seeking eternal rest. Spooky, no?

You can book a room at the Red Coach Inn yourself if you like — even the massive 102 square metre suite where the murder took place, although obviously you’d never know it if you didn’t already know — and now you do. You can read the whole story of the hotel, and it’s not one, but apparently two roaming ghosts, over at Oyster’s blog. [via Oyster]

Endangered Dog Breeds and Market Forces

Thinking Cap: Podcasts, Articles And Clips To Make You Smarter

Did you know that the Scottish Skye terrier is close to extinction? Or the waning popularity of the American water terrier means it might be next on the list? The always-interesting folks at Priceonomics have a great explainer on how dog breeds get started and how they go extinct, and a closer look at many now-extinct breeds, like the Turnspit, a dog bred entirely to run and turn a wheel that, as you may have guessed, turned a spit over hot coals or a fire, and the Dogo Cubano, which was bred entirely to chase runaway slaves and, after slavery was abolished, vanished into history.

Additionally, the piece offers some thoughts and insight into current dog trends, using the Bulldog as an example, and the waxing and waning of popularity of dog breeds. For example, Dalmatians were extremely popular after the release of the Disney film 101 Dalmatians, but in recent years their popularity has plummeted significantly. The whole piece is worth perusing, especially since the Priceonomics team always uses a ton of data and history to back up their pieces. [via Priceonomics]

Why Movie Advertisements Are Called Trailers

Most of us don’t bat an eye at the notion of calling an advertisement for a movie a “trailer” and not an “ad”. In fact, people line up to see them, scrape them from web sites and publish them on the web, or record and post them to YouTube when they’re shown in private company. In a way, they’re not like traditional ads at all — they don’t make us roll our eyes or wish we didn’t see them. Many of us go out of our way to seek them out.

But how did these ads become called “trailers” in the first place? This video from Today I Found Out explains. Bottom line, these “trailers”, unlike today, used to be spliced directly onto the reel of the film you were seeing, and didn’t run at the beginning of the film — instead they ran at the end, actually “trailing” the movie you were in the theatre to see. However, it didn’t take too long for advertisers to realise they’d be more effective as advertisements — and they’d have a captive audience — if those trailers ran before the film instead of after, and by the end of the 1930s, less than a decade after the first trailer appeared, it was industry-wide. The video goes on to the history of trailers and the first trailer. Hit play above. [via Today I Found Out, thanks Awesomer!]

How Adam Savage Built His Totoro Costume for New York ComicCon

If you’re a fan of cosplay at all, you’ll want to watch how Adam Savage built this massive Totoro costume that he wore around the show floor at NYCC. Adam has a bit of a reputation for building costumes that he can wear around conventions incognito, and encouraging fans to guess who he is if they can. If you haven’t seen the video of him in the costume, check it out here.

But this video above shows you how the whole thing was made, from scratch, in more or less one day. It’s an exciting process to watch, and it’s great watching him problem-solve and make decisions in semi-real time. [via Tested]

A Halloween Safety Video from 1977

This Halloween Safety video, from an age before so-called helicopter parenting, recalls a somewhat more innocent age when American kids roamed neighbourhoods without their parents, on their own or with friends, and went trick or treating. Now that the holiday has begun to take off in Australia, it’s interesting to see these Halloween issues of the day — costumes being too long, or masks that were difficult to see or breathe through, or making sure costumes were flame retardant.

Of course, the whole thing hilariously opens with taking a very witchy Halloween costume and turning it into something that’s hilariously safe but not at all witchy (seriously, it’s all white and has reflective tape on it.) Don’t forget the cheesy one-liners you would expect from a safety video from a police department. I have to applaud the DIY spirit they used to solve problems in the video though. Happy Halloween! [via Throwback, thanks BoingBoing!]

That’s all for this week. If you have thought-provoking stories, interesting podcasts or eye-opening videos, share them in the comments below!

Title illustration by Nick Criscuolo. Additional photo by Chris Phutully.

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