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Test Pattern: Five Halloween links

From spooky Mr. Potato Head to the worst costumes ever. By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

Five-link Friday: Halloween edition

No other holiday brings with it the sheer number of fun Web sites as Halloween. You can focus on the candy, which has both its goofy and delicious side. You can focus on the costumes, which can be cool or tacky. Or you can hone in on the spooky side, with blood-dripping vampires, decomposing ghouls, and scary tales. I love it. In addition to last week's five Halloween links, here are five more.

• Every year, Matt over at X-Entertainment celebrates Halloween like no other, with a wonderful, pop-culture filled . The whole series is worth reading, but my favorites this year include the , reviews of (I've tried the candy corn flavor, it's not bad), and .

• I-Mockery makes fun of the , the one where the kids' masks eat their faces and, uh, spit out poisonous snakes or something. Whoops, was that a spoiler?

• reviews some of the available for purchase (warning: mature language and immature images). Check out the , the , and .

• MSN has a number of -- in my opinion, not all the games on this page are Halloweeny, but Casper's Spooky Swap and Trick or Treat Smash fit the holiday well. (Full disclosure: MSN is a Microsoft site, Microsoft is part owner of MSNBC, but that's not why I'm linking.)

• Oh, these are awful and yet terrifying. Last summer in our , the creepy plastic-headed Burger King commercials kept coming up. Burger King capitalized on its, uh, creepiness by selling masks of the creature, but guess what? You can still get masks of the only-slightly-less-creepy Subservient Chicken, however.

Movie clichés: Air lattes and killer Bactine

The movies and TV clichés just keep coming. They’re especially fun when you read one and can immediately think of a specific episode or film in which you saw one. I read cake decorator Andrea’s wedding-cake pet peeve (below), and can still visualize Mike Brady falling face-first into his and Carol’s wedding cake. Wasn’t funny in 1969, really, and 35 years haven’t made it any funnier.

I also wanted to share reader Jon’s reaction to Carmen’s cliché about CSIs using flashlights over light switches, since as I mentioned, that’s a pet peeve here in this office, too.

Says Jon: “I heard that this is an actual police method. By turning out the lights the flashlight forces you to look with more detail at what you are shining it on. This in turn then helps you notice smaller details that may be clues.”

Hmm. OK, maybe. But I’m still betting they do it because it looks cool.

Here are more of your clichés.

AIR LATTES“Coffee cups never seem to have anything in them. Characters from movies and TV wave them around for dramatic effect and then take a fake sip. Mmm, a fluffy air latte. It annoys me because it wouldn’t be hard to put a little water in the cup to make it a little heavier. It’s painfully obvious that the latte is just a prop, and it takes me out of the scene every time.”    --Chris[Editor’s Note: Yes! This is one of my pet peeves too, and I am totally stealing the phrase “air latte.”]

NO, NO, AFTER YOU“One of the movie cliches that bugs me to no end is when the hero is outnumbered and fighting a bunch of villains. The bad guys will attack the hero ONE AT A TIME. When the hero is finished with one bad guy then another bad guy will step up and take his turn while the other bad guys stand around and wait. Wouldn’t it be much more efficient for 10 of them to attack the hero at the same time?”    --Amy

THAT’S SOME KILLER BACTINE“Movie Cliches: The hero will be beaten from hell to breakfast without a whimper, but the minute a woman attempts to clean his wounds with gauze and Bactine, he’ll wince like she burnt him with a cigarette. Why is this? It’s especially common in Westerns.”    --Liz

“One of my pet peeves has to do with wedding cakes in movies... As a cake decorator, this really bugs me. They make it look like a cake arrives at the wedding fully put together, whether it’s 2 tiers or 10, and that they just go to the back of a van and one person can carry it in, maybe two. In reality they can weigh about 200 lbs and there’s no way they are just carried in! And of course, it will probably be destroyed somewhere during the reception by either falling over or being fallen into...”    --Andrea[Editor’s Note: A classic example of this is in the pilot for “The Brady Bunch,” where Mike saves his wedding cake from Tiger and Fluffy, only to fall face-first into it himself when Carol grabs him.]

RIGHT OVER HERE“You are a murderer chasing your victim who runs into a deserted building and hides. You follow her into the building and loudly shout “where are you!” Do you relly expect her to reply: “here I am, come on and kill me” ? Worst offenders—any Lifetime movie.”    --Penny

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO HACK TODAY?“No matter where you are or who you work for, you instantly have EVERY database in the world at your command. Work in Boston, but need the police files for someone in Martinique? (Yes, Crossing Jordan, I’m looking at you)! No problem, just type in two or three words and your there. Need to find a driver’s license? No problem, type in just the name (could even be John Smith), and they will pop up GIANT sized with a picture and everything. I wish it was that easy.”    --Tricia

SHAVING CREAM, BE NICE AND CLEAN“My father watched a lot of westerns and noticed a peculiar cliche. Our hero is sitting in a barbershop getting a shave and halfway through the shave something happens outside which he has to investigate. He wipes off the rest of the shaving cream but voila! his face is entirely shaved. My father always wanted to buy that stubble removing shaving cream favored by the barbers of Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, et. al.”    --Ted

ONE SECOND LEFT“How about the trick where if a bomb or timer is detonated, it always stops at 1 second no matter what? No matter what the circumstances, the environment, the likelihood of someone actually doing it right, they stop it with just one second to spare. I love the part in Galaxy Quest where Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver try to stop the ship from blowing up. ‘It always stops at one on the show!’ ”    --Kim

Remembering Rosa Parks

A year ago, on a family trip through the South, we visited the . It’s right on the Montgomery street corner across from where her bus stopped when she refused to give up her seat in 1955, and it’s one of the best museums I’ve ever seen.You step inside the museum, and there’s an old city bus from that era parked inside. They announce that you’re going to see a reenactment of what happened that long-ago day, and I admit I thought “oh no, they’re going to get some overdramatic junior college types to recite lines.” But no. The windows of the bus become like movie screens, and the bus, before your very eyes, comes to life. Different windows brighten up with images at different times. You see people getting on and off the bus, you see the harsh-voiced driver ordering people to the back, you see Rosa Parks not moving.

You see other people on the bus muttering angrily about her. You see her sitting alone, staring out the window, at the movie poster in the window of the theater across the street. Maybe, like Jesus in the Garden, she was wishing her ordeal was already over, that it could pass from her. It’s a truly riveting scene.When you walk through the rest of the museum, it’s as if you’re progressing through the Civil Rights Movement and specifically the Montgomery Bus Boycott, as it happened. We visited three civil-rights museums on our South trip, but perhaps because this one had such a narrow focus, it was by far the best. And in Montgomery, and in the museum especially, Rosa Parks was spoken of with a gentle awe. In 2004, it was hard to believe then that she was still living, the woman who had been through all of this, that she could come there and stand in a museum all about her, stand on a street named for her, walk into schools and libraries named in her honor.

I wondered: Did she watch the reenactment, and did it stab at her memory, or did she see it rerunning concurrently in her mind, its little details all a tiny bit different from the way the museum showed it? One of the Beatles once said of their headlong rush to fame "Only the four of us will ever know what it was like." For Rosa Parks, millions of people knew a part of her journey, but only she knew it all.So many of the legends of the Civil Rights movement died young, died in their era, so many cut down violently, and too soon. JFK, RFK, MLK, Emmett Till, Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner —the list goes on. Rosa Parks must have feared for her life, probably that day on the bus, certainly during the boycott, and probably for years afterwards. Yet she survived into her 90s, survived to see her story told, again and again. We've lost her now, but we haven't lost her story. As long as there are people to tell it, songs to recall it, and her own museum to reenact it, we will never lose her story.

More movie clichés, from L-shaped sheets to unlocked doors

How could I have forgotten one of my favorites? Cats are always the warning bell. AAAUGH, what’s that thing jumping out at me! Oh, whew, hi, Fluffy! Oh, I guess we’re all safe now, AAAUGH! The real killer always waits until you’re first scared by the cat (or in some movies, the dog) before leaping out at you. Nice of them to time that so well.

Here are some more of your favorite clichés. I love this topic.

“I have another movie cliche for you: whenever someone has to cross a bridge (a rickety one you’d find on a deserted island), someone will always step on a rickety board and fall through, only to be rescued by fellow adventurers.”    --Tracie

HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL“The most annoying movie cliche I’ve ever seen involves any movie where there is a gunfight.... The heroes are always extremely skilled and seem to have gotten the best weaponry money can buy as they never run out of ammunition. Meanwhile, the villains can’t seem to shoot straight even when the hero is six inches from them. Watch any of the Star Wars movies or any John Wayne or Clint Eastwood flick.”    --Jason

LIGHT UP MY LIFE“The movie/tv cliche that I roll my eyes at each time is when an crime scene investigator is looking for clues with his flashlight. It doesn’t matter if it’s broad daylight out, and the shades are open, the flashlight must be used. Walking down into the dark basement? Whatever you do, don’t turn on the light switch next to you, use your flash light. Most notable : any of the CSIs.:    --Carmen[Editor’s Note: Heh, this is a pet peeve of my co-worker, Paige Newman, who writes our .]

BEDDING DOWN“Okay, here’s another movie cliche. Where does Hollywood find those L-shaped bedsheets for moment-after-love scenes where  the guy is seen from the waist up but the girl is covered up to her shoulders?”    --Jeff

CTRL-ALT-DELETE“As a computer programmer, the cliche that’s bothered me most is the “red flashing word” on most computer screens. Both movies and TV shows do this (CSI is a real culprit), whether it’s a red flashing “warning”, “success”, “denied”, or whatever. These sorts of things don’t exist in real software because it would be a stupid pain to program something like that. When was the last time you say a giant red flashing word on your computer screen?”    --M[Editor’s Note: And it’s always so helpful even if you don’t know that particular computer system or software, saying things like ‘To blow up the world, press here!”]

D-I-V-O-R-C-E“My favorite cliche (generally on tv more than movies) is the signing of “divorce papers.” One spouse brings another these mysterious “divorce papers” that only require him/her to sign and poof! the couple is divorced. There are no witnesses to the signature, the parties never appear in court, in fact, there appears to be no complaint for divorce at all! I suppose it is because I am an attorney who used to practice family law, but this just drives me insane! I suppose this device is used to that the characters can quickly move on to other love interests rather than the dreary realities of divorce.”  --Anonymous

STAY WITH THE DOG“Movie cliches are all over the place in action movies. Thus, I give the 4 ways to survive an action movie: 1) Don’t ever comment on how bad the situation is (“There’s too many of them!”) 2) Don’t ever ask for a pause in the action (“Wait! Hold on a sec!”) 3) Don’t be a best buddy of a the main action star (you’ll probably end up dead or hurt, in order to make it vengeful) 4) Always stay with the pet dog. For all of these movie cliches, look no further than the blockbuster action movie “Independence Day”.”    --Mike[Editor’s Note: There’s a great line in a song from the musical “Sunset Boulevard”: ‘Nobody dies except the best friend!”]

WHERE ARE THE WOMEN?“One thing I always notice in big movies is that the guys outnumber the gals AT LEAST two to one! HARRY POTTER had Harry, Ron, & Hermione; STEALTH has McConaughey, Foxx, & Jessica Biel; BATMAN & ROBIN has Batman, Robin, & Batgirl; LORD OF THE RINGS with only three women outnumbered by over a dozen men; STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE with Luke, Chewbacca, Han, & Leia; Jeez Louise! I could go on for freakin’ ever! It’s just so annoying!”    --Eric

NO NEED TO KNOCK“Nobody on TV locks their doors. How many shows can you think of where a character who doesn’t live there, barges in and makes him/herself at home. Worst offenders -- Cosmo Kramer on “Seinfeld” and Lenny & Squiggy on “Laverne & Shirley”.”    --Steve