TIME video

Try to Survive This Virtual Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Haunted House

Because for some of us, the real thing is too scary

If you’re too lazy, busy, or afraid of wetting your pants to visit an actual haunted house this Halloween, YouTube has got you covered. YouTube Nation produced a Halloween-themed choose-your-own-adventure experience, making use of a set designed by director and horror aficionado Guillermo del Toro for maximum spookiness.

The adventure features several YouTube celebrities, including Tay Zonday (best known for “Chocolate Rain”) and web series host Steve Zaragoza. After “entering” the haunted house — from the comfort of your chair — and meeting the cast of characters, you’re periodically presented with options, which usually consist of bailing, partying or exploring the mansion’s creepy nooks and crannies. Depending on your choices, you may not make it out — virtually speaking — alive.

TIME Music

Watch Sam Smith Surprise Everyone by Bringing Ed Sheeran on Stage to Sing ‘Stay With Me’

Seriously, the ladies in the crowd can NOT contain their excitement

Prepare to get so emotional, because this is a video of Ed Sheeran unexpectedly strolling onstage to join Sam Smith in a duet of his hit “Stay With Me.”

Smith was performing in the U.K. Wednesday night at Manchester’s Albert Hall when he launched into the popular tune. About 45 seconds in, Sheeran walked out and everyone totally lost it, which is understandable, because they were expecting just Sam Smith and then they got Ed Sheeran as a bonus.

The duet was, of course, lovely. Sheeran has had practice singing this song, as he recently covered it:

Anyway, after the show, Smith got all lovey-dovey and posted a photo of the pair on Instagram, with the comment: “So amazing to have this KING @teddysphotos on stage with me tonight. Such a wise and true friend to have. Love ya brother x”

So. Emotional.

TIME Books

Harry Potter Site Teases New J.K. Rowling Story

Trick or treat?

Last week, J.K. Rowling’s website Pottermore announced that the writer would be unveiling a new 1,700 word story about Harry Potter characters on Oct. 31.

While fans were told that the story would focus on Dolores Umbridge, a former Hogwarts professor that Pottermore referred to as “one of the most malicious Potter characters,” little else is known about the new tale’s content. However, recent social media updates have been hinting at what Rowling has in store on for us on Halloween.

For example, will it involve Bellatrix Lestrange?

Here are some other hints:

Rowling released a different story based in the Harry Potter world in July.

TIME viral

Grieving Dad Grants Deceased 13-Year-Old Daughter’s Wish to Be Famous

Listen to Anna van Keulen beautifully play Downton Abbey's theme on the piano

Two weeks ago, 13-year-old Anna van Keulen died from injuries she sustained during a bike accident on her way to school in the Netherlands.

On Tuesday, her grieving father Niek van Keulen decided to do what he could to fulfill at least one of his deceased daughter’s wishes: To be famous. He tweeted out a video of Anna playing the theme song from Downton Abbey on the piano, and the heartfelt performance immediately went viral. Less than two days later, the video has been viewed almost 1.5 million times.

A day after the video went up, van Keulen tweeted, according to Google translate, “It’s overwhelming … thanks all. Anna’s goal is reached: she’s famous.”

But he wants to keep the attention directed to his daughter rather than himself. “Dear journalists: please stop calling,” he tweeted. “I do not want [to be] on radio or TV, it’s not about me, it’s about Anna. Thank you.”

 

(h/t: Mashable)

TIME Business

Starbucks’ Newest Commercial Features Drag Queens in Desperate Need of Coffee

RuPaul's Drag Race stars Adore Delano and Bianca Del Rio are now helping sell coffee

Everybody loves coffee and its healing powers — especially drag queens, as we now know from Starbuck’s latest ad. It features Bianca Del Rio and Adore Delano, fan favorites from the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race who are both very cranky and under-caffeinated while waiting in a long Starbucks line. They begin to argue and trade insults, but then the smiley barista hands them both their steaming beverages — and boom! Friendship repaired.

The coffee behemoth teamed with LGBT network OUTtv to create the spot, titled “Coffee Frenemies.” The main takeaway: coffee solves all problems.

TIME Pop Culture

The Definitive History of Sexy Halloween Costumes

Steven Barston Photography / Yandy

Plus, the deep cultural meaning of that sexy George Washington get-up

In the year 2014, it’s entirely unsurprising to see a human female dress up as a sexy 101 Dalmatians dog for Halloween and only mildly surprising to see an actual dalmatian dress up as a sexy human female, complete with fake cleavage.

When did Halloween become, as Lindsay Lohan so eloquently stated in 2004’s Mean Girls, “The one night of the year when you can dress like a slut and no other girls can say anything about it”? What is the history of the historically-themed sexy wooly mammoth or sexy George Washington costume?

As it turns out, the story goes all the way back to the very origins of Halloween.

Before you understand the sexy costume, you have to understand the non-sexy version. “There is a long tradition of costuming of sorts that goes back to Hallow Mass when people prayed for the dead,” explains Nicholas Rogers, a history professor at York University who has written about Halloween. “But they also prayed for fertile marriages, and the boy choristers in the churches dressed up as virgins. So there was a certain degree of cross dressing in the actual ceremony of All Hallow’s Eve.”

The precursors of today’s typical, non-religious Halloween costumes didn’t really emerge until Victorians in 19th-century America embraced the holiday, says author and Halloween expert Lesley Bannatyne, (“[People at the time] dressed in costumes at the drop of a hat!” she adds.) Many Victorians became familiar with the holiday after reading a popular Robert Burns poem called Halloween. “It included footnotes that basically told you how to throw a Halloween party in rural Scotland, and the Victorians just loved it,” Bannatyne says. “They were obsessed with ghosts at this time, and it was about rural Scotland which was just as exotic to them as Fiji or Borneo.”

Still, Victorian Americans tended to opt for costumes that were creepy — like bats and ghosts — rather than come-hither. “A gypsy or an Egyptian princess — again the exotic,” Bannatyne explains. “It wouldn’t have shown much skin, but it would have had the aura of being outside the box. It was seen as glamorous and kind of in the same vein as you see kids shopping for sexy costumes today — in some part of their minds they think it’s glamorous. ‘A night to do something that I wouldn’t ordinarily do and have people look at me.'”

The Halloween costume continued to gain popularity in the early 20th century, but the get-ups were still tame. The 20’s had paper costumes, which involved wearing crepe-paper hats or aprons over clothing to turn into a cauldron or cat. (Note: not a sexy cat.) After World War II, Halloween became a holiday that revolved around children and trick or treating. “Women would dress up as Minnie Mouse, but there wasn’t a sexy Minnie Mouse,” Bannatyne says — which Paris Hilton proved earlier this month is no longer the case:

It wasn’t until the 1970’s, when adults began celebrating Halloween again, this time after the sexual revolution, that the truly sexy costumes emerged.

“There started to be these outrageous gay Halloween parades in the Castro District, Greenwich Village and Key West,” Bannatyne says. “Combine second-wave feminism with outrageousness and a general atmosphere of freedom, and you have this perfect storm of more outrageous costumes.”

So there’s the deeper meaning of the sexy costume: Halloween is a reflection of what is happening in culture — what people are thinking and seeing, and which boundaries are most obviously begging to be pushed.

“There was a general attempt to capitalize on what seemed transgressive,” says Rogers, the historian. “And because it’s a night of transgression you can get away with it without it being seen as particularly offensive in any way.” (“Except for the Christian right,” he adds, “but they think everything is transgressive anyway.”)

In other words, when dressing as an Egyptian princess à la the late 1800’s was no longer daring, celebrants had to look elsewhere for a way to make Halloween special. And it’s not just a matter of sexiness. Bannatyne recalls that after a slew of incredibly violent horror movies came out in the 1980’s, people complained that Halloween revelers were wearing overly gory costumes. As movies and television shows began showing more nudity and higher hemlines, Halloween fashion began emulating that level of sexiness as well. Today, we live in an era of both irony and overexposure. Anything, ranging from a marshmallow peep to a Sesame Street character, can qualify as a sexy costume. Yandy co-founder Chad Horstman, whose company sells counterintuitive sexy costumes — for example, the sexy lobster — traces the emergence of unexpected risqué costumes to almost a decade ago.

“We started selling selling an image called Tina the Taxi Driver,” he says. “There is a market for these unusual and zany Halloween costumes.”

Especially if they show a lot of leg.

Adults will spend $1.4 billion on their own Halloween costumes this year, according to the National Retail Federation. The NRF doesn’t isolate for the sexy sector, but the fact that the sexy lobster even exists in the first place is evidence of how far we’ve come since the days of crepe-paper aprons. “It’s important to remember,” says Kathy Grannis, the organization’s senior director, “that retailers wouldn’t offer those options if they didn’t think there would be that kind of demand.”

Read TIME’s 1983 look at Halloween’s growing popularity among grown-ups, here in the archives: Halloween as an Adult Treat

TIME food and drink

Let Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein Tell You How to Drink Your Coffee

“The most important thing is just enjoy your coffee, have lots of snacks”

Coffee is no laughing matter. “You have to go in with the graveness and seriousness of a court date, of a wedding, of a funeral,” says Carrie Brownstein, who joined her Portlandia costar Fred Armisen on an episode of the Cooking Channel’s web series “You’re Eating it Wrong.”

The video is light on actual tips for preparation, focusing more on coffee shop etiquette: how to order, tip and engage in serious conversation with a friend by using your mug as a prop to convey the gravity of what you’re saying.

Armisen and Brownstein appeared on the show to promote The Portlandia Cookbook, which features real recipes inspired by the absurd food-related sketches on their show (chickens raised on an organic cult, to name just one example).

Portlandia has, not surprisingly, taken on coffee as one of its Portland-centric parodies. An episode from the third season has Brownstein and Armisen leading an underground meeting of bearded baristas drafting a manifesto intended to “protect us as the artists that we are.” It’s only fitting, then, that they teach us how to be good consumers of one of their city’s finest provisions.

TIME viral

Groom Sweeps Bride Off Her Feet Only to Drop Her Seconds Later

Don't worry: they were both okay and successfully married each other

Well, this is definitely one way to make an entrance. At a recent wedding in Arizona, the groom, apparently overcome with lots of romantic feels, decided to scoop up his bride as they made their way into the reception. He begins running as the bride proudly raises her bouquet into the air, the guests whooping in delight. Everything seems great until … boom. He takes a tumble — a serious tumble — and they both crash into the pavement.

But don’t worry. The bride, Julia Magdaleno, told ABC News that the fall looks a lot worse than it really was. They suffered some minor cuts and bruises and were a bit sore the next day, but otherwise, everything was okay. In fact, the bride thought the whole thing was hilarious. Though perhaps not as hilarious as this other memorable wedding mishap:

 

TIME celebrities

Lena Dunham Is Posting Pictures of Celebrities in Her Planned Parenthood Shirt

Planned Parenthood teamed up with Dunham on her book tour

Celebrity women wearing a special edition pink Planned Parenthood shirt began proliferating on Lena Dunham’s Instagram feed Thursday morning.

Earlier this month, the organization paired up with the actress, director, and new author on her book tour for Not That Kind of Girl. On Thursday, Dunham premiered a limited-time Planned Parenthood shirt, complete with her signature, the proceeds of which will go towards the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Celebrities including Leslie Mann, Amy Poehler, and Ellen Page have taken on the role of model for the new shirt. Here’s a sampling of the reproductive rights supporters:

TIME relationships

Men Swipe Right on Tinder 3 Times as Much as Women

App Tinder
Franziska Kraufmann—picture-alliance/dpa/AP

More "likes" than "nopes"

Men apparently see much more that they like on Tinder than women do.

On the popular dating app, which has users swipe right to indicate they “like” a potential match and swipe left to say “nope,” men are almost three times as likely to swipe right than women are, the New York Times reports. Men do it 46% of the time, while women do it just 14% of the time.

MORE: The new dating game

The Times, citing an unnamed source, reports that Tinder now has close to 50 million active users. Co-founder and CEO Sean Rad touted its more realistic appeal to physical attraction over the algorithms that other dating sites say yield compatible matches, algorithms viewed skeptically by social scientists.

“When was the last time you walked into a bar and someone said, ‘Excuse me, can you fill out this form and we’ll match you up with people here?’” Rad said. “That’s not how we think about meeting new people in real life.”

[NYT]

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