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Photographs of the year's key players, from Michael Keaton to FKA twigs

TIME Pop Culture

You Can Now Buy Nick Offerman’s Wooden Emojis

All proceeds go to the Children's Defense Fund

A few weeks ago, Nick Offerman stopped by Conan’s late night talk show to sell his hand-crafted wooden emojis, for when you care enough to text in high-quality oak. As Offerman said, it’s a “more old-fashioned, more personal, more American mode of communication.”

While the commercial started out as a joke, Conan knew a good thing when he saw it and teamed up with Tilt.com to produce a limited run of the high quality, yet highly impractical, emojis and sell them with all proceeds going to a great cause — the Children’s Defense Fund.

The first batch sold out quickly, but in the great capitalist tradition, Conan is producing a second batch of the world’s heaviest emojis for charity. For $100 you can send someone you love an extremely heavy Smiley Face, Heart Eyes, The Wink, The Cat or the always popular Pile of Poo. For $300 you can send your loved one a pine-based emoji sentence sure to warm the cockles of their heart (or their fireplace, if they choose to use them as kindling). If hand-crafted whimsy isn’t enough to entice you to open your wallet, purchasers will also receive Andy Richter’s official “Certificate of Reluctant Philanthropy,” sure to impress both your parents and potential dates.

Head to Tilt now to wrap up that Christmas shopping with wooden emojis for all.

TIME Pop Culture

See All the Official Batmobiles Ever Made

Which is your favorite batmobile?

Built in 1963, the earliest officially-licensed Batmobile known to exist was used by DC Comics licensee All Star Dairies to tour small towns in the Eastern U.S. as “Batman’s Batmobile.” This original custom Batmobile precedes even the iconic Lincoln Futura iteration of the Batmobile that graced the screens in the popular 1966 Batman TV series.

As this 1963 Batmobile goes up for sale at Heritage Auctions, take a look back at all the other Batmobiles to have been featured on film.

The 1943 serial Batman and 1949 serial Batman and Robin featured unmodified Cadillac and Mercury cars respectively as their “Batmobiles” and, as such, are not featured in this gallery.

TIME Pop Culture

‘Serial’ Listeners Are Carrying Out Their Own Murder Investigation

Episode 10 came out on Thursday

More than half a million users have accessed the Reddit discussion about the wildly popular podcast Serial, where some fans are attempting to answer questions about the true-life mystery that are so-far unanswered in the podcast.

The show, which released its tenth episode on Thursday, investigates the murder of a teenager in Baltimore more than a decade ago that led to the arrest and conviction of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed. A spinoff from NPR’s This American Life, the podcast is hosted and produced by Sarah Koenig.

But the BBC reports that some web users are taking the investigation into their own hands and moderators of the Reddit page have been forced to delete personal information related to characters in the podcast.

Adnan Syed’s appeal against his murder conviction is expected to start in January.

Read more at BBC Trending

TIME Pop Culture

One Reason People Love the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Cente
The Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center, 1996 New York Daily News Archive / Getty Images

The giant conifer resists mockery

It’s easy to be snarky or cynical about holiday schmaltz like the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, which will be lit in a ceremony on Wednesday night. But, as TIME’s Richard Corliss pointed out in an essay that appeared in the magazine 20 years ago this month, it’s also easy to get swept away.

That’s because the holiday festivities represent a way to pretend the world is a little bit, well, easier:

In its totality, the visit is a time trip to a prettier New York and a sweeter America. ”When I was little, I used to come with my grandmother,” says Nancy Murray of Scotch Plains, New Jersey, of her annual trip to Radio City. ”I loved it; the show always gave me the Christmas spirit. It still does. And when my son is old enough, I hope he will come with his grandmother.”

The big Christmas tree — like window shopping and productions of The Nutcracker — is a symbol of that fantasy.

Read the full essay here, in the TIME Vault: I Like New York in Yule


Marvel Announces New ‘Howard the Duck’ Comic Book

Howard the Duck

Howard made a brief appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy this summer

Howard the Duck, the character who got a cameo at the very end of James Gunn’s blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy this summer, will get his own ongoing comic book series next year.

The character will become a private investigator in the Marvel Universe in the new series, which will be written by Chip Zdarsky with art by Joe Quinones, the Hollywood Reporter said.

In the 1970s, the character was the star of a satire on pop culture in a monthly comic book, a newspaper strip, and even a 1976 presidential run.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

TIME movies

Re-Create Raiders of the Lost Ark With Face-Melting Toht Candle

But you'll have to fill in the screams yourself

Now Indiana Jones’ fans can re-create one of the more grisly scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark with a melting Toht candle.

As the flame burns, the wax face of ruthless Nazi Major Arnold Toht slowly melts off, reports Gizmodo.

In Steven Spielberg’s 1981 movie classic, Major Toht, a sinister SS agent, tries to recover the Ark of the Covenant. But he is ultimately thwarted during an excruciatingly gruesome scene where his face oozes off amid blood-curdling screams in one of the world’s most-famous movie deaths.

“Just light the wick to set the glorious melting process in motion — there’s no need to seek out the Ark of the Covenant and unceremoniously release its supernatural powers,” the candle’s creators Firebox say on their website.

At $31.29, the Major Toht candle comes complete with a black jacket, fedora and glasses.


TIME Music

Lorde Talks Hunger Games Soundtrack

Lorde attends the World Premiere of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" on Nov. 10, 2014 in London, England.
Lorde attends the World Premiere of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" on Nov. 10, 2014 in London, England. Karwai Tang—WireImage

"For me it's all about what I want to say with the records"

This post originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

It’s been just over a year since Lorde released her now-platinum debut, Pure Heroine, where she sang wistfully about “getting on my first plane.” The 18-year-old has since racked up major frequent-flier miles, becoming an alt-pop cultural icon (two South Park parodies in one month!) along the way. In October, her tour finally led back to her native New Zealand: “It definitely feels like a bit of a victory lap,” she says. She’s also found time to assemble an eclectic soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – and to give passing thought to a new album of her own. Here’s what we learned checking in with pop’s most talented teen.

MORE: Lorde Shares Alluring ‘Hunger Games’ Single ‘Yellow Flicker Beat’

She’s the Boss
“Everyone my age read the books and saw the films,” Lorde says of Hunger Games. “I got a call: ‘You’ve been asked to write the end-credit song.’ But I wanted ownership in the process. They came back: ‘Would you like to do the soundtrack?’ I was like, ‘Uh, that would work.'” She appeared on five tracks, including a Diplo-produced duet with Ariana Grande and a collaboration with the Chemical Brothers and R&B star Miguel (“He’s the best possible person with vocal melodies that I know”) – and also got Kanye West to “rework” her single “Yellow Flicker Beat.” (“He’s so private I feel weird talking about how he does stuff. I feel lucky to even be in a room with him.”)

In addition to Grace Jones (“this high priestess presiding over us all”) and Charli XCX, the LP spotlights rising artists like Raury, Tinashe and XOV – “artists I heard on YouTube and had 10,000 hits. I thought what they were doing was cool and could be taken to a different, interesting place.”

MORE: In Pics: Lorde: The Rolling Stone Cover Shoot

Nirvana Changed Her Life
Lorde is still processing her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame performance with the surviving members of Nirvana last April. “I knew it was a big deal,” she says, “but I don’t think I really understood how much weight those three minutes had. It was over in the blink of an eye for me, but it’s kind of lasted. There’s a song on the soundtrack that’s just me and an organ, and it’s cool to hear my voice again in that kind of vein that I did with ‘All Apologies.'”

MORE: Rolling Stone’s 25 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

She’s Taking Her Time With Her Next Album
“I’m very tentatively starting,” she says. “I’ve done a lot of writing, lyrically, but I started the soundtrack just as I was getting into album stuff, and that took up all of my creative head. But I have been plotting out ideas. I guess other people don’t write like that, but for me it’s all about what I want to say with the records. I don’t really have any sort of timetable. I’m not in any kind of rush. Part of me thinks that the longer I leave it, the better a musician I’ll be. [Laughs] I used to do the same thing with homework! But I don’t know if I’ll be good at having time off.”

MORE: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

TIME Pop Culture

Benedict Cumberbatch Is Actually Related to Alan Turing, Researchers Claim

Benedict Cumberbatch and Alan Turing.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Alan Turing. Getty Images

The two men are 17th cousins

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch is distantly related to Alan Turing, his character in newly released film The Imitation Game, genealogists claim.

Turing was a mathematician and code breaker who helped alter the course of World War II by breaking the Enigma code and creating a machine that allowed Britain and the U.S. to read secret German messages.

Researchers from the family-history website Ancestry have now said that Cumberbatch, 38, is actually Turing’s 17th cousin, sharing a common ancestor back in 14th century England. Tracing the paternal lines of both men revealed that the pair are related to John Beaufort, the first Earl of Somerset, who was born around 1373.

Miriam Silverman, U.K. content manager for Ancestry, said: “It’s amazing to think that that when stepping into the role of Alan Turing, he would not only be portraying a world-class code breaker but a real-life relation.”

[Daily Telegraph]

TIME Pop Culture

Carol Ann Susi, Actress Behind ‘Big Bang Theory’ Voice, Dies

"The Big Bang Theory family has lost a beloved member today"

The actress best known for her role as the voice of a lead character’s mother on the hit comedy “The Big Bang Theory” died Tuesday after a brief battle with cancer, her representatives said. Carol Ann Susi played the voice of Mrs. Wolowitz, Howard Wolowitz’s mom, on the program.

“The Big Bang Theory family has lost a beloved member today with the passing of Carol Ann Susi, who hilariously and memorably voiced the role of Mrs. Wolowitz,” Warner Bros. Television, CBS and the show’s producers said in a statement.

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

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