By Walt Hickey
In a solid reversal of a glum fall for the box office, Dwayne Johnson superhero movie Black Adam brought in $67 million domestically and $73 million abroad, a solid start for the $195 million movie. The film, which features Dwayne Johnson playing a quippy, muscled tough guy with a mouth as big as his pecs, a hero with shall we say a bit of an attitude problem, is clearly new territory for Johnson. Also of interest to audiences was Ticket to Paradise, which starred Julia Roberts and George Clooney in a romantic comedy that hauled in $96 million globally, an impressive figure for a rom-com in today’s cinematic market. At the same time, Smile, which is the low-budget horror movie that won the Halloween crowd this year, has brought its global cume to $166.2 million. All told, good news all around.
Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter
About 5,600 people live in the ski town of Vail, Colorado, but during the busy season thousands of people work there, and there aren’t enough nearby places to live for that workforce. Right now there’s a deficit of 6,000 beds for the work force in the county, and in order to address that the ski resort Vail sought to build a project on-site to house 165 employees. The town freaked out about this — many residents don’t want new housing in the town — and filed a petition in county court to exercise eminent domain to seize the site and hold it as open space, citing the plight of bighorn sheep.
Singapore is officially lousy with otters, with 170 of the creatures from 17 different families causing mild mayhem on the island city. The otter population has more than doubled since just 2019, and it’s caused roving bands of the aquatic weasels raiding koi ponds, eating tilapia in waterways, and occasionally having a brush with the human residents or their pets. There have been over 300 complaints about otters in Singapore this year as of August, up from 305 in all of 2021 and 208 complaints in 2020. The population began recovering when Singapore cleaned its waterways starting in the 1980s and fish populations increased. They face no predators, as the crocodiles that otherwise hunt them are in the wetlands to the city’s northwest.
Mr. Autumn Man
A new survey conducted in early October found that the most popular season amongst U.S. adults was fall, with 41 percent of adults preferring the season the most, followed by summer and spring in a tie each with 24 percent, and then winter with just 11 percent of the vote. That’s interesting in and of itself, but also compelling were the differences in seasonal preference between different demographics. For instance, women like fall more than men by a 10 percentage point margin, while men like winter at twice the rate women did. While preferences for summer and autumn hold pretty evenly across age, the older a respondent was the more likely they were to prefer spring, and the younger they were the more likely they were to like winter; at the extremes, baby boomers disproportionately liked spring, with 32 percent liking it the most, while Gen Z respondents liked winter disproportionately with 24 percent calling it their favorite season.
While it may be spooky season, for many spooky season is becoming a year-round event. For the better part of a decade, the percentage of Americans who believe in the paranormal has been on the ascent, and as of 2019 according to YouGov polling 59 percent of women and 52 percent of men said they believed in haunted places. While many would approach the ghostly and the mystical with the appropriate level of reverence, most important for many is that it has created an addressable audience for podcasts, stories, shows and more. A podcast billed by fans as This American Life but for the paranormal has already become the breakout audio hit of this season, hitting the Top 30 on Spotify and iTunes.
Taylor Lorenz, The Washington Post
Into Public Markets
Back in May, the gay dating platform Grindr announced it would enter public markets through a SPAC acquisition at a valuation of $2.1 billion. It’s been a bit of a brutal year for dating app companies, though, and it’s not particular if this move will be a good one. Bumble (which also owns apps Fruitz and Badoo) is down 61.2 percent year over year as of Friday, and Match Group (which owns Tinder, OkCupid, Match.com, Hinge and many more) is down 74.4 percent over the same period. Grindr does have some advantages — 601,000 people pay for it as of last year, which is about 40 percent of the paying users of Bumble besides LGBT audiences being a considerably smaller market than Bumble’s — but at the same time, the valuation implies it’s worth 17 percent of Match Group, despite having 4 percent of that romantic behemoth’s paid users.
Laura Forman, The Wall Street Journal
Many tasks have been successfully automated and plenty of workers have been placed in the unenviable position of trying to John Henry a competing robot, but in at least one field human hands have reigned supreme over rivals: folding laundry. A University of California, Berkeley professor once spent seven years trying to teach a robot how to fold a towel, with the best achievement being he cut the process down from 20 minutes per fold to one and a half minutes. One company — now potentially broke — got a robot folding 25 pieces of laundry folded in five minutes, and its primary Japanese competition also successfully solved the folding puzzle by, uh, itself folding and filing for bankruptcy. A new bot has now entered the laundry room, though, and this one’s developers claim it can fold 30 to 40 garments per hour, and has a success rate of 93 percent. In human terms, that is “folding laundry while watching Law & Order SVU but it’s a good episode so you’re actually just watching Law & Order SVU at a certain point” pace.
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Singapore regulates everything, so I figure that that there otter be a law to govern these aquatic weasels!
Thank you; I'll show myself out now.