The Home Alone Booby Traps Ranked

I have a strange and probably incorrect memory of the first time I saw Home Alone. I remember it being Thanksgiving and my parents being excited to show me something, they asked me if I had ever seen it before, describing it as a movie where a boy’s parents leave him by himself (makes sense). For some reason my little child brain could only think of Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura, so yeah I imagined Home Alone would be Ace Ventura for some strange reason.

Since then I’ve watched it just about every year and it’s become a tradition to watch it on Thanksgiving night as everything winds down as a way to welcome in the Christmas season.

This week the movie turns 25 years old and in celebration of this, I decided to rank my favorite Kevin McCallister booby traps. Kevin has always been an inspiration to me, what kid does not dream of having the agency to survive on one’s own and also fend off two fairly successful burglars (no wonder we have such hero complexes…)? Kevin showcases a brilliant mind and his booby traps are clever and incredible in the way he forces Marv and Harry to bend to his will.

Feel free to comment with your favorites below.

11. Door handle – Kevin places some sort of heating device on the door handle, so that when they grab it it will burn their hands. This booby trap is way too straight forward, just a simple pain causing device.

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10. Zipline – While Kevin choosing to end his plan with a long zip-line ride from the house to the tree house is inspiring, the plan to wait for them to climb out onto the line and then cut it feels ill-advised. It does spark some humor, but the act seems to only help Marv and Harry get closer to Kevin than further away.

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9. Christmas Ornaments – Altogether kind of boring, Kevin’s ability to predict Harry and Marv’s behavior is always incredible, but placing Christmas ornaments next to the window seal lacks that typical McCallister charm.

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8. Trip Wire – Kevin places a line of rope low to the ground and gets Harry to trip on it while running after him. The only ingenious part about this is that it actually was successful.

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7. Sticky + Feathers – Again Kevin’s foresight pays off brilliantly, getting Harry to run into some sort of sticky paper, which in itself is somewhat funny, but he pays it off by shooting feathers into his face. It’s a classic cartoon bit, one that Kevin employs simply to mess with the robbers as it has no real practical robbery prevention capabilities whatsoever.

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6. Torch in the door – This trap that causes fire to blow onto the face of the person who enters it is a little too dangerous to be all that funny, but the fact that Kevin was able to rig up a machine that causes fire to blow onto the face of the person who enters it downright brilliant.

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5. Tar + Nail – The stickiness of the stairway and the nail should not work. Most times it probably wouldn’t if we’re being honest, but here the tarred up stairs cause Marv to strip off his shoes and socks and in probably the most cringe-inducing moment of the entire movie, Marv steps unknowingly onto a nail.

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4. Toy Cars – I do have quite the bias here, as a kid I would frequently put cars around the house hoping that people would slip on them just like Marv and Harry did. It was a pretty jerk move, but anytime you can be more like Kevin McCallister you’re gonna do it right?

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3. Paint Cans – This is the most iconic booby trap in the whole film, probably because this idea came completely out of nowhere. Who had ever thought of attaching paint cans to a string and then throwing them down onto people trying to walk up them? It lands where it does because though it is really cool, it is just so impractical. Anyone could dodge those right?

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2. The Iron – Kevin puts a false light pull chain in place that, instead of having lights connected to it, has an iron that falls down onto the unsuspecting light desiree below. Marv pulls on the chain, waits a few seconds in confusion before looking up to see an iron  falling toward him. The brilliance of this is of course amplified by Marv’s face having the perfect imprint of an iron for the following scenes.

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1. Icy Stairs – I may love this booby trap because I’ve never lived in an area with a true winter, but the moment I saw that by simply throwing water onto an outside area, you could cause chaos for hours to come I was blown away. Not to mention such a simple act works brilliantly–it takes Harry like an hour to get up a 5-stair stairway. I also tried this one a few times during the winter, but unfortunately it never worked. Nevertheless, Kevin’s plan to make the stairs too icy for the criminals to get up is my favorite booby trap of the holiday classic.

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Top 10 Podcast Episodes of 2014

I released my best podcasts of the year not long ago, but wanted to do more with them, so I tried to keep track of my favorite episodes I listened to throughout the year. This proved to be very difficult, but I think I came up with a wide range of some of the year’s best. As always some shows are explicit in content so proceed with caution.

Two more best of lists left for 2014; best albums and best films. Look for best albums this weekend and best films later next week.

10. Hang Up and Listen: “Superfest East”

Featuring all members of Slate Gabfest podcasts (Hang Up and Listen-their sports talk, Political Gabfest, and Culture Gabfest) this live episode is like a podcast celebration. Each show does one segment, with others interceding at various moments, and then each competing in a mostly funny debate. Slate has jumped fully into the podcast world and this show highlights all they are doing in the world.

9. Rob Has a Podcast: “Cochran Breaks Down the Final Four”/Dom and Colin Podcast: “A Closer Look at Cagayan with Tony Vlachos”

Both of these episodes are deserving of being in the top 10 by themselves, but I didn’t want Survivor commanding two of the top 10 so I put them together. The first is Rob Cesternino’s recap episode in which he interviews John Cochran–superfan turned player turned winner turned CBS screenwriter–Cochran delivers as he usually does, but this time both get into their personal history with the show and how their fandom evolved after being so successful on it.

The second is Dom and Colin whose podcast centers on hardcore strategy talk doing a “Retrospective” with winner Tony Vlachos. The Retrospectives are typically fascinating looks at the entire thought process behind a person’s experience on the show, with the hosts breaking down each and every decision made by a contestant, but here the format is elevated by the incomparable Vlachos. Vlachos explains every detail of every single thing he did with the manic energy that made him one of the best winners the show has ever seen. He is so enthusiastic about explaining himself that even three hours in he is begging the hosts to continue the interview.

8. Comedy Bang Bang: “Oh, Golly! You Devil”

This is the second part of an episode that saw Scott Aukerman and guests Jason Manzoukas and Andy Daly end their show on a cliffhanger with the Apocalypse hanging in the balance. This episode features a tour-de-force performance by Andy Daly who acts out a battle of good vs. evil while being ten different characters each of which joins a different side. The entire show is improvised and to hear Daly go through such a wide range of characters without ever missing a beat is incredible.

7. Improv4Humans: “Shoehorn A Shoehorn Story”

Improv4Humans is a podcast that takes suggestions from Twitter and other topics to create improvised scenarios–doing their best to bring Improv comedy to the podcast format. It’s typically hilarious, but hard to pick one over another. This one however stuck in my mind for so long that I had to include it on the list. Every segment kills it, but particularly the segment about the 2014 Emmys–one of the funniest moments on a podcast all year.

6. Benjamin Walker’s Theory of Everything “1984 (the year not the book)”

Benjamin Walker does an interesting form of podcasting that includes a sort of typical public radio style of interviewing alongside a piece of fiction that he himself usually writes and performs to create an interesting thematic hybrid. Here Walker uses real events in the past with a made up journal from his younger self to talk about youth, growing up, and the year 1984.

5. This American Life: “Tarred and Feathered”

My heart starts beating faster just thinking about this episode, the central theme being people who are “tarred and feathered” in some way. They choose to focus a segment on a group of people who claim to be non-practicing pedophiles who have formed an online group to deal with their problem and to hold each other accountable. For those who can handle the subject it is a captivating look into people who will never (and should never) be accepted in society. It brings questions of how we should deal with such a thing and tells the story of a young person who seems to be doing a lot of good. I don’t know if I could ever listen to it again, but that one time it was an incredible piece of radio.

4. U Talkin’ U2 to Me: “Slowing It Down”

In my opinion the funniest of the U2 podcast, Scott Aukerman and Adam Scott don’t actually discuss any U2 albums and instead go over listener feedback and just chat with one another. The episode also features perennial podcast guest Paul F. Tompkins who, as always, adds to any podcast he is on.

3. Start Up “How to Divide an Imaginary Pie”

Start Up is so good because of the transparency that Alex Blumberg brings to the process. The podcast is documenting Blumberg attempting to start his own business, a podcasting company, and this episode tells of him trying to get a business partner. Blumberg finds a person and then must deal with choosing how to split the company with his partner. It’s a document that shows how difficult and cringeworthy business decisions can be, especially when one doesn’t have a knack for that sort of thing.

2. Serial: “The Alibi”

I wouldn’t say that any episode of Serial really stands above the rest, so the pilot gets the nod for introducing us to the story that would captivate listeners for 12 weeks.

1. Radiolab: “For the Birds”

This is my favorite episode of the year because of the deep impossible questions that it poses. Radiolab presents a situation that cuts deep into our humanness asking whether it’s okay to choose something that helps our loved ones at the cost of larger world issues. At what point should we choose logical conclusions over the ones we love? These questions have stuck with me and definitely deserve to be asked, even if they can never be answered.

Honorable Mentions:

The Goosedown: “Outkast vs. Tribe”,Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show: “Serial Game Show Contestant”, U Talkin’ U2 to Me: “Staind Glass”, This American Life: “No Place Like Home”, 99% Invisible “Walk This Way”, The Andy Daly Pilot Project Podcast “The Travel Bug with August Lindt”

Survivor San Juan Del Sur Rankings

Post-Episode 2

These rankings are done BCS style with each player ranked according to the following three categories. Their points for each ranking (which will vary week to week depending on how many contestants there are, eg. with ten people remaining the person ranked first will get ten points, the person ranked tenth will get one) will be added up in a final tally similar to that of the old NCAA BCS rankings (yes I know that was terrible, but it’s fun here).

The three categories:

Position in the Game: This calculates what their position currently seems to be, are they in the middle of an alliance or are they on the outside?

Capability: This is the most subjective of the three, but is based in who I feel has the best skills as a Survivor player. Some of these people may be in a bad position, but with their skills can find a way out of it.

Edit: Survivor is a highly edited show where footage is selected in order to create episodic and full season storylines. The way a person is edited can help to predict how well they will do in the game. If a player is in a very bad position, but is getting a good edit, it is conceivable they will find a way out of it at some point.

The Rankings:

Last week #13 in the rankings, Val, went home.

16. Jaclyn (last week: 17th) (Position: 16th, Capabilities: 15th, Edit: 16th Total: 4 points )

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Sorry Jaclyn what we have seen from you hasn’t been great and the editors aren’t showing us much!

15. Drew (last week: 16th) (Position: 15th, Capabilities: 14th, Edit:  15th Total: 7 points)

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You are continually thrown under the bus by the editors and Jeremy for some reason has his targets set on you with the most social capacity.

14. Jon (last week: 10th) (Position: 12th, Capabilities: 13th, Edit: 10th Total: 16 points )

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This may be where people disagree with me most, but I really felt as if he was supposed to look stupid rather than smart when he lost the flint. He may have won against Rocker, but Julie was given more than he was for doing so. Add to it that he seems on the bottom and it’s not a good week for him.

13. John (last week: 11th) (Position: 3rd , Capabilities: 13th, Edit: 14th Total: 18 points )

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Things are continuing to spiral out of control for the controversial ex-pitcher, but he still has a spot within the majority, is conceivably strong in challenges, and has that Hidden Immunity Idol. Without the idol he might be in last place, but with echoes of so many people wanting to take him to the end, 13th is where he ends up.

12. Julie (last week: 15th) (Position: 14th, Capabilities: 11th, Edit: 7th Total: 20 points)

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She is rising up the rankings one positive confessional at a time, what hurts her is that Jeremy might consider going after her because of her bf’s broken deal with him. Need to see more from her.

11. Wes (last week: 14th) (Position: 5th, Capabilities: 12th, Edit: 13th  Total: 21 points)

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Was made to look dumb from the beginning, getting few confessionals here doesn’t help, but he is in the majority for now.

10. Reed (last week: 12th) (Position: 10th, Capabilities: 7th, Edit: 11th Total: 23 points)

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Can’t really rate him until his tribe goes to tribal, his boyfriend is eating up all of his edit for now.

9. Dale (last week: 5th) (Position: 13th, Capabilities: 8th, Edit: 5th Total: 25 points)

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He seemed really high strung this episode which is never the sign of a good Survivor player. Add to it that he continually looks weaker in a losing tribe and it could hurt. The edit has been solid though.

8. Missy (last week: 9th) (Position: 9th, Capabilities: 6th, Edit: 9th Total: 27 points)

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Her daughter is the stronger player and winner candidate, but the edit seems to tie them together, so Missy could do something. One of those middle players for the winning tribe.

7. Keith (last week: 4th) (Position: 7th, Capabilities: 6th, Edit: 9th Total: 29 points)

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Not much for him on the 2nd episode, maybe he lasts a long while, but as a potential 4th or 5th placer.

6. Kelly (last week: 8th) (Position: 8th, Capabilities: 5th, Edit: 8th Total: 30 points)

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Goes up by default, consistently shown in a slightly positive context. I still believe that she can be a solid player, but all of that is yet to be proven.

5. Alec (last week: 7th) (Position: 4th, Capabilities: 4th, Edit: 12th Total: 31 points)

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Being athletic and keeping your mouth shut may lead to Alec being a potential contender, he’s only 5th because there is really NO ONE ELSE!

4. Natalie (last week: 6th) (Position: 6th, Capabilities: 10th, Edit: 3rd Total: 32 points)

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Her twinnie leaving perhaps gave her a more positive edit, but we’ll take it at this point. Everything she has done has been positive, though if she was the winner you’d have to think she would be shown a bit more.

3. Baylor (last week: 3rd) (Position: 11th, Capabilities: 3rd, Edit: 4th Total: 33 points)

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The youngin’ stays in the spotlight for a 2nd episode which continues to make me think that there is something to her. She is a capable person on a tribe with John Rocker, so she could last.

2. Josh (last week: 2nd) (Position: 2nd, Capabilities: 2nd, Edit: 2nd Total: 45 points)

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I don’t think Josh is a great player, but the editors are making him out to be the focal point of his tribe. I suppose he could explain away his decisions and make everything right, it’s hard to judge.

1. Jeremy (last week: 1st) (Position:1st , Capabilities: 1st, Edit: 1st Total: 48 points)

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Jeremy sweeps this week in a season full of nonchalant characters. Nothing is really happening and Jeremy has been shown to be smart, anti-John Rocker, and to have a heart, so he’s got to be number 1, at least amongst this crowd.