All posts tagged: culture

20 adoptable senior dogs who are seasoned pros at friendship

Image: petfinder/bob al greene/mashable

Forget Shark Week, it’s Bark Week on Mashable. Join us as we celebrate all the good dogs, which we humans do not deserve.

“Ask not what you can do for a senior dog, but what a senior dog can do for you,” JFK (not really, but the sentiment is true).

Senior dogs are adopted at a rate lower rate than dogs of all other ages combined, according to a study from the ASPCA. But older dogs make for loyal and calm companions for anyone who wants to skip the energetic, messy puppy stage.   

Shirley Braha, the human who adopted Instagram-famous Marnie the Dog as a senior pup explains why you should consider older dogs when looking to adopt: “Senior dogs are usually pretty chill and just grateful to have a safe place to call home and a human to give them lots of love,” Braha says in an email. 

“When you save a senior dog from a shelter, you’re rescuing them from what is often a very traumatic experience, and sometimes, sadly, with an even darker fate. You get to swoop in and be a superhero while benefiting in completely selfish ways too because now you have an awesome animal friend.” 

So if you’re ready to add a graying fuzzy face to your home, we worked with Petfinder to find 20 senior dogs from all over the U.S. who need homes. (Even if you’re not looking to adopt, scroll through for an instant warming of your feels.) 

From the toothless to the devastatingly handsome, these furry charmers just want we all want — love, treats, and a good place to nap.

1. Kitty 

Image: petfinder

Location: Vintage Dog Rescue, Colorado

This little lady is a nearly toothless, 12-year-old shih tzu who would make the perfect companion for weekends on the couch watching Netflix.

Kitty might sound like the name of a wealthy divorcee who sips champagne with every meal, but this senior pup is quiet and down to Earth. She came to the Vintage Dog Rescue after her human died a few years ago. 

2. Erma

Image: petfinder

Location: Old Dogs New Digs, Portland, Maine

Gaze into the thoughtful eyes of Erma and just try not to be captivated. 

The cattle dog and chow chow mix was found as a stray in Georgia and has since relocated to the coast of Maine to a foster home where she enjoys walks and charming humans with her expressive face.

Just look at this smile:

Image: petfinder

3. Espresso 

Image: petfinder

Location: Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, San Francisco, California

A scruffy look with a sweet demeanor, Espresso is a shot of joy.

Espresso’s underbite means her teeth stick out from the patch of grey hair, giving her a grizzled look not unlike that of a life-long fisherman. But all Espresso wants is to curl up on your lap or soak up the sunshine in the park. 

4. Buddy

Image: petfinder

Location: Muddy Paws Second Chance Rescue, Council Bluffs, Iowa

Need a positive influence on your life? Consider Buddy, who loves Brussel sprouts and dancing. 2018 is the year of self-care after all. 

Buddy himself is a self-improvement inspiration after coming into a rescue overweight at 15 pounds. He’s working toward a healthy goal weight, but never brags about it because he’s not much of a barker. He likes chilling out in his pet stroller or in a doggy carseat, and taking long naps (relatable).  

5. Boone

Location: Gateway Pet Guardians, St. Louis, Missouri

Boone has swagger. And he knows it.

Boone is a suave terrier mix with a slight limp that doesn’t stop him from strutting around the neighborhood. 

6. Henry

Image: petfinder

Location: Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society, Santa Fe, California

Handsome Henry calls Santa Fe home, but he’d love to be a part of your home. 

Henry was surrendered after his human could no longer care for him. At 11-years-old and with a salt-and-pepper coat, he’s a senior gentleman who still knows how to have fun. 

7. Wheezer

Image: petfinder

Location: Senior Dog Rescue of Oregon, Philomath, Oregon

“Woo-ee-ooh, I look just like a pug mix” – Wheezer, probably.

This “pug-something” likes to start his day with a little massage to loosen up his arthritic hips, then he’s ready to tackle the day by doing something fun like wandering around the yard or snoozing in his doggy bed.

So adopt Wheezer and say, “Woo-hoo, but you know I’m yours, Woo-hoo, and I know you’re mine.”

8. Fletcher

Image: petfinder

Location: Powell Animal Welfare Society, Powell, Ohio

A smile that could charm even the coldest of souls (read: cats). And the fiercest ear floof on the block. That’s 10-year-old Fletcher. 

This chow chow mix gets along with kids, dogs, and yes, even cats and is both house and crate trained. 

9. Checca

Image: petfinder

Location: Liberty Humane Society, Jersey City, New Jersey

If you already have a dog who is in need of a BFF, Checca could be ya boy. 

Checca is 60-pounds of friendly doggo who has made many human and dog friends since coming into the Liberty Humane Society as a stray. Even though he’s considered a senior pup at age 10, he still loves playing with toys like an exuberant puppy. 

10. Tommy the Tank

Image: petfinder

Location: Professional Animal Worlds H.A.L.O. Rescue, Sebastian, Florida

Don’t let Tommy’s wheelchair worry you — he zips around just fine with his wheels. 

A tumble off a sofa nearly killed Tommy, but a veterinarian was able to save him and now he just wants to roll into your heart and your home. He loves cuddles and shows his affection with wet doggie kisses. 

11. Lala

Image: petfinder

Location: Atlanta Humane Society, Atlanta, Georgia

Lala came from a big family of dogs that got to be too much to handle for her humans. She’s looking to settle into a smaller family that can help her come out of her shell. She’d do well with other dog friends because who doesn’t need someone around who really understands you? 

12. Potter (and Olive!)

Image: petfinder

Location: Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland, Severn, Maryland

A mother-son duo who would love to top your cuddle pile. 

It’s actually quite incredible that this Yorkie pair can squeeze such big, loving hearts into such tiny little bodies.

13. HoneyBear

Image: petfinder

Location: Lily’s Legacy Senior Dog Sanctuary, Petaluma, California

HoneyBear would love to be your devoted honey.

She’s currently working to gain some weight after entering the Lily’s Legacy Senior Dog Sanctuary underweight after her human experienced health problems. She’d love nothing more than to become a devoted doggo companion in a forever home with or without other dogs. 

14. Cosmo

Image: petfinder

Location: Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter East Bank, Harahan, Louisiana 

Oh, Cosmo. Sweet, sweet Cosmo. 

Cosmo was surrendered by his owner but is now reaching his paw out to you (really, he’ll shake your hand), if you’re looking for a sweet boy. Cosmo has some vision and skin problems, but he’s 75 pounds of sweetness. 

15. Bear

Image: petfinder

Location: Williamson County Animal Center, Franklin, Tennessee

Bear is a photogenic stunner, but it’s not just skin deep beauty for this good boy. The 10-year-old shepherd mix is an inquisitive pup, who loves to explore and curl up for cuddles. 

He does well on leash walks (which, of course he wants to show off that face) but will also take a spin around the backyard on his own. 

16. Roxie

Image: petfinder

Location: Bedford Humane Society, Bedford, Virginia 

No, Roxie is not wearing eyeliner, she’s just naturally smoldering. 

Roxie spent most of her life working as a therapy dog at an assisted living center for the elderly, but now this elderly lady would like to find her own retirement home. She’d make a calm and loving companion for an older human, but also does well with other dogs and kids.

17. Pixie Willow 

Image: petfinder

Location: St. Louis Senior Dog Project, Saint Louis, Missouri

Pixie Willow knows she’s cute. And she is.

The Chinese hairless and long hair chihuahua mix weighs only 5-pounds but she has a big, feisty personality. She’ll be your little shadow and only asks for love and playtime in return. You might even get a big smile in return.

Image: petfinder

18. Semperr

Image: petfinder

Location: Cheshire Abbey, Jackson, Mississippi

Semperr is a three-legged Akita mix looking for the right human to give him the devoted attention he needs. Semperr loves to give hugs with his remaining front leg, but would need a home without children or other alpha dogs.

19. Ducky

Image: petfinder

Location: Gray Mutts Rescue and Sanctuary, Clifton, Texas

Who’s a fuzzy-faced good boy? WHO? Ducky is, for sure.

In that bowtie, Ducky obviously wants to up your style game. And you should listen to this 5-pound,  wire-haired, apple-head chihuahua.

20. Deuce

Image: petfinder

Location: Forever Loved Pet Sanctuary, Scottsdale, Arizona

Deuce is 11-years-old, but runs around his temporary home with the excitement of a much younger dog. Despite the high energy he shows when taking a lap in the doggie run, he’s also a maintenance, smart fellow who was found as a stray. 

He came to the dog sanctuary as a stray and has since charmed all the volunteers who work with him. If you’re looking for a furry friend who loves back scratches and rolling around in the great outdoors, Deuce is for you. 

If you’re still looking for a senior dog to add to your family, there are plenty of graying and wise dogs who would love your love. 

WATCH: Marnie the Dog recreates memes

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There’s new hope for saving the world’s rarest cat after 2 Scottish kittens were rescued.

The Scottish wildcat is a critically endangered species, believed to be the last remaining wild feline species in Britain. By some estimates, there are only about 35 of them left in the wild. Their numbers have been decimated through hunting, environmental changes, and crossbreeding with feral house cats. (For all of the cat parents out there, yes, it looks much like a very large tabby.)

But there’s a new ray of hope — all thanks to the discovery of 2-month-old orphaned kittens in the Scottish highlands.

They were found dehydrated, hungry, and dangerously close to a road. Now, they have a chance to not only survive, but give a shot in the arm to their entire species thanks to the Wildcat Haven, a group called that’s helping rehabilitate these cats.

“I almost fell off my chair when I saw the photos,” Wildcat Haven chief scientific adviser Dr. Paul O’Donoghue said. “The markings looked amazing, far better than any kitten I’d seen in a zoo, but in a very exposed place. It seemed likely they had been abandoned or orphaned and were in grave danger.”

Wildcat Haven has a donation-based adoption program that aims to do everything from protecting their habitats to neutering the feral cats whose numbers are dwindling thanks to crossbreeding.

As cute as these two rescued kittens are, the real success will be seeing them and others growing up to be like “the beast”— a very large Scottish wildcat that was recently spotted surviving and thriving in the Clashindarroch Forest.

Saving the Scottish wildcat and other endangered species won’t be easy, but our united efforts are a win for our planet’s biodiversity.

There have been recent success stories of people coming together to make real progress in restoring habitats and protecting the creatures who live there.

Even if you’re not a cat person, helping save an entire species is something worth supporting.

Watch a video of the kittens below:

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Someone’s Tinder profile pic prompted a massive debate about toilet paper

People have a lot of feelings about toilet paper. Specifically, the correct way to position toilet roll on its holder. So strong are these feelings, that they feel duty-bound to use any means of communication to inform people when that their rolling direction is incorrect.

In this instance, one woman’s Tinder profile pic invited the ire of her matches, who informed her she was “incorrect about toilet paper.” 

The over/under toilet roll debate is a highly contentious one. Some say the toilet paper should be hung “over,” so the loose paper hangs off the exterior. Others believe the toilet roll should be oriented in the “under” position, with the loose paper hanging close to the wall. 

Writer Hana Michels tweeted her Tinder profile photo, in which she is brushing her teeth in her bathroom. In the bottom of the photo, her toilet roll — draped in the under position — is visible. 

“This is my tinder profile. I’ve had it for a year. 23 men have contacted me to say I’m incorrect about toilet paper,” wrote Michels. 

Twitter, too, was ablaze with a raging debate about toilet paper. Michels’ tweet garnered a whopping 833 replies.

Even Michels’ roommate chimed in to tell her that her matches might be onto something. 

So, is there actually a correct way to hang loo roll? 

Apparently so. 

Back in 2015, tech writer Owen Williams dug up the 1891 patent for the toilet roll owned by Seth Wheeler, the clever clogs who invented perforated toilet paper. 

Per the patent, it seems Wheeler intended people to use the “over” method. 

But, if we take a quick glance at some of the replies to Michels’ tweet, you’ll see that people who own cats prefer the “under” method as it prevents cats from unfurling the entire roll.


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Keep on moving: the bizarre dance epidemic of summer 1518

Five centuries ago, the worlds longest rave took place in Strasbourg a plague of dancing that was fatal for some. What caused it? Art, poetry and music of the time can provide some clues

It started with just a few people dancing outdoors in the summer heat. Arms flailing, bodies swaying and clothes soaked with sweat, they danced through the night and into the next day. Seldom stopping to eat or drink, and seemingly oblivious to mounting fatigue and the pain of bruised feet, they were still going days later. By the time the authorities intervened, hundreds more were dancing in the same frenetic fashion.

But this was not one of those 80s raves that began in a remote layby and ended in a muddy field. Rather, its one of the oddest epidemics to be recorded in world history. And it happened 500 years ago this summer in the French city of Strasbourg. It was there, over the course of three roasting-hot months in 1518, that several hundred people developed a compulsion to dance. The dancing went on and on until to the horror of the crowds who gathered to watch some of them collapsed and perished on the spot. Just what was happening?

The dancing plague of Strasbourg as described by Paracelsus in the 1530s. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

According to an account written in the 1530s by the irascible but brilliant physician Paracelsus, the dancing plague of Strasbourg began in mid-July 1518, when a lone woman stepped outside her house and jigged for several days on end. Within a week, dozens more had been seized by the same irresistible urge.

The rich burghers who ran the city were not amused. One of them, writer Sebastian Brant, had devoted a chapter of his moralising bestseller, Ship of Fools, to the folly of dance. Mystified by the chaos in the streets, he and his fellow city councillors consulted local doctors who, in keeping with standard medical wisdom, declared the dancing to be the result of overheated blood on the brain.

The councillors implemented what they felt was the appropriate treatment more dancing! They ordered the clearing of an open-air grain market, commandeered guild halls, and erected a stage next to the horse fair. To these locations they escorted the crazed dancers in the belief that by maintaining frantic motion they would shake off the sickness. The burghers even hired pipers and drummers and paid strong men to keep the afflicted upright by clutching their bodies as they whirled and swayed. Those in the grain market and horse fair kept dancing under the full glare of the summer sun in a scene as demonically outlandish as anything imagined by Hieronymus Bosch.

A poem in the city archives explains what happened next: In their madness people kept up their dancing until they fell unconscious and many died. The council sensed it had made a mistake. Deciding the dancers were suffering from holy wrath rather than sizzling brains, they opted for a period of enforced penance and banned music and dancing in public. Finally, the dancers were taken to a shrine dedicated to St Vitus, located in a musty grotto in the hills above the nearby town of Saverne, where their bloodied feet were placed into red shoes and they were led around a wooden figurine of the saint. In the following weeks, say the chronicles, most ceased their wild movements. The epidemic had come to an end.

Demonically outlandish The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1500s, by Hieronymous Bosch. Photograph: Heritage Images/Getty Images

This weird chapter of human history raises plenty of hard-to-answer questions. Why did the burghers prescribe more dancing as a treatment for cooked brains? Why were the dancers made to wear red shoes? And how many people died? (A writer living close to the city reckoned 15 a day, at least for a while, but this has not been corroborated.)

We can be more confident, I think, in saying what did and did not cause this strange phenomenon. For some time, ergotism looked like a good contender. This results from consuming food contaminated with a species of mould that grows on damp rye and produces a chemical related to LSD. It can induce terrifying hallucinations and violent twitching. But it is very unlikely that sufferers could have danced for days. Just as improbable is the claim that the dancers were religious subversives. It was clear to observers that they did not want to be dancing. The most credible explanation, in my view, is that the people of Strasbourg were the victims of mass psychogenic illness, what used to be called mass hysteria.

There had been several other outbreaks of dancing in the preceding centuries, involving hundreds or just a few people, nearly all in towns and cities close to the River Rhine. Along with the merchants, pilgrims and soldiers who plied these waters, news and beliefs travelled, too. One particular idea appears to have lodged in the cultural consciousness of the region: that St Vitus could punish sinners by making them dance. A painting in Cologne Cathedral, more than 200 miles downstream from Strasbourg, dramatises the curse: under an image of St Vitus, three men joylessly dance, their faces wearing the divorced-from-reality expressions of the delirious.

Dance crazy German engraving of hysterical dancing in a churchyard during the late middle ages. Photograph: Granger/Rex/Shutterstock

Such beliefs in supernatural agency can have dramatic effects on our behaviour. A classic case is spirit possession, in which people act as if their souls have been taken over by a spirit or deity. The US anthropologist Erika Bourguignon has written about how being raised in an environment of belief, in which spirit possession is taken seriously, primes people to enter a dissociative mental state, where normal consciousness is disabled. People then act according to culturally prescribed ideas of how the possessed should behave. This is what happened in European convents before the early 1700s, when nuns would writhe, convulse, foam at the mouth, make obscene gestures and propositions, climb trees and miaow like cats. Their behaviour seemed strange, but the nuns lived in communities that encouraged them to obsess about sin and were steeped in a mystical supernaturalism. Those who became convinced that demons had entered their souls were prone to fall into dissociative states in which they did exactly what theologians and exorcists said the diabolically possessed do. In such cases, the possession trance also spread to witnesses who shared the same theological fears.

These observations could certainly apply to what happened in Strasbourg in 1518. The curse of St Vitus is just the kind of supernaturalist belief that can drive the suggestible into dissociative states. The chronicles agree that most people were quick to assume that an enraged St Vitus had caused the affliction. So all it took was for a few of the devout and emotionally frail to believe St Vitus had them in his sights for them to enter a trance state in which they felt impelled to dance for days. If the dancing mania really was a case of mass psychogenic illness, we can also see why it engulfed so many people: few acts could have been more conducive to triggering an all-out psychic epidemic than the councillors decision to corral the dancers into the most public parts of the city. Their visibility ensured that other cityfolk were rendered susceptible as their minds dwelt on their own sins and the possibility that they might be next.

Marking 500 years since the dancing mania Strasbourg. Photograph: Harry Laub/imagebroker/Rex/Shutterstock

Life in Strasbourg in the early 1500s satisfied another basic condition for the outbreak of psychogenic illness: the chronicles record plenty of the distress that brings about a heightened level of suggestibility. Social and religious conflicts, terrifying new diseases, harvest failures and spiking wheat prices caused widespread misery. A chronicler described 1517 with poignant brevity as a bad year. The following summer, orphanages, hospitals and shelters were overflowing with the desperate. These were ideal conditions for some of the citys needy to imagine that God was angry with them and that St Vitus stalked their streets.

Fortunately, the 1518 dance epidemic was the last of its kind in Europe. In all likelihood, the possibility of further outbreaks declined along with the belief systems that had sustained them. In this way, the dancing mania underscores the power of cultural context to shape the way in which psychological suffering is expressed.

The fifth centenary of the dancing epidemic is being remembered this year with an exhibition at Strasbourgs Muse de lOeuvre Notre-Dame, a TV documentary in production, the publication of a novel by French author Jean Teul, even a techno party organised by a group of DJs who have adopted the name 1518. And why not? Few events more vividly reveal the bizarre extremes to which our brains can take us when in the grip of collective fear.

John Waller is the author of A Time to Dance, A Time to Die: The Extraordinary Story of the Dancing Plague of 1518 (Icon Books).

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This ‘smart’ prosthetic ankle makes it easier to use stairs

If something weird is captured on Google Street View, someone on the internet is bound to find it. Bonus points if it’s a cute animal.

That’s because, while there are plenty of weird and wacky moments well documented in the various lists we’ve created, Google is constantly updating Street View for accuracy. Due to the constant influx of revised images, every so often the internet will discover a new little Easter egg in the Google Street View world. 

This time, it’s an adorable close-up of a cat.  

Image: Google Maps

It seems as if Redditor u/Belocity first discovered two cats — including the one with the perfect expression, above — hanging out on a ledge near some Roman ruins.

Image: Google Maps

The site is actually a cat sanctuary at the Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome, so it’s no surprise that there would be cats there. However, the photo, which was taken by Roundel Arts Photography in April of 2017, is an up-close shot inside the sanctuary. And it’s clearly not what you’d typically expect from Google Maps.

Alas, it appears as if the photo has already been updated to this less entertaining, cat-less view. 

Image: Google Maps

But don’t worry, the first photo is still intact in Google Maps’ archive. Clicking on the history tab in the top left brings you to the photo from April, which shows the cats. 

Image: Google Maps

Please, friends, give this good cat a visit. At the very least, say hello on Google Maps. And if you find yourself in Rome, make sure you stop by to say hello to the many adorable cats that call this location home. 

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Watch this orangutan play with a fidget spinner

Koko and Miss Patterson, a Stanford student, practicing sign language.
Image: Bettmann Archive/ getty images

Koko, the beloved gorilla best known for mastering sign language, died in her sleep at age 46 on Wednesday.

The Gorilla Foundation announced Koko’s death via social media on Thursday, saying she “touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication and empathy.”

Koko, whose full name was Hanabi-ko (meaning “Fireworks Child” in Japanese,) was born on July 4, 1971. Over the years the western lowland gorilla learned more than 1,000 different signs, developed a love of cats, worked alongside many humans including sign language instructor Dr. Francine “Penny” Patterson, and inspired several documentaries and the popular children’s book, Koko’s Kitten.

Her willingness to interact with people and her eagerness to learn allowed the world to observe a great deal about her species, and throughout the course of her life Koko made many celebrity friends, including Mister Rogers and Robin Williams.

After news of Koko’s death reached social media, fans showed an outpouring of love for the gorilla, thanking her for all her contributions.

The Gorilla Foundation noted in a press release that it will continue to honor “Koko’s legacy” and work with wildlife.

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A wax version of Ed Sheeran is in a cat cafe, which makes sense we guess

The real Ed Sheeran, not in a cat cafe.
Image: Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Never thought we’d say this, but a wax version of Ed Sheeran is currently surrounded by felines in a London cat cafe. Help it?

A wax model of the Grammy-winning artist, created by waxworks museum Madame Tussauds, took centre stage at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium in London on Tuesday.

After its stay with the kittehs, the model will head to the museum, ready for hundreds of public selfies from next week, reports Reuters.

Although rather weird, the location makes sense, as Sheeran is a big time cat lover whose own cats, Chub and Chubber, make frequent appearances in his Instagram posts.

Just got home to my two favourite gals, it’s been a while my little pusslé

A post shared by Ed Sheeran (@teddysphotos) on

Second Christmas for Chub and Chubber

A post shared by Ed Sheeran (@teddysphotos) on

“Knowing what a pet lover he is, launching the figure at London’s renowned cat cafe felt like something the man himself would surely approve of,” Madame Tussauds London general manager Edward Fuller, said in a statement published by the news wire.

Look, it’s a pretty good representation of Sheeran too, much better than this Lady Gaga nightmare.

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Cat sniffs salt and vinegar chip, regrets decision instantly

If you’ve ever found yourself confused by the expression “curiosity killed the cat”, just watch the video below.

It’s almost like a modern-day — although thankfully much less severe — retelling.

“I told my cat she wasn’t gonna like this salt and vinegar chip but she didn’t listen to me”, tweeted Julianna Madison from Philadelphia, US earlier this week.

Behold the result (and make sure you have your sound on):

Oh dear.

Well, Missy may have had an unpleasant chip-related experience, but at least she’s now a viral superstar. That video has had well over 200,000 retweets at the time of writing.

Missy, you have now entered the internet hall of cat fame.

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My Friend Dahmer portrait of the serial killer as a young man

Based on a schoolfriends memories of US cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer, Marc Meyerss film tries its best to illuminate the murderers mind

Friends are our connection to this world, says Lionel Dahmer, concerned by the fact that his eldest son, Jeffrey, doesnt seem to have any. Yet, as this films title suggests, Jeffrey Dahmer had at least one friend John Derf Backderf, who wrote the bestselling, based-on-a-true-story graphic novel its adapted from.

Jeffrey Dahmer would go on to become one of Americas most notorious serial killers, raping, murdering and cannibalising 17 young men, and confessing to his crimes in 1991. In this drama, writer-director Marc Meyers looks at Dahmer in his last year of high school in an attempt to figure out who he might have been before the atrocities that came to define him.

In 1978, among the verdant forests of Bath, Ohio, Dahmer (Ross Lynch) collects roadkill, dissolving it in acid in a shed at the back of his garden. Dead cats; stiff, bloodied possums; unidentifiable animal corpses bottled in formaldehyde he likes bones. It interests me, whats inside, he mutters, palming dried bones as though they were worry beads. Chastised for his unsavoury after-school activities by his chemist father Lionel (Dallas Roberts), and butting heads with his erratic, depressed mother Joyce (Anne Heche a little hammy here) at home, Dahmer also acts out in the classroom. Imitating an aggressive epileptic seizure, he becomes a source of fascination for a prankish group of boys including aspiring artist Derf (Alex Wolff of Nickelodeon show The Naked Brothers Band, and the forthcoming Hereditary). Interpreting his spaz attacks as a form of countercultural resistance, Derf and friends form the Dahmer Fan Club, putting him in the background of every school yearbook photo and encouraging him to continue this performance art in other public spaces.

Meyers makes the most of the 70s setting, from Dahmers aviator glasses to the saturated gold-browns of Daniel Katzs widescreen cinematography and the creeping hangover of the liberal excess that thrived in the previous decade, prior to Reagans America. He also makes the most of Lynch, a Disney Channel kid best known for his role on the TV series Austin & Ally, and in the teen boyband R5. With a shock of blond hair that flops over his eyes, shuffling feet and a hunched, lumbering gait, Lynchs performance is remarkably physical, internalising the way shame weighs down on the characters shoulders. He doesnt walk so much as stalk, his body dragging behind him as he slips further inside himself. There are glimmers of the icy charm that perhaps helped him seduce his victims like in a scene where he persuades a younger female classmate to go to prom with him.

My Friend Dahmer trailer

Yet Dahmer isnt really interested in women. He develops a crush, if you could call it that, on a male jogger who turns out to be a neighbouring doctor (Vincent Kartheiser), and wrangles a physical examination with Dr Matthews. The films single most interesting sequence sees Dahmer masturbating, his back to the camera, following their otherwise innocent encounter, convulsing in humiliation that quickly turns violent and morbid. It would be troubling, lazy pop psychology to draw a straight line between Dahmers closeted homosexuality and his vicious impulses, but Lynchs acting complicates this subplot. Its not just the embarrassment of rejection that he captures but a clue a kind of spark of recognition about his sexuality, swiftly disregarded.

Hes not a sideshow attraction, insists one of Dahmers friends, and Meyers tries his best not to treat him as such. Unlike the source material (a memoir written from Derfs perspective), the film operates from a conventional, omniscient point of view, allowing the audience to experience Dahmers private moments. At times, the film struggles to permeate his psyche. However, the way the character wobbles between bizarre high-school band kid and burgeoning psychopath works as an acknowledgement of Derfs fallible memory after all, the film is based on his recollections, not Dahmers. Derfs impulse to fill in the gaps sometimes too simplistically in order to make sense of the crimes his friend would commit feels like a queasy admission of complicity.

It makes for something that ends up being sadder, weirder, more boring but more convincing than the average serial killer movie.

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Garfields creator, 40 years on: ‘I’m still trying to get it right’

Four decades since Jim Davis introduced his sardonic, lasagne-loving cat to the world, Garfield is read by 200m people every day. He talks about chasing the perfect gag and avoiding politics

Forty years ago this Tuesday, an orange tabby cat peered lugubriously at the world from the panels of his first comic strip. Our only thought is to entertain you, says his owner, Jon Arbuckle, brightly and guilelessly. Feed me, thinks the corpulent, Monday-loathing, sardonic Garfield, the eponymous hero of what would go on to become the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world.

The first panel of the first Garfield strip, from 19 June 1978. Photograph: Paws Inc

Back on 19 June 1978, though, Garfield made his debut in just 41 newspapers, all in the US. A couple of months later, that number fell by one: the Chicago Sun-Times decided to drop the strip. Garfields creator, cartoonist Jim Davis was close to panic. Here I am, 90 days into my dream career, and I lose a newspaper, says Davis, speaking from his 200-acre country home outside Muncie, Indiana. I thought, This is it, its downhill from here.

Before Garfield was published, Davis had been working as assistant cartoonist while shopping around his idea for a strip about a bug, Gnorm Gnat, without success.

Newspaper syndicates were getting tens of thousands of submissions from hopeful cartoonists a year and taking one or two. The odds were heavily against me, he remembers. But eventually, a syndicate editor told him that your gags are great, but bugs nobody can relate to bugs, and Davis, showing a cannily commercial approach that would serve him in good stead when it came to Garfields vast merchandising empire, rethought his approach. I took a long hard look at the comics. I saw dogs doing well. But no cats. I thought, Huh!

Named after his grandfather, James Garfield Davis (a rather stern and intimidating person, but he had these really kind eyes he was a teddy bear), Garfield is a composite of the dozens of stray cats on Daviss childhood farm. He developed the strip over a year, creating a cast of contrasting characters to interact with his lazy, lasagne-loving cat geeky owner Jon, the playful, brainless dog Odie, Garfields vet Liz, and kitten Nermal. The strip was picked up and then shortly afterwards dropped by the Chicago Sun-Times. But readers bombarded the paper with more than 1,300 phone calls and letters demanding Garfields return. (The paper quickly acquiesced.)

So Davis quit his job and went all in for Garfield, showing a steely confidence despite a first pay cheque of, he estimates, $38 (28) for the month. But by 1983, 1,000 papers were running Garfield. By 2002, it had the Guinness World Record for the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world, with an estimated 200m daily readers turning to the crotchety feline in 2,570 newspapers across the globe. There are countless bestselling Garfield books (Daviss company Paws Inc says more than 135m have sold worldwide), television series, films, toys, clothes, mugs. (Garfield merchandise brings in an estimated $750m-$1bn a year.) Theres even a musical.

A 1989 Garfield strip. Photograph: Used with permission of Paws Inc

At 72, Davis still writes and roughs out the strips himself, although a team completes them; the morning we talk, hes been working on a couple, as well as a ride for a Garfield theme park. Sitting down to dream up a new strip, hell visualise the cat and then send him up a tree, have him look out of a window, send him camping and then I watch him until he does something funny, and I back up three frames and cut him off.

Garfield himself has changed over the decades in what Davis calls an almost a Darwinian evolution. Today, his eyes and mouth are larger, and his body is slightly smaller, which helps with the more physical humour Davis has introduced. Peanuts creator Charles M Schulz helped get Garfield from four paws to two, advising Davis that like Snoopy Garfield needed to lose his tiny cat feet when he stands up. (He drew these two big feet on Garfield and he was standing. Magic.)

The nature of the humour has changed, too, says Davis. The first two or three years I got all the obvious cat gags out of the way, he says. Now I can take advantage of the fact people know him, the familiarity is much higher. You always expected to see Snoopy lying on the doghouse, for Charlie Brown to miss the football. There are certain things that make you feel warm and fuzzy, that have happened that way all your life, like telling an old joke over again. For some of us, it just gets funnier.

In a foreword to Age Happens, a new book celebrating Garfields 40th anniversary, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda writes how Daviss gags are such a mix of verbal and visual humour he can make you laugh with a patented Garfield one-liner, or a pie in the face from an unexpected location, describing Garfield himself as an ironic, detached cat who is mean to everyone and somehow all the more lovable for it.

Davis says he has come to understand that when people laugh at Garfield, theyre recognising themselves. We live in a time when were made to feel guilty about overeating, oversleeping, not exercising. Garfield not only does all that stuff but hes cool with that. I think in a way he relieves our guilt, he says. Garfield is everyones alter ego.

Photograph: Used with permission of Paws Inc

The cartoonist has always been careful to steer clear of social and political commentary in his strips. I consciously stay away from the political because its in the rest of the newspaper. They handle it better than I ever would, he says. Im dealing with very basic things, eating and sleeping, and I predict everyones still going to be eating and sleeping 40 years from now. Will there be a denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula 40 years from now? I doubt it. And thats the point I want him to be the cat next door and I feel a real responsibility to balance the scales. With whats going on in the economy, in politics, its awful and very depressing, so the purpose of the comics is to lighten things up, to go, Hey, lets not take ourselves so seriously, folks.

With thousands upon thousands of Garfield strips published over the years, Davis is adamant that he remains fascinated by his feline creation. And while he has his charitable and environmental concerns the Professor Garfield literacy foundation, and a project to return his 200 acres to its natural state its the comics he really loves.

The noveltys not worn off because Im still trying to get it right, he says. Now and then if you can do some silly gag that comes out of left field, that delights the readers, thats worth a lot. Thats what I go for all the time. One day, Id like to write that gag that makes the whole world laugh.

Hed like to see Garfield continue, even when he puts down his pencil. I would like to do it for as long as I feel I have something to contribute to it, until someone taps me on the shoulder and says Jim, youre not funny anymore, stop it, he says. I cant believe 40 years has gone by. Its been like a finger snap.

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