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Slow and Gassy Balloon is Social Media Fave

Blimps, Cats and Halloween
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Who knew a huge blimp – basically a 73-meter-long balloon – could become the social media star of the week?

When the blimp broke free of its tether Wednesday, it quickly captured the attention of the American public. With no pilot or crew, it floated over to Pennsylvania, and the Twittersphere went crazy. Some of the most clever tweets were from people who pretended to be the blimp.

But that’s not all social media was talking about this week.

A pop star used Twitter to promote her newest video, preparations for the Halloween holiday began, and cats took over Twitter as something called “National Cat Day” let loose a stream of fur.

Those are the top trending stories for the week ending Oct. 30, 2015.

Blimp Escape

The blimp called JLENS is supposed to stay tethered to the ground at a military base in Maryland. But somehow it broke free and floated 160 miles to neighboring Pennsylvania.

The blimp does not have a pilot. So, fighter jets took off to make sure it didn’t cause too much damage. They later deflated it and brought it to the ground by shooting it.

The blimp made news around 2 p.m. Wednesday while most Americans were at work. It was a good time for people to take a break and share jokes on Twitter, Facebook and other social media.

One of the funniest commentators was known as @AberdeenBlimp, named for the Maryland town where the blimp was based.

As jets tracked its progress through Pennsylvania, jokes started flying. There were over 17,000 tweets with the hashtag #blimp in the first two hours.

One commentator made the connection between the idea of “grounding” the blimp by shooting it down, and the idea of “grounding” as a traditional punishment for misbehaving teenagers.

Goodyear, a company that makes car tires, is well-known for a blimp it owns that often flies high above sporting events with a camera. It joked that “airships” are always better with a pilot.

Ariana Grande video

The pop singer Ariana Grande left hints Thursday that the video for her new song, “Focus,” would be released shortly. By Thursday afternoon, #focustonight was trending on Twitter. That night, Grande released the video and switched her hashtag to #buyfocusonitunes, which was used 243,000 times by Friday morning.

Halloween Arrives

The American holiday of Halloween is a mash-up of traditions. Some say it is about the end of the harvest season. Others say it is connected to remembering and celebrating the dead. It is celebrated every October 31.

But these days in the United States, it is a chance for most people to dress up in fun costumes and knock on the doors of their neighbors asking for candy. By early Friday morning, there were almost 2.5-million tweets about Halloween.

It is a chance to dress up our pets, too. On social media, people shared photos of their pets in costumes starting a week ago. On Facebook, one page is only for photos of pets in Halloween garb.

Celebrities got in on the act, too.

Many costumes refer to pop culture from the past year. One costume comes from a photo of a dress that “went viral.” That means the photo was shared thousands of times on social media.

In this case, the platform was Tumblr. One website – Buzzfeed – posted a poll asking readers to vote on the color combination of the dress. It received over 3 million votes. And the hashtag #TheDress became one of the most viral topics of 2015.

Some are dressing up in half white and gold costume. Others are wearing a half black and blue dress for Halloween.

Processed Meats

People enjoy being scared around Halloween. Ghosts and goblins are traditional costumes. People get to tease death by laughing at it. Visiting a “haunted house” is a popular activity.

But really “scary” news came out that a beloved food – bacon -- causes cancer.

The World Health Organization announced Monday that processed meats like bacon, hot dogs and salami can raise a person’s risk for cancer.

Someone would have to eat a lot of those foods to be harmed, but social media lit up with the news.

Search terms related to “bacon” and “cancer” and “processed meat” were in Google’s top five Monday.

National Cat Day

Posting photos of cats on the Internet is very popular. So when National Cat Day was celebrated Thursday, people took advantage.

Over 50,000 tweets were sent in the first few hours.

Even President Obama sent along his wishes with an assist from Internet celebrity “Grumpy Cat.” President Obama’s message was retweeted over 2,000 times.

That is what caught people’s attention in the U.S. this week.

I’m Anna Matteo.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

What are people talking about in your country this week? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

blimp – n. a large aircraft without wings that floats because it is filled with gas

anchor– n. a heavy device that is attached to a boat or ship by a rope or chain and that is thrown into the water to hold the boat or ship in place

costume – n. the clothes that are worn by someone (such as an actor) who is trying to look like a different person or thing

candy – n. a sweet food made with sugar or chocolate

cute – adj. having a pleasing and usually youthful appearance

garb – n. a particular style or type of clothing

giant – n. much larger or more powerful than normal

ghost – n. the soul of a dead person thought of as living in an unseen world or as appearing to living people

grumpy – n. easily annoyed or angered : having a bad temper or complaining often

lit up – v. to cause excitement; All of the lights on the display suddenly lit up.

mooring – n. a place where a boat or ship can be anchored or moored

tether – v. to use a rope or chain to tie (an animal) to something in order to keep it in a particular area

tease – v. to laugh at and criticize (someone) in a way that is either friendly and playful or cruel and unkind

went rogue – v. used to describe something or someone that is different from others in usually a dangerous or harmful way