The character Clark Griswold is so associated with Christmas -especially outdoor Christmas lights- that it's sometimes hard to remember that Christmas Vacation was the second sequel to National Lampoon's Vacation. You'll be watching it again this holiday seasopn, so you may as well have some talking points to impress true family with. Like:
1. If the Griswold’s neighbor’s house looks familiar that’s because it’s the house Murtaugh lived in throughout the Lethal Weapon movies. Yes, the Griswolds and the Murtaughs all resided on the Warner Brothers Studios lot. Relive the suburban nostalgia with virtual tour of the neighborhood here.
2. The Dodge pickup truck that tailgates and provokes Clark and his family during the movie’s opening scenes was also used by Kurt Russel in Overboard.
Things get super weird around Christmastime -especially if you are a cat and haven't read the literature. Simon's cat explores the strange little man with a red cap, and finds that he can be a lot of fun! Well, the cat didn't bring down the Christmas tree this time, but there's still going to be a mess to clean up. -via Tastefully Offensive
Mary at Thoughts Up North drew anthropomorphized versions of nine planets -or eight planets and one planetoid, if you prefer- of our solar system.
I’ve always loved space and the planets. I’ve seen a few “human planets” sets done by other artists (I saw one in particular that inspired me to start this one but I lost the link) and most of them are pretty literal in the human department. I wanted to try making something more androgynous and godlike.
The colors are all based off the planets’ true colors, and the designs are a mix of the names’ mythos and Holst’s “The Planets” suite. They get progressively less human the further they are from the Sun, which I thought was fun. :) Enjoy!! Pluto included.
Cartoonist Grant Snider is composing a new series at Medium called “Who Needs Art?” His first piece discusses the Belgian surrealist René Magritte. Snider writes:
René Magritte is not my favorite painter. His Surrealist visions are smooth and perfectly rendered, but they lack the bold color and shadowy mystery of say, a Giorgio de Chirico canvas. Still, he is perhaps the most successful artist at achieving the purpose of the Surrealist movement, as stated by André Breton : “to resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality.” By favoring direct representation of ethereal imagery over stylistic innovation, his works feel less like pieces of art than objective accounts of lucid dreams. And all those faceless men in suits and bowler hats are decidedly creepy.
I don’t think that I’d mind having Magritte as a neighbor. I’d love to have Bob Ross as one. What artist, living or dead, would you like to live next to?
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton moved to a temporary home for a couple of months in 1974 while Burton filmed The Klansman in 1974. One of Taylor's cats, Cassius, went missing from the new neighborhood and never returned. Taylor wrote Letter to my Lovely Lost Cat, which is part memoir, part poetry, to organize her grief. Read the letter or the transcript at Letters of Note. It will remind you of what your pets mean to you.
I actually just used my Disneyland pass yesterday to enjoy another great day at the themepark. While I was with a special someone, it was far from a date, but now that I heard about Disneyland's organized "Date Nites" that took place back in the 50s and 60s, I kind of wish it was.
Imaging getting dressed up, meeting up with your best guy or gal and then hitting the dance floor at Disneyland before riding the Matterhorn together. The best part was -if your date was a dud, you could still have plenty of fun at the happiest place on earth.
Buzzfeed has plenty more about the organized events, and I can't help but wish we still had these available as a romantic Saturday night option. Maybe we could organize one already -there's already a Harry Potter day, a dapper day and a goth day, so why not a date day?
This compilation shows that there are many dogs out there who are totally intimidated by the house cat. Can you blame them? After all, cats are pointy on five ends! Some of the cats eventually show us why the dogs are afraid. I think a little human intervention is called for, don't you? After all, we don't stand by and let our human children bully each other! -via HuffPo
Jutting up out of the waters of Phang Nga Bay on the western coast of Thailand is the small island of Ko Tapu. It’s also known as James Bond Island because scenes from the 1974 movie The Man with the Golden Gun were shot there.
Since it draws money-spending tourists, local residents are comfortable with the new name. Visitors cannot readily climb it, but boats take people right up to the limestone cliffs and the caves carved into them. You can see why Bond’s nemesis Francisco Scaramanga chose it as a hideout. Provided that you have sufficient supplies, it might also be a serviceable zombie apocalypse shelter.
Right now, in a galaxy you live in... A NEW HOPE for Christmas decorations has emerged. It is the Darth Vader Nutcracker from the NeatoShop. This striking wood nutcracker is shaped like your favorite Star Wars character and is ready to forcefully capture the spirit of the holidays in your home.
Be sure to check out the NeatoShop for more great Star Wars items.
Every December, the Pantone company pronounces a new "color of the year" for the coming year. The color chosen for 2014 is PANTONE® 18-3224 Radiant Orchid.
“While the 2013 color of the year, PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald, served as a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity, Radiant Orchid reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.”
“An enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health. It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.”
The press release goes on to suggest how the color can be used in fashion, makeup, and interiors. What do you think? I could go for a shirt in the color, but I wouldn't wear it all that often. As far as interior decorating goes, I've had enough of that pink/purple palette when my daughters were into Disney princesses. Never again. Then again, we've posted about the predicted color of the year several times, and I've never noticed a prevalence of that color later on. -via The Week
When bronies march into battle, they bear the courage of Rainbow Dash, the viciousness of Fluttershy and the fortitude of Applejack. But most importantly, they carry the authority of Princess Celestia, the ruler of Equestria, whose cutie mark and colors grace this armored vest made by deviantART member TheGiantsnoll.
This chainmail vest consists of 16,500 16-gauge aluminum rings. It took him 68 hours to finish the project.
How Twin Peaks made modern art of the soap opera -and saved network TV in the process.
David Lynch and Mark Frost seemed an unlikely pair when they met for lunch one day in 1988. Lynch was an auteur who'd burnished his reputation directing the bizarro films Eraserhead and Blue Velvet; Frost was best known as a writer for the network police drama Hill Street Blues. But the two had hit it off a few years earlier when they met working on Goddess, a Marilyn Monroe biopic that never made it to production. Now they were looking to get their hands dirty again.
As the duo sat in Du-par's, the kitschy L.A. restaurant near the corner of Laurel Canyon and Ventura boulevards, inspiration struck. "All of a sudden," Lynch is quoted as saying in Lynch on Lynch, "Mark and I had this image of a body washing up on the shore of a lake." From that stray spark, Lynch and Frost sketched the idea for what would become Twin Peaks, an enigmatic murder mystery that surrounded its plot twists with art-house motifs. Though it would run for only two seasons on ABC, the show revolutionized television and laid the groundwork for the golden age of prime-time dramas. But before Twin Peaks could storm the small screen, Lynch and Frost had to convince someone to roll the dice.
Lynch was a shaky choice for prime time. His name was synonymous with eerily beautiful cult films, and his one dip into the mainstream, an adaptation of Frank Herbert's beloved sci-fi novel Dune, was a critical and commercial disaster. To the industry observer, it seemed that Lynch was just too niche -or maybe just too weird- for network television.
The move didn't seem to make any sense from a career perspective: TV was a giant step backward for an auteur of Lynch's caliber. Today, in an era where shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad enjoy all the glitz and prestige of the big screen, it's easy to forget that television used to be the stepping stone to film. An Oscar-nominated director like Lynch working on TV was like an all-star demoting himself to the minor leagues.
But Lynch's agent was keen to see what his client could do with the medium. And Lynch and Frost were starting to develop a killer storyline. Set in a fictional Washington hamlet, Twin Peaks revolves around the grisly slaying of blonde homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). The protagonist is a quixotic FBI agent named Dale Cooper (Kyle McLachlan) with an obsessive attention to detail and an affinity for diner coffee, which he takes "black as midnight on a moonless night." Together, Laura's killing and the big-city detective's arrival upend the small town, pulling back the curtain on its underbelly -gambling, prostitution, and backdoor dealings that turn local power brokers into villains- before uncovering the even more sinister forces that lurk in the woods.
Love Sriracha? Love bacon? Then you'll love the new burgers from Southern California burger chain Slater's 50/50 (known for the all bacon burger and the nacho burger). Their new Sriracha burger features a half bacon and half ground beef patty combined with Sriracha, topped with Sriracha-filled coleslaw, pepperjack cheese, Sriracha-glazed bacon, Sriracha mayo, mushrooms sauteed in Sriracha and a nice drizzle of Sriracha just to make sure you mouth is on fire.
The burger hits the menu on December 9th, so if you just can't get enough rooster sauce, head out to Slater's and try it for yourself.
One of the many innovations in motion picture technology designed to bring people back to the theaters instead of watching television, Cinerama was introduced fifty years ago. It was an early precursor to the IMAX experience.
The Cinerama technique wasn’t completely new when it first appeared and a similar method had been used to film the silent epic Napoleon back in 1927. Cinerama’s widescreen movies were created using three cameras at the same time. In theatres, three synchronized 35mm projectors were employed, with the images shown on three large wraparound screens, which created an illusion of a panoramic view for the members of the audience.
It was a glorious experience for the audience, but it was not an easy technology. Theaters had to be remodeled, special equipment was used to both film the movies and project them, and actors had to change the way they interacted with the camera. Read about how Cinerama came about, how it was done, and see pictures of the equipment, theaters, and movies at Dark Roasted Blend.
Here’s a new variation: mini Creme Eggs baked inside muffins. Jen, the Beantown Baker, made hers using cream cheese, sugar and flour. Chill the dough and bake it for 15 minutes. Then press the Creme Eggs in the muffins and bake for 5 more minutes.
It’s made of 1,800 pounds of butter, 7,200 eggs, 7,200 pounds of flour, 3,000 pounds of brown sugar and 22,304 pieces of candy. It’s a 36,000,000 calorie home that has all of the necessary building permits, including approval from the local fire department. This full-sized house has an internal volume of 39,201.8 cubic feet.
It’s now open to the public. As of yesterday, admission fees and donations have raised $150,000 for a hospital trauma center.
Look through the window at your car -now look back at me...No wait, look at this car in this post. It is cooler than your car and it always will be. That's because this car wasn't just painted to look like an Agents of SHEILD car, it actually was really used on the show. Only ten of them were made and it just sold on eBay for $42,900.
Want something even cooler, though admittedly a little less speedy and not legal on most streets? Then you really missed out on this sweet Batman Tumbler golf cart. It may not have actually been used in the films, but it's pretty much the coolest thing you could ever hope to drive around a retirement community and it was a steal compared to the SHEILD car at only $17,500.
We used to complain about the amount of time people spent in front of the TV. Then we complained about how our kids spend too much time playing video games. Then when the internet came along, we complained about everyone spending way too much time on the computer. So with the rise of smartphones, we, of course, complain about how dependent everyone is on their phone.
However, there is a difference with phones. They are so portable that you can use them anywhere, so people do. Rhett & Link wrote a little song about how much that annoys them. Then they want you to watch the video, and share it with your friends. Feel free to use your phone to do that. -Thanks, Rhett & Link!
The holidays are here! Have you been racking your brain for the perfect gift for your favorite skull loving friend? Get them the Skull Stein from the NeatoShop. This frightfully fun glass mug is shaped like a skull with a bone shaped handle.
Joshua David Stein of Wired made a fascinating observation: the letter E, long the most common letter in the English language, has lost its prominence in the internet age. Many internet brands, such as Flickr and Tumblr, dropped that letter from their names:
But in 2004, Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake founded Flickr, a photograph-sharing application, without the standard penultimate E. “The most compelling reason to remove the E,” explained Ms. Fake, “was that we were unable to acquire the domain Flicker.com … The rest of the team were more in favor of other options, such as ‘FlickerIt’ or ‘FlickerUp’ but somehow, through persuasion or arm-twisting, I prevailed.” It was good news for the company but bad news for the letter. A year later, the company was acquired by Yahoo for $35 million.
Soon many startups began jettisoning their Es like toxic assets. In 2009, Grindr, a geosocial network application for gay men, chose to make do without the letter E. Membership quickly swelled. Myriad other brands followed suit, including Blendr, Gathr, Pixlr, Readr, Timr, Viewr, Pushr. [...]
The decline in E-ness was also hastened by the realities of venture capitalists. “You take out the E from your company name, and you increase the valuation by millions,” said Lockhart Steele, the founder of Curbed, a lifestyle publishing empire. “Being E-free,” agrees Esther Dyson, a venture capitalist and an early investor in Flickr, “distinguishes you from the run-of-the-mill vowel-infested world.”
According to some linguists, the writing has been on the wall for years. “What you are seeing is a very natural process – the omission of the letter in final unstressed syllables before /r/, is something that has been a feature of written English since Anglo-Saxon times,” said Professor David Crystal, OBE, a linguist and author of Internet Linguistics. “‘Gather’ in Old English was spelled both ‘gaderian’ and ‘gadrian,’ for example.” In other words, the law of lex parsimonae doomed the E’s of Flicker, Tumbler, and Gather a long time ago.
Mr. Stein's obituary ends with this clever bit:
The letter E was born in the late 8th century BC in Athens, Greece. His father, the Phoenician letter He, died between 323 BC and 31 BC. E travelled widely throughout the Western world.
E is survived by his brothers, A, I, O and U; three daughters, é, ẻ, ě; and a son, ẹ.
Paintings of Elvis or other cultural icons on black velvet are now considered the epitome of tackiness, even a metaphor for tackiness -but it wasn't always so. Early artists who used the medium were serious and meticulous, painting each fiber individually. But as those paintings became popular, an industry of cheap knockoffs rose to fill the demand, particularly in Mexican border towns, where American tourists would snap them up.
To make the process go faster, the artist would lay a wet painting on a blank piece of velvet and press them together to create an outline for the next painting. That’s why so many velvet paintings have reverse images. Another technique for getting the outline on the canvas included punching small holes along the lines of a drawing, placing the drawing on the velvet, and then dusting it with chalk or light-colored powder, so that the chalk left a dotted outline on the velvet. (Sometimes you can still see part of the chalk outline on a velvet painting.) Images were also projected onto the velvet, or the painters would use techniques like airbrushing or screenprinting.
Because of this, some border painters had no artistic skills, but the velvet painters who have stuck with it usually have a real gift, such as Najera, Tony Maya, Roberto Sanchez, and Nacho Amaro, perceived to be among Tijuana’s best, according to “Los Angeles Times” reporter Sam Quinones. And Baldwin points to Daniel Guerrero in Nogales, Mexico, as a master of creating light in the blackness of the velvet.
No matter how much talent they did or didn’t possess, early Mexican velvet painters didn’t have the resources to concern themselves with artistry; they had to make a living. That’s why images that sold well—Jesus, Elvis, panthers, cowboys, clowns, bullfighters, dead celebrities, naked women—were copied over and over again. It didn’t matter if the paintings were done well or poorly, they sold the same.
The paintings sold by the thousands in the 1960s and '70s, and they are seeing a sort of revival today, as people buy them ironically, for the nostalgia, or just because they like them. Several authors, historians, and collectors lend their expertise to a history of black velvet paintings posted at Collectors Weekly.
As we take several more steps into the future nobody saw coming, we bid adieu to the brave men and women, and horses, that delivered our mail to our boxes and handed over our packages with a smile.
The age of the drone delivery bot is here, and until proper drone hunting licenses are issued we’re going to have to get used to seeing those little buggers flying around our neighborhoods.
But what happens if you’re not home to receive your package when the Amazon bot comes a knockin’? Why, they’ll leave a slip, of course, much like the one pictured here, only without the hint of robotic revolution.
In the natural order of things, birds are supposed to be afraid of cats, because cats eat birds. But these bully birds have their bluff in, and the cats seem to range from tolerant to truly terrified. Maybe the birds are giving a payback for all their outdoor relatives. Ya think? -via Tastefully Offensive
A fashion mannequin has an implicit message: this form is beautiful. If your own body doesn’t look like that form—not even remotely—then you may not feel that way about yourself.
The Swiss charity Pro Infirmis helps people with disabilities. To remind them that they are beautiful, too, they commissioned mannequins modeled on the bodies of four people with disabilities. The video below shows the process. Craftsmen measured the bodies of the models, then reshaped mannequins to fit those specifications.
After finishing construction, Pro Infirmis placed those mannequins, now dressed in fashionable clothing, in a storefront in Zurich. Watch the responses of the models and passersby.
Nelson Mandela was a South African revolutionary who spent 27 years imprisoned by the government. He became a symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle. Mandela was released from prison in 1990 after international pressure, and was elected president of South Africa in 1994. He served in that office until 1999. Nelson Mandela passed away today, according to an announcement by current South African President Jacob Zuma.
"He is now resting. He is now at peace," Zuma said. "Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father."
"What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human," the president said in his late-night address. "We saw in him what we seek in ourselves."
Mandela will have a state funeral. Zuma ordered all flags in the nation to be flown at half-staff from Friday through that funeral.
Mandela, a former president, battled health issues in recent months, including a recurring lung infection that led to numerous hospitalizations.
With advancing age and bouts of illness, Mandela retreated to a quiet life at his boyhood home in the nation's Eastern Cape Province, where he said he was most at peace. He was later moved to his home in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, where he died.
Roy Doty designed this Rube Goldberg Christmas card in which Santa wishes you a Merry Christmas in the most inefficient way possible. It's today's treat from the Science Geek Extravaganza Advent Calendar at Science Creative Quarterly, now in its fifth day.
Day four looks into the possibility that the G protein-coupled receptor agtrl1b is responsible for the Grinch's heart being three sizes too small.
Day three proposes the theory that Rudolph's red nose was due to a parasitic infection of his respiratory system.
Day two presents vintage biodiversity images with a Christmas twist.
Day one shows us the Christmas Tree Cluster near the Cone Nebula, or NGC 2264. That's a picture from space.
Many of you will undoubtedly see this cake and wonder why the heck Death is suddenly dressed like Santa Claus and what all this "Hogfather" nonsense is. But, if you're familiar with Terry Pratchett's Discworld, then you'll not only recognize this cake, but also immediately recognize how amazing it is.
The cake was made by Ciccio Cakes for the Bake A Christmas Wish fundraiser to help raise money for the Make A Wish Foundation. You ought to check out more of the fundraiser's great cakes, which includes a fantastic Frozen one as well.