2013 might not have been the greatest year of your life, but it was certainly the a great year when it comes to cutness. Don't believe me, well, remember the Shetland ponies in Shetland sweaters?
Or when Chris P. Bacon and Lentil Bean met for the first time? Those are only two of the ten amazingly adorable things that made 2013 pretty legendary in the realm of cute critters. You can find the rest of the precious list over at Cute Overload.
Bah! Humbug. There's one Scrooge in every crowd who hates the entire holiday season. But all of us have our moments when the pressure to be jolly and festive, not to mention the stress of cooking and shopping and attending functions and hosting guests and decorating and wrapping and trying to make CHristmas great for everyone else just wears us down. In movies, you are more likely to hear people just come out and say it, which they do in this supercut from Slackstory. -via Blame It On The Voices
Usually furniture designers wait until they have a solid design finished, perhaps even testing it out in a 3D program like Sketchup or CAD, before they begin the fabrication process and bring the idea to life.
This time around, however, designer Fukawa Daigo decided to go with the initial rough sketch as the finished design, and the results look like living scribbles, and are probably really uncomfortable to sit on!
They’re a bit of art brought to life simply for the fun of it, and while they aren’t the most successful furniture designs we’ve ever seen they definitely make for great conversation pieces.
[Ed note: There is a video at the bottom of the main article; you may wish to listen to the music while you read this story from mental_floss magazine.]
When Rhapsody in Blue premiered at New York's Aeolian Hall on February 12, 1924, most people couldn't wait for the evening to be over. The piece was scheduled near the end of a long program called "An Experiment in Modern Music." After two sluggish hours, the audience was bored, restless, and drenched in sweat due to the hall's broken ventilation system. But then, a lone clarinet pierced through the orchestra, fizzing upward like a fountain of champagne. Suddenly, everyone was riveted.
For the next 17 minutes, George Gershwin, an unknown 26-year-old composer, caressed and pounded the piano at center stage, chasing the orchestra through a thrill ride of skyrocketing notes. It was an unforgettable debut -one that brought new respect to jazz and helped redefine classical music. Today, Rhapsody in Blue is one of the 10 most-performed works of the 20th century, right up there with "Happy Birthday" and "White Christmas."
FROM BROOKLYN TO BROADWAY
When George Gershwin was 11, he overheard a friend playing Anton Dvorak's Humoresque No 7 on the violin. The music provoked "a flashing revelation" that hooked Gershwin immediately. He began sneaking over to a neighbor's house in Brooklyn to teach himself to play different instruments. A year later, when Gershwin's mother brought home a secondhand upright piano, the family was stunned to see George sit down and tear through vaudeville tunes. From then on, he was glued to the ivories. A few years of formal lessons followed, but his teachers could barely keep up with Gershwin's prodigious talent.
At 15, Gershwin quit school and took a job as a song plugger in Tin Pan Alley, New York's music publishing district. Song pluggers were basically pianists who sold sheet music by demonstrating the latest tunes for singers, dancers, and producers. With his outgoing personality, Gershwin was a natural, often weaving in his own musical ideas to liven up the pieces. Before long, he became a full-time songwriter, When he was 21, he penned his first hit, "Swanee," made famous by blackface entertainer Al Jolson. The 1920s equivalent of a Beyoncé single, "Swanee" spent nine weeks at No. 1, selling one million copies of sheet music and two million records. Soon Broadway came calling, and Gershwin became, in his own modest words, "a fairly busy young composer."
Science is a critical part of the booze-making process and how alcohol interacts with our bodies, which is why it makes total sense to express alcoholic drinks in a periodic table. This great chart is organized both by type of alcohol and the alcohol by volume of each drink. Plus, it includes what type of beverage the drink is, when it was created and what the main flavor of the drink happens to be. It's a perfect way to organize cocktails. Note that you will probably have to click through to see the whole thing in a size large enough to read it.
My favorite, the white Russian is #61. What about your favorite drink?
I’m exaggerating, of course. But proper grammar became a point of dispute in the negotiations between the United States and the United Kingdom that led to the 1871 Treaty of Washington.
American and Britain had a border dispute over the San Juan Islands in the Strait de Juan de Fuca as well as questions about fishing rights and access to the sea. But the most pressing issue was known as the “Alabama claims.” During the American Civil War, British companies built several warships for the Confederacy, such as the C.S.S Alabama. These commerce raiders damaged US shipping during the war. The United States held Britain partially responsible.
The British largely acceded to American demands (much to the frustration of Canadian fishermen). But there was one position from which Britain would not budge: proper grammar.
At that time, British conventions of English grammar considered splitting an infinitive a serious grammatical error. Thomas R. Lounsbury, a professor of English at Yale University, wrote in 1904 that the British government insisted that the text of the treaty contain no split infinitives:
At last an agreement was reached. It involved certain concessions to the American demands to which, in the opinion of some, assent should never have been given.
There was one point, we are told, upon which the home Government was sternly inflexible. “For it,” says Mr. Lang, “much may by literary persons be forgiven them.” It telegraphed that in the wording of the treaty it would under no circumstances endure the insertion of an adverb between the preposition to (the sign of the infinitive) and the verb. Mr. Lang feels justly the heroic nature of the act. Much might be yielded on questions in dispute which all knew would ultimately involve the expenditure of money, and indeed implied at the time admission of previous wrong-doing; much might be yielded in the case of certain things which the biographer himself seems to regard as points of honor. Still, on these minor matters it was thought advisable to give way. So much the more must our tribute of admiration be paid to the English Government for remaining as immovable as the solid rock when it came face to face with the great question of severing the close tie that binds to infinitive the preposition to. “The purity of the language,” observes Mr. Lang, “they nobly and courageously defended.”
I cannot verify Prof. Lounsbury’s assertion from original sources. But if it is not good history, then it is at least a good story. Upon casually perusing the text of the treaty, I cannot find any split infinitives.
The treaty was duly ratified by Queen Victoria and the United States Senate. This event began the Great Rapprochement—an era of warming relations between the United States and the United Kingdom that was by no means historically inevitable.
In the spirit of that special relationship of shared language, culture, law and history, let both nations commit to not split infinitives in the future.
Geophysicist David Prouty responded to a challenge from his teenage daughter and built a 1/3 scale TARDIS out of cardboard boxes -you sure can't tell it's cardboard by looking at it! Inside there are things going on that make you believe it truly is bigger on the inside: rotating disco balls, sound-activated lights, a fog machine, speakers connected by Bluetooth to his iPhone, or any other mobile device with music. It's essentially a party in a cardboard box, but what a cool box! Guaranteed to impress any Doctor Who fan. See pictures of the build process at imgur. -via Geeks Are Sexy
Are you looking for that perfect accessory to rock your holiday look? You need the festive Rockin' Reindeer Ears from the NeatoShop. This fantastic musical headband with antlers plays jingle bells when you push the button.
Be sure to check out the NeatoShop for more great Christmas items.
When the Klingon leader General Martok (who was recently elected to public office in New York) wishes you a merry Christmas, you should at least try to respond in his own language. There's a limit to the Yuletide cheer that the universal translator can express.
Here is Mashable's handy guide to saying "merry Christmas" in 40 languages, including Farsi, Lithuanian and Korean.
Riding on the subway is a trying experience, whether you’re riding through New York or Paris, and just like any experience in life that involves being way too close to a broad cross section of humanity there are plenty of moments that will make you wish you were dead, or at least taking a taxi instead.
To make riding the subway trains a more tolerable experience the Paris transit authority created an illustrated book of subway etiquette, with twelve rules meant to make the entire experience better for everyone involved. The drawings are delightful, and so easy to understand that even the most mentally deranged rider will learn a thing or two about what not to do to their fellow riders.
Empathy is when you make yourself truly available emotionally to someone when they need you. This video from the RSA features Dr. Brené Brown, who explains the difference between sympathy and empathy better than I ever could. You may recognize the bear as someone you know -you might also recognize the goat. And you'll certainly recognize all those folks who avoid you when you're going through a painful time, because they aren't in this video. This is actually an excerpt from a longer talk from Brown, which you can see at YouTube. -via Metafilter
Riley, a 3-year old corgi, has new friend. It’s a wild rabbit! Lareina Tan, Riley’s human, says that they met on a walk. She was initially afraid that Riley might hurt the bunny. But all they want to do is play together. The bunny has even waited outside Riley’s house for the dog to come out and play. Ms. Tan says:
The bunny ran around in circles around us instead of away, and jumped onto Ripley's front paw while she was sitting. I want to believe the bunny chose to hang with her.
Riley is quite gentle and, true to his shepherding roots, only nudges him along. You can see more photos here.
Looking for a great Christmas gift for your pooch? Well, it's almost certainly not going to be on this great Mental Floss list of hilarious and strange dog products. From dog beer to perfume to a Twitter dog tag, the collection is pretty funny.
Even the handful of stuff that dogs would actually enjoy is still good for a laugh to us human folks -like the chew toy that gives your pooch giant red lips. One thing they almost certainly won't appreciate is the puppy nail polish though, so try to avoid simply torturing your pooch for the sake of fashion.
Neatorama readers already know about North Sentinel Island and Pripyat, but they are far from the only "forbidden" areas of the world. Oddee has ten more that you might want to see, but you cant. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see the cave painting as Lasceaux up close and personal? Ain't gonna happen.
The caves, which have been banned to the public since 1963, have been menaced in recent years by a series of unexplained, and only partially controlled, fungal invasions. Any human presence in the caves is regarded as potentially destructive. Normally, they are entered only once a week by one security guard for a few minutes at a time.
Talk about your mind blowing architecture! This impossible looking structure was constructed in the imagination of photographer Victor Enrich, who saw much more than a simple skyscraper when he looked at the NH Munchen Deutscher Kaiser hotel in Munich, Germany.
In fact, he saw 88 different versions of the hotel, each more impossible than the last, and his photo manipulation skills have improved quite a bit since we last featured his works on Neatorama (Link). Victor’s visionary buildings would make a great addition to cityscapes across the globe if we didn’t have that pesky thing called gravity keeping our architecture in check.
There are a lot of ways to make a wedding special, unique and geeky, but I had yet to see a unicorn appear at a wedding, let alone a beericorn...at least, until now.
This brilliant take on the traditional celebratory keg was featured at Offbeat Bride readers Erin and Shayne's wonderful wedding. Believe it or not, the horse was actually one of the first things the couple planned and purchased for the affair -now that's a clever way to enjoy alcohol in style.
In an inventive design reminiscent of old silent films accompanied by piano playing, the Mieru Record offers musical accompaniment to comic strips. Stick one in and turn the crank. As the strip feeds through the music box, you’ll hear a soundtrack to match the story.
In 1939, Solomon Linda was a young Zulu herdsman and singer who had moved to Johannesburg, South Africa, to make his fortune. His singing group, the Evening Birds, recorded a song he made up on the spot called "Mbube." As was the custom at the time, he sold the song to the recording studio for about ten shillings. Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds played music locally for years and received some acclaim for the song's later worldwide success -but no money.
"Wimoweh" by The Weavers and the Gordon Jenkins Orchestra 1952
Pete Seeger got a scratchy copy of the tune in 1949 and rewrote it as "Wimoweh," a song recorded by his band The Weavers in 1952 and in 1955. Seeger thought the original tune was a folk song, with no original author. The Tokens recorded the song as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in 1961, which became the biggest hit version of the song so far (there have been many other cover versions). Meanwhile, Solomon Linda died in South Africa in poverty in 1962. His wife and six children could not afford a headstone for his grave for many years afterward.
When Seeger learned of Solomon Linda, he arranged for his songwriting royalties to go to Linda's family. However, Seeger simply sent checks as he received the money, and after the funds were filtered through a charitable trust and a South African lawyer who did not keep records, the Linda family only received small pittances every so often. Meanwhile, the success of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" kicked off a dramatic battle between various rights holders of the original tune -none of whom had creative input, but as the various rights to the song had been sold and resold, everyone wanted a piece of the action.
In 1994, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" was included in the movie The Lion King, which resulted in $15 million more in sales. Then in 2000, South African journalist Rian Malan wrote a story for Rolling Stone magazine that recounted the story of "Mbube," and how Solomon Linda never saw any profits from his creation. The article led to a documentary and then a lawsuit, in which the song's copyright was reverted to Linda's heirs. Only then did Linda's family begin to receive regular proceeds from the song their father wrote over 60 years earlier. You can read the article in its entirety, with a 2003 update, at Longform. -via Metafilter
If you couldn't tell already, we here at Neatorama love Star Trek, whether it be the original, the Next Generation, Voyager or Enterprise (some of us even like the new reboot, though that's a hotly contested subject). No matter what version of the show is everyone's favorite though, you have to appreciate the original for kicking off the franchise and with that in mind, we adore Leonard Nimoy and these strange art tributes to Spock are something even those with only a mild interest in the U.S.S. Enterprise can still appreciate.
I'm a particularly big fan of his emo look, though he also makes a pretty great centaur.
Stuart Ashen takes a close look at some unlicensed toys made with not quite the care and quality control of the originals. He starts out with a Batman Begins trading card set that seemed familiar to me, because we published the backstory from it earlier this year. His spoken word delivery is priceless! But that's just the beginning. It's a long video, so I grabbed some screenshots to show you what he is reviewing: Batman Begins, Star Wart (featuring Admlral Ackbar), Teenage Motant Ninja Tortlez, and an Invincibility Robot.
"A never-ending source of disappointment and confusion."
Calendars that benefit charitable causes usually feature cute animals or sexy guys and gals posed for maximum sales potential, but a calendar starring New York City cab drivers has got to be a first.
This wacky NYC Taxi Drivers 2014 calendar was created for University Settlement, an organization that helps immigrant families fund higher education, housing and literacy programs, and with such a good cause behind them there's no need for all the beefcake and fluffy puppy shots. In fact, now that these NYC cabbies have shown the world their softer side both the fares and the charitable donations are sure to come rolling in.
Everyone has emotions and eyebrows are particularly useful in helping express these feelings -even when it comes to dogs. Of course, they aren't just useful for emoting, they're also great for a laugh and this compilation of dogs with fake eyebrows is also great for crack ups.
My old pooch had small eyebrows that were pretty expressive and I've seen a few with natural markings that look like eyebrows, but none of them look this over the top ridiculous.
You can't live on Jack Daniels alone, Pally. -Frank Sinatra, 1962
When Sinatra dies, they're giving his zipper to the Smithsonian. -Dean Martin
Countless things have been said about Frank Sinatra, and why not? Frank was the legend of legends, the biggest star in show business, "Old Blue Eyes" himself, the original "swinger," the world's greatest singer, an awesome Oscar-winning actor, fighter, bon vivant, two-fisted drinker, manic/depressive, insomniac, leader of the Rat Pack. Oh yes, and the world's most successful ladies man.
It's tough to conjure up one line to define someone as multi-faceted as Frank Sinatra, but if you tried, it may have been "He loved women and women loved him."
"He had sex on the brain," says Nanci Venturi, who knew Frank from his early day. "He would make love to anyone who came along."
According to friend Joey D'Orazio, Frank confided to him, "I just want to make it with as many women as I can."
These quotes and the basic picture we all have of Frankie the swinger may all, indeed, be true. But like most of us, Frank Sinatra had both Jeckyll and Hyde sides. Yes, he did have women on the brain, like almost all men. A common Sinatra phrase while hanging out with his pals in the lounge of the Sands hotel in Las Vegas was, "We're all men sitting there. Where are the broads?"
Okay, what did Frank Sinatra look for in a woman? "A sense of humor," he once answered, but later in the same conversation, he gave this fascinating elaboration: "I'm supposed to have a PhD on the subject of women, but the truth is, I've flunked more often than not. I'm very fond of women; I admire them. But like all men, I don't understand them."
Although the common perception of Sinatra would probably be of the ultimate skirt-chaser who scored with countless females, from the world-famous to the obscurely anonymous, Frank definitely has a more refined side. "Make her feel appreciated, make her feel beautiful," he once advised.
Everybody knows about Dr. Seuss’ illustrious career as writer/illustrator of legendary children’s books like The Cat In The Hat and Green Eggs And Ham, but did you know that once upon a time the good doctor tried his hand at creating some "adult" content?
Way back in 1939, when Seuss was in transition from Vanguard to Random House publishing, he made an agreement with his new publisher which allowed him to put out an adult themed book of his choosing, and so The Seven Lady Godivas was born.
The content is quite tame by today’s standards of adult content, but it definitely delivers that Seussian style you know and love, and contains some heartwarmingly hilarious illustrations.