Let this be the weirdest thing you see all weekend (please). This Universal Newsreel from 1933 introduces farmer Cecil H. Dill, whose Stupid Human Trick is Letterman-worthy stupid: he performs Yankee Doodle by squeaking his hands together. Even weirder than hand farts, if you can believe it, is the way Dill looks as he tells his story: Wide-eyed, intense, and really, really proud of his show today. Link -via
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Wolf, Robert Jefferson Travis Pond
When scrap-metal sculptor Robert Jefferson Travis Pond starts on a new piece, the end result isn't really the focus.
Half of what I do is collecting materials. I look for objects with significance and meaning, objects that have connections to us as individuals and as a whole. The scraps I use are a part of our human history.
Then, he takes those parts and builds incredible animals out of them, like the wolf above (my favorite) and the koi below. The pieces are fairly large, and presumably heavy, but neither of those things detracts from the impression of motion Pond's work expresses. Strong lines, graceful curves, and interesting details make Pond's work unique.
Koi, Robert Jefferson Travis Pond
And much like the finished sculptures' inspiration, the process of piecing them together is completely organic.
For me, the question is never where to start; it is always when to stop. It is a constant look beyond the object, beyond the form, to what is next. Each circumstance, or in this case, each piece, spontaneously connects to the next.
Owl, Robert Jefferson Travis Pond
The result is a dynamic and thoughtful rendering of a creature, built out of pieces of our own history. Just amazing. And there are plenty more where these few came from. The Steel Pond Studios site has tons of images of Pond's sharks, tigers, roosters, and even a pocket phoenix. He also makes furniture and wall hangings. Link -via Unconsumption
Fleeting Dragonfly; Mark Oliver
What's a Litter Bug? According to artist Mark Oliver, this:
Arthropod sub-species of the Insecta class.
A creature whose instinctual and physical qualities have adapted so uniquely to the modern urban environment that it has rendered itself, by nature of camouflage, virtually invisible in it’s normal habitat.
When seen in isolation ‘Litter Bugs’ appear to be composed of everyday ‘found’ objects.
I don't think I would call these steampunk (though Flavorwire does, and they probably know more about that than I do), the mixed-media sculptures are incredibly intricate. I especially love the teensy little clock face used here as the dragonfly's head. Check out the full swarm of Litter Bugs on Mark Oliver's site. Link -via Flavorwire
I don't know the first thing about Japanese art (or magazines, for that matter), but I know I'm really digging these vintage covers from 1910-1950. (The one featured above is from 1924. It's like a Matisse-Tim Burton mashup.)
There seems to be just a touch of art nouveau happening in some of these, like the one just above from 1930, but apart from that it appears Japan had its own thing going on in the early 20th-century, and it's a thing you might enjoy. 50 Watts has at least 23 more for your perusal, as well as links to other resources. Link
From left to right: Bicellaria grandis, section of cow's hoof, long section of fossilized coral, water scorpion (Nepa cinerea)
19th-century naturalists packaged specimen slides — cross-sections or small, whole organisms pressed between glass slides — in much the same way they packaged everything else: ornamentally.
As microscopes and lenses became more sophisticated, and glass slides gained popularity in Victorian England, commercial glass slide mounters began to emerge in order to meet the demand of amateur naturalists. Many of the commercial slide makers began attaching decorative lithographed wrappers to the glass, often fixed with small handwritten identification tags and monogrammed trademark labels. Individual slide mounter's work became very recognizable over time, and have retained considerable value when found in near original condition.
These examples above, taken from A Cabinet of Curiosities, are just a tiny example of the wide array of surviving pieces. Letterology has a great brief history and more images, or you can check out the full catalogue if you have a few hours to get lost in the Internet. Link
People in a space colony of the future (by Rick Guidice, 1977)
In 1977, the Herald-Starin Steubenville, OH, asked the local citizenry to share their predictions for the year 2000. Predictably, a lot of answers came in from the 10-12 year-old set, and their answers are surprisingly accurate... at least in some cases. Marty predicted the smartphone and online shopping:
In the year 2000, we will have all round buildings. We will have a robot teacher, a robot maid, and all workers will be robots, too. We will have a pocket computer that has everything you can name. We will even be able to push a button to get anything you want!
Marty Bohen, Age 10
Other students' expectations for the future were decidedly more personal; Monica just wanted to make sure she had her MRS. Her predictions for global peace were a little more ambitious:
In 2000 I will marry a doctor and maybe have kids. I would like my husband to be a doctor because he would be helping people and would still want to be close to my family. As for a job for me I would help the crippled boys and girls. I would still like to have my same friends. And the most important thing for there to be is no wars and killings. I hope they could find cures for every sickness. And everybody will care for each other.
Monica Katsaros, Age 10
Paleofuture has a whole collection of gems just like these, which make for a great read. Link
But it makes me wonder: What would you predict for our future? Tell us what you think 2050 will look like, and why.
The Abominations of Yondo
Bruce Pennington has been in the business a long time. His first sci-fi cover commission came in 1967, for the New English Library 1970 paperback edition of Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. Not a bad start! The book became the sacred text of The Church of All Worlds, a religious group officially recognized by the U.S. government in 1967.
This commission led to many such cover art projects under New English Press, and Pennington's career was off with a bang — he painted artwork for sci-fi, fantasy and horror novels like the Dune series by Frank Herbert, as well as for works by Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Pennington's long career has produced a number of classic covers, but he also works on personal projects. Monster Brains has a great starter collection, and you can see even more of Pennington's 50-year canon on his site. Link
It's fun to watch the famous quibble from afar, but less appreciated is an author's willingness to openly compliment another. Sure, you see little blurbs on book jackets and throwaway lines in interviews ("Yeah, yeah, I read that"). In the just-released collection Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story, famous authors took the time to choose another famous author and discuss what they love about the other's work. In the same spirit, FlavorWire has amassed a list of author-on-author quotes that'llmake you wantto reread everything (or pick up something new-to-you).
“[F. Scott Fitzgerald] had one of the rarest qualities in all literature, and it’s a great shame that the word for it has been thoroughly debased by the cosmetic racketeers, so that one is almost ashamed to use it to describe a real distinction. Nevertheless, the word is charm — charm as Keats would have used it. Who has it today? It’s not a matter of pretty writing or clear style. It’s a kind of subdued magic, controlled and exquisite, the sort of thing you get from good string quartettes.” — Raymond Chandler in a letter to Dale Warren, 1950
“This is the farthest thing from a scholarly introduction, because there was nothing scholarly or analytical about my first reading of Lord of the Flies. It was, so far as I can remember, the first book with hands – strong ones that reached out of the pages and seized me by the throat. It said to me, ‘This is not just entertainment; it’s life-or-death.’” – Stephen King in the introduction to the centenary edition of [featured author] William Golding’s classic.
Some among you may contend that Mark Rothko wasn't "really an artist," and if you want, you guys can duke it out in the comments. But the fact is that Rothko is a celebrated icon from a well-loved period of art history, and his mural Black on Maroon (1958) was defaced by a man in London's Tate Modern yesterday, who scrawled a message and signature on the painting (above) as museum patrons watched in shock. The message reads "A potential piece of Yellowism" and is signed Vladimir Umanets.
During an investigation by Scotland Yard, Umanets claimed full responsibility for the vandalism, though he stressed that he is not, in fact, a vandal:
In defence of his scrawl, Mr Umanets said: 'Some people think I'm crazy or a vandal, but my intention was not to destroy or decrease the value, or to go crazy. I am not a vandal. [...] I don't need to be famous, I don't want money, I don't want fame, I'm not seeking seeking attention. Maybe I would like to point people's attention on what it's all about, what is Yellowism, what is art? [...] I believe that from everything bad there's always a good outcome so I'm prepared for that but obviously I don't want to spend a few months, even a few weeks, in jail. But I do strongly believe in what I am doing, I have dedicated my life to this.'
Perhaps you can use the comments to help us interpret what exactly that means.
Umanets has not yet been charged, but the Tate does confirm that "an incident took place" and that "police are currently investigating the incident." Link | Photo: Tim Wright/Twitter
Thanks to a new study from Hiroshima University, you can argue that your time spent swooning over adorable puppy pics on Reddit is justified. Turns out, taking a few minutes to look at a photo of something adorable (like Fay, the guide dog puppy featured above) will help you perform your duties more carefully later.
[S]cientists divided 132 university students into three groups and had them perform separate tasks. The first group played a game similar to "Operation" (the board game that challenges you to remove "body parts" from a graphic representation of a body using tweezers, buzzing when you make an error). The second group was asked to find a given number in a random sequence of numbers. The third group took a test designed to measure their level of focus. The members of each group completed one round of their respective tasks; at that point, half were shown images of baby animals while the other half were shown photos of adult animals. The groups were then asked to return to their tasks.
In all three tests, the group who looked at adorable kittens and babies beforehand performed better than the"neutral image" group. Good luck arguing your case to your employer, but if you can manage it, it may pay off to sneak in a little bit of Flickr browsing each morning. (I'll get you started off with some of our best animal-cuteness in the links below. ADORBZ.) Link
Photo: George Hawkins
It began as an April Fools prank, but someone (somewhere, maybe) will be happy to know that Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout is now a real thing.
According to representatives from Wynkoop Brewing, the phony product was met with such a warm reception back in April that the company had no choice but to start brewing it for real.
And by God, these fiends have done it: brewing a beer that according to the Wynkoop website, is “an assertive foreign-style stout, slightly viscous, with a deep brown color. It has equally deep flavors of chocolate syrup, Kahlua, and espresso, along with a palpable level of alcohol and a savory umami-like note. It finishes dry and roasted with a fast-fading hop bite.”
Given that description, Wynkoop's nutty brew seems drinkable. Not that I'll be going near it ever. Link
You may want to sit down, guys: it's pumpkin season in Starbucks land, but some stores are reportedly overwhelmed with demand and have run out of pumpkin spice syrup before the next shipment arrives.
Starbucks says there's no overall shortage of the key syrup ingredient, but notes that some stores suffer setbacks because of less frequent deliveries. "In a pumpkin emergency," however, shops can "place an extra order" for the sauce. Meanwhile, baristas are running to neighboring locations to grab supplies, and some are serving an instant version of the stuff. An Austin man managed to sell a $6.95 box of the instant version for $17 on eBay; other customers are hoarding it for themselves.
In my city there is only one Starbucks (and consequently, only one coffeeshop), and twice already this month I've heard, "Sorry, we're out of Pumpkin Spice" as people ahead of me in line were ordering. Since I drink mine straight-up, this isn't aproblem for me. But Twitter and Facebook (at least among my few thousand friends) seem to be abuzz with pumkin-shortage lament. Have any of you encountered this? IS YOUR LIFE OVER? Link
It looks like a rack of homemade candles, but the image above is actually of honey produced by bees in France. The weird coloration started showing up in August, and beekeepers were stumped. A bit of detective work revealed that the cause wasn't very far from home.
The bees around the town of Ribeauville in the Alsace region have been carrying an unidentified colored substance back to their hives since August. The keepers have done a bit of sleuthing and think the Agrivolar biogas plant around 4 kilometers away is to blame.
The enterprise has been processing waste from a Mars factory producing the colored M&M's. The waste products have been stored in open containers and the bees could easily access the contents.
"We discovered the problem at the same time they did. We quickly put in place a procedure to stop it," Reuters quotes Agrivalor manager Philippe Meinrad as saying. The plant said they would now store waste indoors and in tightly closed containers.
Though the off-color honey still tastes like honey, store-owners have said it's not definitely not going to sell like the familiar, non-M&M-colored honey everyone is used to. Another concern is the bee colonies' ability to withstand exposure to such high levels of artificial coloring. Link
The 30,000-year-old body of a wooly mammoth recently uncovered by Jenya, an 11-year-old Russian boy, is the most well-preserved remains of the species discovered in at least 100 years.
The mammoth had died at the tender young age of 16 after growing to be a sturdy six-and-a-half feet tall. The poor guy was missing a tusk, too, which scientists say probably contributed to his down fall. (The lack of tusk meant that it would’ve been hard for the young mammoth to defend itself against predators.) Some splits on the remaining tusk are indicative of human contact, leading the researchers to believe that it was indeed an Ice Age man who killed the mammoth some 20,000-30,000 years ago.
For more about Jenya's discovery and other recently recovered mammoths, check out the rest on Motherboard. Link
The polls are in and the consensus says SpongeBob SquarePants will likely win the under-10 vote. Sorry, "Other Guy" and "Broccoli Almond." The best part is Wonder Woman's healthy endorsement from the "no cigaretting" girl. Link
Minecraft fans probably already heard about Mojang's fancy new digs (above), complete with leather-wrapped goodness and a Minecraft-style conference room. Just look at Notch, all suave under the moody light.
Cool as it is, Mojang's office is hardly the most innovative of workplaces. Thankfully, Weburbanist took the time to round up 18 more crazy office interiors that will make you want to apply for an internship. Link
If collecting digital assurances that people enjoy your online company isn't validating enough for you, you're in luck.
Researchers at the MIT Media Lab have created a vest that hugs you every time a friend "likes" one of your Facebook posts. The Like-A-Hug vest is linked to your Facebook account and automatically inflates inward when you receive a "like."
The vest allows you to reciprocate, of course: to return the favor, just squeeze it with your arms until it deflates. Link
45 years ago, Scrooge McDuck passed away at the age of 100. "But what about Duck Tales?" you ask. Well, so did Robyn Penacchia at Death+Taxes, who also had a few other questions:
To this day, I am still confused about the fact that, in this town of anthropomorphic ducks (Duckburg, duh), there were non-anthropomorphic ducks that the anthropomorphic Ducks sometimes fed at the park, with absolutely no acknowledgment that they were one and the same species, or that the other ducks were technically naked by anthropomorphic Duck standards.. I’m also pretty unclear about why the only other anthropomorphic species in Duckburg were dogs.
Following this and a few other leads, Penacchia came to the obvious conclusion: Scrooge was a vampire. While that seems like a statement we'd need Disney to comment on, there are other, truer facts here about the residents of Duckburg, their family, and what Donald does when he visits Europe. Link
It's the 25th anniversary of The Princess Bride, and since everyone is chattering about the cast reunion and planning their post-debate viewing parties, now seems like as good a time as any to brush up on your Andre the Giant trivia. Here's one fact to get you started:
Despite Andre's character Fezzik's almost-superhuman strength, back problems prevented him from actually lifting anything on the set of 'The Princess Bride.' In the scene where Buttercup jumps from the castle window into Fezzik's arms [shown above], Robin Wright was attached to wires so that Andre didn't have to actually catch or hold her.
Check out the rest — including the star's rumored daily caloric intake and the ballsy way Mandy Patinkin helped him learn his lines — on GuySpeed. Link
Interactive fiction is nothing new — we've had it since Choose Your Own Adventure books rolled out. But an ebook available now for the iPhone and iPad is taking interaction to a new level: Readers have to travel to specific locations to unlock portions of the story.
The Silent History is divided into two parts: Testimonials and field reports. The testimonials, which are divided into six volumes of 20 chapters each, are automatically unlocked as the story unfolds each day. But the field reports require an unprecedented level of interaction: They can only be read by traveling to specific locations, and readers are encouraged to write and contribute their own localized installments.
Call it gimmick marketing or innovative storytelling, but one thing is for certain: people are talking about The Silent History, and some early readers are already addicted to the chase. The Week has more about how the book works, and how people are already changing the story's narrative. Link
The photo above was released this week by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office in Ft. De Soto, Florida. It's hard to see here, but the woman is riding a wild manatee. Did you know that riding a manatee is illegal? I didn't, but then I don't often encounter manatees. According to Florida state law, "It is unlawful for any person at any time, by any means, or in any manner intentionally or negligently to annoy, molest, harass, or disturb or attempt to molest, harass, or disturb any manatee." Doing so is a second-degree misdemeanor.
After the photo circulated, Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez turned herself in, claiming that she had no idea that encountering a wild animal and hopping on for a ride was a criminal offense.
Gutierrez was not arrested or charged, but the charges were referred to the state attorney's office, according to the Times.
Authorities say the penalty for the woman could be up to 60 days in jail and a possible fine of $500.
Authorities don't believe any manatees were injured.
Link | Photo: Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
I remember a time when Power Rangers weren't even able to morph without being suddenly transported to an undisclosed location and replaced with a crew of body doubles. Now they can do the Robot — in sync. Maybe I'm old. But maybe the Power Rangers shouldn't be doing the Robot. Or any of the rest of this. I'll just quote Rob Bricken from Topless Robot here: "Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go find a lawn to tell children to get off of." Link
It doesn't get more awesomely bad than this, Neatoramanauts. You're watching the final scene of a 1974 Turkish film called Kareteci Kiz (Karate Girl), about a girl who becomes a cop to get revenge on the guys who killed her father and husband. My favorite part is the bit where he turns around and has no wounds on his back, then she shoots once and he suddenly has two bullet holes in his back. From one bullet. While screaming in monotone. This is just so bad, but I admit that I've watched it five times already. Link
Look at that cute little wombat, just scratching his haunch during a break in some very important digging. So cuddly. Too bad he's a Van Damme-kicking daath machine. The wombat looks cuddly and slow, but when confronted by a predator, he dives head-first into a hole, leaving his hind end exposed.
Here’s the catch: The wombat’s behind is made of cartilage, and impenetrable by teeth. Once the attacker is hooked on, the wombat uses it’s [sic] bizarrely powerful hind legs to kick the animal in the head. Until it’s dead. It kicks dingoes to death.
For more of nature's surprisingly hardcore killers, check out the list on GuySpeed. Link
Photo: Andrew G Young
After a few weeks of feeling under the weather, the essayist and poet Charles Lamb (above) sent a letter to his friend Bernard Barton to inform him of his condition. An excerpt reveals that Lamb was either gazing directly into the light at the end of the tunnel, or seriously overreacting.
I acknowledge life at all, only by an occasional convulsional cough, and a permanent phlegmatic pain in the chest. I am weary of the world; life is weary of me. My day is gone into twilight, and I don't think it worth the expense of candles. My wick hath a thief in it, but I can't muster courage to snuff it. I inhale suffocation; I can't distinguish veal from mutton; nothing interests me. 'Tis twelve o'clock, and Thurtell is just now coming out upon the New Drop, Jack Ketch alertly tucking up his greasy sleeves to do the last office of mortality, yet cannot I elicit a groan or a moral reflection. If you told me the world will be at an end to-morrow, I should just say, "Will it?"
Two weeks later Lamb wrote again to Barton to apologize for being dramatic. He lived another ten years, so it was either the slowest-moving killer cold ever, or not that big a deal. Read the rest at Letters of Note, where Lamb reveals his methods for trying to cure this "insurmountable day-mare." Link
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Ordinarily, I would change the headline from the original post, but this one certainly can't be improved.
A statue of the god Vaiśravaṇa known only as the 'iron man' was (ahem) collected by Nazis from Tibet during an exhibition in 1938. This week, its origins were confirmed to be extraterrestrial: The Iron Man is almost certainly carved from a piece of the Chinga meteorite.
In a paper published in Metoritics & Planetary Science, the team reports their analysis of the iron, nickel, cobalt and trace elements of a sample from the statue, as well as its structure. They found that the geochemistry of the artefact is a match for values known from fragments of the Chinga meteorite. The piece turned into the ‘iron man’ would be the third largest known from that fall.
Given the extreme hardness of the meteorite – “basically an inappropriate material for producing sculptures” the paper notes – the artist or artists who created it may have known their material was special, the researchers say. Buchner suggests it could have been produced by the 11th century Ben culture but the exact origin and age of the statue – as opposed to the meteorite it is made from – is still unknown. It is thought to have been brought to Germany by a Nazi-backed expedition to Tibet in 1938-39. The swastika symbol on the piece – a version of which was adopted by the Nazi party – may have encouraged the 1938 expedition to take it back with them.
The Chinga meteorite was first recorded from remains discovered in 1918, though this sculpture obviously predates those samples. If the Iron Man is in fact carved from a remnant of the Chinga, it will be the only rock from outside Earth's atmosphere that has been carved into a human figure. Link | Photo: Elmar Buchner for Nature
"Superpod" isn't a phrase you see used often, but it's appropriate here. Mike Horn and Chase Jarvis were filming a segment for Polyform when the 110-foot boat they were sailing off the coast of Cape Town was suddenly surrounded by thousands of dolphins. It's gorgeous on film, but the real-life experience left the crew in awe, as Jarvis explains in the video. Via Death+Taxes
We've featured San Francisco artist Steven J. Backman here before — he's built an entire career out of assembling toothpicks into bridges and buildings. But these are a little different: Using tiny pieces of a single toothpick, backman has recreated the Eiffel Tower, Burj Khalifa, the White House and other iconic structures, adding only saint-like patience and a bit of glue. Check out the full gallery on his website. Link -via WebUrbanist
This was so close to reaching the Internet trifecta: cats, Star Wars and bacon. Looks like that rumored pork shortage hit a galaxy far, far away.
Video by WorldWideInterweb
If you're having trouble spotting the "5or 6 disk like [sic] shapes" in the photo above, that's probably because you've seen clouds before. But Billy Ray Cyrus was either convinced he was spotting an extraterrestrial meet-and-greet, or trying really hard to maintain his image of being not super-smart. But Mr. Mullet himself isn't the first celebrity to spy a suspicious shape in the skies. TruTV rounded up 14 more. Link
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