Star Wars characters are happy to dance to Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy,” even Storm Troopers and Tusken raiders! The delightful video is almost as interesting as the group of folks who made it: Star Wars Tunisia.
You recall that Tunisia is where the scenes on Tatooine were filmed, and the sets are still there. These Star Wars fans take full advantage of that fact, and are “happy” about it.
STAR WARS TUNISIA is a fan club. It aims to gather and inform Tunisian Star Wars fans, and communicate with others all over the world. So from Tatooine, welcome everybody :)
Artist Jesse Krimes spent three years of his 70-month sentence in the Butner, North Carolina, federal prison making a huge allegorical mural titled Apokaluptein:16389067. It is composed of 39 table-sized panels made of prison sheets, hair gel, pictures from the New York Times, and colored pencil. By trial and error, Krimes found that hair gel was the best medium for transferring pictures from the newspapers to the sheets, although every image is reversed from the original.
“It’s a depiction of represented reality as it exists in its mediated form, within the fabric of the prison,” says Krimes. “It was my attempt to transfer [outside] reality into prison and then later became my escape when I sent a piece home with the hopes that it could be my voice on the outside in the event that anything bad ever happened and I never made it home.”
Krimes says this long term project kept him sane, focused and disciplined.
Each transfer took 30-minutes. Thousands make up the mural. Krimes only worked on one sheet at a time, each of them matching the size of the tabletop he worked on. A notch in the table marked the horizon line for the 13 panels making up the center horizontal. He shipped them home. Not until his release did he see them together.
There are signs of spring popping up here and there. The most obvious is that my 15-year-old cat asked to go outside of her own free will for the first time in months! I also have tulip leaves coming up, so I guess it’s about time I got around to the fall garden chores. And most importantly, Daylight Saving Time begins this weekend! Set your clocks ahead one hour before you go to bed tonight, because the time will change for most locations in the U.S. at 2AM Sunday. You might also want to go to bed a bit earlier, since we will lose an hour. Only one person in a household should be designated to set all the clocks, or else some will be reset twice -I know this from experience. But before you do that, take a look at the highlights from the past week here at Neatorama.
The unknown object in the What Is It? game is a Sadlak M1A, M14 USGI Combination tool for use on military rifles. See it’s many uses at the What Is It? blog. We were looking for wrong but funny answers, and jasennesaj had one: an S&M bicycle seat with a built in fart muzzle compensator. Ha! That wins a t-shirt from the NeatoShop! ColShorts had a great answer, too, “The Exhaust Piper.” Replace your car's exhaust with this and sound like Scotland as you drive! Congratulations to both. There are a lot of other funny answers; you should go read them all. See the identifications of all this week’s mystery items at the What Is It? blog.
We had a couple of comments that deserve to be shared as comments of the week. First, PlasmaGryphon had this to say about The Beekeeping Donkey: "Just proves that to excel at your business, all you need is a jackass in a suit." And then Andrew Dalke contributed a clever pun to the post Nine Kings. "Seven are wearing sashes. Two are wearing back-sashes. :)"
The Neatoramanauts Facebook page is proving to be more popular every day! The biggest post there this week was this LOLdog. It got a ton of comments, too. Put our Facebook page on your list of pages to check every day. Make sure to follow Neatorama on Twitter and Pinterest, too!
And as long as we're telling you what to do, go ahead and set one clock back now. Later this evening, you'll wonder why it's different, and then you'll remember to set the rest of the clocks back because Daylight Saving Time is upon us. Have a great week!
The Sesame Street Muppets explore emotions in the production of Les Mousserables, a parody of Les Misérables. Cookie Monster plays the very sad French guy, Jean Bon-Bon. All the emotions have to do with the supply of cookies, although Jean Bon-Bon’s most notable emotion is confusion. “Maybe if me sing song, me have epiphany.” -via Tastefully Offensive
Industrial mechanic Ulf Hoffmann built the robot called UHTTR-1, which plays table tennis with the aid of its own camera. It doesn’t miss a shot, it's just not as aggressive as some players I’ve seen -yet. But what a great practice partner! Learn more about it at Hoffmann’s blog, if you can read German, or you might prefer the Google translation. He mentions that his son added text and music to the video so "it is not so boring." I found the tennis anything but boring! -via Laughing Squid
IKEA conducted a survey of Americans to find out about their homes and lifestyles. Fast Company looked through it and found some interesting results, which they expanded on. Here's a sample.
1. Only 1% [of those surveyed] want their home to reflect how successful they have been. Analysis: This may seem surprising, but in fact Americans often choose to lie to surveys to make themselves appear more humble.
2. 62% of respondents say they control the remote over their significant other, children, friends, or others. However, 74% of men are more likely to say they control the remote than women at 52%. Analysis: Americans are warlike creatures who must wrest control of an item called a control.
Number one is kind of believable. I understand the theory of conspicuous consumption as well as the next person, but where I live, if your house looks nicer than your cousin’s house, that cousin will be over all the time asking to borrow money. Number two adds up to way over 100%, but that can be explained by the American habit of having a TV for every person in the house. You don’t have to argue over the channel if you’re in separate rooms.
If you want to see the entire IKEA report, you’ll find that here. I noticed that 27% percent of Americans use technology in their kitchens. The other 73% either don’t realize what technology means, or else they never go into the kitchen. -via mental_floss
Today Bryan Cranston turns 58 years old today, and we wish him a very happy birthday. In honor of the occasion, Uproxx has posted 20 Times You Might Have Seen Bryan Cranston On Screen And Not Realized It. Oh sure, you know Walter White, and the dad on Malcolm in the Middle, and he’s in the new Godzilla film. But he was also on everything else- from Baywatch to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers! The image here is from Babylon 5.
Playing Star Wars with your kids is so much more fun when you can summon the power of… static electricity! Your kids may be impressed beyond belief, or they may be fighting off nightmares afterward. This moment of inspired scientific role-playing is brought to you by Lunarbaboon.
This is a cake. Really. BethAnn Goldberg of Studio Cake can make a cake look like anything you want. But then again, she’s a former NASA engineer, so she could probably make anything she wants. See her cakes that would be mistaken for real shoes, cameras, books, sandwiches, board games, and more at My Modern Met.
Deirdre Loughridge and Thomas Patteson curate the Museum of Imaginary Musical Instruments, where you can read about fictional music makers, concept instruments, and fanciful sound technology, from ancient times to today. One of the exhibits is the Tower Orchestra, conceived by Adolphe Sax, who also invented the saxophone.
With the tower orchestra, Sax aimed to combine a full range of tone colors with unprecedented loudness. The same aim animated the concerts of massive orchestral and vocal forces that featured in concert life of the period (see Berlioz’s “Euphonia”). But Sax noted that multiplying the number of instrumentalists did not proportionately increase the volume of sound: with such enormous ensembles, players far away from the audience were heard with less intensity than those closer. Sax’s envisioned solution was to build resonators of enormous size, activated by superhuman forces, and mounted high above the city so that their tones would spread far and wide in all directions. Involving towers linked by suspension bridges, steam engines and metal ropes set resounding by compressed air, it was a solution that applied industrial developments to musical purposes. To Sax’s contemporaries, the plan was equal parts genius and insanity – an idea ahead of its time. As Sax’s friend Savart reportedly told him, “nothing is simpler, but keep your thoughts to yourself; for if you share them before another fifty years of progress, they’ll take you for a madman.”
Other exhibits range from the mystical to the prescient, like the Ocular Harpsichord, which was a thought experiment about converting colors into musical tones. It was never built, but it foreshadows the modern idea of converting non-audio data into music. Read more about the Tower Orchestra and other instruments at the Museum of Imaginary Musical Instruments. -via the Presurfer
And since September, he has three daughters: the triplets Kamali, Zalika, and Angalia. The three cubs are almost weaned now, and this past week they met their father for the first time. The first meeting was inside, away from the public. Zawadi Mungu was wary at first, but was soon grooming the cubs himself. Afterward, the whole family made their first public appearance together in the outdoor enclosure. The cubs wanted to play with dad, while their mother Neka and "aunt" Kya watched close by.
Zawadi Mungu was surrounded by five females, but he took it in stride. The little snarls he gives the cubs are very inhibited. They have yet to see their father in full apex predator mode. You can keep up with the lion cubs’ development at Facebook. -via Viral Viral Videos
The National Science Foundation recently released results of their science test that showed Americans sadly lacking in basic science knowledge. We cringed at the fact that one in four Americans did not know that the Earth revolves around the sun. So how hard is the test? When I saw the opportunity to sample it, I thought, “How fun!” But there are only ten questions, and to Neatorama readers they would be so extremely simple you would all get ten out of ten right.
However, under each answer, we find out how the average Americans polled scored on each, which is sobering. More than half the respondents did not know what lasers are made of. The answers also have some neat explanations in the form of videos. And the comments are what you’d expect -half argue about two questions on religious grounds, and the other half are pedantic science nerds who argue about the exact wording of a question. See those questions at PolicyMic. -via Digg
Run for your lives! No, hide and be really quiet! The cats are coming, and they’re as big as a dinosaur of some sort in this remix of Jurassic Park, featuring cats in the roles of the raptors. -via Buzzfeed
Take just a minute for a happiness break. Mike and Caroline named their new puppy Tobias. No plot here, just an adorably photogenic puppy frolicking through a gorgeous landscape accompanied by bouncy music. That's definitely worth a couple of minutes! And you'll have a smile on your face afterward. -via Tastefully Offensive
If you think the Internet came out of Silicon Valley, that NASA planned the first satellite to orbit Earth, or that IBM created the modern computer—think again. Each one of these breakthroughs was conceived at RAND, a shadowy think tank in Santa Monica, California.
The Intimidation Factor
Rand rose out of the ashes of World War II. After witnessing the success of the Manhattan Project—the $2 billion initiative that created the first atomic bomb—a five-star Air Force general named Henry “Hap” Arnold (pictured) concluded that America needed a team of great minds to keep the country’s technology ahead of the rest of the world. In 1946, he gathered together a small group of scientists and $10 million in funding and started RAND (which stands for Research and Development). He even convinced a family friend, aircraft magnate Donald Douglas, to house the project at his factory in Santa Monica.
After a few short months, RAND got the attention of academics, politicians, and military strategists alike by issuing a prophetic study called “Preliminary Design of an Experimental World-Circling Spaceship.” At the time, rocket science was still in its infancy, so RAND’s call for an orbiting space station was revolutionary. Not only did the think tank specify the kind of fuel the spaceship would need and how quickly it could be built, but it also outlined how the station could predict the weather, transform long-distance communication, and, most importantly, intimidate our rivals abroad. If America could put a satellite into space, what else was she capable of?
Although President Truman passed on the space station, the military fell in love with RAND. Through Hap’s connections, the Air Force quickly became the think tank’s main contractor, and RAND began consulting on everything from propeller turbines to missile defense. Before long, the organization was so flush with contracts that it had to hire hundreds of additional researchers to keep up. In recruitment ads, RAND bragged about its intellectual genealogy, tracing a direct line from its president, Frank Collbohm, to Isaac Newton. Whether or not that claim was true, the institute secured a reputation as the place to dream up new ways to wage wars and keep enemies at bay.
By the 1960s, America’s rivals were paying attention. The Soviet newspaper Pravda nicknamed RAND “the academy of science and death and destruction.” American outfits preferred to call them the “wizards of Armageddon.”
The Soviets had good reason to worry about RAND. In 1957, the Air Force hired the think tank to create spy satellites.
You may have heard the news that the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is getting an overhaul. The essay portion that was added in 2005 will be made optional, and the rest of the test is going back to the old 1600-point scale. Questions will be replaced to bring them more in line with what students are being taught in the classroom, to try to level the playing field that has been upset in recent years by students who can afford test tutoring. Why? Because students, parents, teachers, and even colleges don’t like it. It’s stressful, interferes with regular classwork, and doesn’t even predict college success.
A growing number of colleges and universities, frustrated by the minimal change to the SAT when it was revised in 2005 and motivated by a report issued in 2008 by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (Nacac), began to eliminate the SAT and its competitor, the A.C.T., as admission requirements, following the lead of several small, liberal-arts colleges that did so years before. The authors of the Nacac report cited a University of California study, which characterized the SAT as a “relatively poor predictor of student performance” and questioned the tendency of colleges to rely on the SAT as “one of the most important admission tools.” (Many of the schools that dropped test requirements saw spikes in their applications, at least in the first year.)
Around the time the report came out — and following the publication of “The Power of Privilege,” by the Wake Forest University sociology professor Joseph A. Soares, an account of the way standardized tests contributed to discriminatory admissions policies at Yale — Wake Forest became the first highly rated institution (it regularly appears as a Top 30 university on the U.S. News & World Report college rankings) to announce a test-optional admissions policy. Follow-up studies at Wake Forest showed that the average high-school G.P.A. of incoming freshmen increased after the school stopped using standardized-test scores as a factor. Seventy-nine percent of its 2012 incoming class was in the top 10 percent of their high-school classes. Before going test-optional, that figure was in the low 60s. In addition, the school became less homogeneous. “The test highly correlates with family income,” says Soares, who also edited a book that, in part, examines the effects of making the SAT optional at the University of Georgia, Johns Hopkins University and Wake Forest. “High-school grades do not.” He continued, “We have a lot more social, racial and lifestyle diversity. You see it on campus. Wake Forest was a little too much like a J. Crew catalog before we went test-optional.”
The new test will not be introduced until the spring of 2016 -too late for all my children. Only time will tell if the changes are an improvement. The New York Times has the story of how the SAT became something other than what it was intended to be, and how the changes for 2016 came about. -via Digg
A girl and her dog take a look backward at the life they’ve shared growing up together. You may want to get a hankie before you watch. The ad for Chevy was directed by Lloyd Lee Choi. Yes, believe it or not, it’s a car ad. It should send you right out to buy a car adopt a dog from the local shelter. -via Digg
Both my brother and I became parents in middle age. A few years later, he expressed astonishment that kids can watch the same movie enough times to memorize it, which was unthinkable when we were kids. It’s a way of life for children of the 21st century. And every parent has a movie or song that has been played, seen, sang, or acted out enough to make them sick. To this day, my husband can’t stand The Lion King. Oh, he agrees it’s a good movie, but his son watched it a few (hundred) too many times. For me, it was Sleeping Beauty.
And now a generation of parents are feeling the same way about Frozen and the award-winning song “Let It Go.” Joshua Elson sings a parody of “Let It Go” that he wrote with Scott S. Kramer, Tovah Kramer, and Molly Elson. I feel for you, Buddy. Don’t miss the punch line at the end. -via Viral Viral Videos
UniverseProjects told us about his Russian wife trying to ask for a tape measure. He knew what she meant. Learning a different language is hard, and it takes years to learn enough words to express everything you need to express. Meanwhile, you do the best you can with the words you have. And we can usually figure out what you mean, but the effort can be amusing.
W00t! It's time for another contest collaboration with the excellent What Is It? blog. Can you guess what this odd item is? This week, we are looking for funny and clever answers, not the correct one, but if you guess correctly, you'll win our undying respect. If you have one of the two funniest answers, you'll win a T-Shirt from the NeatoShop!
Place your guess in the comment section. One guess per comment, though you can enter as many guesses as you'd like. You have until the answer is revealed on the What Is It? Blog tomorrow.
Please write your prize selection alongside your guess, so visit the NeatoShop and take a look around. If you don't write your prize selection, then you don't get the prize. I think you'll like the selection of funny t-shirts and science t-shirts -or even t-shirts of your favorite blogs and websites.
There's another image of this thing, along with other mystery items, at the What Is It? blog. Good luck!
Update: This thing is a Sadlak M1A, M14 USGI Combination tool for use on military rifles. See it’s many uses at the What Is It? blog. We were looking for wrong but funny answers, and jasennesaj had one: an S&M bicycle seat with a built in fart muzzle compensator. Ha! That wins a t-shirt from the NeatoShop! ColShorts had a great answer, too, “The Exhaust Piper.” Replace your car's exhaust with this and sound like Scotland as you drive! Congratulations to both. There are a lot of other funny answers; you should read them all. See the identifications of all this week’s mystery items at the What Is It? blog.
A little dachshund caught an inflatable shark that’s way bigger than he is. The dog clearly wants to stash his catch in his cubbyhole (a pet carrier) but it’s too big! You think he’ll never be able to do it, but preserverance and a can-do attitude bring surprising results. The lesson here is: Never give up on the things you really want to accomplish. -via Uproxx
In a very competitive situation, with more than 40 companies pursuing the viral star attorney for unscripted and scripted projects, Warner Horizon Television has signed Casino for Casino’s Law, a primetime unscripted series to star the lawyer.
They have a title and a star, but no real concept of what the show will be about yet. Well, every project has its priorities, and the contract was what counted. The executive producer will be Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss. -via Warming Glow
Standing, from left to right: King Haakon VII of Norway, Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria, King Manuel II of Portugal, Kaiser Wilhelm II of the German Empire, King George I of Greece and King Albert I of Belgium. Seated, from left to right: King Alfonso XIII of Spain, King-Emperor George V of the United Kingdom and King Frederick VIII of Denmark.
They were all related to Edward VII; George V was his son and the rest were in-laws or cousins. The funeral was also attended by scores of queens, princes, princesses, and other royalty. U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt was there representing the United States. See the photo full-size.
The ad copy is mundane, but the images are stunning. In the 1930s, the Japanese railway system distributed beautiful art deco posters encouraging tourism by train. A collection of these rare posters in pristine condition were found rolled up in storage at an antique furniture store. Antiques Roadshow appraiser Rudy Franchi was stumped as to their origin. Even museum poster curators had never seen anything like them.
The veil of mystery surrounding the posters probably has something to do with Japan’s place on the world stage in the 1930s. While much of the Western world was struggling from the effects of the Great Depression, Japan was expanding, with a growing economy and territories that included Taiwan and Korea, which was a popular destination for Japanese tourists. The 1930s was also the decade when Japan established numerous national parks, many of which featured natural hot springs and were accessible by Japan’s growing system of railways. “It was like putting up posters for Yellowstone and encouraging tourists to get there by train,” Franchi says.
Although no one can be 100 percent sure, Franchi says the posters were probably printed in editions of 2,000 or fewer. “We think the numbers were fairly limited,” he says, “because there were only so many places to distribute them at the time. They’d put them in railway stations, send them to classrooms, things like that. The marketing wasn’t very sophisticated back then. Low thousands is typical of what the Japanese would produce for domestic posters. You see tons of Japanese posters from the ’30s meant for international distribution, but these were internal.”
This is my first encounter with “jumping fitness,” but I might like to try it sometime. A trampoline with a handle is my kind of trampoline! You might want to turn the volume down, as this video is pretty loud. And it’s short. And it gets a bit, uh, exciting toward the end. -via Daily of the Day
Monsieur Cok is an award-winning short film by Franck Dion. A bomb factory owner decides to save money by automating, but his former employees aren’t too happy about robots taking their jobs. One is angry enough to take matters into his own hands. And then it gets weird. Read more about the film at its website. -via Everlasting Blort
Manuel Juraci is a beekeeper in Itatira, Brazil. There are a lot of beekeepers in the small town, but Juraci is one of the most successful, and one of the reasons is that he has Boneco the donkey to help haul the honey. Boneco can accompany his master on his rounds safely in his custom-made beekeeping donkey suit! Read about Boneco, and a beekeeping dog as well, at Gizmodo. -via Everlasting Blort
In 1979, George Lucas was looking for a good short film to show in theaters before The Empire Strikes Back, which was released in 1980. Roger Christian, the set decorator on the first Star Wars film, was commissioned to make a 25-minute film for Lucas. It was Christian’s first attempt at directing a film, and he only had a £25,000 ($50,000) grant to do it with. The result was Black Angel, a medieval fantasy about a knight who must rescue a mysterious woman. Christian and his tiny crew shot the film in Scotland.
But back in London, Christian's editor informed him that there wasn't enough footage to meet the 25-minute contract. To lengthen the film, they decided on a new option at the time, called step-printing, which produced a slow-motion effect during fight sequences by printing one frame repeatedly.
"It looked amazing," Christian says. Lucas was apparently so impressed with the fight sequences that the technique was then edited into The Empire Strikes Back during a scene with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in a cave. "He liked that look." Black Angel's stunning Arthurian appearance would also go on to influence fantasy movies in the 1980s like Excalibur and Legend.
Black Angel was shown before The Empire Strikes Back in Europe and Australia, but not in America. Then the film was completely lost for thirty years! A negative was recovered under mysterious circumstances in 2011, and the complete restored short film will be available for sale soon. Read the story of Black Angel, and see a clip, at Esquire. -via Digg
A company that provides aerial tours of the Grand Canyon notified police in Boulder City, Nevada, that one of their airplanes was missing from the Boulder City Airport. Officers responded to find a man was taking off and landing the plane over and over. Since they could not chase him, they had to wait for a landing. On the fifth observed landing, they managed to arrest 47-year-old Paul Michael Weddle.
Officers watched Weddle flying “in a reckless manner,” even coming close to another plane after an abrupt turn, the report said.
Weddle wouldn’t show his hands to the arresting officer and was eventually tackled by police, the report said.
He later told officers he wanted to complete the take-off and landing portion to obtain his pilot’s license, the report said.
Weddle’s blood-alcohol content was 0.132 percent. He was taken to the hospital before being booked on charges of DUI and vehicle theft. The question arising from the incident is, how, in this era of tight airport security, did Weddle get into the airport? -via Arbroath