Miss Cellania's Blog Posts

Rudolph’s Revenge

They say that living well is the best revenge. However, when you suddenly have power over those who tormented you in your youth, it’s hard to resist the temptation for a little payback. Unfortunately, it turned out to be difficult to get all those toys delivered by Christmas morning that year. This is the latest comic from John McNamee at Pie Comic.  


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Robot Christmas Party

(YouTube link)

The actual name of this video is Autonomous Christmas Lab 2014, but that’s no fun. The folks at Autonomous Systems Lab, a part of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, programmed robots, drones, and maybe even a few Roombas to dance in their holiday finery for your entertainment. It’s weird but festive. -via The Daily Dot


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New Word Suggestions

I had a ploopsie just the other day, when I called in the guy who sold me a washing machine that didn’t work. It worked just fine as soon as he arrived. I joked that it must have missed his company. And I well remember a few instances of filmcholy when I was a kid. These are words we should have to convey those exact situations, conceived by the guys at Doghouse Diaries.


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Deck the Halls with Nobel Physicists

’Tis the season to fold and cut paper snowflakes- but they don’t have to look like just any old snowflakes. Thew physics magazine Symmetry has patterns for cutting out snowflakes in the images of Nobel Prize-winning physicists Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Erwin Schrödinger (with a cat). Just download their templates, along with handy instructions.

Practice makes perfect, but remember, no two snowflakes are supposed to be alike anyway.  

There’s even a video that shows you how it’s done. Find what you need here, besides paper and a knife. -via Boing Boing


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People Are Awesome 2014

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The latest in the People Are Awesome series has clips from videos uploaded in 2014. These people are doing awesome things, dangerous things, things that made me cringe. I’m a Mom, after all. Don’t try this at home. Well, try watching the video. No one gets hurt in it, although there were probably lots of injuries getting to point of perfection. -via Tastefully Offensive

Check out more amazing talents over at our Mad Skills blog

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16 Innovative Origins of Holiday Traditions

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Who opened the first roadside Christmas tree stand? Where did that Christmas pickle thing come from? Who was the real-life inspiration for the character of the Grinch? In this week’s mental_floss List Show, John Green gets to the bottom of how some of our Christmas traditions began. I was surprised to find that mistletoe isn’t even a native plant in America! But nothing compares to the very last bit of trivia -how our artificial Christmas trees got their particular form.


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The Fox Of Bloody Women Island

(vimeo link)

This short film is about a man who builds boats by hand in the small town of Kjerringøy, Norway, north of the Arctic Circle where you don’t see the sun in winter. Ulf Mikalsen lives a particularly simple yet awesome life, sailing the fjords amidst breathtaking scenery, living happily among family and friends, and singing songs. And for a 62-year-old man, he looks pretty good skinny dipping.   

Ulf has his own website, which is in Norwegian, but the photographs are gorgeous, and more at Facebook. -via Metafilter


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Stephen Colbert is Raffling Off His Set

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The final episode of The Colbert Report will air Thursday on Comedy Central. Stephen Colbert will resurface in 2015 as he replaces the retiring David Letterman at CBS, but The Colbert Report will be no more. As a goodbye gift, Colbert is raffling off his set for charity. First prize is his desk, and second prize is his fireplace and leather chair. Proceeds will go to support The Yellow Ribbon Fund (for injured veterans) and DonorsChoose.org (for classrooms). You can enter for the next few hours at Omaze. -via Stephen Colbert
 


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An Honest Trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

(YouTube link)

Before you go see the final film of the Hobbit trilogy, The Battle of the Five Armies, take a look back at the previous film with Screen Junkies. Here’s their Honest Trailer take on the second movie of Peter Jackson’s opus, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. After watching this video, you might even think twice about fighting the theater lines for the opening of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies today. After all, it will probably be available in multiple showings over the next few weeks. -via Geeks Are Sexy


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Is the Grand Canyon a Fake?

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research.

by Earle E. Spamer, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is at least the third in Earle Spamer’s series of deep explorations of the Grand Canyon.]

There are more than 400 physiographic “Grand Canyons” in the world. How can this be!? After all, the chasm in Arizona is The Grand Canyon. How did the many “other” Grand Canyons come about? Are any of them, in fact, provably grand?

Just as puzzling are hundreds of differing ideas of what can be compared to the Grand Canyon. Few of them have anything to do either with canyons or grandness. What in the world can (a) be like the Grand Canyon, and also, by being so described, can (b) displace the concept of the real thing?

There is a profound misinformational abyss. The real Grand Canyon may not be what (or where) we think it is.

Service With a Simile
In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt, greatest-grinned of U.S. Presidents, visited the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, in Arizona. There he saw grandness for what it’s worth, and he charged a cheering crowd to maintain the Grand Canyon “as it is . . . for your children’s children.” Now those grandchildren have aged -- like the canyon, whittled away by time. And the Grand Canyon still is not protected from the natural forces that wear it away.

Heroic schemes have been proposed (mostly be me) to rescue the Grand Canyon, or at least to do something to slow the erosion that is destroying this magnificent hole -- for example, to aluminum-coat its walls,1 or fill the chasm with styrofoam packaging piffles.2 The piffle-packing procedure was openly considered in 1990s, documented both in this journal (The Annals of Improbable Research) and in Nature Notes, Grand Canyon National Park’s activities and public outreach newsletter, with artistic renderings of the project. Yet, thus far, no suitably grandiose-scale preservation programs have been successfully implemented.

For generations people have believed that there is one -- only one -- Grand Canyon. With bare notice, though, the name was seized by unimaginative etymological pirates. First, it reappeared as the “Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River,” in Wyoming. Later, it scattered to locales around the globe, ranging from the “Grand Canyon of Alabama” to the “Grand Canyon of Zambia.”

Now there are more than 400 “Grand Canyons” in the world. Some even claim the status of “grander,” while others are likened to “little” versions of the original, real thing. No effective means exist to distinguish contenders from pretenders. The situation is even more deeply muddy than I have just described.

Continue reading

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The Origins of 10 Popular Christmas Songs

You know the songs of Christmas; you’ve sung them every year since you were a kid. But did you know where they came from and how old they are? The Christmas carol “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” was sung for 100 years before it got the tune we are familiar with. “Deck the Halls” was a New Year drinking song that received cleaned-up lyrics. And that legend about “Silent Night”? Not a true story. One origin story that tickled me was who wrote “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.” It was an elementary school music teacher.

In 1944, grade school teacher Donald Yetter Gardner and his wife Doris sat down with a group of second-graders in Smithtown, New York, to help them compose a song for Christmas. While there are different versions of the origin, they all involve a bunch of children saying, "All I want for Christmas is…" It's not so much that any students wished for those absent front teeth, but more that Gardner was charmed by their requests hindered by toothless lisping.

There’s more to the story, of course, and quite a few others, in a list of Christmas song origins at mental_floss. With videos.


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Epic Christmas Caroling

(YouTube link)

It’s a rare treat when anyone shows up in the neighborhood Christmas caroling anymore. A choir came to our shut-in neighbor’s house last year and the whole street turned out to listen. Now, Improv Everywhere knows that nothing succeeds like excess, so when they went Christmas caroling, they took not only a four-part chorale, but a full choir, an orchestra, and a chorus line of Santas and snowmen!  

What if no one was home? What if the family doesn’t celebrate Christmas? There were just too many variables to be able to go up to a random house, especially when you’re going to all the trouble to transport a 39-person cast to New Jersey.

So we came up with a solution: we rented a house and then invited families into the home under the guise of getting a family photo taken. We reached out to our NYC-area email list looking for families in the Bergen County, NJ area who were up for a surprise. In all we surprised five families over the course of the evening. The moms acted as our accomplice– they were the only ones in the family who knew that something was going to happen, but they didn’t know what. They kept the secret from their husband and kids. Once the families arrived for the photo, a producer told them to wait their turn in the living room and to please answer the door if the doorbell rings as we were expecting more families soon.

That explains why no one was upset about the artificial snow tossed all over the yard. When I first watched the video, I imagined myself in the Mom’s spot, thinking “I don’t have enough treats to offer all these people!” Sorry, I’m all out of figgy pudding. Read more about the Christmas mission and see behind-the-scenes pictures at Improv Everywhere. -via Tastefully Offensive


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Adoption Ad For a 'Terrible' Chihuahua

The Humane Society of Silicon Valley posted an ad for a chihuahua who needs a home. They don’t pull any punches about Eddie the Terrible. They lay out three big reasons Eddie might not be the dog you want. Here’s one.

2) Want your kids to grow up with a full complement of fingers and toes? Not the dog for you.

Some dogs love kids. We have a bunch of child-lovin' dogs. Eddie the Terrible, however, is not one of them. Honestly he's a little whiffy with some adults, too. Not in an eat-them sort of way but in 'this makes me very nervous' sort of way.  Eddie's never actually bitten anyone but we're not saying it could never happen.

In a home environment Eddie is lovely. He's housebroken, loyal, fun and friendly. He lives to play fetch. But socially? He stinks. We're in Silicon Valley - if we started throwing out the socially awkward no one would ever have another piece of new technology again. We know somewhere out this little guy has a match.

All this honesty might not be such a bad thing. Eddie needs a local home with no children or other pets and a human who has time for him. I would bet that the Humane Society is busy sifting through applications for hm already. Read Eddie’s full story at the Society’s blog. -via HuffPo Green

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Shishmaref, Alaska: a Village Looking for a Home

 

There are 563 people in Shishmaref, Alaska, just 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The 3-mile long island the village sits on is eroding as increasing numbers of storms are collapsing the northern beach. Fourteen houses were moved in 1997, and others have collapsed with the shoreline since then. Elders remember using wide beaches for a playground; those beaches are no longer there.

The island has dealt with erosion issues since at least the 1950s. But now climate change is exacerbating the problem considerably. Average temperatures are increasing faster in Alaska than they are in the rest of the United States, warming 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 50 years. The higher temperatures are causing the subsurface layer of permanently frozen soil typically found in the Arctic to thaw in some areas. This weaker permafrost is more vulnerable to storms and tidal activity, fueling the loss of Shishmaref's shores.

Warmer temperatures have also shortened the amount of time the Chukchi Sea stays frozen each year, leaving the coastline exposed to fall and early winter storms. Now, during storms, the sand will "just melt with the water," said Luci Eningowuk, 65. From 2004 to 2008 Eningowuk served as chair of the Shishmaref Erosion and Relocation Coalition, the group charged with developing and executing a plan for moving the town. "The waves would come and take a whole lot of the land."

The residents voted in 2002 to relocate the village, but that hasn’t happened. It costs money to find a proper location, build infrastructure, and move the population. Government funding is hard to get -and hard to keep, especially since Shishmaref is far from the only community in danger along the Alaskan coastline. And after twelve years, the village needs repairs, but is it worth it when it will have to move sooner or later? Proponents of moving say it’s better to go now, in order to secure a location and keep the community intact. Otherwise, when the island is destroyed, the residents will become scattered refugees. Read about the island village of Shishmaref and its uncertain future at HuffPo. -via Digg


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Zapatou’s Best of the Web 7

(YouTube link)

Zapatou (Luc Bergeron) is back with another mesmerizing compilation of the crazy, scary, and amazing things that people (and animals) do, culled from 233 viral videos of 2014. It’s not only the action that amazing, it’s also the new way we get to see them, as this collection is heavy on POV and mounted cameras, so we are extremely close to the action and can even put our feet in someone else’s shoes. Take that as a warning that some these clips may induce vertigo. You’ll recognize a lot of them. Zapatou has a list of the source videos here. -via Time

See also: more from Zapatou.

Check out more amazing talents over at our Mad Skills blog

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Cats vs. Christmas Trees: a Supercut

(YouTube link)

Your Christmas card from Tastefully Offensive is a compilation of the funniest clips of cats in their annual battle against that most tempting toy/hiding place/enemy, the Christmas tree. It was edited together by Robert Jones and Christian Baker, and appropriately set to the music of “The Russian Dance” from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. A list of the videos used can be found at the YouTube page. -Thanks, Robert!

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Pop Danthology 2014

(YouTube link)

Daniel Kim’s annual year-end mashup is here! Pop Danthology 2014 blends the top songs of the year into a smooth dance mix. You’ll find an alphabetical listing of the songs used and the lyrics at his website. Whatever you think of the state of pop music, you have to admit it takes a real artist to mash it up this well.


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Penguins Play a Video Game

(vimeo link)

Sara Mandel takes care of a flock of Magellanic penguins at the Aquarium of the Pacific. She had bought the iPad app Game for Cats and since her cat liked it, she thought she’d offer it to the penguins. It involves chasing a tadpole, and penguins chase fish, so it was a natural for them. Will wonders never cease? -via mental_floss


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A Letter to the Tooth Fairy

Her father found a letter that redditor judokitten had written to the Tooth Fairy years ago, on the occasion of losing a tooth and not getting the expected reward. She tells the story in the comments:

Full story. So, I had lost a tooth, but I was suspicious about the actual validity of the toothfairy's magical abilities. So, I didn't tell anyone about the lost tooth. Lo and behold, she did not arrive.

The next morning, I loudly proclaimed the toothfairy bullshit in my 9 year old terms, and my mom told me to write her a letter expressing my displeasure.

I was returned a letter that basically said,

"I couldn't get to your pillow the night before last because I got stuck in all the mess. Maybe if you clean your room, I could get to you in a timely manner."

Well played, tooth fairy. Well played.

Although the post title mentions the letter is passive-aggressive, there is nothing passive about either the daughter or the mother’s Tooth Fairy's response. Incidentally, I was impressed that, even though her handle is judokitten and the letter is signed “Jennifer,” many commenters still assumed the letter-writer was male.

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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Mongooses in a Ball Pit

(YouTube link)

There is no end to the strange things people will think up- and share on the internet. A ball pit in a wading pool is an enrichment activity for the mongooses at the Houston Zoo. It’s about as chaotic as you’d imagine. -via Daily Picks and Flicks

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Every Episode of Every Star Trek Series Ever, Ranked

If you’ve ever said you read Playboy for the articles, this would be the article to read. Jordan Hoffman took on the monumental task of ranking 695 Star Trek episodes -from The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and The Animated Series. The introduction implies that he may not have done it alone.  

I've been a rabid fan of the franchise since childhood and I've got the wedgie scars to prove it. While still maintaining a semi-functional adult life I pen the One Trek Mind column at StarTrek.com and host panels at Star Trek conventions. So when I present you with this complete ranking of every single Star Trek episode ever, it's not like we just shot photon torpedoes at the wall.

The first thing you’ll want to do is skip to the last page and check out the top ten. Then you’ll want to skim over and see where your favorite episodes rank. Then you may want to argue about it. The list can come in handy as a guide in deciding what to show a Star Trek newbie so they get the best out of their initial experience. And it’s not just a list -for each episode there is a brief explanation of its ranking. If you’re a serious fan, you can kiss your day goodbye, unless you work somewhere where Playboy is blocked. The list starts here. -via Digg


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9 Surprising Facts About Flatulence

If you’ve been around a while, you’ve probably read an awful lot about farts here at Neatorama. Still, there’s always something new to learn. Flatulence is a natural process of a healthy functioning physical body, but that doesn’t make it a bouquet of roses. You’ll learn about that physical process in a list of fart facts at Vox, plus an occasional glimpse at how some of these scientific facts were discovered.

Hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane make up as much as 99 percent of the gas produced in our large intestines by volume. (They're supplemented by air you swallow — more on that below.) All of these gases are odorless, which is why much of the time, farts don't actually smell at all.

The potent stink, research has found, is largely due to the 1 percent or so of compounds with sulfur in them, such as hydrogen sulfide. (This sort of research itself is pretty amazing: one experiment involved two people judging the smelliness of farts of 16 participants who'd been fed pinto beans, collected with the aid of "gas-tight Mylar pantaloons.")

Now, that’s something to put on your CV! -via mental_floss

(Image credit: Towsonu2003)


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The Myth of the 12 Days of Christmas

The following is an article from the book Uncle John's Fast-Acting Long-Lasting Bathroom Reader.

 (Image credit: Xavier Romero-Frias)

Secret codes and urban legends- Uncle John’s idea of a perfect combination!

SECRET TEACHINGS

There’s been a story going around for years that the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” which seems like a nonsense song, actually contains coded teachings of Catholicism. It was written, the story says, during England’s anti-Catholic era, after King Henry VIII split with the Catholic Church and founded the Anglican Church in the 1500s. The open practice of Catholicism did become illegal in England, and remained illegal until the Emancipation Act of 1829. During that era one could be imprisoned or even executed for being Catholic. To avoid such punishment and preserve the faith,, the story continues, some clever Jesuit priests wrote the song, with each day’s “gifts” representing the  Catechism -the essential teachings of the Church.   

THE HIDDEN SYMBOLS

* The “true love” that is giving the gifts, the story says, is God.

* The “partridge in a pear tree” represents Jesus Christ.

* Two turtle doves: the Old and New Testaments.

* Three French hens: the Holy Trinity; or the three Virtues: Faith, Hope, and Charity.

* Four calling birds: the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).

Continue reading

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This Dog Hates Pineapple!

(YouTube link)

Stella the pit bull has never seen a pineapple before. And she doesn’t like it, no, not one bit. Jolene Creighton, who dared to purchase the demon fruit, assures us that Stella eventually made friends with the pineapple. If we looked at the offending fruit through Stella’s eyes, it probably looked something like this.  -via Uproxx

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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The Excruciating Final Hours of President George Washington

A couple of months ago, we told you about the painful last days of King Charles II. Over a hundred years later, when former president George Washington fell ill in December of 1799, medical science hadn’t much more to offer. Washington felt worse the next morning, so his estate’s overseer, George Rawlins, tried to help.

At 7:30 a.m., Rawlins removed 12 to 14 ounces of blood, after which Washington requested that he remove still more. Following the procedure, Col. Lear gave the patient a tonic of molasses, butter and vinegar, which nearly choked Washington to death, so inflamed were the beefy-red tissues of his infected throat.

Dr. James Craik, Washington's longtime physician, was summoned. He didn’t have much to offer, either.

Dr. Craik entered Washington’s bedchamber at 9 a.m. After taking the medical history, he applied a painful “blister of cantharides,” better known as “Spanish fly,” to Washington’s throat. The idea behind this tortuous treatment was based on a humoral notion of medicine dating back to antiquity called “counter-irritation.” The blisters raised by this toxic stuff would supposedly draw out the deadly humors causing the General’s throat inflammation.

That was just the beginning of the efforts Dr. Craik made to save Washington’s life. Washington died on December 14, at the age of 67, but not before enduring dubious remedies that only made his last day likely the most agonizing of his life. Read about the treatment the father of our country endured at PBS Newshour. -via Digg


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The Creepy, Kitschy and Geeky Patches of US Spy Satellite Launches

Since the Gemini program, NASA has allowed astronauts to design patches for the missions they fly on. There are also patches for each mission of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which launches spy satellites. Those patches aren’t as well publicized, and they are definitely weirder than NASA’s mission patches.

Today NRO launches about four to six satellites per year, including the NROL-35 mission, with the patch seen above, slated to fly this Thursday. The public still doesn't know exactly what each satellite is doing, but for a couple decades now the agency has advertised the date and time of its launches—probably because, as Pearlman points out, “it’s hard to hide a rocket.” In response, a subculture of fervent hobbyists has become committed to watching the skies at night, piecing together the satellites’ orbits. At some point, those hobbyists discovered that—just like NASA—NRO also issues mission patches. The agency didn’t seem to care if the patches were leaked, and eventually it even started publishing depictions of the patches along with launch announcements. Even so, for years knowledge of the patches largely remained confined to enthusiasts, especially in the days prior to widespread social media.

That changed somewhat in 2000, when a fan figured out a spy satellite’s mission from clues on the patch. Since then, the symbols on the patches have become more outlandish and obscure -even frightening at times. We don’t know if there’s a method to the madness, or whether the NRO is just having fun with the designs, but you can read the story and see a gallery of the patches at Smithsonian.

(Image credit: National Reconnaissance Office)


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20 Maps That Never Happened

You are probably pretty familiar with maps of the world, especially maps of the English-speaking world. But if history had been a little different, our maps might now be very different. What would Europe look like if the Nazis had won World War II? Hitler had a map for that. What would have happened to the U.S. if Germany had won World War I -with the help of Mexico? There’s a map for that, too. Where would Africa’s national boundaries be if the continent had never been colonized by Western powers? It might look like Nikolaj Cyon’s vision of national divisions along ethnic boundaries. Vox has twenty maps that give us a glimpse of alternate history, including the 1998 map shown above of how at least one Russian envisions the economic breakup of the United States.


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Denver Eats Tree Ornaments

(YouTube link)

We’ve seen Denver the Guilty Dog before. But she keeps doing things she’s not supposed to do! Now that it’s Christmastime, Denver is in trouble again. She's been caught red-handed -or red-lipped, in this case, eating Christmas tree ornaments. I was worried for a minute, but I found out that the ornaments are made of foam, not glass or hard plastic. -via Daily Picks and Flicks

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Iron Can

(YouTube link)

Tony Starch is …Iron Can! In an upcoming movie, he goes head-to-head with the super villain Fabrice Crimp, who is out to put a wrinkle in Starch’s world. Can Iron Man flatten Crimp before he runs out of steam? This parody trailer by Anders Wotzke and Michael Nixon was two years in the making. Wotzke says it’s because he’s lazy. -via Viral Viral Videos 


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Birdbox Studio Christmas Card

(YouTube link)

Birdbox Studio has given us many delightful cartoons, so you’d think their Christmas card would be animated …and it is, sort of. What they have is an old-fashioned flip book animation with music and a special effect at the end. It’s not clear whether this is a single “card” they made to film or whether it has actually been mass-produced. Then again, it could be rigged with a bit of video magic. Either way, it’s gloriously odd and retro. If this is their Christmas card, you have to wonder how much money these guys spend on actual gifts! -via Tastefully Offensive


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Profile for Miss Cellania

  • Member Since 2012/08/04


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