In 2000, an elderly British couple were on vacation in the US and stumbled into a play test session for the Star Wars D20 role playing game. They're up to give it a go, and that's when the magic happened. This video is just Owen K.C. Stephens telling a story to the camera, so you don't have to watch it -open another window and play a mindless game like I do- but you need to listen to him tell this story. You won't regret the time spent. -via Metafilter
The 1957 Disney family drama Old Yeller scarred a generation of children, with its heartwarming relationship between two young boys and their heroic dog. It was more brutally realistic than most adult films in depicting the struggles of pioneer life. Sixty years later, Old Yeller has a 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes. You'd be hard-pressed to find a Baby Boomer whose eyes don't well up just thinking about the movie. While you're at it, you may as well check out some trivia about Old Yeller.
5. This was the Disney debut of Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran.
They would both on to star in The Swiss Family Robinson and The Shaggy Dog, but would also explore other movies throughout their careers.
4. The ‘wolf’ was actually a German shepherd.
The shepherd was made up to look like a wolf and both dogs were taught how to play-fight. During these bouts they were always muzzled so as to avoid any accidental damage.
Read more about Old Yeller at TVOM.
WillieB87's wife loves succulent plants, is pregnant, and yesterday was her birthday. So these cupcakes are perfect for her! And that's frosting, not fondant. Someone offered congratulations for getting them home in one piece, and then we found out that he made them himself! That's some good work. And a man who will go that distance to surprise his wife for her birthday, well, he's a keeper.
Michael Callaghan decided it was time that he got to know his neighbors, and he came up with a genius way to do it: ask them for a favor, and make it fun! He went door to door and asked each neighbor to come over and dance with him for a music video. He didn't mention if anyone refused, but plenty of them said yes.
While you're doing something like this, you get to know their names, interests, and how friendly they are. Or at least how well they dance. When he throws a party, he'll know exactly who to invite. He's trying to start a trend with #NeighborDanceChallenge. We'll see how that goes. -via Tastefully Offensive
my name is cat
i play wif liz
i don tink he
knoze wat fun is -
you bite my lip
il getchu back
n eatchu for
a little schmack
don test my skills
i fas n punctual
how qwik youl be
a reptile disfunctual
You'll have to forgive her for the lack of capitalization and punctuation. Cats are not good at those things. Of course, she's referencing an earlier meme.
The following article is from the book Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Tunes Into TV.
What kept TV alive through its birth and early decades of life? Beer and cigarette commercials.
Belly up to the Bar
In 1946 a 10-inch, black-and-white RCA television set cost $400. Today, that’s about $4500, enough to buy a few very large flat screen TVs and Blu-Ray players. Most post-World War II Americans wanted to own a TV, but few could afford it. Besides, there weren’t many TV shows to watch in 1946.
In those early days, networks found that sports were a cheap way to fill up air time. All they had to do was train a camera on a baseball game, boxing match, or roller derby bout, and people would watch. And bar owners realized that a TV over the bar would pay for itself (and then some) when patrons showed up to watch sports and buy beer. Neighborhood taverns all over the country posted signs promising, “We have TV!” In 1946 and 1947, half of all televisions sold in the United States were to bars.
The first major sporting event to air on TV took place on June 19, 1946: a heavyweight title bout between Joe Louis and Billy Conn (Louis knocked out Conn in the eighth round.) The boxing match set a TV viewing record: 140,000 people watched, most of them in bars. A year later, that record was shattered when a million people watched the Joe Louis/”Jersey Joe” Walcott title fight. When the 1947 World Series aired on TV, bars around the nation reported lines winding around the block. Television had found its first mass audience.
In the early 18th century, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu went to Turkey when her husband was made England's ambassador to that country. She wrote extensive letters about the exotic city of Constantinople and the lives of the Turks. She was particularly fascinated by the way they controlled smallpox: by a process called variolation. Fifty years before Washington inoculated his troops with the method, Lady Montagu convinced doctors back in England to experiment with the process, on prisoners and orphans. To her credit, she also had her own children inoculated against smallpox.
But the idea of purposely giving someone a disease was not an easy sell, especially since about 2 or 3 percent of people who were variolated still died of smallpox (either because the procedure didn’t work, or because they caught a different strain than the one they had been variolated with). In addition, variolated people could also spread the disease while they were infectious. Lady Montagu also faced criticism because the procedure was seen as “Oriental,” and because of her gender.
Read about Lady Montagu and her campaign to protect England against smallpox at Mental Floss.
Four-year-old Nathan Mezquida tells a story he made up about dinosaurs. His dad, Allen Mezquida, animated his drawings to tell it.
Nathan spends hours drawing every day, mostly dinosaurs. He also loves watching BBC documentaries about dinosaurs. Next thing I knew, we were working on this short film together. Nathan was very clear about the story he wanted to tell and how he wanted it to look. He said he wanted it to be very real, "never cartoony." I did my best to stay true to his vision.
-via Laughing Squid
As the Empire strikes back, so does your significant other. So... what if Han and Leia weren't selfless and mature individuals putting the greater good above their own feelings? What if they were just normal petty humans like most of us? You know, like that kid they produced? Then a little misunderstanding could turn into a snit for the ages, enshrined in both cinema and in carbonite. This comic is the latest from Pedro Arizpe at Port Sherry Comics.
Photolocation is when a creatures harnesses sunlight through specialized organs to see how to get around. Three fish have this power: deep-sea dragonfishes, lanternfishes, and flashlight fishes. However, they can only do it when conditions are right, and it just happens. Now scientists have identified a species that can not only emit light to see, but can control when to use it.
But as new research published today Royal Society Open Science shows, there’s at least one other fish endowed with the powers of photolocation, namely Tripterygion delaisi, otherwise known as triplefin. Unlike the three aforementioned fish, however, triplefins can actually control when their eyes light up, and they redirect incoming sunlight using a different method. The Tuebingen University scientists who conducted the study aren’t sure if the on-demand headlights help the triplefin to catch prey (though they think it’s highly likely), saying further research is needed. But they’re fairly convinced that triplefin are capable of switching their eyes on when the need arises, a never-before-seen feature dubbed “controlled iris radiance.”
Controlled Iris Radiance would make a good band name, for sure, but it could also be the basis of a horror film. In this case, the triplefin fish are tiny, only a couple of inches long, and their prey is even tinier. Read more about the brilliant adaptation of the triplefin and its headlights at Gizmodo.
(Image credit: Nico K. Michiels/Tuebingen University)
People get together and drink socially and then start throwing things. Let's hope that in most circumstances, it's in a socially acceptable drinking game like beer pong, or in a pub sport like darts. In ancient Greece, among the wealthy classes, those games would involve throwing wine itself! That's fine, as long as you aren't in danger of running out of wine. It wouldn't go over too well in modern establishments where carpet cleaning can be a hassle. The game was called kottabos, and it involved flinging the dregs of wine from your own cup at objects to hit a target.
Critias, the 5th century academic and writer, wrote about this “glorious invention” stemming from Sicily, “where we put up a target to shoot at with drops from our wine-cup whenever we drink it.” While a handful of modern academics question the game’s Sicilian origins, kottabos definitely spread throughout parts of Italy (as the Etruscans played it) and Greece, too. The kottabos craze even resulted in industrious people building special round rooms where it could be played, so all competitors could be equidistant from the target.
If you were good at kottabos, you could be a winner. If you were bad at it, you'd still provide entertainment to other partiers. There was both a musical and a quiet version of the game, and precise techniques for the act of flinging. Read all about kottabos at Atlas Obscura. Some images may possibly be NSFW.
This looks really odd. Flooding left a garden path underwater in Brazil, and the water is so clear you can see every detail.
A machine translation from the YouTube page says,
Faced with the repercussion of the video released on February 15, in social networks, in which appears a submerged track, we would like to pass some clarifications. The fact really happened at the Rio de Prata Ecological Recanto (Jardim-MS) on February 02 and was recorded during the monitoring carried out by the tour's Waldemilson Vera. When it rains a lot, the river of the Silver runs of slower form, causing its damming, thus increasing the water level of the river Olho D'Água. Despite the flood, on the day the video was recorded the waters of the river Olho D'Agua remained crystal clear due to their conserved ciliary forest and being inside a Private Reserve of Natural Heritage - RPPN, a type of Conservation Unit. This was a rare episode, and by the end of the day the river had returned to its normal level. We would like to inform you that on this date the tour operated normally until the 1st stretch, which, although it is also above normal, all the tourists left satisfied because they experienced a different and special day in the attraction!
Reese Witherspoon stars as a young woman who follows her ex-boyfriend to law school in the 2001 comedy/courtroom drama Legally Blonde. The twist is that, although Elle Woods comes off as a ditzy blonde, she is super intelligent and discovers she has a real talent for law. The plot is a standard comedy formula, but the movie was a big hit because it was well done and honestly funny. You might want to learn some of the things that went on behind the scenes of Legally Blonde.
9. Reese Witherspoon spent some time with actual sorority girls to get the part down right.
She didn’t want to play the role like a stereotypical, bubbly airhead sorority girl as has been seen on film so often. She spent time with a real sorority and therefore gained a better perspective on the role.
8. Reese goes through 40 different hairstyles in the movie.
That sounds like a lot of time just doing her hair. I’m sure they had hairstylists on call at all times to come up with a new style and apply it.
Check out more movie trivia about Legally Blonde at TVOM.
This graph made me laugh because Lent began last week and a friend said they were giving up watermelon. That doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice in February. Michelle Rial is a designer who is really into charts. Some of her charts include real-life objects that illustrate the subject of the chart.
Rial began using everyday objects—which includes everything from food to office supplies to wine stains to floss—after a neck injury forced her to step away from her computer and away from the types of illustrations she had been doing previously. Using found objects cut down on some of the physical pain of illustrating for Rial and has resulted in some really cool, unique pieces of art with a great sense of humor.
Han Solo: lovable rogue, smuggler, Rebellion hero, scruffy-looking nerf-herder. He definitely shot first, no matter what Lucas' re-editing tried to convince us. Solo had plenty of talents, and first among those was the ability to deliver a line perfectly. He did it again and again in four different films so far, with another one coming in May (albeit without Harrison Ford). Put those lines together with cadence, make them rhyme somewhat, and you've got an enjoyable tribute remix from Eclectic Method.
For almost 40 years now, movies about the Vietnam War set the tone with songs from Creedence Clearwater Revival. It started with the movie Who’ll Stop the Rain in 1978, then became forever connected with Vietnam in Apocalypse Now (1979). You'll also hear various CCR songs in 1969 (1988), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Air America (1990), Forrest Gump (1994), Tropic Thunder (2008), The Sapphires (2012), and The Post (2017), among others. The sound has become a shortcut for placing the viewer into Vietnam during the war.
Most Creedence songs contain no direct reference to the war (though “Run Through the Jungle” is frequently misinterpreted as such), but they do evoke a period when the war dominated American life. “That was when the band was popular,” says bassist Stu Cook. “Creedence was part of the soundtrack of the time.”
Creedence’s career was a model of speedy efficiency: seven albums in four years. The band recorded at an absurd pace, releasing three LPs in 1969 alone, and disbanded less than five years after adopting the Creedence name. But the brevity of the band’s career seems to have contributed to its longevity as a cultural avatar of one hyperspecific era—a particularly tumultuous period that’s constantly depicted onscreen. If you’re soundtracking a movie set between 1968 and 1971, why not go with the iconic band whose hits were entirely clustered between 1968 and 1971?
In 1968, Groucho Marx signed on for the final movie role in his legendary career. Groucho agreed to play a mobster called "God" in a terrible movie called Skidoo, directed by famed director Otto Preminger. The film starred Jackie Gleason and Carol Channing.
It also featured an all-star (and eclectic) cast including Mickey Rooney, Burgess Meredith, Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Peter Lawford, George Raft, and Frankie Avalon. The fact of Gorshin, Romero, and Meredith all appearing would indicate some kind of Batman love by either the film's writer or someone behind the scenes. The three actors had famously played the three most popular guest villains on the show i.e. the Riddler, the Joker and the Penguin. That, plus the fact that Otto Preminger himself had played Mr. Freeze on the series, too.
With such an intriguing cast, all systems were go for the filming on location in San Francisco (Interestingly, John Wayne had donated the use of his personal yacht to be used as Groucho's yacht in the film.)
You might fall in love with pictures of a certain breed of dog and get it in your head that you want one of those. But do you know what that really entails? Personality matters more than over the long run, and adopting a dog is a lifetime commitment. That said, most mutts are pretty sweet and normal, even though they each have their own personality. But if you are pining for a particular breed, you need to be informed about what you are in for. Comic artist Grace Gogarty, who goes by little tunny on her Tumblr blog, captures what these breeds are generally like in hilarious cartoon form.
Screen Junkies looks at Justice League and tackles the question: What went wrong? They had the opportunity to improve on Batman v Superman, and try to catch the magic of Wonder Woman, but that didn't happen.
They came down to three answers: the color scheme, bad CGI, the depressing heroes, and the lame villain. Oh, that's four. But there's even more in this Honest Trailer for Justice League. -Thanks, Lacey!
Police in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, were on the lookout for a suspect in the robbery of a farmer's market. A witness provided a sketch of the perpetrator, which was shown on the local TV station. Let's watch that report.
The response by newscaster Ethan Forhetz is priceless. Considering he was winging the news as it came in, he kept his cool pretty well. Now, lest you think this is a police sketch, it's not. It was drawn by a witness. Yet it was enough to lead police to identify 44-year-old Hung Phuoc Nguyen, who was still on the loose at the time of the report. It turns out that police were familiar with Nguyen already, and honestly recognized him from the sketch. -via reddit
We've been taught that our brains are made up of neurons, which transmit electrical signals among themselves. That's true, but the model of a neuron either firing or not firing has led us to think of them as binary switches, and the work of the brain takes many cells to decode the firings.
When talking about how neurons work, we usually end up with the sum-up-inputs-and-spit-out-spike idea. In this idea, the dendrites are just a device to collect inputs. Activating each input alone makes a small change to the neuron’s voltage. Sum up enough of these small changes, from all across the dendrites, and the neuron will spit out a spike from its body, down its axon, to go be an input to other neurons.
It’s a handy mental model for thinking about neurons. It forms the basis for all artificial neural networks. It’s wrong.
Those dendrites are not just bits of wire: they also have their own apparatus for making spikes. If enough inputs are activated in the same small bit of dendrite then the sum of those simultaneous inputs will be bigger than the sum of each input acting alone
The image above shows a neuron on the left, and a flow chart of how it can work on the right. The explanation is much longer than I can summarize here, but it explains why human brains are so much more powerful than any artificial intelligence we've come up with yet. Read the whole thing at Medium. -via Metafilter
I'm not really sure if this is a hedgehog or a porcupine, but you get the idea. If you're in Britain, it's a hedgehog, and if you're in America, it's a porcupine. The cactus is the same everywhere. And now you see why Jim is glad that Bill's eyesight was going -all the better for avoidance! This comic is from Shreya Doodles. You can see more of her work in a gallery at Bored Panda, and follow her work at Instagram.
"She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid."
This purse looks just like Han Solo's/Lando Calrissian's/Chewbacca's spaceship the Millennium Falcon! It's the kind of thing you could spend big bucks on and still only use it for special occasions. But this is not on sale. Mikaela Holmes made this, and you can make one for yourself using her instructions. Looking through the supply list, I realize that I have most of the materials and tools already, except my leather is not vegan, and I can use the library's printer. Well, there's the electronics. Did I mention that this purse lights up with LEDS?
And then I read the steps, and I now understand why a purse like this would be worth big bucks. Maybe I will be okay with just reading the instructions, because it sure is pretty. See it all at Instructables. -via Geeks Are Sexy
Papa can't find his phone. It rings, but it's not in his pockets. It's not in his car. When he walks away, no one can hear the ringing, so it must be on him somewhere. Can all the assembled family members help him find it? The best part of this video is his sense of humor about the whole thing. The mystery will be solved by the end of this video. -via Laughing Squid
The 2016 animated film The Secret Life of Pets deals with the drama that happens among New York City animals when their humans are not present. It gets pretty suspenseful when the protagonists, dogs Max and Duke, leave home and fall in with a gang of dangerous strays, including cats, snakes, pigs, rabbits, and other creatures. The movie was a huge hit around the world, but there are things you probably don't know about The Secret Life of Pets, namely, the large number of cultural references scattered through the film.
10. Gru from Despicable Me is visible in the park scene.
It’s a ‘there and gone’ kind of thing but if you watch closely you’ll see him walking his dog. These movies love to throw in those little details that take some watching to notice.
9. The name of the rabbit, Snowball, is the same name used by George Orwell in Animal Farm.
Snowball was one of the two pigs that led the overthrow of the humans. He was eventually run off when the greedier pigs decided he wasn’t going along with their plans.
There's an alley in the middle of Chinatown in Manhattan that's different from almost all the other streets in New York, because it has a bend in it. It has a dark and mysterious past, but it's still lined with businesses, including the Nom Wah Tea Parlor, which has been in business since 1920. The eatery has witnessed some of the events that gave the alley, called Doyers Street, the nickname Bloody Angle.
For this cramped corner of Chinatown, with its sharp angled bend, was the home of the Hip Sing Tong, who waged vicious gang warfare with the rival On Leongs. According to the Times, “law-enforcement officials say more people have died violently at Bloody Angle….that at any intersection in America.”
The angle was the perfect ambush spot. Herbert Asbury in his slightly more salacious than historical 1928 book ‘Gangs of New York’, wrote how “armed with snickersee and hatchet sharpened to a razor’s edge, the Tong killer lay in wait for his victim, and having cut him down as he came round the bend, fled through the arcade, or plunged into the theatre and thence into Mott or Pell Street through one of the underground passageways.”
The Nom Wah Tea Parlor looks much the same as it did in the 1920s, and the Hip Sing Association is still headquartered at Doyers Street. Read about their history, and see plenty of pictures at Messy Nessy Chic.
There's a chair on the beach. Right there, by itself, with no one sitting in it. Not the kind of thing you come across every day. The smallest thing can make a man feel territorial, and raise his competitive hackles. At the same time, we have evolved the ability to calculate possible outcomes before engaging in conflict.
What's universal about the video is how well it depicts the weird stuff that goes on in our minds all the time about things that don't matter, the internal monologue that we'd never share on purpose. Or maybe that's just me. This subtly ridiculous short film is from Bridge Stuart (previously at Neatorama). No, it's not a Tide ad, but it would have been a good one. -via Digg
FutonSpecialOps shared this picture of his cat. What do you see? At first glance, I thought they had a transparent TV. No, that's a human body! Oh yeah, his wife took the picture, and that's her reflection. She just thought the cat looked cute, so she grabbed her phone to snap a "Kilroy was here" picture. Since the TV isn't on, it's acting as a mirror. Notice the space between her arm and the chair looks like the cat's front leg. So part of the picture is a selfie, the other part is a cat. Together, it's an illusion. That's three of the most popular pictures posted on the internet, all in one. -via reddit
The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!
Research About Cigarette Butts and Large Groups of Humans
compiled by Stephen Drew, Improbable Research staff
Cigarette Butts in the Federal Republic of Germany (1972)
“The Effect of the Economic Depression on the Length of Cigarette Butts in the Federal Republic of Germany/Die Auswirkung der wirtschaftlichen Rezession auf die Länge der Cigarettenstummel in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland,” W. Schulz and F. Seehofer, Beiträge zur Tabakforschung/Contributions to Tobacco Research, vol. 8, no. 7, 1976, pp. 455-458. The authors, at B·A·T Cigaretten-Fabriken GmbH, Forschung und Entwicklung, Hamburg, report:
The influence of the economic depression on the length of cigarette butts in the Federal Republic of Germany was investigated in the summer of 1974. After the interruption of the continual increase in the butt lengths of filter cigarettes and plain cigarettes by the tobacco tax rise on 1st September 1972, there was a further decrease in the butt lengths until August. This was 0.44 mm for filter cigarettes and 1.5 mm for plain cigarettes.
The Olympics in PyeongChang saw something really unusual today- a halfpipe performance with absolutely no tricks. Half-pipe skiing has been a Winter Olympic event only since 2014. Elizabeth Swaney is an American skier competing for Hungary. She is, by all accounts, an average skier, but she made the Olympic team by consistently showing up in a sport that doesn't have many competitors, especially in the women's division. The Denver Post tells her story.
Swaney, who said her grandparents came from Hungary, earned her Olympic berth more from attending World Cup events than actually competing. Women’s pipe skiing World Cups rarely see more than 30 competitors, so it’s not hard to meet the Olympic requirement for a top-30 finish. At last December’s World Cup in China, when most of the world’s top skiers were competing in the Grand Prix at Copper Mountain and Dew Tour at Breckenridge, Swaney finished 13 out of 15 competitors, her best career finish.
“The field is not that deep in the women’s pipe and she went to every World Cup, where there were only 24, 25, or 28 women,” said longtime FIS ski halfpipe and slopestyle judge Steele Spence. “She would compete in them consistently over the last couple years and sometimes girls would crash so she would not end up dead last. There are going to be changes to World Cup quotas and qualifying to be eligible for the Olympics. Those things are in the works so technically you need to qualify up through the system.”
She certainly skis better than I do, but this is not what you expect at the Olympics. Swaney ended up in last place in the qualifying runs at PyeongChang today. -via Uproxx
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