For 6 months, they worked hard on their assignment, never suspecting the surprise Dantowitz had in store.
On March 12th, he stunned them with the news: "The mission is real, and you're going along for the ride."
In early June, Dantowitz and the teenagers traveled halfway around the world to help NASA track Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft as it plunged into Earth's atmosphere at 27,000 mph and shattered over the Australian outback. After boarding the DC-8 and flying to 41,000 feet, their hard work finally paid off when they successfully recorded the fiery re-entry:
See the video, and read all about the mission and the high school science project at NASA. Link -via reddit
These two fans spotted at the World Cup game between England and Algeria were compared to Laurel and Hardy. You don't have to understand the language to enjoy the video clip, which includes more World Cup links at The Litter Box. Link
The surface of this world globe is like a blackboard. It comes with the outlines of the continents painted on it, but you can fill in the national boundaries and country names with chalk, so the globe will never be out of date (like mine, which has East Germany, the USSR, and Yugoslavia on it). Only $450! Link -via Nag on the Lake
What truly made Manute Bol stand out though was not his height; rather, it was the humanitarian side of him that made you believe every effort he gave as a basketball player was meant to serve a higher cause and purpose. For Bol, that cause was trying to do whatever he could do to support the poor, destitute nation he was from.
For example, Bol started the Ring True Foundation in an effort to deliver aid to his poor countrymen. Most of the $3.5 million Bol made playing basketball went to support Ring True. Bol also used his celebrity and peoples’ curiosity with his size to make extra money after his playing career was over. There was the celebrity boxing match with The Fridge as well as the time he suited up for the Indianapolis Ice of the Central Hockey League. In both cases the money he made went back to the Sudan.
Bol also has been active politically in the Sudan, hoping to affect change that will improve conditions in the country.
There's lots more, plus a three-part documentary about Bol and video clips of his basketball career highlights. Link -via TYWKIWDBI
With 221 episodes filmed over more than two decades, Our Gang/Little Rascals is the most successful, longest-running film series in Hollywood history. Here's how the Little Rascals found their way onto the silver screen.
STICKS AND STONES
One day in 1921, a Hollywood producer named Hal Roach spent a frustrating morning auditioning girls for a part in one of his movies. It wasn't going well-the kids sounded too rehearsed and their stage makeup made them look like little grown-ups. In those days child actors were supposed to act like adults, not like normal kids. They were usually well scrubbed and well behaved, and because the adult characters were almost always the center of the story, the kids interacted with the grown-ups more than they did with each othr. They were often little more than props.
That afternoon when the auditions ended, Roach sat in his office and stared at the lumberyard across the street. He noticed a group of kids that had snatched a few sticks to play with, and were now arguing over them-the smallest kid had grabbed the largest stick, and the biggest kid wanted it.
Roach was fascinated. "I knew they would probably throw away the sticks as soon as they walked around the block," he recalled more than 60 years later, "but the most important thing in the world right then was who would have which stick. All of a sudden I realized I had been watching this silly argument for over fifteen minutes because they were real kids."
FORMING THE GANG
Roach thought movies about "kids doing the things that kids do" might make interesting viewing. As he told Leonard Maltin in The Life and Times of the Little Rascals: Our Gang, "I thought if I could find some clever street kids to just play themselves in films and show life from a kid's angle, maybe I could make a dozen of these things before I wear out the idea."
Roach started putting together a cast of archtypical kids that audiences would be able to relate to: the leader of the pack, the pretty girl who gets teased by the boys, the tomboy, the nerdy smart kid, the chubby kid, the spoiled rich kid, etc.
Roach also decided to cast black kids in some of the parts. That may not sound like a big deal, but in the 1920s it was unheard of. In fact, he was the first Hollywood filmmaker to depict black kids and white kids playing together, treating each other as equals, even going to the same schools. (The integrated school scenes were cut whenever the films played in the South.)
Characters like Farina, Stymie, and Buckwheat have since been criticized for perpetuating ethnic stereotypes, and ethnic humor was common in the series, especially in the early days. But the fact that the cast was integrated at all was a milestone. Hollywood films of the 1920s never portrayed blacks and whites as social peers, and wouldn't for years to come. But Roach was determined that his kids would be peers.
Casting that first group of little kids was a snap-Roach just asked around the studio lot. Everybody, it seemed, either had a kid or knew one that would be good for a part. An eight-year-old black child actor named Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison was already appearing in Roach comedies, and his family knew of a one-year-old named Allen Hoskins. (Allen, better known as "Farina", would go on to appear in 105 Our Gang comedies-more than any other kid) Photographer Gene Kornman's five-year-old daughter Mary was interested; so was her friend Mickey Daniels. Roach also hired a six-year-old child actor named Jack Davis, a three-year-old named Jackie Condon, a chubby four-year-old named Joe Cobb, and a few other kids as well.
TESTING THE WATERS
The very first film, titled Our Gang, was shot twice with a different director each time because Roach didn't think the first version was funny enough. The second film, a 20-minute silent short, directed by an ex-fireman named Bob McGowan, was a hit with test audiences, critics, and movie exhibitors alike. When Roach received repeated requests for more of those "Our Gang comedies," he decide that would be the name for his series. The kids themselves were billed as "Hal Roach's Rascals"; the name "Little Rascals" came much later.
The fourth Our Gang movie to be filmed, One Terrible Day, was actually the first one released to the public; it hit theaters in September 1922. Our Gang (the first film) was released two months later.
These films were unlike any that audiences had seen before. Kids were the stars, but the films were designed to appeal to people of all ages. And they were a hit from the start-kid actors were acting like real kids, arguing, getting dirty, and getting into all kinds of mischief. The acting was so natural that audiences forgot they were watching a movie.
How was Our Gang director Bob McGowan able to coach such authentic performances out of actors as young as two years of age? He didn't have many options-reading scripts and memorizing lines was out, since many kids were too young to read. So McGowan made acting a game: he explained the scenes to the kids as carefully as he could, then he filmed them as they play-acted their parts. (One unintended consequence: as the kids grew older and became more aware of themselves as actors, their acting style sometimes became less natural.)
Because the Our Gang films were so successful, it wasn't long before every child star in Hollywood-not to mention thousands of aspiring kid stars all over the country-started clamoring for a part in the series. Mickey Rooney came to Hollywood just to audition for Our Gang. He didn't make the cut, and neither did the biggest child star in Hollywood history, Shirley Temple.
In his acceptance speech he tried to calm the fears of the other 65.3 percent. “No one has to be afraid of the Best Party,” he said, “because it is the best party. If it wasn’t, it would be called the Worst Party or the Bad Party. We would never work with a party like that.”
With his party having won 6 of the City Council’s 15 seats, Mr. Gnarr needed a coalition partner, but ruled out any party whose members had not seen all five seasons of “The Wire.”
Gnarr attributes the win to voters protesting the established parties. Link -via reddit
(Image credit: Hordur Sveinsson)
You see beautiful rooms in catalogs and magazines and you have to wonder about people who would live in such artistic perfection. The blog Catalog Living gives you a glimpse into the life of those who live in those places. It's not always pretty. The caption to the above picture is:
Elaine was not amused by Gary’s passive-aggressive response to her request to “garnish the cocktails.”
Link -via Metafilter
Around the House: The Origins of a Few Common Items told the stories behind pop-up toasters, Ivory Soap, Velcro, and band-aids, courtesy of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.
Jill Harness went to the fair, and brought back a complete report on A Day at the San Diego County Fair. The pictures made me hungry for deep-fried fair food!
From mental_floss we got a glimpse into The Surreal Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The creator of Sherlock Holmes had plenty of other claims to fame as well.
See how do-it-yourself eugenics plays out in the real world with 3 Unusual Sperm Banks For Designer Babies over at NeatoBambino.
You are invited to voice your opinions on a variety of science fiction, fantasy, gaming, and other geeky topics with the Question of the Day at NeatoGeek.
Congratulations to amanderpanderer, timdrew, doodledawne, jorenko, oasisob1, and sunup who all won prizes in the Neatorama Mini-Hunt this week. Also congratulations to e7c, who won a prize for the funniest guess in the What Is It? game. The item was an ice cube crusher; e7c guessed this:
Having a tattooed star wasn't enough for some of the Sneeches, so they decided to scarification was the way to go. So these are Star-scar-a-fiers for Sneeches.
Stars upon yars?
Tattoos just wont do!
If you want to go far,
Then what you need is a scar!
You don't want to miss your chance at internet stardom and maybe even in iPad in the Great Talent, Fantastic Or Otherwise (GTFO) competition from reddit and Neatorama! Get your special talent on video and enter -the first round ends July 18th! All the details are on the Neatorama YouTube page.
Remember, we always welcome your comments, kudos, criticism, and suggestions. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment here. Thanks!
Would you recognize a blockbuster movie purely from the font used in the poster? Find out in this Lunchtime Quiz from mental_floss. I think you will be surprised at how recognizable some of these typefaces are, even when they are spelling out different words. You'll be given the nine movie titles, most (or all) of which you've seen. My score?
Which totally surprised me. You will probably do better than you expect. Link
A NEED FOR SPEED
Conan Doyle harbored such a compulsive need for adventure that it almost killed him on several occasions. He loved hot air ballooning and racing fast cars (thought luckily, never at the same time), and as a young man, he made a habit of embarking on absurdly dangerous voyages. In 1880, while traveling on an Arctic whaling ship, he fell overboard into the icy waters so often that the captain nicknamed him "The Northern Diver." Conan Doyle was also an ardent patriot who wrote impassioned defenses of Britain's involvement in unpopular wars. In fact, after World War I broke out in 1914, Conan Doyle tried to enlist in the British Army. Of course, at age 55, he was considered too old to serve.
There's one big difference between Sherlock Holmes and his author-creator. While the detective was a man of science, Arthur Conan Doyle firmly believed in magic. Doyle regularly attended seances and traveled the world lecturing on the paranormal. In fact, his beliefs were often ridiculed; in 1919, The New York Times called them "pathetic."
But all that naysaying only seemed to strengthen Conan Doyle's convictions. In 1920, the author threw his considerable weight behind a series of photographs taken by two English schoolgirls, which showed fairies cavorting in a garden. Seeing this as an opportunity to prove the existence of spirits, he quickly sent the girls a new camera and had them take more photos. Although most people remained unconvinced, Conan Doyle believed he'd satisfactorily put the case to rest. It wasn't until 1981 that the girls (then in their eighties) admitted to the hoax, and the world finally learned how two kids with paper cutouts duped one of the world's most famous authors.
THE DETECTIVE WHO WOULDN'T DIE
After six years of writing short stories about Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle became sick of his greatest creation. So he did something about it. In his 1893 story "The Adventure of the Final Problem," the author had Holmes tumble to a watery grave at the hands of his arch nemesis, Professor Moriarty. The response was dramatic. Many readers were furious. Others mourned by wearing black armbands in the street. Meanwhile, Conan Doyle was regularly forced to defend himself in the London press.
Although the author wrote dozens of non-Holmes novels (including the seminal work of prehistoric fiction, The Lost World), nothing captured his readers' imaginations (or wallets) like Sherlock Holmes. As the years progressed, public pressure to resurrect the detective not only continued, but grew so strong that Conan Doyle finally caved. In 1903's "The Empty House," the author explained that the detective had faked his own death and fled to Asia. His readers quickly forgave him, and the dozens of Holmes stories that followed were hailed as instant classics.
WILL THE REAL SHERLOCK HOLMES PLEASE STAND UP?
In creating his most famous character, Arthur Conan Doyle found inspiration in a lecturer he had as a young medical student-a Scotsman named Dr. Joseph Bell. In fact, inspiration is too mild a term; personality theft is more like it. The doctor was a legend among his students for performing astounding feats of deduction as a kind of parlor trick. For instance, after a moment's conversation with a country woman during class, Bell turned to the students and said:
You see, gentlemen, when she said good morning to me, I noted her Fife accent, and, as you know, the nearest town in Fife is Burntisland. You notice the red clay on the edges of the soles on her shoes, and the only such clay within 20 miles of Edinburgh is the Botanic Gardens. Inverleith Row borders the gardens and is her nearest way here from Leith. You observed that the coat she carried over her arm is too big for the child who is with her, and therefore she set out from home with two children. Finally, she has dermatitis on the fingers of the right hand, which is peculiar to workers in the linoleum factory at Burntisland.
The speech reads like it was plucked from a Conan Doyle story, but in truth, the author lifted his style from Bell.
_______________________The article above, written by Ransom Riggs, is reprinted with permission from Scatterbrained section of the Jul/Aug 2009 issue of mental_floss magazine.
Be sure to visit mental_floss' website and blog for more fun stuff!
"To me it was a no brainer. I'd rather lose a toe and gain a whole hand," said the mother of two.
Losing a toe has little effect on a human's ability to walk or run, but losing a thumb nearly incapacitates hand functionality.
Doctors said Elliott will regain full use of her hand in six to nine months.
"She'll be able to pinch and grasp with her hand, she'll be able to hold things and pick up her children," said plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Ganz.
Doctors even expect the new digit to change size in time to more closely resemble a thumb. Warning: graphic picture. Link -via Digg
He said Australians based at all three stations, Davis, Casey and Mawson, take part in the traditional "Bliz Run", which obliges the loser of any bet or dare to strip off and run a lap of the accommodation block.
"It's only about 100m, but even 10m would seem like a long run in the conditions," Dr Cormick said.
New Zealanders at their summer station go skinny dipping in Lake Vanda, with a plunge in the chilly water earning membership of the Royal Lake Vanda Swim Club.
The group is rumoured to include former NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark, who gained membership before she was elected.
Americans at the Amundsen-Scott base can regularly be seen emerging from the sauna to run a naked lap of the South Pole.
The deed earns membership of the 300 Club, but only if it's done when temperatures have plunged to below -100F.
"The idea is to run from the 200F sauna, outside, so they go through 300 degrees (F) in seconds," Dr Cormick said.
The nude pictured is an American. Link -via Fark
If you want something done right, you should do it yourself. The last thing you want to do is give it to David Thorne, especially if it has anything to do with a cat. Shannon asked him to make a poster about her lost cat. What she got was not exactly what she had in mind.
Having worked with designers for a few years now, I would have assumed you understood, despite our vague suggestions otherwise, we do not welcome constructive criticism. I don't come downstairs and tell you how to send text messages, log onto Facebook and look out of the window. I am willing to overlook this faux pas due to you no doubt being preoccupied with thoughts of Missy attempting to make her way home across busy intersections or being trapped in a drain as it slowly fills with water. I spent three days down a well once but that was just for fun.
There are several other drafts of the poster in this email exchange. Link -via Buzzfeed
Edith Shain was the nurse who became an icon when photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped her picture as she received a kiss from a sailor on VJ Day in New York City. She died at her home in Los Angeles yesterday, at the age of 91. To commemorate her passing, Buzzfeed posted a collection of recreations of that kiss. Link
Using sidewalk compasses is an idea that has been tried before by both official and unofficial sources. In 2006, a blogger snapped a photo of a compass on the sidewalk at the 8th Street L station; someone else caught one on Bleecker. The City of New York's Department of Transportation got in on the act in 2007, installing compass decals in the ground at selected stations around midtown, in a pilot program that doesn't seem to have been continued.
Maybe this time, the idea will stick around. Link -via The Daily What
(Image credit: Paolo Mastrangelo/NYC The Blog)
What the company doesn't advertise — and these days is reluctant to admit — is that the grease-cutting part of the potion is made from petroleum.
"To make the best product out there, you have to have some in there," says Ian Tholking of Procter & Gamble. He says less than one-seventh of Dawn comes from petroleum.
"To say Dawn's horrible because of this, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense," he says, "and that's what we're trying to avoid. Because we're not trying to do something evil here."
"I think it's extremely ironic," says Martin Wolf, a chemist for Seventh Generation, which makes a dish liquid without petroleum. "Here we are trying to squeeze every last drop of oil we can out of the Earth, and it's despoiling the Earth. And we're using that same product that's messing up the Earth to clean it up."
Wolf says his company sent a truckload of oil-free detergent to the gulf, but he hasn't heard whether anyone has used it.
Proctor and Gamble donates supplies of Dawn to animal rescue operations. Link -via Holy Kaw!
(Image credit: Elizabeth Shogren/NPR)
65 Years Ago my Dad shot this film along Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki capturing spontaneous celebrations that broke out upon first hearing news of the Japanese surrender. Kodachrome 16mm film: God Bless Kodachrome, right?There is more information about the film in the comments at the vimeo link. -Thanks, Duke!
First, it's 12 pages long and very well-researched (except on one point); it even includes screengrabs of the offending item from our site. And we know they're not messing around because they invested in the best and brightest legal minds.
But what makes this cease and desist so very, very special is that it's for a fake product we launched for April Fool's day.
Think Geek also said:
We'd like to publicly apologize to the NPB for the confusion over unicorn and pork--and for their awkward extended pause on the phone after we had explained our unicorn meat doesn't actually exist.
Link -via Boing Boing
(Image credit: F.B. Johnston)Look at that massive chimney! Can you imagine the size of the fireplaces inside? This is Windsor Shades in King William County, Virginia. In colonial times, it was a tavern, one of George Washington's favorite hangouts. Read more about this unique house at TYWKIWDBI. Link
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