Malaysian photographer Zahir Batin uses Star Wars figures in natural and created settings to illustrate further adventures in the Star Wars universe. Some are funny and some are dramatic, but all evoke an entire story with a single picture. At his Facebook page, you can find the process of creating many of the images. Bored Panda has an overview of his Batin's work, and you can see more in Zahir Batin’s DeviantART gallery. -via Everlasting Blort
Get a beautiful, mesmerizing view of Sydney, Australia, as you’ve never seen it before. Sure, a helicopter could take video from above, but could it fly through trees and buzz rooftop spires like this? This video is the first in a series called “Eye Spy” that will show us different cities of the world. Melbourne, Chicago, Belgrade, and Edinburgh are in the works. -via Holy Kaw!
When you run into someone famous on the street, you could treat it as a golden moment in itself. Or you could be like Stefan Montana, and treat it as a golden opportunity and use it as a stepping stone for an even more important moment. When he met Bryan Cranston, star of Breaking Bad and the new Godzilla movie, he enlisted the actor’s help in asking Maddie to the prom. Here’s the scene from another angle.
The boy has his priorities straight. Maddie said yes, although I have a sneaking suspicion she would have said yes under any circumstance. Cranston is a good guy all around, even if Mr. White is evil. -via Uproxx
The Marianne North Gallery at Kew Gardens in London, England, is the only permanent solo exhibition of a female artist’s works in the Great Britain. It contains 833 botanical paintings and 246 specimens of wood from all over the world. The exhibit opened in 1882. It was designed by North herself, and the works remain today as she placed them.
Marianne North was an extraordinary woman who avoided marriage and loved to travel, but preferred to travel alone. When she discovered how much she loved painting at the age of 38, she decided to paint species of the world, right where they grew. And that she did, for the rest of her life. She lived and worked in six continents and produced over 1,000 pieces of art.
North’s legacy was clear even in her own time. Sir Hooker proclaimed her collection to be an important record of soon-to-be extinct species, and Charles Darwin, a family friend, requested she document the flora of Australia, New Zealand, and Tanzania to fill out her collection (which she did, despite her failing health). Though her lifestyle was controversial in her time, her work continues to be one of the world’s most important collections of historic botanical art. Four species are named in her honor.
You can read about North’s life and see more of her art at Atlas Obscura.
You recall the video of the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences choir singing "Happy." That video came to the attention of Ellen DeGeneres, who arranged for the choir to be featured on her show, which was a total surprise for the kids and their choir director. They were under the impression that they were assembled to make another video. Being on the show wasn’t the only surprise, as Pharrell Williams and his big hat were also there, and the choir was given a check to fund their trip to Disney World and more. You can see a video of the rest of their performance without the commercial break at Blazenfluff.
You better believe I've been asked this question a few times, almost always right after someone heard me singing. I knew I wasn't tone deaf because I can play piano and a few other instruments, and I did well in music theory back in school. Still, I took the Tone Deaf Test to make sure, and to see how difficult the test is. If you're not tone deaf, it's easy! Simple, for everyone, really -it only taste a couple of minutes, if even that.
So I'm not tone deaf. What I am is a really, really bad singer. If I ever run across a "can you carry a tune in a bucket" online test, I will try that one, too, in order to bring it to you. But I won't show the results. Take the Tone Deaf Test here. -via Geekosystem
A new compilation from Ignoramusky shows us cats taking human food of all kinds. Now, the corn and carrots are just a case of curiosity, but who leaves a sausage out while the cat’s around? We took in one half-grown cat that would climb your shoulders and stick his head in your dish while you were eating -it didn’t matter what it was! He eventually calmed down and learned to behave as he got over his kittenhood malnutrition. -via Tastefully Offensive
In the mountainous region of Algeria is the city of Constantine. When it was founded 2,000 years ago, a plateau surrounded by deep ravines was a great place to build, because the city could be easily defended. Since then, Constantine has outgrown the plateau and spilled over into the adjoining areas. They are connected to the old city by four high bridges. Buildings cling to the very edge of the cliffs, and you have to imagine the bravery of the builders who put them there over the years, as well as the people who live and work there now. Constantine’s other claim to fame is that the microbe that causes malaria was first discovered there. See lots of gorgeous pictures of Constantine at Kuriositas.-via the Presurfer
(Image credit: Flickr user Philippe HENCK)
This cat’s owner was gone for three days. When she came back, she got a wonderful greeting from Moo, who obviously missed her terribly. What a sweet greeting for a loved one!
Who am I kidding? We know in our hearts that Moo was worried that no one would ever get there before the food supply ran out, and besides, the litter box needs attention. The maiowing translates to “It’s about time you showed up! Where have you been, and don’t ever let it happen again!” Incidentally, the food dishes were still half full when she returned. -via Viral Viral Videos
A father tries to explain to his one-year-old son why he can’t come out on the balcony, but you know how babies are. They will argue with you about anything, and they don’t give up. You have to admit, the kid has a cogent argument, and he brings up some interesting points. Maybe he’ll grow up to be a lawyer! -via Daily Picks and Flicks
I’ve almost made it through Spring Break, which I dreaded because it’s hard to get work done with bored kids at home. It wasn’t so bad this year, now that one of them is driving, because they really weren’t home much. That was a little jarring. It won’t be long until they’re gone all the time. Tomorrow we have Palm Sunday, which begins Holy Week, culminating in Easter Sunday on the 20th. We also have Passover which begins Monday at sundown and lasts for eight days. Have a blessed holiday, whichever you celebrate! And we’ve got a lot of things to fill up your weekend reading here at Neatorama!
John Farrier brought us 10 Facts You Might Not Know about The Golden Girls.
He also had An Interview with Jean Cotton of Making Faces Pottery.
Eddie Deezen wrote about Curly of the Three Stooges: The Funniest Guy in the World.
We had an excerpt from the new book The Awkward Human Survival Guide.
Fat Chance: The War Between Butter and Margarine was from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader.
Mental_floss magazine contributed What Does "Organic" Mean?
We had a poll asking Who Will Replace Letterman? Your number one choice was Neil Patrick Harris, but the second place finisher, Stephen Colbert, got the job.
The Whodunit from Hy Conrad this week was Who Took the Tip?
In this week’s What Is It? game, the mystery item is a wire fence stretcher. However, we were looking for wrong but funny answers, and we got them! Patrick Scott 1 explained that it is a “Dharma Initiative plot perforator! More holes, more holes!” which is a reference to the TV show Lost. That wins him a t-shirt! Another t-shirt goes to ladybugs, who said it was “Jaws of Life used during medieval times to cut knights out of their armor after a horrendous battle." Congratulations! Thanks to everyone who played, and thanks to the What Is It? blog.
The non-giveaway post with the most comments this week was How Many Bad Movies Have You Seen? That was followed by Who Will Replace Letterman? and Which Classic Movies Have You Seen? I guess asking a question is a good way to get coments -not quite as good as posting something political or giving away a prize, but better than including a typo!
The comment of the week was John Farrier’s idea for the article about The Worst Places To Get Stung By A Bee. Here it is:
Too bad no one has submitted a story so far....
The most popular post was 10 Things You Didn't Know About Shakespeare. Coming in second was Cringe Worthy Instagram Trend - #AfterSex Selfies and in third place was 10 Facts You Might Not Know about The Golden Girls.
The post that got the most hearts was This Class Won April Fools Day, with Salut Salon in second place, then The Unsung Hero and Elk Crossing tied for third.
The most-emailed post was 16 Differences Between Successful and Unsuccessful People, followed by French Bulldog Puppy Argues About Going to Bed and The Unsung Hero.
Over at Homes and Hues, the most popular post of the week was What Do You Do With Material That is Barely Recyclable? Repurpose It.
I found out something really neat at the NeatoShop Facebook page. The NeatoShop is offering free shipping on orders as low as $19.99 and up! And that means
What? We haven't posted a cat video all week long?! I can hardly believe it! Well, I'll fix that.
Felicia the cat knows her favorite toy is in the wrong place! She has to correct this intolerable situation immediately, no matter what it takes. She accomplishes her task in the exact amount of time it takes to play the appropriate theme song. There, that’s where it belongs! And don’t let it happen again! -via Tastefully Offensive
Check out this United States map in which the states are resized according to their populations. We expected New York and California to take up a lot of room, but look at Florida and Georgia! And we finally get to really see Rhode Island and Washington DC without searching for them. I was a little surprised to see how many more people Arizona has than New Mexico, but maybe that’s because Arizona is closer to California. The numbers for each state are included here. -via the Presurfer
So much has been written about the film production of Gone With The Wind, but it’s a big story with lots of details. I bet there’s at least something in this trivia list that you didn’t already know. For example:
3. The Daughters of the Confederacy campaigned against Vivien Leigh
The Ocala, Florida chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy were greatly offended that a British actress had been chosen to play such an iconic southern character. However, when they were told that the role could go to Katharine Hepburn, they stopped their protest. Better an Englishwoman than a Yankee.
6. The first director was fired...
Gone with the Wind's original director was George Cukor, who had spent more than two years in planning and developing the film. Officially, he left the picture when he and producer Selznick couldn’t come to terms on the pace of filming and on how much expensive authenticity and detail Cukor was insisting on. However, the rumors surrounding his departure were more salacious, suggesting that Cukor, who was as openly gay as possible for the era, had friction with Clark Gable. Some say Gable didn’t want to work with a homosexual, and some say Gable had been a homosexual hustler in his youth and didn’t want Cukor to expose him. And some just believed that, since Cukor had a reputation for making “woman’s films,” Gable thought he’d lose the spotlight.
Oh yeah, and the second director had a nervous breakdown, meaning a third director was called in. There’s lots more in this list from mental_floss, including a rare, behind-the-scenes film of the barbecue scene.
Princess Peach in the pole position! Redditor ZDEdwards and friends played Mario Kart in real life, by taking the characters down to the go-cart facility. They were the most popular people at the park that day. No banana peels were thrown, and a good time was had by all.
The title sounds like one of Kipling’s “Just So” stories, but this article from theoretical biologist Suzanne Sadedin gives scientific answers, told in plain language that can be funny in places. She introduces the story of why humans menstruate and other animals don’t by focusing on the relationship between a pregnant woman and her fetus, which she says we’ve been lied to about all our lives. On a biological level, it’s not all sweetness and love.
If you've actually been pregnant, you might know that the real story has some wrinkles. Those moments of sheer unadulterated altruism exist, but they're interspersed with weeks or months of overwhelming nausea, exhaustion, crippling backache, incontinence, blood pressure issues and anxiety that you'll be among the 15% of women who experience life-threatening complications.
From the perspective of most mammals, this is just crazy. Most mammals sail through pregnancy quite cheerfully, dodging predators and catching prey, even if they're delivering litters of 12. So what makes us so special? The answer lies in our bizarre placenta. In most mammals, the placenta, which is part of the fetus, just interfaces with the surface of the mother's blood vessels, allowing nutrients to cross to the little darling. Marsupials don't even let their fetuses get to the blood: they merely secrete a sort of milk through the uterine wall. Only a few mammalian groups, including primates and mice, have evolved what is known as a “hemochorial” placenta, and ours is possibly the nastiest of all.
The story is about natural selection and humans competing with each other to pass along their genes. You are familiar with that concept, but this story pits mother and fetus and even father against each other, because they all have their specific interests, which are not necessarily those of the other two in the family. Read it all at Quora. -via Metafilter
DC Comics has released a new Batman animated short in honor of the character’s 75th anniversary. "Batman: Strange Days" from producer Bruce Timm is a flashback to Batman’s earlier days. He encounters Dr. Hugo Strange and his henchman, who kidnapped an attractive blonde for nefarious purposes. The retro black and white artwork on this is just beautiful. Read more about the short at Crave.
Now you can custom-design your own Tetris blocks with images and even animated gifs, with GIFtris. Upload your images for each shape, save it, and play it! The moving images can be disorienting, as you can see from my first poor attempt to play the Neatorama edition here. You can play this version, or make your own! And if you do, leave us a link so we can see it. -via b3ta
Lane Rohrich and his friends went to the high school prom last weekend. They took pictures beforehand, including a group picture on a bridge. The wooden bridge could not hold the weight of 21 teenagers at once, so you know what happened.
The students took it all in stride -after all, they wouldn’t be alone wearing wet formalwear to the prom. And they have a prom souvenir that people all over the world are enjoying! -via Uproxx
We’ve heard “Let It Go” a million times, and we’ve even heard “Make It So,” which is particularly clever. But “Let Them Go” makes the song work so well for the story of the Hebrews escaping from Egypt in Exodus.
The Jewish a cappella group Six13 (previously at Neatorama) perform the story of Passover to the tune of “Let It Go” and ”Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” from the Disney movie Frozen. The songs lend themselves well to new lyrics for the 8-day holiday that begins Monday at sundown. Chag Sameach! -via Time Newsfeed
When my daughters were young, I invested in CDs of Disney song compilations to play in the car, both originals and instrumental versions. We sang and passed the time on long road trips, just like millions of other families. But I can’t carry a tune, and my kids were so young they didn’t know any better.
And now, the Rochelle Family has posted their very first YouTube video. If you’ve seen a lot of these “family singing in the car” videos, you might think it’s a lip dub, but no… they are singing a medley of Disney songs in the car. Bonus: it’s not just songs from Frozen, even though it begins and ends with them. -Thanks, Yan!
Asking who invented the internet is like asking who invented politics or plumbing. A complex system is the result of many innovations built upon by many different people over time. Some of the technological breakthroughs were from people working on a specific task that later became used for something completely different. The internet as we know it was developed not only by those who invented the technology, but also by those who saw extra potential in each innovation and exploited it for other uses. This video is from Kurzgesagt. -via Laughing Squid
The town of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, has erected a bronze statue in honor of the town’s favorite citizen. He’s a cat. And the cat is still alive. And he’s not even known for a specific heroic deed. But Hamish McHamish is a star among St. Andrew’s residents. The 15-year-old cat even has his own Wikipedia entry. The bronze statue of Hamish was created by Kilmany-based sculptor David Annand and Fife stonemason Colin Sweeney. The £5,000 was funded by donations. The unveiling ceremony was a big affair.
After students Hannah Holmes and Rosie Hanlon from St Andrews Opera had serenaded the assembled crowd with Rossini’s humorous duet for two cats, Hamish’s owner Marianne Baird said it all seemed a bit surreal.
She said: “I can’t really get over it. All I did was get a kitten.
Hamish is a wandering cat, and over the years has made himself at home at many local businesses and the University of St Andrews. He befriends everyone he meets. People who travel to St. Andrews often ask to meet Hamish. You can see plenty of pictures of Hamish at his Facebook page. -via Arbroath
(Image credit: DC Thomson)
Check out this baby conducting music with his feet! Isn’t that adorable? Or maybe he is learning to dance. His mama says he twirled his hands and feet all day long when he was that age. -via Daily Picks and Flicks
You’ll be hearing more and more about William Shakespeare as we approach his 450th birthday later this month. So you may as well arm yourself with some obscure trivia about the Bard, his personal life, and his works. Here’s a couple of tidbits from a list of ten.
6. Shakespeare's daughter was illiterate.
Of William and Anne Shakespeare's three children, two daughters survived: Susannah and Judith. While Susannah seems to have been able to sign her name, Judith could only make her mark. But in this period, literacy was a skill, useful in certain trades and professions, mainly male. Shakespeare was a man of his time, and his time didn't value literacy in women.
9. For two hundred years, the theatre made a dog's breakfast of Shakespeare.
Once the theatres reopened after the Commonwealth, they began a great tradition of doing whatever the hell they liked with Shakespeare's plays. They chopped them up and adapted them into musicals and pantomimes. Most notoriously, they got rid of the whole 'tragic' thing in the tragedies by giving them happy endings. (In 1681 Nahum Tate turned King Lear into a feelgood fest complete with a wedding for Cordelia and Edgar.) Reverence for 'The Bard' had to wait until the nineteenth century.
(Image credit: Alanthebox)
From the sticker on your banana to the future of farming, we’re breaking down the definition of “organic” into bite-size pieces.
According to the Organic Trade Association, organic foods have become a $20 billion industry. And a quick scan of the grocery store aisles seems to confirm that. But the more people buy into it, the bigger the question becomes: What exactly does “organic” mean?
What’s in a Name?
You’ve probably noticed by now that organic products tend to be pricey. That’s partially because federal certification costs money, and partially because the right to use the word “organic” requires meeting the USDA standards that were set in 2002. Even imported foods have to be up to government snuff before they can be called organic.
(Image credit: David Luther Thomas)
The USDA rules are pretty stringent. To be certified as organic, farmers can’t use synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or hormones for three full years before applying. Further, any animals they have must be raised on organic foods. Genetically modified crops are a no-no, as are farming practices that cause high levels of pollution. Even the shipping and processing procedures are monitored. Organic foods have to be kept separate from non-organics until they arrive in the grocery store.
It’s up to the non-governmental agencies that are certified by the USDA to determine whether or not a product gets to use the organic label. They monitor every step of the system, and in the end, they’re the ones who slap that big “O” on the finished product.
President and CEO of CBS Les Moonves announced today that the network has signed a five-year agreement with Stephen Colbert to take over Late Show when David Letterman retires in 2015. There is no exact date for Letterman’s retirement yet. When Colbert told his staff at The Colbert Report about the deal, the entire crew agreed to move with him from Comedy Central to CBS.
“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” said Colbert. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead.”
Adding, “I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”
Colbert will not play the character "Stephen Colbert" as he does on The Colbert Report, but will be himself.
Rush Limbaugh says, "CBS has just declared war on the heartland of America.”
Jon Stewart thinks it’s a great choice.
In a poll of Neatorama readers last weekend, Colbert came in second to Neil Patrick Harris.
You probably know people who drink soda pop all day long, and they may even tell you they’re “addicted” to it. You might be one of those people yourself. In the modern age, we can find out all the ingredients in what we drink, and make our decisions accordingly. We all know those ingredients are not necessarily good for us. But once upon a time, soda pop was billed as a health tonic and there were often things in there that were far worse than sugar and carbonated water. Tristan Donovan, the author of Fizz: How Soda Shook Up the World, tells us about early soda drinks.
Besides booze, sodas of the 19th century also incorporated drugs with much stronger side effects, including ingredients now known as narcotics. Prior to the Pure Food & Drug Act of 1906, there were few legal restrictions on what could be put into soda-fountain beverages. Many customers came to soda fountains early in the morning to get a refreshing and “healthy” beverage to start their day off right: Terms like “bracer” and “pick-me-up” referred to the physical and mental stimulation sodas could provide, whether from caffeine or other addictive substances.
Pharmacists were soon making soda mixtures with stronger drugs known as “nervines,” a category that included strychnine, cannabis, morphine, opium, heroin, and a new miracle compound called cocaine, which was first isolated in 1855. “Cocaine was a wonder drug at the time when it was first discovered,” Donovan explains. “It was seen as this marvelous medicine that could do you no harm. Ingredients like cocaine or kola nuts or phosphoric acid were all viewed as something that really gave you an edge.
“Recipes I’ve seen suggest it was about 0.01 grams of cocaine used in fountain sodas. That’s about a tenth of a line of coke,” he says. “It’s hard to be sure, but I don’t think it would’ve given people a massive high. It would definitely be enough to have some kind of effect, probably stronger than coffee.” While the dosages were small, they were certainly habit-forming, and soda fountains stood to profit from such consistent customers.
That’s just part of the history of soda. How did they develop fizzy water in the first place? How did we eventually lose the drugs? And why did some sodas stick around while others faded? Learn the history of soda at Collectors Weekly.
Photographer Robert X. Fogarty has an ongoing art project called Dear World, in which he takes pictures of people with messages written on their skin. As we approach the anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombings on April 15th, he has unveiled a set of portraits of survivors of that disaster. Some of the subjects were injured or even lost limbs, and some were first responders. Others posed in honor of the four innocent victims who died, Lu Lingzi, Krystle Campbell, and Martin Richard in the bombings, and Sean Collier during apprehension of the suspects. Most included a statement explaining the message they chose. -via Buzzfeed
Two basketball fans, a father and son, dance on the big screen at the NCAA championship game on Monday. Your first thought is, hey, they’re pretty good! And your second thought is, what a great relationship these two must have, because not only are they at a ball game together, but they’ve obviously spent spent plenty of time dancing together.
The father is Rob Maiden, captain of the Mavs ManiAACs, an all-male dance team with the Dallas Mavericks. He took his 15-year-old son Trey to the Final Four with the dance ready to go.
“At first it was kind a nervous. My stomach was hurting and stuff, but after we did it I was feeling much better,” Trey said.
The father-son duo decided to choreograph the dance over the weekend, just for fun.
“Sunday night, he and my other son and one of their buddies, we stood around and danced and played music, and I said, 'Let's put this together, let's make this funny, I think people will like it,'" Maiden said.
And like it they did.
-via Tastefully Offensive
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