Saturday, December 31, 2022

Painting with Gunpowder

Artist Cai Guo-Qiang, designer of the 2008 Beijing Olympics pyrotechnics displays, talks about his unusual artistic medium and showcases some of his biggest outdoor 'explosion events'.

Unique Game For Party Amusement

Liven up you New Year's Eve celebrations with this DIY party game!

***Caution: Make sure your guests fire their cones at the swinging tuber in an orderly fashion (preferably before they've taken on a bellyfull of beer). You wouldn't want someone to take an eye out.

(A repost from 2010 - I can't believe I've been blogging so long!)

Scottish Christmas Tree Salesperson

You're probably getting ready to toss your tree but it's technically still the holiday season so I thought I'd toss this one at you.


 (Via FB pal Hal)

Houses For The Atomic Age

Keep your family safe in this blast-resistant house.

House Beautiful - June 1956

via Weird Universe

Artwork Of The Day


ŠIMON Tavik Frantisek(1877 - 1942)

Pont Marie, Paris
Aquatint in colours

Friday, December 30, 2022

The Originals

"Sometimes you love a place so much, you wanna bring it with you everywhere you go." In this charming video by Christina Constantini and Alfie Koetter five friends reminisce about the old days in their Brooklyn neighbourhood.

The Most Common Ways People Died Throughout Human History

By combining historical demography and epidemiology, we can (sort of) determine how people throughout history have died.

How to Make Roman Concrete.

The fact that anything remains at all of the structures built by the Romans tells us that they were doing something right: specifically, they were doing concrete right. But could we make Roman concrete today?

Read more: Open Culture

2022, A Look Back

Running up that hill with 8 billion people.

Via Kottke

The Descendants Of The Dogs Abandoned at Chernobyl

Thirty six years ago, the cities surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant were forced to abandon their pets during the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Today, a population of incredible, radioactive dogs needs your help.

Donate to the CFF Dog's of Chernobyl project

The Flying Sailor

Two ships collide in a harbour, an explosion shatters a city, and a sailor is blasted skyward. With ears ringing, blood pulsing and guts heaving, he soars high above the mayhem and towards the great unknown.

Not in Canada? See THE FYING SAILOR via The New Yorker Screening Room:

Thursday, December 29, 2022

RIP Ian Tyson 1933-2022

A Canadian folk music icon died today.


Vivienne Westwood, Fashion Legend, Dead at 81

Westwood's fashion career began in the 1970s with the punk explosion, when her radical approach to urban street style took the world by storm. But she went on to enjoy a long career highlighted by a string of triumphant runway shows in London, Paris, Milan and New York.

Read more:CBC News 

Wednesday and Enid Cake

Josué Luciano baked a cake based on the picture window that visually split the room shared by roommates Enid and Wednesday in the hit Netflix show Wednesday.

Via Laughing Squid


A terrible industrial accident changes little Dinki’s life forever. Now Dinki’s fate may ride on the wings of her eccentric friend, Birdboy, a misfit who hides in the dead forest lost in his own fantasies.

Birdboy is based on a comic entitled Psiconautas written by Alberto Vázquez and published by Bilbao publishing house Astiberri.

Reindeer Eyes Change Color

photo by Cappan/ iStock

I've added this one to my 'Things I Did Not Know' file:

Reindeer eyes change color depending on the time of year, which helps them see better in different light levels. Their blue eyes are approximately 1,000 times more sensitive to light than their golden counterparts, a crucial adaptation in the dark days of winter. Only one part changes color, however: the tapetum lucidum, a mirrored layer situated behind the retina. Cats have it, too — it's why their eyes appear to glow in the dark. This part of the reindeer retina shines a different hue depending on the season. 

Read more: Interesting Facts

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The Merry World of Léopold Z

A humble snow-plow operator, Léo, is forced to brave more than one storm while the snow blankets Montreal on the 24th of December... An NFB classic. 

Homemade Bicycle Snowplow

Victoria, BC recently received an unusual amount of snow and plows are having difficulty clearing up the mess. This cyclist came up with his own solution.

Via DasKraftfuttermischwerk

Crystal Beach Crystallized

An image of one of the houses in Crystal Beach, Ont. (CTV News Toronto/Beth Macdonell)

After a recent blizzard the town of Crystal Beach, Ontario, lived up to its name. My corner of the Niagara Peninsula got a taste of winter's wrath but nothing so dramatic.

Would You Sit On This?

image: @factory_m/Twitter

Japanese stone workshop Factory-M is selling this office chair fashioned from a huge hunk of amethyst crystal. It weighs around 218 pounds and looks very uncomfortable.

Read more:  Boing Boing


New Year's Eve is nigh. Be careful when you uncork that bubbly.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Creature of the Day

The Red-Shanked Douc Langur is found in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. It looks like it's wearing a colourful outfit.

The Creatures That Feed On Your Face

Face mites are microscopic arachnids that live on human skin. They are .3mm which is right on the edge of being visible with the naked eye. If they were any larger your face would look pretty disgusting.

The McDonald's Macbeth Sandwich

Did ye work up an appetite unseaming the foes of your lieged lord from the nave to the chaps?  

Via Kottke

Titanic Survivors Interviews from 1956 & 1970

In a 1979 interview Frank Prentice, an assistant purser on the Titanic, describes his incredible experience. He actually went down with the ship and was in the freezing water. By pure luck a lifeboat that had room for him passed by him and pulled him on board.

Obsolete Sounds

"Obsolete Sounds, a project from Cities and Memory, is the biggest collection of obsolete and disappearing sounds of the world-– remixed and reimagined to create a brand new form of listening."

The collection includes: 
- Obsolete home entertainment such as VHS tapes, Walkman cassette players, video games consoles and film projectors 
- Vintage military equipment like World War II codebreaking machines, warplanes and air raid sirens 
- The evocative sounds of old typewriters, Teletype machines and printing presses 
- The world of transport - steam trains, vintage racing cars, 100-year-old farm equipment and London Underground C-stock 
- Domestic appliances from the past including hand mixers, Bakelite switches, fans, shavers and coffee grinders 
- Reflections on the disappearing sounds of the natural world, industrial processes and cultural traditions

via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk

Monday, December 26, 2022

It's St. Stephen's Day

This day commemorates the saint who was the first Christian martyr and was known for his service to the poor and needy.

1830s Peepshow Book


The Immediate Present

“I’m trying to get into where the jazz musicians are, the immediate present.” —Alex Katz.
At 95, an artist paints swiftly to capture the fugitive light.

Link to the Guggenheim exhibition.

Making Wagasa Umbrellas

 Kotaro Nishibori stays true to the 1,200-year-old process by using traditional methods and materials, including bamboo and washi.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Sunday Links

© Kate Abbey

The Real Santa: Photographer Kate Abbey's images show that being Santa is not all glitz and glamour.  (Image above)

The Gentle Author's Annual Christmas Post

Have yourself a kitschy little Christmas with this gem: John Waters Christmas Playlist (You probably won't play it more than once)

Behold! The Very First Christmas Card (1843) 

NYC's five boroughs reimagined in gingerbread!  It's The Great Borough Bake-Off

"Yes, I had reached the stage of ego death, the loss of identity at the peak of a psychedelic experience. That it happened to coincide with the most insane action sequence of the century underscored just how irrelevant I had become." Watching Avatar on Mushrooms

This Family Gave the World the Snow Globe 

 Ugly (but cute) sweaters by Icelandic textile designer, Ýrúrarí. (via everlasting blort)

Fame was never in the equation for these guys: Painfully Awkward Band Photos via Memo Of The Air

The Eternal Tree ancient arks of biodiversity that have migrated across the landscape, enduring for millennia.

Colour your favourite Christmas artwork

Tenement Town uncovers Edinburgh’s forgotten lives. Each entry starts with a specific Edinburgh front door and takes us step by step through 200 years or so of the individuals who've lived there. (via Metafilter)

Jenny Ortega is wonderful as Wednesday Addams. Watch her dancing up a storm.

Two groups of 12-year-olds (one boys, the other girls) were left on their own, without adult supervision, for five days. How did that shake out?

Visit to a delusional Qanon family It is hard to watch these kids being brainwashed by their abhorrent parents.

The portrait hung in Joan Didion's home but who painted it? NYT link

"On March 30, 1999, Fabio Lanzoni rode Apollo's Chariot and was hit in the face by a goose. Or was he?I'd almost forgotten the "Goosegate" incident. 

How Did King George V Really Die?  His last words were “God damn you” and with good reason.

A Parent's Typical Day as Envisioned by My Child's Preschool

This house in Maine appeals to me: Holiday Home Inspired by Historic New England Farmhouses 

Can dogs smell time? Ask Donut the dog! My dog and cat never fail to remind me that they are on strict feeding and walk schedules. 

Haute Couture Headwear - most of them are impractical.

6 to 8 Black Men

This story by David Sedaris about the origins of Christmas is one of my favourite seasonal reads. (A repost from 2008)

Friday, December 23, 2022

Skating with Bror Myer

Elegant illustrations by Swedish figure skating Champion, Bror Myer, from A Guide To Dancing On Ice - 1921. Myer felt the guide necessary as in “latter years the art of skating has made such rapid strides”.

(previously published here in 2015)

Snow Globe Line Depicts Vengeful Critters

Bambi's Revenge

The Animal Anarchy snow globe collection portrays critters getting sweet revenge on humans. Choose Bambi's Revenge, Lambs' Picnic, Mad Cow, or Pig Roast.

Lambs' Picnic


This short video was inspired by the brutalist urban structures of Nasr city, one of Cairo’s most iconic neighbourhoods.

Tree's Company

Spot, the Boston Dynamics robot, sends holiday greetings. (Spot was teleoperated by professional operators, don't try this at home.)

Joe Strummer died on this day twenty years ago.

Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten is a 2007 documentary film directed by Julien Temple. Here is Part 1.

How to Create a Crossword Puzzle

I love a good word puzzle and will definitely be doing a few over the holidays. Cruciverbalist, David Kwong, shows us how he makes a crossword puzzle.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Mudlarking on the Thames

A short film by author and licensed Thames mudlarker, Lara Maiklem.

Via Open Culture

Artwork Of The Day

Dean Byington, "The Letter" (2022)

Read more: A Devastating and Breathtaking Vision of Climate Change


I just read an article about shark species that have evolved to walk on land, allowing them to walk between tide pools while hunting for prey. Of course I was reminded of this vintage gem from the golden days of SNL.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Tonight Is The Longest Night Of The Year

Tomorrow welcome back the light. After the longest night of the year…


Balikbayan Boxes

A Balikbayan box is a huge cardboard box (usually weighing over 100 pounds) that Filipinos living all over the world send to family members who are still living in the Philippines. The word Balikbayan literally means homecoming in Tagalog.

Read more: 99% Invisible

Santa Map

A World of Good Wishes at Christmastime is a pictorial map which was published by the General Drafting Company in 1950. The map shows Santa Claus participating in a range of 'local' activities around the world.

More: Maps Mania

Painting of the Day

Snow Pattern, Bayfield
Jack McLaren 1970


The French Shore Tapestry


Inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, artists and embroiderers in a Newfoundland village commemorated a lost way of life. The tapestry on display in Conche, a village on Newfoundland’s historic French Shore, illustrates the area’s French connections, including its complex history of fishing rights. It took a team of a dozen embroiderers about three years to finish embroidering the tapestry. It is more than 200 feet long and winds around a room in the French Shore Interpretive Centre.


Read more: Atlas Obscura

(Thanks Bruce!)

Danish Revolutionary Santas


@workingclasshistory The real Santa gives the best gifts to rich kids, he sucks #christmas #peopleshistory #learnontiktok ♬ Home Alone - Main Theme - Geek Music
Via BoingBoing

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Christmas Dinner


Photos of 'Aliens' Emerging from the Sea Cause Panic

Photographer Jan Vorster captured some bizarre images while walking on Still Bay East beach in South Africa's Western Cape at sunset. When people saw the photos on social media they questioned whether it was safe to go in the water with these "alien sea spiders".

(The ominous photos actually show dead aloe vera plants and not War of the Worlds-type aliens.)

Read more: PetaPixel 

Hot Stuff - Zagreb Film and the NFB

The NFB Blog looks at films produced through a unique collaboration with 27 artists from Zagreb’s animation studio that began with acclaimed filmmaker Zlatko Grgić’s Hot Stuff (1971), a “humorous animation film that traces man’s carelessness with fire.”

CBGBs Comes Alive in This Short Animation

David Godlis was a 25 year old street photographer, dissatisfied with his studio assistant day job. Unable to shoot street pictures by day, he took pictures at night at CBGB's, NYC's iconic punk club in the Bowery.

A Christmas song because tis the season…

The Rebel Jesus - The Chieftains with Jackson Browne

Monday, December 19, 2022

'The Color Of Dreams'

Three women in Openica, in what is now North Macedonia, in 1913.

Some 72,000 high-resolution photos from a project called the Archives of the Planet have been made available for download by France’s Albert Kahn Museum. Photographers commissioned by Kahn traveled to more than 50 countries to document the world as it was being transformed by globalization.

Two dancers in Seville, Spain, in 1914.

The Bloody Olive

Short film directed by Vincent Bal in 1996, based on a comic strip by Lewis Trondheim. (English subtitles)

It's #SantaPawsDay

On #SantaPawsDay the dogs at Dogs Trust Ireland get to pick their own Christmas present!



It's coming on Christmas...


Who Is Better at Endurance Running, a Human Or An Animal?

Who would you bet on in a race, a cheetah or a human?


Sunday, December 18, 2022

Sunday Links

Am I the only one who thinks this Retro Shrimp Christmas Tree (photo above) is kind of ghastly? 

The Guardian's 20 greatest Christmas albums. Some of these are quite good but my favourite Christmas album (The Bells of Dublin by the Chieftains) didn't make the list.

Isaac Newton, the English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, alchemist, theologian, explainer of celestial mechanics, philosopher and author, once listed 48 sins he has “committed” before and just after Whitsunday, 1662.

Our Liz is eighteen years old and I think she's lovelier than ever. Old Faithful: Studio Portraits of Really Old Dogs (Thanks Bruce)

I want to make this puff pastry with brie appetizer

 Often scavenged from battlefields, Waterloo Teeth looked more realistic than ivory teeth taken from animals.

Her mother’s bouillon de Normandie is her secret weapon. Perpetual Broths That Simmer For Decades

Wacky cake was created as a result of WWII rationing and contains no eggs, butter or milk.

A new Apple campaign features accessible tech: a deaf mother is alerted to her child crying, a performer uses his camera to access the stage door, and a man makes various facial expressions to edit photos.

Spitalfields artist Robson Cezar makes wee Whitechapel houses from wooden fruit boxes.

Becoming a chatbot For one year I was a person pretending to be a computer pretending to be a person.

This year's Bulwer-Lytton prize for worst opening sentence for a bad novel is appropriately awful.

Fly Like The King In 1976, Elvis Presley added a 1962 Lockheed 1329 JetStar to his collection of private jets for the hefty sum of $840,000. This plane will be auctioned off in January.

Otaku Altar To Open in Osaka where fans can hold traditional Japanese funerals for their favorite anime/game/2D characters, mourn idol groups that break up, or hold other traditional ceremonies (weddings, anniversaries, etc.) related to otaku/geek culture.

I'd totally forgotten that white dog poop was ubiquitous when I was a kid. Now I know why.

Old catflaps, including a 14th century one that is possibly the oldest catflap in Britain.

Two holiday links from Perfect for Roquefort Cheese: A slew of big batch hot cocktail recipes for the festive season and a list of poorly considered gift ideas.

Music For Sunday Morning

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Snowglobe Of The Day

Snow Day in St. Louis, Missouri makes bespoke snowglobes using 3D-printed objects. The one above, depicting a black cat using a litter box, is a perfect gift for the person in your household who is the designated pooper scooper. (CA$214.13)

An Animated Version of the Opening Credits of 'Better Call Saul'

Animator Martin Woutisseth has created an  animated version of the opening credits from the television show Better Call Saul that includes all your favourite characters and items from the series.

Earthquake Bed

Chinese inventor Wang Wenxi has designed an 'earthquake bed.' Note: Claustrophobics might not be keen on this invention.

Three Salons At The Seaside

We're off to Blackpool for a shampoo and set! This 1994 slice of documentary gold focuses on the staff and customers of three Blackpool hairdressing salons. 

Let Slip The Kittens Of War

 A repost from 2010. Happy Caturday!

Friday, December 16, 2022

Love at First Sight is an Oscar short-listed film about true love

Do you believe in love at first sight? This lovely short film features wonderful performances from Sir John Hurt and Phyllida Law.

"I Built a Wildlife Pond - here's what happened."

A patch of grass became a healthy, thriving ecosystem. 

An A Cappella Cover of Flight of the Conchords Song 'Friends'

Vocalist Anne Reburn performed an a cappella cover of the Flight of the Conchords song “Friends”, accompanying herself in different iterations on various vocal tracks.

Via Laughing Squid

A Place To Stand

This video, produced by Christopher Chapman for the Ontario Department of Economics and Development, premiered at the Ontario Pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal. It was a groundbreaking multiple screen, variable picture presentation. I was very young but I remember being blown away when I saw it. Canadians were so proud of that world's fair. Many felt it defined our identity.

via Kottke

Dressed To A Tea

Artist Ruby Silvious creates fashion out of used tea bags.

More: Colossal

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Artwork Of The Day

At the age of 9 American artist Edward Hopper drew this picture in his school report card.

Via Cultura Inquieta

Artificial Intelligence Will Change Your Life And The World

Yep, things are going to get weird.

Via Open Culture

Remember To Switch Off This Christmas

Don't end up spending Christmas like this guy.

Via everlasting blort


In Violator,  Los Angeles-based filmmaker Edward Robles details his father’s upbringing – one that included severe childhood abuse, violent criminality, rehabilitation and, ultimately, a path to love through helping others, art and fatherhood.

Via Aeon Videos

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Photo Of The Day

Women and men sit on Umbrella Rock on Lookout Mountain at the northwest corner of the U.S. state of Georgia. It is said that seven states could be viewed from that perch – Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.


Photo: Evelyn Pustka

Barbie Dreamhouse: An Architectural Survey, a limited edition 152-page book produced by Felix Burrichter, Whitney Mallett, and designer Ben Ganz,  takes a look at the architecture and design created around the plastic design icon. (image above) It charts the fantasy home’s evolution, from its first appearance in 1962 to its latest iteration in 2021.

Photo: Evelyn Pustka

More here (NYT link)