Moscow’s Army of Snowmen

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No, it’s not the Cold War all over again, it’s just the Russian way of celebrating Slava Polunin’s Snow Show.

Every year, after a heavy snowfall, Moscow becomes the home of around 100 snowmen, part of an advertising installation. This time, the army of snowmen showed up in central Moscow, but every year is pops-up in a different part of the city, in order to keep everyone guessing.

The snowmen are part of an advertising campaign to promote an annual performance by famous Russian clowns. As you can imagine, locals love snowmen and lose no opportunity to have their pictures with them.

Photos by GETTYIMAGES via Daylife

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Big Sandy Shoot – Shooter Heaven on Earth

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Every year, the Big Sandy Shoot draws in hundreds of shooter from all over the world, for what is known as the “largest shoot”.

The Big Sandy Shoot is a bi-annual event, held in the western desert of Arizona, where you can shoot your heart out for three straight days. Featuring a 1500 foot firing line, 1200 yard maximum range, over 1000 reactive targets and aerial targets, this is one shooting exhibition you don’t want to miss, if you’re into this stuff.

Machine-guns, gatling guns, bazookas, and pretty much every other type of weapon ever invented can be found at the Big Sandy Shoot. Shooters have to fork out $230 ($200 if reserved in advance) to participate and spectators just $25. Both have to sign a release waiver stating they enter the shooting range at their own risk.

The average 3.5 million rounds fired at the Big Sandy Shoot certify it as the world’s biggest shooting event. I can’t say that impresses me much and regarding the safety, seeing women and kids handling deadly equipment isn’t very reassuring.

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Britain’s Bubble-Wrapped Street

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In order to warn drivers of the dangers of reckless driving, a British insurance company wrapped the most accident-prone street in Britain in 1,500 square meters of bubble wrap.

According to Confused.com, a popular insurance comparison site, the residents of Somerville Road, Worchester, are responsible for the highest number of accident claims in the entire united Kingdom. For the last 10 years, around 10 claims per years have been registered on “Accident Avenue”.

The original idea of wrapping the whole street in protective bubble wrap belongs to the people at Confused.com, who thought to themselves: “we bubble wrap all our little breakables to keep them safe and sound – so why not a whole street?”. It took eight people 12 hours to completely bubble wrap the entire Somerville Road, from houses to cars and even garden gnomes.

This was a very inspired stunt, considering bubble wrap is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week.

Photos by GETTY IMAGES via Daily Mail

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Whiteout at the Xinzo Festival Flour Battle

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One of the many Ourense festivals, the Spanish village of Xinzo de Limia host one of the most unique food fights in the world, the “flour battle”.

Every year, Galicians from  Xinzo de Limia celebrate their very own Ourense festival. The entire festivities are centered around a number of mythical characters (peliqueiros) whose significance and stories have been forgotten in time. Still the are part of local tradition, so the people dress in colorful clothes, put-on intricate masks and run through the streets of the city, making as much noise as possible.

People all over Galicia come to see the “peliqueiros”, but also to take part in the Flour Battle, where people through tons of flour at each other. Glasses are recommended as the fine ingredient can get pretty much anywhere.

Take a look at some photos taken at this year’s edition of the Flour Battle, Xinzo de Limia.

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Soccer Tournament for the Blind

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If you thought there was no way blind people could play soccer, think again. There are even official soccer tournaments for the blind, held between national teams.

The latest tournament took place in the Sokolniki district of Moscow. Four international teams gathered for a series of matches “in the dark”. It’s hard to understand how you can play a game like soccer without seeing a thing. All the players, with different degrees of blindness, have their eyes stuck shut with a kind of band-aid and covered with a night mask that provides protection and puts them all on equal footing.

But just because their vision is impaired, doesn’t mean they can’t use their other senses to coordinate. Their developed hearing helps them locate the ball and their team-mates and guides them towards the opposite goal. The ball itself is not the kind used in normal soccer matches, it’s a lot heavier, doesn’t bounce and produces a rattle noise to alert the players to its location.

The game lasts for two 25-minute halves, in which the players, guided by their coaches and team-guides, people who sit behind opposite goal and direct players on how to approach and score. One of the most interesting things about soccer for the blind is the goalkeepers aren’t blindfolded, so they can see where the ball is going. Still, goals are scored regularly, unlike in the Eton Wall Game.

Don’t imagine the game looks anything like the normal soccer games, the players hardly ever pass long or use their heads, they mainly stick to dribbling, short passing and shooting at the goal.

Photos via Drugoi

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Models Look Even More Delicious in Chocolate Outfits

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As if ripping a model’s clothes off with your teeth wasn’t cool enough, imagine if her clothes were made entirely out of delicious chocolate. Guess what, your dreams have become a reality! Well…without the ripping clothes off part.

What’s hotter that Asian models dressed in chocolate? Can’t think of anything right now, and if you can, you’re the one with the problem. These girls took part in a parade to kick off the 2010 Salon du Chocolat, in Shanghai. I have to say this is the way every event should start.

via Telegraph.co.uk

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The Skiing Witches of Belalp Hexe

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I remember a time when witches flew on brooms. Nowadays they’re flying on the ski-slopes, using their brooms as sticks. What’s the occult world coming to?

Every year, between January 10-16, over 1,500 people from Switzerland and other European countries gather at Belalp, for one of the wackiest downhill skiing races in the world. The Witches Downhill challenge has contestants dress up as witches and race down a snowy mountain.

Races are organized for children and adults alike and between challenges there are fun parties to go to. Witches Night is the biggest, with over 3,000 participants indulging in singing, dancing, drinking and all around partying.

The Belalp Hexe Ski Race began in 1983, inspired by a real witch that apparently lived nearby and terrorized locals. she actually flew around and everything.

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The World’s Largest Pokemon Collection

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21-year-old Lisa Courtney, from Welwyn Garden City, UK, has the world’s biggest Pokemon collection in the world, according to the newest edition of Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition.

Lisa received her title in June 2009, when her collection numbered 12,113 different Pokemon items. Now the passionate collector says she owns over 13,400 items. Since new Pokemon stuff comes out in Japan almost daily, Lisa says she won’t stop collecting any time soon.

She’s been to japan five times already and is planning a new shopping trip. Lisa Courtney started collecting Pokemon memorabilia 13 years ago, when her mother gave her a Nintendo magazine featuring the popular animated characters. She fell in love with Pokemon and hasn’t gotten over it since.

During her troubled adolescence, when schoolmates bullied her, laughed at her physical disabilities and even called her names like “Elephant Man”, Lisa turned to her beloved Pokemon collection, for comfort. Her entire family understood her passion and were very supportive, especially with the giant Pokemon collection taking up most of the house.

Lisa Courtney says holding a record for something she feels so passionate about is an indescribable feeling.

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St. Anthony’s Feast – A Fiery Celebration

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Every year on January 17,the people of San Bartolome de Pinares celebrate St. Anthony by riding their horses, donkeys and mules through piles of burning tree branches.

The unique tradition of leaping over and through flames dates back 500 years, but the men and women of San Bartolome de Pinares still celebrate it religiously. They gather all the branches they find in the days leading up to the festivities, and when dusk falls on the eve of Saint Anthony’s, they light them ablaze. Riders lead their mounts through the burning piles of the village, accompanied by sounds of drums and Spanish bagpipes.

Jumping through the flames is said to bring the animals the protection of St. Anthony Abad, acknowledged as the patron of domestic animals, ever since the Middle-Ages. Locals believe the fire purifies their animals and protects them against illnesses, all year long.

Animal rights activists don’t buy the whole purification deal, but in a country like Spain, where traditions like bullfighting, Shearing of the Beasts or Day of the Geese, they don’t have too many hopes of putting an end to it. Plus, the owners say their animals remain unharmed…

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South Korean Balloons to Free North Korea

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In an attempt to undermine Kim Jong Il’s authority in North Korea, members of  South Korean nongovernmental organizations constantly send balloons filled with leaflets into North Korea.

On January 10, 2010 activists for the freedom of North Korea and the unification of the peninsula, from Paju, 51 km north of Seoul, sent two helium-inflated balloons into North Korea. They attached bags of leaflets and sweets to them, hoping to convince their northern neighbors to rise against Kim Jong Il’s dictatorship.

This practice has been going on for the last two years and North Korea has repeatedly asked Southern authorities to punish organizations who send the balloons and undermine the country’s regime. In spite of nuclear-war hints from its northern neighbor, South Korea hasn’t taken any measures against the activists.

The constant nuclear threat, reports of serious human rights violations and the existence of political prisoner camps in North Korea, make the signing of a peace treaty between the two countries virtually impossible.

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Unicycle Sports Performed at UNICON 2010

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Over 650 unicyclists from 23 countries, and even more spectators gathered in Wellington, New Zealand, for the 15th 15th International Unicycle World Championships and Convention (UNICON XV).

UNICON is held every two years and welcomes anyone who can ride a one wheeled-bicycle. This year, the 10 day event took place between December 27, 2009 and January 7 2010 and hosted  all sorts of fun competition, performed on unicycles, of course. There were 30 different events, of which the most interesting were MUni (mountain-uni-cycling), Road Racing, Track and Field, Unicycle Hockey and Unicycle Basketball.

Yup, basketball and hockey played while riding a unicycle. Maybe you’ve seen this kind of display before, but it’s definitely new to me. I found some photos from UNICON 2010 and added a couple of videos, so you can better understand the game.

I guess these fall in the same weird category as underwater rugby.

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No Pants Subway Ride 2010

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Around 3,000 people stripped down to their underwear, on Sunday, for the 9th annual No Pants Subway Ride.

Started in 2002, with just seven participants, the No Pants Subway Ride has turned into an international tradition. This year, people from 43 cities, in 16 countries joined their New York peers and boarded the subway in their undies.

Some participants to the New York event were met by protesters carrying banners and asking people not to strip, but the joy of the strippers quickly convinced the protesters to take of their pants and join the party. Wearing all kinds of underpants, from bikinis to male thongs, commuters braved the cold and spent No Pants Subway Ride 2010 talking or reading magazines, like they normally do.

No Pants Subway Ride was initiated by Improv Everywhere, an organization that made it its mission to create “scenes of chaos and joy in public places.”

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Mass Ice-Fishing at Hwacheon Ice Festival

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Each winter, Hwacheon county, in South-Korea, draws-in over one million people to the Hwacheon Sancheoneo ice festival, held on a frozen river.

Hwacheon Festival hosts sledding, ice-soccer and snowman-building events, but the highlight of the event is the ice-fishing for fresh mountain trout. Under the thick ice, abundant quantities of fish are waiting for skilled fishermen. Anyone can try their luck at catching trout, at one of the nine thousand holes drilled in the icy surface of the river.

You might want to change your seat regularly, as the fish tend to move from one place to another, quite frequently. Once you catch a fish, you can take it to one of the mane cooking centers scattered on the festival grounds. There you can have it prepare raw or grilled. Any way you choose to prepare it, the Sancheoneo fish will melt in your mouth.

Another fun event at the Hwacheon Festival is catching the trout with your bare hands. Just slip in a pool of ice-cold water and try to grab the slippery critters.

Photos by Reuters via Drugoi

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The Hummus Wars Rage on

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Just months after Lebanon set the record for the world’s biggest hummus dish, chefs from the Arab-Israeli village of Abu-Gosh snatched it away with an even greater achievement.

On Friday, fifty cooks mashed up ridiculous quantities of chickpeas, sesame paste, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic and created the world’s largest hummus dish ever, weighing over 4 tons (4,087,5 kg). It was put on display outside the Abu-Gosh Restaurant, on a 20-meter satellite dish, provided by sponsors.

When Guinness official Jack Brookbank acknowledged the new world record and applauded the chefs for not sacrificing quality over quantity,  Jawadat Ibrahim, organizer of the event and owner of the Abu-Gosh Restaurant, shouted that Abu-Gosh is the hummus capital of the world. Clearly taunting words meant for Lebanese chefs, who will most certainly respond with an even bigger hummus dish.

The hummus wars have been raging on between Middle-Eastern countries for a while now, with many of them claiming the tasty dish as a national delicacy. The origins of one of the world’s oldest culinary treats are lost in time, but when has that stopped people from fighting over stuff…

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Kalofer Men Celebrate Epiphany

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The Bulgarian men of Kalofer celebrate Epiphany, an important Orthodox holiday, by performing a traditional dance in the freezing waters of Tundzha river.

On January 6, the small town of Kalofer, located 200 km east of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, was the scene of an unique event. The men dressed in traditional costumes and, carrying national flags, headed for the neighboring Tundzha river. Here they entered its freezing waters and performed the customary Horo dance.

During the Epiphany ceremony, an Orthodox priest throws a metal cross in the water and young men plunge in to retrieve it. Whoever finds it first is said to stay in perfect health throughout the entire year. After a swim like this, I have my doubts…

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