Diamond Encrusted Baby Skull Sparks Controversy

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Damien Hirst‘s latest artwork, a baby’s skull cast in platinum and encrusted with 8,000 diamonds, has caused quite an outrage among parenting groups who think it’s offensive and deeply disturbing.

Hirst has made quite a name for himself, as a controversial artist who has previously dissected sheep and pickled a shark and showed them off as artworks. As disgusting as this sounds, it earned him an international reputation and a multi-million dollar fortune. But some say the bad boy of the art world has gone a little to far with his latest creation, “For Heaven’s Sake”.

He took a baby skull from a 19th century pathology collection he acquired, made a platinum cast and encrusted it with 8,000 diamonds. The piece is the centerpiece of a new exhibition scheduled to open later this month, in Hong Kong, but it has already made headlines, after parenting groups labeled it as troubling. “Mr Hirst may not have intended to be insensitive with his new work, but the fact is it will have a profound effect on many people who will find the subject deeply disturbing.” said Sally Russell, founder of the Netmums parenting group.

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BMW Made of Bricks Costs More than the Real Thing

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A BMW Z4 model made from hundreds of bricks is now being sold for $125,000.

Chinese artist Dai Geng spent more than a year cementing bricks together and then carving the massive block into an impressive replica of the 155 mhp BMW Z4. Except for the windows, everything is made from brick, even the hinges that allow the door to open and close just like metal ones. The car was unveiled in January 2010, and has been on display, in Shenzheng City, for the last year. Now the artist wants to sell it and make a nice profit.

Although this brick BMW Z4 is definitely an impressive replica, down to the interior trimmings, the price tag of $125,000 seems prohibitive. But Dai Geng is confident that one of China’s rich businessmen will want to buy it as and ornament for their gardens…

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Woman Gets Full-Back Twilight Tattoo

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Cathy Ward, a 49-year-old die-hard fan of the Twilight franchise,  got a full-back tattoo of the main characters, to show appreciation for helping her lose weight.

That’s right, Twilight actually helped someone lose weight, which is kind of ironic, because watching movies and reading books doesn’t exactly strike me as an active lifestyle. But in Cathy’s case, the interest in the vampire saga kept her away from stuffing her face all the time and helped her shed 14 dress sizes in just six months. All it took was for her to watch the first movie in the series, and she was hooked. She went out and bought all the books and DVDs, and dedicated most of her spare time to Twilight.

After losing the weight, Cathy wanted a permanent reminder that it was all thanks to the Twilight saga, so she got a small tattoo, which eventually turned into a full-back artwork. She spent 22 hours in the tattoo artist’s chair and paid over $3,000 for the custom Twilight work of art. But money was never an issue for Cathy Ward, because, as she sees it, she could have spent her money eating and drinking, instead she chose to do it on something she’s passionate about.

While many people would say she has more than enough ink covering her body, this Twilight fan says she’s not about to stop here. Cathy plans to cover her entire torso and arms with Twilight-inspired tattoos, hopefully before she celebrates her 50th birthday. A big fan of Robert Pattinson, she wants to get a tattoo of his character, Edward Cullen, on her abdomen.

Cathy Ward hopes to, one day, meet the cast of Twilight, so she can show them her impressive body art.

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Fashionable Rubber Band Dresses by Margarita Mileva

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Margarita Mileva, an architect working in New York City, is taking the fashion world by storm with her unique dresses made from thousands of rubber bands.

Margarita first captured the attention of the fashion world with her line of rubber band accessories – M2, an offshoot of Milev Architects. The daughter of two artists took things to a whole new level, back in September 2010, when she showcased her first rubber band dress, a beautiful cocktail frock, made entirely from differently colored rubber bands.

Her latest creation, the “RB Dress“, was originally created for “Wear Is Art”, a design competition in Berlin, but it continued to attract attention even after the contest ended. Milev constructed the dress by hand, painstakingly weaving an astounding 14, 235 rubber bands into an haute-couture gown. That’s approximately 4 kilograms of rubber bands.

The practicing architect/fashion designer says she was inspired by the works of German-Swiss painter Klee and the early Bauhaus pioneers: “I was intrigued by the pastel colors used together with the black, darker ones; the black outlines and texture-like “fabric” of his (Klee’s) works. For me also of utmost importance is color theory, which he developed and taught to Bauhaus students.”

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Ultimate Children’s Playhouse Costs $230,000

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Built for the children of a Swiss millionaire, the world’s most expensive playhouse cost $230,000 and took over 2,000 man hours to complete.

The Wendy playhouse was built by a small British firm, in North Lynn, Norfolk, and then transported to Gstaad, Switzerland. It was ordered by an extravagant millionaire who wanted to surprise his children for Christmas, by giving them a miniature replica of the chalet he owns in the foothills of the Alps. But this isn’t your average playhouse; this thing has double glazing, underfloor heating, four rooms, including a large living room with a chimney illuminated by LED lights, fully fitted kitchen, and pretty much anything else you’d expect to find in a high-end home.

Before starting construction, Russell Bowlby, head of the Flights of Fantasy playhouse building firm, went to Switzerland to study the building style, and weather conditions the commissioned playhouse had to withstand. With temperatures under -20 degrees Celsius, during the Winter, it had to be thoroughly insulated and heated, so the kids could play comfortably. A team of ten craftsman spent 2,000 manhours building the world’s most expensive playhouse, and an extra 10 days to fit the interior.

Around $155,000 covered the cost of the materials and construction, while the shipping of the house from Norfolk to Gstaad was another $95,000. Bowlby says “you won’t find anything like this playhouse in the world – its is as expensive as it gets.”

While I’m sure this will make an ideal playground for the millionaire’s children, I can’t help but wonder if he isn’t spoiling them just a bit, with presents like this. After all, he could have bought several normal houses in some parts of the world, for that amount of cash.

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Super Grandmother and Super Grandfather Contest Held in Georgia

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A a charity house in Tbilisi, Georgia organizes an annual “Super Grandmother and Super Grandfather” contest, to allow the elderly to fulfill their childhood dreams.

Every year, people aged over 70, from all over Georgia, come to Tbilisi to compete in the Super Grandmother and Super Grandfather contest, an event that allows them to display their artistic talents. Some play the piano, others dance, sing,and perform plays, but whether they win the coveted title of Super Grandmother and Super Grandfather or not, all contestants leave happy they were able to fulfill their dream of performing on stage.

Local and national television crews and reporters often attend the contest organized by the Ktharisis charity house, as some of the elderly contestants really are talented, and they want to speak to them, or write stories about them. Some contestants even make appearances on TV shows where they perform along established Georgian artists.

The 2011 edition of the super grandparents contest took place on January 5th.

I think there should be a “Super Grandmother and Super Grandfather” contest held in every contest around the world, to make the elderly feel like they have something nice to look forward to, every year. Well done, Georgia!

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Africa’s Most Dangerous Animal Is Man’s Best Friend

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The hippo is regarded as he most dangerous animal in Africa, but that hasn’t stopped a South African animal lover from making friends with one.

40-year-old Marius Els breeds around 20 different animal species, on his wildlife ranch, near Petrus Steynlakes, South Africa, but he has a real soft spot for Humphrey, a 6-year-old hippo that’s like a son to him. While all of his friends are too scared to go near the animal, and his wife told him not to get too close, Marius climbs on Humhprey’s back  as he swims across a 200-meter-wide lake.

Marius has raised Humphrey since he was just five months old, and over the years, the two have developed a special relationship that people just don’t understand. Most of the world may look upon hippos with fear, but he considers Humphrey to be like a son, although the 1,200 ton creature could chew through him with ease. But, apart from occasionally throwing Marius off his back in the water, Humphrey acts very friendly around his owner, especially after Marius offers him a feats of his favorite treat, apples.

Despite the special friendship with Marius, Humphrey feels very lonely at this point in his life. He had another good friend, a goat, but she got eaten by a jackal, so now he’s all by himself. Marius says he’s been trying to get a tamed female companion for Humphrey, but there’s no such thing in Africa right now, and bringing in a wild one would be too dangerous. If the untamed female isn’t younger than he is, they would just kill each other. On the other hand, he can’t release Humphrey in the wild, because the other male hippos would almost definitely kill him in a fight. At least Humphrey will also have Marius to keep him company

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Young Entrepreneur Makes Shoes from Recycled Billboards

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Jimmy Tomczak, a young entrepreneur from Michigan, is taking the footwear world by storm, with his original line of shoes made from recycled billboards, Paper Feet.

Jimmy says he’s an outdoors guy who likes to walk barefoot as much as possible, but he always felt like he needed something to protect his soles from the hot asphalt. So, one day, he decided to create some sort of revolutionary footwear that had to be tear resistant, waterproof and light enough to make people feel like they were actually barefoot.

The first thing he tried was Tyvek, a material mostly used on FedEx envelopes, but even though it was puncture-proof and waterproof, it was way too thin for footwear. But when someone suggested he use an old billboard as tarp for his leaky roof, Mr. Tomczak knew he had found the material he was looking for. Billboards are five times as thick as shower curtains, and just light enough for his revolutionary “foot condoms”

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A Farewell to the Nevada Shoe Tree

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One of Nevada’s most popular roadside attractions, the Old Shoe Tree, near Middlegate has been cut down by vandals.

The Old Shoe Tree on highway 50 (known as the loneliest road in America) was one of the quirkiest tourist spots in Nevada, featuring hundreds of old shoes hanging from its branches. Its origins aren’t exactly clear, but locals say people started throwing their shoes in it, in the early 1990s.

According to a local legend, the first people ti throw their shoes in the Nevada Shoe Tree were a couple of newlyweds passing through the desert on their way to California. They began to argue, so the groom pulled over near a big cottontree and left his wife there to cool down, and he went to the Middlegate Station Bar, to get a beer. When he came back, his bride was still in a fighting mood, so he took her shoes and tossed them into the tree, than left t get another beer. This time, when he returned, they were able to patch things up, but the shoes remained stuck in the tree, so they just left them there.  Over time, people who stopped to cool off under the cotton tree saw the shoes and threw their own, thus transforming it into a roadside tourist attraction.

Unfortunately, no one will have the opportunity to throw shoes in the Nevada Shoe Tree, or even take photos of it, as it was cut down by vandals, right on New Year’s Eve 2011. Locals are outraged, since the 70-foot cottonwood wasn’t just a symbol of the area, but a big help for local businesses which relied on the tourists it brought in.

The Churchill County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the matter, but sadly, nothing is going to bring back the Old Shoe Tree of Nevada. Check out the photos below, if you’ve never seen it before.

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Federer and Nadal Face Off on Floating Tennis Court

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Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the two top seated tennis players in the world, kicked off the tournament in Doha with an exhibition match on a floating tennis court. I never thought I’d get the chance to write a post about my favorite athlete of all times, Roger Federer, on a blog about oddities, but I guess you really never can say never.

Usually, there’s nothing a tennis player hates more than a flooded court, but in this case both Nadal and Federer were more than happy to get their feet wet, in order to promote the upcoming ATP Tour. They were brought in by boat, to a tennis court floating in a lagoon, on the coast of Doha, Qatar. The two exchanged a few friendly balls, but avoided sprints, as neither seemed to fancy a bath.

Nadal said: “For the past three years we have done a few different things, and this one was a very nice experience.” and Federer added “”It was good fun. It was so different. You’re always excited and nervous to see how it will turn out. It is always nice promoting an event and an entire tour with Rafa.”

What’s even more impressive is how these two tennis legends leave their rivalry on the court, where it belongs, and works so well on promoting different events, and tennis itself.

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Artists Build House Out of Recycled Egg Cartons

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Goldenhen, and Australian art studio, used hundreds of recycled egg cartons to build a colorful house called ” The Original Dream”.

If you liked Eggcubism and are looking for other cool ways of recycling egg cartons, you’re going to love Goldenhen’s project. They built a simple wooden frame, painted the egg cartons in different colors and then simply stacked them in the shape of a house. But it’s not just any house, it’s modeled after Howard Arkley’s famous painting, “Family Home Suburban Exterior 1993″ – a symbol of the Australian dream of suburban living.

Apart from the actual house, Goldenhen also built a brick yard fence, an outdoor clothes drying rack and lots of grass, all made of egg trays.

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Python Wedding Held in Cambodian Village

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Over 1,000 people gathered in the Cambodian village of Sit Bow, to witness the wedding of two pythons, believed to bring prosperity and good fortune to the settlement.

Early 2008, I wrote a post about a Cambodian boy who had an unusually friendly relationship with a full grown python. Villagers believed he was the son of a dragon, and had supernatural powers. Fast forward to present day, Chamerun, the boy’s female pet snake is getting married to male Krong Pich, and the whole village has gathered for the big ceremony.

While most Camodians are Buddhists, they also believe in animism – a belief that spirits inhabit the bodies of animals – so whenever a bizarre animal makes an appearance, there are always speculations about it being housing some important spirit. Fortunetellers told the two snake owner their reptiles were soul mates blessed by the gods, and that they needed to be married and live together, otherwise the village will be struck by bad luck.

The marriage ceremony lasted two hours and was attended by people from all around the village area. Two Buddhist monks  blessed the snake couple, while villagers showered them with flowers and sang traditional wedding music. It must have been pretty creepy, for the pythons, of course.

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M. Lavinashree – World’s Youngest Computer Wiz

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After passing the Microsoft Certified Professional test, when she was just eight years old, young M. Lavinashree has now become the world’s youngest Red Hat Certified Engineer.

M. Lavinashree was born in rural Tamilnadu, India, but her parents noticed her incredible mind, when she was just a baby. At just 1 and a half, her mother taught her the English alphabet by playing with colored letters. She would dictate the alphabet letters and Lavinashree pointed at them accurately. Then she began learning national symbols, songs, Indian personalities, shapes, fruits, and many other things. When her older sister started studying Thirukural (a Tamil poem written by a sage, over 2,000 years ago), Lavinashree begged her mother to teach her the kurals, and at the tender age of three, she won her place in the Limca Book of Records (Indian equivalent to the Guinness Book of Records) for her photographic memory. She managed to recite 1,330 couplets of Thirukural…

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Chinese Icemen Take World’s Longest Ice Bath

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Jin Songhao and Chen Kecai, two of China’s most seasoned icemen, managed to beat the previous world record for the longest ice bath.

Wim Hof, the Dutch known as “Ice-Man” spent New-Year’s Eve covered with ice cubes, and claimed the title of the longest ice bath, with 115 minutes. But the previous record holder, Chen Kecai, wasn’t about to just sit by and watch his title get snatched right from under him. Together with fellow iceman Jin Songhao, they staged their own cold-enduring event, on January 3rd, in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province.

The two daredevils immersed themselves in plastic boxes and were covered with ice cubes, up to their necks. Kecai started shivering after “just” 40 minutes, but he insisted the doctors let him see his challenge through to the end. Eventually, he managed to stay in the box for 118 minutes, thus beating his Dutch rival’s record. Unfortunately for him, Jin Songhao lasted 120 minutes and is the new holder of the record for the world’s longest ice bath. Well, at least Chen Kecai can take comfort in the fact that he lost to a fellow Chinaman.

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Store Tells Its Clients “Come in Underwear, Leave Dressed”

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Spanish clothing brand Desigual kicked off its sales season in a truly original way  that made people show up at its store in nothing but their underwear.

Would you brave the cold weather for the chance to pick out top and lower garments, free of charge? Well, thousands of people around the world did just that – they spent hours outside Desigual stores, hoping to be among he 100 lucky ones that would enjoy the brand’s offer. Featuring the slogan “Come in underwear, leave dressed”, Desigual challenged its customers to show up outside its branch stores, and leave with whatever items they wanted, for free. Unfortunately, only the first 100 people got to enjoy this ridiculous sale…

Some people actually showed up outside the stores at 3 pm the previous day, to make sure they are among the chosen few, but those that didn’t make the cut also had something to be cheerful about. Desigual decided to give them half-price discounts on all the items in the shop.

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