Yukigassen – Competitive Snowball Fighting from Japan

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If you grew up in a place where it snowed, you probably would have mastered the art of throwing snowballs. Bet no one thought much of your talent back then. Too bad you never heard of Yukigassen, a snowball fighting competition that is held in Japan every year, and now in other parts of the world as well.

Yukigassen, literally meaning “snow battle”, originated around 20 years ago as a marketing scheme. The Mount Showa-Shinzan resort wanted to attract more tourists in the winter, so they devised this game, which certainly sounds like it could be a lot of fun. It is being described as a combination of chess, paintball and backyard brawling. The objective of the game is pretty simple. Players of the opposing team need to be knocked out with snowballs. But of course, there are more technicalities involved. For instance, the field on which Yukigassen is played is a 44 X 12 yard rectangle divided by red and blue lines, similar to the layout of a hockey rink. Three periods, three minutes in duration each, constitute the match. The team that wins two out of three is ultimately the winner of the match. A period could either be won by having more standing players than the team at the opposite end, or by capturing the other team’s flag without getting hit by their snowballs.

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Convicts Prove Knitting is Hardcore

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The male convicts at the Pre-release Unit in Jessup, Maryland, have a unique story to tell. A story of how they found peace and calm through an unusual activity – knitting. Unusual, because it hardly seems normal to picture a bunch of rough-looking guys sporting tattoos and several teeth missing, sitting quietly, occupied with knitting needles and a bunch of wool.

And yet, it’s true, thanks to the efforts of Lynn Zwerling, the founder of Knitting Behind Bars. 67 year-old Zwerling retired from her job of selling cars in 2005, and then turned her attention to knitting, which was her passion. Initially, she started off with a small knitting group of women in her town. The group grew quickly to around 500 members. According to Zwerling, she observed something Zen-like when she saw women who did not have anything in common sitting quietly beside each other, absorbed in their knitting. She then had the idea to take knitting to prisons, more importantly, male prisoners.

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The Iconic Goat Tower of Fairview

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The Fairview Wine and Cheese farm in South Africa is famous for more than just its wine and cheese. Owned and run by Charles Back, it houses a unique monument built for the comfort and use of the farm’s goats – The Goat Tower. Acknowledging the fact that goats love to climb, sometimes even up on livestock, to get a better view, Back first got the idea of the tower some thirty years ago.

The tower, a first of its kind, is built of brick and mortar, and consists of a steep metal roof. It also has a spiral staircase made of wood, and windows too. The goats in Fairview farm have the privilege of climbing the two-story tower at will, resting within it. Since 1981, the tower has become a symbol of the winery, so much so that they produce a wine called “Goats do Roam”. The goat tower is by far, the first known to be built with such a purpose in mind. However, according to Back, the tower was inspired by a similar one his parents had seen during a vacation in Portugal. As a result of that trip the farms first goats were purchased, and the tower built.

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Kieron Williamson – The 9-Year Old Monet

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When 9-Year Old Kieron Williamson’s paintings were put up for sale in Norfolk, England, they were sold out in just 10 minutes. While artists more than twice his age struggle to find buyers for even a single piece of art, Kieron’s story is one that could spark envy in the most established of painters.

It’s always interesting to learn about the early years of artists, especially ones as young as Kieron. According to his parents, he never showed much interest in art or drawing until he was five. A typical energetic child, he was more interested in mud and water, riding his bike and playing with bugs. His inclination towards art was sparked off on a family visit to Cornwall, in 2008. It was here that he had asked for some sheets of paper and began to draw, inspired by the boats in a nearby port. After a few art classes and some lessons from artist Carol Ann Pennington, a family friend, Kieron began to produce masterpieces that people would soon be queuing up to purchase. His first sale was in the summer of 2009, when he sold 19 pictures for £14,000 ($22,000). The latest sale of his paintings have earned him £ 100,000 ($157,000).

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Incredible Portraits Made with Dripped Plasticine

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Argentinian art collective Mondongo creates incredibly detailed portraits by using dripped and molded Plasticine. I can’t imagine how much time they spend getting the skin tones just right.

We’ve posted our share of impressive portraits here on OC, made from the most unusual materials (from pancakes and chewing gum to written words), but few more detailed than the masterpieces created by Mondongo. The art collective, which consists of  Juliana Laffitte, Manuel Mendanha and Agustina Picasso, was founded in 1999 and has worked with  a huge variety of materials, from food to plasticine, depending on what best reinforces the concept of the work. Mondongo, which is the name of a traditional Argentinian tripe stew, was chosen precisely becomes the art collective creates its work from a cauldron of ingredients.

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Wieliczka Salt Cathedral – Poland’s Underground Wonder

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The Wieliczka Salt Mines in Poland have been used for several centuries to extract salt, but are now in the news for a different reason. Through their excavations and adventures, Polish miners have left behind something unique in these underground spaces, little known to the world until recently. 

It has been over ten years since any salt has been extracted from the Wieliczka Mines, and yet, people still pay a visit. Though an ordinary-looking mine from the outside, just 200 meters down below, lies an astonishing spectacle to behold. The salt mine has actually been converted into a cathedral, art gallery and it also contains a lake.

What’s all the more beautiful and intriguing about this place is that it has been built over the years by miners themselves. During the course of a few centuries, generations of miners left behind pieces of art, religious and historical figures, and even built their own cathedral down under there, to be able to pray. The huge cathedral is perhaps the most astonishing of the wonders that lie below the ground. Remarkable religious carvings can be found, of scenes such as the Last Supper and Jesus appearing to the apostles after crucifixion.

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Real-life Jessica Rabbit Has World’s Biggest Lips

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It’s strange and funny to see how far people would go to achieve the kind of appearance they deem perfect. Case in point is Kristina Rei, a 22-year old nail technician from St. Petersburg, Russia, who has an obsession with the size of her lips. An obsession, that has today, earned her the status of the woman with the biggest lips in the world.

It’s really not uncommon to find women these days resorting to the knife or syringe to enhance their beauty. But what Kristina has done goes beyond the definition of regular beauty enhancements. She has endured over 100 silicone injections on her lips, spending around £4,000 ($6,200) on them.

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Real-Life Mario Karts Take LA Motor Show by Surprise

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As a kid, cars play a big role in life as they are generally boys’ favorite toys. If you’ve got a father that’s as passionate about cars as you, you may end up going to a motor show and seeing them live.

Once you’re there however, things go a little bit wrong, after the ten or so supercars and a couple of off-roaders you realize it’s not really that interesting. There’s just tons of boring cars for daddy, mommy and whoever else can actually drive. Since odds are that you’re still calling the models “pretty women” there’s no appeal in that either. Car shows aren’t always as fun as you’d imagine they could be when you’re five years old. Unless you went to the LA Motor Show this year.

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Pixelated Beagle Is Made of 221,000 Sprinkles

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Pointillism is  the technique used to create an image by repeatedly applying small dots of pure color to a blank canvas. When post-impressionist painter George Seurat first invented this technique, little did he know that a fine arts student would one day use it to create the image of a Beagle, with the help of Sprinkles.

After creating a chair with 22 different shades of paint for his fine arts university project, Joel Brochu was fascinated by the use of everyday objects in art. He first experimented with M&Ms to create images, but their size was a major hurdle. Brochu found that he had to stand several feet away from the completed image to actually view it as a whole. He then happened to notice sprinkles.

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China’s Richest Village Is a Tribute to Knockoffs

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China is the most populated country in the world, probably the most hard working country in the world and well on its way toward becoming the richest one as well. Considering how they’ve managed to achieve such a feat is considerably less fun than making snide remarks at their legendary knockoff business.

Millions of brands around the world saw their products replicated cheaply and brands like Mike, Abidas, iFone appeared from nowhere. Though still considerably involved in the replica production China has since come a long way. Just about every manufacturer on Earth has plants there and, more importantly, most of their products are being sold there as well. You’d imagine that once the Asian country got a real taste of proper products, started making some real money and was looking for what to spend it on, they’d forget about the cheap fakes right?Well, sort of, rather unusually, the Chinese have now acquired a taste for expensive fakes. A prime example would be the country’s richest village.

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Katskhi Pillar – Going to Church on a Stairway to Heaven

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Trust me on this, that headline has absolutely nothing rock’n’roll about it . Weirdly enough, it’s actually true and you can even go on to experience it yourself, provided you’re willing to travel.

Travel a little or a lot rather depends on where you’re starting from as you’ll have to go to Georgia in order to live this out. Oh, and that’s not Georgia, the American state, but Georgia a small country that sits borderline between Europe and Asia. In this rather remote country, that’s seen it’s fair share of misfortune over the years for various political issues, economic and social pressures and so on, you’ll be able to find an unusual bastion of hope.

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Haenyo – The Diving Grandmothers of Jeju Island

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The Korean Jeju islanders have something to be proud of – their grandmas are divers. It may seem surprising, but for the people of the island this has been a way of life for centuries now. This tradition, once a thriving profession that drove the economy of the land, is in fact, now fast deteriorating.

To understand more about the diving grandmothers, we need to go back a few hundred years in Korean history. Jeju Island lies around 53 miles to the south of mainland Korea. Given the geographical location, fishing has always been the major occupation of this Island. The surrounding waters are rich in exotic sea food like octopus, conch, abalone and urchin.

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Artist Uses Thousands of Letters to Create Detailed Images

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Erin Smith is a young Australian artist who deconstructs entire passages of text and uses the thousands of individual letters to create beautiful detailed artworks.

The 29-year-old from Queensland moved to Melbourne a few years back, to study graphic design, and has recently moved back to her home state. It turned out this wasn’t the right career for her, because “I find it difficult to sit in a chair inside for any period of time…and I’m hopeless at deadlines so I wasn’t very good.” But it was during her studies that her fascination with typography began. “A few years ago at university we were learning about typography, how different weights of a font can help create emphasis etc. About a year later, I was looking at the intricacy of the engracing of a smith and wesson pistol (on the computer, not my own) [and] I thought about this image in relation to typography then started using the computer to creat the image. I did a series of these for a project”

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Soccer Moms Take on Cheerleading for Their Sons

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You all know the soccer mom; it is a dominant sort of individual in the suburbs and easily noticeable at any PTA meeting or sporting day of any school.

This stands true pretty much everywhere, except St. Ignace, Michigan where soccer moms have managed to do something genuinely surprising.

Instead of sitting around yelling at the players at least twice as much as their coach, these proud parents have decided to join in on the action by, well, getting closer to the action.

Since the St. Ignace high school has no more than 215 students and pretty much none of the ones outside the team have any interest in the sport the football team was facing a serious disaster. They were facing every teenage jock’s nightmare as there were no cheerleaders to motivate them.

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Design Duo Create Mind-Blowing Thread and Nail Portraits

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Pamela Campagna and husband Thomas Scheiderbauer create intricate thread and nail portraits based on old family photographs.

It’s amazing how someone can recreate organic shapes so well from thousands of angles created with nails and thread. Designers Pamela Campagna and Thomas Scheiderbauer take up to a month to work on each of their complicated artworks, but the outcome is certainly worth the time they put in. After analyzing an old photo they begin hammering nails into the canvas until they come up with a pixelated outline of the artwork, after which they start connecting the dots with thread. That’s easier said than done, and looking at how clean yet detailed their portraits turn out, they must have a great deal of patience.

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