Catalan Artist Folds Table Napkins into Awe-Inspiring Masterpieces

You might have seen napkins folded into impressive shapes at some fancy dinner, but they probably look like child’s play compared to the masterpieces created by Catalan artist Joan Sallas.

48-year-old Joan Sallas is considered the world’s best virtuoso napkin folder, and is credited with almost singlehandedly reviving the Baroque-style art that appeared in Renaissance Italy and reached its peak during the 17th century, in German speaking countries. Believe it or not, the Catalan master has managed to take the classic art to new heights with only old engravings and documents describing royal banquets as his inspiration. He learned the secrets to folding paper from his grandfather, when he was only a child, but the passion stayed with him through adulthood, when he discovered the lost art of folding linen. After spending years researching old documents and trying to copy napkin works of art created for the opulent events of 17th century Europe. He has mastered eight folding techniques, including fans, rolls and lilies, that allow him to recreate some truly awe-inspiring decorations.

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Living with Wolves – The Amazing Story of Werner Freund

79-year-old Werner Freund has a unique gift. The ex-paratrooper and now wolf-researcher from Germany can get along with wolves so well, it’s almost like he’s a member of their pack. In fact, it’s been 40 long years since he started living among wolves and rearing them from pups at his ‘Wolfspark’ sanctuary , located in Merzig,  in the German province of Saarland. The close relationship between Werner and his wolves is quite obvious from pictures of him leaning back on his haunches and howling, and of the wild beasts eating meat straight from his mouth.

Wolves are generally a feared species; come into close quarters and your chances of making it out alive are quite slim. But things are different in the case of Werner. It’s like they’ve accepted him as one of their own. When Werner is around, his wolves are actually playful, docile and submissive towards him. Perhaps it’s because he’s successfully asserted his dominance as the alpha male in the pack. The park is inhabited by wolves from six different packs around the world, including Siberian, Arctic, Canadian, European and Mongolian ones. They were mostly acquired as cubs from animal parks or zoos and hand-reared by Werner.

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This Is How They Harden Kindergarten Children in Siberia

The kids at the No. 317 kindergarten in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia are making themselves immune to flu viruses and winter colds by walking outside naked at temperatures as low as -15 degrees Celsius and pouring buckets of freezing cold water over their bodies.

Ever since photos and videos of the extreme hardening process were exposed in the media, the Siberian kindergarten has come under fire from parents worried about the children’s well-being. But caretakers like Margarita Filimonova insist the practice is totally safe, as the children are only allowed to go outside in the freezing weather after three years of slow training and medical testing. It might seem extreme, but the staff insist the practice makes the children fitter and improves their health significantly. Kindergarten No. 317 has been hardening its children for the last 13 years, and some of the kids who went here went on to become Olympic champions in various sports. It’s the only institution of its kind in the region which uses this kind of extreme exercises.

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Pink Lip Tattoos – The Latest in Nigerian Men’s Fashion

One of the most bizarre beauty procedure I’ve recently come across is tattooing the lips pink, which is apparently very popular in the African county of Nigeria. The main reason for this practice seems to be that women find men with pink lips more attractive.

The other day, someone emailed me a link to a video of a Nigerian guy getting his lower lip tattooed pink, in what looks like a very unhygienic tattoo parlor. To be honest, I thought it was just an isolated case, a guy who just wanted to be different, like the girl who tattooed Drake’s name on her forehead. But it got me intrigued, and after doing some research online, it seems this really is a trend among Nigerian men. According to Battabox.com, who documented the procedure in the short video, young men pay around 7,000 Nigerian Naira ($45) to have their black lips cleaned of excess skin and tattooed with a pink paint to make them lighter. Although the guy in the video didn’t show any signs of pain, having a sensitive spot like the lips tattooed can’t be very pleasant.

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Japanese Company Offers Valentine’s Day Insurance for the Lonely

Valentine’s Day, the most romantic celebration of the year, is fast approaching, and while some people can’t wait to declare their love and shower their partners with gifts, flowers and chocolate, for others it’s just a day of painful loneliness. However, Japanese bachelors no longer have to worry about being the only ones at the office who never gets anything on Valentine’s, thanks to a new service called Valentine’s Day Insurance.

So how does this service work, you ask? Well, it’s pretty simple, actually. All a person has to do is visit the Valentine’s Day Insurance website, purchase the ¥500 ($5.50) policy and provide an address where their Valentine’s gift should be delivered. Once they’ve done this, they’re guaranteed to receive a package on February 14, containing chocolates and a personal message from a self-professed beautiful woman called Rieko. I know what you’re thinking, having to buy your own Valentine’s Day present is pretty lame, but for some Japanese men it’s a lot better than having to cope with the uneasiness of being the only ones who didn’t get anything. Well, them and every woman in the Land of the Rising Sun, because here only men receive presents from women, usually in the form of chocolate. In fact, so much chocolate is purchased for the occasion that some Japanese chocolate companies record half of their annual sales in the few weeks before Valentine’s Day.

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Chinese Boy Has Been Living and Sleeping with a Python for 13 Years

A family from Dongguan, China, has recently made headlines after it became known that their 13-year-old son’s best friend is a 15-foot Burmese python. The predator even looks after the boy when his parents are away.

Most grownups would turn away and run for their lives at the sight of a 220lb python, but 13-year-old Azhe Liu can’t get enough of his slithering friend. Ever since he was just a few months old, the two have been sharing the same bed, and today they are simply inseparable. Six years before Azhe was born, his father, Chen Liu, found a snake egg, brought it home and hatched it out. When the boy came, the python already weighed 20 kilograms, but having a snake around the house didn’t seem to bother the family. “I’d always thought them the most beautiful creatures and I was interested to see what would happen when my son came along,” Chen says. “After a while we were certain the snake wouldn’t hurt him and we began to leave them together alone. They really are inseparable.” Azhe and his Burmese python started sharing the same bed, and when he was just 9 months old, he was left alone with it, as the parents left to work. They would play and cuddle all day long, and during the hot summer months, the snake’s cold body acted as a natural air-conditioner.

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Fearless Artist Photographs Herself in the Most Precarious Positions

It’s hard to believe the photos bellow are real, but South-Korean artist Ahn Jun insists she does not photoshop any of her works. Although she will sometimes use measures of protection like a harness, the young daredevil really is dangling on the side of buildings or leaning out skyscraper windows, all in the nae of art.

Remember Natsumi Hayashi, Tokyo’s levitating girl, who used to post photos of herself jumping at just the right time to make it seem like she was floating through the city? I loved her work, and today I get to write about an equally talented and creative Asian photo artist, Ahn Jun. Her project titled Self-Portrait, for which she photographs herself in precarious positions on high-rise buildings around the world, has taken the art world by storm. Many have claimed that the photos are digitally altered to create the death-defying portraits, but the young South-Korean photographer insists it’s all real. She just sets the timer on her camera to take as many pictures as possible until the memory card is full, and then gets into position, either leaning dangerously over the edge of a skyscraper, climbing out the window or just staring at her feet into the abyss below. She then goes through the thousands of photos, picking just one or two in which her body looks “peaceful or aggressive, rather than fearful”.

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Grown Men Have Been Playing a Game of Tag for 23 Years

23 years ago, nine boys were playing a fun game of tag around the campus of Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, Washington. Fast forward to present day, they’re sill playing the very same game, but with a few exciting twists.

Playing tag is fun when you’re a child, but men in their 40s can’t really chase each other on the playground, screaming “you’re it!” So Bill Akers, Patrick Schultheis, Sean Raftis, Mike Konesky and their other five childhood friends devised a plan to keep playing their game without making people around them nervous. The last time they played the tag in their home town was on the last day of high-school. Joe Tombari remembers that day in 1982 when he plotted to tag a friend that had left school early. Little did he know that his buddy had been tipped off and was waiting for him in his parents’ car with the doors locked. There was no time to tag someone else, so Joe was “it” for life. “The whole thing was quite devastating,” Tombari told the Wall Street Journal. But that wasn’t going to be the last tag session of their lives, not by a long shot…

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Indonesian Tribe Believes Chiseled Teeth Make Women Beautiful

If tattooed black gums are considered a thing of beauty in West Africa, it’s chiseled, pointy-sharp teeth that’s the ‘in thing’ for some Indonesian tribes. I do wonder though, why it’s always the women who have to subject themselves to bizarre beauty rituals.

Well, we may not be able to answer that question any time soon, but we can tell you about Indonesian tooth-filing, a beauty regimen that involves the sawing of teeth until they achieve a sharp, narrow and pointed shape. Women in some Indonesian rural communities are considered extremely beautiful after they’ve undergone such a treatment. Mantawaian is one such village, where the wife of the village chief, Pilongi, had to go through with it a couple of years ago. She had managed to avoid the ritual when she was a young teenager, but as the wife of a powerful man in the village, she had to oblige him by becoming more beautiful.

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Truly Curious Eats – The Annual Gala of the Explorers Club

Members of New York’s exclusive Explorers Club get together once a year at the Waldorf Astoria hotel to enjoy some of the most unusual dishes ever conceived. From live tarantulas to juicy cow eyeballs, the menu of the Annual Gala of the Explorers Club features everything you’ve never wanted to put in your mouth. A fair warning – make sure you’re reading this and especially watching the video, on an empty stomach.

The annual gala dinner of the Explorers Club is no dainty affair.It’s a black tie event, but that’s about it as far as niceties are concerned. As you’re about to see for yourself, guests of this bizarre dinner gleefully sink their teeth into live tarantulas, tear the heads off exotic roaches, nib on succulent cow’s eyeballs and snack on battered monkey’s hands. Not really the kind of things ordinary people usually get dressed up for, but then again, Explorers aren’t exactly ordinary. These are people who have traversed the Earth in various expeditions of exploration, who love to discover new and fascinating things, even when it comes to food. This annual gala gives most of them a chance to try obscure dishes, even if they aren’t the most appetizing in the world.

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Kids Toughen Up at Brutal South Korean Winter Boot Camp

When the South Korean Army announces its biannual boot camp for civilians above the age of 13, there are lots of people who are more than happy to attend. Held at the command base in western Seoul, the 4 to 14 day camp offers basic military training to anyone able to pay the entry fee of 40,000 won (that’s about $36). Teenage boys and young women are seen attending the camp, sometimes along with their families. This doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, given that military culture is quite deeply ingrained in South Korea, a country ruled by army-backed regimes till the mid 1980s.

Apart from the ones run by the army, there are privately-run boot camps as well, which have become quite popular in recent times. People from various walks of life, ranging from school kids to nostalgic war veterans, company employees to families on vacation attend this kind of events. The army says the boot camp is an opportunity to test your limits, enhance your physical ability and learn to adopt the strong spirit of ‘making the impossible, possible.’ Major Lee Joo-Ho, a boot camp spokesperson says: “Boys obviously make up the biggest part because they have the mandatory service coming up.” What he’s referring to is the two years of mandatory conscription that all able-bodied South Korean men have to attend, in order to  train themselves in case of an attack from North Korea. “But more young women are showing an interest, since they were allowed to join a college-based officer commissioning program last year.”

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The Floating Man-Made Islands of Lake Titicaca

The people of Uros, a small South American tribe in Peru, have made living arrangements for themselves that are so unique, they’re not found anywhere else in the world. These people live most of their lives on man-made floating islands? The islands were created on Lake Titicaca in Peru, for the protection against other stronger tribes. The lake is the largest by volume in South America, and provides ample protection by itself since it is completely isolated and located about 3000 m above sea level.

But the Uros people were apparently not satisfied with the protection of the lake alone. They went one step further to ensure their safety, making good use of the reeds that grow in abundance along the banks of the lake. The reeds proved to be a malleable material, so they were dried out, bundled and shaped into boats that float very well. This natural material also made it possible for the ancient Uros to create a system of floating domiciles that could be quickly moved away from the mainland in case of any emergency, called the tortora islands. Today, about half the population of the Uros about 500 individuals), still prefer to live in this age-old manner. Of course, they’ve renovated their floating islands to include some modern amenities as well.

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Caramelized Sugar Painting – A Tasty Chinese Tradition

The sweet art of painting with caramelized sugar can be witnessed in China’s Sichuan province. Although not as popular as it once was, this ancient craft still manages to amaze tourists lucky enough to stumble upon a skilled street artist.

According to experts, this type of Chinese folk art originated from the Ming Dynasty when sugar animals and figures were created as part of sacrificial rituals. During the Qing Dynasty, it gained even more popularity and the techniques were upgraded, which resulted in an increased number of patterns, most of them inspired by nature, wildlife and religion . In the beginning, people used molds to shape the caramelized sugar, but they were gradually replaced with a small bronze spoon that had to be wielded by talented artists who were usually well versed in the art of normal painting as well. “Painting” artistic pieces from melted sugar is very different than regular painting. Because the hot sugar cools down very quickly, the painter has to work swiftly, making sure he follows the correct order of strokes to get every shape just right. In order to get familiar with the process and the technique, it’s recommended that artists practice normal painting first.

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Meet Jim Cripps, the Incredible Backwards Bowler

You’ve probably never seen anything like this before, I sure haven’t. Tennessee native James Cripps earned the nickname Backwards Bowler for a very simple reason – he’s able to bowl perfectly well without even facing the lanes.

Believe it or not, it all started as a friendly bet. Jim Cripps loved bowling, but he admits he was pretty terrible at it, so at one point a friend challenged him to try and score 150 points backwards. It sounds impossible, but Jim says he managed to land a strike on his first try, and ended up with a final score of 163. After that he just couldn’t stop bowling backwards. “We never settled up on the bet, but I think I definitely came out the winner of the bet because it truly has been great,”Cripps said. As you can imagine, his skills improved dramatically over the next few years, and he now has an average of 204 points per game and holds a Guinness record of 278.

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World’s First Official Barbie Cafe Is as Pink as You’d Expect

As if Asians didn’t have enough pink in their lives, from all those crazy Hello-Kitty-themed venues, now there’s an official Barbie Cafe in Taipei, Taiwan. And yes, it has dolls, themed foods and more pink than most men can bare.

January 30th witnessed the inauguration of the world’s first official Barbie Cafe, in one of the busiest shopping districts in Taipei. The iconic doll’s maker, Mattel, licensed Taiwanese restaurant chain Sinlaku to open the themed cafe in hopes that it will promote Barbie as a fashion brand. Iggy Yip, senior manager of Mattel’s Greater China division, commented: “We picked Taiwan because theme restaurants are very popular and successful here. We are very confident that the Barbie Cafe can promote our brand image.” Indeed, the island is home to a number of unique restaurants and cafes, including one modeled after an A380 airplane, a cardboard restaurant, and even a popular toilet restaurant. But there is a special relationship between Taiwan and Barbie, as this was where the popular doll was originally manufactured, before production lines were moved to mainland China and other parts, to lower costs. In 2009, another Barbie restaurant was opened in Shanghai, China, but it closed down two years later, after it proved unsuccessful.

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