Cruisin Caskets – Car-Shaped Coffins for Going Out in Style

Whether it’s by tuning their cars or driving them like madmen, car enthusiasts are always looking for ways to stand out, and now, thanks to the Cruisin Caskets, they can even go out in style.

However scary and sad, death is a part of life, so if you can’t cheat it, why not make the most of it? For car lovers who want to take their passion for automobiles in the grave with them, the guys at Cruisin Caskets offer the perfect solution – a car-shaped coffin made of fiber glass that can be shaped like any model car, from the 50s classics to today’s futuristic rides.

This “perfect way for the car aficionado to express their love for cars” can be converted into a nice-looking beer cooler, before it serves its permanent purpose, but the idea of seeing what’s to be my final resting place every time I want a beer doesn’t make much sense to me.

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Prague Cafe Is Proof Not Having a Price List Is Good for Business

Most entrepreneurs probably think he’s crazy, but a young café owner from the Czech Republic claims scraping the price list was the best move for his business.

42-year-old Ondrej Lebowski remembers just a while ago he was struggling to keep his café business afloat,  but now he says his place in Prague is packed all the time. The secret to this amazing comeback – scraping the price list for customers. Clients simply set their own prices for what they drink, usually depending on the service and how tasty the drink is.

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Bald Contestant Qualifies for Miss America Beauty Pageant

Kayla Martell, a 21-year-old beauty pageant contestant, proved you don’t need natural hair to win a beauty contest, when she brought home the title of Miss Delaware and qualified for Miss America.

Young Kayla suffers from alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that attacks her hair follicles and practically causes baldness. Despite her condition, Miss Martell competed in the beauty contest several times, but was finally thinking of giving up her dream of winning the Miss Delaware title. A meeting with five-year-old Lilliana Hakim, who suffered from the same condition she did, changed her mind and inspired her to keep on trying. And this time around, her dream came true as she was named Miss Delaware and got to represent her home state in the Miss America beauty pageant.

Some say Kayla Martell won the title because, unlike the previous times she competed, she wore a wig to conceal her condition. Asked how she feels on the matter, the bubbly beauty queen responded “not at all. I hope the judges picked me because I knew I could fulfill the jobs of Miss Delaware.” She added that she only wears the wig on occasions, because it makes her feel more approachable, but she usually prefers the natural look.

Kayla started losing her hair when she was just 10 years old. She noticed her part was widening, and when that turned into a bald spot, doctors diagnosed her with alopecia areata. Though it wasn’t easy going through her teen years with a disease like this, she handled it with grace, and is now using her position as Miss Delaware to find and help other people who have alopecia.

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Adrienne Antonson Makes Insects Out of Human Hair

Using only human hair and glue, Seattle-based artist Adrienne Antonson creates realistic insects that are both beautiful and creepy, at the same time.

“Inspired by the bizarre behaviors and ingenious evolutionary developments of the insect world”, Adrienne chose hair as the perfect medium for her little bugs. She has always been fascinated by its historical implications and various uses across man’s history, and as a person interested in sustainable and self-supporting systems, she decided it was perfect for the job. Obviously, the whole attraction/repulsion theme was also very intriguing.

Adrienne doesn’t use any hair to create her intricate insects, she only uses her own and the hair of her close friends and family. This way the meticulous process of creating hair insects becomes much more intimate and makes her feel like she’s connected to her close ones, through her work.

Though it may not appear so, the artist only uses human hair and glue to create her impressive insects, but a look through the magnifying glass reveals their complexity and the amount of work she puts into every one of her bugs. Some of them look so real you’re just waiting for them to jump of fly off, while some are clear figments of her imagination, but all of Adrienne’s hair insects are equally fascinating.

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Design Panoptikum – The Museum of Extraordinary Objects

Design Panoptikum is a unique Berlin museum featuring all kinds of rare and unusual items collected by Russian-born artist Vlad Korneev.

“A Panoptikum”, Korneev says, “is a collection of extraordinary or rare objects” and he really couldn’t find a better way to describe his quirky museum on Torstraße Street, in Berlin. The moment you set foot in his Design Panoptikum, you find yourself surrounded with all kinds of bizarre things, from funky clocks, to odd-looking medical equipment, and even a life-size Power Ranger brought in from Japan.

Vlad Korneev handpicks the exhibits in his museum, from his secret back-alley store, from eBay and even from the junkyard. He carefully and patiently restores every one of them and then proudly displays them in his panoptikum. Visitors can purchase most of the merchandise shown in the main rooms, but the backrooms hold some truly special exhibits that are not for sale, but can be rented for film or fashion shoots. When asked where can find, let’s say, an old airplane engine, Korneev gracefully avoids a straight answer, as his sources are an important secret of the trade.

Among the rarest objects you can find in the Design Panoptikum are a talking dispensing machine, an old birthing doll, one of the earliest electric sun lamps and many other devices that make Vlad Korneev’s museum look like mad scientist’s lab.

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Terje Isungset’s Ice Instruments Make Cool Music

Terje Isungset, one of the world’s most talented percussionists, creates ice music with instruments he carves out of pure glacier ice.

Born in the Norwegian village of Geilo, Isungset grew up surrounded by a family of musicians, and grew up to be one of the most innovative percussionists of our time, Over the years, he has created musical instruments out of natural materials like arctic birch, granite, slate, but the thing he is most passionate about is making ice music, a style that he pioneered through the creation of ice instruments.

Isungset first fell in love with ice music in the year 2000, when the commission for the Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games asked him to compose and play in a frozen waterfall. He was already renown for creating musical instruments out of other primitive materials, but he had never worked with ice. He took it as a challenge and managed to compose a greatly appreciated minimalist composition with just whatever the river provided – ice, water, stone and some wood.

Terje Isungset describes the process of making ice music and ice instruments as hard work and a continuing learning process. Most of his tools are made of pure glacier ice, so clear you can see through meters of it. He just cuts the ice cubes with a knife and carves them into instruments. Most of his creations are percussion tools, but he has been known to make an ice guitar, an ice harp, a trumpet and even a fiddle.

While Terje Isungset’s ice music can’t exactly be referred to as radically new (considering man actually started making using with whatever materials nature provided him with), it’s definitely a breath of fresh air, in this modern age.

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Seattle Artist Creates 7-Foot-Long Pen

Jim Woodring, creator of a series of popular comic books, has unveiled a seven-foot-long pen that actually works.

The recently finished writing tool, dubbed “Nibbus Maximus” was recently showcased at the Gage Academy of Art, in Seattle, in front of over one hundred people. Considering this was practically the first time he used the Nibbus Maximus, apart from a few tests he did with the nib, he handled it pretty well and managed to both write and draw with it.

While attaching a 1 1/2 foot-long nib to a 5 1/2 foot-long wooden handle may not seem very difficult to do, there’s a reason most people thought it couldn’t be done. Jim put a lot of effort into making the tip of his giant pen, especially getting the surface tension just right, so it holds the ink and releases it on paper, properly. Eventually, his beautiful hand-engraved, brass-plated steel nib did just what it was designed to do.

But why go through the trouble of making a giant tool, like the Nibbus Maximus, right? Well, because people said it couldn’t be done and Jim Woodring knew that it could, so he just had to prove it to everybody.

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Developer Destroys Building Stairway to Evict Top Floor Residents

A Chinese family claims property developers have demolished the staircase in their apartment building to force them to move out.

What do you do when you really need a piece of land, but just can’t talk one last family into giving up their home? That calls for desperate measures, but this developer went a bit too far when it decided to actually destroy an entire staircase, to prevent a family from reaching their home on the top floor.

According to 42-year-old Zhao Yanhong, the Mianyang Yachuan Property Company wants to tear down this apartment building, in order to build a much more profitable factory, and her family is all that stands in their way. Apparently, they hired thugs to “convince” other residents to leave their homes, but there was no forcing out the family on the seventh floor. So, one day, they turned up with machinery that knocked down the entire staircase, all the way to that last apartment.

Now, the remaining residents can only enter and exit their home through ladders and climbing what’s left of the old staircase, which is very dangerous. They’ve already sued the property developer, and judges have ordered that all work be suspended for six months, while they investigate. Also, a new staircase is to be constructed for Yahong’s family.

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Greenpeace Turns Chopsticks Back into Trees

Can you bring dead wood back to life? No, but you can turn them into trees again! This was the slogan that fueled Greenpeace and Ogvily’s campaign to help people realize the dangers of cutting down millions of trees to create disposable chopsticks.

Two hundred volunteers from various Beijing universities answered Greenpeace’s call and set out to gather 80,000 used wooden chopsticks, from restaurants around the Chinese capital. They cleaned them all up and then assisted artist Xu Yinhai in assembling them into four life-like trees. It was no easy task, but Green peace hopes this effort will inspire Chinese people to be more conscientious about their use of resources.

According to statistics from China’s Forest Ministry, the country produces 57 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks, which require over 1.18 million square meters of forests. Since China’s wood resources are very limited (ranking 139th in the world) its people have to ask themselves if it’s worth sacrificing 3.8 million trees a year, for something they just throw away after a meal.

The chopstick trees were planted on December 20, 2010, in one of the most popular malls in Beijing, The Place, in the Chaoyang district, and are planned to be displayed at universities and art venues around the city.

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Canada’s Goldstream River Turns Green for the Holidays

The winter holidays are now behind us, but it seems I missed one of the biggest pranks of 2010 – the green river of Goldstream Park.

It happened on December 29, 2010, in Victoria’s peaceful Goldstream Park. The waters of the river suddenly became neon green, and everyone passing by it rubbed their eyes to make sure what they were seeing wasn’t just an illusion. It was very real, but was it that made Goldstream River look so alien-like? After an hour or so, the fluorescent coloring vanished, but the questions about the bizarre phenomenon remained unanswered.

After analyzing the neon-green water, the local Environment Ministry said it was the result of a chemical called “fluorescein”. Neither the substance itself nor its products of degradation are toxic, and experts believe that fish and their habitat were not affected, judging by the concentration and flow rate of the river.

Authorities haven’t yet identified the culprits, but believed the dumping of fluorescein in the Goldstream River was just a holiday season prank.

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Diamond Encrusted Baby Skull Sparks Controversy

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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The Mechanical Animals of Chris Cole

American artist Chris Cole uses scrap metal parts to explore the border between nature and industry, by creating unique mechanical creatures.

As a young boy, Chris grew up in the American Northwest, surrounded by an abundance of wildlife that later influenced his art. At the same time, he always had a passion for all things mechanical, and would often take stuff apart, only to put them back together in a radical new way. Nowadays, he creates moving creatures, especially from the avian and aquatic reigns, from various scrap metal parts, connected by heavy bolts and operated by bicycle chains and small motors.

While he is still fascinated by machinery, and was greatly influenced by the visionaries of the industrial revolution, Chris Cole is very concerned with man’s “disconnection with the natural world”, and his work represents a “regression  from mechanism back to organism.”

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The Incredible Story of Nek Chand’s Rock Garden

The Rock Garden of Chandigarh is a 40-acre park full of plazas, waterfalls and thousands of unique creatures made from recycled materials. It’s a truly impressive sight, but even more so is the story of how Nek Chand spent four decades creating it and how he kept it a secret, for years.

In 1958, Nek Chand was a road inspector for the Public Works Department, and was making rafts and boats to be sail upon the recently created Sukhna Lake, but peddle boats were soon made available for rent by authorities, and his craft was banned. This allowed Nek to devote more time to his passion for rocks and stones, and he began gathering them from the nearby Shivalik Hills, and the Sukhna Cho, Patiala Rao and Ghaggar rivers. It was around this time that the Swiss architect Le Corbusier was asked to design the city of Chandigarh, the first planned city of India, and the small villages around the area were demolished. This provided Nek Chand with plenty of material for his increasing collection of rocks.

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The Bullet Hole Paintings of Viktor Mitic

One of the most controversial artist of our time, Viktor Mitic paints his artworks with semi-automatic rifles, hand-guns and shotguns.

Although he was acquainted with firearms from the time he spent in the National Service for the Serbian Army, in the former Yugoslavia, Viktor Mitic first got the idea of using guns in his art, after an art critic said his art needs to be more penetrating. Then, just before the war in Afghanistan started, he saw a report on a military group who destroyed 2,000-year-old statues of Buddha. ‘I wanted to use similar energy. The weapons had been around for a number of years, but no one has used them to paint with yet. I wanted to use it as a tool of creation, rather than of destruction’ Mitic says.

His bullet hole paintings include a replica of Picasso’s Gurnica, as well as portraits of popular figures the likes of JFK, Marylin Monroe, John Wayne, John Lennon and many others.

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BMW Made of Bricks Costs More than the Real Thing

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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