Ting Mong – Cambodia’s Creepy Scarecrows

If you ask me, common scarecrows are creepy enough, but the Cambodian Ting Mong carry real firearms and instead of birds they scare off evil spirits.

Scarecrows usually belong in  the fields, protecting villagers’ crops, but in some Cambodian villages you’ll see them in front of houses, by the gate, or on garden paths, and you can bet they’re not there to scare some man-eating birds. Ting Mong are a part of old Khmer culture, and even though Budhism came to Cambodia thousands of years ago, there are still some rural areas where people believe in spirits and their power over the living. These creepy “scarecrows” are actually guardians who ward off evil spirits and protect against disease and death.

Many Khmers believe a powerful force is embodied in the Ting Mong, which will keep spirits from coming inside, and to make them even more effective, they equip the life-size dolls with real or sculpted weapons. Some carry machetes and swords, while other carry modern weaponry like revolvers, AK47s and even sculpted bazookas. Even a bad-ass spirit wouldn’t dare approach a Ting Mong carrying this kind of firepower.

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Modern Tower of Babel Made of Books Appears in Buenos Aires

Popular Argentine artist Marta Minujin has created a 25-meter-high spiraling Tower of Babel made from 30,000 books written in various languages.

This modern version of the Tower of Babel was designed in celebration of Buenos Aires’ designation as World Book Capital 2011, by UNESCO, and local authorities say it represents the ideas of pluralism and diversity which also characterize the Argentine capital city. This isn’t Minujin’s first experience with book installations; in 1983, when democracy was restored in Argentina, she built a replica of the Parthenon from books banned by the former military dictatorship.

The tower consists of a spiraling metal frame and around 30,000 books written in most of the world’s languages and dialects. You can find all kinds of books, from dictionaries and encyclopedias to software manuals and classic novels, arranged on six levels. The bottom level features a collection of books from around the world, the first and second levels are for American books, the third and fourth are reserved for Europe, the fifth for Africa and the sixth for Asia. 16,000 of the books were donated by 52 embassies in Buenos Aires, while the rest were provided by Argentine readers.

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Halo Fan Spends Six Months Making a Life-Size LEGO Master Chief Costume

Ben Caulkins, also known as Benny Brickster, spent the last six months working on a life-size costume of Halo’s Master chief, made from thousands of LEGO bricks.

Although he had some LEGO building experience, Ben admits he thought long and hard before taking on the task of building a real Master Chief costume. He was inspired by a fellow brickster’s awesome Boba Fett costume and by some of the works he admired at his first Brickworld LEGO convention. That’s when he really started thinking about it, and while it seamed only a dream at the time, but after a while he realized it was doable.

He decided to dedicate himself to the project, and started off by building Master Chief’s iconic helmet. He figured that if he could pull this off, he could build the rest of the costume as well. Benny spent a lot of time planning the building process, finding the right resources, getting its size just right so it would look proportionate with his body, and then he finally got to work. It turned out great with that golden motorcycle visor, and his work was picked up by sites like the Wall Street Journal and Gizmodo.

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Tragedy: Owner Plans to Close Down Topless Coffee Shop

Donald Crabtree opened the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop, in Vassalboro, Maine, so he, his employees and his customers could have a laugh. Now, two years later, he claims he is forced to close it down due to sabotage.

Ina town with fewer than 4,500 residents, you wouldn’t expect a controversial venture like Donald’s topless coffee shop to succeed, but it did. Back in 2009, crowds were pouring in to the only place they could be served hot coffee by topless waiters and waitresses, and the owner described his business as “fantastic”. He had hired ten women and five men, out of the almost 200 applications he received, from skinny to big boned people.  With the economy so bad at the time, the coffee shop put a smile on people’s faces and took their minds off problems.

But that was back then. These days, the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop isn’t nearly as popular as it once was, and Donald Crabtree had to make some staff cuts and reduce their hours, just to keep his business alive. He says locals have been against his innovative idea from day one, and even though he managed to hold out against their sabotage this long, enough is enough. The final straw was a series of violations reported by the town, regarding two billboard he set up, one advertising a benefit topless car wash and the other said “Boobies wanted”. Authorities say it’s not about what’s on the billboards, but their size – they’re larger than what’s permitted under his local permit and the adult-only ordinance.

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Chefchaouen – The Blue City of Morocco

One of Morocco’s most popular tourist destinations, Chefchaouen is most known for its blue-rinsed buildings and alleys, an old tradition leftover from the city’s Jewish population.

Chefchaouen was founded by Moorish exiles from Spain, in 1471, as a small fortress to fend off the attacks of invading Portuguese forcess in northern Morocco. After the Spanish Reconquista, the small mountain town became one of the largest Moriscos and Jews  refuge sites, and during their stay they managed to leave their mark on it, one that makes the modern city so special.

The name Chefchaouen comes from “chauen”, which is Spanish for horns, and refers to the shape of the two mountains overlooking the settlement. But it’s not its strange name, the beautiful and unique handicrafts sold by local craftsman, or the delicious goat cheese that attracts the majority of tourists to Chefchaouen. It’s the blue-painted houses and buildings of the city, a tradition inherited from the former Jewish inhabitants. In the Bible, Israelites are commanded to dye one of the threads in their tallit (prayer shawl) blue, with tekhelel. This was an old natural dye, processed from a species of shellfish, but in time its production collapsed and the Jewish people eventually forgot how to make it. But, in honor of the sacred commandment, the color blue was still woven into the cloth of their tallit. When they look at the dye, they will think of the blue sky, and the God above them in Heaven.

While the Jewish population of Chefchoauen isn’t as numerous as it one was, practically everyone in the city still follows this old tradition and frequently renew the paint job on their homes.

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Tony Orrico – The Human Spirograph

American artist Tony Orrico uses his entire body as an instrument to create massive artworks that are both highly precise and organic, at the same time.

Orrico manages to blend his background in dance and choreography with a passion for drawing in a unique process that starts off with dance-like movements and ends with an abstract illustration. Holding a pencil in each hand, the young artist approaches a massive paper canvas, and using the symmetry of the human body to create various abstract shapes. Whether he’s spinning his entire body or just his wrists, Tony Orrico sets a specific motion that is repeated throughout the performance, until his work is completed.

The abstract images Tony creates can be quite stunning, but to fully appreciate and understand his talent, one must witness the creative process. Seeing him lying face downward on the paper, rotating his torso in full circles, with his arms outstretched drawing a variety of shapes really is a unique sight. Tony Orrico spends between 15 minutes to as long as 7 hours to complete one of his artworks.

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Young Crafter Makes Original Prom Dress from 4,000 Pull Tabs

16-year-old Maura Pozek, from Reed Springs, Missouri, created her own prom dress from 4,000 pull tabs and 400 yards of pink ribbon.

Looking at the beautiful gown, you wouldn’t guess it was created by a high-school junior, let alone that she did it using only ribbon and aluminum pull tabs. But it’s true, Maura actually spent 100 hours working on her unique prom dress, surrounded only by her laptop, cellphone and a Netflix subscription. I bet there was a lot of sweat and tears involved in all that intricate weaving, but the final result is truly mind-blowing, and she can rest assured no one else will be wearing the exact dress on prom night.

For last year’s prom, Maura made herself a dress from around 60 bags of Dorito chips. You can check out a couple of photos of it, at the bottom.

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The Written Portraits of Anatol Knotek

Anatol Knotek is a talented young Austrian artist whose  visual poetry artworks revolve around the written character.

Knotek’s interest in visual poetry arose around a decade ago, after a meeting with an Austrian poet. Until that time he had only been interested in painting and the classic fine arts, but after his first contact with visual poetry, he realized how fascinated he was by it, and started working primarily in this field. Since then, Anatol Knotek has become one of the world’s most celebrated artists and has had his works displayed in many art galleries around the world.

The purpose of his “written images” is to express ideas strongly bound to the written, spoken and visual language. Out of all of his works, the written portraits stand out with their complexity and level of detail.

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Indoor Swimming Pool Hosts Underwater Opera Show

Aquaria Palaoa is a different kind of opera performance, where the protagonists sing in, out and under the water of a swimming pool, in Berlin, Germany.

Claudia Herr, a former swimming champion before turning to a music career, is the mastermind behind the unique Aquaria Palaoa project. In an interview with news agency AFP, Herr said she first got the idea for hosting an opera show at an indoor swimming pool the first time she visited the art nouveau Stadtbad Neukölln pool, in Berlin, 10 years ago. The large hall, complete with neo-classical pillars made her feel like she was at the opera.

Playing the lead role in Aquaria Palaoa, the former swimmer turned opera performer dives into the pool in a green evening dress, telling the story of a woman looking for the elixir of eternal youth. She sings both above and under the clear water of Stadtbad Neukölln, with the help of oxygen tanks. Special microphones transmit underwater sounds to speakers set up around the hall. Claudia’s voice, and those of other singers also singing underwater (but without oxygen tanks) are mixed with sounds recorded 100 meters under an ice shelf, in Antarctica. Meanwhile, the orchestra stays dry and accompanies them from the side of the pool.

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Feline Photographer Offers a Cat’s-Eye View on Life

Cooper, a normal house cat from Seattle, has recently become one of the world’s most talked-about photographers after his owners tied a timer-controlled camera around his neck, which takes snaps of his day-to-day adventures.

His brilliant career began last year, when his owners, Michael and Deirdre Cross decided to attach the tiny camera in order to answer the question that plagues all cat owners – “where does my cat go all day?” It started out as a fun geography experiment, but when Cooper came home the first day, and they saw the amazing photos they were completely blown away. Michael and Deirdre realized it wasn’t about where their furry pet went all day, but about how beautiful and lush their neighborhood looked from a feline’s perspective.

The mini camera around Cooper’s neck takes photos every two minutes, revealing everything that he sees. Whether it catches other cats, one of his many hiding places, his owners, or the big blue sky, the camera revealed some pretty amazing shots and practically made Cooper a star. It also helped his owners understand more about their pet, for example, they noticed Cooper spent a lot of time looking at the back door, and realized a lot of his time was spent looking for a way to get inside. So they got a cat flap and noticed he was much happier.

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Azerbaijan Clinic Uses Crude Oil Baths as Therapeutic Treatments

A clinic in the town of Naftalan, 160 miles noth-west of Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku, has found a therapeutic use for its abundant quantities of crude oil.

Azerbaijan is one of the world’s leading oil exporters, and in the country’s western plains “black gold” has been seeping out of the ground for centuries. In fact, they have so much of the stuff, that in the town of Naftalan, they use the excess crude oil as a cure for various illnesses. It all goes down at the famous Naftalan Clinic, where people from all over the former Soviet Union and even from the Emirates and Europe come to treat various skin diseases, rheumatism, arthritis and even their nerves with crude oil. Doctors here say their miraculous oil therapy is used to trat up to 100 different conditions.

The most popular treatment at Naftalan is the crude oil bath. Patients lower their bodies into 35 gallons of crude oil, at a temperature of 40 degrees. Many of them say the warm oil relaxes their joints and they’d love to spend more than 10 minutes soaked in black oil, but since it contains almost 50% naphthalene, a hydrocarbon deemed potentially carcinogenic by EU regulations, longer sessions could be hazardous to their health. The clinic’s doctors claim millions of people have been treated at Naftalan over the years, and none of them have suffered any complications, as a result. Still, to be on the safe side they limit the sessions to 10 minutes, and no more than a bath per day, during a 10-day treatment.

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Sandy Sanderson’s Beer Can Automobiles

Sandy Sanderson is a resourceful New Zealand artist who uses empty soda and beer cans to create detailed models of famous automobiles.

England-born Sandy was trained as a draughtsman, but later became a Technology teacher and emigrated to far away New Zealand. Here he pursued his interest in building airplane, car and bike models, until the age of 40, when he joined a local band and started playing bass guitar. This made him change from building models to making electric string instruments.

Unfortunately, a bike accident shattered one of his wrists and his dream of retiring as a luthier. After surgery, he was still able to use his hand, ride a bike, but the sensitivity and fine control needed to play bass and follow his dream were gone. But it was during his recovery period that he discovered a new hobby – looking at some Coruba and Coke cans he remembered seeing some beautiful aircraft models made from aluminum cans, only they had the plain silvery side on the outside. This didn’t make any sense to him, as the whole point of using such a resource would be to show it to the world and celebrate it instead of hiding it.

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Unbelievably Realistic Starcraft 2 Papercraft Models

Korean Starcraft 2 fan “Constable” has created a series of paper models inspired by units in the video game that will probably blow your mind.

The fact that the dude who made these is from South Korea really doesn’t come as a surprise, since the Starcraft franchise is really popular there, but the level of detail in Constable’s work is pretty unbelievable. Looking at the photos, I had a rough time convincing myself these were anything more than 3D computer generated images, but that was only until I visited Constable’s blog and saw what he can do with a few paper slices.

I’ve posted some awesome paper models on Oddity Central, like the unique papercraft castle Wataru Itou spent 4 years creating, or the paper masterpieces of Taras Lesko, and Constable’s models are right up there with the best I’ve ever seen. If you’re not convinced they’re real, check out his blog and put your mind at ease.

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Cuban Hand-Rolls the World’s Longest Cigar

The world’s longest cigar measures 81.80 meters and was rolled by cigar-maker Jose Castelar Cairo, better known as “el Cueto”.

Jose Castelar and his assistants started working on the giant Cuban cigar at the end of April and finished on Tuesday, May 3rd. British representatives from the Guinness Book of Records acknowledged that the 67-year-old cigar rolling master has set a new world record, beating the previous one (also set by el Cueto) of 60 meters.

Castelar began rolling cigars at the age of 14, in his native province of Villa Clara, and admits he never though he’d end up making cigars almost the size of football fields. He first made cigar history in 2001 when he rolled a 11.04-meters-long cigar, followed by a 14.86-meter one (2003), then 20.41 meters (2005) and 45.38 meters in 2008. For his next project Jose Castelar Cairo will make a cigar measuring 100 meters, and says that as long as el Cueto is alive, the longest cigar will always be found in Cuba.

Just in case you were wondering what “el Cueto” means, apparently it translates as “someone whose achievements cannot be surpassed”.

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Germany Hosts Big Nose World Championship

Ever since 1961, the German town of Langenbruck has hosted the Big Nose World Championship, a competition where “nosy” people from around the world compete for the title of world’s biggest nose.

The history of this wacky contest dates back 40 years, when a group of hops growers and the town minister sat down at the Lagenbruck pub and started making fun of each other’s big noses. “We could actually create a big nose club and you with your nose, could make the board” one of them said, while another replied “If I should be on the board then you would have to be nose king!” It was all in the spirit of fun, but Max Reichart and Wilhelm Höfler actually began thinking about establishing an “Association of Big Noses”, and a few weeks later they had actually done.

Everyone could join, as long as their nose was at least 60-mm-long or 40-mm-wide, and it numbered 40 members in the first hour since sits official inauguration. The Big Nose Club currently has 330 registered members and uses a modern nose gauge to measure the nose size of contestants during the Big Nose World Championship, held every five years. The judges measure the length and width of the noses, and contestants are allowed to frown or make faces in order to enlarge their noses, but they aren’t allowed to use any illegal substances.

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