Danza de los Zancos – The Whirling Stilt Dancers of Anguiano

Walking on stilts is a daunting task for most people, but for the skilled “danzatores” of Anguiano, Spain, it’s a regular walk in the park. During the annual Danza de los Zancos celebration they take to the streets on wooden stilts measuring some 50 centimeters, and spin rapidly down the town’s steepest alleyways. They risk breaking their necks or smashing their heads against the cobbled pavement to honor La Magdalena (Mary Magdalene).

Every year, on July 22, the town of Anguino hosts one of the oldest, most fascinating fiestas in Spain, the Danza de los Zancos (Stilt Dance). In honor of Mary Magdalene, one of the most popular saints in this part of the country, eight brave and morally upright boys from the oldest families in Anguiano put on brightly colored vests, white shirts and damask yellow skirts, and dance on 50-cm-high wooden stilts. And I don’t mean just bouncing from one foot to another, but whirling at high speeds on steep and narrow alleys with nothing but a human mattress of spectators to catch them if they lose their balance. Did I mention they clap their castanets at the same time?

Danza-de-los-Zancos

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Artist Uses Paint and Plastic to Turn Humans into Living Breathing Sculptures

Believe it or not, there is a living human being underneath every one of Marie-Lou Desmeules’ artworks. The Canadian artist uses layers of paint and plastic to turn her models into thought-provoking sculptures of modern-day or historical icons.

The models of Quebec-born artist Marie-Lou Desmeules act as live canvases and experience a metamorphosis through her elaborate “Painting Surgeries”. The unique form of visual art draws a parallel between painting and plastic surgery, as the artistic creation of a portrait is compared with the artificial modification of a human body. Only instead of botox, liposuction and scalpels, Desmueles uses paint, hair and plastic props to give her models a new identity. Oftentimes the results of her painting surgeries are grotesque representations of pop icons like Michael Jackson, Pamela Anderson, Karl Lagerfeld or Barbie that invite viewers to ponder social realities and the the notion of beauty.

Marie-Lou-Desmueles

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We Are Unlike You – A Modeling Agency for Unique Real-Life Characters

Most modeling agencies are interested in beautiful, tall and slender models with perfect proportions, but Berlin-based We Are Unlike You is not your typical modeling agency. As long as you have a unique style or persona, their only requirement is to be yourself.

“We are unlike other model agencies,” founder Maurice Redmond says about We Are Unlike You. “We don’t just offer tremendous looking individuals, but real characters who don’t just look the part, they feel and act it too. Because it’s simply who they are.” The story of this unconventional talent agency began when Redmond saw some photos documenting the Berlin burlesque scene, taken by his photographer Paul Green. Intrigued by the characters in the images, he started thinking about the stories behind them, so after talking with Green and Tim Rhodes, a mutual friend and photo agent, the three decided to work together and connect the colorful individuals in the images with their stories in front of the camera. Their goal is to work with people who are special not only for the way they look, but also for who they are and what they do, and help them get involved in projects that fit their unique personalities and talents. We Are Unlike You’s roster of amazing models includes “a 7ft a baton-twirling blue bunny on suicide heels, the man from Helsinki with the strongest nipples on earth, a human crab, a burlesque dancer that can make grown men weep and many, many more”.

We-Are-Unlike-You

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Physical Deformities in the Name of Tradition – The Cullatori of Nola

La Festa dei Gigli, or The Festival of Lilies, is held every year in the Italian town of Nola. In celebration of St. Paulinus, who in 410 AD saved his people from the invading Visigoths, local man carry heavy wooden obelisks on their shoulders through the streets of Nola, which in time causes them to develop giant calluses.

Artistic photos of men sporting different-size growths on the back of their necks and shoulders have been making the rounds online for a few days now. It turns out they are the works of Italian photographer Antonio Busiello, who recently won first prize at The Royal Photographic Society’s International Print Exhibition. The men in his photos are known as “cullatori” or cradle rockers, and they are responsible with carrying large wooden obelisks on their shoulders during the annual Festa dei Gigli, in Nola, southern Italy. These decorative structures are 25-meters high and weigh around 2,500 kilograms. The cullatori carry them through the narrow streets of Nola for a day and a night without stopping, which leaves them with huge calluses on their backs and shoulders. But the most fascinating thing about these keepers of an ancient tradition is that instead of hiding their physical deformities, they display them with pride as symbols of their sacrifice and devotion to Saint Paulinus, who once gave up himself and all his possessions to save the citizens of Nola during the Visigoth invasion.

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Alligator Snapper Turtle Goes through 10 Cigarettes a Day

According to Chinese media reports, in a village on the outskirts of Changchun lives a nicotine-addicted alligator snapper turtle who smokes around 10 cigarettes a day. The turtle’s keeper says that whenever it feels the need for a smoke, the reptile becomes agitated and starts to hiss.

So how does a turtle become addicted to cigarettes? A local chef, surnamed Tang, who is helping his boss take care of it, says it all started about two months ago when he noticed the pet had lost interest in its daily fish diet. After inspecting the reptile, he noticed there was a sharp chicken bone lodged in its soft belly, but when he tried to pull it out, it snapped at his hand from the pain, nearly biting off his fingers. Tang realized the only way he could take out the bone was to distract the turtle, so he took the lit cigarette that was resting in his mouth and gave it to the pet to bite on. Its jaws snapped on the filter and didn’t let go for hours. His idea proved effective, as he managed to remove the sharp chicken bone, but little did the cook know it would lead to an even bigger problem.

smoking-turtle

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Venezuelan Man Builds His Own Prosthetic Arm

Angel Sanguino, an electronics technician from Caracas, Venezuela, who last year lost his left arm in a motorcycle accident, has recently been awarded a Prize for Science, Technology and Innovation, after he manged to build an ingenious robotic arm that allows him to perform a series of useful tasks.

33-year-old Angel Sanguino was riding his motorcycle when he was hit by a speeding car engaged in illegal street racing. He was taken to the emergency room, and doctors were forced to amputate his left arm from the shoulder. It was a devastating blow for the talented electronics technician who worked for a prestigious computer part manufacturer, as he could no longer do his job with just one arm. The orthopedist told Angel he should accept his disability and move on with his life, but he had other plans. While in intensive care recovering from the surgery, severe internal organ damage and fractured legs, Sanguino learned he was going to become a father soon, and that gave him the strength to fight for his life and make sure he was able to provide for his family. Three months after his accident, the young Venezuelan used his experience as a cartoonist to design a prosthetic arm that would allow him to repair electronic components just like before.

Angel-Sanguino

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Introducing Broga – Manly Yoga for Dudes

When yoga first came to the United States it was mostly regarded as a chick thing, and the few men who rarely walked into a yoga studio were only waiting for their girlfriends. Things have changed a lot in the last few years, and now almost 50% of attendants are men, but there are still stiff guys out there who don’t feel comfortable in the same room with a bunch of flexible women. That’s where broga comes in.

As its name suggests, broga is a variation of yoga tailored for “bros”. It’s based on the idea that most men want to keep fit without feeling emasculated by silly posies, meditation and Sanskrit chanting.  Co-founders Robert Sidoti and Adam O’Neill have found a way to combine yoga routines with manly exercises like push-ups and squats to make the original Indian practice more appealing to men. Guys usually engage in other types of physical activity, like tennis or basketball, because it feels like a better workout, but broga is brutal enough to make you sweat and catch your breath, while at the same time improving your muscle and joint flexibility and reducing stress. Sidoti and O’Neill also design their studios with men in mind, and although they don’t look like regular man caves, the two always opt for neutral colors and use a soundtrack featuring the Black Keys, Radiohead, Awolnation and Bon Iver instead of the traditional New Age music commonly used for yoga. Their instructors don’t sound like the usual zen types either, but more like buddies giving you pointers.

Yoga-for men

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German Star Wars Fans Build 1:2 Scale Tie Fighter

The Star Wars universe has millions of fans throughout the world, and some of them really invest a lot of time and money into their passion for the franchise. Case in point, a group of German Star Wars enthusiasts who created an almost life-size model of the iconic Tie Fighter spacecraft out of wood, steel and plastic.

It took an army of hobbyists two years to complete, but the 1:2 scale Tie Fighter recently unveiled in Eichenzell, Germany, is a true DIY masterpiece. 20 Star Wars fans of different professions, from financial brokers to policemen and architects, put their blood and tears into this 5.30 m wide, 4.80 m long, 4.30 m high and 1.4 tons heavy model of the Galactic Empire’s starfighter. They worked in 12-meter-wide parking garage and spent an estimated €14,000 ($18,500) on necessary materials. The steel and aluminum frame alone cost €6,000 ($8,000), the wood was mostly provided for free, and the giant plastic ball that makes up the cockpit cost €1,900 ($2,500). Luckily, they had a couple of generous sponsors who took care of the bills.

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Swedes Create Machine That Turns Sweat into Drinking Water

To highlight the seriousness of potable water shortage in some parts of Africa and Asia a group of tech-savvy Swedes have created a machine that turns perspiration into drinking water. Aptly named the “Sweat Machine” was inspired by technology used by NASA to recycle everything from human sweat to urine.

Developed by a team of engineers led by Andreas Hammar, the Sweat Machine works by extracting the perspiration, which is 99% water, out of people’s clothes. Sweaty garments are tossed into a dryer, where they are spun and squeezed for every last drop of liquid. The gathered sweat then gets heated, exposed to ultra-violet light and passed through a series of high-tech filters to remove the salt and bacteria. During the final stage of the purification process, the sweat goes through a coffee filter that retains any textile fibers left over from the clothes. The result is perfectly drinkable distilled water. Although the exact capacity of the dryer is yet unknown, the inventors say it takes a full load of sweaty shirts and shorts to produce a pint of potable water. Drinking your own and other people’s sweat sounds disgusting, but according to one brave sommelier, it actually has nice sweet taste.

Sweat-Machine

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The Ultimate Thrill Ride – Dangling on the Edge of a Canyon in a Pneumatic Swing

Located on the edge of a canyon, 1,300 feet above the Colorado River, the Giant Canyon Swing at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is definitely not your playground swing set. But if you’re an adrenaline junky this might very well be your dream come true.

Glenwood Springs is a small Colorado town famous for its wide variety of family-oriented attractions. In 2011, USA Today named it the ”Most Fun Town in America”, but the Giant Canyon Swing isn’t the kind of ride most parents would ever want their children to go on. This metal beast is perched on the side of a cliff 400 meters above the Colorado River and sends up to four passengers flying 112 degrees above the horizon at about 50 miles per hour. At the highest point, all thrill-seekers can see is the seemingly endless drop below them, which causes them to scream in excitement, fear or both. The swing’s creator, 41-year-old Steve Beckley has only tried it once, and has been too scared to try it again ever since, but he gets a kick out of seeing other’s faces and hearing their screams during the 60-second ride.

Giant-Canyon-Swing

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Wisconsin Man Builds Life-Size Functional Tonka Truck

Brad Doane is living his childhood dream of driving a life-size Tonka Truck. The 40-year-old tow truck driver from Menomonie, Wisconsin, has spent a year converting a Chevy pickup drive train into a scaled-up functional replica of the 1969 Mighty Tonka Wrecker Tow Truck.

As a little boy, Brad collected every Tonka truck there ever was, but it wasn’t until a few years ago, when his mother brought back an old Mighty Wrecker she had bought at a charity auction that he ever considered building a life-size one. Having grown up at his family’s towing garage, Brad knew a thing or two about building a car, and inspired by the new Tonka toy, he decided to put his plan into action. He spent $700 on an old Chevy pick-up and spent a whole year, cutting, bending and welding steel to transform it into a drivable Tonka Mighty Wrecker 12 times its original size. The white body of the vehicle is identical to the classic toy down to the mini cabin and hand-crank-operated towing arms, and Doane even added a tiny steering wheel for ultimate authenticity. It’s a fully functional and registered vehicle that turns heads everywhere he takes it.

life-size-Tonka-truck

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Stretching the Limits – Meet the Famous Rubberband Boy

Shay Horay, better known as the Rubberband Boy, is one of the world’s most unusual performers. During his unique act, Horay twists tight rubber band across his face until he looks like a grotesque monster out of a horror movie. Strangely enough, kids love him.

34-year-old Shay Horay is one of those lucky few who knew what they wanted to do with their lives very early on. The young New Zealander grew up surrounded by rubber bands in his parents’ office supply shop and used them to create all kinds of crazy contraptions inspired by his favorite cartoon, Inspector Gadget. When he was just 12 years old, Shay knew he belonged on stage, making a living out of showing audiences a good time and wowing them with his strange talent. Although he specializes in stand-up comedy, unicycle and pogo stick routines, it was the Rubberband Boy character that made him internationally famous. His ability to use rubber bands to make his face look mutilated turned out to be a great crowd-pleaser, and so far he has traveled to 25 different countries entertaining people with his unique act.

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Healthy Woman Dreams of Becoming Paralyzed from the Waist Down

Being stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives is most people’s idea of hell, but not for Chloe Jennings-White. A 57-year-old chemist from Salt Lake City, Utah, has an unnatural desire to become a paraplegic (paralyzed from the waist down).

Chloe lives the life of a disabled person. She moves around in a wheelchair and wears long leg braces that lock at the knee to enable her to ambulate with crutches. But when she needs to go up or down a flight of stairs, she simply stands up, removes her braces and walks like a normal person. Like most paralyzed people, she loves outdoor activities, only instead of using specialized equipment to enable such activities, she simply goes on 12-hour hikes in the woods, skies down dangerous slopes, climbs mountain peaks, like a normal person. Chloe Jennings-White isn’t physically impaired, she just likes to feel like she is. In 2008, doctors diagnosed her with BIID (Body Integrity identity Disorder), a serious psychological disorder that causes sufferers to  feel they would be happier living as amputees or paraplegics. To resist the urges of damaging her spine and fulfilling her desire of becoming paralyzed, doctors suggested she use a wheelchair and special braces. Being able to spend most of her time as a paraplegic has been a massive relief for Chloe, but she admits to sometimes fantasizing about being an accident or a car crash that would truly damage her legs.

Chloe-Jennings-White

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Is Your Child Using Drugs? Rent a Trained Sniffer Dog to Find Out

German entrepreneur Reitner Reuther has made headlines in the national media for offering a very unique service. He gives parents who suspect their children of using illegal substances the chance to find out for sure by hiring a trained sniffer dog.

Statistics show drug abuse among youth is an increasing problem all around the world, but parents in Germany now have a new way of dealing with it without involving the authorities. Reitner Reuther believes his sniffer dog Thor is able to find even the most secret stashes of narcotics that can often be “too sophisticated” for parents to discover, so he set up a website where he offers to conduct discreet searches at the clients’ homes, at a rate of €95 ($125) per case. Thor completed his training to become a police dog in Texas, USA and specializes in sniffing out cannabis, heroin, speed and ecstasy. Parents get in touch with Reitner and they set up an appointment. When their child is away at school, he brings the dog by to search the house. According to his owner, no matter how well the drugs are hidden, nothing gets by Thor.

sniffer-dog-service

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Bugs the Size of Your Hand – The Titan Beetle

As its name suggests, the Titanus giganteus, or Titan Beetle, is a giant of the insect world. Adults can grow up to 6.5 inches (16.7 cm) long and have incredibly strong jaws that can snap wooden pencils in half, so just imagine what they could do to your fingers. Luckily, these scary-looking bugs are quite harmless to humans.

The Titan beetle is one of the most mysterious creatures on Earth. It lives unobtrusively deep in some of the South America’s  hottest tropical rain forests and only ventures out when seeking out mates. The larvae of this amazing insect have never been found, but judging by the large boreholes found in dead trees in their natural habitat, scientists believe Titan beetle grubs feed on decaying wood below ground for several years before reaching maturity. The size of these holes suggests the grubs are around two inches in diameter and up to a foot long. Just like the Atlas Moth, the Titan beetle doesn’t feed during its adult life cycle, using the reserves gathered in its pupa stage to fly around long enough to find a mate. Because they mostly sit around waiting for males to seek them out and fertilize their eggs, females have rarely been spotted.

Titan-Beetle

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