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The Ghost-Like Smoke Paintings of Rob Tarbell

Rob Tarbell has a very unique talent. By burning everyday objects under a paper canvas fixed on the ceiling of his studio, he is able to control the rising flow of smoke and create incredible works of art.

The artist first got the idea of using smoke as a medium for his art in 2007, and he quickly realized that in order to make it work, he needed to control the smoke, while letting it do what it does naturally. To him, that sounded a lot like what circus trainers do with wild animals, so this inspired him to use circus performances as the main subjects of his beautiful smoke paintings. Masterfully channeling the flow of smoke, Tarbell creates ghost-like figures, both animal and human performing circus acts, in a series entitled Smoke Rings. “The performing animal images in the Smokes parallel the drawing process,” Rob says on his website. “The trainer must recognize and respect the innate nature of an animal when trying to modify its behavior to achieve a desired outcome: e.g. training a bear to dance or training a horse to walk upright. The same is true in working with smoke. The inherent properties of smoke must be respected, then permitted to – and yet discouraged from – acting naturally.”

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Woman Marries 107-Year-Old Warehouse to Save It from Demolition

Babylonia Aivaz, from Seattle, fell in love with an old warehouse where she and other activists protested inside the building, during an Occupy Seattle event. Now, the 107-year-old facility has been scheduled for demolition, so Aivaz decided to marry it to show her love, and hopefully save it.

It sounds like a pretty bizarre situation, especially after you read all the jokes and comments by various media outlets, regarding Babylonia Aivaz’s decision to marry a warehouse. Some joke about the awkward wedding night, others about the solid foundation of their relationship, but the fact is she’s doing it as a form of protest against gentrification. ‘I’m doing this to show the building how much I love it, how much I love community space and how much I love this neighborhood. And I want to stop it from gentrification,’ Aivaz said in an interview. ‘If corporations can have the rights as people, so can buildings,’ she added, referencing a Supreme Court decision on political advertising.

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Rent-a-Girlfriend Services Are Becoming Popular in China

In recent years, young men and women pressed by their families to bring their girlfriends home with them for the seven-day Spring Festival prefer to rent total strangers, just to avoid long lectures and appease their relatives.

Single men and women have it tough in China, a country where most parents go to any lengths to see their offspring settled down with the right person. We’ve had posts about a school teaching girls to land rich powerful businessmen, about Shanghai’s famous marriage market, and about the Love Supermarket, but those were permanent fixes to the being-single “problem”. Nowadays, Chinese bachelors are looking for a temporary solution, and this led to the creation of a whole new niche – girlfriend/boyfriend rentals. All they have to do is go online, access Taobao (China’s version of eBay) and choose between the different sellers offering the unusual service.

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Man Trains to Become Real-Life Tarzan

DeWet Du Toit, a 24-year-old South African man obsessed with Tarzan, spends his days swinging on vines and tree branches, riding elephants and eating fruits of the bush, just like his celluloid hero.

He traveled to England where he worked as a security guard and delivery driver for a year, but returned to his native South Africa where he exchanged the uniform for a loin cloth and decided to become a real-life Tarzan. DeWet Du Toit became a fan of the jungle warrior as a child, when he lived in Namibia and his father collected Tarzan books and comics. Over the years, he realized he is like his hero in so many ways – his best friend is an elephant called Shaka and he spends more time with monkeys, zebras and crocodiles than he spends with people. Although DeWet admits some people might think he’s crazy, he says he knows this is what he was born to do.

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Florentine Artist Fights Pollution by Painting with Smog

If you’re ever in Florence, Italy, and see a grown man on a ladder wiping the dust off statues and building, don’t worry, it’s just Alessandro Ricci gathering material for his famous smog paintings.

40-year-old Ricci is not your average artist, and I don’t say that just because he used smog as the main medium of his artworks. Unlike other painters seeking fast recognition of their talent, he doesn’t really care about “being this big artist”. Instead he is more concerned about bringing attention to how much smog there really is in his home town and how it’s destroying both its monuments and people. Although he did take a couple of art classes a few years back, he is mainly self-taught, doesn’t work in a studio, donates most of his work, and refuses to play by the rules of the Florentine Art Gallery, which he considers corrupt. Alessandro Ricci believes selling his smog paintings  would not only compromise his principles, but also contradict the very thing he’s trying to do – raise awareness about smog pollution in this great Italian city.

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Artist Paints Portrait of Yao Ming Using a Basketball

I can think of a few things one can do with a basketball, but painting is definitily not one of them. But I guess that’s exactly what makes Shanghai-based artist’s, Yi Hong, so special.

Yi, who goes by the name of “Red”, and describes herself as an artist who “loves to paint, but not with a paintbrush”, recently posted a video of herself painting a detailed portrait of retired NBA superstar Yao Ming, using nothing but red paint and a basketball. In the time-lapse she dips the ball in paint and carefully bounces it on the canvas, and slowly by surely, the portrait starts to take shape. All the help she got was in the shape of a print of the famous Chinese basketball player, which she checked a few times, for accuracy. The amazing video got 400,000 views in just a few days, and the artist posted about how flattered she is, on her Facebook page. Yi Hong was born and raised on the island of Borneo, and also spent some time in Australia and the Netherlands, but she ultimately settled in Shanghai.

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Coolest Finds of the Week #26

South African Weathermen Could Face Jail Time for Wrong Forecasts (Yahoo)

Jaipur’s Painted Elephant Festival (Environmental Graffiti)

Man Spots Dead Mother’s Ghost in Guesthouse Photo (Metro)

MMO Game Wants to Break Record for Virtual Marriages (Geekosystem)

16 of the Smartest Children in History (Business Insider)

China’s Famous Salad Towers (The Consumerist)

Functional Bone Guillotine Model Made by Prisoner Awaiting Execution (Daily Mail)

India’s Incredible Hand-Drawn Movie Posters (Asia Obscura)

25 Beautifully-Colored Sea Slugs (Environmental Graffiti)

Man Sets New Record for Most Eyebrow Raises (Record Setter)

17-Year-Old Girl Has Eaten Chicken Nuggets Every Day for the Last 15 Years

Everyone craves fast food every once in a while, but for 17-year-old Stacey Irvine, chicken nuggets have been a part of her daily diet ever since she was 2 years old. Although you wouldn’t think so by looking at her.

I’m a big cheeseburger fan myself, though I try not to eat more than one a month, but for young Stacey, chicken nuggets are the most delicious things on Earth. Her mother, Evonne, 39, made the mistake of introducing her to the tastiness of chicken nuggets when she was just two years old, and she loved them so much, she refused to eat almost anything else after that. Mum even tried starving her at one time, in an attempt to get her to eat more nutritious foods, but to no avail, so she gave up trying to get her off nuggets a long time ago.  For a while they were all she would eat, but she later expanded her daily diet to fries, chipss and an occasional piece of toast for breakfast.

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Billion Euro Home Is Made from Shredded Remains of 1.4 Billion Euros

Unemployed Irish artist, Frank Buckley, has built an entire apartment from the shredded remains of 1.4 billion euros he borrowed from the national mint. He says the Billion Euro Home is a monument to the madness the single currency brought to Ireland.

In 2002, when Ireland adopted the euro, a wave of cheap credit flooded the country, fueling a huge property bubble that eventually led to the country’s economic downfall. People were spending billions of euros on buildings, but when the bubble burst in 2007, the country plunged into the deepest recession of the industrialized world, and those buildings quickly lost their value. Frank Buckley was one of the many Irish who was given a 100% mortgage by the bank, to buy a home with an estimated cost of €365,000, despite the fact he had no steady income. Now his house on the far reaches of Dublin’s commuter belt has lost a third of its value, and the artist is stuck with the credit.

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Guy Spends Six Years Making the World’s Largest Gumball

This is one of the grossest world records I have ever covered, but it’s just so unusual I couldn’t resist sharing it with you guys. A man has kept the around 95,200 pieces of nicotine gum he has chewed over the last six years and put them all together in what is considered the world’s largest gumball.

50-year-old Barry Chappell, from California’s Palos Verdes Estates, has been busy over the last few years, building a 175-pound chewy monstrosity with a diameter of 62 inches, out of the tens of thousands of nicotine gum pieces he’s chewed. Barry is completely aware of the fact that most people who hear about his hobby are more or less disgusted, but that doesn’t make him less proud of his achievement. After all he did stick to the task for six long years, using every one of the approximately 95,200 pieces of nicotine gum he has used to help him stay away from cigarettes. Now his efforts are about to be rewarded, as Ripley’s Believe It or Not decided to acquire his giant gumball and present it as the largest medicated gumball in the world.

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Chinese Cat-Boy Can See Perfectly in the Dark

If you ever doubted real X-Men were among us, check out the neat super-power of Nong Youhui, a young Chinese boy who can see in total darkness.

Riddick, the cool antihero played by Vin Diesel in Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick is one of my all-time favorite  sci-fi  movie characters, but I never dreamed of someday reading about somebody who could actually see in the dark. The first news about a little Chinese child with cat-like eyes who could see in the dark as well as normal people see in clear daylight, first broke out in 2009. Doctors who examined little Nong Youhui said he was born with a rare condition known as luekodermia, which leaves his eyes exposed to sunlight damage, but also allow him to see clearly in the dark.

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Chinese Army Plays Lethal Pass-the-Bomb Game

A video showing Chinese soldiers in a circle passing an explosive satchel from one man to another, until one of them decides to throw it in a hole just before it explodes, has been making the rounds online, leaving everyone flabbergasted.

Photos of South Korea’s special forces troops training in all kinds of extreme conditions have been showing up on the Internet for a few years now, but nothing those guys go through compares to the shocking drill the Chinese devised. During an exhibition drill in Hong Kong, last month, an elite garrison of 6,000 PLA troops staged a series of impressive exercises for the visit of the island’s chief executive, Sir Donald Tsang. Snipers shot tiny glasses, soldiers carried heavy logs and jumped through rings of fire, but nothing as incredible as a group of men playing a game of pass-the-bomb.

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Incredible Fingerprint Paintings by Judith Braun

New York-based artist, Judith Braun, creates giant symmetrical wall paintings, using only her fingertips as brushes. This would be difficult to do with one hand at a time, but Judith sometimes uses both hands at the same time.

As children, we all got our hands dirty then tried to use our fingers to draw, but I doubt any of our “masterpieces” looked anything like those of Judith Braun. By dipping her hands in charcoal, pastel and chalk, and using them as paintbrushes, Braun is able to create truly unique symmetrical works of art. Using her own special technique, she produces all kinds of abstract images, patterns and shapes.  “Abstraction keeps the images free to be anything, while the symmetry resolves that fluidity into something, like liquid energy crystallizing. This crystal metaphor is further reflected in the carbon medium that, under heat and pressure, becomes a diamond.  I like to think I’m drawing with diamond dust”, Judith Braun says about her art.

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Chololi – Japan’s Nose Hair Notification Service, Now Available in English

Have you been dying to tell someone that their nose hairs gross you out? Do you find yourself facing them every day, unable to voice out your disgust? If your answer to these two questions is “yes” , Chololi is just the service for you. It allows anyone to email people anonymously, telling them that their pesky nostril hairs need to be trimmed soon.

Originally launched in Japanese, the web service is now available for the English-speaking as well. To use it, all you need to do is go to their website and fill out a form. Provide the person’s name, e-mail address, the nostril through which the hair is visible, the number of hairs and you’re done! The message will be conveyed in secrecy. Just for kicks, you can even choose the tone with which the message is delivered. There’s mild, strong, commanding, and the nastiest of them all, scornful.

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Parents Keep Child’s Sex Secret for Five Years, to Raise Him Gender Neutral

Ever looked at a baby and wondered if it was a boy or a girl? I’ve been there. It’s a dicey situation because most parents take offence if you blurt out the wrong gender. Beck Laxton and Keiran Cooper are exceptions, though. They raised their kid for five years without revealing the gender to anyone, until recently. Only when things were getting difficult at school did they tell the world that their baby is actually a boy.

This might sound real crazy to a lot of people out there, and Laxton is quite aware of that too. The 46-year-old mom does admit that several people had branded the couple as “loony” and they had to suffer some amount of ostracisation due to their choices. “I discovered that I’d been described as ‘that loony woman who doesn’t know whether her baby is a boy or a girl’. And I could never persuade anyone in the group to come around for coffee. They just thought I was mental,” she says.

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