Sep 27, 2009

Were YOUR Parents Awesome?

My Parents Were Awesome is without a doubt the most awesome website to find awesome pictures of parents who were awesome! Submitted by other awesome people, there is just so much awesomeness on My Parents Were Awesome that you may have no choice but to agree that Yes! These parents were awesome!

You can even submit awesome pictures of your own awesome parents to increase the awesomeness factor of this awesome site to levels that everyone will most certainly consider awesome!


This guy is most definitely awesome!

Sep 21, 2009

The Incredible Coral Castle!

Egypt has the pyramids, China the Great Wall, Cambodia the Angkor Wat. But here in America is to be found perhaps the strangest and most mysterious of constructs: The Coral Castle. Though nowhere near as famous, it is perhaps the most amazing of them all.

Edward Leedskalnin was a Latvian immigrant who single-handedly built the entire castle over a 28 year period, beginning in 1923. In 1936 he decided to relocate his then still-under-construction castle from Florida City, Florida to Homestead, Florida, once again without any apparent outside help, which is stunning considering many of the coral blocks used in it's construction weighed several tons each! The moving process alone took three years...

Old Ed never revealed how he was able to cut, lift and place these large blocks of coral by himself, stating only that he had discovered the means by which the Egyptians had constructed the pyramids. He also worked only when no other people were around, and mostly at night.

Construction continued until his death from malnutrition in 1951.

The castle remains a popular tourist attraction to this day, and no official consensus has ever been reached as to how this small, unassuming man was able to achieve such an amazing feat of engineering on his own.

Sep 17, 2009

The Sherman Brothers

Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman are responsible for some of the most memorable music from anyone's childhood. The "official" composers for many of Disney's most successful films, such as Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the brothers also composed the music for some of his theme park's most popular attractions, such as It's A Small World and The Enchanted Tiki Room. Working outside the Disney company, they also provided scores for many popular musicals such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Charlotte's Web and An American Tale.

Recently, a documentary about them was released, called "The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story." The trailer for it is above, and it will give you some idea of the breadth and scope of their extraordinary work.

There are probably better known composers, but I doubt that there are any better loved composers than Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman!

Sep 14, 2009

Bunny Suicides

The Cap'n's sense of humor sometimes runs a little on the morbid side, which is why I found these cartoons detailing the many ways in which a cute lil' bunny can off himself to be too good not to share.

The cartoons featured on the link come from the book "The Book of Bunny Suicides: Little Fluffy Rabbits Who Just Don't Want To Live Any More" by Andy Riley.

Sep 9, 2009

Woody the Cat

Found this one on MetaFilter:

Woody the cat takes a few minutes to freshen up and have a drink while listening to some jazz...

Sep 8, 2009

Brutus or Bluto?

Good Ol' Bluto

Ah, the age old question: Was Popeye's nemesis named Brutus or Bluto? Actually, he went by both, but the explanation is rather convoluted and, of course, involves lawyers. Only a lawyer could scare Bluto into changing his name.

Good Ol' E.C. Segar

E.C. Segar began drawing the Thimble Theater comic strip for King Features Syndicate in 1919. In 1929 he introduced Popey into the strip, and then, in 1932, he introduced Bluto.

So Bluto came first, for those of you keeping score.

Then, in 1933, the first Popeye cartoon was released by Fleischer Studios, featuring Bluto as the villain. Everything was smooth sailing for Bluto until 1956, when production of the Popeye cartoons was discontinued because Fleischer felt they had played out the formula, and the syndication rights were sold to another company, namely Associated Artists.

Much to everyone's surprise the T.V. ratings went straight through the roof.

King Features Syndicate, who only owned the print rights to the Popeye strip, decided to milk the Popeye animation cow for all it was worth by producing their own animated cartoons. Only in these cartoons the villain's name became Brutus.


Bad research on King Feature's part. They thought that the Bluto character was created for the Fleischer cartoons, and that Paramount (who owned Fleischer) had legal rights to the name. They issued a hastily assembled press release saying they were "going back to the the first newspaper comics the villain was Brutus" which, as you can read above, was definitely not true!

It was quickly decided that Brutus was an entirely new character, and his looks and behavior were subtly altered, even though it wasn't really enough for anyone to notice. Brutus stuck around for only a couple of years...when Hanna-Barbera introduced "The All-New Popeye Show" Brutus went back to being called Bluto, and it stayed Bluto, including for the Robin Williams Popeye film in 1980.

Good Ol' Paul L. Smith as Good Ol' Bluto

So that's the scuttlebutt on the whole Brutus or Bluto debate. If you'd like to read a slightly more in-depth article about it (which is where I culled most all of the information for this post) I suggest you click right on over to The Straight Dope for the straight dope on this subject and many other fascinating subjects as well!

Good Ol' Bluto NOT from Popeye, but I include him anyway!

Saturday Morning Memories

Hey kids! It's time for another exciting installment of Saturday Morning Memories, the post where I share with you yet another Saturday morning cartoon from that time long ago when Saturday mornings were all about cartoons!

Today we feature Shazzan, the story of Chuck and Nancy, a brother and sister who travel through an ancient Arabian land on a flying camel named Kaboobie (of course, the people who came up with this premise never imbibed in any illicit substances!) and who were always helped in times of peril by the friendly genie Shazzan.

Dig the cool intro for Shazzan right here:

Sep 7, 2009

Fantastic Crayon Art!

It is probably safe to say that everyone grew up using Crayola crayons at some point in their childhood. I remember spending time laying on the floor in front of a coloring book, an open box of crayons next to me, being very careful to color within the lines. No improvising for little Quasi...had to follow the rules if I wanted to grow up and become a proper Cap'n!
It was all good clean fun of course, and sometimes I did manage to try drawing my own creations on a blank piece of paper, but the end results never looked as good as I wanted them to. Eventually I grew out of my artistic period, but I never forgot the almost zen-like feeling of coloring.

Of course, some people manage to grow up, but not out, and as you will see the world is a more colorful place because of them!

This is a painting ...well, not really a painting, since no paint was used. I guess it would be better referred to as a "Crayon Rendering" of a tropical beach scene created by Jeffrey Robert, a talented artist who uses crayons to produce beautiful works of art.

Don Marco is another extremely gifted artist who uses crayons to produce works of art worthy of hanging proudly in any home. Or museum, for that matter. The piece above is called "End of the Hunt."

Tiona Marco is another great artist. Though no relation to Don Marco, she was mentored by him, and the results are fantastic as shown by her piece entitled "Adoration."

I encourage you to click on the artists name to visit their sites to see more of their incredible artwork!

Sep 6, 2009

Doyle on the Boil!

There are so many great guitarists in the world it would be impossible to find any agreement on who is the best. Now, of course there is a general consensus of which are among the best, and Doyle Dykes is most certainly on that list.

Doyle is usually considered a country acoustic guitarist, since he began by performing with The Stamps Quartet and then later on touring with Grand Ole Opry star Grandpa Jones before turning solo, but his style is influenced by all types of music, especially the finger picking style of the great Chet Atkins. He also serves as an endorser and clinician for Taylor Guitars, for whom he has designed a very successful Signature model guitar.

Here is a video of Doyle performing two songs that showcase his unique virtuosity:

Apr 7, 2009

I love Uke!

When most people hear the word "Ukulele" they think of either:


Jake Shimabukuru is well on his way to changing both of these perceptions, as the video below ably demonstrates.

Jake himself was born in Honolulu, so you might say that the ability to play the Ukulele was already in his genetic makeup. Receiving his first Uke at age 4, he was soon taking the instrument in new directions, adding effects pedals and inventing new ways of playing the instrument. From his humble beginning playing at a local cafe in Honolulu, Jake has gone on to play in major venues all over the world, performing all types of music for all types of people. You can tell by watching that he truly loves what he does, and I think you'll join me in saying that we truly love it too!

High-Speed Photography

Harold Edgerton was a professor of electrical engineering at M.I.T. who pioneered the use of stroboscopic lights in photography, especially as a means of capturing objects that were moving much too fast to be seen by the human eye. Take this photo of a bullet passing through an apple. Thanks to Dr. Edgerton's work, we can plainly see the moment when the bullet pierces the apple, which would be impossible to see otherwise.

In the following photo, we can see another moment normally invisible to the eye: a golf ball indented by the club at the moment of impact!

Perhaps the most striking images are those he captured for the military as they were testing the atomic bomb. Here is a set of three photographs taken at a speed of 1/100,000,000th of a second:

Above you see the first millionth of a second after the detonation.

In the next millisecond you can see the bomb's energy traveling down the tower's guide wires as the rest of it vaporizes the tower. The desert floor below is instantly transformed into a sea of glass.

A millionth of a second later, the sphere of nuclear destruction completely engulfs the surrounding area, including the Joshua Trees you see silhouetted at ground level which will cease to exist in the next millisecond!

Thanks to the pioneering work of Harold Edgerton, we can now see things that were previously unknown to us, and the techniques he invented are now being used the world over to better understand the amazing world in which we live.

Amazing Lunch Bag Art!

Consider the plain brown lunch bag. For generations it has been the container of choice for carrying lunches to school. Though functional, it was also perfectly boring.

Not anymore!

Some creative folks are decorating their kid's lunch bags with a wide variety of excellent artwork, and thanks to the internet we all get to share in their artistic endeavors!

The Lunch Bag Art blog is by an anonymous dad who enjoys drawing all kinds of cool stuff on his kid's bags, like Chewbacca, above!

Over at LUNCH BAG ARTIST.COM Matthew Roberts posts his own spectacular efforts, such as this Curious George bag, below:

Kinda makes me wish one of my parents had been an artist!

Mar 28, 2009

Vocal Magic

The Voca People are a vocal group.

A very strange vocal group.

They are also extremely talented.

If you tossed eight singers into a blender, along with Blue Man Group, and added a heaping tablespoon of whimsy, then the Voca People would probably pop out!

If you're prepared for a bit of fun, just press the arrow and enjoy!

Mar 27, 2009

Riders in the Sky

Riders in the Sky is a delightful Grammy Award winning western music group that has been performing together since 1977.

Though their style appeals to kids, they are equally popular with their parents and are known for their gentle western-themed humor and expert musicianship.

Their music is comprised of authentic old cowboy and Western songs, and they lace their shows with bits of comedy to sweeten the mix. They had a Saturday morning TV show in the early 1990's and have provided songs for major motion pictures such as Pixar's Toy Story 2 (Woody's Roundup.)

They also have a radio show, Rider's Radio Theater.

Riders in the Sky is certainly a lot of fun to listen to, even if you don't consider yourself a fan of Western music (which is different from what most people perceive as Country music) and here is a fine sample for you; it's the aforementioned Woody's Roundup from Toy Story 2!


Mar 26, 2009

The Gospel Accordion to Uwe...

The accordion is such a misunderstood instrument. It is the musical equivalent of a pun...everyone groans when they hear one.

But put one in the hands of the right person (Lawrence Welk or Weird Al Yankovic for example) and magic can happen.

Uwe Steger is one such magician. The German born Uwe is taking the accordion in some new directions, and doing so with a singular style and plenty of talent.

The link above takes you to his site, which, in spite of being written in German, is easy to find your way around, and contains other videos featuring his marvelous virtuosity.

Here is one of the best Uwe performances, featuring the song "It Don't Mean a Thing (If it ain't got that swing).

You'll notice that the accordion doesn't move...that's because it is one of the newer digital accordions, and requires no bellows to work!

Absolut-ly Intriguing Ads!

Absolut Vodka has, over the years, produced one of the most memorable advertising campaigns in history.

By incorporating the familiar shape of their now-iconic bottle into various clever and inventive scenarios, the company has performed the remarkable feat of transforming alcohol into art!

Since 1980, more than 1500 ads have been released, and they constitute what is arguably the longest running ad campaign in history.

You can view a fairly complete collection of these wonderful ads by visiting the Absolut Ad website at the link above.


A Fast Break for Breakfast!

Over at the always-nostalgic Tick-Tock-Toys, you'll find this wonderful collection of cereal boxes from days-gone-by!

It is interesting to see how some of our most cherished breakfast box icons have changed over the years, like Tony the Tiger here.

You will find all of your favorites, as well as some which you've probably forgotten.

So head on over and grab yourself a bite of sugary nostalgia goodness!

Mar 19, 2009

Funny Pictures!

Over at the Marco Folio blog, you can find some pretty interesting pictures!

Mar 18, 2009

Hooray for Bollywood!

Hollywood gave birth to the film industry. This fact is not in dispute. Over the years, it has influenced the entire world, and now movies are made in every country around the globe.

One country in particular, India, has been cranking out films almost as long as Hollywood. Beginning in 1913, with the release of the silent film Raja Harishchandra, the Mumbai (previously known as Bombay) based film industry has continued to release as many films as Hollywood itself.

The term Bollywood is a blend of the names Bombay and Hollywood. Though the name is often used to refer to the entire scope of Indian film making, it is really just a part of the whole, even though it is the largest producer of film in India, and one of the largest in the world.

The films of Bollywood only began having major impact on the rest of the world in the 2000's. There was a very positive effect from this on the industry, leading it to achieve new heights in the overall quality of the films, including acting, story and cinematography.

An interesting aspect of the industry is that it has always striven to make films that appealed to the vast majority of film-goers, rather than to target narrow audiences, although even this is beginning to change somewhat.

One of my favorite things to see in Bollywood films are the dance numbers in the musicals. They are always so inventive and energetic, and here is a good example from the film Devdas, featuring the very lovely and talented Aishwarya Rai:

Wonderful stuff!

Going back to 1965, here is an unusually bizarre dance number from the film Janwar that is obviously ripping off the Beatles' I wanna Hold Your Hand, but who cares when you're having this much fun?

Finally, from the film Dil Se comes one of the best and most originally staged dance sequences anyone has ever put on film: the entire sequence taking place on top of a moving train! The song is called Chaiya Chaiya, and according to a BBC poll it is considered one of the top 10 songs of all time!

As you can see, Bollywood films certainly don't shirk on entertainment value, and we will probably be seeing and hearing much more from them in the coming years!

Cool Comparison!

On the left: 1 gigabyte of storage 20 years ago.

On the right: 1 gigabyte of storage today.


Mar 17, 2009

Where's Mickey?

One of the most interesting aspects of the Disney theme parks is one which most people are not even aware of.

It seems that the imagineers who designed the parks decided it would be fun to hide Mickey's familiar silhouette in all kinds of places where you wouldn't normally expect to see it, and then never really let on that they were there.

These "hidden Mickeys" have been a part of Disney for a long time, appearing in Disney's classic animated films and other various Disney products throughout the years. The theme park Mickeys have become more widely known in more recent years, and several web sites are devoted to collecting them. A popular Hidden Mickey guidebook is available to those needing help in finding them during their stays at the park.

The link above leads to a Flickr photo group with lots of photos of these hidden Mickeys submitted by people who found and photographed them, so that you can experience the seemingly endless ways in which the imagineers found to hide them in plain sight!

The Art of Television

Back in the days before it got bigger and glossier, the TV Guide was a staple in most American homes.

Each issue featured a photo or illustration of the current "big thing" in television, and perusing the covers can only bring a rush of nostalgia for anyone old enough to remember the original format.

Richard Amsel was the most featured artist for the guide, with 37 covers and countless illustrations within the magazine. He was also responsible for many of the most memorable movie posters in the history of film, as well as other art from record albums and many other places his art appeared.

Though he died in 1985, his legacy lives on.

**Another popular cover artist (who also did movie posters!) was the late Bob Peak. Here are his covers, and here are his movie posters!

**Finally, the most complete collection of TV Guide covers on the internet can be found here!

Happy viewing!

Mar 16, 2009

Japanese Jazz Giant!

Since her Jazz debut in 2003, she has toured around the world, introducing audiences everywhere to her incredible technique, energetic performances, and intoxicating blend of different musical genres.

In the video above she performs the funky "Return of Kung-Fu World Champion."

It's in the cards!

There is much debate as to when the playing card first made it's appearance. Many historians believe it was during the 9th century in China (since the Chinese invented paper) and during the tenth century it is documented that the Chinese used paper dominoes in order to create new games.

This was a long time ago of course, and the playing card has gone through many changes and been used for many different purposes throughout the centuries.

Over at the World of Playing Cards site, you can find out everything you never thought you didn't know about playing cards. From the history and uses of cards to the numerous galleries of card artwork, there is enough fun to be had here that you could keep occupied for hours on end!

A truly great resource that is not to be missed!

Mar 14, 2009

Me and my (hand) shadow

Perhaps because we live in an age of instant visual gratification, the art of casting hand shadows has all but disappeared.

Long before the advent of film and television, going back perhaps thousands of years, the casting of hand shadows may have been one of the very first forms of popular visual entertainment.

You can almost picture some primitive tribesman sitting by a fire, seeing his shadow upon a wall, watching it move in perfect synchronization with his body. He soon comes up with the idea of mimicking simple shapes and forms with his hands and pretty soon he has everyone sitting around watching and listening as he relates stories through this exciting new form of communication.

Far fetched? Maybe, but it seems as likely an explanation as any.

Though most people would laugh at the idea of watching a hand shadow performance, there are still a handful of modern practitioners of the art.

Raymond Crowe is arguably one of the best.

An Australian mime, magician and cabaret performer who bills himself as an unusualist, he always closes his act with a performance called The Shadows. It often has audience members simultaneously laughing and in tears, and you can see it for yourself in the video below:

If you would like to see another pair of excellent hand shadow artists, you can check out Amar Sen and Sabyasachi Sen in this video:

If you are now sufficiently inspired to try a few simple hand shadows for yourself, just go here and give it a try...there's no telling how far you may go!

Mar 13, 2009

Amazing Temples!

Now here's an interesting collection of temples I found over at the forever-fascinating Neatorama blog.

It seems that wherever you find those who worship God, you will also find places of worship designed to inspire a sense of awe and wonder.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, you must admit that, in expressing his search for the divine, man has certainly created some beautiful places in which to seek it!

Mar 12, 2009

That old black magic...

It is hard to imagine, but there was a time when magicians commanded far more respect and admiration than they do today.

Now confined primarily to Las Vegas showrooms and cheesy cable TV specials, magic once filled entire theaters to capacity with a public eager to make contact with dimensions that only magicians and mystics seemed privileged to know.

Magic was so popular in fact, that you might very well find more than one major production in town at any given time.

Names like Houdini, Thurston, Kellar, Dante, Blackstone, Hardeen, Chung Ling Soo and Carter, among others, became synonymous
with the grand magical spectacle that dominated the age.

Of course nothing good lasts forever, and with the advent of film, television and other newer, more exciting technologies, the art of grand illusion quickly faded from popular view.

Though a few managed to partly recapture the public's imagination through a combination of touring stage shows and TV specials (David Copperfield, for example) and though magic will always have a place at the entertainment table, it is doubtful it can ever regain it's former glory.

At the link above, you will find a large collection of vintage magic posters from those days gone by, which may give you some idea of the mystery and spectacle that awaited those adventurous enough to sit down and be open to the endless possibilities of the world of magic!

Mar 11, 2009

Dude looks like a...well, like another dude!

They say that everyone has a twin, and at they hope to prove it. Take a look for yourself!

Saturday Morning Memories

To the average kid, Saturday is just another day, albeit one in which you don't have to go to school. Not too long ago, especially from the 1960's through the 1980s, Saturday was much, much more.

Saturday was all about cartoons.

Not all of Saturday of course, just Saturday morning. But oh, what a morning! Any kid worth his salt was up early, planted in front of the T.V., ready to go!

To remember those Saturday mornings, I will occasionally be posting the opening of a random Saturday morning cartoon in hopes that you will have a pleasant moment of nostalgia...

Here's the first one now:

Mar 10, 2009

A Real Piece of Work

Ecce Homme.

Behold the man.

This particular man is, in fact, not a man at all.

He (or more appropriately it) is an astonishingly life-like sculpture of a man!

Marc Sijan is a Milwaukee-based artist who produces what are arguably the most perfect copies of the human form.

Take another look.

Even close up, he appears flawless. As if at any moment he may begin to move around.

Though artists throughout history have sculpted the body, no one until now has achieved the realism of Marc Sijan.

For more of his amazing work, look here, here, and here!

Mar 7, 2009

Jurassic Art?

We've all heard the sad stories of child stars gone seems as if being a child star automatically consigns you to a life that is anything but happy. A few, however, somehow rise above it all to go further that anyone would have thought possible.

Ariana Richards is one of those who beat the odds. don't remember Ariana Richards?

She was only one of the lead actresses in one of the biggest box-office hits Hollywood has ever produced: Jurassic Park! She played Lex Murphy, the granddaughter of the park's founder, played by Richard Attenborough.

Oh, so now you remember!

Acting was not the only art that Ariana excelled at however. She had always loved traditional art, and in fact her family's genealogy can be traced back to the early Italian Renaissance with Carlo Crevelli, a contemporary of Botticelli!

As you can see in her award-winning painting above, titled "Lady of the Dahlias," her talent is extraordinary!

To view more of her astonishing paintings, be sure to visit her Gallery Ariana.