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.

Mar 6, 2009

Art to the Max!

Peter Max is an American icon who's artwork defined the spirit of the 1960's.

As a child, the German-born artist fled Berlin with his parents and wound up in Shanghai, China, where they lived for ten years. They then moved to Tibet, and later to Haifa, Israel. Finally, after a quick stop in Paris, they settled in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

Peter opened his first art studio in Manhattan in 1962, and by 1968 he had appeared on The Tonight Show, and a year later was on the cover of Life magazine.

Many people assume that it was Peter's artwork that influenced the look of the film Yellow submarine, but this was not the case. It was another German, Heinz Edelmann, who not only helped to pioneer the psychedelic style for which Max would later become so well-known, but who also was the art director responsible for the look of the film.

To view more of Peter's colorful work, visit the Doubletake Gallery's HUGE collection of Peter Max art!

Extreme Clouds

Over at the always amazing Dark Roasted Blend, you can find all kinds of phenomenal things, such as these fantastic photographs of clouds.

Normally, most of us don't get to see these types of cloud formations (which look like something out of a science fiction movie) but you have to agree...they are awesome!

More pictures can be found here!

Mar 5, 2009

The Light Fantastic!

Now this is an amazing. It's called Multiverse, and you can see it for yourself anytime this year if you can get over to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

The installation was created by American artist Leo Villareal.

Consisting of a moving walkway that travels through a 200-foot-long tunnel lined with 41,000 computer-controlled LED lights, the experience is said to be out-of-this-world!

The software that controls the lights has an element of chance built in to it, so no one can ever see the same display twice. The video below will give you an idea of how this looks:

Mar 4, 2009

Ridin' the Rails

This is an iconic image...the hobo, his bindle stick thrown over one shoulder, ready to hop another train to another town.

The hobo has been a part of American culture since the mid-nineteenth century. With the end of the American Civil War, many soldiers wanting to return home would take to hopping freight trains. Others who were looking for employment followed the trains westward, looking for a better life.

Life for the hobo was fraught with danger. Riding a freight train was no easy thing, and many were killed while attempting to hop aboard moving freight cars. Even if they survived a failed attempt, it would occasionally come at the cost of an arm or a leg crushed and severed beneath the wheels of the train.

Then there were the railroad security workers, nicknamed bulls, who were often merciless to trespassers.

Though perhaps not quite as numerous as they were decades ago, the hobo culture is still alive and well in America. There's even a National Hobo Convention held the second week of every August in Britt, Iowa.

*A great place to find all types of interesting information regarding hobos is

*Check out these amazing carvings made from nickles by hobos!

*If you grew up in California during the 1970's, you'll remember Hobo Kelly.

*Finally, here is the delightful 700 Hoboes Project, in which artists provided sketches of hobos based upon (mostly) historical hobo names. To jump right to the galley, click here!

Mar 3, 2009

This'll leave you Hang-ing!

The Hang Drum is a percussive musical instrument created in Bern, Switzerland around the year 2000 following years of research and design.

They are handmade in extremely limited numbers, and are difficult to come by. You must first write the people who make it, and then await a response. Even then, you have to travel to Bern to personally take delivery on your Hang.

Dante Bucci
is one of a handful of expert Hang players, and the music he creates is equal parts beautiful, haunting, deeply spiritual and relaxing, as demonstrated in the video above.

Gone to Seed

Just look at that corn! Doesn't it look absolutely mouth-watering? Wouldn't you love to cook it up, slather it in butter and savor every last bite of this delicious, golden cob of sweet corn?

That's the idea behind the Burpee seed entice you into growing your own produce, and it always tastes better when you've grown it yourself!

The Burpee seed company was founded way back in 1878 by Washington Atlee Burpee. It's catalogs featured beautiful illustrations of all types of flowers and produce.

Though the modern catalogs rely primarily on photographs for the covers, the early ones were true works of art!

Check out the link to see more of these beautiful covers!

Mar 2, 2009

...but is it ART-chitecture?

Over at the wonderful Village Of Joy website, you will find an amazing collection of 50 architectural oddities from around the world.

I don't know about you, but I find it particularly refreshing that there are still people with a sense of whimsy involved in designing public makes this world so much more fun to live in!

Can you imagine the result if these architects would join forces and design an entire city? Now there's a place I would definitely want to live!

Burnt Offerings

"Yes, social friend, I love thee well,

In learned doctor's spite;
Thy clouds all other clouds dispel,
And lap me in delight."

American poet Charles Sprague was so inspired by the pleasures of a good smoke that he managed to capture the beauty of it in just a few lines.

The feeling was indeed mutual for millions of people around the world who found (and continue to find) equal enjoyment in the art of smoking. In spite of the significant health risks, relaxing with a good cigarette is still a daily ritual for countless numbers of people.

Of course, there was another "art" related to smoking, and that was the art of the cigarette pack itself. Slides, shells, boxes and tins acted not only as containers, but as powerful advertising tools. Retrieving a pack from your pocket or purse allowed others to see exactly which brand you preferred, and the more eye-catching the design, the more likely others might be to remember and seek out that particular brand.

Over at the amazing Burnt Offerings site, Jim Shaw has assembled an unrivaled collection of these beautiful works of art, including many posters, trade cards and other forms of cigarette advertising. There are examples from all over the world, and most are accompanied with informative commentary from Mr. Shaw himself.

Whether you are a smoker or not, there is much to be delighted by here, and I heartily recommend you stop by for a look-see. It will be well worth your time!

Oh, and smoke 'em if you've got 'em!

Many thanks to Jim Shaw for allowing me to post these images from his site!