26 March 2017

10 Great Ways to End a Story that Aren't... And Then I Woke up and It Was All a Dream



How do I end my story or narrative? That’s a question English teachers get a lot. There are many ways to end a story – and this video from Teaching and Learning Resources for Me shows you ten straightforward methods to give your story an ending fairly quickly without it ruining it!

This is an important skill as the end of a story forms part of its denouement and as such is an important part of its structure.  Take a look at the video – which will be your favorite way to end a story?

This video is especially useful when preparing students for exams like GCSE English language where Paper 1 Question 5 of the AQA exam involves doing just that in terms of an optional narrative question.

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20 Mildly Amusing Door-mats

Door-mats are not particularly valued– we have even adopted the noun as a metaphor to describe people who allow themselves to be used by others.  Yet these vital but unsung heroes of a clean house should be more of an everyday treasure than they are.  A few well-chosen words (or symbols) can make all the difference. Here are twenty good reasons why door-mats shouldn’t be such… door-mats.

19 March 2017

The Bombay Highway Code


This is a delightful and elegiac look at the sights and sounds of Mumbai, written and narrated by live action and creative director David Baksh.  It is all very laid back which belies the often frenetic way that the citizens of the great city of India travel on its streets and highways.

Yet in this open, poetic love letter to the city, Baksh evokes the essence of the place beautifully.
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What's Inside a Black Hole?


This animated short was created by Beakus for the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.  It asks the question – what’s inside a black hole?

It answers (in language specifically designed for a young audience) where black holes come from and how we know they are actually out there, not to mention what would happen if someone got near one…
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Action Bill


OK, I really couldn’t make this up.  Stratford Upon Avon – my guess around 1605.  William Shatner, for reasons that will soon become obvious, travels back in time in a robot with the express intention of killing William Shakespeare.  Who will save Master Shakespeare? His savior comes in the form of someone not unacquainted with his works.  Oh – and it’s all in Lego.  Created by AMAA Productions from Austin, Texas, this is an absolute riot.
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The Fire Whirl – Nature’s Fiery Funnel

They are called variously fire whirls, fire devils, fire tornadoes and even firenadoes – and the chances are you will never be fortunate (depending on your outlook) enough to see one in real life. An extraordinarily rare phenomenon they are only occasionally caught on camera. Here, however, are a few wonderful examples.

Fire whirls come about only under specific conditions, a combination of air currents and temperature.  A fire on the ground forms a whirl which can rapidly reach great heights, though mercifully most never last for long.  However, just like a tornado, the fire rises in an almost vertical rotating column.

11 March 2017

10 Amazing Places to Visit in India that Aren’t the Taj Mahal

If you are planning on doing some India travel as a tourist then the likelihood is that at some point during your stay you will find yourself at the Taj Mahal.  This glorious white marble mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh remains one of the country’s sites that simply should not be missed.  Yet in this vast subcontinent there are hundreds of other places that could crown a visit for one reason or another.  They may be less well known than the mausoleum built by Shah Jahan but they linger in the minds and hearts of all who visit them. Here are just ten of those amazing places you could visit while in India that aren’t the Taj Mahal.

Meenakshi Amman Temple

The Kermode Bear: Spirit Bear of British Columbia

This is not a polar bear which has decided to migrate to warmer climes.  Featured today on our sibling site, the Ark in Space, this is a remarkable sub-species of the North American Black Bear - the Kermode Bear, aka the spirit bear.  Living along the shorelines and central interior of British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, around ten percent of Kermode bears have white or creamy coats.  Unsurprisingly, they are revered among the native peoples of the province.  Head over to the Ark in Space for the full feature on these beautiful but rare bears.

Image Credit Valard
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Asia Hyperlapse


No time to get on a plane and spend time traveling through Asia? Me neither. So, take it all in over the course of three minutes instead courtesy of this hyperlapse video by Swiss designer Sylvain Botter who was lucky enough to travel through nine Asian countries with his girlfriend over a six month period.  The countries featured in the video are China, Laos, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Burma.  I think I would need another holiday to get over it all!

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Black Skies


A young woman survived a massive tornado in her youth.  Years later she believes that she was somehow spared by the storm and attempts to call it back to a point where reality and fantasy change places.  Make what will of this beguiling short by Alejandro Adrian – it has been created for you to interpret it as you wish.  One thing is for sure, however – I bet you watched it all the way to the end!

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Let’s Go Home


You don’t realize how overused a phrase is until it is laid out in front of you.  One of the major culprits (if you can call it that) is let’s go home.  Perhaps it has been rather lazily used over the decades but it now serves as an oral trigger to audiences to indicate movement in storylines. Matt McGee has put this great selection together and – unlike some we can mention – has done us the favor of putting the name of the movie in the bottom left corner.  Thanks, Matt!

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6 March 2017

Cheese Trouble: When Wallace and Gromit met the Minions!


If the minions were suddenly to get peckish for some cheese, where do you think they should go to acquire their portions?  Animator Fabrice Mathieu believes they would probably make a bee-line (or should that be cheese-line) to the home of Wallace and Gromit.  After all, if anyone is going to have enough cheese for the minions, it will probably be them.  They may not be so keen to have their cheese stolen, however!  Don’t worry so much about how exactly Monsieur Fabrice has done this, just enjoy the guilty pleasure of this mashup with a cup of tea and a slice or two of Wensleydale.

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1 March 2017

The Monuments of North Korea

The age of huge monuments to political ideology came to an end for many with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.  In the rush towards change, many massive statues of communist leaders and heroes were toppled or consigned to scrap yards.  The time for colossal testaments to the cream of communism was, it seems, well and truly over. Or perhaps not. No one seems to have told the North Koreans.  The East Asian country, still in the thrall of totalitarian and Stalinist policies combined with a cult of personality based around a single family is awash with grandiose monuments.  Here are just some of them.

The Juche Tower
The Juche Tower was part of a flurry of moments erected in the 1980s.  Juche is the system created by Kim Il-sung, the North’s first Prime Minister.  It consists of self-sufficiency, self-reliance and nationalism – effectively a closed economy which must stagger along without external assistance or international trade. Autarky, as the self-reliance is known had been previously practiced by Nazi Germany (with the realisation that because war was inevitable with some of the countries it traded with, this could not be relied upon in the totalitarian future with plenty of lebensraum that was envisioned).

Far the Days Come


This is an enigmatic animated short to say the very least – so I won’t go in to any particular detail about it myself.  Rather, I will leave you to draw your own conclusions about its comment on the current state of humanity.  Directed by Ram Singh of Pencillati Studios with music by Letter Box, Far the Days Come may not fill your day with rainbows and unicorns but will give you food for thought.

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Know Your Rights: Think Before You Buy


It’s easier than ever to get ripped off these days so when you buy something it’s best you use the old grey matter a little bit first.

This video has recently been released by Kent County Council to encourage those who live in the borough to do just that.  What makes it a little different is that it is animated using Lego which is never a bad thing.  Take a look!

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25 February 2017

Einstein and the Honey Bee


It is said that Einstein calculated that if the honey bee were to disappear then humanity would die out in four years.  The bee population of the UK halved by the year 2007 due to Colony Collapse Disorder, the reasons for which are unclear. If Einstein was right then we have real reason to worry and the reasons for the collapse of so many bee hives must be addressed immediately.

Yet was Einstein correct? This short animated film by Lucy Cash explores his (supposed) statement and takes a look out our ongoing and enduring relationship with that most special of insects, the honey bee.
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The Painted Monasteries of Romania

You would reasonably expect a monastery to have frescoes - inside.  Yet a number of monasteries in the Romanian region of Moldavia have centuries old frescoes on the exterior of their katholikon (main church) which have, incredibly, survived the years and the elements.  Perhaps the most famous, which you can see here, is the Voronet Monastery with its bright azurite background – known to Romanians as Voronet blue - but it is not alone in this remarkable tradition.

The Wolf Eel: The Old Man of the Sea

Possibly not what you might want jumping out at you when you are on an ocean dive! This is the wolf eel – it can grow to eight feet long and has teeth that can easily crush human bone. Something to be avoided at all costs, then?  You might think so but then the truth is often stranger than fiction.  This old man of the sea turns out to be something of a pussycat and will gladly let divers stroke and feed it – and it’s just as curious about us as we are about it.  Find out more about the wolf eel over at the Ark in Space with great pictures and an awesome video to boot.

Image Credit Flickr User Ed Bierman
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Extinction – A Dodo’s Guide


Species go extinct, that much we know.  Yet the history of extinction isn’t something, perhaps, to which we pay much attention.  This marvelous animation, directed and with art and design by Asa Lucander, tells the story of extinction from a human historical perspective.  There are some great anecdotes to be had in these four minutes, such as no-one realized that the poor old Dodo had gone extinct until way after the event.

We have the BBC, ultimately, to thank for this little treasure.  It was originally broadcast on a show called Science Club. The show covered such questions as whether or not it is a good idea for us to try and contact aliens, why the bicycle has improved the human immune system more than any drug in history and many more.  Who said science couldn’t be popularized?
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Timelapses from the Silk Road



Chris Northey, a freelance digital designer, shot these timelapses while traveling along the ancient Silk Road from China to Uzbekistan in mid-2012. They feature familiar places to many, Beijing and Xi'an in China, then moving on to lesser known Chinese cities, Turpan (left) and Kashgar.  Thence to Kyrgyzstan and we experience the sights of ash Rabat and Song Kol. Finally we end up in Uzbekistan, visiting Tashkent, Bukhara and Samarkand.

These short timelapses are woven together to create a whole and although we see the Silk Road through very modern eyes many of the sights are the same as people would have seen centuries ago.  The whole short is wrapped up with atmospheric music from My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Brian Eno and David Byrne.  Sublime.


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Once There Was a King - A Polish Lullaby


This is a rather startling animated version (by Tytus Majerski) of an even more startling Polish lullaby.  Once There Was a King tells the story of a monarch and his two companions, all of whom meet rather grisly deaths.  You begin to scratch your head about how exactly this was designed to allow children to get to sleep without nightmares (and possibly years of therapy) until you get to the third and final verse and then things are (fortunately!) set straight.


The lullaby itself was written by Janina Porazińska, a famous Polish writer who was born in 1882 and who died in 1971. The writer was enamored of Polish folklore and created her own stories which drew from this rich seam of literature. Her books have been translated into many languages. The song is performed by Maria Peszek.
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19 February 2017

Modular Origami: The Ancient Art of Kusudama Evolved

Kusudama is a traditional Japanese art form which has evolved in to what is now generally referred to as modular origami.  With some remarkable examples, here is the basic difference between the two.

The form of Kusudama goes back to before written history.  The general consensus is that they were used to hold bunches of herbs or flowers as urban culture took hold.  Before this the plants would have been hung on their own and the kusudama evolved as an aesthetically pleasing receptacle for both potpourri and incense.

Particle Flow


The video above records a kinetic motion study created by Michael Schmitz and team for a well known stryenics provider.  I think it’s best to hand the rest over to Mr Schmitz:

“Granules are driven by gravity and topography forming an analogue particle system. A moving slanted plane and a grid of motorized stamps control the elements to form infinite variations of behaviors and patterns. The result is a zen-like experience that is both: fascinating and contemplative. Software controlled motion follows a complex choreography and enables precise steering of physical particles in a variety of ways: from subtle to obvious, from slow to high paced, from random-like to symmetric.”

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Dancing on Air: When Indoor-Skydiving becomes Ballet


This is quite incredible to watch.  Professional dancer Inka Tiitto just happens to be a champion indoor skydiver too.  However, at some point she decided that to combine the two was a great idea.

She is right – it is – and she is something to behold as she seemingly effortlessly counters high speeds of up to 180mph.  However, when you watch this you realise that her hope – that indoor skydiving can evolve in to a performing art – is not unrealistic.  Can you imagine Swan Lake being recreated like this?  This video was created by Great Big Story.

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Courage: What it Takes to Stop Bullying


So many people witness bullying but do nothing about it as they often fear that they will end up being bullied themselves. This short by The Mary Foundation in Denmark shows that – actually – often all it takes to stop bullying is for one person to have the courage to intervene. It can be amazing what happens next – when liberation from the psychological group control of bullies occurs. Grab a hankie before you press play – you may need one.
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Alphabetic

Do you know your alphabet?  My best guess is that your answer is in the affirmative but as anyone who ever watched the BBC in the 1970s knows, there’s nothing quite like a repeat.  Except this animated alphabet isn’t quite your run of the mill run through of the letters between A and Z.  Hypnotic is the word I would probably use. Alphabetic was created by Ariel Costa of blinkmybrain with sound by Marcelo Baldin of Combustion.

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