15 October 2017

Haw Par Villa – Unusual Singapore Theme Park

In 1937 two brothers from Singapore had a dream – they wanted to help people to learn, remember and pass on traditional Chinese values as expressed through myth, legend and the tenets of Confucianism.  They already had a small venue – the Tiger Balm - but wanted to broaden the appeal to a wider audience.  So was born the idea of extending the place to incorporate a garden in which Chinese legends would come to life.

Let the monkey warn you, however.  If you are of a nervous disposition, perhaps it is time to consider whether you wish to continue on this particular journey.

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Northwestern China, You Will After You Watch This


Gansu Province is located in the northwestern China. To the west of Lanzhou and west of the Yellow River is the famous "Hexi Corridor," an important strategic passage on the ancient Silk Road stretching to the west. This area abounds in rich historical and cultural heritage, including grottoes, ancient buildings and other cultural relics.  This amazing film was made by Luciano Bosticco.
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The Disappearance of Willie Bingham


You could say that this is Kuriositas’ offering for Halloween as it certainly has the horror quotient but very cleverly done (even though if you are squeamish at all you will wince on any number of occasions).  Prisoner Willie Bingham has committed a terrible crime and the authorities decide to use him as a pilot for a particularly gruesome kind of punishment.  Written and directed by Matt Richards, this will have you on the edge of your seat.  Scalpels out!

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Fox and the Whale


A inquisitive fox goes in search of a mysterious, elusive whale in this enigmatic animated short, directed and produced by Robin Joseph.  If you are fond of your metaphors then you will find any number of them within this curiosity.  Frankly I am not quite sure what to make of it but I do know this – it’s gorgeously made and leaves an impression.  I’m in particular awe of the backgrounds – just exquisite.

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11 October 2017

The Deadly Dewdrops of the Drosera

Look closely, but be wary of touching.  Those beautiful glistening drops of dew at the end of the plants you can see in these photographs are not quite what they seem.  In fact, rather than being dew, that jewel of the earth, these gleaming globules are in fact mucilage. Muci-what?

This Way Up


Laying the dead to rest has never been so much trouble. This Oscar Nominated short is directed by Smith & Foulkes and written by Foulkes, Smith, and Christopher O’Reilly, and produced at Nexus by Charlotte Bavasso and Christopher O’Reilly, the film follows two dour unfortunates as they battle a series of misadventures while trying to deliver a coffin to the graveyard.
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If You Have Never Wanted to Visit London, You Will After Watching This


London has always been a city dominated by its river, so it is great to see that the Thames featured in this exemplary time-lapse and hyperlapse by Bordetcky and Svetlana Abrashova of BeHere Too.  The city has never looked so beautiful and as well as the places you would expect to see in such a film – Big Ben and Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge, there are some of the lesser-seen sights of London too. Wonderful.
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Watch the Big Bang but Don’t Know the Theory? Take a Look at This…


…because it may just clear up a few things for you about the original Big Bang Theory.  Where Sheldon might blind you with science, this animation, designed by Mike Luzzi and directed by Dan and Jason at Hornet Inc will make it simple. Well, simpler because even at its most basic it is quite a lot to take in – at least in one viewing.  However, as Einstein said: If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.
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7 October 2017

Tightrope Walking – The Great Mid-Air Gamble

Did you know that the proper term for tightrope walking is funambulism? The first syllable says it all really – fun – but perhaps only for those who participate in this dangerous activity. It is definitely a gamble walking the tightrope. however choosing a casino to play at doesn't have to be if you read about the top online casino uk options from a trusted review website. However, as you can see from many of these photos, those who take that gamble and walk across the wide open spaces on only a rope seem to enjoy the experience very much.

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Of course, that leaves the rest of us on the ground looking up, emotions a strange mix of awe and dread, as these brave souls traverse the distance from one point of safety to another.  People have been doing this for thousands of years – in fact the term funambulism is Latin in its roots.  However, it was never considered enough of a sport to be considered as an Olympic event – neither in the way back when or in modern times (which is something of a shame, don’t you think?).

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There have also been periods in history when rope-walkers were actively discriminated against.  In Post-Roman France they were forbidden to tightrope in the vicinity of churches.  This doesn’t seem much of a loss until you realise that traveling fairgrounds always pitched up as near to the largest building in a town or village as possible and this was almost inevitably the local church.  So, this was effectively a ban on the activity.

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However, there were times in history when tightrope walkers received the acclaim that they deserved and often became famous.  There were rope walkers at the coronations of many European monarchs including one at the investiture of Queen Isabeau of France in 1389.  This particular rope walker went from the spires of the cathedral to the tallest house in the city.  One can only imagine what was going through his mind as he traversed his dizzying route – what sort of bad omen would it have been, in the minds of the medieval onlookers, had he fallen?

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Yet tightrope walkers persevered and there was even a tradition at the Venice Carnival for an acrobat to walk between Saint Mark’s bell tower and the Piazza.  Yet it wasn’t long before they were once again associated with a criminal element and in the England of the 1700s they were looked upon with some suspicion (although it has to be said that most of those involved in the performing arts were considered immoral by the very choice of their profession).

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Swings and roundabouts – by the 19th and 20th centuries the reputation of tightrope walkers was once again untainted and they were able to pursue fame in their own inimitable if breath-taking way.   They would often appear in casinos, walking the rope high above the gamblers below – one can only wonder if there was any irony intended…

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Entire families would emerge as tightrope stars, including the Wallandas (above) who continue to this very day – in to the seventh generation of tightrope walkers.  Although this intergenerational gambling with the lives of an entire family might seem to be risk-taking taken to a ridiculous degree, the fact that they have persevered through seven generations says an awful lot about their natural or even innate skills.  As you can see from these pictures, bravery can often be associated with a sense of fun and perhaps therein lies the secret of the tightrope walker.  They really do keep the fun in funambulism!

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5 October 2017

Radiation Therapy Explained for Kids


Radiation therapy is a frightening enough prospect for anyone but for kids it can be particularly daunting. Trunk Animation have created this lovely animation for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation as part of their Imaginary Friends Society project (over 20 shorts created to explain scary medical issues to children).  I am quite sure that this, as well as the other films, will be much appreciated not only by the young uns but adults too.  Bravo.

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1 October 2017

The Story of Martin Luther


He has had to wait about 500 years, but finally Martin Luther gets his own animated short!  Produced by Tumblehead Animation Studio, this tells how Luther questioned the way that the established church did things and before long created a schism which had both immediate and long-lasting repercussions for not just Europe but the world in general.  As this is ‘completely and utterly accurate’ let this be your history lesson for the day!

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Africa’s Unique Volcano: Ol Doinyo Lengai

For countless generations, the Maasai people of Tanzania have called the active volcano which dominates their landscape Ol Doinyo Lengai. The name translates as the Mountain of God.  Yet on the day Eng’ai, one of the gods of the Maasai, created this volcano she must have been in an unusual state of mind. Where most volcanoes spew lava which is rich in silicate materials, Ol Doinyo Lengai is different: very different.

Among all the active volcanoes in the world, Ol Doinyo Lengai is unique.  Its yield of lava is natrocarbonatite in nature. In other words, its mineralogical composition consists of greater than 50 percent carbonate minerals.  A carbonatite is a type of igneous rock more often enveloped in other formations and does not usually make it to the surface on its own.  It is often mistaken for marble. Although there are other examples of natrocarbonatite volcanoes in the world, all but Ol Doinyo Lengai are extinct.  If you want to see a truly different volcano, this is the one to put on the bucket list.

23 September 2017

Wind


If you live in a windy place you might find yourself nodding in agreement at the sight of the daily lives of these people living in possibly the windiest place on the planet!  They might seem helplessly exposed to the weather. However, the inhabitants have learned to deal with their difficult living conditions. The wind creates a natural system for living.  Wind was directed by Robert Löbel.
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7 Things You May Not Know About Egypt

Egypt is a country which is considered to have one of the longest histories in the world. Today, with its over 92 million residents, Egypt is the 15th most populated country on Earth. So, aside from pharaohs, pyramids and the Sahara Desert, what other interesting facts are there to know about Egypt?

"Tarot Reading Night!" (CC BY 2.0) by Kelly Hunter
It’s believed that ancient Egyptian women had more privileges and rights than any other women in the ancient world. While men in ancient times were most certainly the dominant sex in many other countries, Egyptian women were allowed to own a business, own property and even divorce their husbands. Egyptian women that were born into wealthy families had the opportunity to become priestesses or doctors in the time of Cleopatra and the Pharaohs.

Tarot cards are believed to have originated from Egypt. Now also a popular subject in the Western world, tarot readings are carried out to give a person guidance, foresight and clarification. The theory is that the tarot cards are thought to be hieroglyphical keys to life and the book of Tarot was believed to have survived the great fire that burned down the libraries in ancient Egypt.

The ancient Egyptians were the first country to have 365 days per year that were divided by 12 months and they also developed clocks. They had three different calendars – a farming calendar that had four months and three seasons, a lunar calendar that helped priests to know when to carry out ceremonies for the moon god Khonsu, and lastly, the astronomical calendar that helped them to observe the star Sirius which appeared at the beginning of the flood season.

Ancient Egyptians made the wig a fashion accessory, often indicating social status. History shows that both men and women would shave their heads and wear a wig to stay cool in the hot weather and to avoid lice. Richer people would wear wigs that were made from human hair, while the poorer men and women had wigs made from vegetable or wool fibres.
 
The Sahara is the largest desert in the world stretching over 3,630,000 square miles. It was once a grassland and fertile savannah, home to many animals and plants, but it began to dry out with climate change in 8000 B.C, changing it from lush green land to dry desert. The Sahara Desert is now a vast expanse of gravel plains, sand dunes, valleys and oases.

The ancient Egyptians believed in many gods and had unique gods for many different things. Depending on what danger they were faced with or what challenges they had in life, with over 2,000 gods to worship, their life and beliefs were balanced and met.
 
Many ancient Egyptian families had cats which were thought of as a sacred animal. Egyptians believed that owning a cat as a pet brought families good luck. The Egyptians also worshipped a cat goddess known as Bastet which was believed to be half woman and half cat. Hurting or killing a cat was considered very serious, with severe punishment and penalties.

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10 September 2017

Take a Stroll in Paris with Two Top Ballet Dancers


…and when you do, it’s not quite like any usual promenade through the streets of the French capital.  San Francisco Ballet dancers Kimberly Braylock and Anthony Spaulding display a certain joie de vivre and are obviously very happy to be there in this short by Calvin Walker.  Parisians as usual refuse point blank to be nonplussed by anything but they do manage to attract the curiosity of a very excitable little dog if you watch carefully!
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When Rock, Paper and Scissors Come to Life, Who Will Win?


When Rock stumbles upon the magical Paper, it's love at first sight. But when the wrath of Scissors threatens the well-being of Paper, Rock must stop at nothing to save what he loves most, no matter the cost. Broken: Rock, Paper, Scissors is a student animated short film, produced at Ringling College of Art & Design. It was created by Garrett O'Neal, Gang Maria Yi and Bryan Locantore with music by Erez Koskas.
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Ex Libris


Thank goodness the fine art of gently paced, slow burn film-making is not dead. Not a single dead body or visual effect to be seen here. Yet down in the depths of the library passions are running high and an illicit relationship plays out among the books. Iris and Thomas embark on a doomed love affair but how can desire, pain, anger and sadness be expressed in the confines of a library? Ex Libris is directed by Jim and Jimmy of Long Arm Films.

The short film stars two very talented and versatile Welsh actors. If you are a regular reader of Kuriositas then you will probably recognize Robert Pugh (Thomas) from his roles in Game of Thrones, Doctor Who and Torchwood. Melanie Walters is perhaps best known for her role of Gwen West in the BBC comedy Gavin and Stacey but has also appeared in numerous British TV series as well as the movie Submarine.
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