29 April 2015

Angry Birds Go! – Local Multiplayer Mode Deployed!

Someone has their tongue firmly in their cheek here.  Yet working out quite how far will be entirely up to you.  Angry Birds Go! (you know, that game that has been downloaded over 130 million times – you may have heard of it) now comes in one-on-one multiplayer mode.  You  might be forgiven for thinking that has already happened, such is the popularity of these annoyed avians but this is something quite new.

If you haven’t heard of Angry Birds Go! then you might be in the minority,  Every Mario kart title combined only comes to 106 million downloads.  Angry Birds Go! has seen one or two (ahem!) more copies shifted than that!

 As you can see from the video, the one-on-one, local multiplayer feature is evolving to allow group play.  It might not necessarily mean that you have to all get together in a restaurant to do that – although that would be an option – but we suspect that the video is as much a metaphor for how you might play as anything else!  As such it can be anywhere with WiFi.

You’ll need the WiFi because the downhill racing game now features a party mode.  This means that two players can compete on different devices but in the same game in real time.  There may be a certain nostalgia involved – if you were in to console games when you were a kid you will remember the thrill of playing with a group of friends.  Now Angry Birds Go! has created the same kind of feeling with the new party mode.

Angry birds get social? It may sound like something of an oxymoron but the word is already spreading.  It won’t be long before the one-on-one player mode will evolve in to multiple party play.  In other words two will become three, four or even more.  So, there really won’t be a reason to play alone anymore – grab a friend and get things going!

Altogether this is a pretty cool update from Rovio.  Try it here.

26 April 2015

The Texting Hat: The Best Invention of the 21st Century (So Far)

I have a number of friends who really, really need this fabulous new invention.  In fact I could say that the texting hat was created just for them if it wasn’t for the fact that it seems that many outside of my circle of acquaintance might find this a prerequisite for their day to day existence should they be introduced to it.

Like all the best inventions, simplicity is the key.  Director and writer Brad Hasse should give up film altogether and get to the patent office as quickly as his legs will carry him!

Hubble Reflects the Cosmos: 25 Years of Wonder

The Hubble Telescope did not get off to an auspicious start.  It had an eight foot diameter mirror which but a tiny chip of paint on a measuring rod caused it to be just a tiny, tiny little bit too flat.  This left it with ‘blurry vision’.  However, since then it has gone on to be regarded as the most important advance in astronomy since Galileo, and its greatest discoveries might still be ahead. Hurrah for Hubble!

Glasses: A Tale of First Love and Myopia

You never know when it is going to strike, particularly for the first time.  When love comes calling it can catch you unprepared, as in the case of this young man who falls for the girl behind the counter in his local patisserie.  Written and directed by Giuseppe Garau you may well see yourself in the protagonist when, in order to impress the object of his juvenile desires he abandons the one thing which might have helped him succeed.

25 April 2015

U.F.Oh Yeah

Vindication is always a pleasure (if not a downright thrill) to experience.  Nothing beats the occasion when you can show the world that you were right after all. So it is with the hero of this short science fiction comedy.

For years he has led a Mulder-like existence, trying to convince people that UFOs really do exist.

Yet when the day comes when he can justify his years of obsession, something gets in the way. Written and directed by Ryan Connolly UFOh Yeah shows that whatever obstacles life throws in our path we can overcome with a little ingenuity!

Two Worlds

Sometimes help comes from the most unexpected of sources.  Two Worlds, created by Andy Lefton, tells the story of two characters, one organic and the other mechanical, who come together in their mutual hour of need.  It’s a great little story and was evolved by Lefton over a decade – production itself took five years.  As such it’s very much a labor of love and it shows in every frame.

Symphony of the Soil

Symphony of the Soil is a 104-minute documentary feature film that explores the complexity and mystery of soil.

Filmed on four continents and sharing the voices of some of the world’s most esteemed soil scientists, farmers and activists, the film portrays soil as a protagonist of our planetary story.

It was created by Lily Films.

19 April 2015

Skeletorus! Amazing New Species of Peacock Spider Discovered

I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I first saw Maratus sceletus, an amazing new discovery from Australia.  The American PhD student who first came across this remarkable species of peacock spider in Australia immediately nicknamed it Skeletorus – and you can see why. The arch-villain of the He-Man franchise now has a spider named after him!   Our sibling site, the Ark in Space, has a picture feature on Skeletorus, telling the story from its discovery in late 2013 to how it came to join the peacock spider family (it’s quite a tale!).

Picture Credit

18 April 2015

Quiz: Can You Name the Famous Novelist just From Their Picture?

You may be something of a bookworm but just how many novelists can you name from just a single picture?  Confident? Then try this quiz.  We suspect you will get a number very quickly, so ingrained is their image on our collective consciousness.  Yet you may have to think on your feet for some of the others.  However, have fun – and please share the quiz with your friends!

If the answer you choose goes GREEN, then you got it right.  If it goes RED then you got it wrong.  You will also see how many other people chose the different answers (in terms of a percentage).

Want a hideously hard quiz?
Do you know your Dali from your Dürer, your Goya from your Gauguin? Then try these 20 multiple choice questions.

You will take a back and forth whistle-stop tour through almost a thousand years of art history.  Yet which painters were responsible for the 20 masterpieces you are about to see?  Click HERE or on the picture to do the quiz.

12 April 2015

Super Mario Busker Plays 8bit Medley

This is Super Mario playing 8bit music during the intermission of Video Games Live International festival of video game music held recently at the Convention Centre in Dublin, Ireland.  If you have played Super Mario then you will recognize the tunes featured in this very cleverly put together medley.  No doubt past triumphs will flash through your mind!  The full playlist is below.  The video was created by Emlyn Lewis.

00:00 Super Mario World OverWorld Map
00:06 Super Mario World Yoshies Island Map
00:16 Super Mario Bros. 3 Map 4 Big Island Theme
00:28 Super Mario World Forrest of Illusions map
00:42 Super Mario World "Thank you" Ending Theme
01:06 Mad World 8bit
01:56 Super Mario Land 2 Turtle Map & Mario Toy Zone Map
02:14 Super Mario Bros. Underworld & Star man theme
02:32 Luigi's Mansion Level Clear Theme
03:00 Super Mario World Swimming & Player Down Theme
04:00 Chop sticks 8bit
04:30 Sonic Drowning
04:40 Amilie Theme 8bit
05:15 Super Mario Bros. Ending Theme

The Big Wild North

A young boy goes on a weekend camping excursion. His cheerful uncle and aunt try to lift up his spirits, as the boy grieves and recuperates after a horrific accident. The wilderness of the north, though, has its own secrets and dangers. What is meant to be a weekend diversion turns into an adventure worthy of a child’s imagination. The Big Wild North is a film by Tom Antos.

Pugs of Westeros: A Canine Game of Thrones

Pugs of Westeros – the name encapsulates everything you need to know about the contents of this seriously cute video. Created by Pupstar Sonoma it features many of your much-loved Game of Thrones characters in all their finery. Windswept locations, intense acting and lavish sets – everything you would expect from what is currently the world’s favorite TV show. There is, of course, a small difference: the actors have been replaced with pugs.

This is very much a family project. Pupstar Sonoma showcases the work of Susan and Phillip Lauer with their three Pugs, Roxy, Blue and Bono. Together they bring you Rob and Ned Stark together with John Snow, Daenerys Targaryen (queen of all she surveys, naturally), Tyrion Lanister and Oberyn Martell plotting something ghastly and Joffrey Baratheon – who gives the cutest little yelp on his throne – I think he knows that his particular game is soon to be over!

The House of Lauer found a natural ally in the form of Josh Hittleman who produced the video which I hope has just produced about ten aaws from you!

If you think this is a one-off project from Pupstar Sonoma then you should take a look at their site. This is not your typical pug website by any means. There are a number of wonderful galleries of Roxy, Blue and Bono's costumed adventures but, after Westeros, I would have to say that The Pugs of Middle Earth is my own favorite (but then it would be, wouldn’t it!).

Let us know what you think!

10 April 2015

A Titanic Survivor Really Did Look Like Kate Winslet

I was recently doing some research and came across a number of photographs of survivors of the Titanic.  The one which struck me immediately was the above which made me do an immediate double-take.  The woman in the picture seemed to resemble Rose DeWitt Bukater, the fictional character played by Kate Winslet in the 1997 movie.

I don’t know if you agree but although she is a few years older than Rose I found the similarity in looks quite astonishing.  Yet although Rose’s character goes on to a long and rewarding life, things didn’t quite turn out the same way for Mrs Charlotte Collyer, pictured below with her young daughter Marjorie (note the White Star Line blanket across her legs).

She lost her husband, Harvey, in the disaster.  They had decided to move to America and buy a fruit farm in Payette, Idaho.  Charlotte suffered from tuberculosis and it was hoped a move to the States from the English county of Hampshire would benefit her health.  When Harvey went down with the ship the $5,000 dollars in cash which represented their life savings went down with him. 

9 April 2015

Wild Horses – Lyric Video

If you are a fan of the Rolling Stones then you are in for a treat.  To celebrate the re-release of Sticky Fingers, Trunk Animation was asked to create a lyric video for Wild Horses.  They gave the job to Rok who is a lifelong Stones fan and he and his team came up with this wonderful homage both to the band and the song. Can you believe it’s 45 years since Sticky Fingers was released. Holy cow.

8 April 2015

The Flying Scientist who Chased Spores

On a July day in 1930, British Airship R100 took to the air from a Bedfordshire airfield on its first transatlantic flight. As it made its way across the Atlantic Ocean, 2,000ft in the air, a window opened and Squadron Leader Booth, wearing a pair of rubber gloves, leaned out. In his hand was a Petri dish.

This film tells the story of a remarkable experiment, the brain child of Cambridge mycologist Dr W. A. R. Dillon Weston, and his passion for crafting models of fungi spun out of glass.

Dr Ruth A. Horry from the University of Cambridge’s Department of History and Philosophy of Science tells the story she has been researching, and shows us some of the 90 glass models now housed in the Whipple Museum of the History of Science in Cambridge.

One Bright Dot

A small bright dot rises from the sea and we follow its progress around the world.  That doesn’t sound much of a précis but in order to get the whole thing you must watch it for yourself!

As much as a mood piece as anything, this short combines gorgeous colors with a great soundtrack by Etienne Forget. One Bright Dot was created by motion designer Clément Morin.

7 April 2015

Quiz: Can You Name These 20 Great Gangster Movies?

Do you have a minute to enjoy a quick quiz? The trick here is that you have to be able to name these classic gangster films from just a portion of the movie’s poster.  It may not be as tricky as you might usually suspect if you are something of an aficionado.  However, if you only make occasional forays in to the world of the gangster you might have to think before you make your choice.

If the answer you choose goes GREEN, then you got it right.  If it goes RED then you got it wrong.  You will also see how many other people chose the different answers (in terms of a percentage).

Would you like to do another quiz?
Apologies if your faviorite gangster movie was not included in the above or it wasn't quite your cup of tea.

However, you might like these fierce creatures instead. Fifteen big cats and wild cats are to be found here - but can you guess the species? Click here to go to our sibling site, the Ark in Space - or on the picture to do the quiz.

5 April 2015

Game of Brands: The Game of Thrones Houses as Modern Corporations

We have seen just a few years of the world of Westeros but, like all things, history moves on and the Game of Thrones may well become a Game of Brands.

Inevitably, the great houses of Westeros will have to move with the times as the world becomes a modern and more sophisticated (ie less bloody) place.  I am convinced that the folks at Shutterstock have had huge fun imagining the impending evolutions of the various houses.  Of course, it’s fairly obvious what the Targaryens would do – take to the skies. 

However, what becomes of the other houses? You can see the corporate future for the Lannisters, Baratheons and Starks (and all the others – I laughed myself silly when I saw what the Freys are going to get up to!) here.

Valentina’s Dream

Valentina Tereshkova is a remarkable woman. She was last seen (media wise) waving the Olympic flag at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Why is she famous? In 1963 she became the first woman (and the first civilian) to have flown in space.

Here, British actor Rebecca Front revisits an interview Tereshkova made in 2013 where she talks about her dream of going beyond the Earth and deeper in to the solar system.

The short film was made by John Panton, director and founder of Meat Bingo. Rebecca Front may seem familiar to you, especially if you are from the UK. She has appeared in countless TV shows including The Thick of It, The Day Today and Death Comes to Pemberley.

4 April 2015

Kids’ Characters in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror: A Wesley Crusher-Free Quiz

This is a purely rhetorical question but why is it that it is that the younger characters in science fiction and fantasy shows are often the most reviled? In the case of Wesley Crusher of Star Trek: The Next Generation the jury is most definitely not out even though his character has received some reappraisal over the years by (kinder) fans.  As for Adric in Doctor Who… perhaps we shouldn’t venture in to that particular territory.

Yet often the role of the child is pivotal to the show or movie and as such the chance of success can rest on very young shoulders. Here are forty (yes, forty – we were bored) kids’ characters from a variety of shows and films.  Can you guess where their characters made an appearance?  Some of the answers are much harder than the others so be warned. You might have to be more than a casual genre fan to get some of these correct.

If the answer you choose goes GREEN, then you got it right.  If it goes RED then you got it wrong.  You will also see how many others chose the different answers (in terms of a percentage) so you can see just how easy or hard everyone else is finding each question of the quiz.  Please share once you have finished (hopefully you will have enjoyed the experience!).

Want a hideously hard quiz?
Do you know your Dali from your Dürer, your Goya from your Gauguin? Then try these 20 multiple choice questions. 

You will take a back and forth whistle-stop tour through almost a thousand years of art history.  Yet which painters were responsible for the 20 masterpieces you are about to see?  Click HERE or on the picture to do the quiz.

3 April 2015

Dalek Made From An Egg - Eggsterminate!

How cool is this?  A Dalek made out of an egg – looks like a brilliant homemade present for a friend or a member of the family who just can’t get enough of the Science Fiction TV show Doctor Who.  But just how do you make one?  We just know you want one, right?

Here is a step by step guide, from egg carton right back to the egg carton - courtesy of Flickr User PugnoM.  Yes, you too can create your own species of Daleks from the original race, the Kal-eggs (ouch).  You won't even need a sonic screwdriver.

Quiz: Can You Name These 20 Common North American Backyard Birds?

Got time for a quick picture quiz? Can you name twenty of the most common North American birds?  Certainly if you live there you should be able to name a good number of these beautiful avian species.  You might see a few of them if you look out of your window right now – if you are lucky and it’s not the middle of the night. 

Even if you don’t live in America you will be able to guess a number of these because they might just be found in your backyard too! So why not pop over to our sibling site, the Ark in Space and see how many you can get right!

In Case I Don't Die - A Greek Whisper to Europe

Anyone with a heart – or for that matter a brain – is aghast at what has happened to Greece over the last few years.  I can’t think of another recent example of where the people of an entire nation have been punished for something which was effectively not their fault.

It is rare, however, that we in the rest of Europe get the opportunity to hear what young Greek people feel about the whole situation.  So it was wonderful to watch this short ‘talking head’ featuring Danny Giannakopoulou and directed by Nicolas Androulakis. It’s poetic, elegiac while optimistic and beautifully composed. Watch it and understand a generation.

Say What You Want to Say

It could be the end of civilization as we know it although that might not be too bad a thing as civilization in the twenty first century doesn’t seem to be very civilized at all – it’s like a one word oxymoron.  Here directors Matt and Oz exhort us to say what we want to say.  Of course if we all did this up to including Obama and Putin then World War Three would break out yesterday. But who am I to rain on this particular parade? It’s joyous.

2 April 2015

Benedict Cumberbatch made from Chocolate? "Yes Please!" Cries Everyone

I wouldn’t blame Benedict Cumberbatch if he has stumbled through his life in a slightly perplexed manner for the last few years.  While he may possibly have envisioned success as an actor during his days at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, he probably in his wildest fantasies never imagined himself as an object of carnal desire for the libidinous horde.  Yet now he’s been turned in to a life-size chocolate effigy which in the UK is usually where things start getting really strange.

It means that at some point in the near future, someone is going to be eating Benedict Cumberbatch. Believe me, people won’t care that it's a metaphor.

Britain’s favorite actor has gone from bit parts in TV shows like Heartbeat and Silent Witness in the early years of the century to playing Sherlock, Turing, Smaug and Khaaaaaaaan. Cumberbatch has appeared in roles which have produced a huge fan base enamored of the cultivated charm and sophisticated menace of the characters he has played.  So perhaps it was only a matter of time before some crazed fan poured chocolate over him with intent to devour his very essence – like something out of House of Wax only edible.

The Path: The Journey of a Photon

You may have to widescreen this to fully enjoy.  Created by Ignacio Orsorio it was inspired by a picture taken from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of one of the furthest galaxies ever seen, spotted crossing behind the Pandora's Cluster. The aesthetics came from Orsorio’s personal interest in the dimensions of the universe in terms of distance and time and the mechanics applied to it, making the universe a system of perpetual motion. It’s fantastic.

Thunderbird 4 Takes to the Thames

There have been a few strange things going on in London over the last few days which might make the more nervous denizens of the English capital dial the number for International Rescue.  For a start, the still raging below ground fire in Holborn which saw smoke billowing from the sidewalks and tens of thousands of people evacuated. Little wonder, then, that at least one of the Thunderbirds made an appearance.