Originally held in 1986 at San Francisco’s Baker Beach, the week-long Burning Man Festival now takes place in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. The festival is a week-long event that starts on the last Monday in August, and ends on the first Monday in September. Up to 68,000 people from around the world gather at the festival and spend a week in the remote desert isolated from the outside world.
The festival gets its name from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy, which is set ablaze on Saturday evening. The event is considered an experiment in self-expression, art, and self-reliance. It’s become a gathering for hippies, artists, musicians and dancers who can for a week explore artistic expression. Money is never exchanged at the event, instead the participants gift each other to get what they need. The main attractions of Burning Man include massive art installations, all-night dance parties, marathon kite-flying sessions, unconventional fashion shows, and classes where festival goers can learn things like Hula Hooping.
They head off one week later, having left no mark whatsoever and wait for the next Burning Man.
Ventriloquism was originally a religious practice that got its start in ancient times, somewhere around the sixth century. The name “ventriloquist” means “belly speaker” in Latin. It supposedly was used to communicate with the dead. The noises made by the stomach were thought to be the voices of the dead, who took up residence in the stomach of the ventriloquist. For a long time, it was viewed negatively by the Christian church.
The change from being a sign of spiritual forces to being considered entertainment happened in the eighteenth century at travelling fairs. It came of age as entertainment with the help of vaudeville in the United States.
Ventriloquism is the illusion of creating life, but the fear of ventriloquist’s dummies is called automatonophobia.
If the items were really as its name, Tombées du Camion, (items fallen from the back of a truck) suggests, this little shop in Montmartre would never have lasted as long as it has. Tucked away in a forgotten passageway, between chic fashion and the questionable Pigalle area, is found one of the most interesting assortments of salvaged and found items in Paris.
A temporary resting place for unwanted and unclaimed curiosities, Tombées du Camion is like a museum of the odd, all squeezed into under 200 square feet. Everything in excess, from doll parts to police whistles and pill containers on display in wooden crates will hold you in it’s spell. There are French porno banners from the 1970s, rusted mortuary plaques (probably pried from old burial sites), and unused flasks of an opium cure for diarrhea. Most of these items are made in France, and every object has a story.
Much of the stock has been salvaged from attics and corners of old factories in random locations around France, often left after their usefulness seemed to have passed.
Son Doong Cave the world’s largest, is located in Vietnam. It was originally found by a local man who discovered the entrance in 1991. He was afraid of the 300 foot drop and the roar that came from below. For 18 more years, it stayed unexplored until it was re-discovered in 2009 by British cave explorers. The name Son Doong means “mountain river”. The cave was created 2-5 million years ago by a river whose source is still unknown. The cave is so big it contains a jungle and you could fit a 40 story building inside.
Where the limestone was weak, the ceiling collapsed creating huge skylights. Thousands of “cave pearls” sit untouched in Son Doong. These were formed over hundreds of years when dripping water created layers of calcite that build up around grains of sand.
Vietnam has a very difficult terrain, and the cave is far out of the way. It’s totally covered in jungle, and you can’t locate anything on Google Earth. A team from the British Cave Research Association, who first explored Son Doong, will be returning to find out more of the cave’s mysteries.
A tour company called Oxalis, is running trial tours of the cave and accepting sign-ups for real six-day tours to take place next year. Ropes and harness are needed to get inside Son Doong, and any visitors will need to rappel 260 feet to reach the cave floor. Tourists will explore the cavern by day and sleep on the cave’s sandy beaches at night.
Most guards today don’t actually carry firearms, unless they’re isolated away from the prison population. In the old days however, prison guards needed a little backup power while using both hands to open cell doors. Hence the creation of jailer key guns, a cell door key that doubled as a primitive one-shooter. These “turnkeys” were filled with gunpowder that would fire the miniature key-pistol in case there was any trouble from the prisoner when the cell door was opened. They may not have been too effective, having only one shot, but it was enough to discourage the plans of potentially dangerous prisoners.
Since most of the key guns were thrown in rivers and swamps after prisoners took them during escapes, they are now very rare and only line the pockets of antique collectors.
Ray Caesar is one of the most notable digital artists of our time. He is also the mind behind some of the most disturbing surrealist art. He is a Toronto-based artist with works that have been in high demand over the past decade. Caesar is unapologetic about being a digital artist in an art world that sometimes sneers at using the computer for creating fine-art.
Caesar’s portraits usually include abnormality and fantasy in a dismal setting of sexual suggestions. His works captivate some and turn others away. Onlookers have described his work as both grotesque and beautiful at the same time. Besides being a gifted dream-weaver, he is without a doubt one of the most influential surrealist artists of our day.
The Indian bullfrog is known for its large size, up to 6 inches in length, and dramatic coloring. It’s found in the wetlands of South and South East Asia and inhabits holes and bushes near permanent bodies of water.
During most of the season, both sexes are olive-green in color. Once the mating season comes around, the males skin turns bright yellow and their vocal sacs turn bright blue. Breeding takes place during the monsoon season and large numbers of eggs are laid in pools. There is a high mortality rate among tadpoles mostly from other predators.
When they are frightened they jump over the surface of the water in much the same way as they would over land. Normally a nocturnal creature, the diet of an Indian Bullfrog consists of insects, small animals and small birds.