Friday, May 30, 2008

Care for a few rounds of Glima?

The Olympic games have always had their share of unusual sports. Take the biathlon. I mean, who decided that cross-country skiing and then shooting stuff went together like chocolate and peanut butter?

No matter. Niche as it may be, the biathlon seems to be holding its own in the Olympic games pantheon and doesn't need any boosterism from the likes of me. What I find more interesting are the games that the sporting world's version of natural selection chose not to favor. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the list of Discontinued Olympic sports.

For example, did you know that that cutthroat competition we call croquet made its one and only appearance at the 1900 Summer Olympics? France, with 9 of the 10 entrants, won all the medals.

Or that Tug of War was a staple in every Olympiad between 1900-1920?
Fascinating Factoid: Though not back in the good graces of the Olympic committee yet, there is a Tug of War Federation that seems to have quite a bit of traction (d'oh!) in Europe.

Stranger still are the Demonstration sports. These have never been recognized as part of the official Olympic canon, yet are played more to promote itself and perhaps garner a wider audience for the sport.

It is here that we find such oddballs as Glima, the Icelandic national style of amateur folk wrestling. Hee, folk wrestling. I'm picturing Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie in a no-holds-barred cage match.

Anyway, Glima was given a shot at the big-time in the 1912 Summer games in Stockholm. A couple of the odder rules include

  • It is not permitted to fall down on your opponent or to push him down in a forceful manner, as it is not considered sportsman-like.
and my favorite
  • The opponents are supposed to look across each other's shoulders as much as possible because it is considered proper to wrestle by touch and feel rather than sight.
Just think! If this had Glima thing had caught on, what we know of as professional wrestling (think WWE and RAW), not to mention the entire folding chair industry, would have been devastated.

A few more before we close out that must have been interesting to watch:
Lifesaving (1900), which included the 100m Manikin Carry
Korfball (1920, 1928), a little like basketball, only with a funnier name
Gliding (1936), referring to the unpowered aircraft

Feel free to peruse the entire list of demonstration sports at your leisure. (Thanks to Chris H. for the suggestion. May your Korfball never go flat!)

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It's Pork and Beans and Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

Weezer's video for "Pork and Beans" has a nod to (nearly) every viral video from the past few years, from "All Your Base..." to "Chocolate Rain", with plenty of Diet Coke mixed with Mentos in between.

If you're left scratching your head and wondering what those crazy kids are on about, here is a (mostly) complete list of the original videos referenced. It's a pretty long list, so you'd better get started!

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The Quest For Every Beard Type

John Dyer grows a beard every winter, and every spring he tries to see how many facial hair variations he can check off from the chart of facial hair types. So far he's gotten 24 out of the 34 on his list. Shown here are The Balbo and The Toothbrush. (via The Presurfer)

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Catch a falling (yellow) star

Music Catch isn't the most challenging game I have ever played. You basically have to catch the yellow and purple shapes and avoid the red shapes as they fall towards you. But I will say it is one of the most beautiful. The entire game is scored to this incredibly lovely piano piece, and the action of floating among the stars is nearly trance-inducing.

Made me all fuzzy and smooshy in the way that VW ad from a few years ago featuring Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" did. You know the one... has an excellent review as well as a link to the game. Give it a whirl.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

"I'm not sure that I agree with you 100% on your police work there, Lou"

Small town Gang Task Force struggles to decipher sidewalk graffiti

From hometown heroes Recoil Magazine, Grand Rapids' answer to The Onion.

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Okay, you're not quite in frame. Take a step back... another... one more... Oops!

Chinese artist Li Wei creates art that proves to be impossible. How does he do it, you ask? Performance art and photography is what creates these dangerous illusions. He also uses props such as metal wires, mirrors, scaffolding and acrobatics to help him with the effect. (via InventorSpot)

Also from InventorSpot, and also involving a little bit of visual deception, artist Kittiwat Unarrom creates disturbingly gruesome works of art out of bread!

Kittiwat puts his master's degree in fine arts to use by creating bruised and battered heads, feet and other internal organs at a bread shop in Thailand.

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You missed a spot...

Great photos of the Seattle Space Needle as workers clean it for the first time since it opened during the 1962 World's Fair. Interestingly, they are doing the high-pressure, high-temperature scrub with pure water and no soap, in order to minimize the environmental impact.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

If babies ruled the world... - Dad?
Does the premise of an entire site devoted to photos of dads and their babies with their heads swapped sound hilarious? Then is the place you're looking for, you freak you.

Hope you weren't planning on sleeping nightmare-free anytime in the next, oh, say, year or so. (via BoingBoing)

If you just can't get enough of that trans-generational Photoshop stuff, there was something similar with grandparents and babies a few years back over at Something Awful. Enjoy(?)

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Secret Lives of Stormtroopers

Stormtroopers have downtime just like you and me. Take a behind-the-scenes peek at what they do when they're not shooting lasers at Alliance rebels from 10 feet away and missing.

Hey, they seem pretty good at breakdancing! I wonder if their high school guidance counselors maybe steered them down the wrong career path? (via Digg)

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Brother, Can You Spare $1.23 (adjusted for inflation)?

When you've only got three seconds to convince someone to part with their spare change, you need to get a little creative. Not your grandfather's panhandling signage, page one, and two.

"Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" came out in 1931. Adjusted for inflation, that dime is equivalent to $1.23 as of 2007. See what stuff was worth then and now with The Inflation Calculator. Dates range from 1800-2007.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Last Picture

No, this is not great-uncle Joseph napping after completing the Sunday crossword. Actually, Great-uncle Joseph (or whoever this really is) is deceased in this photo. The practice of postmortem photography (or memento mori) was a way for Victorian era families to remember their loved ones.

One practice sometimes used was to place the subject in a lifelike pose, such as you see above. This photo and many others are featured in a documentary, "Gone But Not Forgotten". Further examples can be found at the website.

Postmortem portraits of children are quite common. For modern viewers they may be particularly difficult to examine, but because child mortality rates were much higher in the past than they are today, photographs of lost children were very meaningful to families. Sometimes they were the only proof of that child's existence. (via mental_floss)

This photo and others are from the fascinating and poignant memento mori gallery at Jack & Beverly's Collection of Collections.

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Giants for young and old

They Might Be Giants - Alphabet of Nations
Brush up on your geography (or perhaps your alphabetry, if you are part of the preschool set) in this outstanding little refresher course of alphabetical nations.

They Might Be Giants - The Mesopotamians
The artwork might be done in the style of Gorillaz, but once they burst into that sun-shiney chorus of "We're The Mesopotamians! Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal and Gilgamesh!", it's more like The Monkees.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Tin Ear

Can you name that note? Perfect Pitch has various levels, though it didn't matter for me because I failed miserably at even the easiest level.

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