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Hell Kitty: Eerie video of the cat with X-ray eyes
08:10 am



Finnish YouTuber “markoboy” enjoys his drink and food. He’s uploaded close to 400 videos of himself imbibing booze and scarfing down gawdawful looking plates of unidentifiable grub. I couldn’t help but watch a few of his weird little displays of gastronomic gluttony wondering all the while if they’re some form of Viennese Actionist-style performance art for the Facebook generation.

I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re not. For some inexplicable reason, “markoboy” has chosen to share his goofy inbred gobble-fests with the rest of the world. The dramatic arc of his videos are pretty flat and I quickly got bored until I came upon the one featuring the cat with radioactive eyes. This one must be seen for its absolute eeriness. It’s also very “Tim and Eric.”

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Macabre Edwardian LOLcats featuring dead animals
11:49 am



There is a grand tradition of photographing cats in silly situations and adding humorous captions that’s as old as photography. Over a hundred years before and, there was Brighton, England photographer Harry Pointer and his “Brighton cats” series.

During the Victorian era Pointer discovered an untapped market for visiting cards and greeting cards featuring anthropomorphized cats with funny or sweet captions, doing things like having tea, demanding dinner, rollerskating, and taking photos themselves. Pointer created about 200 lolcat portraits in his “The Brighton Cats” series by 1884. He made a killing selling these images on visiting cards and greeting cards.




Pointer’s cats were also very much alive.

You can’t say the same of American photographer Harry Whittier Frees’ subjects when he came along thirty-six years later. Frees did similar tableaux using pigs, rabbits, dogs, and cats but usually without funny captions. Frequently dead cats, because they hold still better. Many of the twee domestic scenes he set up also included eerie-looking china dolls. He wrote in Animal Land on the Air that his images “represent an almost inconceivable amount of patience, care, and kind attention, as well as a very large number of spoiled films.” Maintaining the fantasy that all of the animals he used were alive and squirming around.

Frees wrote:

Rabbits are the easiest to photograph in costume, but incapable of taking many “human” parts. Puppies are tractable when rightly understood, but the kitten is the most versatile animal actor, and possesses the greatest variety of appeal. The pig is the most difficult to deal with, but effective on occasion. The best period of young animal models is a short one, being when they are from six to ten weeks of age. An interesting fact is that a kitten’s attention is best held through the sense of sight, while that of a puppy is most influenced by sound, and equally readily distracted by it. The native reasoning powers of young animals are, moreover, quite as pronounced as those of the human species, and relatively far surer.

Frees began his cat portraits in 1905, when he photographed the presumably alive family cat wearing a party hat at a birthday celebration. Like Pointer he made good money selling the reproductions for postcards, calendars, and publications. But it takes much of the “lol” out of “lolcat” to use dead animals in poses, like something out of Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses.



If Frees’ contemporaries knew that many of the animals in his photos were dead, they probably didn’t care. Victorians and Edwardians had no problem photographing dead things, including their own relatives, going so far as to pose with them in depressing family portraits before burying them. There are still people who take pictures at funerals, but come on, North American funereal customs are awful enough without that being a widespread practice.

The amount of patience required to take a camera-phone picture of live, active, wriggly, uncooperative cats is impressive. But using the old-school photographic techniques? Pointer must have had a Zen master level of serenity. Frees was admittedly resourceful and found a cheap, easy, pragmatic solution to the problem. He was still, however, a creepy bastard.

Via Retronaut and Vice

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
If YOU stole this watermelon you’d better call Poison Control immediately!
08:33 am



Can you imagine if you worked at a Poison Control Center and got this phone call?! “Excuse me, I think I’ve just ingested a watermelon that was injected with rat pee full of steroids.”

Via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Howler monkey puts all death metal band singers to shame
09:38 am



Canelo, the handsome howler monkey, is staking claim to the woman in video with his monstrous howls. You see, Canelo absolutely loathes the other spider monkey in the video. He’s basically saying in monkey-speak, “Stay the hell away from my woman!”

Apparently the monkeys are “famous for their loud howls, which can travel three miles through dense forest.”

Via Boing Boing

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Circus Polka’: Stravinsky’s ballet for elephants, 1942
06:05 am



George Balanchine with elephant
George Balanchine mollifying a temperamental ballet dancer

If there’s one thing New York City lacks nowadays, it’s ballets by major composers with elephants in them….

Cast your mind back more than seventy years ago. It’s Thursday, April 9, 1942. The country is at war. You’re in New York, and you have a free evening at your disposal. What to do?

Here are a few suggestions. If you’d like to see a movie, there’s a brand new comedy called My Favorite Blonde starring that wonderful young comedian Bob Hope. But perhaps you’re in the mood for live performance. Let’s see…. At the Imperial Theatre on West 45th Street you can catch the new Cole Porter musical Let’s Face It! starring Danny Kaye and Eve Arden, or over at the Majestic Theatre a block down on 44th, there’s always George Gershwin’s masterpiece Porgy and Bess.

Or wait—what am I thinking!? There’s no way you’re not going to want to attend the world premiere of the elephant polka choreographed by George Balanchine and composed by Igor Stravinsky, right? That happens tonight at Madison Square Garden on Eighth Avenue between 49th and 50th, let’s get a move on before it sells out! (Yes, that’s where MSG was located between 1925 and 1968.)

This actually happened. The “father of American ballet” and arguably the most innovative composer of the pre-WW2 period really did partner up to write a performance for fifty elephants (with fifty ballerinas on top of them) for the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. The resultant work was called “Circus Polka: For a Young Elephant.” The elephants, all fifty of them, wore pink tutus.

Not too surprisingly, the crowd loved it.
Balanchine and Stravinsky, 1957
Balanchine and Stravinsky in 1957, possibly discussing a tarantella arranged for panda bears.

According to Stephen Walsh’s entertaining account in Stravinsky: The Second Exile: France and America, 1934-1971, here’s how it all went down:

[H]e was telephoned from New York by Balanchine, who had been approached by Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey’s Circus to choreograph a polka for the circus elephants, and wanted Stravinsky to compose the music. Stravinsky told him that he could not write even a short piece before March. . . . All the same he certainly tinkered with the idea long before that. He noticed that by an odd coincidence there were polka rhythms everywhere in the Danses concertantes, and at about Christmastime he started sketching ideas for the elephant piece while still working on the ending of the Danses. Then, as soon as that work was finished, he rapidly composed the Circus Polka as a piano solo and completed the draft score by the 5th of February. The point about this, for him, slightly unusual way of working was that Ringling would need a score for a circus band, and for the first time in his life Stravinsky did not feel equal to the task. So he approached the best-known Hollywood arranger of the day, Robert Russell Bennett, and Bennett recommended a young composer called David Raskin—a pupil of Schoenberg, as it turned out, and already an experienced filmwriter—who duly orchestrated the polka for the bizarre combination of wind and percussion instruments (including Hammond organ) that Ringling had assembled for their circus performances.

As a piece of barefaced opportunism, the Circus Polka was hard to beat. A few years later Stravinsky gratefully accepted a Canadian interviewer’s suggestion that the piece was a musical equivalent of the circus paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec, but at the time he was mainly concerned to write it as quickly as possible for the biggest fee Balanchine could get him. Later still, he reconstructed the original phone conversation in terms of an imaginary aesthetic discrimination. “I wonder if you’d like to do a little ballet with me, a polka perhaps,” Balanchine is supposed to have said. “For whom?” “For some elephants.” “How old?” “Very young.” (After a pause) “All right. If they are very young elephants, I will do it.” As for the music, the piece galumphs amusingly enough through vestiges of rhythmic ideas from the Danses concertantes reimagined for pachyderms, with an unexpected nod at one point toward Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, and ending with a heavily underlined and quotation-marked parody of the same Schubert march that he had merely hinted at in the Janssen score.

In fact the ballet—which Stravinsky never saw—was danced, when the circus opened at New York’s Madison Square Garden on the 9th of April, by fifty elephants in pink tutus, all apparently of mature age, like the fifty girls who sat atop them. At their head, lovely Vera Zorina rode in on Old Modoc, the chief and oldest elephant.

As carefully as if La Zorina were spun glass—which she is!—
the giant deposited her in the center of the forest of elephants,
and when she had completed her exquisite pirouetting upon
the sawdust picked her up and carried her away. But not
before she had handed [Modoc] a huge bunch of American
Beauties, which he promptly coiled up in his trunk like
a commuter filing his copy of
The New York Sun under
his arm to read after dinner.


Fortunately there was no stampede except at the box office, and though the Ringlings never revived the piece after the first season, the publicity it attracted served them well until, after less than two months, the band was paid off because of a pay dispute, and the circus continued with gramophone recordings, which of course precluded the Stravinsky ballet.

Here’s some of the music:

And here’s a brief documentary clip about the elephant ballet, which is still pretty diverting even though it’s entirely in Russian:

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Batman and Captain America rescue a cat
07:24 am



Firefighters were surprised to find they were beaten to the scene of a fire in Milton, West Virginia, on Saturday, by Batman and Captain America.

Dressed in their iconic costumes, the two superheroes were making quick work of rescuing a cat trapped in the house by the fire.

Batman and Captain America gave their secret identities as John Buckland and Troy Marcum, two local men who had been dressed in costume for an event at the nearby American Legion Post, where they had been teaching children “positive lessons.”

When Captain America and Batman saw the smoke billowing from the house, they quit the class, and ran straight towards the burning house, in a bid to rescue anyone inside.

Buckland had been a firefighter, before starting his Hero 4 Higher business, had also worked as a firefighter when stationed in Iraq.

The dynamic duo burst open the front door (KA-POW!!). Entered the building (RRRIIFF!!). Smashed open a window (CRASSSH!!!). Realized no-one was home (“What the…!?!”). Then Batman “grabbed something furry” (THHHWWWPPPTT!!). Before the two heroes made their speedy exit (WHOOOOSSSHHH!!).

The bundle of fur turned out to be the household’s cat, which Batman resuscitated on the grass outside. Having been saved from a near cat-astrophe, the fiery feline could only hiss at the superhero saviors.

Via WCHSTV, H/T Arbroath

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Public park ‘sound sculpture’ hacked with porno sounds
10:13 am



Apparently a sound sculpture in a public park in the Netherlands that’s supposed to play delightful sounds of birds was hacked, and now plays the hot-n-heavy sounds of people doin’ the nasty.

According to the YouTube description, the 2009 art installation by Bill Fontana, is located in Enschede and was recently hacked. Passers-by reactions have varied from this is “funny” to this is “evil.”

The city has no idea who is behind the hack.

Is this a clever fake viral video? I do not know. The sound sculpture (with the bird songs) is real, however.

Via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Peace at Last: Beautiful and moving photographs of dead animals
12:43 pm



It was Gloria the cat that first brought Gemma Kirby Davies the “gift” that started her photographing dead animals.

“It started about 18 months ago when Gloria (the cat) brought me a gift,” Gemma tells Dangerous MInds. “A perfectly intact, but totally lifeless mouse–which as it fell from her mouth to the floor, seemed to sink into the earth with a complete sense of purpose and ultimate timeliness. It was his time to go, and the earth swallowed him back up. It made me feel a huge sense of peace toward death.

“Gloria rarely eats her prey, and so the mouse’s corpse was given back to nature. In one of my favourite books, Jim Crace’s Being Dead, there are beautiful descriptions of nature reclaiming nature and how through the death and decomposition of living things, nature is renewed and the dead (once living matter), prevail in the earth, the soil and the plants.”

Gloria’s gift inspired Gemma to begin photographing dead animals, when and wherever she discovered their bodies, and curating these beautiful and moving pictures on her website Peace at Last. It should be made clear that Gemma has nothing to do with the demise of any of the animals photographed, and her work aims to preserve something of each creature’s final beauty. The site is introduced by the poem “Death Be Not Proud” by John Donne:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost over throw
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure - then, from thee much more must flow;
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones and soul’s delivery.
Thou’rt slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke. Why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more. Death thou shalt die.

Gemma Kirby Davies: We, like all animals will one day die. It’s something I find sad, but reassuringly certain. I hope my photographs evoke a sense of how I perceive death; wholly still, eternally quiet and completely calm.

I see death as stillness and as sleep. Not all of my images are cute and fluffy; some animals may have come to a brutal end and their visceral wounds reflect that. But death for me is always an end to chaos: an end to suffering, peace at last.

Dangerous Minds: What attracted you to this subject matter?

Gemma Kirby Davies: Growing up I was always interested in dark themes in art; Francis Bacon’s paintings and macabre literature. I love Taxidermy, and have been extremely inspired by this art trend, especially the exquisite work of modern artists like Polly Morgan and Nancy Foutts.

Yes, there is a deeper meaning behind what I am doing, but I think the colours and composition of my pictures work on a superficial level too – dead animals can be visually stunning… and much easier to photograph when still.

DM: What has the response to your work been?

Gemma Kirby Davies: It’s not for everyone. My aunt’s response to the invite to my recent exhibition was, “Of course I’ll come and support you dear—as long as you don’t expect me to ever put any of it up on my walls!” and on applying for a stall at Spitalfields Art Market, I was advised that my work wasn’t family friendly and cautioned that my photographs could be “interpreted as disturbing”… I didn’t have the heart tell them that that was sort of the point!

I think art should always incite feeling, and if we all got excited about the same things then life would be rather boring. Reactions like that - especially from an art market in London’s seemingly edgy East End - prove that there is a real stigma around portraying death in art. If I have hit a nerve with this subject matter then I am glad of positive and negative responses as it opens up a debate.

Gemma is now developing a Peace At Last book, which will include pictures sent to her by other artists. If you are genuinely interested in submitting a picture, “your personal interpretations of this theme (photos of ‘peaceful’ dead animals),” then please send your images to Alas, Gemma can’t offer a fee, but if published in the book each artist will be credited and “of course get free champagne at the book launch!”

Discover more of Gemma Kirby Davies’ incredible photographs at her site Peace at Last.
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Circus lions decide they’re not going to take it anymore
11:11 am



This is exactly why I hate the circus. Torture wild animals all day long so they’ll perform neato little tricks for human entertainment! No thanks.

I remember a school trip to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus when I was kid. We watched a caravan of polar bears and grizzly bears shuttled out on the main floor in teeny-tiny cages. It was one of the bleakest things I’ve ever witnessed. The bears’ eyes were full of sadness, confusion and mostly… depression

Whilst I sincerely hope the lion tamer is okay (the lions attack him in the video), what did he honestly expect was going to happen to him—eventually—after years and years of whipping these wild beasts? A lion is going to lion, buddy. If someone tortures you for years, when you see your shot, you’re gonna take it and that’s what these lions did. Don’t support circuses that “employ” animals with your money.

Warning: While the footage is disturbing, it proves my point.

Via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Zoo in China disguised dog as lion
08:58 am



A zoo located in People’s Park of Luohe in the province of Henan is receiving a major backlash from its paying visitors because zoo staff reportedly tried to disguise a Tibetan mastiff with a fancy hairdo as a lion.

The jig was up when visitors heard the dog’s “roar,” which sounded curiously like a bark…

According to People’s Daily, the zoo also tried to disguise fox-like animals as leopards and the snake cage apparently only had rats in it. Um, okay.

The zoo is currently under investigation for this tomfoolery.


Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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