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Friday, July 16, 2010

Honeybees make Mich. Ave hotel sweeter

Frank Mathie
The Marriott on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago is abuzz these days with bees.

Ten beehives on the 9th floor rooftop of Marriott are busy with bees making honey for the hotel's guests.

Click here for video:

"We've got about a half million bees and they fly all around downtown pollinating flowers. The mayor graciously plants them all up and down Michigan Avenue every couple of weeks. So they're out there doing their duty they bring that pollen back here and they make honey for us," said Myk Banas, executive chef, Marriott Magnificent Mile.

But bees aren't all sweetness and honey, they also sting to protect their way of life. Going nose-to-nose with bees' stingers can be a painful assignment so Chef Banas provided protective suits. Even though the Italian, five stripe honey bees are docile, you're looking for trouble when you enter their hives. After all, we are after their honey -- and this year they are making plenty.

"Probably somewhere in the neighborhood of four to six hundred pounds," said Banas. "By this time next year we'll wish we had more beehives and more honey."

They use the honey in many different recipes-- like salad dressings and baked goods. They also make a popular honey wheat beer that's sweet with no sting. Plus, the bees pollinate the Marriott's herb and vegetable rooftop garden.

Two years ago Chef Banas decided to get the bees. He thinks it's the right choice.

"At this hotel we pride ourselves in serving local foods and it really doesn't get much more local than your own rooftop," said Banas.

Next time you're downtown and the bees are buzzing, don't worry. They're just making life a little sweeter.

(Copyright ©2010 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Goodbye, Ice Cream; Hello, Cupcake Truck!

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A fantastic new trend is emerging on city streets across the country: The cupcake truck. Dispensing deliciousness to office workers, these trucks are a scrumptious new craze.

Curbside Cupcakes: Washington D.C.

Former lawyer Sam Whitfield and partner Kristi Cunningham took a chance and bought a big bright-pink Sprinter van, loaded up 300 cupcakes, and hit the streets of D.C. Today they sell over 1,300 cupcakes each day and enjoy a devoted following.

Signature Flavor: Red Velvet

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A fantastic new trend is emerging on city streets across the country: The cupcake truck. Dispensing deliciousness to office workers, these trucks are a scrumptious new craze.

Cupcake Stop: New York, New York

Claiming to be the first-ever cupcake truck in Manhattan, the Cupcake Stop has reached an almost cult-like following in New York City.

Founder Lev Ekster started the company after graduating law school in 2009 when job prospects looked grim. Garnering over 13,000 followers on Twitter, the truck has over five locations across the city and two retail outlets.

Signature Flavor: Red Velvet with Sweet Cream-Cheese Frosting

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A fantastic new trend is emerging on city streets across the country: The cupcake truck. Dispensing deliciousness to office workers, these trucks are a scrumptious new craze.

Cupkates: Berkeley, California

Claiming the title of the Bay Area’s first cupcake truck, Kate McEachern can be found roaming around Oakland and Berkeley in her converted mail truck. Kate’s former lives as Managing Editor at Dwell Magazine and intern at Chez Panisse mean her cupcakes are gourmet creations sure to please Bay Area foodies.

Signature Flavor: Red Velvet (buttermilk chocolate cake with a bright-red hue, topped with cream cheese frosting)

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A fantastic new trend is emerging on city streets across the country: The cupcake truck. Dispensing deliciousness to office workers, these trucks are a scrumptious new craze.

Flirty Cupcakes: Chicago, Illinois

Tiffany Kurtz and Chris Sewall were sick of their corporate jobs and decided to convert an old mail truck into Flirty Cupcakes.

Serving Chicago residents with their elegant creations wasn’t easy. The city’s vast rules and regulations around food trucks required some serious modifications to their old truck, and to top it off the city insisted they had to pre-package each cupcake. To solve the problem, Tiffany had the idea of creating tiny gift boxes for each cake, which all her customers adore.

Signature Flavor: CBFF (Chocolate Best Friend Forever, Chocolate with Nutella Ganache)

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A fantastic new trend is emerging on city streets across the country: The cupcake truck. Dispensing deliciousness to office workers, these trucks are a scrumptious new craze.

Buttercream: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Former attorney Kate Carrara was surrounded by bitter and angry people all day, which prompted her to make a radical career change. Operating under the simple principle, “There’s nothing that a cupcake doesn’t make better,” she decided to buy an old mail truck and turn it into a rolling cupcake-happiness machine.

Signature Flavor: Yellow Cake with Vanilla Buttercream.

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A fantastic new trend is emerging on city streets across the country: The cupcake truck. Dispensing deliciousness to office workers, these trucks are a scrumptious new craze.

Kara's Cupcakes KaraVan: San Francisco, California

Established as one of the premiere cupcake makers in San Francisco, Kara Lind took her show on the road in her hip brown Sprinter van. Using local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients, this truck is a treasure to find.

Signature Flavor: Sweet S’mores (Chocolate Cupcake with a Graham-Cracker Crust and a Toasted-Marshmallow Frosting)

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A fantastic new trend is emerging on city streets across the country: The cupcake truck. Dispensing deliciousness to office workers, these trucks are a scrumptious new craze.

Perfect Cupcakes: Baltimore, Maryland

Founder Catherine Hamilton might take her ingredients seriously, but her cupcakes are nothing but fun. Her truck is an imported mini-truck from India and according to Catherine, her recipes are “plain, simple, and sweet.”

Signature Flavor: Pink Velvet (Pink Cake, Pink Frosting)

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A fantastic new trend is emerging on city streets across the country: The cupcake truck. Dispensing deliciousness to office workers, these trucks are a scrumptious new craze.

The Cupcake Truck: New Haven, Connecticut

Taking an old-fashioned approach using locally sourced ingredients, Marsha and Todd Rowe started from scratch delivering their goodness to the folks of New Haven, Connecticut.

Signature Flavor: Chocolate Ruin (Deep Chocolate Buttermilk)

60 years later, Paddleboarders still have legs


Six decades after paddleboard racers last propelled themselves through the choppy waters off the Santa Monica Pier, competitors took to the waves to show that the once-popular sport still has legs.

June 14, 2010|By Martha Groves, Los Angeles Times

When Tom Blake developed wooden paddleboards to rescue distressed swimmers in the 1920s, the Santa Monica waterman had no idea he was creating a sport for the ages.

Six decades after paddleboard racers last propelled themselves through the choppy waters off the Santa Monica Pier, scores of competitors took to the waves Saturday and demonstrated that the once-popular sport still has legs.

"When those racers took off, I actually had tears in my eyes," said Ben Franz-Knight, executive director of the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corp. "This is something we've been missing."

Back in the 1930s and '40s — the sport's heyday — the women-only Manoa Paddleboard Club and the coed Santa Monica Paddleboard Club ran regular sprints in front of hundreds of spectators, and local newspapers printed the results.

Ann Johansson, For The Times

In the 1960s, according to pier historian James Harris, interest in paddleboarding gave way to the more thrilling and challenging sport of performance surfing. With the broad adoption of stand-up paddling in recent years, paddleboarding has seen a resurgence.

On Saturday, paddlers splashed into the surf about 9 a.m. and began a 5.5-mile circuit around the pier, north to San Vicente Boulevard, back to the southern border of Santa Monica and then to the starting point.

Some participants stood erect while paddling foam and fiberglass boards through the surf while others knelt or lay prone. Most wore wildly patterned, knee-length board shorts or wetsuits. Whatever their fashion or style, spectators were pleased to cheer them on. A dory competition featured lifeguards rowing fiberglass rescue boats in a one-mile sprint and a three-lap race through the surf zone. About 35 people raced outrigger canoes.

Honolua Surf Co., a purveyor of water gear and clothing, and Santa Monica-based Heal the Bay produced the event. A portion of the proceeds will go to the nonprofit group's Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.

Less than an hour after starting, first-place finisher Anthony Vela, 36, a longtime Los Angeles County lifeguard, steamed to shore, having spent the entire race alternating every two minutes between a kneeling position (using primarily his leg and core muscles) and one minute on his stomach (using his arms and shoulders).

Dialy Ndiaye, 43, of Marina del Rey, who grew up surfing off the West African coast of Senegal, took first place in stand-up paddling, his pronounced pectorals and deltoids none the worse for wear despite a side wind that created some challenging chop.

For the 6-foot-4-inch Ndiaye, 5.5 miles is a relative walk in the park. "I paddle more than that every day," he said.

"I've always loved the history of surfing and paddling and the waterman lifestyle in general," said Todd Roberts, owner of ZJ Boarding House, a Santa Monica surf shop, who helped organize the event. "[This] is an emotional coming of age for the pier."

The Music Video Is Back Thanks to Lady Gaga


The music industry had given up on videos. Then Lady Gaga came calling.

Many of us keep track of what tops the box-office and iTunes charts, but can anybody even guess what’s the most-viewed YouTube video of all time? No, it doesn’t involve a baby or a kid doing something hilarious. The answer is “Bad Romance,” the music video starring Lady Gaga shimmying in what looks like an underground brothel. As of press time it had been viewed 244,529,375 times. The runner-up, and catching up fast, is the music video for Justin Bieber’s song “Baby,” with 243,479,950 views. No. 3 features a real baby (“Charlie Bit My Finger—Again”), though there’s another video, Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.,” at No. 5, with 138 million views. Of course, music videos make up only a fraction of YouTube’s audience as the second-largest search engine after Google, but the Web site has singlehandedly revived the genre—with a little help from a woman who wears soda cans in her hair.

Once upon a time, when people purchased their favorite songs on records and cassettes, the music video was a touchstone of popular culture. MTV launched in 1981 as a network devoted to airing them 24 hours a day—remember the rise of the VJ? But just like video killed the radio star, reality TV killed the music video. In the late ’90s, music channels stopped being synonymous with music—and started airing washed-up music stars, such as the Osbournes and the Lachey-Simpsons, bickering in the comfort of their own McMansions. Not long after TRL was axed in 2008, music videos were relegated to the graveyard shift; even now, they air on MTV only between 3 a.m. and 9 a.m. As the music business imploded on the back of illegal downloads, videos—once seen as the best promotion to help boost albums—were a luxury that didn’t make sense.

And then came music to record executives’ ears: YouTube, which has partnered with a company named Vevo to monetize a medium that was as dated as a pair of disco shoes. Every time YouTube broadcasts a video through Vevo online, it is accompanied by a brief ad, and for every 1,000 such “impressions,” Vevo earns at least $25. The reason music videos have come back from the dead is simple. They are the perfect length—three to five minutes—for abbreviated online attention spans. They are easy to share, tweet, Facebook, and comment on. You can watch them from the comfort of your own home (or cubicle, when you’re procrastinating at work). Some videos are now so high in demand, they even have their own trailers. Is it just a coincidence that the movie industry feels so sluggish at the same time music videos are taking off?

If there’s one lady who should take credit for the resurgence of the music video, it’s Lady Gaga. Just as Michael Jackson revitalized the genre in 1983 with his 14-minute “Thriller” extravaganza, Gaga’s videos have the production values of an action movie, with special effects, elaborate costumes, background dancers, and more bling than the Oscars. It’s not just that her music videos are theatrical, but like an episode of Lost, they lend themselves to being watched, rewatched, dissected, and argued about in surprisingly sophisticated ways. When “Bad Romance” premiered last November, it created an online blitz—Rolling Stone compared it to Kubrick, and even The Wall Street Journal weighed in. Gaga’s music video for “Telephone,” which premiered in March on E! as well as on Vevo, was more than nine minutes long. It was something like a homage to both Tarantino and Thelma & Louise: a statement of female empowerment through murder and violence, set against a pastiche of singing, dancing, and cheesy acting, courtesy of Beyoncé. Soon enough, the video got even more attention when fans started posting their own shot-by-shot remakes on (you guessed it) YouTube. The best was from a platoon of soldiers in Afghanistan, which has been watched by 5 million people and prompted a U.S. Army spokeswoman to report that “the brigade command team is happy to see that they also still have a good sense of humor and that morale is high.”

And if the boys in uniform can get in on the act, who’s to say that you can’t, too? Democratized fame—in the form of American Idol and The Hills—may have once stifled music videos, but now it’s an ally. Anybody can star in a music video and have the whole world watch them lip-sync, even if they’re not lip-syncing to their own songs. In order to understand the parodies, we need to be familiar with the original videos. A similar principle was behind why we studied music videos in the first place—to learn how to dance like Michael Jackson or Madonna in the clubs. Now, of course, nobody goes to a club to meet somebody; we can thank and dating Web sites for that. But the Web isn’t all that bad. If it weren’t for the Internet, the music video wouldn’t have been able to accomplish a feat that neither Britney nor Whitney could pull off: it’s made a full comeback.

The Full Facebook Trailer "The Social Network" Here's the first full-length trailer for The Social Network, David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin's movie about the creation of social wonder/ill, the Facebook.

China Enters the Giant Robot Statue Race

By Rob Bricken

Oh god. It's the cold war all over again... except this time, it's with giant robots, and thus it's significantly more awesome. No longer content to just stand by and watch as its neighbor Japan build 1:1-scale Gundam and Gigantor statues, China has made the above robot to let the world know they, too, like some big-ass robots. The very Optimus Prime-inspired bot stands 10 meters or about 33 feet, and was made entirely from junk, so I think that makes it less than meets the eye, technically. It's still cool, though. Thanks to Mark C. for the tip. (Via Automotto)

Say goodbye to the Y-M-C-A: it's now just the Y

To the chagrin of Village People fans around the world, the YMCA is kissing its name goodbye. Most of it, that is.

The venerable service organization for youth and adults announced today that henceforth, you can just call it "The Y" as you've probably been doing anyway.

The Y's new name is about as far away as it can get from its origins while still honoring them in some way. Founded in London in 1844 as the Young Men's Christian Association, the organization's first US branch opened in Boston in 1851. The organization has been known by just its initials for the last 43 years -- a span of time in which those initials became a pop culture talisman thanks to the Village People's disco hit, which extolled the YMCA as a place where a young man could be who he wanted to be. (Big-city YMCAs, which often had rooms men could rent by the day, had acquired a reputation as gay cruising spots, a reputation that meshed with the Village People's own mainstreaming of gay cultural cliches.)

The Y's explanation for the brand surgery makes some sense: it's been quite a while since it just provided a gym, a pool and a place for a young man to sleep. The agency said that its own surveys, conducted over a two-year period, showed that most Americans don't know what the YMCA does

(For the record, the Y still has as its mission "[putting] Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all." It carries out that mission in three main areas -- youth development, healthy living and social responsibility -- and runs programs aimed at all ages and both sexes.)

As could be expected, the Village People themselves were upset by the announcement, issuing the following statement:

"We are deeply dismayed by today's announcement from the Y.M.C.A. that they feel a name change and a rebranding are in order after 166 years. Some things remain iconic and while we admire the organization for the work they do, we still can't help but wonder Y."

(Not to worry, dance lovers: You will still be able to semaphore all four letters at Village People performances, where it will always be "fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A.")


And to put one final perplexing period on this story: The name change only applies to the national organization, whose legal name will remain the YMCA of the USA. Your local community branch should still be referred to formally as the YMCA of [your local community].

Even if you've gotten used to just calling it "The Y."

Stay in touch with HULIQ NEWS on Twitter @HULIQ

Ryan Reynolds Dons the Green Lantern Uniform!

Is that Hal Jordan or Slim Goodbody?

Green Lantern Ryan Reynolds
Credit: Entertainment Weekly


UPDATE: Click the pic for a high-res version!

Today, the good people at EW give us the first glance Ryan Reynolds in the Green Lantern suit and I'm having a little trouble keeping the two sides of my brain from reenacting the Raan-Thanagar War.

Those who don't know anything about the Green Lantern mythos like to say that Hal Jordan (and the other members of the Corps) are lame superheroes simply because all they do is wear a ring.

We who know better say pshaw! Be it Kyle Rayner's artistic constructs, the multi-layered thinking of John Stewart, Guy Gardner's brute force, or Alan Scott's wisdom and nobility, a Lantern's might comes from within!

Still, though, the ring is important and with the ring comes the suit. The friggin' suit.

Ryan Reynolds looks sufficiently badass and quite stern as Hal Jordan. He's definitely not the Silver Age Hal Jordan "awww shucks"ing it with Carol Ferris and Pie-Face. He looks like he's ready to put a beatdown on anyone who messes with Sector 2814. And I think that is entirely cool.

The thing that everyone will first notice about the suit, though, is what looks like "musculature of light." That is definitely non-canonical - and while I did flash on Joel Schumacher's Batman nipples for a second, I'm thinking there's a lot that can be done with this.

Will we see Green Lantern power shooting through him? Will he glow when he's angry? (Taking a page out of Ion's book here a little, perhaps?)

Still, as a child of the 1980s, there was something about the suit that made it feel a little familiar.

Dear God, is Slim Goodbody a member of the GL Corps?

Tiger Camouflaged in Tall Grass. Beautiful...

Neverland Ranch reborn as a state park?


Despite opposition, Assemblyman Mike Davis pushes for Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch to become California's newest state park.

Image via: The Daily Mail
Although the exotic menagerie and midway attractions are long gone, Michael Jackson’s former estate, Neverland Ranch, is still one much-discussed property. Back in March of 2009, a couple of months before the fallen King of Pop passed away, I asked how you’d repurpose the 2,500-acre parcel of land in Santa Barbara, California. At the time, Mother Nature had taken over the once-immaculately landscaped property in something that could only be described as Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us gone Peter Pan.
Well, California Assemblyman Mike Davis has a grand idea: the state should buy Neverland Ranch — purchased by Jackson in 1988 for $17 million and acquired by an private investment firm in 2008 — and turn it into a state park. But not so fast … California state park officials aren’t exactly embracing the idea.
Ronilee Clark, chief of the Parks and Recreation Department's southern division, tells the LA Times:
We've been struggling with our budgetary situation and working very, very hard to keep the parks in the system open. We're not necessarily looking for an acquisition at this time.
Davis, who admits that corporations and nonprofits would have to chip in and help with the acquisition of Neverland since severely cash-strapped California wouldn’t be able to afford it, is pushing his idea when the Legislature meets again in August. Although it’s a financial stretch, I don’t think it’s too shabby of an idea. I mean what else would you do with it? Besides, there are plenty of private residences that have been turned into parks, nearby Hearst Park being one of them. I'm all for it as long as the park is really a park where Mother Nature is the main attraction, not an icky MJ memorial theme park or as the Awl suggests "some kind of museum of insanity." What do you think of Davis’ idea?
And a little interesting tidbit while we're on the topic of the homes of iconic dead musicians: Graceland, Elvis Presley's former home in Memphis, is the second most visited private home in the United States behind the White House.

Argentina Passes Gay Marriage Bill

Argentina x390 (Getty) I

In a debate that lasted well into the early hours of Thursday morning, Argentina's senate voted 33-27 to make theirs the first country in South America to legalize same-sex marriage.

Gay rights activists had predicted a close vote. According to reports, debate in Buenos Aires lasted until 4 a.m.

The subject of marriage has been a hot-button issue in Argentina for the past several months. In December, José Maria Di Bello and Alex Freyre became the country's first legally married same-sex couple because of a legal loophole.

Freedom to Marry's Evan Wolfson issued the following statement early Tuesday morning: "Today's historic vote shows how far Catholic Argentina has come — from dictatorship to true democratic values — and how far the freedom-to-marry movement has come as 12 countries on four continents now embrace marriage equality. Argentina's vote for the freedom to marry marks an important advance for fairness and family values as more couples around the world will now share in marriage, with families helped and no one hurt. Today's vote adds momentum to the international movement to secure the freedom to marry for all loving and committed couples.

"Key to Argentina's human rights achievement was strong leadership from legislators and the president. It is time we see more of our own elected officials standing up for the Constitution and all families here in the United States. America should lead, not lag, when it comes to treating everyone equally under the law."

Perrier Understands Advertising


Below is the newest commercial for Perrier, in which fetish model/modern burlesque star Dita von Teese takes off her clothes and douses her lingerie-clad body in refreshing bubbly water with a light citrus flavor.

A lot of people on the Internet don’t seem to find Dita attractive, and while everyone’s entitled to speak their minds, some of those people are goddamn liars. I’m not saying she’s the sexiest woman on the planet or anything, but if she showed up in my apartment in lingerie and heels and seductively dumped Perrier all over herself, I wouldn’t be like, “Hey! I just mopped yesterday! Get some paper towels, will you?” I’d probably have some witty line about how sparkling water prevents stains from setting in.

[via bohemea]

The Town: Ben Affleck Gets More Guns, Heads Back to Boston


Here's a trailer for The Town, Ben Affleck's second directorial effort. Like Gone Baby Gone, it's a Boston-set crime drama based on a novel and is about gritty men doing gritty things, grittily. Only this one has more shooting.

Plus there's Affleck, "the acclaimed director of Gone Baby Gone," himself, stepping in front of the camera for a lead role. That's fine. Clint does it, so does Tom Hanks. Jodie Foster too. The rest of the cast is terrific. The wonderful Rebecca Hall finally gets the big central role she deserves. Jeremy Renner is always eminently watchable. Plus Chris Cooper, Jon Hamm, and... Blake Lively? Huh? Yeah, Blake Lively dressing it down as a Charlestown house cat with hoop earrings and a lazy accent. Honestly, the tiny two bits of dialogue you hear from her in the trailer don't sound that terrible. But that otherwise the trailer makes no indication of who her character is and just sort of flashes her honey blondness once in a while for eye candy is likely indicative that she won't be, as a friend said last night, "the Amy Ryan of this one." Yeah, probably not.

All told though? It's always fun to see movies set in the ol' hometown, and Gone Baby Gone proved Ben Affleck to be pretty competent at the helm. Plus who doesn't love guns shooting and banks getting robbed and dudes being all grizzled and stubbly and stuff? Fine fall fun, it seems.

Send an email to Richard Lawson, the author of this post, at

Download iOS 4.0.1 Now: It "Improves" the iPhone's Bar Signal Display

Download iOS 4.0.1 Now: It  "Improves" the iPhone's Bar Signal Display

The iOS 4.0.1 update that "improves" the way the iPhone displays signal strength is out now. According to the release note, that's about all it does.

If you notice anything else—like maybe the iPhone 3G not running like total crap after the update—do let us know.

Send an email to matt buchanan, the author of this post, at

Restored Da Vinci painting reveals hidden details

An undated image made available by the National Gallery in London  of Leonardo da Vinci's Virgin on the Rocks before (left) and after  restoration. The AP – An undated image made available by the National Gallery in London of Leonardo da Vinci's Virgin of the …

LONDON – A restoration project for Leonardo da Vinci's "Virgin of the Rocks" has revealed new details and suggest the Renaissance artist may have painted all the picture himself, instead of with his assistants as previously thought, a British gallery said Wednesday.

The 18-month conservation project involved removing much of some badly degraded varnish that was applied to the painting in the late 1940s, enabling experts to take a much closer look at the picture's brush strokes and styles, the National Gallery said.

The cleaning revealed the painting's full tonal range, especially in the darker areas, and resulted in a clearer sense of how the artist intended for space to recede through the rocky landscape, the gallery said.

It also affirmed that Leonardo likely painted the entire picture himself and intended for it to be unfinished.

The restored painting showed a range of completion from the barely sketched hand of the angel to the fully realized heads of the main figures — consistent with many of Leonardo's works. The Italian artist, said to be the "eternal perfectionist," is thought to have left his pictures unfinished because he wished to return to them later, gallery spokesman Thomas Almeroth-Williams said.

In the past, scholars believed the different levels of finish in "Virgin of the Rocks" showed that Leonardo was helped by assistants.

The painting dates from about 1491 to 1508 and is a later version of one on display in the Louvre in Paris.

The latest cleaning project followed years of scrutiny of the masterpiece.

In 2005, experts using infrared technology found two drawings hidden beneath the surface of the picture — one design was never painted, and the second one revealed Leonardo changed his mind about the subject several times.

The painting goes back on display in the National Gallery on Wednesday.


Happy Van Damme Friday: Whos That Lady!!