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Monday, October 24, 2011

The World’s Largest Pumpkin Carving Is Also the Most Impressive

From: http://gizmodo.com/


When you carve your Jack-o'-lantern this Halloween, try and keep it simple. Because no matter how good you are at carving, shaving and hollowing, you won't be able to match this epically designed pumpkin carving. Demons, ghouls, zombies, guts—all artistically sculpted from this 1,818.5 pound pumpkin.


Yes. one thousand eight hundred eighteen and a half pounds of orangey orange goo, seeds and slime. That makes the pumpkin the world's largest pumpkin and the carving the world's largest pumpkin carving. The giganto pumpkin carving was made by Ray Villafane and the detail is delicious. It's also shit your pants scary too—the walking dead look like they're climbing out of hell. Villafane is carving more pumpkins like this at the New York Botanical Garden and they'll all be on showcase through Halloween. See more of the pictures at Inhabitat. [INHABITAT]

How the Phantom Menace 3D Trailer Really Improves Episode I

From: http://gizmodo.com/

Watching the official trailer, I get the feeling that not even Lucasfilm is convinced that a third dimension is going to improve The Phantom Menace. So they've instead they've opted for Plan B in the trailer for the 3D re-release: the eradication of Jar Jar Binks.

Can we finally agree that likes 3D? The effect doesn't enhance the moviegoing experience even when originally shot with fancy 3D technology, but the Phantom Menace was released well before the 3D fad ruined our Friday nights. So it has to be manually converted to leap from the screen, with results that Ebert has lambasted far more eloquently than we could.

But we see through you, Lucasfilm! You can hide Jar Jar Binks in this trailer all you want, and the movie actually looks kind of decent without him. But you and I both know know he's still out there, lurking, waiting to shove his particularly awful brand of terribleness that even more in our faces, floppy ears jangling wildly as he jumps out of the screen and into our nightmares. [YouTube via TheForce.net]

Extraordinary story of the brave Auschwitz prisoner who escaped with his girlfriend by dressing as an S.S. officer... before reuniting four decades later

By Mark Duell
From: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

This Catholic man holds one of the most incredible concentration camp escape stories of World War Two, after he sneaked his Jewish girlfriend out of Auschwitz in 1944 by dressing up as an S.S. officer.

But it took Jerzy Bielecki, a German-speaking Polish inmate at the same Nazi death camp, 39 years to be reunited with Cyla Cybulska after a chance conversation she had with her cleaner in the 1980s.

On Thursday Mr Bielecki - who was brought to Auschwitz aged just 19 on the false suspicion he was a resistance fighter - died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Nowy Targ, Poland, aged 90.

Jerzy Bielecki, right, is seen with his brother Leszek . Bielecki, a Polish inmate who led his Jewish girlfriend out of Auschwitz in 1944, died Thursday at age 90, it was announced Saturday Oct. 22 2011.
Cyla Cybulska
Amazing story: Jerzy Bielecki, left, a Polish inmate who led his Jewish girlfriend Cyla Cybulska, right, out of Auschwitz in 1944, before they were later reunited 39 years on, died on Thursday aged 90

Mr Bielecki was 19 when the Germans seized him and brought him to the notorious Auschwitz in April 1940 in the first transport of inmates, who were all Poles. He was given number 243.

In July 1944 the 23-year-old Bielecki used his relatively privileged position at the concentration camp to orchestrate a daring escape for both of them.

 
Ms Cybulska, her parents, two brothers and a younger sister were rounded up in January 1943 in the Lomza ghetto in northern Poland and taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau. 

Her parents and sister were immediately killed in the gas chambers, but she was sent to work with her brothers. By September, 22-year-old Cybulska was the only one left alive.

Hero: Mr Bielecki - who was brought to Auschwitz aged just 19 on the false suspicion he was a resistance fighter - died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Nowy Targ, Poland, aged 90. He is pictured in May 2010
Hero: Mr Bielecki - who was brought to Auschwitz aged just 19 on the false suspicion he was a resistance fighter - died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Nowy Targ, Poland, aged 90. He is pictured in May 2010

She had inmate number 29558 tattooed on her left forearm. Ms Cybulska met Mr Bielecki and their love blossomed, making him determined to find a way to escape.

'I felt pain in my backbone, where I was expecting to be shot'
Jerzy Bielecki

From a fellow Polish inmate working at a uniform warehouse, Mr Bielecki secretly got a complete S.S. uniform and a pass. 

Then dressed as an S.S. officer, he pretended he was taking a Jewish inmate out of the camp for interrogation. He led Ms Cybulska to a side gate, where a sleepy S.S.-man let them go through.

The fear of being gunned down himself reverberated through his first steps of freedom. ‘I felt pain in my backbone, where I was expecting to be shot,’ he said last year in an interview.

Concentration camp: Mr Bielecki was 19 when the Germans seized him and brought him to the notorious Auschwitz in April 1940 in the first transport of inmates, who were all Poles
Concentration camp: Mr Bielecki was 19 when the Germans seized him and brought him to the notorious Auschwitz in April 1940 in the first transport of inmates, who were all Poles

For more than a week they hid in the fields during the day and marched during the night, until they reached the house of Mr Bielecki's uncle.

RECOGNISED FOR HIS BRAVERY

The Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem awarded Mr Bielecki the Righteous Among the Nations title in 1985 for saving Ms Cybulska. 


This is a title awarded by the Holocaust memorial group on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people to non-Jews who risked their own lives to save those of Jews.
They were separated there, as the family wanted Mr Bielecki back home in Krakow, and Ms Cybulska was sent to hide with a farm family. They failed to meet back up after the war.

Mr Bielecki stayed in Poland and settled in Nowy Targ, where he raised a family and worked as the director of a school for bus and car mechanics. 

Ms Cybulska married a Jewish man, David Zacharowitz, with whom she went to Sweden and then to New York. 


Sheer chance allowed them to meet again - in a story almost as amazing as their escape in 1944. 


Escape: Dressed as an SS officer, Mr Bielecki pretended he was taking a Jewish inmate out of the camp for interrogation. He led Ms Cybulska to a side gate, where a sleepy SS-man let them go through
Escape: Dressed as an SS officer, Mr Bielecki pretended he was taking a Jewish inmate out of the camp for interrogation. He led Ms Cybulska to a side gate, where a sleepy SS-man let them go through

While talking with her Polish cleaning woman in 1982, Ms Cybulska related her Auschwitz escape story. The stunned woman said she had heard Mr Bielecki tell the same story on Polish TV. 

'He did not think he was a hero, but he was. He will be missed'
Stanlee Stahl
Jewish Foundation for the Righteous

She then helped Ms Cybulska find Mr Bielecki in Poland. In the summer of 1983, they met at the Krakow airport. He brought 39 red roses, one for each year they had spent apart.

Ms Cybulska died in New York in 2002. Mr Bielecki is survived by his wife, two daughters, four grand-children and a great-grandson. His daughter Alicja Januchowski, of New York, confirmed his death to the media on Saturday.

‘He did not think he was a hero, but he was,’ Stanlee Stahl, a vice president at the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous. ‘He will be missed.’

A Catholic funeral and burial are to be held in Nowy Targ on Monday to remember Mr Bielecki's life.

The Best Five Toilets in the United States

Analysis by Trace Dominguez 



Field-Museum-622
When you go to the restroom to take care of business, you might not be thinking about the room itself, unless it's bad. Well lucky for you, there are people who care about restrooms. Like many rooms, the comfort of a restroom is in the details, this years top water closets offer toilets for toddlers, and color coded water.
BLOG: 'Toylet' Turns Bathroom into an Arcade

1. Field Museum Chicago
This year's top restroom is located in the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago museum's restroom ceiling has a night sky decor that is said to be, "soothing" and as an added bonus it absorbs sound. The restrooms have 3,500 visitors per day and are cleaned every hour. They offer nursing rooms with their own sink and sofa and family restrooms with toddler-sized toilets . Picture at top
Renaissance-Arlington-662
2. Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel
The second best place to answer the call of nature in 2011, is in Arlington, Virginia at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel. This toilet is very different from the one in the Windy City. Created by an architect and interior designer the restroom plays with light and special effects to secure second place. The restroom features, "walls ablaze with sunset tones of orange and gold and the mirrors above feature lit bird silhouettes," says BestRestroom.com. The cleverest feature are the faucets. They're no-touch automatic, and light the water red or blue to indicate hot or cold water.

BLOG: Who Invented the Toilet? Scottsdale-Performing-Arts-
3. Scottsdale Center for Performing Art
Third is a restroom in Scottsdale, Arizona and the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts. "The loo is sleek and modern with terrazzo flooring, glass-tiled walls and spacious, stainless steel stalls," says BestRestroom. As with the Virginian lavatory, this one has an intricate lighting system continuously shifting the colors of the space from, "cool blues and greens to warm golds and reds." Dons-Johns-622
In fourth and fifth places are Don's Johns luxury washroom trailer and a pot in Huntsville, Utah at the Snowbasin Ski Resort. The luxury trailer is a fully mobile commode, commissioned for the 2009 inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama. It contains hardwood floors, recessed lighting and an HDTV! It's quite the porta-potty. Though, not one to be outdone by other powder rooms, Snowbasin's water closet's feature, "Italian Carrera marble, Barovier, Tosso & Moscatelli chandeliers crafted from bronze and crystal, floor-to-ceiling commodes, beautifully inlaid African Anegre wood and hand-painted walls," according to BestRestroom.com.

Cintas, sponsors America’s Best Restroom, holds this contest annually. Each year, restrooms are nominated and voted upon online. Any public restroom is eligible. Once nominees are reviewed, a committee announces the ten finalists and online voting begins. The winners are announced in September at which time they are presented with, "the coveted America's Best Restroom plaque of recognition," according to Cintas. Photos & Content: AFP, Cintas' BestRestroom.com

Pining for a forest retreat? The breathtaking tree houses that run rings around homes back on solid ground

By Louise Boyle
From: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

Dense foliage and an abundance of species means that the Northwest of America has seen increasing numbers of tree houses popping up in its canopies. 


Far from being the projects of adventurous children, these structures are breathtaking works of architectural beauty in their own right. 

Many of the lofty homes have been created by Pete Nelson a renowned tree house builder who lives in Fall City, Washington and has written several books on the subject.

Temple of the Blue Moon: Tree house expert Pete Nelson built this structure on his land in Fall City, Washington
Temple of the Blue Moon: Tree house expert Pete Nelson built this structure on his land in Fall City, Washington 

Most of the tree houses are complete with running water, flushing toilets and electricity. There are also special touches including hot tubs, zip lines, spiral slides, lookout towers and even an iron bridge. 


Although tree houses often function as workshops, studios or places for entertaining, there are some people who live their lives permanently above solid ground.
 
Gus Guenther, 28, lives all year round in a one-room tree house, 12ft by 16ft, in a small community in south-central Alaska. 


It's hardly luxurious with a propane lamp and wood stove but is perfect for those who enjoy a simple lifestyle.

House of imagination: Trillium, another structure at Nelson's Treehouse Point, perches on a giant western red cedar and can be reached by a spiral staircase
House of imagination: Trillium, another structure at Nelson's Treehouse Point, perches on a giant western red cedar and can be reached by a spiral staircase

Luxurious decor: The inside of a tree house near Seattle mirrors its surroundings with plenty of light and natural products
Luxurious decor: The inside of a tree house near Seattle mirrors its surroundings with plenty of light and natural products


Walk this way: This tree house in Washington state has a full-scale steel bridge and is supported by two Douglas fir trees
Walk this way: This tree house in Washington state has a full-scale steel bridge and is supported by two Douglas fir trees


Mr Guenther, who is originally from Pennsylvania, has said: 'Why wait until you're 65 to retire when you can live this way all your life?'

Earlier this year a film entitled Out On A Limb was made about David 'Squirrelman' Csaky, a homeless man who came to global attention after Seattle authorities evicted him from the elaborate tree house he had been living in on city property for two years. 

After he was evicted from his self-constructed, 300 sq ft home, 52-year-old Mr Csaky's neighbours were so outraged by his treatment that they clubbed together to buy him a motor home to live in.

There are several construction methods when it comes to crafting a home in the trees.
Some can be supported by stilts and don't need the tree to take any of the stress of building materials. 


Rope and cable are the most common methods of suspension tree houses but these are among the most difficult to construct and access.

Thinking outside the box: The Treehotel, which recently opened 40 miles south of the Arctic Circle in Sweden is almost invisible among the trunks
Thinking outside the box: The Treehotel, which recently opened 40 miles south of the Arctic Circle in Sweden is almost invisible among the trunks


Perfect hideaway: The glass cube is constructed from sustainably harvested wood and have underfloor heating
Perfect hideaway: The glass cube is constructed from sustainably harvested wood and have underfloor heating 


Not so square: The six trendy units in Sweden have been created by uber cool architects Tham & Videgard
Not so square: The six trendy units in Sweden have been created by uber cool architects Tham & Videgard

Cute cabin: This Issaquah treehouse has a long staircase which descend to a hot tub deck and zip line platform
Cute cabin: This Issaquah treehouse has a long staircase which descend to a hot tub deck and zip line platform


Alpine living: The 450 sq ft house was designed in a Swiss chalet style, with a ramp for older people, instead of the usual stairs or ladder
Alpine living: The 450 sq ft house was designed in a Swiss chalet style, with a ramp for older people, instead of the usual stairs or ladder

In Europe and the U.S., recreational tree houses, for entertaining and as workshops and studios, have become increasingly popular thanks to higher disposable incomes, better technology for builders and growing interest in eco-friendly lifestyles. 
 
In other parts of the world, tree houses are part of a more traditional way of life. Stilt houses line the banks of many tropical river valleys in South America, particularly in the Amazon and Orinoco.

Thai stilt houses are built on freshwater, for example lotus ponds. In Vietnam, the homes are built in a similar style expect with a smaller front door due to religious reasons. 


Steep climb: Flat shoes are advisable when it comes to living in the canopies
Steep climb: Flat shoes are advisable when it comes to living in the canopies


Having a ball: Free Spirit Spheres on Vancouver Island, Canada are suspended with webs of rope and can be rented by visitors
Having a ball: Free Spirit Spheres on Vancouver Island, Canada are suspended with webs of rope and can be rented by visitors 


Free as a bird: The spheres sway gently in the breeze and are suspended 10 ft above the forest floor
Free as a bird: The spheres sway gently in the breeze and are suspended 10 ft above the forest floor


Cabin fever: Inside one of the Free Spirit Spheres on Vancouver Island
Cabin fever: Inside one of the Free Spirit Spheres on Vancouver Island 

Kelong, are primarily fishing huts, but can double as offshore homes in other parts of Asia like the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

Although tree houses appeal to many people's childhood dreams, they have also been used effectively by protest communities.

Tree sitting is often employed by environmentalists against big corporations to prevent road building or the destruction of forests. 


Julia Butterfly Hill is a particularly well-known tree sitter who occupied a Californian Redwood for 738 days in 1997, saving the tree and others in the immediate area.

On the TV show Once Upon a Time, all of your favorite fairy tale characters are trapped in Maine


From: http://io9.com/
BY KAILA HALE-STERN

At the New York Comic Con screening for ABC's Once Upon a Time, we were shown an intriguing fantasy comprised of equal parts promise and problems.
But the panel with creators Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis, late of Lost, convinced us that the show will be worth sticking with, post-shaky pilot. These guys are masters of the flashback, and they hinted at the intriguing trips to fairy tale land in that are in store for Once, along with the familiar faces who will be stopping by to play your favorite heroine or nightmare of old. Spoilers for the pilot ahead.
Once Upon A Time is fun, quick-paced, uneven, and utterly, wonderfully bizarre. You have to be willing to accept from the get-go that some of our favorite storybook characters have come alive, transported by a curse to modern-day Storybrooke, Maine (yup), "a truly horrible place" in the words of Snow White's Evil Queen, who sends them there. The pilot veers between highs and lows: it can be rollicking and clever, or else veering too Disney or over-the-top. Once is family-friendly to a point — there's violence enough, both physical and psychological, which rightly fits to fairy tales, though in the pilot it's mostly low-rent Ringwraith terrors.
Many beloved characters and actors are to be found in both Maine and the Enchanted Forest: there's the aforementioned Snow White, whose tale seems central (a lovely Ginnifer Goodwin, totally transported from Big Love), her hunk of a Prince Charming (Thor's Josh Dallas, who israther radiant), Lana Parrilla as the Evil Queen, owning every scene she's in (you'll find yourself waiting for her), and 28 Weeks Later and Transpotting's Robert Carlyle as a standout slithery Rumpelstiltskin.
We'll also be hearing from Jiminy Cricket (Raphael Sbarge, when not a cricket), Gepetto (Tony Amendola) and his Pinocchio, Red Riding Hood and her Granny, select Dwarves (includingPoTC's Lee Arenberg as Grumpy), The Magic Mirror (Giancarlo Esposito), Cinderella (Falling Skies' Jessy Schram), and many more, if Once runs for the full 13 episode-season it has been allotted.

Special guest appearances by fan favorites like True Blood's Kristin Bauer as Maleficent andBuffy's Emma Caulfield as Hansel & Gretel's Blind Witch, as well as episodes penned by genre favorite Jane Espenson (Buffy, Caprica, Torchwood, Game of Thrones) provide further incentive to tune in in coming weeks, even if the pilot doesn't initially bowl you over.
Jennifer Morrison (House) plays Emma Swan, a tough-as-nails knockout bailbonds "person" with the ability to always tell when people are lying and the potential to develop into a more multi-faceted character. Emma is confronted by the son she gave up ten years ago, the preternaturally brilliant and troubled Henry (Jared Gilmore, preternaturally brilliant), who begs that she return with him to save his hometown of Storybrooke, where his hateful adoptive mother reigns over a cowed populace...as mayor.
Henry is convinced that Emma is the prophesied daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming that he read about in his book of magical stories, sent by her parents to another world in order to save the good people of fairy tales from the curse that has cast them into a sleepy town in Maine that time forgot.
Running parallel to their roles in the Enchanted Forest, the modern-day Snow White is a kindly teacher named Mary Margaret, her Prince Charming is a John Doe in a coma, and the Evil Queen is both the mayor and Henry's icy-hearted guardian, Regina. Here Rumpelstiltskin is pawnshop proprietor Mr. Gold, who "owns the town," at least where money is concerned, a vamped-up Red Riding Hood is portrayed as trying to "sleep her way around the Eastern Seaboard," and Jiminy Cricket, a.k.a. Archie Hopper, is a bookish child psychologist.
Throughout Emma's initial reluctant interactions with Henry and Storybrooke's population, we see via flashback how the curse came upon the realm of the Enchanted Forest. The primary problem of the pilot — save for having to swallow some clunky dialogue like "[the Forrest] animals are abuzz with the Queen's plans" — is where to go onwards, since fairy tale land has been laid to ruin in the first episode and its occupants expelled to Maine. But hints from the creators on what's in store laid out a far more twistily interesting path for what we'll see in the realm of fantasy than the pilot suggests.
Once Upon a Time creators and writers Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis told the audience at the NYCC panel that there's a lot more to come in both worlds, with the storylines veering from modern-day to magical mythos and back on a weekly basis. Coming from their Lostbackground, there may also be hidden plot-points in numbers and other encoded messages, sure to please the conspiracy aficionados.
What interested me most was their revelation that future episodes will explore both the primary and background characters' motivations in the Enchanted Forest — "what made them who they are" by the time we meet them as recognizable archetypes. So while in the pilot characters are often writ in uncompromising shades of black-and-white — selfless shiny good versus vindictively cruel evil, which can be heavy-handed at times — that may lessen as we learn what really shaped their lives.
Why did Jiminy become a cricket? How did imp-like Rumpelstiltskin become a prophecy-spouting ambiguous villain? What so damaged the Evil Queen that she would try to fatally poison her step-daughter for being prettier than her? In contrast, the same characters in Storybrooke will be facing "the voids in their modern lives," the needful things they have lost by being transported from a place of everlasting love, faerie, dragons and towering castles.
It does not appear that the show is interested in retelling the fairy tales in terms of their often harsh origin stories out of non-Disney folklore (in the original Cinderella, for example, her stepsisters cut off their toes and heels to fit the magic slipper; in the original Sleeping Beauty, the prince does a lot more than kiss the princess upon discovery and she only awakens when she gives birth to twins). Rather it seems that the creators and writers have established their own mythology with nods to the timeless yarns we were read at night, but are keen to add a modern twist of pop psychology and deeper character exploration.
This idea was further emphasized: Horowitz and Kitsis said that if Lost was ultimately about redemption, Once is about hope, a word we hear bandied about a lot in the pilot. When asked why we're seeing such a glut of fairy-tales-in-the-modern day coming to the screen — NBC'sGrimm is also on the fall schedule and an adaptation of the comic series Fables is potentially in the works — the current uncertainties of the global economic climate were cited as a driving force.
They pointed out that Disney released its wildly popular animated Snow White at the height of the Great Depression; fairy tales have ever been about escapism from unkind reality as much as moralistic lessons. "There's something comforting about the stories," we were told. And at a time when many could use their own dose of comfort and "happily ever after," Once seeks to provide storylines that particularly click with today's audience, i.e. noting that Cinderella's tale is the ultimate kiss-off and triumph over a vicious and exacting boss.
I don't want to curse Horowitz and Kitsis, who have worked together on many other projects (Tron: Legacy, Birds of Prey,Popular and Felicity are amongst their credits) with some of the pitfalls that would befall later seasons of Lost; I'm all for giving them the benefit of the doubt. But it remains to be seen whether they can sustain the enchanted flashback momentum while further developing Storybrooke's citizens.
It's also worth entertaining the notion that the fantastical sights we see are merely the production of young Henry's imaginative brain; he's a miserable kid, in therapy at ten, in search of his birth mother; why not cast her as the destined saviour out of his favorite book? Once could inspire Taming of The Shrew-like debates as to whether the supernatural elements afoot are actually "real" or are the fabrications of an overwrought mind.
It's clear that a lot of time, plotting, energy and money has gone into the show. The visuals are striking for a weekly series, and where they are cheesy and overdone it still works for both comedic and dramatic effect. The creators insist that their take-away from Lost was that "character has to trump technology," and they've certainly drawn some colorful ones.
The pilot probably won't dazzle you, but the talented cast and roster of upcoming guest stars and scribes is a good reason to give the show support in order to see if they can pull off the twistier upcoming developments we heard about at NYCC. If you ever wondered why a man turns cricket, how an Evil Queen earned her name, or if there's more to Snow White than meets the dewy eye, Once Upon a Time would like to tell you a story.
Top photo: Bob D'Amico/ABC

Halloween Light Show 2011 - Party Rock Anthem



Uploaded by on Oct 21, 2011
2011 Halloween Light Show -- Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO.

4 singing pumpkin faces, tombstones, hand carved pumpkins, strobes, floods and thousands of lights. Most all lights have been changed from incandescent to RGB LED so power consumption is a lot less than previous years. Also DMX added to show. All lights, faces and props are custom made (DIY) by me except for the roof line which are CCRs. Controlling channels have gone up 8X from last year. 1144 channels. Light-O-Rama. Riverside, CA

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