Kid with an enormous head - an optical illusion

Even big-headed kids still need kisses.

The Molson beer armadillo - an optical illusion

The Molson Export Beer logo

I doubt that this optical illusion was intentional on Molson's part, but what looks like a sailing ship on their logo can transform into a living creature.

A ship, yes?

Turn it sideways and it becomes...

A Molson Export beer armadillo

This illusion is likely more amazing when perusing bottle caps while drinking appropriate quantities of Molson beer.

An armadillo

Various Molson Export Beer bottle caps.
(Click to enlarge)
(Turn head sideways for armadillos)

Make your own 3-D optical illusion creature

It looks at you wherever you are.

This desk top creature was inspired by the work of magician Jerry Andrus to celebrate a gathering for mathematician and writer Martin Gardner.

Click to enlarge and print to make your own.

More characters here: Optical illusion cut-out and fold characters - The Best Article Every Day>>

3 water optical illusions by Rikako Nagashima

Japanese artist Rikako Nagashima created these artworks that she calls Mizukagami, or The Water Mirror.

The $4 billion dollar placebo

What about knee surgery?

To decide whether patients are actually benefitting from surgery, medical researchers will split patients into two groups and perform a surgery on one group while performing a "sham" surgery on the other. From The Wall Street Journal:
A fake surgical procedure is just as good as real surgery at reducing pain and other symptoms in some patients suffering from torn knee cartilage, according to a new study that is likely to fuel debate over one of the most common orthopedic operations.

As many as 700,000 people in the U.S. undergo knee surgery each year to treat tears in a crescent-shaped piece of cartilage known as the meniscus, which acts as a shock absorber between the upper and lower portions of the knee joints. The tears create loose pieces of cartilage that doctors have long thought interfere with motion of the joints, causing pain and stiffness.  
But researchers in Finland who studied two sets of patients—one that received the surgery, and another that was led to believe that it had—observed no significant differences in improvement between the groups after one year.
Although the real surgery did decrease some patient's pain, after 12 months, there was no difference.
The study is likely to stir controversy over the minimally invasive procedure, known as partial meniscectomy, which can cost between $3,000 and $6,000. The study's authors estimated that it accounts for $4 billion in annual medical costs in the U.S.
Fake Knee Surgery as Good as Real Procedure, Study Finds, The Wall Street Journal>>

The genius of failed magician Mac Ronay

Here, magician Mac Ronay ignores 
beautiful women to focus on unlinking his rings.

Germain Sauvard was a French acrobat, actor, comedian and magician who performed under the name Mac Ronay. He's like the bastard love-child of Carl Ballantine and Jacques Tati (both of whom you should be more familiar with.) I love his subtle jittery style - it gets funnier when you watch him over and over.

Mac Ronay - French mime-magician

Mac Ronay, in color

Here's Mac Ronay out of his normal character, playing Frankenstein's monster on TV's Studio One in 1961, in a skit that would be right at home in a haunted house.

Mac Ronay as Frankenstein's monster

Image: Le Studio Rouchon>>

Let's try that trust exercise for Christmas...

You fall back and we catch you. 
What could go wrong?

Gravity and poor choices. That's what could go wrong.


Messing with "It's A Wonderful Life"

"It's a Wonderful Life" be ripe for parody.

Many people love Frank Capra's 1947 Christmas movie "It's a Wonderful Life."

I'm one of them.

If you haven't seen the movie in a while, you might not remember how dark it is. Forget the ending where all turns out well. What other holiday movie features a main character who is about to commit suicide and then God - through one of his angels - decides that the solution to get him out of his suicidal depression is to send him to an alternative world where he finds out everyone he knew and loved is now bitter, horrible or dead?

It's the Book of Job for the holidays!

Here are three humorous takes on it: a trailer for the movie in the style of the Martin Scorsese conman movie The Wolf of Wall Street, an alternative view from a forum where people were asked to change one single consonant to alter a meaning, and a "lost ending" from Saturday Night Live that gives the evil Potter character what he deserves.

Happy Holidays!

The Wolf of Bedford Falls

It's a Wonderful Lie

The Lost Ending of "It's a Wonderful Life"

Images by user Happy Toast>>
Fake movie trailer by Owen Weber>>


I didn't know this interesting little fact. The short story the movie is based on was originally sent out by writer Philip Van Doren Stern as a Christmas card when he couldn't find a publisher. Eventually, that card became the movie.

Here's the story:

The Greatest Gift
by Philip Van Doren Stern

The little town straggling up the hill was bright with colored Christmas lights. But George Pratt did not see them. He was leaning over the railing of the iron bridge, staring down moodily at the black water. The current eddied and swirled like liquid glass, and occasionally a bit of ice, detached from the shore, would go gliding downstream to be swallowed up in the shadows under the bridge.

The water looked paralyzingly cold. George wondered how long a man could stay alive in it. The glassy blackness had a strange, hypnotic effect on him. He leaned still farther over the railing...

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” a quiet voice beside him said. 

The Lord of the Rings Gandalf train prank

"You shall not pass!"

In the movie The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf commands the Balrog monster to stop. Here, a lesser Gandalf tries a similar move on a train in Poland, courtesy of prankster SA Wardega.

Watch until the very end.

Gandalf: You Shall Not Pass

Five word illusions

As Shakespeare said
in Hamlet: 
"Words, words, words..."

Answer each question to the best of your brain's ability:
Mary's mother has four children: April, May, June and …?
Imagine that you're driving a bus. At the first stop a man gets on the empty bus and shouts "Sneakers!" Behind him is a short woman who looks likes she has three arms, but that's because she's holding a package shaped like an arm. At the next stop, seven people get on. They're all wearing the same kind of yellow polka-dotted skirt. Even the two men. At the next stop the man who shouted "Sneakers!" gets off the bus. Then two young kids get on with their pet iguana called "Ignatz", and the short woman who looks like she has three arms gets off the bus. Finally, the bus arrives at the bus station. What's the name of the bus driver?

There is something that gets wetter and wetter the more it dries. What is this wonderful thing?

Romeo and Juliet were found dead in a room. They were both lying in a puddle of water with shards of broken glass around their bodies. When the detective arrived on the scene, before he even had a chance to examine the bodies, he knew exactly how they had died. What did Romeo and Juliet die of?
What needs an answer even though you didn't ask a question?
And remember, though this be madness, there is method in it...

Ear's Dali's Madonna - an optical illusion

An optical illusion painting by 
Salvador Dali, painted in 1958.
(Click to enlarge)

The frame is the only three-dimesional object in this image. When you enlarge the image and look closely, you'll see that some of the dots have shadows and the paper and string are painted on. Of course, there's the ear and the two faces.

From the museum's description:
Dalí's penchant for optical illusion and veiled iconography are evident in this painting. As seen from a distance, a rendition of Raphael's Sistine Madonna (after 1513; Gemäldegalerie Dresden) is situated within a gargantuan ear-a reference to the Passion of Christ. From close range, it is an abstract work composed of countless particle-like gray and pink dots, reflecting the artist's interest in nuclear physics.
I would not have known about the nuclear physics connection. Or that a gargantuan ear was a reference to the Passion of Christ. Perhaps that will become the name of a new church... "Our Lady of the Gargantuan Ear."

His stupid pointless amazing hobby

No, it's not regular ping pong.

It's more magical than magic.

Slade Manning, aged 17, takes a ping pong ball and a cup and tries a trick thousands of times. Here's what happens.

It took him three years to make this three-minute video.

Said Mr. Manning:
"Back in 2009 I was filming my cousin golfing, and I realized it was more fun to try to make hard shots over and over instead of actually playing how the game is supposed to be played.... A lot of people see doing these videos as a 'waste of time' or pointless or stupid, which I couldn't really disagree with. It's just my hobby in the same way anyone has something they like to do in their free time."
Amazing Ping Pong Cup Shots

It took three years to create this three-minute trick-shot video, Yahoo News>>

Go to desert, find abandoned house, make illusion

It was an old solid house. 

Artist Phillip K. Smith III found an abandoned 70-year-old homesteaders shack in the desert near Joshua Tree, California and transformed it into an artwork he calls "Lucid Stead".

It's a contemplative optical illusion.

It seems to be transparent.

It's done with mirrors.

And at night, it glows.

The Colour Of Solitude: The ‘‘Lucid Stead’’ Light Installation By Phillip K. Smith III In The Middle Of A Desert, Yatzer>>

A magical player piano in a Chicago train station

No human piano player required

Although the experience is slightly marred by some overacting participants, the overall effect is magical when a piano without a piano player reacts to its surroundings.

The piano accompanies a little girl playing chopsticks, provides a score to passengers scurrying to catch their trains, and then there's Santa...

Is it some new-fangled technology that allows the piano to play? Well, if you consider it new-fangled that a remote-controlled piano was outfitted with hidden cameras and then played by pianist Andrew Blendermann, then yes.

The piano stunt was created by Rob Bliss Creative with the partnership of Amtrak.

Chicago's Magical Piano

Mysterious Piano + Strangers = Magic, The Blaze>>

A prank war with Pace salsa's Twitter account

He opened a whole bottle of Prank.

I was going to write a post about how comedian Kyle Kinane baked cookies in the shape of iPhones and acted like he was illegally using a cell phone while he was driving, but I decided his other prank was more hilarious.

(If you want to read about his cell phone prank, read the following headline which explains the ironic conclusion (or does it?) to his prank, at: Comedian bakes iPhone cookies to prank cops, is arrested for unpaid parking tickets, at Death and Taxes>>)

Instead, I discovered the following story, which is even funnier: A comedian started a war with Pace Salsa’s Twitter bot, and everything spiraled out of control>>).

Mr. Kinane discovered a flaw in the Twitter account which favorited tweets which mentioned Pace Salsa.

So he began messing with the account.

And then things got really weird. The account was closed. Employees contacted him directly. He tried to jokingly extort salsa from the company. He was sent salsa. Employees mysteriously disappeared.

And the conclusion? You'll have to read about it.

And if you're offended by rough language, don't read it. (This warning, of course, will dissuade no one.)

If life gives you lemons, make zombie lemonade

"This kid's got funny Brains!!!!"

Because of a birth defect called Hanhart Syndrome, seventeen-year-old Nick Santonastasso was born without legs and with only one arm.

It did not affect his sense of humor, however, as you can see in these two Vine videos showing him freaking out shoppers when he crawls towards them as a limbless zombie.

Want sound? Go HERE>> and search for "zombie">>

Want sound? Go HERE>> and search for "zombie">>

Some have commented that the videos might be fake because it seemed to them that the victims were in on it. I don't care - still damn funny.

WATCH: Teen missing limbs pretends to be zombie, terrifies shoppers, FoxK4c>>
 Zombie lemon artwork by toshibishibashi at deviantart>>

3 naked human klecksographs

French photographer Olivier Valecchi was inspired by klecksography (the art of  making images out of inkblots) to create these photographs of nudes.

Olivier Valecchi>>

Appropriately, his name was Anton

Feeling itchy yet?

Fire ants are blind. They navigate by following the pheromone trail left by other ants. If the ants get confused and start traveling in a circle, they form what's called an ant mill, where they keep on marching in a circle until they die.

Individually, they aren't dangerous, 
but get them in a group...

Ants Circle

Crazy ants

Now I'm itchy.

Army ant photos by Alexander Wild>>
Anton by Penultimate Straw, B3ta>>

Why crocodiles are more deceptive than you think

Crocodiles have been around for 230 million years.

Yes, they hide low in the water and jump up to catch prey, but that's not the sneakiest way crocodiles hunt.

Researchers have found that crocodiles hide in shallow water with twigs across their snouts. When birds happen by, looking for material to build a nest... Snap!

Scientist Vladimir Dinets said:
"This study changes the way crocodiles have historically been viewed. They are typically seen as lethargic, stupid and boring but now they are known to exhibit flexible multimodal signaling, advanced parental care and highly coordinated group hunting tactics."
Which means that those 230 million years of evolution have taught them a few tricks, including how to be sneaky.

Alligators also exhibit this behavior, by the way.

"So I've always wanted to know", says Mr. Curious-About-Reptiles: "What is the difference between crocodiles and alligators?"

Crocodiles and alligators are meat-eaters who rip up their prey and swallow huge hunks of flesh, but the major differences between them are:
  • Crocodiles prefer saltwater, while alligators prefer freshwater.
  • Crocodiles have longer, pointier snouts.
  • Crocodiles have a tooth on their lower jaw that sticks up when their mouth is closed.
But if you're a bird wanting to build a home, it doesn't matter. 

Both fool you and kill you.

Cunning Crocodiles and Alligators Use Clever Lures to Hunt Prey, Science World Report>>

Another view of the Addams Family TV show

"Their house is a museum..."

If you've ever seen the mid-sixties TV comedy The Addams Family, you might have been intrigued by their appropriately strange-looking home. The show was filmed in black and white, which perfectly captured the vintage monster-movie strangeness of characters inspired by the cartoons of Charles Addams.

The house was full of odd items like a stuffed polar bear (and swordfish and moose and turtle and god knows what else), Victorian lamps, a hookah smoking pipe, suits of armor, a noose hanging from the ceiling and more.

It was a playhouse for a fictional family who lived Halloween every day and night of the year.

And although we may not have thought about it, of course they lived in a world that in reality was very much in color. (The TV networks had begun a switch from black and white programming to color, even though a majority of Americans didn't yet own a color television set.)

That's when a photographer named Richard Fish took some behind-the-scene shots for TV Guide magazine.

Pinks and yellows and pastel greens?


 A happy non-traditional family

Click to enlarge this shot of 
The Addams Family set in color

Time to relax on a bed of nails
(Click to enlarge)

Click for a closeup of "Thing"

And if you've ever seen the show, you cannot get the theme song out of your head, so here are the lyrics:

They're creepy and they're kooky, 
Mysterious and spooky, 
They're all together ooky, 
The Addams Family. 

Their house is a museum 
Where people come to see 'em 
They really are a scream 
The Addams Family. 


So get a witch's shawl on 
A broomstick you can crawl on 
We're gonna pay a call on 
The Addams Family.

Language ain't pure: how some talk in secret

"You don't know what I'm talking about, do you?"

It was said to be used by vagabonds, Jews, Gypsies, and thieves.

And French butchers, Irish Travelers, Yemeni businessmen, and Parisian prostitutes.

And beggars, carnies, gay men and the Sheikh Mohammadi peddlers of Afghanistan.

Also poets.

It's been called "peddler's French" or "cant", a specialized jargon used by those who want to exclude others.

An academic named Daniel Heller-Roazen has written a book about it called Dark Tongues: The Art of Rogues and Riddlers.

As he wrote in an article (Learn to Talk in Beggars’ Cant) in The New York Times:
The truth is that wherever people speak a language, they find ways to modify it according to set rules. A cryptic idiom may be developed for the purposes of a game, to enable a literary activity, to facilitate a new society or to implement a political project. Its secrets may be innocuous or harmful. What is certain is that speech can always be both a basis of understanding and a means of distortion.
There's a review by Jacob Mikanowski in Slate (The Tongues of Rogues. How secret languages develop in closed societies):
Practically every major European language had a canting speech of its own... At the very moment when Renaissance humanists and authors were trying to standardize and purify their vernaculars into literary languages, they were discovering that they were already corrupt, riddled with dialects whose sole purpose was to deceive, to defraud, and to conceal.
The same is true today.

Oddly made objects for your home by Ron Gilad

Completely functional table legs

They're not quite optical illusions, yet Artist Ron Gilad creates furniture and other things to decorate your home in a clean, fantastical style.

A heavy person sat on this stool

 When you don't want to cut the long stem

 A cornered box illusion

The lighted box that 
comes out of an empty box.

 Strong man lift mirror, yes?

This is my favorite - a little vase 
that makes little plants look big.

Ron Gilad>>

Spooky silent movies by Segundo de Chomón

The devil and his sexy little women,
 from "The Red Specter."

Spanish filmmaker Segundo de Chomón was similar to the innovative French film pioneer Georges Méliès. Both used camera trickery, optical illusions and techniques from stage magicians in their films.

"Kiri-Kis", or "Les Kiriki – Acrobates japonais" is his short silent film from 1907. It portrays a troupe of Japanese acrobats performing incredible stunts. The trick photography used is similar to what magicians call "black art", a technique where a stage covered in black fabric allows impossible feats. In this case, the position of the camera also allows the performers to defy gravity.

Les Kiriki - Acrobats Japonais - 1907 

These next two films are best viewed fullscreen, at night, in a darkened room. I suppose a glass of fine libations would also add to the ambiance.

Segundo de Chomón's film Le Sorcier Arabe, from 1906, details the erotic fantasies of an Arab sorcerer, which involves producing four well-clothed women from fiery sand, then causing them to vanish and appear multiple times. A hoop of fire is invoked, and the women dance around only to burn away once again. He conjures up a woman reclining on a couch, who refuses his commands until he proves how powerful a magician he can be. In the end he smokes his hookah while being fanned by women before bidding you goodbye.

The Arabic Sorcerer - 1906

Finally, the 10-minute work called The Red Specter (Spectre Rouge), also from 1907, shows a devil who continues with the theme of conjuring up women. What's interesting is once again much of the action is similar to what stage magicians were performing at the time, such as the trick of levitating a woman after covering her with a cloth. (For more on the history of magic levitations, watch episode 2 of this BBC documentary on levitations and flying, HERE>>)

Of course, our devil has the advantage of being able to use trick photography. He also uses theatrical devices such as moving scenery, as well as many fire and smoke effects. He is a devil, after all.

I like that he conjures up some primitive television sets, one where he scrolls to change channels and another that's made up of smaller building blocks.

It turns out that the red specter in the title does not refer to the devil, but to a phantom woman who bedevils him.

And if you're a horror film buff, you might be familiar with the trick he uses of trapping women inside bottles, since it may have spawned a similar scene years later in 1935's Bride of Frankensteinwhere Dr. Pretorius displays his little people in jars.

Dr. Pretorius and his bottled collection 
from "The Bride of Frankenstein."

Le Spectre Rouge - 1907

You can download or stream more of Segundo de Chomón's work for free from the Internet Archive>>

Segundo de Chomón, Wikipedia>>

I guess it takes 425 Legos to make the Mona Lisa

It's a good thing Legos come in so many colors.

Via Kottke>>
Lego at Behance>>

The best illusion photos from Reuters, 2013

Kicking fire

I found these photos to be the most surreal and illusionary images from Reuters "Best photos of the year 2013". See all 93 of the Reuters photos and explanations by the photographers, HERE>> (Warning - some of the images might be disturbing.)

Hong Kong rubber duck

 "Zombie car" covered in plants, China

 Breaking bat

Glove in a flood

Five policemen in Belgium

 Soccer in the shadows of buildings

Running up a greasy pole in Malta

Car tipping in Saudi Arabia