Meet My Little Friend

When Fear & Inequality
Sleep With Our Children

A collection of portraits of kids around the world and the places where they lie down to dream every night may have been what James Mollison had in mind for his book of pictures, “Where Children Sleep.” The stark succession of contrasts between wealthy and extremelly poor boys and girls, and their refuges, which sometimes resemble little castles, and in others are more like scary dumps, are disclosed right from the opening page.
But as the photos show the places where they play and make up the fantasies that will inform their growth and reflect their despair or faith in the future, they also reveal where these kids are coming from, what’s important for them right now, and where they may be heading to. It’s all there, along with their proud or innocent or empty expressions, the objects of their current affection, or simply their stare back at you with a million unarticulated questions.
Meet 11 year old Joey, for example, from Kentucky, U.S., grasping one of his two shotguns, and see the bunker he calls his bedroom. Or the anonymous boy who sleeps on an outdoor mattress in the outskirts of Rome, Italy. Or Lamine, 12, and his axe, a full time worker from Senegal. It’s a bolt to our system to think that if they ever make it to our own age, some clues of what their future holds are already present in these pictures.
* Originally published on May, 2010

Naked City

“In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.” 

Orson Welles (Harry Lime in The Third Man, 1949)


Zombie 101

Go Back to School Where
Edgar Allan Poe Is Buried

JUST IN: Hundreds marked Poe’s birthday this year but their hopes of seeing the mysterious “Toaster” to come back once again to the writer’s graveside were dashed: once again, he or she hasn’t showed up, breaking perhaps for good a 60-year-old tradition.

What about taking a course where you get to watch classic horror flicks and read comic books? That’s what part of University of Baltimore’s English 333 is about, a study on zombies and their appeal, being taught by author and museum curator Arnold Blumberg.
No one is quite sure why the lore of the undead holds such a grip on popular imagination, but movies and literature certainly have a lot to do with it. The class in Baltimore is just the latest addition to such a quasi-discipline. Chicago’s Columbia College and Iowa’s Simpson College have been teaching related classes for years.
So if rotten flesh and tales of people coming back “to get you” are your thing, sort of, go ahead and sign up. As a bone, er, bonus, you can take a walk on the same street where Poe collapsed in 1849 and even visit his grave. After all, some do consider “The Fall of the House of Usher” a precursor of this ghoulish sub-genre.

Baby, It’s Cold


What looks like the Ice Queen’s castle, or an art sculpture or a monument to, well, something, is just the Cleveland Harbor West Pierhead Lighthouse, photographed last week. Built in 1911 by Lake Eire, this automated lighthouse is very much active and it must’ve been enveloped in ice like that before, but it’s still out there beautiful.

And Inside Too

This Tron-inspired hotel suite is built entirely from ice and snow. It’s called the Legacy of the River room, one of a handful of artistic installations in this year’s Icehotel, a seasonal project near the arctic circle in the Swedish town of Jukkasjärvi.

Formally Known As

Students Practice on
Body of Late Teacher

You probably know at least one middle-school kid for whom this is a heartwarming, payback tale. But to the shaken pre-med students involved, it was nothing short of a rude awakening to their chosen profession.
A class at a top medical school in Sweden, (in case you’re wondering, no, we have no idea why Swedish news have been this bad lately) was about to perform its first autopsy ever when someone read the toe tag.
Laying on the table, was the body of their late teacher. It was a shocking and unusual situation, but it didn’t deter those brave souls. They went ahead and got the job done.
Afterwards, in typical Nordic fashion, head of department Tina Dalianis all but dismissed the impact of the bone-chilling incident on the students. “It’s part of the education, sometimes,” she concluded.
One can almost hear that Scandinavian middle-schooler shrieking, “wicked.”

Booze Brothers

Companionship for
Lonesome Drinkers

It may have been the Ukrainian winter. It gets pretty nippy at this time of the year over there. Like, North Pole nippy. So the Kind Fairy had a great idea: why not offer a specialized staff to entertain those lonesome souls, who seek refuge from the cold in the warmth and comfort of the local pubs?
Such a jolly team can tell stories, play guitar, and dance. They can even listen to the loopy tales addled minds love to retell ever Continue reading

Head & Shoulders

Henri IV Gets
His Skull Back

After 400 years, Henri IV’s head is finally about to rejoin the rest of his body. But this time around, it’s to rest in peace for good. Long live the French king.
Some people lose their head over anything. As grandma used to say, their blood gets hot and they do something stupid. You know what happens next: they run around like headless chickens.
Others keep them well in place. It’s a good thing if you’re, for example, a king. You make good decisions and then, when you die, your subjects remember you as an good-hearted monarch. Continue reading

Warring States

A Pot of Soup Made
Before Jesus’s Birth

It’s 2,400 years old, it’s obviously cold and the bones in it are green. On the upside, it’s still liquified, it may’ve been cooked for a member of the land-owning class and it’s paired with a glass of an odorless concoction believed to be wine.
That’s the latest discovery of a group of Chinese archaeologists excavating an empty tomb in Xi’an, China’s capital for over a Continue reading

Mystery Solved

Impostor Pretending
to Be Obama Is Caught

Breaking news coming from Washington, DC: the FBI’s just arrested Ilham Anas, a Java-based photographer of Kenyan and American descent, who’s been impersonating President Barack Obama for the past few months. Apparently, no one noticed exactly when Anas, who indeed exhibits an uncanny resemblance with Obama, took his place and began acting as an ultra-conservative Republican, but many of his supporters had suspected that the man they enthusiastically campaigned for in 2008 was not the same one who was residing at the White House.
Anas, who up to a few months ago had been making a living as a doppelganger of the president, in politically-correct advertising campaigns for Greenpeace and other progressive institutions, seems to have had a change of heart and decided he could do a better job leading the country than our first black president.
No word yet on how he kept Obama away from the public eye or whether First Lady Michelle and daughters were somehow part of the plot. What’s evident, according to supporters who’d grown discouraged by the president’s recent political decisions, is that he definitely took a right turn and all but abandoned issues he once championed.
President Obama, the real one, is expected to make a historical announcement “anytime now,” according to his press office. That may include a new economic stimulus package, the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, termination of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, end of the so-called Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, as well as fundamental changes in his cabinet, and other measures.
Earlier today, cheering crowds began to assemble in front of the White House, in a spontaneous show of support to the “new” Obama. The GOP leadership in Congress, who’s reportedly gathered in an undisclosed location, will issue an official statement about this stunning turn of events in Washington, which most likely will include a new threat of a governemnt lockdown.

Stone Unturned

Iran Says Now That
Ashtiani Is NOT Free

JUST IN: Iran did it again. Provoking outrage around the world, its state-run TV station announced today that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has not been freed, despite footage made available yesterday, depicting her and son at home. The station said it was all part of a program to be broadcast tonight, that all but endorses the official version portraying her as a murderer. The announcement:
“Contrary to a vast publicity campaign by western media that confessed murderer Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has been released, a team of broadcast production team with the Iran-based Press TV has arranged with Iran’s judicial authorities to follow Ashtiani to her house to produce a visual recount of the crime at the murder scene.”
In other words, the international vigil and watch for Sakineh’s life will continue.

The Iranian state-run TV station showed footage last night of Sakineh Muhammad Ashtiani, the 43-year-old mother of two sentenced to death by stoning, apparently free at home with her son Sajad.
Sakineh appears on the undated footage saying that she “planned to kill” her husband, Iran’s main accusation against her.
So far, the state prosecution hasn’t offered any details under which she was released or whether her sentence was commuted or she was pardoned for good.
Human rights activists expressed joy for her freedom but could not offer independent confirmation of her current and future legal status. Her release comes after an intense international campaign against the lack of transparency of her criminal process and death sentencing.
Sakineh was twice condemned to die by separate courts over the murder of her husband. A sentence of hanging was commuted to 10 years in jail by an appeal court in 2007.
But a second sentence, to death by stoning on charges of adultery in several relationships, including the man convicted of her husband’s murder, was upheld by another appeals court the same year.
The news of Ms Ashtiani’s possible reprieve came a day after another woman sentenced to death, Khadijeh Jahed, was hanged at dawn in jail with her son pushing the stool from beneath her feet.

Read Also:
* Stoning Iran
* Stoning Sentence


Liverpool Fans Sing
The Beatles (in 1964)

And in following a Reds’ time-honored tradition at the KOP, they may just have another go at it.

Lax Protection

Despite Threat of Extinction,
Vietnam Plans Tiger Paste Sale

You’ve read here about a summit of 13 nations in Russia last month to discuss their commitment and strategies to protect the wild tiger, said to be facing a serious threat of extinction. Vietnam is among those nations.
But old, misguided cultural habits die much harder than these magnificent animals, it seems. Word just came out that Vietnamese authorities are planning a public auction of approximately six pounds of tiger paste – ground bones and Continue reading

What on Earth?

Jesus’s Surprising Return to Japan
May’ve Jeopardized Plans by Faithful

Clearly, Tokyo has a big problem with umbrellas being left behind in the subway system. City officials have tried everything to remind riders to collect their belongings before leaving the trains, apparently to no avail.
All else having failed, they went for broke. By some undisclosed grace granted upon their land from above, they recruited none other than Jesus Christ, who brought along three of his closest disciples to help him out with the task.
Now do you realize the seriousness of the situation? By anticipating his second coming, Jesus ruined big plans by every earthly Christian promoter worth his or hers fishes, never mind screwing up all prophecies written in the past two millennia in the process, just so the issue could be quickly addressed.
No word yet on the progress of such a transcendental job bestowed upon the Chief Spiritual Officer of billions of faithful. Most likely, they make up the majority of those forgetful Japanese commuters anyway. But by the looks of the poster, J.C. seems to be on top of it.
And it won’t be done a moment too soon. After all, many remain blissfully unaware of this premature visit of his, and who wants to spoil and steal the thunder of that other event, the one they’re all counting on, when he’s supposed to return to earth with a completely different agenda?

Three to Wonder

Rainbow Coffins, TSA-Proof
Underwear And Sticky Gums

“A warm and fantastical departure for same-sex couples.” That’s how Thomas Brandl and his partner Michael Koenigsfeld, a couple of German undertakers, consider their business: coffins and urns designed for the gay community of Cologne.
You may choose among a variety of colors (mostly pink) and motifs (mostly naked men) to adorn the final resting bed of your loved ones. Or yourself. As with any enterprise involving the dead, business is booming.
That’s also what Jeff Buske, of Larkspur, Colorado, hopes for his own business. He developed a tungsten-lined underwear which, he claims, repels X-rays from the airport TSA-deployed full-body scanning machines, and makes invasive pat-downs unnecessary.
It’s all to protect your “junk,” you see. Customers, who’re afraid Continue reading

Trick or Gift?

Doubts Abound Over Trove
of Unknown Picasso Works

It’s not uncommon for a member of a traditional family to find a forgotten work of art behind some cupboard or at the attic of a farm house. What’s very unusual is when the finder claims that the author himself, one of the greatest of the 20th century, gave him not one or two but a trove of 271 drawings and sketches.
That’s exactly what happened, according to retired Frenchman Pierre Le Guennec, who swears Spanish great Pablo Picasso (or Continue reading

‘Tiss the Season

Punch a Panda
and Feel Better

Just in time for Christmas. Or Chanukah. Are you disappointed with the way that job interview went? No problem. Mad you won’t be able to get a single gift of your holiday shopping list? It happens. Sad people walked away from you in the subway as soon as you began your series of very witty and straight to the point out-loud comments about the news you’ve just read? Never mind. For instead of start cursing, kicking and acting all crazy, you can now just punch a panda.
That’s right. Performance artist Nate Hill came up with a very selfless way to offer solace to his fellow New Yorkers: he dons a Continue reading

Flying Squids

Airborne Antics Caught
On Film for the First Time

It turns out there’s a lot we still don’t know about squids. While the giant kind has captured the imagination of scientists and fishermen alike, but is still to be captured alive, their smaller cousins have now been caught on camera for the first time ever flying above the water.
This could be one of those stories that’d start with, “the water was very inviting that day, my friends.” Marine biologist Silvia Continue reading

Torture 101

Less Protesters at the Gates of
School That Trained Dictators

In the 1960s and 1970s, no South or Central American military dictator worth his boots lacked a diploma from the School of the Americas, a U.S. Department of Defense center that, human rights activists say, provided training for military leaders who went on to become infamous tyrants, led regimes of terror and indiscriminately ordered abductions, torture and killings of political enemies to achieve their goals.
Among the school’s alumni, there were scores of uniformed officers who sat and learned their illegal craft on its benches and went on to help stage violent coups all over the continent, provide the muscle to subjugate and crush millions of frightened Continue reading

Members Only

Berlusconi’s Gift to Mars, King
Tut’s Loss & Iran’s Penis Cemetery

Italian billionaire Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is not the only politician, or rich person, who believes the world is his playground. But you’ve got to give it to him: he’s astonishingly oblivious to the horror that usually greets his decisions, mostly guided by the pursuit of fun, candy and more power. As for us, we just happen to be camping around, mostly annoying the hell out of him.
So when the 1800-year old classical Roman statue of Venus and Mars was loaned to his office, Berlusconi immediately made plans to fix it.
As it turned out, the likeness of the ruler of war had his penis chipped off circa 175 C.E., and the goddess of love was missing a hand too. Never mind that it’s been exhibited that way at the Palazzo Chigi in Rome for years.
The other day, the work was completed and delivered to his door, and Berlusconi was beside himself. After all, a man known Continue reading

Ghost Ride

Under New York, a Storied
Past Missed its Last Train

Paris has the old Catacombs. Capadocia, in Turkey, exists atop dozens of underground villages. And New York City has its subway tunnels, where abandoned stations are connected by miles of uncompleted tracks.
Recent news about a graffiti show that opened somewhere under Williamsburg renewed interest in the dark recesses of this city, Continue reading

Murder Inc.

Drug War in Mexico Breeds
Murder, Art & Acts of Courage

The Mexican government’s catastrophically misguided efforts to curb drug trafficking has won no battle or shown little progress so far. On the contrary, the indiscriminate body count keeps multiplying, entire cities are being ravaged by impunity and corruption, and a once promising youth is trapped in the middle of its lethal crossfire.
While the Calderon administration, with no small help of the U.S., dump obscene amounts of dollars and human resources into sheer repression, growing demand from Continue reading

Preaching in the Desert

A Lonely Voice Lectures Midtown
Workers on the Evils of an Airline

His disembodied voice hits you whenever you’re near Grand Central. From a distance, it’s hard to make up his words, but it doesn’t sound like a sermon. Rather than a street preacher, it Continue reading

Got Milk?

How Many Laws It Takes to Explain
a Cat’s Gulp? Let Us Count the PhDs

With due respect to Barbra Streisand, the real zen master is the feline, as research upon research piles up to prove it. This time, it took two MIT scientists, plus one from Princeton and another from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, to show the world what it already knew: when cats drink, they’re actually solving fundamental hydrodynamic problems you didn’t even know existed.
For starters, they lap their drinks four times a second, way too fast for your inferior human eyes to see anything but a blur. And Continue reading

Tight Spot

What If Your Studio Were

Smaller Than a Minivan?

The ability of New Yorkers to adapt and live in the tiniest apartments this side of a bullet hotel is legendary. There’s even a party against the high rents in this city. Blame it on the celebrities next door or billionaires by the dozen.
And we won’t mention the size of your paycheck if you enlighten us with your own theory about it. But this being New York, there’s always those whose flexibility would make Houdini jealous.
Those who live in what brokers would love to brand as a ‘microstudio,’ but you should go with pied-à-closet. For that, meet Felice Cohen and her spacious 12 feet by 7 feet apartment in the Upper West Side.
It may be smaller than a limo, or as you remember the back seat of your grandpa’s car, but hey, she seems happy and perfectly fine with what she did with the place. We tend to agree; books, boxes and clothes can be awfully decorative.
And we’re even moved when she, proudly, introduces us to her very own backyard. Bless her soul, we know the place as Central Park, but who cares? Suddenly, her sunny descriptions of her dwelling make our own place as big as we never thought we would see it. Just like those billionaires’ closets. Who knew?

Hungry? Grab a Crab

Live Seafood in Vending Machines
Hits the Spot for Chinese Commuters

They’re alive, they’re packaged in custom-fit boxes, and they’re available in three sizes. An unusual idea by a Chinese entrepreneur, to sell individually wrapped hairy crabs in automated machines at underground stations in Nanjing, has become a hit with train riders.
The crabs, which are considered a delicacy in Asian cuisine, get sedate in the 5 Celsius degrees of the machines, but are ready for consumption. A selection of bottled sauces are also available, to season the snack, that comes in small, medium and grande sizes.
Now, before you go around bad-mouthing the Chinese because of their eating habits, do we need to remind you of the several food shows on U.S. TV Continue reading

Singing Suns

Music from Another
Quadrant of the Sky

First, it was the sun. A few months ago, scientists at the University of Sheffield, U.K., recorded for the fist time the sound produced by its outer layers. It was a gentle, strange harmony, not likely to be recorded by Lady Gaga anytime soon, but almost as fascinating as her choice of outfits. Now, they found Gemma, a very distant star twice the size of our sun, which also emits its own brand of haunting chord progressions.
You may imagine these two flaming giants harmonizing from extreme opposite sides of the universe until their combined song Continue reading

Almost Got Away

Asian Refugee and Crab
Share a Common Dream

The elderly man on the right boarded a Vancouver-bound plane in Hong Kong. The young man on the left inhabited the man on the right’s face and neck mask disguise. They both, er, the man on the left got caught after slipping way too soon into something more comfortable, while still on the plane.
Confused yet? Let’s start it over. The Asian man did almost everything right to get to Canada, reasons unknown. Had he waited just a bit longer, he would’ve been successful, what with an American passport and a legit-looking boarding pass in his pocket and all. But maybe it was too hot under that movie-quality rubber mask, so he didn’t. And got caught big time.
Afterwards, the plane crew claimed that it had indeed suspected his “young looking” hands (Haven’t they ever heard about the wonders of Pond’s?), and that he claimed two suitcases too short. When he said he had just one, they instantly produced the other two, one of them with the discarded disguise inside. Which, mind us saying, looks like that of an old sailor man, doesn’t it? Whatever.
Of course, everyone is hyperventilating about the obvious implications to security screening at airports and all. Would those new X-rated HD screeners be able to spot the mask, besides his genitals? Who cares? We’re kind of sympathetic with the poor guy. And, like the terminal staff, impressed with his acting skills; apparently his body language was pitch-perfect with that of an old man (from the sea).
No second chance for the stray crab, though. Spotted Thursday in New York, the doomed sea creature was desperately trying to flee his crowded tank at one of Chinatown’s live seafood stores. It made as far as half a block away, before a fast-thinking (albeit indifferent) man scooped it up with a discarded coffee cup and kept walking. Snack time, perhaps? Truly disgusting. Needless to say, we’re kind of sympathetic with the poor crab, etc, etc.

Time Capsule

Below City Curbs, 

A Secret Art Show

JUST IN: Police continue to arrest trespassers to this show. Although there’s no current plan to paint over the works, said to be likely located somewhere under Williamsburg, the NYPD is determined not to allow anyone to see them, citing  safety and security concerns. Pictures on the Internet, though, show that some of the paintings have already been vandalized.

What you may experience walking the streets of New York at any given moment may follow you long after. That’s above the ground and no, it’s nothing to do with dogs. But what’s happening below your steps, you can only imagine.

Now here’s something you may be walking on too: a secret art show, hidden within the walls of an abandoned subway station that neither you, nor most of the 8 million people living in this city, will be invited to attend. Ever.

The Underbelly Project,” the creation of street artists Workhorse and PAC, and 103 other guests from around the world, is just such a show. By the way, they all would rather be referred to only by pseudonymous. Because, first, graffiti art is deemed Continue reading

Up, Up and Away

Space Station Reaches
10 Years of Earth Watch

“The future ain’t what it used to be.” Nothing like the sage of America’s formerly favorite pastime, Yogi Berra, to convey in a few words, a world of meaning. The International Space Station that is completing its first 10 years in orbit (11/02/2000), for example, never became the home away from home its creators once envisioned. Ever since its first crew spent a few uncomfortable days in it, it got much better, but never quite the easy ride of the sci-fi stories. And, let’s face it, it never will.
Then again, perhaps we’re all better off knowing that the envisioned world of The Jetsons and even of Blade Runner was not meant to be. Imagine texting and driving a hyperspeed-flying car? Or sending an ultra intelligent robot to the past, to kill somebody else’s grandfather? And don’t even let us start with all those promised wonderful foods in a Continue reading

What’s Cooking?

This Evening, Share Your
Dinner With Your Neighbor

During the (one of many) energy crisis of the 1970s, a U.K. campaign became an instant hit: “Share a bath with your neighbor and save water,” or something to that effect, was a short-lived government-sponsored campaign that found many a quiet flat dweller going beyond the call of duty and having lots of fun in the process. Ah, those tamer times we dare not speak of any longer.
But alas, the world may’ve taken more than its share of frightful turns, but certain basic human needs remain reassuringly constant. For some of us, meal time can be made into an occasion for companionship and sharing of precious Continue reading

Triumph of Incoherence

Genome Sequencing of Ozzy
May Explain Why He’s Still Alive

Scientists have just completed the genome sequencing of former Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne and the assumption is that it’ll finally explain, once and for all, how come he’s still around – no offense -, even though all he plays these days is a gargantuan ass of himself. This reminds us of that old account that, according to science, bumblebees should not be able to fly.
Exactly like that old, probably apocryphal account, the only conclusive resolution the experiment most likely proves is that something is amiss. And, since we’re talking about the self-appointed Prince of Darkness himself, something has indeed, been terribly missing for far too long.
To be fair, the 61 permanently addled Osbourne is, in fact, a survivor, who walked Continue reading

People of Freedom

Italian Town
Bans Miniskirts

The Mayor of Castellammare di Stabia, Luigi Bobbio, ordered police to fine women who wear their skirts “too short.” People familiar with the matter, who asked to remain anonymous because, after all, they’re not that familiar with the ruling, said the mayor himself, a member of Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party, may be making sure violators shall be persecuted to the fully extent of the law.
Just like it happened 100 years ago this year.

Like Cheeses?

So This Dolphin
Walks on Water…

For a species who consider themselves top of the food chain, masters of the universe, the most evolved and all that, we also have some pretty consistent hang-ups about animal behavior. Take apes and monkeys, for example. In the 1940s and 50s, we couldn’t get enough of them. They were the stars of cutting edge science research, buddy adventure movies, commercials and, as a plus, were adopted by many a celebrity eager to have a non-human baby.
Of course, such an anthropocentric characterization had Continue reading

Change the World

TED Award for J R,
Street Provocateur

If you’re not well acquainted with the agitprop world of graffiti expression or street art, or don’t live in one of the slums of South America, Asia and Africa, you may never have heard of J R, the secretive Parisian artist who just won the TED’s 2011 “Wishes Big Enough to Change the World” award.
But to scores of impoverished communities around the world, it’s Continue reading

Pet Offender

Suffolk to Track
Animal Abusers

Here’s a national registry that couldn’t have come any time sooner. Just like sex offenders are required by law to disclose their whereabouts to a nationwide database, so will people convicted of offenses against animals, at least in this Long Island, New York, county.
It’s the equivalent to the Megan’s Law, which was finally established after one too many brutal atrocities against children were committed by convicted criminals at large. Continue reading

Suspended Animation

A Sharon Lookalike “Comes
Back” to Haunt Israeli Politics

JUST IN: After five years in coma at Tel Aviv’s Sheba Medical Center, the family of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon plans to move him to his ranch in the Negev Desert. He’s not expected to regain consciousness.

It’s fair to say that the current state of Israel’s politics is less than optimal. Another round of talks with the Palestinians wound up like all previous ones, in the dustbin of well-intentioned but feeble efforts, and many in the international community point to Israel’s failure to stop construction in the West Bank settlements as one of its primary causes.
An attempt to require all new citizens to pledge allegiance to the Continue reading

Good for Him


“In a Mad World,
Only The Mad Are Sane.”

The great Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, whose centennial is being celebrated this year, was known for creating full-scale paintings to use as storyboards for his films. His masterpieces “Rashomon,” (1950), “Seven Samurai,” (1954), “Kagemusha,” (1980), to which belongs the panel above, and “Ran,” (1985), all benefitted from his richly detailed, high quality storyboards, and resulted in countless international awards.
Along with another superior filmmaker, Italian Federico Fellini, Kurosawa‘s storyboards tell stories of their own and exist independently from the movies to which they were drawn. He tapped into Shakespeare, Dostoevsky and Gorky, and his love for American post-war Western directors such as John Ford, to develop highly personal and intensely humanist works, many of them adapted and remade by others.
He died in 1998, not as a household name in Japan but revered the world over as one of the cinema’s great masters.

Power of Poop

Human, Animal Waste
Supplies Clean Energy

Two deceptively simple recycling power projects are helping restore our faith in human ingenuity and the feasibility of alternative sources of energy. An experiment in Oxfordshire, England, is turning human sewage into power for 200 residences. And a dog “poop converter” was used to light up a park in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a whole month.
Both projects use bacteria inside specially designed tanks to Continue reading

Where Are They Now?

When Miniskirts Could
Land Young Girls in Jail

In the summer of 1967, these two young women decided to take a stroll in Porto Alegre, south Brazil, sporting the latest fashion apparel of the time, the miniskirt. Mary Quant‘s greatest contribution to the world, hardly a year old by then, was all the rage in the Swinging London of the 1960s as it was in New York, Paris, even Rio de Janeiro.
But not in Porto Alegre, apparently. Their pioneering spirit and sense of style got all but lost to the small crowd that Continue reading

Shades of Censorship

Brazilian Artist’s Shocking Work
Criticized as “Apology to Crime”

Brazilian artist Gil Vicente is in the hot seat in his country, just as a collection of his work is being readied for the Bienal that starts in Sao Paulo Tuesday. His charcoal drawing series “Inimigos” (“Enemies”) portrays him killing, in a very graphic, al-Qaeda style, Brazil’s President Lula, his predecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Pope Benedict XVI, even England’s Continue reading

Plato & Pluto

Guinness Book Is Latest
Target of “Lawsuit Zeus”

A Kentucky inmate who’s filed 3,800 lawsuits against an eclectic combination of historical characters, contemporary personalities and even heavenly bodies, may have reached the end of the line. Kerry Harvey, the state’s Attorney General, is seeking to prevent Continue reading

On the Road

Lives Ahead May Not Appear
as Precious as They Really Are

A Dream Too Tall

What Do You Mean
My Tree Is Too Big?

Sometimes it’s great to have neighboors. Like when they call the cops and it turns out you’re laying buried under a ton of rubbish unable to reach the phone. Or when they call 911 because you’re having a party and they’re concerned about you having too much fun.
But seriously, sometimes having a good, nosy, vigiliant neighbor can save your life. Other times, they just drive you insane. That’s what David Alvand of Plymouth, Devon, England, must be thinking just about now. When he finally was able to fullfil a Continue reading

Final Shuttle

Atlantis May Land

on New York Intrepid

NASA is about to retire its flee of Space Shuttles and aerospace museums all over the U.S. are jockeying to display the Atlantis or the Endeavor. The Discovery is already promised to the Smithsonian Institute in DC. In New York City, the Intrepid Museum is a candidate with excellent credentials. The aircraft carrier, among Continue reading

Grandma Grass

Nanny Got a Brand New Bag

No wonder.
She can’t
what she did
with her pot.

Rainbow Hill

Brush of Fresh Colors
Changes Favela in Rio

Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn, two Dutch artists, had a very good idea. They asked residents to paint the facades of 34 houses of Rio de Janeiro’s Santa Marta favela. The result is visually arresting and socially relevant. The painters were paid for the facelift of their own community. “O Morro” (which means both the hill and the slum), as the two-year ongoing project is called, didn’t solve ingrained social woes afflicting one of the world’s most beautiful cities nor it intended to. But it does make a difference for the better.

Cleaning Guerrilla

Midnight Crew Caught
Doing the Right Thing

The other night, a police cruiser caught up with a group of people gathered inside a tunnel in downtown Porto Alegre, Brazil. As they approached the group, fearing it may be vandalizing the place, they came across a rare act of positive urban guerrilla. For instead of paint and brushes, the group was using brooms and soap to clean up the thick layer of soot that accumulated on the walls of the tunnel over the years.
To underscore their effort, they also “carved” on the dirt a sentence in their native Portuguese that reads: “For a clean Porto Alegre.”
The act is a friendly reminder for the hundreds of thousands of drivers who zip through the tunnel every day that the pollution their vehicles produce in a regular basis is left behind, imprinted forever on its walls.
That is, if no one else joins in the effort to help find ways to keep their city clean.

Finding Hopper

Artist Created Iconic Diner
for Nighthawks of New York

Many searched for the place in the winding streets of Greenwich Village. Some looked for years for signs of its faded glory. But in the end, as in many works of art, what they were all after existed only in Edward Hopper‘s imagination.
That’s what Jeremiah Moss, the blogger behind the “Vanishing Continue reading


Right There!

Right There!

* In 1953, photographer

Lawrence Lariar asked:

Have you had much

premarital sex experience?