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Is That A Bird in Your Mouth, or Are You Just That Good?

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Now that Peter, Bjorn and John are bringing whistling back, I've started to notice other young folks brushing up on their whistling. I was in Pinkberry yesterday wondering if I could disprove my friend's assault that the stuff tastes like foot cream (I can see where he's coming from, but it really doesn't; after years of Tasti D-Lite, you're immune), and some of my fellow berry-hoppers were busting out the tweets. They weren't very good, but it was pretty endearing. I've never been great, myself, but I can supplement clapping with a decent cat-call, and I can usually get a dog to come over and see what I want. But what I can't do is whistle national anthems, "Amazing Grace" or "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"--these are feats I delegate to professional whistlers, the most adorable of which has to be Cal Fenwick. This Ontario college boy has no trouble launching his warble up and down chromatic scales and he's a soloist for Canadian orchestras. Of course, even Cal admits he's not exactly the daddy of whistling, yet--that would have to go to Chris Ullman, the four-time national and international champion who has entertained Bush in the Oval Office with his renditions of "A-Train" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic." But please: if you buy tickets to see Mr. Ullman, refrain from kissing him. He'll have none of it, as he makes sure to note on his site:

Q. Does kissing affect your ability to whistle?
A. Yes. Kissing makes my lips mushy, which is bad for sustaining a pucker. I refrain from kissing 24 hours before a performance and 48 hours before a competition. Yes, I'm serious.

We'll take a hint. But you can probably kiss birds without ruining their set, right? Professional whistler Robert Stemmons offers "serious training for capable birds!" In his five volume instructional set, you can choose your weapon: "Oklahoma!", "Flight of the Bumblebee" or my personal favorite--"Bridge Over the River Kwai."

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Animals
Australian Charity Releases Album of Cat-Themed Ballads to Promote Feline Welfare
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An Australian animal charity is helping save the nation’s kitties one torch song at a time, releasing a feline-focused musical album that educates pet owners about how to properly care for their cats.

Around 35,000 cats end up in pounds, shelters, and rescue programs every year in the Australian state of New South Wales, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Microchipping and fixing cats, along with keeping closer tabs on them, could help reduce this number. To get this message out, the RSPCA’s New South Wales chapter created Cat Ballads: Music To Improve The Lives Of Cats.

The five-track recording is campy and fur-filled, with titles like "Desex Me Before I Do Something Crazy" and "Meow Meow." But songs like “I Need You” might tug the heartstrings of ailurophiles with lyrics like “I guess that’s goodbye then/but you’ve done this before/the window's wide open/and so’s the back door/you might think I’m independent/but you’d be wrong.” There's also a special version of the song that's specifically designed for cats’ ears, featuring purring, bird tweets, and other feline-friendly noises.

Together, the tunes remind us how vulnerable our kitties really are, and provide a timely reminder for cat owners to be responsible parents to their furry friends.

“The Cat Ballads campaign coincides with kitten season, which is when our shelters receive a significantly higher number of unwanted kittens as the seasons change,” Dr. Jade Norris, a veterinary scientist with the RSPCA, tells Mental Floss. “Desexing cats is a critical strategy to reduce unwanted kittens.”

Listen to a song from Cat Ballads below, and visit the project’s website for the full rundown.

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technology
ABBA Is Going on Tour—As Holograms
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Missed your chance to watch ABBA perform live at the peak of their popularity? You’re in luck: Fans will soon be able to see the group in concert in all their chart-topping, 1970s glory—or rather, they’ll be able to see their holograms. As Mashable reports, a virtual version of the Swedish pop band is getting ready to go on tour.

ABBA split up in 1982, and the band hasn't been on tour since. (Though they did get together for a surprise reunion performance in 2016.) All four members of ABBA are still alive, but apparently not up for reentering the concert circuit when they can earn money on a holographic tour from the comfort of their homes.

The musicians of ABBA have already had the necessary measurements taken to bring their digital selves to life. The final holograms will resemble the band in the late 1970s, with their images projected in front of physical performers. Part of the show will be played live, but the main vocals will be lifted from original ABBA records and recordings of their 1977 Australian tour.

ABBA won’t be the first musical act to perform via hologram. Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Dean Martin have all been revived using the technology, but this may be one of the first times computerized avatars are standing in for big-name performers who are still around. ABBA super-fans will find out if “SOS” still sounds as catchy from the mouths of holograms when the tour launches in 2019.

[h/t Mashable]

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