The Weekend Links

When I was a Freshman at Emory, Saturdays such as this would have meant me stumbling (in a few hours, of course) to the University cafeteria wearing the clothes I slept in and sunglasses indoors, troubling over papers due and exams looming (this is when I learned about having to "study"). Whether you are studying, procrastinating, or simply recovering, I hope these Weekend Links help pass the time. Or if you're like me now in my post-Emory life, that you might have some distraction until it's time for Lou Dobbs. So without further ado ...

"¢ Christopher Walken reads Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven." Can you take it seriously? Likely nevermore ... (Thanks to Martha for that jewel.)

"¢ Redheads fight back! Find Wendy's logo racist! Read all about the farce here. (Thanks to my friend Andrea from NYC.)

"¢ Michele sent in this cool link to pictures of funky statues of the 12 Zodiac signs found around Moscow. My Archer is looking a little sissy, the fish are fantastic, and I for one wish that crab-cart was real.

"¢ We all know of the George Foreman Grill, but were you aware of Dwight Yoakam's Chicken Lickin' Chicken Fries And Buffalo Style Bites? See more products to which B-listers have lent their names.

"¢ Dail from Florida sends in this link to the CIA World Factbook. Curious about Angola's natural resources? Or Niue's economy? This is your one-stop shop. Warning: possibility for hours wasted ahead.

"¢ Remember that VH-1 show The Fabulous Life Of... where you learned that Paris Hilton had enough pocket change to fly 10,000 Chihuahuas around the world on private jets 743 times? Put in a dollar amount in this generator to find out how many Thighmasters, iPods, Elephants and other oddities you could buy (with my current paycheck, I cannot even afford one whole cow.)

"¢ Jane has helped us find a revolution in interior design (especially for those with kids whose preferences chance on a daily basis): Bilk has hip self-adhesive and detachable wall decals.

"¢ If you're into model making and have some cardstock laying around, Chan's suggestion of this site and this one are great (especially the second one, where all patterns are free).

"¢ Here, the name says it all: Saints and Relics and Other Weird Stuff. Buckets of information here "“ expect to stay awhile (Thanks to Patty for the one.)

"¢ I'm always a fan of audio illusions, and this one from Eileen does not disappoint. See if you are one of the 2% who can't be tricked! (I for one am not.)
"¢ As Valentine's Day approaches, here are some unique gift ideas: From China, a chocolate-covered VW. Not to be outdone, Japan has their own version. (Thanks to my gal Janice.)

"¢ Spend some time playing with this global day and night map, courtesy of Megan.

"¢ "Filling out a timesheet from three weeks ago is like trying to put together the events of a drunken evening. You're never really sure what you did."

(If these analogies were on the SAT, maybe I wouldn't have fallen asleep. And here is a vintage collection from our own revered Analogist, Jason.)

"¢ So, Bob Knight's out of college hoops ... what next for him? ESPN's Page 2 uncovered a (hilariously false) retirement application from the surly General himself.

"¢ One housekeeping announcement -- winners of the 'Super Tuesday' contest will be announced Monday or Tuesday. Problems with the Wayback Machine, I'm told.

I would sincerely like to thank everyone who sent in links this week. Please keep it up! Email me at Your links benefit the greater good, and your valor in scouring the web does not go unappreciated!

[Last Weekend's Links]

Martin Wittfooth
The Cat Art Show Is Coming Back to Los Angeles in June
Martin Wittfooth
Martin Wittfooth

After dazzling cat and art lovers alike in 2014 and again in 2016, the Cat Art Show is ready to land in Los Angeles for a third time. The June exhibition, dubbed Cat Art Show 3: The Sequel Returns Again, will feature feline-centric works from such artists as Mark Ryden, Ellen von Unwerth, and Marion Peck.

Like past shows, this one will explore cats through a variety of themes and media. “The enigmatic feline has been a source of artistic inspiration for thousands of years,” the show's creator and curator Susan Michals said in a press release. “One moment they can be a best friend, the next, an antagonist. They are the perfect subject matter, and works of art, all by themselves.”

While some artists have chosen straightforward interpretations of the starring subject, others are using cats as a springboard into topics like gender, politics, and social media. The sculpture, paintings, and photographs on display will be available to purchase, with prices ranging from $300 to $150,000.

Over 9000 visitors are expected to stop into the Think Tank Gallery in Los Angeles during the show's run from June 14 to June 24. Tickets to the show normally cost $5, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting a cat charity, and admission will be free for everyone on Wednesday, June 20. Check out a few of the works below.

Man in Garfield mask holding cat.
Tiffany Sage

Painting of kitten.
Brandi Milne

Art work of cat in tree.
Kathy Taselitz

Painting of white cat.
Rose Freymuth-Frazier

A cat with no eyes.
Rich Hardcastle

Painting of a cat on a stool.
Vanessa Stockard

Sculpture of pink cat.
Scott Hove

Painting of cat.
Yael Hoenig
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
11 Magical Facts About Willow
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Five years after the release of Return of the Jedi (1983) and four years after Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), George Lucas gave audiences the story for another film about an unlikely hero on an epic journey, but this time he had three Magic Acorns and a taller friend instead of a whip and gun to help him along. Willow (1988) was directed by Ron Howard and starred former Ewok and future Leprechaun, Warwick Davis.

Over the past few decades, Willow—which was released 30 years ago today—has become a cult classic that's been passed down from generation to generation. Before you sit down to explore that world again (or for the first time), here are 11 things you might not have know about Willow.


In an interview with The A.V. Club, Warwick Davis revealed that George Lucas first mentioned the idea for the film to Davis’s mother during the filming of one of the Ewok TV specials in 1983, in which he was reprising his role as Wicket. Lucas had been developing the idea for more than a decade at that point, but working with Davis on Return of the Jedi helped him realize the vision. “George just simply said that he had this idea, and he was writing this story, with me in mind,” Davis said. “He didn't say at that time that it was going to be called Willow. He said, 'It's not for quite yet; it's for a few years ahead, when Warwick is a bit older.'" The role was Davis’s first time not wearing a mask or costume on screen.


Five years after he mentioned the idea, Lucas was ready to make his film with Ron Howard directing and a then-17-year-old Davis as the lead. The original title was presumably inspired by the characters from L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and the subsequent Victor Fleming film.


Having thought of the two worlds simultaneously, Lucas may have cribbed some of his own work and other well-known stories a little too much for Willow, and some critics noticed. “Without anything like [Star Wars’s] eager, enthusiastic tone, and indeed with an understandable weariness, Willow recapitulates images from Snow White, The Wizard of Oz, Gulliver's Travels, Mad Max, Peter Pan, Star Wars itself, The Hobbit saga, Japanese monster films of the 1950s, the Bible, and a million fairy tales," wrote Janet Maslin of The New York Times. "One tiny figure combines the best attributes of Tinkerbell, the Good Witch Glinda, and the White Rock Girl.”

Later in her review, Maslin continued to point out the similarities between the two films: “When the sorcerer tells Willow to follow his heart, he becomes the Obi-Wan Kenobi of a film that also has its Darth Vader, R2-D2, C-3P0 and Princess Leia stand-ins. Much energy has gone into the creation of their names, some of which (General Kael) have recognizable sources and others (Burglekutt, Cherlindrea, Airk) have only tongue-twisting in mind. Not even the names have anything like Star Wars-level staying power.”


Lucas has previously cast several little people for roles in Return of the Jedi, and there were more than 100 actors hired to portray Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. But, according to Davis, the casting call for Willow was the largest ever at the time with between 225 and 240 actors hired for the film.


The big bad in the film, Bavmorda, has demon dogs that terrorize Willow’s village. The dogs are more boar-like than canine, but they were portrayed by Rottweilers. The prop team outfitted the dogs with rubber masks and used animatronic heads for close-up scenes.


While trying to use magic to turn an animal back into a human, Willow fails several times before eventually getting it right, but he does succeed in turning the animal into another animal, which is shown in stages. To achieve this, the visual effects teamed used a technique known as "morphing."

The film’s visual effects supervisor, Dennis Muren of Industrial Light & Magic, explained the technique to The Telegraph:

The way things had been up till that time, if a character had to change at some way from a dog into a person or something like that it could be done with a series of mechanical props. You would have to cut away to a person watching it, and then cut back to another prop which is pushing the ears out, for example, so it didn't look fake ... we shot five different pieces of film, of a goat, an ostrich, a tiger, a tortoise, and a woman and had one actually change into the shape of the other one without having to cut away. The technique is much more realistic because the cuts are done for dramatic reasons, rather than to stop it from looking bad.”


Willow has yet to receive a sequel, but fans of the story can return to the world in a trilogy of books that author Chris Claremont wrote in collaboration with Lucas between 1995 and 2000. According to the Amazon synopsis of Shadow Moon, the first book picks up 13 years after the events of the film, and baby Elora Danan’s friendless upbringing has turned her into a “spoiled brat who seemingly takes joy in making miserable the lives around her. The fate of the Great Realms rests in her hands, and she couldn't care less. Only a stranger can lead her to her destiny.”


Hardcore fans of the film have noticed that there is a continuity error that involves the Magic Acorns Willow was given by the High Aldwin. During an interview with The Empire Podcast, Davis explained that in a scene near the end of the film, he throws a second acorn and is inexplicably out after having only used two of the three Magic Acorns he had been given earlier in the film. Included in the Blu-ray release is the cut scene, in which Willow uses an acorn (his second) in a boat during a storm and accidentally turns the boat to stone. Davis says that his hair is wet in the next scene that did make it into the original version of the film, but the acorn is never referenced.


Val Kilmer in 'Willow' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Val Kilmer famously played the role of the reluctant hero two years after played Iceman in Top Gun (1986), but he was not the only big name to audition for the role. Davis revealed in a commentary track that he once read with John Cusack, who in 1987 had already starred in Sixteen Candles (1984), Stand by Me (1986), and Hot Pursuit (1987).


During a battle scene later in the film, Willow and his compatriots have to fight a two-headed beast outside of the castle. The name of the stop motion beast is the Eborsisk, which is a combination of the names of famed film critics, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.


A scene from 'Willow' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

As is the case with most shows and films, the role of the baby Elora was played by twins, in this case Kate and Ruth Greenfield. The IMDb pages for both actresses only has the one credit. In 2007, Davis shared a picture of him posing with a woman named Laura Hopkirk, who said that she played the baby for the scenes shot in New Zealand, but she is not credited online.


More from mental floss studios