The Quick 10: 10 Awesome Works of LEGO

You may not know who Ole Kirk Christensen was, but you see the effect he had on pop culture (and architecture) every time you find yourself in the toy aisle at Target. Christensen was the original inventor of LEGOs (excuse me, "LEGO bricks"), so in honor of his birthday this week, here are 10 crazy things made out of the tiny building blocks.

1. A car. I guess if you can't afford the real thing, you can start hoarding LEGOs from your friends and family and construct one out of blocks. OK, maybe not "“ this one was made by professionals. It's a full-sized Volvo XC90 created by Lego Model Master Builders. The LEGO SUV found a home at Legoland California. The collaboration between the two companies was to show Volvo's commitment to families and safety. And coolness, I'd say, by the looks of that car.

2. Obama's inauguration. Not only did the artists make sure the inauguration looked great from afar, they made LEGO people to resemble the President and his family, Joe Biden and his family, George and Laura Bush, and Justice John Roberts. The mini inauguration was on display at Legoland in Carlsbad, California, in 2009.

3. A harpsichord"¦ that actually plays music. It has a range of 61 notes, far less than a real harpsichord, but considering that it's all LEGO, that's pretty impressive!

4. Han Solo in carbonite"¦ err"¦ LEGOite? Star Wars plus LEGOs = a lot of people geeking out right now, I am sure. I'm not even a big Star Wars fan and I think this is pretty cool. More LEGO Star Wars stuff here, here and here.

5. King Tut. Our friends over at Neatorama covered this one last year. The 16-foot pharaoh took more than 200,000 bricks to build and was the centerpiece of a Legoland exhibition called Kingdom of the Pharaohs. I imagine seeing this guy floating down the River Thames would cause you to do a double take.

6. Bluetooth Printer. This one is a LEGO Mindstorms creation that can really print. Not too shabby, huh? Much better than the square houses I continually built with my LEGOs and Duplos. Here it is in action:

7. Stephen Colbert. Artist Nathan Sawaya works with an awesome medium "“ LEGOs, of course. Colbert is just one of the many awesome things he has made from what we typically think of as a children's toy. That's Nathan in the picture with LEGO Stephen; you can check out his entire fabulous gallery.

8. Soccer Stadium. Your eyes aren't deceiving you "“ that's all LEGO bricks and people. Stadiums are a pretty popular subject for LEGO art - here's Yankee Stadium, Wembley Stadium and the Allianz Arena. The Allianz Arena alone took about 1.3 million bricks to construct.

9. M.C. Escher's Relativity. The original piece of art is mind-boggling enough; LEGO artist Andrew Lipson's piece is equally amazing and perplexing.

10. Jesus. Of course there's a LEGO Jesus; how could there not be? This guy stands nearly six feet tall and was unveiled by a Swedish church just in time for the Easter season last year. Parishoners donated around 30,000 LEGO bricks to complete the statue.

Did you grow up on LEGOs? What was your best creation? I wasn't a die-hard fan, but my cousin Dustin was - he would build these elaborate scenes and display them prominently in his room. I swear he could tell if I had even breathed on one of them.




10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.


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