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AV Club

Behind the Scenes with Smaug the Dragon

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AV Club

Benedict Cumberbatch didn't just voice The Hobbit's fearsome dragon Smaug; he also did some motion-capture work – and got REALLY into it.

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Time's Instagram Photographer of the Year is no amateur snapper. David Guttenfelder, a professional Associated Press photo correspondent in Asia, has unique access to everyday scenes in North Korea that are both fascinating and well composed—no filters needed.

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Every year, the long list of Oscar contenders includes a handful of movies claiming to be “based on a true story.” How truthful are they this year?

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Cartoonist Mike Holmes may be best known for his work on the children’s TV series Adventure Time, but his “Mikenesses” collection of charming self-portraits (with his cat!) shows that he can also cop the styles of over 100 different artists with aplomb.

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Rivendell may not be real, but the Lego brick recreation (consisting of over 200,000 individual pieces) is too big to deny.

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Earth’s Moon is 4.527 billion years old, but not until 1840 did anyone manage to capture it on film.

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Don’t believe your eyes: no matter what they tell you, this optical illusion really isn’t moving.

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The Phantoms of Paris
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The Phantoms of Paris. Dark ghost stories from the City of Light.

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How Hippies Put on the Worst Music Festival in History. The Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival outdid Woodstock in bad planning and poor execution.

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A Very Special 1970s Nightmare, Starring Vincent Price, H.R. Pufnstuf, and the Brady Bunch. Variety shows were a simple way for TV networks to recycle familiar faces.

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Just About Everything We Know About the Pard. For hundreds of years, the leopard was thought to be a cross between a lion and a pard.

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Lt. Cliff Judkins Fell 15,000 Feet and Lived. His fighter jet caught fire, his ejection seat didn't work, and his parachute didn't open.

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The Great Thaw of the American North is Coming. The loss of permafrost will have profound effects.

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The Creepiest Urban Legend in Every State. How does your state's tale stack up against the others?

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Ada Lovelace: The First Computer Programmer. In the 1840s, she crunched the numbers that were the software for a theoretical machine.

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How Will Martian Laws Differ From Earth's Laws?
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How Will Martian Laws Differ From Earth's Laws? Enforcement of existing laws from Earth will be impossible for a small population millions of miles away.

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The Creepy Cabinet That Inspired Jekyll and Hyde. Robert Louis Stevenson's childhood bedroom had a cabinet made by a carpenter who led a double life.

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14 Unmade Hammer Horror Films. Some ideas were too bizarre even for the erstwhile British gothic film studio.

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A Brief History of Bat-Marriage. Batman has been spotted carrying Kathy Kane, Vicki Vale, Julie Madison, Selina Kyle, Lois Lane, and Wonder Woman across the threshold—most of them twice.

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John Banvard is the most successful American artist you've never heard of. His chosen medium was an obscure 19th-century show business gimmick, and he managed to completely squander his fortune.

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Why Everyone Knows the Same Scary Slumber-Party Stories. People who know them don't recall where they first heard them.

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9 Naked Cakes for When You Don't Feel Like Frosting. You'll feel good about avoiding too much sugar, too.

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8 Antique Maps That Were the First of Their Kind. Each one gave us a new way to look at our world.

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