Culture Buzz: Shadows of their former selves…

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These aren’t your mamma’s shadow puppets! Unless your mamma is a Javanese puppet master. The incredibly detailed puppets of Wayang Kulit, the ancient Indonesian brand of shadow theater, continue to enchant audiences to this day, bringing to life the magical stories of Hindu-Javanese folklore on a simple backlit cotton screen. Kulit means skin, and refers to the buffalo leather construction of the puppets that are painstakingly chiseled with very fine tools and supported with carefully shaped buffalo horn handles and control rods.
Got a sheet, a bright light and a buffalo? Then, by all means, TRY THIS AT HOME!
-Maybe use construction paper though :)

GO THERE! Hope you like stairs!

In central Burma, high atop Mount Popa, nestles the Popa Taungkalat Temple, a shrine to the 37 “Nats”, (spirits of the Burmese Buddhist faith.) It’s a popular place to check out during the full moon of Naylon, (May/June) when the Thingyan Festival is held.
Just be prepared; before ascending all 777 steps to the top, you will be asked to remove your socks and shoes. The Nats aren’t crazy about footwear. Also, don’t wear red. Or black. Or green. And definitely do NOT bring meat, especially pork. You don’t want to get the Nats all up in your face, do ya? Besides, the masses of local monkeys will harass you all the way up the mountain with that bacon in your pocket.

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GO THERE! Scandinavian Subterranean Art!

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Warning: If you take a trip to Stockholm, you may never leave the subway. It is, after all, the longest art exhibit in the world

Cryptozoology Break: The Unicorn

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/70/Oftheunicorn.jpg/240px-Oftheunicorn.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/70/Oftheunicorn.jpg

Who knows exactly how the unicorn was gradually ascribed its girly connotation… Possibly it started in medieval times when it was believed that the unicorn could be tamed by only the purest of maidens. Regardless, the legend of the unicorn goes waaaaay back, much much further than She-Ra and My Little Pony. Archeologists have discovered depictions of a one-horned-horsey-creature on cave walls dating back to the Paleolithic era, around 14,000 BC. In many forms, the unicorn pops up in folklore across nearly every ancient region you can think of, often as a creature to be feared. From the Nordics to the Middle East to Africa to the Far East, the unicorn has donned many names and a variety of manifestations: Dragon-like, larger than an elephant, glowing red eyes,  glowing blue eyes, with the body of a bull, the hooves of a deer, the tail of a lion, the beard of a goat; faster than a wildebeest, more ferocious than a tiger, and more elusive than Cleopatra on roller skates; while its trademark horn runs the gamut from short and black to long, sharp and super-sparkly. Famed writers throughout history have avowed the unicorns existence, from Aristotle to Pliny the Elder to Confucius to Genghis Khan to Julius Caesar to the dudes who wrote the Bible! Even Marco Polo swears he saw one while traveling the Silk Road, though we’re pretty sure it was just a Rhinoceros. (Don’t tell him we said that.) So what do you think? Could they have possibly existed? Or are we just beating a dead unicorn. HA HA HA! In any event, we think it’s time to bring the unicorn back to a place of gender-neutral allurement…

THIS JUST IN: Unicorn poop is apparently rainbow colored and tastes delicious…

Culture Buzz: The baguettes come out at midnight…

If you have ever been to France you know that the French love their baguettes. You see them everywhere. If you spent a day counting all the baguettes you see in France you would be left with some unfathomable number. The French will eat just about everything on a baguette, but many believe the best thing to have on a baguette is, more baguette. They also tend to be very serious about their baguettes, by law you can only make them a certain way. That’s soooo French! The rural French have been known to travel for miles into town for a fresh baguette, while on the busy streets baguettes are more abundant than Starbucks coffee. Sit at a corner cafe, hopefully not a Starbucks, and you’re likely to see more baguettes passing by than people! The baguettes just might be plotting some sort of hostile takeover. (They do happen to make a surprisingly reliable weapon when backed into a corner…)

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Anyhoo, since bakers are only human, they can’t stay up all hours to fulfill every fresh baguette emergency. So, it’s about time somebody came up with a way to get your baguette fix at any hour of the night. Enter Jean-Louis Hecht, baker extraordinaire, who built a special vending machine/oven that warms up and serves you a baguette on the spot. Brilliant!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpWZk3ucWrw]
Now the hungry masses can be served at Jean-Louis’ bakery through the night while, presumably, he relaxes at home with a baguette :)

Speaking of Dreamers… And Travelers!

Did you know Martin Luther King traveled over 6 million miles in his short lifetime? Marco can’t hold a candle to that! Here’s some more interesting facts about today’s celebrated American icon:

History Comedy at its British-y-est!

Do you stream the Netflix? Well, we just want you to know that they have all 4 seasons of history’s greatest historical comedy series, Blackadder, available now! Marco is partial to season 3, featuring Dr. House himself, Hugh Laurie, as the bumbling Prince of Wales. Give it a try!

 

 

 

 

GO THERE! “Would you like some water with that?”

Photo courtesy of home-designing.com http://cdn.home-designing.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Waterfalls-restaurant-in-river.jpg

Not only is Villa Escudero a great place to experience Philippine culture, it’s also the only place we know with a restaurant in the plunge basin of a waterfall!! Why not kick off your shoes and enjoy some Philippine cuisine while you wade!

Are You For Real?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Modern Toilet in Taiwan, is a toilet themed restaurant that makes you wonder… …What do you think the restrooms look like?

Happy Epiphany!

Here’s a peek at Marco Polo’s legendary interview with Befana herself!

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