Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840) was more than a violin virtuoso; he was one of the best violinists of all time. By the time he was in his 20's, he was known throughout Europe. His command of the violin was so complete, in fact, that rumors quickly spread that such ability was not humanly possible and that... Continue Reading →
Fans of BBC's Doctor Who might think they have encountered earth's answer to the Singing Towers of Darillium when they visit Lancashire in the United Kingdom. Unlike that fictional place, where the Doctor and his wife spent their last night together, and where reservations have to be made four years in advance, this place is open to... Continue Reading →
Readers of the December 12, 1897 edition of the New York Journal had no idea that they were seeing something their great-great-grandchildren would still be reading more than a century later. That was the day The Katzenjammer Kids debuted, starting a run that would earn it the distinction of being the longest-running comic strip in history. Rudolph... Continue Reading →
Musical instruments can be costly, and any band student who has had to lug a tuba or bell set on a school bus knows they can be unwieldy, too. The Sousaphone or cello is nothing, however, compared to the principal instruments in Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Helikopter-Streichquartett" -- four operational and flying helicopters. "Helikopter-Streichquartett" (German for "Helicopter String... Continue Reading →
No one could doubt the brilliance of President John Quincy Adams. His remarkable mind and rich life experiences qualified him to speak knowingly on almost any subject. You might be surprised to learn that his twentieth century successor, Calvin Coolidge, resented Adams' brilliance. It wasn't the intellectual brilliance that was an issue, however; Coolidge's problem... Continue Reading →
Someone really likes potatoes -- or at least pictures of potatoes. Someone likes them enough to shell out a lot of money for one particular potato picture. Kevin Abosh, an Irish visual artist and portrait photographer sold his picture of a potato against a black background to an unnamed European businessman for €1 million ($1,095,850). The... Continue Reading →
Branwell Brontë was the brother of Wuthering Heights author Emily Brontë. He is historically noteworthy in his own right as a painter and writer. He would perhaps be better remembered had he not hastened his death through abuse of alcohol and opium. The approach of his own death really illustrated his tenacity. Although suffering from depression and... Continue Reading →
The smiley face is so much a part of our culture that it seems as if it has been around forever. It hasn't. It was created in 1963 and flowed from the creativity of commercial artist Harvey Ball. Ball was tasked with coming up with some kind of image to help boost sagging morale at... Continue Reading →
The work of art that has sold for the highest price is Paul Gauguin's oil painting "Nafea faa ipoipo". The title is Tahitian for "When will you marry?" When sold in a private sale in February 2015, this 1892 piece brought $300 million.
They say that genius and eccentricity go together. Perhaps that's why these creative geniuses required Rudyard Kipling would only write when he had black ink in his pen. Ludwig von Beethoven poured ice water over his head when he sat down to compose music, believing it stimulated his brain. Charles Dickens wrote (and slept) facing... Continue Reading →
Matthew Buchinger (1674-1740) was known as "The Little Man of Nuremberg." Buchinger was born without hands, legs, or thighs and was less than 29 inches tall. Despite his disabilities, Buchinger led a very accomplished life. He could play a half-dozen musical instruments including the bagpipes, dulcimer, hautboy, trumpet, and flute, some of which he invented... Continue Reading →
About 20 minutes before the onset of pain from a migraine headache, many suffers experience a phenomenon called "the aura." During this time the sufferer may see intense colors, flashing lights, and even hallucinations such as monsters and ghosts. Lewis Carroll, who suffered from migraines for most of his life, is said to have been... Continue Reading →
A Japanese scroll art created 200 years ago during the Edo period (1603-1868) is dedicated to gas warfare, but not the kind of gas traditionally used in combat. The He-Gassen (literally "Fart Battle") portrays multiple scenes where individuals direct their flatulence against their adversaries. Art historians believe the work was inspired by a growing... Continue Reading →
Marvel Comics' mega-strong, most-in-need-of-anger-management character the Hulk is best known for being green. Originally he appeared as grey, just as his creator Stan Lee intended. When a printer error turned him green, Lee decided to go with the flow. The Hulk has returned to grey occasionally over the more than half century since he first... Continue Reading →
Al Capp, the creator and artist of the Lil' Abner comic strip, described modern art as "a product of the unlettered, sold by the unprincipled, to the utterly bewildered."