Category Archives: Arts + Entertainment

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Why Do We Cook?

Ok, so we know that we cook food to make it edible and enjoyable.

But did you know that the simple act of cooking our food is what distinguishes us from animals and is a key contributor to our evolution as human beings?

Our primate cousins (like the Gorilla) may be three times the size of us and spend a good 70% of their day eating, but the reason they’re not the superior species all comes down to the fact that they eat raw plants.

By cooking our meat and veg we’re breaking down the tough cell walls and releasing more of the nutrients that are up for grabs, which is pretty vital considering our brains use one fifth of the calories we eat! This also means we get more energy from our food and can use this to increase our general knowledge and practical skills.

That’s exactly what our ancestors did when they first started cooking their food. Because they had more energy and free time, after learning how to preserve food and crush it into more edible forms, they were able to construct new tools to cook with and also develop languages (which we now speak) and create art and literature (which we now read).

Thanks to these new tools our ancestors came up with even more ways to release all the necessary nutrients, and as such people started living longer and healthier lives. Essentially, we ate our way to becoming the stronger and superior species!

Let’s not forget the fact that back when our ancestors first started cooking their food they would have to bring it back to a central location, and in doing so started strengthening social bonds. So next time you go to Nandos with your friends, just remember, your ancestors were essentially doing the same thing thousands of years ago!

Watch the video below for even more information about why we cook!

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The Future With Driverless Cars

Are you looking forward to a future of driverless cars?

Autopilot has been used to assist pilots flying air crafts for a long time. It is also used in spaceships and missiles.

Navigational technology like this is constantly evolving and we are now on the brink of developing driverless cars.

How would they work?

Driverless cars need a huge amount of complicated technology to make their journeys. Firstly they need to know where they are going. They do this by using a GPS system, just like a satnav, and analysing the options to decide on the best route from A to B.

But simply knowing the quickest way isn’t nearly enough. Driverless cars also use radar, lasers and cameras to analyse their surrounding environment. This tells them if there are obstacles in their path, traffic jams up ahead, road signs or changes in conditions.

The cars then need to be able to use this information to make decisions, like whether to slow down or move into a different lane. This is done by a super-smart computer system that controls the steering, braking and accelerating. Perfecting this system so that it always makes the right judgement is the main challenge facing designers of these cars.

Are they safe?

Most of our main concerns about driverless cars are whether or not they are safe. One great advantage is that they would eliminate accidents caused by human error. Computers can’t drink drive or fall asleep at the wheel.

Driverless cars also have faster reaction times than humans, and are programmed to always keep safe distances between vehicles. Generally, it’s agreed that they would greatly reduce road accidents.

They’re by no means perfect though. Google has admitted that its self-driving car has been involved in some minor accidents.

What are the benefits?

Makers of driverless cars say that increased road safety is the main advantage of the technology, but there are lots of other benefits too. They are greener than standard cars, thanks to the computers’ ability to drive more efficiently. They know where traffic jams are so can avoid stopping and starting over and over, which uses unnecessary fuel.

Those who are unable to drive due to limited mobility or impaired vision will be able to get around using driverless cars. This will help the lives of thousands of people, who will no longer need to rely on others for their transportation.

What are the issues?

Many questions about driverless cars remain unanswered. One is whether they will be able to make ethical decisions. For example, if a person stepped into the road in front of one, would it swerve out of the way and endanger the lives of the passengers? What about if an animal was in the road?

There is also concern over who would be held responsible if something did go wrong. As the drivers aren’t in charge of the vehicle, accidents could be seen to be the manufacturer’s fault.

Finally, experts are worried that the cars could be hacked. As they are controlled by computers and connected to the internet, it could be possible for outsiders to break into the system.

Until these issues have been addressed, it is unlikely that self-driving cars will be taking over the roads any time soon.

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10 Inspirational Fictional Characters

Role models are an essential part of growing up.

Having positive and influential people to look up to helps develop who you are, who you want to be and which direction you want your life to go in.

Role models can be found anywhere: parents, sports people, musicians, teachers, the list is endless. Sometimes they’re not even real. However, their impact and what we can learn from them is still just as important.

Here are 10 inspirational characters from the world of literature.

Samwise Gamgee

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Gamgee is a character created by J. R. R. Tolkien and is one of the bravest hobbits in The Lord of the Rings. Sam comes a from a small, simple community in the Shire but develops an enormous  sense of adventure and hopes to experience life beyond his traditional culture. He is smart, courageous and a loyal friend and saves Frodo’s life on a number of occasions, refusing to leave him even when it looks like the two are destined for death.

Harry Potter

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J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter is one of the most famous fictional names in the world. He is strong-willed, focused and knows the difference between right and wrong. Despite his powerful abilities and fame, Harry maintains a level of modesty and humility and always puts others’ safety before his own. Even though he never chose the path he is set upon, he never complains or tries to avoid the great responsibility that has been thrust upon him.

Jane Eyre

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The title character of Charlotte Bronté’s novel, Jane Eyre, has a tough childhood. Starved of affection, bullied and surrounded by negative people, Jane shows an inner determination and passion to better herself. She also values freedom and independence, even though she is a woman living in a very patriarchal society – admirable qualities that we can all learn a lot from.

Katniss Everdeen

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The heroine of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, Katniss, is a fighter and a survivor. She’s been through numerous hardships but always stands up for what she believes in and looks to protect those closest to her as well as the vulnerable. She’s athletic, a quick thinker and is mature beyond her teenage years.

Sherlock Holmes

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A detective unlike any other, Arthur Conan Doyle’s character is a maverick problem solver, blessed with an astute and logical mind. He also has an amazing eye for detail and is supremely confident in social situations due to his intellectual expertise. Sherlock never gives up on problem-solving however difficult or enigmatic it may be. It’s his determination to ensure justice that leads to his success.

Matilda

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Roald Dahl’s Matilda is a quiet, unassuming character who grows up being ignored by her selfish and neglectful parents. They fail to notice that she happens to be highly intelligent and has incredible telekinetic powers. Matilda understands that with great power comes great responsibility and she only ever uses her extraordinary abilities to punish wrongdoers or help the people that they are taking advantage of.

Forrest Gump

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Winston Groom’s character is perhaps best known as being played by Tom Hanks in the film adaptation. Forrest is a man who looks at things, simply and truthfully. Despite having a low IQ he is full of wisdom and his positive outlook on life leads him on a series of wonderful adventures and experiences. Proof that positivity really does breed positivity.

Hermione Granger

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Another of J.K. Rowling’s creations, Hermione has an exceptional intellect and excels at all things academic. Often bullied for her achievements, she still manages to maintain a level head and not retaliate. Hermione is also compassionate and quick to help others in a similar position.

Lyra Silvertongue

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Lyra is a complex lady. She is highly intelligent and has the ability to deceive for good and think quickly under pressure from a young age. As she gets older Philip Pullman’s character begins to hone these gifts and use them to save the lives of others.

Holden Caulfield

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A true individual and the lead character in The Catcher in the Rye, Caulfield is smart, caring and respectful. He questions everything and can see beyond the falseness of people at face value. He shows the importance of challenging societal behaviour and looking beyond the obvious.

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The Story of “She Sells Seashells”

How many of you can say you have heard of Mary Anning?

There are very few people who haven’t attempted to master the tongue-twister, “She Sells Seashells on the Sea Shore”, until they are blue in the face.

Mary is the namesake and muse of Terry Sullivan’s infamous 1908 tongue twister. She earned the honour through her hard work and determination.

Lyme Regis is where the legend hails – a popular seaside resort teeming with visitors holidaying in the summer. Lyme Regis has a huge biological significance, offering a wealth of Jurassic fossils in its coastal cliffs, part of a geological formation known as the Blue Lias.

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Mary’s father had earned his living and supported his family by selling objects known as curios, which he found whilst mining the coastal cliffs of the Blue Lias. These curios were incredibly old fossils of many varieties of ancient reptiles. Unfortunately, he passed away when Mary was just 11 years old.

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It was not long before Mary stepped up and assumed his place as the main breadwinner of the family. With her passion for palaeontology already fervently ignited, she followed in her father’s footsteps and set up her own stall. Aside from supporting her loved ones, she also made some incredibly significant discoveries along the way.

The profession was not without its risks. Landslides tested her dedication and even took the life of her dog. However, this never kept Mary from her passion. Mary discovered several whole skeletons of ancient species. In 1823, she found the Plesiosaurus, pictured below; in 1828, she found a Pterosaurus; and, in 1829, the Squaloraja.

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Even though Mary had grown up in a modest household with little to no education, she studied often and re-wrote scientific papers. Her work has since been praised by palaeontologists for its accuracy.

Mary managed to open her own shop called “Anning’s Fossil Depot”, which became a destination shop for geologists and palaeontologists around the country. During the course of her career, she promoted the concept of extinction through her discovery of fossils, proving this existence of ancient reptiles that were no longer living.

In 1847, Mary sadly died from breast cancer. Members of the Geological Society contributed a stain glass window in her memory with an inscription, part of which read: “In commemoration of her usefulness in furthering the science of geology…also of her benevolence of heart and integrity of life”.

The inscription was a testament befitting the sentiment. However; we think that Terry Sullivan’s tongue twister has preserved the memory of Mary Anning forever by using the most powerful thing of all, language.

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Writing Tips from Roald Dahl

One of our favourite writers offers some tips to budding writers.

No childhood would be complete without a literary trip to the fantastic world of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, or a journey to New York with James and co inside the giant peach.

Obviously we are talking about the marvellous works of Roald Dahl, who wrote those and many other literary classics.

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a wordsmith, or a budding journalist, or even if you just like writing for the sake of writing, put down that pen of yours a second and check out these tips.

Check out these seven invaluable writing tips from one of everyone’s favourite authors.

“You should have a lively imagination”

“You should be able to write well. By that I mean you should be able to make a scene come alive in the reader’s mind. Not everybody has this ability…”

“You must have stamina. In other words, you must be able to stick to what you are doing and never give up, for hour after hour, day after day, week after week and month after month.”

“You must be a perfectionist. That means you must never be satisfied with what you have written until you have rewritten it again and again, making it as good as you possibly can.”

“You must have strong self-discipline. You are working alone. No one is employing you. No one is around to give you the sack if you don’t turn up for work, or to tick you off if you start slacking.”

“It helps a lot if you have a keen sense of humour. This is not essential when writing for grown-ups, but for children, it’s vital.”

“You must have a degree of humility. The writer who thinks that his work is marvellous is heading for trouble.”

Source(s): RoaldDahl.com

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Is Chess Cool?

The game of kings is making a comeback.

Before you say no, consider the fact that, if Ron Weasley wasn’t such a pro at Wizard chess, Harry Potter never would have stopped Voldemort from getting his hands on the philosopher’s stone and the wizarding world would have been doomed.

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Ron isn’t the only chess champion out there either. Over 650 million people play chess in over 160 countries these day. In the United States chess is becoming an increasingly trendy hobby – with chess clubs popping up all over the place. The video below shows how and why chess is becoming New York’s latest trend.

Still not convinced? Chess isn’t known as the game of kings for nothing! Here are a few perks you could take advantage of when you reach for those Kings, Queens and Knights:

It can raise your IQ

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Contrary to popular opinion – you don’t have to be brainy to play chess. A study of over 4000 students who played chess found that their IQ scores increased significantly after just four months of playing!

It can help prevent Alzheimer’s

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You may or may not know that your brain works like a muscle – and like all muscles it needs to be exercised in order to be healthy. Recent studies have found that people who are over the age of 75 and engage in brain-stimulating activities (like chess) are less likely to develop dementia. Nothing wrong with getting a head start though, is there?

Your creativity and memory will improve

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The right hand side of our brains are our creativity banks – so the more we stimulate this then the more creative we become! Unsurprisingly chess also helps improve your memory, as it’s a game of tactics. In order to be a good player and beat your opponent, you need to remember how they played in the past and any signature moves they may have hidden up their sleeves. Almost 60% of chess players also believe the games make them better negotiators – so if you play chess then you’re more likely to get your own way…sounds good to us!

Who fancies a game of chess then?

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Classical Music: Where and Why to Start?

Classical music isn’t often thought of as cool, but it could be. It’s certainly worth giving it a go.

When people think of classical, Mozart and Beethoven probably come to mind. They might know that Mozart was a child prodigy, forced to travel the length and breadth of Europe at the age of six by his relentlessly pushy papa. And that Beethoven, also a child prodigy, continued to compose volumes and volumes of music after losing his hearing. A lot of people know these stories, but perhaps not the music.

People generally think of classical as “stuffy, pretentious, (and) unnecessarily formal”. Sadly, they are mostly right. But you don’t need to go to a posh concert hall to hear classical music. We are lucky to live in an age where we can access music of all genres online. Everybody can explore the wonders of classical music with a few clicks. Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube will all do the trick.

Here at Vivo, we believe there are different types of music to suit different occasions, for example, when you are dancing you’re not going to want to listen to sleep-inducing, chill out mixes. There is also a place and a time for classical. So, why not give it a go. Next time you are revising try playing Brahms or Bach. Classical music has been found particularly beneficial for focus, reducing blood pressure and aiding restless nights. Perfect just before a big exam!

5 reasons to listen to classical music

• It can help you unwind and relax
• It can make you smarter (kind of)
• It will increase your emotional intelligence
• It’s a new language to master
• It will open you to a world of new experiences

So why not start here. Check out these videos.

J.S.Bach – Tocatta und Fuge

Luigi Boccherini – Minuetto

Tchaikovsky – Piano Concerto No.1

Jean Sibelius – Finlandia

Franz Schubert – Ave Maria

Watched all of the videos? We’d love to know which was your favourite? Tell us on Twitter.

Source(s): Thought Catalog, ClassicWORLD, Tarja M

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Learn to Paint like Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh is thought of as one of the greatest artists that ever lived.

Born in 1853, he originally wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a pastor. But, after failing in this endeavour, Vincent pursued the life of an artist. His genius wasn’t recognised in his lifetime. In fact, he only sold one painting while he was alive. In 1990, one of his paintings, Portrait of Dr. Gachet, sold for $82.5 million. He is often known for cutting off his own ear, but most people will recognise his famous paintings of sunflowers and landscapes.

Impressionism and post-impressionism

Impressionism is a style in which artists use small, narrow but very effective brush strokes to vividly display the changing qualities of light and darkness within a painting. They use thick paint and vivid colours. Their paintings are normally focused on ordinary subject matter but incorporate unusual visual angles. Famous impressionist painters include Monet, Manet and Cezanne.

Van Gogh is thought of being a member of a slightly different school of art called the post-impressionists. The post-impressionists took their style from the impressionists but differed in a few key ways, mainly by using geometric forms and unusual colours.

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Van Gogh’s work is most notable for motion, paintings such as Starry Night (above) have been praised for how it captures the deep mystery of motion and light. Anyone interested in both science and art should check out this interesting video below.

Facts about Vincent

  • He sold only one painting while alive, The Red Vineyard. He became famous only after his death.
  • In 10 years he created around 900 paintings, many of which are considered as some of the greatest works ever created.
  • Vincent wrote over 800 letters. The majority of these were sent to his brother and closest friend, Theo.
  • Van Gogh never had formal training in art and is considered self-taught.

Source(s): TED-Ed, Philip Scott Johnson

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Hip-Hop and Shakespeare

Do you associate William Shakespeare with hip-hop?

Most major cultures, movements and ways of life have been influenced by a wide range of people and events from the past. Sometimes these influences can surprise you. Let’s take hip-hop for example.

Hip-hop originated in the South Bronx, New York, in the 1970s. It started when a DJ, named DJ Kool Herc, started mixing existing tracks with his own “shouts”. Hip-hop is made up of four different aspects: MCing, DJing, breakdancing and graffiti art.

Akala on the influence of Shakespeare on hip-hop (above)

Hip-hop emerged from a mixture of other genres that came before it, like blues, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll. However, if we take a look even further back and step out of the 20th century, we can find other influences that are arguably just as important, perhaps even more so.

Yes, it’s William Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s influence on the English language is so great that there is no doubt that it would have subconsciously made an impact on hip-hop. In terms of rhythm, Shakespeare’s writing is easily comparable to hip-hop.

The links between hip-hop and Shakespeare are fascinating. Check out the two videos featured in this article for an entertaining take on the greatest English writer of all time.

MC Lars on the hip-hop of Shakespeare (above)

So, there you have it. Shakespeare and Kanye have more in common than you would have originally thought.

Source(s): TEDx Talks

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Explore the World with Google Street View

Tired of the same old view?

Google Street View is constantly expanding. Recently they’ve sent their teams to locations such as the Amazon forest and Mount Everest, so that you can explore these amazing places from the comfort of your home. Here are five places to check out.

Fernando de Noronha

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Fernando de Noronha is made up of 21 islands and islets in the Atlantic Ocean, 354 km offshore from the Brazilian coast. The islands got their name from the Portuguese merchant Fernao de Loronha. The main island has an area of 7.1 sq miles and has a population estimated at 2,782. It has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its importance to its environment.

Click here to check it out.

Tengboche Monastery 

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This Buddhist monastery is located in Phortse, a farming village in Nepal. The area came under the influence of Buddhism over 300 years ago. Situated at 3,867 metres (12,687ft), it was built in 1916. After it was destroyed by an earthquake, it was rebuilt in 1934.

Have a look for yourself.

Northern Lights

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The Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, are a natural light display in the sky. They can be seen in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Auroras take many visual forms, the most distinct being the curtain-like arcs. They eventually break into separate arcs or rapidly change and can fill the whole sky. The northern lights have had a number of names throughout history. The native Americans and native Canadians called them, “The Dance of the Spirits”; while, in Medieval Europe, the auroras were commonly believed to be a sign from God.

More pictures here.

NASA

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Kennedy Space Centre has been at the center of technology and exploration for fifty years. The exploration of the space centre on Street View is Google’s biggest collection, with a total of 6,000 photos exploring facilities such as the shuttles, firing rooms and launch pads.

Check out the rest here.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

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Located in the town of Wieliczka in southen Poland, this mine was built in the 13th century and produced table salt until 2007. The salt mine reaches a depth of 327 metres (1,073ft) and is over 278 kilometres (178 miles) long. The mine features an underground lake, as well as new exhibits on the history of salt mining.

Click here for more.

Want to explore more places like this?

Check out the awesome game Geoguessr. You’re dropped in the a random place on Google Streetview and have to guess where in the world you are. It’s a lot of fun.

Click here for Geoguessr.

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The World’s First Selfie!

The world is obsessed with the selfie.

It’s believed that the photograph below is the first selfie of all time. it was snapped in 1839 by Robert Cornelius, known as one of the pioneers of modern photography. The image was taken behind his parents’ lamp store in Philadelphia. It’s estimated that it would have taken over 3 minutes to take.

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From the oldest selfie to one of the most unique, one taken on the edge of space. This video shows how Christopher Michel, a San Francisco based photographer, managed to snap the amazing selfie. When he took the selfie, he was 70,000 feet in the air.  He reached these dizzying heights in a U2 plane and used a GoPro to take the selfie.

Even though we can’t all take pictures from the edge of space, we can still take some pretty cool selfies. Check out these amazing ones.

Space

That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for selfies. Maybe we’ll be seeing more space selfies in the future!

Jet

This trained pilot grabbed a quick pic while flying over these mountains. Hopefully he didn’t taken his eyes off the sky.

Ellen DeGeneres group Oscar selfie

One of the most famous selfies ever. It became the most retweeted picture with over 3 million people retweeting!

Christ

This selfie taken from on top of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro is very impressive, if a little dangerous. The massive statue stands 38m tall on top of an 8m pedestal with its arms stretched 28m wide.

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Auto pilot engaged. There’s no better way to take a break from flying than snapping a crazy selfie like this. But is this one real?

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You’re Never Too Old For Cartoons!

“Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional”

Cartoons are normally included on the list of things you can grow “too old” for, along with video games and comics. We’d like to disagree. This hugely popular form of entertainment is not only super fun but an art form. The animation of hit films like Toy Story or Frozen takes hugely talented teams of artists and a massive amount of time and dedication.

So, to celebrate the world of cartoons and their animators, let’s take a look at some of our favourites.

Cartoon Network

Launching in September 1993, Cartoon Network has released hit cartoon after hit cartoon. The channel has introduced shows like Dexter’s Laboratory, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Adventure Time and Regular Show. There’s no sign of them slowing down any time soon, so expect more hits in the future.

Pixar

Many would argue that Pixar had dominated the world of animation for the last decade or so, especially when it comes to feature films. Pixar has released 14 feature films to date, beginning with Toy Story in 1995. 13 of these movies are in the 50 highest-grossing animated movies. With Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur coming out this year, it is exciting times for the studio.

Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation studio known for its anime movies. To date they have created 20 feature films, 7 shorts films, TV ads and one TV movie. On August 4th, Studio Ghibli announced it was temporarily halting production following the retirement of its co-founder, Hayao Miyazaki. We are eagerly awaiting their return to see what new things they’re working on. Read more about Ghibli here.

Disney

The largest and best known animation company in the world. To date Disney has released a whopping 54 feature films, the first being Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. Disney has become a household name around the worl and is commonly associated with big-budget movies like The Lion King, The Little Mermaid and Frozen. Their short films are also pretty popular, loved by people of all ages.

Source(s): legend0fsora, Golden Wolf, AdryStudio, Pablo Medero

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How to Paint Like a Surrealist

Surrealism is possibly the most imaginative art movement of them all.

It literally takes the idea of viewing the world through your dreams and subconscious mind, instead of through logical thought, and transforming that view into a piece of art.

Surrealism first came about when “The Manifesto of Surrealism” was published, authored by a key pioneer of the surrealist movement, André Breton. However, it is often said that surrealism was actually formed out of a Dutch movement called “Dadaism”.

Even though the surrealists had mastered the traditional artistic methods, they just weren’t that into them. In fact, they wanted to create art that ignored these teachings so they could express new levels of creativity: art that came directly from the imagination.

Some famous surrealist artists include Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte and Max Ernst.

Watch these fun videos that show you how you can paint your own surrealist masterpieces.

Fun Facts

  • Before this was an art movement it was a literary movement. However it is mainly a philosophy and way of life.
  • Salvador Dali was only 6 years old when he completed his first painting.
  • Surrealists looked for pieces of art from children and patients from mental institutions.
  • “Surrealism” means “Above Realism” whereas “Dada” from Dadaism, literally didn’t mean anything.
  • The most expensive surrealist art piece ever sold was Dali’s “Portrait de Paul Eluard”, which sold for a breath-taking $22.4 million.

Source(s):

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Fictional Characters Based on Real People

Some of your favourite fictional characters may well be based on real people. Here are a few that may surprise you.

Tintin

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if you have seen the 2011 Steven Spielberg movie, The Adventures of Tintin, you will understand how great Tintin is. But Tintin existed long before that movie. Tinitin’s first adventure was in 1929, and he has remained one of the most popular European comic book characters  ever since. However, you may not know that TinTin was actually based on a 15-year-old Danish boy, named Palle Huld, who had won a contest to re-enact the journey from Phineas Fogg’s novel, “Around the World in 80 Days”.  Huld completed the trip in 44 days.

 

James Bond

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The James Bond films are based on  popular books written by Ian Fleming. Fleming himself was an intelligence officer, and it was in this role that he is said to have found his inspiration for the famous spy novels. The most likely candidate to have inspired 007 is a man called Forest Yeo-Thomas, who was one of the UK’s top spies during WW2. Yeo-Thomas parachuted into occupied territory three times. He was also captured and tortured by Gestapo before being put in a concentration camp, from which he managed to escape.

 

Severus Snape

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JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series is one of the most popular book series in the world. Of course, no school would function without its teachers, and some of the series’ most memorable characters are its teachers, including Severus Snape. Snape is immediately regarded as an enemy by Harry, Hermoine and Ron because of his cold stares and shady ways. It is reported that Snape was based on a chemistry teacher who taught J K Rowling at school. It seems fitting that Snape taught potions at Hogwarts.

 

Zorro

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Zorro, a skilled swordsman and fighting vigilante, has appeared in many books, TV shows and movies.  The character was created in 1919 and was inspired by a man name Joaquin Murrieta, known as the Mexican Robin Hood. Murrieta lived in California with his family, who had found success in gold mining. Unfortunately Murrieta’s family was murdered by American miners, and he was unable to find justice through the legal system. So, he took it upon himself to find justice and started a gang to get revenge on his family’s killers. He began to rob banks and live outside the law. After his death, his legend spread and was adapted into the character of Zorro.

 Source(s): Listverse

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Why You should Learn a Musical Instrument

Do you play a musical instrument?

Music is a very powerful thing. It has evolved through the ages to become the voice of nations, the voice of youth and, for a lot of people, a key factor in defining their identity.

But did you know that learning a musical instrument is good for you. It’s good for your health, for your brain and for your social life.

Check out the video below to find out why.

6 Amazing Benefits of Learning a Musical Instrument

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It will increase intelligence and creativity

Research shows that people who have learnt a musical instrument generally do better when it comes to academia. Instruments also bring out your creative side, due to them making you think outside the box.

It improves memory

When you play a musical instrument, it exercises both the right and left side of your brain. This will greatly help in improving memory in the long run, especially if you start learning from a young age.

Teaches patience

When you pick up any instrument, even if you are a natural, you’re going to have to go over certain aspects more than once. this can sometimes be quite frustrating, but, if you relax and stick at it, you will improve your levels of patience.

Increases social skills

What do you get if you put different musical instruments together? The answer: a band. Those instruments won’t play themselves either, so you will have to interact with other people and work together in order to produce the best sound you collectively can.

Reduces stress

Studies show that playing a musical instrument lowers the heart rate and blood pressure, ultimately reducing stress. It also helps vent stress, whereas people would turn to over eating, watching TV or browsing the web aimlessly. Music is a good alternative.

It’s fun

Need we say more? The only way you’ll experience this one, is by picking up an instrument and playing it.

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Source(s): TED-Ed

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The Magic of Studio Ghibli

Have you seen Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle or The Wind Rises?

Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation studio, often thought of as the Japanese equivalent of Disney. There are many similarities between the two, not just because of their huge popularity. Both have pushed the boundaries of what people expect of animated films. Of course, both studios create wholesome family films that focus on exploring the fantastical space between magic and reality.

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Many people would argue this is where the similarities stop. Studio Ghibli films aren’t afraid to deal with more serious and challenging issues such as war, life and death, and the continued destruction of the environment.

The elements of magic in a Studio Ghibli film are less whimsical than in a Disney film. With Disney we may just think of talking animals; but with Ghibli the magic is less easy to characterise and define. For a start, there is a lot more going on and it can get pretty crazy at times. It’s a magic that is genuinely intriguing, sometimes frightening but almost always awe-inspiring.

This might be why many young people begin to outgrow the Disney universe, but never tire of the wonders of Ghibli. Here are 5 Studio Ghibli films to look out for.

 

1. Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle follows the adventures of Sophie, a young woman who gets transformed into an old lady by a wicked witch. Set against the backdrop of war, Sophie leaves home and wanders the wilderness until she stumbles across the moving castle of the title and its mysterious owner, Howl.

 

2. Princess Mononoke

When humans try to destroy the forest with brute force and a lot of gunpowder, the gods of the forest decide to fight back. We follow the cursed hero, Ashitaka, as he teams up with a wild princess and a pack of giant wolves to save the forest from complete annihilation. The destructive nature of humanity and its relation to nature is the theme of this hugely, hugely epic film.

 

3. Spirited Away

Winner of the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2003, Spirited Away is perhaps the most famous of Studio Ghibli films. It is the highest-grossing film in Japanese history. Spirited Away tells the tale of a courageous young girl, Chihiro, who becomes trapped in a mysterious spirit world after her parents are transformed into pigs. It follows her attempts to figure out what is going on, save her parents and find her way home.

 

4. Whisper of the Heart 

At Vivo HQ, our personal favourite is Whisper of the Heart. It is a moving tale that explores the themes of youth, love and the quest to find out what is important in life. Shizuku, a 14-year-old female student meets a young violin maker, Seiji, at school. When Seiji goes to Italy to learn more about his craft, Shizuku tests her own talents as a writer of fantasy fiction.

 

5. Ponyo

Ponyo shares many similarities with Disney’s The Little Mermaid in that it features a “fish-girl” who decides that she would like to become human after meeting a young human boy. This may be one for a younger audience — a great choice if you are looking for something to watch with a younger sibling — but still packs a punch and carries an important message: don’t mess with Mother Nature!

Source(s): Walt Disney Animation Studios, Studio Ghibli

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Welcome to Arts & Entertainment

Do you love music, films and novels? How about comic books, poetry and art? We all do – it’s a silly question. We all like to escape our day-to-day reality sometimes with a good film or book. The best thing is that it’s actually really good for us – as long as we have finished our homework first.

It’s not just about escaping reality, but enriching it. Our lives wouldn’t be as rich or rewarding without our favourite books, films, songs, poems, pieces of art etc.

Every time we read, we learn something new. Every new piece of music that we hear can trigger a new emotive response in us. Seeing a piece of art you have never seen before can help you see the world in a different way. All of these things help us become who we are.

Art helps us broaden our horizons. It’s important to keep exploring, to keep trying out new things. Have you tried ballet, sculpture or the saxophone? When did you last go to a museum, the library or the theatre? Why not watch a French film next time you go to the cinema?

Did you know that, according to scientific research, watching movies helps increase cognitive thinking and decreases anxiety? That laughing at your favourite comedy can help lower your blood pressure? That reading reduces stress and decreases the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s when you are older? Culture, the arts, entertainment – whatever you want to call it – is good for you!

Perhaps most important of all, never forget that all your favourite art, music, movies and books were made by a human being just like you! There’s nothing stopping you being the next J K Rowling, the next Ed Sheeran or the next Shailene Woodley. All you have to do is love the arts and keep practising.

 

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Paper Isn’t Just for Writing On

Find out how Eiko Ojala gives paper a new purpose

We’ve scoured the web for the most unique and eye-catching pieces of art, and Eiko Ojala’s Paper Illustrations definitely let off a glimmer. The Estonian graphic designer likes to experiment with light, shadows and shapes. An award-winning artist, he’s worked with The New Yorker, Wired and The Sunday Times, to name just a few.

Ojala’s paper illustrations are beautifully simplistic in the way he uses natural and artificial shadows to make his work appear 3D. Chucking together different colours of paper on varied levels, he constantly serves up a whole array of awe inspiring visuals. Sometimes they contain a message, sometimes they incorporate his hobbies and interests and sometimes they are just there to look amazing.

 

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Check out the rest of his work on his website: http://ploom.tv/

Source(s): Eiko Ojala

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What Makes a Hero?

What do all our favourite heroes from the worlds of books, film and TV have in common?

The video below begins by asking just this: “What do Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen and Frodo have in common with the heroes of ancient myths?”

Think you know the answer? Watch the video to find out.

The video ends by asking, “What do YOU have in common with Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen and Frodo?” According to the narrator, you have more in common than you might think.

Source(s): TED-Ed