5 Seriously Weird Books

weird books

Thousands of pages of um . . . what? Are any of these weird books in your library? There are some incredibly weird books out there. From the recently (finally) translated Voynich Manuscript to the Codex Seraphinianus, discover five of the strangest books ever written and some trivia about each that’s almost too odd to be true. 1. The Voynich Manuscript For 100 years the Voynich Manuscript was an unsolvable 240-page thorn in the side of linguists and cryptologists, leaving many to believe its true meaning would never be known. Many theories circulated about the manuscript, including that it was in fact created entirely by the man who discovered the untitled work, Wilfrid Voynich. Like something out of a movie, Voynich managed to barely make off with the manuscript before the Vatican included it among their countless other precious written works, where it would likely never be seen again —        …read more

8 Strange Homes You Have to See to Believe

strange homes

From a spaceship to a pickle barrel, these architectural wonders have just one thing in common: they’re very strange homes. Explore eight of the weirdest homes in the U.S. and learn how they came to be. 1. Haines Shoe House (York, Pennsylvania) It’s literally a house that looks like a massive shoe — you can’t really get a home that’s stranger than this one. Haines Shoe House was built by a shoe salesman in 1948 and was supposed to look like a work boot. This house has five stories and is situated on Shoe House Road. The living room is in the toe, the bedrooms are in the ankle, the kitchen is in the heel, and there’s an ice cream shop open to the public in the instep. You can also take a tour of the shoe. 2. Mary’s Gone Wild (Supply, North Carolina) In 1998 Mary Paulsen had a vision        …read more

The Evolution of Romantic Poetry through the Ages

romantic poetry

A look at romantic poetry and our evolving views of love since the beginning of recorded history. For the modern mind, the words “romantic poetry” might bring up this simple refrain: Roses are red / Violets are blue / Candy is sweet / And so are you. Or maybe a Hallmark card with a few lines of cheesiness. Romantic poetry can seem silly. I mean, aren’t we past all that? Many of us roll our eyes at tacky romanticism, automatically reducing the great love poets of history and modern times to trivial Valentine’s Day commercialism or the jewelry ads promising a diamond is forever. And yet, as history shows, the subject of love has been popular for thousands of years, and remarkable poems are still being written that spark something in us — a longing for something deeper than our self-absorbed lives. Ancient Beginnings: The Oldest Romantic Poetry When the archaeologist Austen Henry Layard first        …read more

How Creative Expression Can Help You Heal after Trauma and Loss

After my friend died while in a religious cult, I suffered traumatic grief. That’s when I learned creative expression could help the brain and body heal. On October 30, 2012, I got the phone call no one wants to receive. The sister of my best friend and kindred spirit, Bethany, was on the other end. Bethany had died — and not only had she died, but she’d been murdered in what turned out to be a spiritual community that had slowly turned into an emotionally and spiritually abusive cult. Later it would be concluded that she’d committed suicide, but for a whole year, investigators treated her death like a homicide and everyone who loved her went through the emotional roller coaster of believing she’d been murdered. Ultimately, my friend had married an abusive man, the cult leader, who’d warped her personality, distanced her from friends and family, psychologically tortured her        …read more

The Competitive World of Gingerbread House Design

gingerbread house

These artists take their gingerbread house creations seriously. Very, very seriously. Gingerbread house making isn’t reserved for kids and the kitchen table. Gingerbread dates back to ancient Greece, and in the Middle Ages gingerbread cookies were all the rage. When the Brothers Grimm released the tale of Hansel and Gretel, the gingerbread house took off — losing the evil witch attachment in favor of a winter-wonderland fantasy. Gingerbread house construction grew into an art form that continues today — so much so that there are yearly competitions to crown the best of the best. The National Gingerbread House Competition in Asheville, North Carolina, is the biggest, with magnificent entries that look too good to eat. The National Gingerbread House Competition For 25 years, artists of varying skill levels have entered The National Gingerbread House Competition. The number of competitors was highest at 289 in the early 2000s. “It was almost        …read more

Gargoyles, Our Stone-Cold City Protectors


Lions, dragons and beasts, oh my! Gargoyles inspire as much fascination today as they did in their medieval beginnings. They leer and stare from above, coming to life when it rains, vomiting, spitting and even defecating on unsuspecting passersby below. Since their beginnings on French medieval cathedrals, gargoyles first captured a place in our collective imagination as embodiments of evil, chaos and superstition. Over time, however, gargoyles changed from primarily fear-inducing creatures to include more playful, whimsical, ironic, mischievous and humorous elements. Gargoyles debuted on Gothic cathedrals in France in the 12th century and proliferated in the 13th century and beyond. Though there were precedents for sculpted waterspouts in the animal-shaped faces of ancient Etruscan and Greek fountainheads, it was the soaring architecture of the Gothic cathedrals and the gargoyles’ projection from the walls and buttresses, combined with their fearsome expressions, that intensified their terrifying appearance. As sculpted drainpipes, gargoyles        …read more

6 Creators Combating Domestic Violence with Art

domestic violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to speak out against violence and support victims. These 6 artists are boosting the signal. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 35% of women worldwide have been physically and/or sexually assaulted in their lifetime; 30% of women have experienced violence by an intimate partner. Domestic violence doesn’t just affect women, though. One in four men in the United States have been physically abused, with one in seven experiencing severe abuse, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Domestic violence should be eradicated, but it continues to occur in every country around the world. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to speak out against this societal problem and show support for victims, and a great device for doing so is art. Here are six artists raising awareness of domestic violence and working to combat it with creative endeavors. 1. “Promise”        …read more

All the Dinosaurs You Love Were Created by Artists


Dinosaurs are imaginary. Hear me out… When people ask me why I love dinosaurs (and they always ask), I usually end up saying, “Well, dinosaurs are imaginary.” It’s a statement that leads to some raised eyebrows, but what I mean is not that dinosaurs never existed in the real world. Of course they did. It’s just that, in the present, dinosaurs exist largely in our imaginations, and the images we have of them are always subject to change. New scientific data, and fresh interpretations of old data, can lead to massive shifts in our understanding of the past. I love dinosaurs precisely for that reason, not in spite of it. I adore hearing people say things like “Well, now all the dinosaurs have feathers!” because of course now dinosaurs don’t have anything at all. It’s a perfect illustration of the fact that our understanding of the past is anything but        …read more

Creating Consciousness: Artists, AI and Playing with Fire


For centuries, artists have warned about the dangers of creating consciousness. From Greek mythology to ‘Frankenstein’ to ‘Westworld,’ here are some of their cautionary tales. There was once a lonely and isolated sculptor by the name of Pygmalion. He knew no women and had no wife. His entire life had been dedicated to his art, and the only beauty he knew was what he created through stone: lifelike figures of beautiful women. One day he formed perfection: a sculpture of a female of unparalleled beauty. The artist was overwhelmed and soon fell madly in love with his creation, giving her the name Galatea. Every day and night he admired her and prayed to the goddess Aphrodite to give Galatea life so that they might be married. Hearing his desperate prayers, the goddess descended from Mount Olympus, determined to judge this great beauty herself. Of course, when Aphrodite finally saw Galatea, she too was        …read more

Welcome to Professor Poster’s School of Rock and Roll Posters

rock and roll posters

Vintage rock and roll posters have sold for tens of thousands of dollars. Take a closer look at the ingenious, mesmerizing, mysterious art form. In the mid-1960s the world, America and, more specifically, San Francisco were undergoing a renaissance of culture, music and art. The Summer of Love unofficially began on a day in January 1967, with a call to arms in Golden Gate Park known as a “Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In.” Not a call to bear arms, but rather a raising of arms in unity where the actions of the thousands who attended, and the millions who would learn of it, would change the course of history. A teenager named Rusty Goldman had seen a poster advertising the event and was in the crowd that day. Now with 50 years in the rearview mirror, Rusty Goldman is considered a historian and archivist of rock and roll        …read more