Top 5 Ancient Forms of Communication

8 Jan

Nowadays it’s all about the telecommunications industry. A new mobile phone here and there. There are so many options available which allow us to communicate with people all over the world. If the crazy conspiracy theorists are correct though, there isn’t much time. The world will be destroyed and the survivors will have nothing but the laws of  nature to comfort them. How will they manage? Of course they could just talk to each other but what if they are all the way over there!

5. Water Clock

Primarily an ancient form of telling time. They could be used to send messages. A predetermined number of messages were placed vertically into the water as to not get wet. When one party wanted to send a message they would set a fire. They would reply in kind and set there water-clocks. The water-clocks clearly had to be the same for the system to work. The time would pass with the water level changing. When the level reached the point for the correct message another smoke signal would be sent by party 1 to say stop the timer. This is the message I wish to convey. Party 2 would then look at which message the water level indicated and know that Party 1 was try to say ‘The enemy are attacking! Come help us! No put down your breakfast and come right away!’ Well something like that.  That’s the theory.

4. Runners


Pheidippides. This is the guy who ran a marathon in 490BC. He ran all the way back to Athens to tell everyone of the victory over the Persians. The toll it took on him resulted in his death. We don’t recommend this as a primary form of communication due to the limits of the human body, but someone had to do it! There is a train of thought that suggests it wasn’t the marathon that killed him, but the combination of running to Sparta first to garner support for the battle. He then ran the marathon afterward and the combined exhaustion of both runs took their toll. What I don’t understand is if you’ve why didn’t they saunter back at their leisure.

3. Fryctoria

bonfire burning camp campfire

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on

Bonfires! By now everyone will be familiar with The Lord of the Rings and the fires burning atop hills and mountains to send the message of impending attacks. As with the Water Clocks an agreed message would have been decided beforehand. When you see the fires you’ll know what it means and therefore be able to take the necessary action. This form of communication can travel over large areas quickly, if only Pheidippes had thought ahead.

2. Pigeons

flight pigeon twig

Photo by Pixabay on

Pigeons and other animals have often been used to carry messages for people. In world war I and II pigeons were still being used to send messages. A message would be placed in a ring around the pigeons ankle. The bird will have been trained to return to a certain location and therefore accurately delivering the note. Homing Pigeons have also been used as postal carriers, in computing and for the purposes of smuggling. Amazing creatures, I’m all aflutter.

1. Writing

abc books chalk chalkboard

Photo by Pixabay on

The invention of the first writing systems is roughly contemporary with the beginning of the bronze age in the late neolithic of the late 4th millennium BC. Every culture on Earth has some form of written language. The power of writing means we’re able to pass down more knowledge to the next generation without things becoming contorted by generational Chinese Whispers. This is arguably our most prized tool in becoming the dominant species on the planet! Go us!


Top 5 Female Fictional Characters

1 May

With the Males there was centuries of characters to choose from but for the females it was much tougher. There aren’t enough strong women in major leading roles which have taken on a massive cultural status. So here’s our offering to redress the balance.

5. Jessica Rabbit

Jessica Rabbit. Okay she’s gorgeous! She dotes on our dear friend Roger and is faithful even when she thinks the end is near. She’s intelligent and sexy. Everything a woman wants to be. Oh and she’s pointing a gun right at you… you better agree with her!

4. Death

Neil Gaimen makes it onto both the male and female lists. Death. Despite her ‘dayjob’ she’s one of the coolest and smartest beings you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting. Complicated and desirable… she’s going to meet with each of us at some point so make sure you treat her well!


After her dreadful ‘accident’ Catwoman appears and takes ass-kicking to another level. She’s a strong female role model for the little girls. And for the guys… well… yeah. She has all the confidence any young woman should have and we’re pleased to have her included in our list!

2. Ellen Ripley

It starts to get serious right here. Ripley is not only one the most iconic female characters ever written but she rivals the ‘men’ at their own game. Surviving multiple encounters with one of the best ‘baddies’ of the 21st century Ripley has shown us that when push comes to shove – all you need is a ‘walker’ but when all else fails… blow it out the airlock!

1. Sarah Connor

Ripley is a badass. Compared with Sarah here she’s a nursery teacher. This woman gets ripped from her comfortable normal life by a machine that’s looking to kill her before she can give birth to the man that leads the resistence. She becomes the symbolic Mother of Humanity. In the picture she reveals her stockpiling of weapons for the coming war. A devoted mother – perfect friend – decent human being and all round hardass. She uses a hydrolic press to save the world… Did I mention she is a waitress…? Do Not Fuck With This Woman!

‘The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it for the first time with a sense of hope. Because of a machine – a terminator – can learn the value of human life – maybe we can too.’ – Sarah Connor.

Top 5 Male Fictional Characters

1 May

Ask a friend who their biggest hero is and most of the time their answer will probably be a person who only exists on paper or celluloid. Here at Top 5, we decided to honour our favourite fictional characters with, you guessed it, a Top 5 list! Before you cry foul at the absence of the female of the species from this list, don’t panic, the ladies will get a Top 5 all to themselves.

5. Dream

Neil Gaiman’s lord of all stories and dreams. Older than the Gods and commander of everything not in reality he is more human than at first glance. He has his moods and failed relationships. Empire magazine named him the 6th greatest comic book character of all time. We think he deserves an upgrade. He is constantly aware of his responsibility as an ‘Endless’ being while still succombing to the most basic of human emotions and flaws. Ultimately a hero his journey and closeness to his older sister Death makes him one of the most fascinating characters ever penned.

4. Frankensteins Monster

Mary Shelley’s Monster is another of those great literary creations. The character alone spawned a massive number of early features in the world of cinema.

3. Dr. Who

The protagonist of the longest running Sci-Fi television series. Time-Lord/Tardis/Two Hearts general awesomeness.

2. Sherlock Holmes

Greatest dectective ever… would have given Columbo a mention here but only one dectective included in the list for fairness.

1. Batman

He’s got a cool car. Cool suit. Catwoman wants him. Complex childhood. General badass. Oh and he’s rich too.

Top 5 Facts You Didn’t Know About St. Patrick’s Day

17 Mar

It’s that time of year again, the Chicago river is running green, drunken Americans are dyeing their insides green with artificially coloured beer and everyone is ‘Oirish’. Yes, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, (or St. Patty’s Day, although we’re not sure where the hamburgers come into it), the most celebrated saint day in the world – so let’s have some St. Patrick themed Top 5 facts!

5. Why it Couldn’t be Snakes!

The myth that St. Patrick chased the snakes from Ireland during his time on Earth is just that. A myth. There is strong evidence suggesting that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes in the first place.

4. St. Patrick’s Day Blues!

Blue was the colour originally associated with the feast day of St. Patrick. In fact, the colour green was long considered to be unlucky in Ireland as it was believed to be the favoured colour of the Good People i.e. fairies, with legend telling that those who wore too much green, especially children, would be spirited away. As an aside, the tradition of pinching someone who is not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day is, you guessed it, an American invention.

3. Pubs in Ireland Closed for St. Paddy’s!

In Ireland, the feast of St. Patrick is a holy day of obligation, meaning that the faithful are obliged to go to mass. Until the 1970’s, all pubs in Ireland were closed by law on St. Patricks Day, which dispels the myth that the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is so the Irish can get steaming drunk. Especially since St. Patrick’s Day falls during the holy month of Lent.

2. First St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Ireland was in 1996!

The tradition of St. Patrick’s Day parades began, not in Ireland, but in the good old US of A. The St. Patrick’s Day festival in Dublin, Ireland was started by the  Irish government in 1995 as part of a campaign to use St. Patrick’s Day to highlight Ireland and Irish culture woldwide in a bid to attract tourists. Maybe they were just cashing in on the success of Riverdance at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest? Although secular celebrations now exist in Ireland, the holiday remains a religious observance for both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland.

1. He wasn’t Irish – he was British!

Maewyn Succat was born in southwestern Roman Britain to a relatively wealthy family – other details are sketchy but this much is known. At 16, he was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave where he served for 6 years. During this time, he converted from Paganism to Christianity, taking the baptismal name Patricius. His faith grew during the time he was enslaved, until finally he escaped after hearing a voice telling him he would go home soon. Once he got home, the voice purportedly told him to go back to Ireland, thus he returned as a missionary, converting the Pagans to the newer Christian religion.


Top 5 Unusual Buildings

8 Mar

We’ve all got to live and work somewhere, so why not somewhere a little bit fantastical? At least, until the novelty wears off anyway…  Perhaps some of these should be filed under ‘great to visit but don’t want to stay’… or do you?

5. Dynamic Tower

The future has arrived Mr. Deckard, and it’s no Nexus 6.

Okay, it’s not quite here yet, but the Dynamic Tower is a proposed 80 floor moving skyscraper, designed by David Fisher, and cited to be built soon in Dubai (where else?!).  Each floor can rotate independently and as such, the exterior shape of the building will be constantly changing. Using the voice-controlled rotation, you could choose to wake up with the sunshine streaming into your bedroom, and eat dinner watching the sunset. Each floor will take 90 minutes to make a full rotation

It is unique in other ways too, such as the method of its construction. Aside from the concrete core, the entire building will be constructed from prefabricated factory-built modules (including flooring, water pipes and air-con) with each floor comprising 40 of these units.

Good news! The Dynamic Tower will also be green, powered by turbines and solar panels which will produce more than enough energy to power 5 buildings of similar size. The bad news: aside from having to wait for the Dynamic Tower to be built, it is rumoured that the units will cost around $3 million each.

Dynamic Architecture is the place you want to go to find out more.

4. Upside-down House

Daniel Czapiewski, a Polish businessman and philanthropist,  thought up this crazy project as a statement about Poland’s communist past and the state of the world. It is built in a small Polish village called Szymbark.

The topsy-turvy building often leaves visitors with dizziness. In fact, it took 114 days to build (as opposed to the construction company’s usual 3 weeks) because the workers were constantly disoriented. Seasickness symptoms are often caused by the jaunty angles within the rooms.  Nonetheless, it is a very successful tourist attraction with thousands visiting it every year.

3. Stone House

This house broke into the news in 2009 when it was ‘discovered’ in the Nas montanhas de Fafe in Portugal. The house grabbed the attention of the media due to the fact it looks like Fred and Wilma’s home from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon ‘The Flintstones’. Yabadabadoo!

Seth McFarlane (writer of Family Guy) is currently in talks with FOX to revive the series for 2013.

The house was built in 1974 as a family holiday home in the wilderness. The current owner’s father chose to build between 4 huge boulders and created a unique home beautifully integrated into its environment. Inside, the house is cozy, with a fireplace and a log staircase. Sadly, even amongst all this media attention, the stone house has fallen victim to disrepair and vandalism in recent years.

2. Krywy Domek (The Crooked House)

Yes, this is the second Polish entry in our Top 5, they seem to have a knack for it! The Crooked House was built in 2004 and designed by Szotyńscy & Zaleski who were inspired by the fairytale illustrations and drawings of Jan Marcin Szancer and Per Dahlberg.

Jan Szancer has illustrated over 150 books and has also created costumes for movies in Poland, some of which he wrote himself, including ‘A Lady from the Window’ (English translation) from 1964.

On the ground floor, The Crooked House is part of a shopping mall, but bizarrely, the first floor is occupied by various services including dentists, opticians and beauty salons.

For more info and events check out: The Crooked House

1. Conch Shell House

#1 come from Isla Mujeres, Mexico. This private house is owned by artist Octavio Ocampo, who also designed it.It boasts all the mod-cons including swimming pool, air-conditioning, and internet access, and is also near the ocean, . The centre-piece is the main room which has no corners. It’s literally like being in a giant seashell. If the rest of the top 5 seemed a little inaccessible, rest assured that the Conch Shell house is available as a holiday let here.

Ocampo is one of Mexico’s most prolific artists. He paints in a ‘metamorphic’ style which can be described by using a technique of superimposing and juxtaposing realistic and figurative elements within a piece of work. The feature-length documentary, ‘Octavio’ by Jose Antonio Torres goes into his methods and how he approaches his art – in case you get curious!

If you’re excited to find out more about other strange and beautiful architecture take a look at Unusual Architecture

Top 5 Cover Versions

7 Mar

It’s a given that taste in music varies. With that in mind, the original is often the definitive version. Here’s a list of covers that we feel need mentioning for being simply awesome recordings in their own right.

5.Come Together – Ike and Tina Turner

A Head-Turner of a vocal line. Good game.

Okay, so we’re going to start strong. A Beatles song. Arguably, Lennon is one of the best songwriters of all time. Tina Turner’s vocals on this recording shows John Lennon how he wanted it done! Extra points are awarded for the fact Tina Turner was born in a place called Nutbush, TN (1939).

On the original Beatles recording, Paul McCartney didn’t record his backing vocals because John said he would overdub them himself.

4. All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix

Hendrix didn’t die – God just needed guitar lessons.

Bob Dylan’s songwriting and Jimi Hendrix’s guitar playing. Do I need to say anymore?

Jimi’s version was released 6 months after Bob’s. Dylan himself said ‘I liked Jimi Hendrix’s record of this and ever since he died I’ve been doing it that way…strange how when I sing it I always feel it’s a tribute to him in some kind of way’ in the booklet accompanying his Biograph album.

3. Hurt – Johnny Cash

RIP Mr. Cash

Originally by Nine Inch Nails, this song was one of  the last things legend Johnny Cash recorded before his death. Johnny Cash changed some of the words to fit in with his Christian beliefs – e.g. ‘crown of shit’ was changed to ‘crown of thorns’. This lyric change was also present on the radio edit of the NIN version.

Trent Reznor (lead singer of NIN) said of Cash’s version ‘I pop the video in and wow… Tears welling silence goosebumps… wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend because that song isn’t mine anymore…’ in Alternative Press Issue 194 (Sept. 2004).

2. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley

Hallelujah – it’s Jeff Buckley

This song had very little success when Leonard Cohen first released it in 1984. John Cale had more success with his version but then came Jeff Buckley. His version is seen as the go-to version of this classic song.

The chord progression follows the lyrics in the first verse ‘it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, and the major lift’ following C, F, G, Am, F.

In contrast to the other writers in this Top 5, Leonard Cohen is dumbfounded by the sheer number of covers this song has spawned. The record company he was with at the time of writing it didn’t want to put it out. He’s been known to say ‘I think too many people sing it’. We agree – you only need one version and this is it (sorry Leonard!).

1. Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers

Someone unchained The Righteous Brothers in 1965.

Yes. I know what you’re thinking. Wasn’t that the original? No, unbelievable as it seems, the definitive version of Unchained Melody is a cover version.

The song was originally written by Alex North for the 1955 prison film Unchained (hence the title). Hy Zaret put words to the melody and a classic was born. The original was sung by Todd Duncan and was nominated for a 1955 Oscar (Best Song) but it was given to Love is a Many-Splendoured Thing. The Righteous Brothers have taken this original version and created a song that never needs to be recorded again…

Unfortunately it’s been recorded more than enough… and none of them come close to this version.

Okay… So some of these were a little predictable but we’re out to find the Top 5 of everything – it’s likely you’ve heard some of these before.

Top 5 Novelty Bands You and Your Kids Can Enjoy!

1 Mar

If you’ve got children and sick of watching Glee – hearing Bieber (which shouldn’t happen) or can’t watch Grease again… then here’s some bands that will entertain the whole family! Even if you don’t have kids, I personally guarantee you’ll find something on this list to entertain you!

5. The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

Is there?

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is a group of all-singing, all-strumming Ukulele players, using instruments bought with loose change, which believes that all genres of music are available for reinterpretation, as long as they are played on the Ukulele.

Taken from their website found here

4. The Wiyos

Why? O Why? O Why does everybody love my baby?

The Wiyos take their sound from the early 20’s and 30’s. Admittedly a lot of the lyrics are not for the younger ear. However – with all the washboards, bells, and whistles, they’ll be too busy jumping around to notice what it all means. If they do work out the lyrics – it’s likely it’ll just go right over their heads. Ultimately. The Wiyos just represent good, old-fashioned fun.

Go here to find out more.

3. The Spaghetti Western Orchestra

Ai-ai-ai-ai-aiiiii…. Wah-nah-nah…

The magnificent five are riding into town!

Armed with over 100 instruments, these brilliant musicians perform a fistful of Ennio Morricone classics from the movies that made Clint Eastwood a star.

The stunning soundtracks include The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, For A Few Dollars More and Once Upon a Time in The West.

This ingenious gang of comic maestros underscore these iconic compositions with hilarious sound effects… blowing on bottles, crushing cornflakes, ‘playing’ coathangers, apples, squeaky toys, rubber gloves, bicycle pumps, nailclippers and many more – recreating every punch up, gunshot, and jangling spur that define the gun slinging west.

Taken from their wonderful website here

What kid never wanted to be in the Wild West?!

2. Milkshake

Milkshake brings all the kids to the yard…

Milkshake were originally a punk band called ‘LOVE RiOT’, but after taking a hiatus to have children, they took to recording child-friendly rock music for kids instead. They plan on recording music that will grow with them. We look forward to what they have in store as their own kids grow up!

Need to know more? Check them out here

Milkshake comes in at #2 because they are aimed predominantly at children. What can possibly be at #1? Please let me introduce a fine gentleman of exquisite taste… for tea….

1. Professor Elemental

Geoffrey – get off the drums…

Hello there! Welcome to the world of Professor Elemental. Sit down and I’ll brew you a nice hip-hop number, stir in some comedy, then serve it with scones and a nice warm cuddle.

Who am I, you ask? I’m Professor Elemental, a unique and splendid hip-hop artist (though I say so myself). I host and perform at all kinds of shows, from children’s parties to burlesque, festivals to wedding parties. I also teach, as an experienced workshop leader with five years’ of experience. Yes, I’m a versatile chap who fits into a lot of places.

This year, a new Professor Elemental kids’ show has been premiered at the Big Chill festival. In the first kids-only rap show of its kind, Professor Elemental takes children on a fun journey through silly songs, daft dancing, and insane inventions live on stage.

Other than that, thanks for dropping by. You look marvellous, by the way, and I love what you’ve done with your hair.

Taken from his website here

Helpful? Possibly not – but I bet you had a little boogie to at least one!