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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.

Sláinte!

Top 5 Leaplings

29 Feb

2012 is an ‘oh damn we live on a planet that is a quarter of a day too slow to orbit the sun for our liking’ year. Here at Top 5, we decided to celebrate our quirky calendar by honouring some notable people who were born on the 29th of February.

5. The Keoghs (1940, 1964, 1996)

Three successive generations of the same family were born on this unusual day, thus earning themselves a place in the record books.

4. Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenberdorft Sr. (born 1904)

Guess what Mr Wolfe was famous for? Not only did he have a Christian name for each consecutive letter in the alphabet, his name is also still the longest on record.

3. Tempest Storm (born 1928 as Annie Blanche Blanks)

Legendary burlesque performer who almost started a riot simply by removing her mink coat. A natural redhead, purportedly her breasts were insured in the 1950’s for $1,000,000. Although she officially retired in 1995, she has performed since for special occasions.

2. Leif-Martin Henriksen (born 1968)

The 3rd of 3 siblings all born on consecutive leap years. Mr and Mrs Henriksen should take the credit for this one really!

1. Giachino Rossini (1792)

‘The Italian Mozart’, Rossini is most famed for his operas, of which he wrote 39. His most famous works include ‘The Barber of Seville’, a prequel to Mozart’s ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ which was written 30 years previously. Go figure(-o). Even those of us who are not opera buffs will recognise the infamous overture to ‘William Tell’, altogether now: “Da da dum da da dum da da dum dum dum. Da da dum da da dum da da dum dum dum…”

Top 5 Unusual Hobbies You Don’t Have The Patience For.

28 Feb

Everyone is always looking for that one thing to boast to their friends about, or put on their CV to distinguish them from their peers. Here’s a list that you only dream of having in your repertoire!

5.Extreme Dog Grooming

Extreme Dog Grooming (Creative Grooming) involves colouring the dog’s fur and creatively shaving the fur in order to create the desired artistic effect.

Poodles tend to be the best candidates for this specialist hobby due to the texture of their fur. There is some controversy over whether this is cruel or not. Participants argue that anyone doing it seriously always use dyes and inks safe for the animals. Whether you agree with the hobby or not there are certainly some fantastic designs requiring an astonishing amount of skill.

This is not purely for poodles however – any breed can be used in competition as long as it follows the rules. These differ depending on the event. Cats are also eligible. Yeah, good luck with that.

If you’re ‘dye-ing’ to find out more about this hobby try: National Association of Professional Creative Groomers

4.Noodling

Noodling is the act of fishing, specifically for catfish, but only using your bare hands (or feet) to catch them…

Before you go out and find your nearest stretch of water to try your hand at noodling, be aware that the sport has some restrictions. As of 2002, noodling has only been legal in 11 states in the US: Alabama Arkansas Georgia Illinois Kentucky Mississippi North Carolina Oklahoma South Carolina Tennessee and Wisconsin.

The ‘noodler’ will catch the flathead catfish by sticking his arm into their hiding place (or ‘hole’) and entice it to react defensively and attack with its mouth. The noodler’s hand, once inside the mouth of the catfish, will hold it through the gills and lift it out of the water. Just look at that picture again. Tight lines…

If you’re interested in finding out more, grab onto this: Okie Noodling

3.Carving Egg Shells

This egg decoration is off the wall!

Despite what many think, these are real egg shells. Admittedly, many are not your standard chicken egg; Geese, Ostrich, Rhea, Emu, and Turkey eggs have also been used to create these exquisite designs.

The patience and skill needed to carve such intricate designs into something so fragile as an eggshell is astonishing and takes true dedication. After all, you can’t make an omlette without breaking a few eggs.

If you’re interested in being egged on, try hatching a plan with this: The Egg Shell Sculptor

2.Lockpicking

Lockpicking or Locksport involves the recreational studying of, and learning to defeat, locking systems.

The easiest way to think of this is like a knitting circle, but with locks. Lockpickers get together to trade secrets and techniques on how to defeat locking mechanisms. In a typical meet-up, challenges will be set-up to test and improve upon key skills, for instance lock relay races and timed cracks of mechanisms from different types of locks. It looks like great fun and provides an adreline rush without having to jump out of a plane.

Do be careful with this and pick your locks carefully. Bear in mind breaking into locks that aren’t yours is probably a criminal offence – wherever you live! Be sensible and buy second-hand locks from car boot sales and the like… Don’t want anyone getting locked up!

If you’re interested in unlocking your potential check out: Locksport

1. Pooktre Art

Pooktre Art or Tree Shaping takes the top spot due to the fact you have to wait for trees to grow! Think Bonsai Trees, only on a massive scale.

Although the art of training trees into specific shapes has been around for centuries, two Australians have popularised Pooktre Art for a modern audience. For instance, instead of carving a chair, a Pooktre artist will grow a chair. Peter Cook and Becky Northey create the pieces as living art, although some pieces may be ‘harvested’ for use as indoor furniture. There are many others who are doing similar things and, as they say, there is nothing to prevent everyone from having a go.

If you want to grow into this branch of hobby you’ll want to see this: Pooktre

Anyone who actually does any of these things gets a high-five from us at Top 5!

Top 5 Real-Life Most Interesting Men in the World

26 Feb

Dos Equis has mighty success with their ‘Most Interesting Man in the World’ ad campaign. This got us thinking; who are the most interesting men in the world? What qualifies someone as being interesting? For the purposes of this top 5, we are defining ‘interesting man’ as someone who has reached the pinnacle in numerous professional fields and we feel has added something to humanity.

5. Dolph Lundgren

Actor/Director/Martial Artist known primarily for his role in the Rocky series as Ivan Drago.

  • He holds a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering.
  • Has released his own range of vitamins and supplements.
  • Claimed IQ of 160
  • He speaks Swedish, English, and Spanish with some German, French, Italian, and Japanese.
  • Just his photograph can fend off burglars! His house was broken into and his wife tied up by the burglars who upon noticing his family photo quickly left.
  • He can sing, dance, drum, and break ice, all within rapid succession.

Have you ever seen anything so epic?

4. Bruce Dickinson

Lead singer with heavy metal legends Iron Maiden.

  • UK commercial airline pilot who in 2006 flew 200 UK citizens from Lebanon during the Israel-Hezbollah conflict and in 2008 flew home 180 stranded holiday makers from Egypt.
  • Ventured into radio with his Friday Rock Show which ran for 8 years on BBC Radio 6 Music.
  • Has written 2 novels and co-written the screenplay ‘Chemical Wedding’ with Director Julian Doyle.
  • Flies his band around the world when on tour in Ed Force 1… because he can.
  • Ranked 7th in Great Britain for fencing.

Never a dull moment with this guy!

3. James Doohan

Famous for his portrayal as Scotty in Star Trek.

  • His talents go far beyond those of mortal man. He not only starred in Star Trek but is the creator of the Klingon and Vulcan languages.
  • His military service record boasts surviving D-Day after being shot 6 times by Canadian friendly fire.
  • Also whilst in the military, he earned the title ‘Craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Force’ for slaloming between telegraph poles while flying down a mountainside in a Mark IV Auster.
  • After his death he had his ashes jettisoned into space as part of his will.
  • He collaborated on 3 science fiction novels with  S. M. Sterling.

What a human being!

2. Mick Foley

Known for his alter ego’s on the professional wrestling world stage including Mankind Cactus Jack and Dude Love.

  • Is a multiple New York Times best-selling autobiographer.
  • Has lost part of an ear wrestling… real man stuff. He also pulled out his own hair.
  • Is a successful stand-up comedian.
  • Has written fiction for both children and adults.
  • Hosted ‘Robot Wars’ – geek points!
  • Helped fund childhood education in the Philippines and Mexico and 4 community schools in Sierra Leone.
  • Logged more than 550 hours talking to victims online for the RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network)
  • Encouraged people to give to charity by offering to mow donor’s lawns, stating ‘If you want to help survivors of sexual assault or just want to see a big guy with long hair mowing your lawn in front of your friends please take part…’
  • Enjoys socks… let’s be honest, who doesn’t?

Who’d have thought he was such a nice guy?

1. Brian Blessed

Actor known for his bellowing voice and larger-than-life characters.

  • Before becoming an actor was an undertaker and plasterers’ assistant.
  • Served in the Royal Air Force as a parachutist.
  • At 17 reached the summit of Mont Blanc.
  • Has recovered from a nervous breakdown at the tender age of 18.
  • Attempted to climb Mount Everest on 3 separate occasions – but never reached the summit. At the age of 55, despite having climbed higher without oxygen than any other man his age, he turned back to save another climber’s life at a mere 29 000 ft. What a hero!
  • He holds the record for being the oldest man to reach the Magnetic North Pole on foot.
  • Has successfully climbed some of the world most famous mountains including Mount Kilimanjaro.
  • Has recorded with UK power metal band Pythia on their 2009 album ‘Beneath the Veiled Embrace’.
  • Impersonated Pavarotti on ‘Celebrity Stars in their Eyes’ – one, of if not the greatest tenor who ever lived… that takes some balls.
  • Animal rescuer!

This man-mountain’s talents know no bounds!

There you have it… What will they think of next?