14-month old Taya Kennedy has become the darling of the child-modelling world.

Taya has Down’s Syndrome but she was selected, not to fulfil a quota, or out of sympathy or adhere to the dictums of some politically-correct code of positive discrimination. Taya was picked because she is a star in her own right, one brimming with the confidence of a natural performer.

14-month-old Taya Kennedy

“Taya is an incredibly photogenic, warm and smiley child, and that shines through in her photographs,” says Alysia Lewis, owner of Urban Angels, the prestigious UK model agency that has signed her up.

We only open our books twice a year and select just a few new children each season.

‘The standard is high; the desire for places strong. Taya is one of 50 children we chose from 2,000 applicants.

“That she has Down’s Syndrome did not enter the equation. We chose her because of her vibrancy and sense of fun. Not all children are comfortable in front of a lens and with a photographer looking at them ” especially when they are so young. But Taya was so relaxed and happy. She was just what we were looking for.”

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Yves Rossy performed a death-defying formation flight above the Swiss Alps alongside two L-39C Albatross jet planes from the Breitling Jet Team, the world`s largest professional civilian aerobatics team performing on jets.

Jetman Yves Rossy Flies In Formation With Jet Planes

Rossy, 51, jumped off a helicopter with his custom-built jet suit with a wing span of 2 metres which is equipped with four jet engines that enable him to travel at speeds of up to 186mph. Once the flight was completed, the adventurer safely parachuted back down to the ground.

YouTube Preview Image

He is the first person in the history of aviation to achieve sustained human flight using a jet-powered fixed wing strapped to his back, a feat he first achieved in Bex in November 2006. This jet pack has led to his being nicknamed Jet Man, Rocket Man and Fusion Man.

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Anyone seeing Alfred David waddling through the backstreets of Brussels, Belgium, will think he is on his way to a fancy dress party.  But he is not. He has in fact spent much of the last 40 years living out his obsession with penguins.

The Belgian eccentric, affectionately known as“Monsieur Pingouin”,  almost always walks around the neighborhood of Schaerbeek in his big penguin suit and even “talks” like a penguin.

Alfred David waddling through the backstreets of Brussels

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There are people who think that Madame Tussauds can learn a few things from Carole A. Feuerman, an American hyper-realistic sculptor and artist widely acknowledged as one of the world’s most prominent hyper-realist sculptors. The stunning models created by Carole are so realistic that people sometimes think are real people.

Carole Feuerman with one of her masterpieces

Carole spends a painstaking six months on the waxworks to create the stunningly lifelike sculptures, with her hyper-realistic sculptures selling for as much as Ł250,000 each.

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Alexa Meade (born Alexandra S. Meade; born on 3 September 1986 in Washington,DC) is an American artist. While Meade has worked in a variety of sculptural media, she is famous for her hyper-realistic acrylic body paintings, which feature models situated in tableau scenes painted to look like two-dimensional paintings. She is currently represented by Irvine Contemporary in Washington, DC.

Alexa Meade Self-Portrait

I was blown away when I first saw her paintings. I initially found it hard to believe that her paintings are actually real life people, body-painted in such a way to look as an acrylic masterpiece.

A still life art piece ny Alexa Meade....the fruits are real fruits painted over with acrylic paints

Meade graduated in 2009 from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY with a bachelor’s degree in political science. She has never attended art school nor has she ever taken advanced painting courses.

In August 2008, Meade began to experiment with painting on non-traditional objects. After 9 months of experimenting, she was able to develop a process for painting on people and unveiled her “Reverse Trompe L’Oeil” installation in October, 2009.

The original idea for Meade’s work came from her fascination with how the sun casts moving shadows. She began to experiment with painting shadows onto moving people, and discovered that the visual effect still worked even if people moved from their original light source. Alexa Meade’s art creates a perceptual shift in how the viewer experiences and interprets spatial relationships.

Meade thinks completely backwards. Most artists use acrylic paints to create portraits of people on canvas. But not Meade – she applies acrylic paints on her subjects, fabricating additional shadows across cheekbones or slathering a thick layer of paint atop eyebrows and makes them appear to be a part of the painting. She then takes  photographs of them.

Doesn't this look like an acrylic canvas painting?

Amazing art by Alexa Meade

This photo shows that this is a live person painted over with acrylic paints, not an acrylic painting on canvas

Meade once said “I paint representational portraits directly on top of the people I am representing. The models are transformed into embodiments of the artist’s interpretation of their essence. When captured on film, the living, breathing people underneath the paint disappear, overshadowed by the masks of themselves.”

Meade also believes that “what one experiences cannot always be interpreted at face value; seeing is not necessarily believing.”

She described the process as “painting a portrait of somebody on top of himself.” When the three-dimensional tableau is viewed in a two-dimensional photograph, it appears to be an oil painting. Most find the effect so convincing that they do not realize that the photograph is not of a painting but rather of a live installation.

Another of Alexa Meade's masterpiece

Meade has won critical acclaims for her work, with critics alluding to her developments to the genre of portraiture and the ability of her work to speak to an international audience.

To see how she does it, watch this YouTube video:

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His name is Maru. His biography book, “I am Maru,” is set for release on August 23, 2011. What’s the big deal?. Well, for starters, Maru is a cat.

The biography 'I Am Maru' in Japanese

The book, published by Harper Collins, has been compiled by his human companion, mugumogu, and provides cute insights into the life of this internet feline celebrity. The original version, written in Japanese, was first published in September 2009. The biography “I am Maru” is bound to become one of the true greats of its genre.

The plot of “I am Maru” sounds like a feline-focused version of MTV Cribs. See where Maru hides. Meet his favorite cupboard. Find out what kind of cereal box he enjoys sticking his head into. Check out his cool kitty toys.

Maru hiding under a sofa

Maru...internet's favorite cat

Maru...internet meme and celebrity

Maru , born May 24, 2007 is a male perk-eared pudgy Scottish Fold cat in Japan who has so become popular on YouTube that he has become an internet meme and celebrity. The YouTube videos show him playing in a childlike fashion with his silly antics, such as playing with its toys, hiding under the sofa, peeking into boxes,  jumping into small cardboard boxes and sliding across his owner’s wooden floor.

When Maru first entered his home, he was only four months old, but he weighed over 5 lbs (2.4kg) already. Maru has always been a pudgy cat (now 5.5kg or 12.1lbs). The name “Maru” means “round” in Japanese, but according to Maru’s hooman, Mugumogu did not name him because of his round shape. The name was decided before Maru arrived. It is a short name and easy for the cat to understand.

Maru’s obsession with boxes started when he was a little kitten. He played with boxes and used them as beds. Maru is mischievous and loves to command attention. He will act silly on purpose in order to get people to notice him. Maru loves to play with water. Whenever Mugumogu is washing up in the bathroom, Maru will join in and swat the water with his little paws.

Maru is obssessed with boxes

Maru playing in a sink

Didn't I mention that Maru has an obssession for boxes?

In November 2007, Mugumogu decided to start a blog to chronicle Maru’s life in photos. And starting in July, 2008 Mugumogu began posting videos of Maru on YouTube. The videos became so popular that there was a whirlwind of Maru love sweeping through the Internet.

Maru’s exploits spread across the internet in 2008 on BoingBoing, Neatorama, EW PopWatch and Urlesque.

In 2008 and 2009, Maru won YouTube Japan video awards in the Pet/Animal category.

Maru acting cute

Maru in a funny pose

Maru in a playful mood

In 2009, Maru’s videos began to spread to hubs like I Can Has Cheezburger, CuteOverload, and Ebaum’s World. His videos also appeared on Sundance Channel’s SUNfiltered blog and Laughing Squid.

The cat’s popularity has spawned off two books, with the first one published in September 2009 and the second in August 2010. 2010 also saw the release of a compilation DVD of Maru.

Coverage of Maru did not stop in 2010, when his videos were featured on the L.A. Times Unleashed Blog, New York Times Television section, and the Ellen Degeneres show. He was also interviewed by the cat blog LoveMeow.

Maru was voted the Internet’s Favorite Feline in Urlesque’s August 2010 “Catfight,” beating Ceiling Cat in the final round.

Ain't he cute?

Maru playing in a box

As of August 2011, Maru YouTube channel mugumogu have been viewed over 110 million times and with over 151,000 subscribers, it is the 8th most subscribed channel of all time in Japan and the 9th most viewed channel of all time in Japan. Videos featuring Maru have an average of 1,000,000 views each and he is mentioned often in print and televised media discussing Internet celebrities. His owner, who does not show her face on camera or speak in the videos, posts videos under the account name ‘mugumogu’.

Entertainment Weekly mentioned Maru alongside Keyboard Cat and Nora in its “Notable Kitty Videos” article. The New York Times mentioned Maru in an article about cats and dogs in the media and included pictures of the cat. Maru has also been featured on advertisements within Japan, for various products.

You can follow Maru’s twitter @Maru_0524 and visit Maru at his blog or YouTube Channel.

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She is a photographer from Tokyo, Japan who has attained fame for her creative photos in which she appears to be levitating. Meet Natsumi Hayashi, the ‘Tokyo’s Levitating Girl’.

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Equipped with her Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Natsumi photographs herself levitating around Tokyo. The uniqueness of her photos is her natural expression and pose, making it seem like she is really in levitation. She doesn’t appear to be jumping…it is like a moment frozen in time.

Taking a “levitating” picture is easier said than done. The camera has to have a very fast shutter-speed to avoid motion blurring. But getting rid of the blurring is not enough. The person who is jumping should appear as if she is flying, and not just jumping. And Natsumi does it just right.

Hayashi’s freedom from the gravity is made possible partially through her persistence. She would set a self timer with her Canon EOS 5D Mark II , and take her own photos with high shutter speed. When she gets a spark of “this is the spot!” she would literally jump there. The illusion of her levitation is achieved by jumping. Repeatedly.

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

She does this in front of her camera, mounted on a tripod, and continues to do so until she achieves that perfect, natural-looking “levitation.”

“The only way to get a right timing for a shot is jumping a lot. Sometimes I need to jump over 100 times to get a right shot,” Natsumi said.

“I got the idea from an English idiom that says ‘to have one’s feet firmly planted on the ground,” she continued. “In Japan, we have the exact same idiom. But I am not a practical person at all. Therefore, I try ‘not to have my feet firmly on the ground’ in my self-portrait photos to show my true self.”

“I wanted to express myself in the picture as someone free from Earth’s gravitational pull,” Ms. Hayashi said in an interview in February, 2011. “In being free of gravity in the pictures, I am also not bound to societal conventions. I feel as though I am not tied to many things and able to be my true self.”

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

For a while, Natsumi Hayashi was running a pretty standard photography blog titled “Yowayowa Camera Woman Diary”, filled with pictures of her two cats, food, weird sights from Tokyo and the people in her life.

Then she took a photo she called “Today’s Levitation” which was first posted on her blog on September 16, 2010. It was to become the inspiration for the future masterpieces, opening up a whole new world for her. After that, her blog started to fill up with mind-boggling shots of Hayashi floating in midair in all kinds of places.

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi Hayashi

Natsumi’s careful composition and the thought she puts into her photos makes them quite inspiring. That’s part of her plan, too: “We all are surrounded by social stress as we are bound by the force of the earth’s gravity. So I hope that people feel something like an instant release from stressful practical days by seeing my levitation photos.”

You can see more of her photos at her blog and her Facebook page as well as this link.

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Christina Victoria Grimmie (born March 12, 1994), known on YouTube as zeldaxlove64, is a pianist, flautist and singer famed for her reworking of hit songs by artists such as Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Christina Aguilera, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber.

Christina Grimmie

Grimmie, who also dabbles with guitar and drums, popped into national limelight when her videos began notching millions of views on YouTube. And she is currently the veritable queen of YouTube musicians, with 974,000 subscribers, an EP of original songs (called Find Me) available on iTunes, a single (“Advice”) getting airplay on Radio Disney, and a plum opening spot on Selena Gomez’s upcoming summer tour.

A high school senior this fall, the home-schooled Grimmie almost never joined the site at all.

“My friend convinced me to put a video up, when originally I did not want to,” the quirky 17 year-old said. “I did on July 17th, 2009.” That was the day that Grimmie posted a video of herself playing piano and singing “Don’t Wanna Be Torn” by Hannah Montana.

As she frequently posted new cover videos to her channel, zeldaxlove64, Grimmie developed a small online fanbase, and what started as a frivolous hobby quickly became a much bigger project. “More and more, I made it a routine to post videos, and now I’m doing pretty well for myself, I would say.”

She started by solidifying her status on YouTube. Grimmie continued to post videos of herself singing pop songs in her Sonic the Hedgehog-adorned bedroom, and as her pageviews went up, opportunities gradually presented themselves.

It just so happens that some of Christina’s videos ended up on the computer screen of Mandy Teefey, Selena Gomez’s mother. “Selena’s mom, she saw me singing ‘My Heart Will Go On‘ by Celine Dion, and then she saw the Miley Cyrus medley, and that led her to ask her husband Brian her to go out and find me.”

After getting in touch with Christina through her brother’s YouTube channel, Brian Teefey (Selena Gomez's step-father), met with Grimmie in May 2010 and became her manager.

Grimmie is best known for her video with Sam Tsui, covering Nelly's "Just a Dream", which has had over 30 million views. She had over 17 million views on her channel as of June 2011, which made her the 7th most subscribed musician on YouTube of all time at that point. She also was placed within the top 5 of the MyYoutube competition, along with Selena Gomez, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber.

She released an EP, entitled Find Me, on June 14, 2011 which debuted at number 35 on the Billboard 200. Her first single 'Advice' was released to Radio Disney on June 11.

Christina Grimmie 'Find Me'

She will be touring with Selena Gomez & the Scene beginning July 28, 2011, where she will be promoting Find Me.

A glittering future seems to be awaiting this home-schooled girl!

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Elena Jane “Ellie” Goulding (born 30 December 1986), is an English singer-songwriter who served as the only live performer at the wedding reception of Prince William and Kate Middleton on 29 April 2011 singing her rendition of Your Song for the couple’s first dance as well as her hits The Writer and Starry Eyed and several of William and Kate’s personal favorites. She was introduced to Prince William by Tinie Tempah at a music festival during the summer of 2010.

Ellie Goulding

She became the second artist to be named the number-one predicted breakthrough act of the year in the BBC’s annual poll of music critics, Sound of 2010, and the recipient of the Critics’ Choice Award at the2010 BRIT Awards in the same year, following Adele’s win of both in 2008.

Goulding, the second of four children,  grew up in Ipswich, England. She started playing the clarinet and writing songs at the age of nine, and at fourteen took up guitar. She brgan songwriting at the age of fifteen and while in college she won a singing competition.

After commencing a drama course at the University of Kent, where she was exposed to electronic music, she developed her sound with the help of Frankmusik on the track “Wish I Stayed”, and Starsmith, who went on to become her chief collaborator and primary producer of Lights. After two years at Kent, she was advised to take a gap year to pursue singing, and moved to West London.

Ellie Goulding

After signing to Polydor Records in September 2009, she released her first extended-play recording in 2009, An Introduction to Ellie Goulding, and her debut studio album Lights followed in March 2010 which sold over 380,000 copies by the end of 2010. The album reached number one on the UK Albums Chart and number twelve on the Irish Albums Chart.

In August 2010, Ellie released a second extended play, Run Into the Light, a remixed version of Lights. The album was supported by Nike and was released through Polydor as a running soundtrack in an effort to get Goulding’s music taken up by the national running subculture. She is a keen runner, running six miles every day, and has taken part in a number of marathons. In support of her second EP, Run Into the Light, she invited a small number of fans through her Facebook pages, to run with her in seven different cities on her UK tour, and has announced that she will be doing the same across Europe and the United States. A website, EllieRuns.com, was launched in support.

In November 2010, Lights was re-released as Bright Lights, with six new tracks added. Her cover of Elton John’s “Your Song” was released in conjunction with the John Lewis Christmas 2010 advertising campaign in the UK. The single became Goulding’s highest-charting single to date, reaching number two on the UK Singles Chart. The song also charted in some European countries in early 2011.

Her third EP was a live recording of part of her set at the iTunes Festival 2010. The whole set was later released as part of the iTunes version of Bright Lights.

Goulding was featured as number five artist on Rolling Stone Magazine's hotlist in February 2011. In February 2011 she returned to the BRIT Awards where she was nominated for the Best British Female Solo Artist and the Best British Breakthrough Act.

She was the musical guest on the 700th episode of the Saturday Night Live, broadcast 8 May 2011 and hosted by Tina Fey.

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Saori Hara is a Japanese AV idol, model and actress who has also used the name Mai Nanami. She was born in Hiroshima Prefecture to a Japanese mother and a father of mixed German-Japanese parentage.

Saori Hara

Hara started her career as a junior idol under the name Mai Nanami. As a teenager, she sang the theme song Spicy Days for the animated TV show The Marshmallow Times on TV Osaka in 2004. She also had parts in two movies in 2005, the March TV drama The Dream of Delinquent Boys  for TBS, and the April theatrical release, horse-racing melodrama Lovely Fields which was later released as a DVD.

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