A Japanese artist has completely transformed the art of balloon animals.

"Back in the day," the presence of a balloon artist was the sign of a truly over-the-top birthday party.

Photo via iStock.


Remember those artists? It was pure magic watching these craftsmen and women take skinny, noodle-like balloons and, with a few twists and a few puffs of air, presto! You had your very own dog. Or sword. Or flower. And you could keep it forever and ever and ever (or, at least, until the air leaked out).

If this was all going down at a Chuck E. Cheese's, all the better.

But today? Parents are shelling out more and more money on extravagant birthday things, like bouncy houses, custom cakes, limousines, and more.

It definitely makes me yearn for a simpler time.

A Japanese artist named Masayoshi Matsumoto wanted to revive and elevate the decades-old art of balloon twisting though. And what he came up with is pretty incredible.

"I've liked creatures since I was small," Masayoshi told Upworthy in an email. It took him four painstaking years to learn how to craft perfect models of his favorite animals in balloon form, but the work speaks for itself.

When people tell him his art — made entirely from balloons, no markers or tape allowed — is incredibly lifelike, he knows he's done his job.

Here are 11 of Masayoshi's creations that are like nothing you ever saw as a kid, except maybe that they look like pure magic:

1. This eery frilled lizard.

All photos by Masayoshi Matsumoto, used with permission.

2. This scorpionfish.

3. This angry-looking octopus.

4. This phoenix I totally wish was real.

5. This bush cricket.

6. This snake.

7. This (standing!) ostrich.

9. This snow monkey.

10. This ant, complete with antennae.

11. And this brightly colored hermit crab.

What does Masayoshi do with his balloon creations after he photographs them? "I usually pop them," he said.

It seems like such a waste. But then again, maybe Masayoshi knows there is always something new to explore, something new to create, something new to be in awe of.

If that's the case, then he's perfectly captured the spirit of what always made balloon animals so magical.

You can see more incredible balloon creations over at Masayoshi's Facebook page.

True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.