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Pop Culture

Harpist mashes up 'Carol of the Bells' and 'Pirates of the Caribbean' in stunning fashion

Both beautiful and impressive.

harp, music, mashup

Kristan Toczko is a renowned Canadian harpist who delights audiences with musical mashups.

The harp is the oldest known stringed instrument, dating back at least to the 1200s, and variations of the harp can be found all around the world.

It's simultaneously one of the easiest and hardest instruments to play. Like the piano, a harp's strings are each individual notes that are already in tune, so unlike a violin or cello, you can't hit any slightly off-key notes. To play the harp, you simply pluck the strings, so learning to perform a simple tune doesn't require a great amount of skill.

However, to play the harp at a high level is difficult. A full-sized harp's 47 strings are placed very close together, so the margins of error are tiny. The precision needed to play a complex piece without hitting any wrong strings is intense, and it takes a lot of time and practice to create the muscle memory necessary to play the harp well.


It is a beautiful, ethereal-sounding instrument when it is played well, though, and it's always a treat to see someone excel at it.

Kristan Toczko is a renowned Canadian harpist whose expressive playing and infectious love of music have gained her a significant following on social media. She often takes requests for songs to play or mashups to create on the harp, but one mashup she arranged is particularly impressive.

A follower requested she blend "Carol of the Bells" with the theme from "Pirates of the Caribbean," and she did. It may sound like an odd combo, but it totally works. Watch:

@harpistkt

Reply to @jilly.mara i had WAY TOO MUCH FUN with this!!!! #harptok #carolofthebells #piratesofthecaribbean #musicmashup #song #cover #disney #hesapirate #christmas #carol

Toczko explained in comments on Facebook that the blisters she gave herself were due to taking a break from playing before recording the video. Like all string players, harpists develop calluses from playing, which serve to protect the skin of their fingers. However, it doesn't take long for those calluses to wear away, and playing a piece that requires intense plucking can be quite tough on the old fingers.

For more fun with the harp, follow Kristan Toczko on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook.

Oh, and by the way, she has a great sense of humor, too. Check out her response below to a question about songs that play the highest and lowest strings on the harp.

Joy

28-year-old buys cruise ship apartment because it's less than renting and he can see the world

An all-expenses-paid life for about $50,000 a year? Sounds like a deal.

A cruise ship floating on azure waters.

Living the rest of your life on a cruise ship seems like the dream of the ultra-rich. You wake up every morning and have an all-you-can-eat breakfast. Spend the afternoon hanging out by the pool or touring a fantastic city such as Rome or Dubrovnik.

At night, have a drink in the lounge watching a comedian or a jazz band, then hit the sack and do it all over again the next day. Seems too good to be true for the average person, right? Think again.

Twenty-eight-year-old Austin Wells of San Diego told CNBC that he can make it happen because it’s cheaper than living onshore in Southern California and he gets to see the world. “The thing that most excites me is I don’t have to upend my daily routine, in order to go see the world,” Wells told CNBC.

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Heroes

These 10 genius Stephen Hawking quotes will inspire you to dream big.

Hawking's influence exceeded the field of science. He was a pop culture phenomenon and an arbiter of great advice — not just on the nature of the universe, but on life itself.

Photo by Renan Brun on Unsplash

Science offering a bridge for one's imagination.

This article originally appeared on 03.14.18


Stephen Hawking, universally beloved scientist and one of the greatest minds of our generation, died at age 76.

The theoretical physicist, best known for his work in cosmology (particularly with black holes), was both a visionary and an inspiration. Outside his vast intelligence (of which he was very modest, once saying that people who boasted about IQs were losers), he was also a study in resilience and perseverance.

At the age of 21, Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The disease progresses quickly, and Hawking was given only a short time to live, but he survived for decades and stayed mobile with use of a wheelchair.

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The best and brightest come together to tackle society’s toughest challenges

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is working to eradicate disease, improve education, and address the needs of their local community.

True

Have you ever wished you could solve some of society’s toughest challenges? That’s exactly why the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) was founded.

Established in 2015 by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, the organization’s mission is to build a better future for everyone. CZI is working to eradicate disease, improve education, and address the needs of their local community.

Since its launch, CZI has awarded around $4.8 billion in grants to organizations whose work aligns with these values.

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This article originally appeared on 01.24.19


Social media spats usually end in ugly words or blocking people—unless you're Patton Oswalt.

Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt has made a name for himself off screen as a blunt yet caring, compassionate human. His raw openness after his wife's unexpected passing and his willingness to engage in conversations about depression and dadhood after her death has touched people's hearts and opened people's minds.

And once again on Twitter, Oswalt has proven that he is unquestionably one of the most kind-hearted dudes in Hollywood.

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"Titanic" director James Cameron.

Twenty-five years ago, James Cameron released his epic “Titanic,” achieving a rare feat in Hollywood: a box office smash that was also loved by critics. “Titanic” won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, and raked in $1.8 billion at the box office, making it the third-highest-grossing film of all time.

Even though his film is one of the most acclaimed in Hollywood history, Cameron still can’t help himself from getting involved in the great debate about the film. Did Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Jack Dawson, die unnecessarily at the end of the film?

Specifically, could Jack have fit onto the door Rose floated on instead of getting hypothermia and drowning?

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Pop Culture

You've never seen ‘Little Drummer Boy' performed quite like this

For King & Country took the sweet, classic carol and made it epic.

For King & Country's "Little Drummer Boy" being played live.

Since it was popularized in the 1950s, the Christmas carol "Little Drummer Boy" has been performed by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and David Bowie, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and more. It's a sweet, beloved classic that tells the story of a little boy who was invited to go see baby Jesus but had nothing to offer as a gift except his drumming.

But in all of the renditions of this song, there's never been one quite like this.

For King & Country's live performance of "Little Drummer Boy" takes the carol to a whole other level. If you like big sound and big drums and big lights, this will be a treat for you.

(And if anyone knows what that funky accordion-piano instrument the lead singer plays is, do tell.)

For King & Country (stylized as "for KING & COUNTRY") is a Christian rock duo from Australia composed of two brothers, Joel and Luke Smallbone, who we see singing lead here. The platinum-selling duo have won four Grammy awards for their music. Their Christmas album, appropriately titled "Drummer Boy Christmas," also includes other classics such as "Joy to the World," "O Come, All Ye Faithful" and "Silent Night," as well as two original songs.

If you'd like to hear the studio version of the duo's "Little Drummer Boy," here's the official music video for it. No flashing lights for this one, but it does include an actual little drummer boy: