Gentleman’s Excuse Last year, the Cape Town, South Africa, “gentlemen’s club” Mavericks began selling an Alibi line of fragrances designed for men who need excuses for coming home late. For example, as men come through the door, they could splash on “I Was Working Late” (to reek of coffee and cigarettes) or “My Car Broke Down” (evoking fuel, burned rubber and grease).
Crappy Idea Like many cities, Taipei, Taiwan, has a dog-litter problem that has proved unsolvable, as citizens continue to ignore pleas to pick up after their dogs and keep sidewalks clean. Finally, city officials designed a successful program (announced in December): a dog-poop lottery. Anyone handing in a bag of dog litter would get a ticket (one ticket per bag) to a drawing with prizes ranging up to pieces of gold worth the equivalent of about $2,000. (Citizens would be on the honor system as to whether the “litter” in the bag came from a dog or from another source.)
Two Peas In A Pod Newspapers in Sweden reported in January that two of the country’s most heinous murderers apparently fell in love with each other behind the locked doors of their psychiatric institution and, following a 26-day Internet-chat “courtship,” have decided to marry. Mr. Isakin Jonsson (“the Skara Cannibal”) was convicted of killing, decapitating and eating his girlfriend, and Michelle Gustafsson (“the Vampire Woman”) was convicted of killing a father of four and drinking his blood. Said the love-struck Jonsson (certainly truthfully), to the newspaper Expressen, “I have never met anyone like (Michelle).” The pair will almost certainly remain locked up forever, but Gustafsson, on the Internet, wrote that she hopes they will be released, to live together and “have dogs and pursue our hobbies, piercing and tattoos.”
Tightening Their Belts Apparently, not only will there be fewer overall resources for disabled people in Greece (due to government austerity), but the resources will be spread over a larger number of recipients. The Labor Ministry in January expanded the category of eligible “disabled” (with reduced-amount payments) to include pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists, sadomasochists, pedophiles, exhibitionists, and kleptomaniacs. The National Confederation of Disabled People said the changes would inevitably reduce funds available for the blind and the crippled and other traditional categories of need.
Elation Information Part-time Devon, England, vicar Gavin Tyte, who serves churches in Uplyme and Axmouth, recently produced a rap video of the Nativity, in which he plays a shepherd, an angel and the narrator. Sample lyrics (about Mary placing her baby in a cattle trough and angels calming the frightened shepherds): “No hotel, motel, custom baby-changer/She wrapped the baby up and laid him in a manger” and “Chill out, my friends, there’s no need for trepidation/Got a message for the world, and it’s elation information.”
Oh, Brother In February, Kenneth Gunn, of the UK’s Scottish Borders Council, decried the budget cutbacks that closed down local offices that had previously posted marriage notices. By making it more difficult for the public to be aware of specific marriages, Gunn feared an inevitable increase in incest. “I am aware in my own ward of brothers sitting beside sisters they do not know in primary school.” (The problem is more serious in Iceland, whose 300,000 people are far more self-contained. However, a new website containing genealogical data back 1,200 years is expected to help reduce the risk of incest.)
A Very British Sport The UK household services broker LocalTraders.com announced in December that it is planning, for central England in 2012, a “world watching-paint-dry championship,” with a short list selected on “mental strength, concentration and endurance.” Finalists will be asked their favorite color, which will be painted on a wall, and whoever stares the longest without turning away will win. Said a spokesman, “Previous paint-watching experience is not essential.”
Car Art Two British designers (who claim they had the idea independently and learned of the other only after they finished) recently produced elegant pieces using parts from a 2012 Ford Focus. Judy Clark made a dress and a biker jacket adorned with car keys, radio and dashboard components, seat covers, a speedometer, and red taillights. Katherine Hawkins created a necklace using dials, springs, buttons, seat materials, and instrument panel switches.
Hot Potato! An elite squad of six Chinese soldiers, performing a training ritual for a public audience in Hong Kong in January, stood in a circle and passed a satchel of live grenades from man to man, counting down to the expected moment of explosion. At the last possible second, the man caught holding the satchel discards it, and all dive into a hole for protection. At the exhibition, according to Chinese Central Television, it worked out fine.
ACME Holes Fritz Gall, a self-described failed inventor, opened the Museum of Nonsense in Herrnbaumgarten, Austria, recently to pay homage, apparently, to even greater failures than his own. Among the exhibits are the “portable anonymizer” (a stick holding a black bar that one holds over his eyes to obscure identity), a transportable hat rack, a bristleless toothbrush (for people with no teeth), and a “portable hole” (similar to those that appear in the ground whenever the Road Runner needs something for Wile E. Coyote to fall into).