Christmas is nearly upon us, so the time is at hand where every mall has a Santa in residence, waiting for America’s boys and girls to sit on his knee and make their demands known. But while our own little angels are of course clean and fragrant, who knows what those grubby urchins in front of you are spreading! So this year several professional Santa associations are calling for hand-sanitizer to be installed at grotto entrances and have asked congress to put “Santa” on the priority list for H1N1 vaccinations. After all, you have to look after your elf (Telegraph).
Not requiring a flu jab, but in need of a facelift, was the 66’ fibreglass Santa that has been the centrepiece of Auckland, New Zealand’s Christmas pageant for nearly 50 years. With a droopy winking eye and a gesturing mechanical finger, the jolly red giant was beginning, in the words of one local, to “look a little creepy.” But not anymore, as NZ$100,000 have been spent refurbishing the big guy ahead of this Sunday’s grand unveiling (Reuters).
Someone definitely not in need of a facelift is the recently announced “Hunky Santa of 2009.” Los Angeles mall the Beverley Center first introduced their hunky Santas nine years ago, swapping abs and pecs for the beard and britches. This year north-pole toting poseur is James Ellis, who hopes to encourage people to live more healthily and wants to be a role model for kids by parading his festive physique in a fur-trimmed red vest (LA Times).
All of which is not the sort of thing you’re likely to see during Raleigh, North Carolina’s Christmas parade. So worried are parade organisers that the little ones might be confused by two people dressed in red that they have banned “Mrs. Claus” from participating in costume. They have even asked attendees not to wear Santa-hats in case it distracts attention from the “real” St. Nick (WXII12).
And further killjoyery (?) this week from the Employers Forum on Belief, which has advised company bosses that to close their office over Christmas might be construed as discriminatory, since non-Christian employees must use annual leave for their religious holidays. Instead of emphasising the holiday’s religious nature, say the EFB, management should focus on the cost-effectiveness of the closure as a majority of staff would be absent anyway (ILM).
News of the Weird/Pro Edition (Extra)
November 23, 2009
Still More Things to Worry About
Unclear on the Concept: For two years, until recently, U.S. Marines being treated at Camp Lejeune for post-traumatic stress disorder from the war were housed in thin-walled trailers close to a firing range and bomb-testing. In fine government tradition, the story only became public when a civilian contract doctor was fired for complaining about it too much. Associated Press via WNCT-TV (Greenville, N.C.)
Jury Duty Extra: Of course, the U.S. legal system is derived from English law, so here's an accused bank robber from Whitefield, Manchester, Mr. David Holyoak, 33 [and pay no attention to the impertinent editorial comment from Metro.co.uk]. Metro (London)
Coolest Parents: Sherri and Tom Milley, lawyers in Calgary, Alberta, brought their two kids' local school authorities to their knees. They actually worked out a complex legal document that frees their kids from having to do homework. Awesome! There's more to the story than that, but still –. The Globe & Mail
Chutzpah!: An ex-cop and his ex-chief filed for compensation from the city of Stoughton, Mass., after they were fired following their convictions for attempted extortion. They demand their accrued vacation time and sick leave, plus all that overtime they put in preparing to defend themselves against the extortion charges. Brockton Enterprise.
It’s been a weird week for divorcees, starting with an Indian couple from Pune near Mumbai. After years of arguments over the wife’s penchant for Hindi soap operas, the husband finally barred her from watching them any more. She promptly filed for a divorce, which was granted on the grounds of his “cruel treatment” of her (World News AU).
Next is the case of the divorce granted to the Chinese couple who had not seen each other since their wedding, three years previously. The ceremony took place in China’s Machong district and was the result of an arranged marriage by the parents of the couple, called Ma and Mo, who were good friends. But Ma, the groom, left for a job elsewhere straight after and the newlyweds did not even try to stay in touch. With no children or property to argue over, the divorce went fairly uneventfully (China Daily).
Staying in China for a moment, Shoutsee Li and Han Fucheng of that country’s Mentougou district are hoping a judge will annul their marriage so they can marry again, this time legally. The couple originally married in 2006 after meeting nine years earlier, but Li was in China under false papers and now faces deportation. But while the police don’t recognise Han and Li’s marriage, the registrar does, and will not let them remarry until their current marriage is dissolved (People’s Daily).
Not so likely to remarry are recently separated couple Robin Williams and Anthony Hull of Kingsfold in England. Attempts to reach an agreement on how to divide their £500,000 ($850k) house have stalled amid arguments over who keeps the cheese grater and whether paint pots are communal property. The couple have now taken their grievances to Britain’s High Court (Daily Express).
Also in court this week was Stanley G. Hilton of Hillsborough, CA who is suing San Francisco, its airport, every airline that uses it, and the manufacturers of the airplanes landing there for $15 million each for ruining his marriage. All in all Hilton, a former attorney (now disbarred), cites 37 parties as contributing to the breakdown of relations with his wife, which amounts to a cool $555 million in the unlikely event that he wins (Wired).
News of the Weird/Pro Edition
November 23, 2009
(ludicrous and/or disquieting news from November 14-21)
And Gen. McChrystal Thinks He Has a Tough Job: "We want [buzkashi] to become an Olympic sport," said the head of the Buzkashi Foundation, who is the promoter-in-chief of Afghans' traditional national sport. The main problem, though, is that the game is basically anarchy. One horseback rider needs to hand-carry a goat carcass the length of the field, around a flag, and back before other riders, using any tactic short of homicide, stop him. The time limits vary, and frequently the boundary lines are disrespected, sending spectators fleeing. The Foundation wants to corporatize the sport, with businessmen entertaining clients at matches like U.S. executives do in stadiums' luxury suites. USA Today
(Totally) Unclear on the Concept: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded money for bonuses (up to $3,000 each) to excellent teachers, including about 200 in Boston, but the Boston Teachers Union says the 200 can't take the cash. The union's rationale goes something like this: Oh, we're for excellence, too, but if you're basing that on whether students succeed, and thus reward their teachers, you have to understand that successful kids have had many other teachers, too. Therefore, bonuses must be given to all teachers. Boston Herald
The State of Scholarship, 2009: "Experts" at England's Leeds University, fastidiously documenting their observations, can now conclude, as cutting-edge academic research, that women seeking to attract men socially should dress baring about 40 percent of their bodies. More than that, too slutty; less than that, priggish. 40 percent. Daily Telegraph
The Way The World Works (why the African people are still dirt-poor despite the continent's rich natural resources): (1) The president of Senegal has decided the best way to help his people is to build a huge bronze statue in Dakar that celebrates "African renaissance" and is so impressive that tourists and businesses will flock to it, creating commercial opportunities. And even though he came up with the idea, President Wade selflessly is only going to take 35% of the income the site generates, in perpetuity. (2) U.S. law could not be clearer that any foreigner whom we strongly suspect of corruption affecting natural resources (conviction not necessary, just good evidence) cannot get a U.S. visa. The Justice Department has a super-compelling dossier on the son of the president of Equatorial Guinea, but the State Dept. still lets him come kick back at his $35 million coastal estate in Malibu. Equatorial Guinea . . has oil reserves. BBC News /// New York Times
People want to be accepted to the best schools, so, of course there are prep courses for law school admissions tests and for College Boards. There are even prep courses on how to impress admissions officers at elite high schools and elite grade schools. Now, in New York City, there are prep courses for 3- and 4-year-olds, to get into elite kindergartens. Seriously. New York Times
Some horny Zimbabwean women are apparently running a catch and release program for hot 18 year old guys. At least that is what happened to one young man at 3 pm on Tuesday at a shopping center in Chitungwitza. The fellow was running errands for his boss when he pulled into a parking space in the parking lot of the shopping center. Next 3 women pulled up beside him and forced him into their cream colored Toyota Corrolla. The women took him to Harare's Roman Catholic church where they locked him in a room and left. One of the 3 returned at 8pm and forced the young man to have sex with her, after which she called his employer's wife to tell the wife not to worry about where the teenager was. At 7am the next morning the women forced him into their car once again and released him at a different shopping center. The young man reported the kidnapping and rape to the police and they are still investigating. Now, before y'all tell me that a young fellow being molested at a catholic church is no longer weird I'll call two things to your attention. First, the guy was young but NOT underage and second,the molester was both female and not a priest. (they are mutually exclusive as you may know.)
Posted By: patty - Sun Nov 22, 2009 -
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.