2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the first Wallace and Gromit film, A grand Day Out, which introduced the cheese-loving inventor and his more practical pooch to the world. So popular have these characters become that they are credited with saving the British cheese industry (Sky News), and perhaps even the whole UK economy (Telegraph). So the timing was probably a bit inopportune for the voice of Wallis, Peter Sallis, to admit that he never touches the stuff (Telegraph).
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the coming down of the Berlin Wall, so what better way to celebrate than by building a new one, out of chocolate. Patrick Roger, a chocolatier from Paris France, decided to commemorate the historic reunification of East and West Germany by building a 15m long replica of the wall out of 900 kg of chocolate, complete with uncanny reproductions of the spray painted graffiti made with coloured cocoa butter. The chocolate wall was later "torn down" and broken up on November 9th, exactly 20 years after the original (ChocoParis).
And this isn’t the only feat of chocolate engineering in recent weeks. The “New World Whakatane” Bakery, from Australia's "baby brother" New Zealand, set a Guinness World Record this month for baking the world’s largest chocolate log. At over 35 metres in length and weighing in at nearly 78 kilos, the confectionary monster smashed the previous record of a measly 10 metres, but fell short of the 50 metres they had hoped for. Once the new record had been verified, the log was cut into slices and sold to raise money for a teenage cancer charity (TVNZ).
Still more gargantuan grub now as hundreds of students from the University of California at Berkeley became sushi chefs for a day by helping to roll a 330 foot “California roll” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of UoC’s Center for Japanese Studies. The sushi roll broke the previous record of 300 feet, and contained 200 lbs of rice and 180 lbs of fish, the last 15 feet was made with tofu for the benefit of attending vegetarians (Boston Herald).
First up, scientists at the University of Leeds in Great Britain have determined that if you want to meet the right man, the optimum amount of flesh to flash is 40%. Less than that and you might appear too dowdy to catch his eye, any more and you’re more likely to attract a stalker than a soul mate. Psychologist Colin Hendrie had his four female assistants perform demanding “undercover” surveillance in Leeds’ nightclubs, recording how women were dressed and how often they were approached on concealed dictaphones. But it wasn’t just the women who were being judged. Hendie’s results also showed that the most successful approaches came from men who were neither too thin nor too fat and at least a head taller than their target. It also revealed that 30% of clubbers left as couples, though only 20% arrived so (Daily Mail).
Sadly, this research came too late for Geisy Arruda of Sao Paolo in Brazil, who caused a near riot at the city’s Bandeirante University by turning up for lectures in a mini-dress. Despite Brazil’s normally “relaxed” attitude to skimpy clothing, campus dress is often more conservative and Ms Arruda’s short, pink sheath dress attracted more than a few comments and cat-calls. She eventually had to be escorted from lectures, and the campus, by security and was later expelled for breaching the University’s ethical and moral standards and for offending its “academic dignity”. Her ban was promptly reversed however when she became a bit of a cause celebre, and Brazil’s Education Ministry became involved (CNEWS).
And yet more conflict ensued between academia and allure this past month when a number of female students from the prestigious Cambridge University in England posed for “cheesecake” shots for an in-house online magazine. Predictably, some called immediately for the images to be removed as they were demeaning to women saying that as a University, Cambridge should “do better”, an attitude site co-founder Taymoor Atighetchi dismissed as “intellectual snobbery" (Telegraph).
However support of a sort for the (very) fresh-women came from an unexpected quarter this week when Jill Berry, president of the UK “Girls’ Schools Association”, said that wanting to be fashionable did not make girls shallow. Speaking at the GSA annual conference, Mrs Berry said caring about your physical appearance wasn’t a betrayal of feminist ideals, and insisted that girls can have fun while also being taken seriously (Guardian).
But ladies, if you’re still unsure what to wear, then remember that other way to a man’s heart. That’s certainly an option for Jules Clancy, a food scientist from Sydney in Australia, who bagged a table for two at the world’s highest rated restaurant, the “El Bulli” in Spain, only to break up with her partner before the big night. In a moment of inspiration, Ms. Clancy decided to advertise online for a new dinner partner, and has been inundated with offers, though whether it is her charms or the food’s that is the draw is unclear (Orange).
(Picture: "Stupefyin’ JonesMoonbeam McSwine" from Al Capp's Li'l Abner.)
It's hard to imagine that a company as world renown as McDonald's would have to close any of its stores, but the current state of the global economy is forcing Jon Gardar Ogmundsson, the franchise owner of the three branches in Iceland, to do just that. The country of Iceland is on the brink of bankruptcy and costs of importing anything, let alone the packaging, meat, vegetables and cheese for each store has doubled. Some of the population won't be sad to see the golden arches come down. But from the time of the announcement that a Big Mac will soon be impossible to buy, the three stores have seen a boom in business, with lines reaching out the doors. You can read the Yahoo News article here, but I recommend CNN's humorous Blog by Neil Curry here.