Back in 2003, the Pittsburgh Port Authority wrote the slogan "Ziggin Zaggin" on nine of its buses. Why ziggin and zaggin? Because, as one resident put it, "A vehicle zigs and zags through the city to pick somebody up. It’s a bus." But recently a driver noticed that if you read the slogan backwards, it spells an offensive word. The city has now announced that the slogans will be promptly removed. [CBS Pittsburgh]
In Seattle city employees are being cautioned about the use of some offensive words. The offensive words in question are brown bag (as in lunch) and citizen. Check out the ridiculous reasons why at the link.
Popular UK tourist attraction The London Dungeon got a little creepier this week, when it turned out one of the skeletons on display at its “creepy crypt” exhibit was the genuine article. The skeleton, since nicknamed “Kate Moss” by staff, has been on display since 1975, but will now require a license to remain on show, at a cost to dungeon owners Merlin Entertainments of £2000 per year. In the short term at least, this will likely be more than made up for by the surge of visitors arising from this fortuitous publicity, occurring just before school break (The Telegraph).
Miss Moss isn’t the only famous beauty to have her image misappropriated this week, with German magazine Focus deciding a photoshopped image of the goddess Aphrodite giving the finger was an apt summation of the current financial crisis among “Eurozone” countries - popularly (in Germany) laid at the doorstep of member country Greece. However although the country is out of money, it is not without pride, and the provocative cover has led to questions being asked in the Greek parliament and widespread outrage. Now a party of six Greek citizens have started legal action against the journalists responsible. Soon to be a major motion picture, My Big Fat Greek Lawsuit (Orange).
Someone else who still has their pride, but only just, is the husband of 69 year-old Virginia Valdez of Palm Springs, California, who after 32 years of marriage, decided enough was enough and tried to cut off her husband’s penis with a pair of scissors. No motive for the attack has yet been released, but this close to Christmas, wives everywhere are sure to insinuate that it was possibly a seasonal condition brought on by lack of jewellery (NBC San Diego).
Residents of the English town of Castleford in Yorkshire were probably delighted to hear that UK TV station Channel 4 was to film a documentary of the ongoing urban regeneration scheme, up until their local council decided to rename a local landmark ahead of filming. The popular local landmark had been known as “Tickle Cock Bridge” since Victorian times - probably due to its popularity as a trysting place according to one local historian – but prudish council members decided to put up signs for the more polite “Tittle Cott Bridge” for the cameras. However local objections have been so vocal that the officials have been forced to back down and restore the feature’s original “rude” name (Metro).
And if you fancy taking a trip to Tickle Cock Bridge, why not make a grand tour of it and take in some more of Britain’s rudest place names (Telegraph).
It’s always worth making sure you have plenty of the local currency on holiday, but for one German tourist this became more of a life-saver than a simple convenience. Dominik Podolsky was just riding the ski-lift back down in Hochzillertal in Austria as darkness fell when it was suddenly switched off, as it is every dusk, leaving him stranded. As temperatures dropped to minus 18° Celcius (0° F) Mr. Podolsky began to set light to whatever was to hand to attract attention, starting with paper napkins and some business cards before in desperation he was forced to set fire to his money. He had just burned his last euro when he was finally spotted by a cleaning crew and rescued (Orange).
Perhaps he would have done better to visit the Swiss side of the Alps instead. If not on the mountains, at the very least he would have been better looked after in that country's brothels. Principally because, with an increasing number of elderly clients packing a well-known anti-impotence treatment, Swiss brothels are training their staff in the use of defibrillators in an effort to stop the pill-popping pensioners become clog-popping corpses. "Having customers die on us isn't exactly good publicity" said one sex-club owner. Funny, I would have thought the opposite was true (Telegraph).
But trained as they may be, Swiss working girls will never have the edge on their American competitors. At least that’d be the conclusion you might draw from the results of a recent poll which placed America at number one on the list of countries with the most attractive people (Switzerland didn’t even make the top 20). So rejoice America, from the wild and wanton women of Walmart to the sultry street-girl sirens of Chattanooga, your beauty is unsurpassed (Herald Sun).
Time to point our telescopes of weirdness at "the old country", methinks.
Speaking of old, recent research carried out by the University of Michigan has revealed that US seniors are smarter than their UK counterparts. The study, lead in the US by Kenneth Langa, measured the recall abilities of over 8000 elderly Americans and over 5000 elderly Brits, and found that the yanks scored 1.4 more on the memory tests, out of a possible 24. Langa suggests that part of the difference was due to higher average levels of education and income in the US group, and higher levels of depression in the UK sample, but points out that nothing is certain at the moment. "It's like a view from 30,000 feet" said Langa (New Scientist).
And it's not just British brains that are shrinking, the UK's sheep are getting smaller as well. Because of a trend towards milder weather believed to be due to climate change, Sheep on the Outer Hebridean island of Soay are getting smaller at the rate of 100g/year, say researchers from Imperial College, London. Though it might seem that warmer winters and a greater abundance of food might make for bigger sheep, Tim Coulson, the professor leading the study, points out that fewer weaker and smaller lambs will die over winter, bringing down the average size (Telegraph).
Now, in some good news, UK campaigners have won a second victory in a three-year battle... to bring back a chocolate bar. The "Wispa Bar", made by European confectioners Cadbury, was introduced in 1995 along with a caramel laced version called the "Wispa Gold", only for both to be discontinued in 2003. This prompted some die-hard fans of the bubbly chocolate bar to start a petition to have it go into production again, resulting in a "limited edition" run of the original Wispa last year. When the 40 million bars produced sold out in just 18 weeks, Cadbury decided to relaunch the brand. Not satisfied with just one bar, campaigners have kept up the pressure, causing Cadbury to start producing Wispa Golds "for a limited period," as before. However to some commentators, this latest move looks more like slick PR than grassroots victory (Sky News).
[This image is from The Saturday Evening Post for May 5, 1945. As you can tell from the slightly mismatched borders, it's two separate scans, upper and lower, with the division just above the punchline caption. Excuse my impoverished Photoshop skills.]
Once upon a time, hillbillies were a powerful iconic staple of American life. But alas, no longer. Perhaps The Beverly Hillbillies was their dying gasp. Since then, PC guidelines no longer allow for such stereotypes, as the Abercrombie & Fitch folks found out a few years back, when they tried to market this T-shirt. And so our national mythology is a little drabber and duller.
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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
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