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News » News of the Weird


A weekly roundup of international news oddities



The Boston Typewriter Orchestra has been performing its unique brand of music throughout New England since 2004 and will now be releasing its first vinyl album later this summer. Self-proclaimed conductor Tim Devin and a group of friends founded the ensemble as a joke, reports Ripley's Believe It or Not, and after premiering at Boston's Art Beat Festival, the idea took off. Using vintage machines to rhythmically clack, roll, spin and bang out "music," the typist-musicians say different models produce different sounds. "A Smith-Corona Galaxy 12 has a power space function that makes a nice metallic clang sound," explained Brendan Emmett Quigley.

Animal Antics
• In Oakland, California's Grand Lake neighborhood, Gerald the turkey has been an institution for some time, regularly queueing up with carpool riders near Morcom Rose Garden. But lately, Gerald has grown grumpy and started attacking park visitors, reports KGO, prompting complaints to Oakland Animal Services. "I swear I was getting flashbacks to the velociraptor scenes in Jurassic Park as he was 'cooing' at me, sizing me up," one said. Others said Gerald charged them, clawing and pecking as they tried to run. In response, the city closed the rose garden at the end of May and asked people not to feed Gerald or any other wildlife, as it "may have contributed to the male turkey becoming more aggressive," the parks department said. Animal control officers are also trying to "train him to revert to natural behaviors," but have had limited success keeping him socially distanced from humans.

• Kalua, an infamous alcoholic monkey in Kanpur, India, has been sentenced to live out his days in isolation, Gulf News reported. The animal once belonged to a local occultist who would give him alcohol. After the owner died, Kalua couldn't get his fix and became aggressive, sinking his teeth into more than 250 people, one of whom died of his wound. The Kanpur zoo took Kalua in, trying to acclimate him to captivity and other monkeys, but zoo workers are throwing in the towel. "It has been three years since he was brought here," said zoo doctor Mohd Nasir. "He will remain in captivity all his life."

Desperate Times
• In April, following the cancellation of basketball madness, a Twitter account called March Madness of Flags was launched "for the love of vexillology," pitting banners from all over the world against one another in a fearsome bracket to determine which was the "coolest flag." During the final four, held over the weekend of June 13-14, the St. Louis (Missouri) flag beat out Stuttgart's entry, then went on to clinch the championship in a commanding 625-49 victory over the standard from Yaroslavl Oblast, a Russian federal district north of Moscow. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the city's flag, a relative newcomer, was designed by Yale University art history professor Theodore Sizer and adopted in 1964 for the city's bicentennial.

• For those missing travel abroad, Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan, is offering 90 people the opportunity to tour the airport and "pretend to go abroad." On July 2, 4 and 7, participants can spend a half-day going through immigration, boarding an airplane, and then getting off the plane and re-entering the country through immigration. "People who didn't have the opportunity to take international flights at Songshan (can) use this chance to experience and learn more about the boarding process and relevant service facilities," Chih-ching Wang, deputy director of the airport, told CNN Travel. Tour customers will also get to take home "exclusive mysterious gifts."

Seniors from Glens Falls High School near Tulsa, Oklahoma, pulled a classic prank on what would have been the last day of their high school career: On June 12, they hung a large sign from the school saying, "For Sale! Vacant Since March," along with some of the school's attributes, such as "2 full size gyms" and "swimming pool." But Principal Tammy Silvernell could hardly be mad: Attached to the back of the sign was a letter from students she characterized as "the most polite pranksters ever," according to The Daily Gazette. "This was all in good fun," the letter read. "We hope to have made you laugh and miss us a little more ... thank you all for an amazing four years at GFHS!" The students also offered to remove the sign and included a phone number to call.

The Foreign Press
The Associated Press reported that an unnamed man in Vienna, Austria, was hit with a 500 euro ($565) fine for "offending public decency" when he broke wind following an encounter with police on June 5. Authorities said that "of course, no one is reported for accidentally 'letting one go,'" but after behaving "provocatively and uncooperatively," the man rose from a bench and "let go a massive intestinal wind apparently with full intent. And our colleagues don't like to be farted at so much."

Bad Apples
• The Gatlinburg SkyBridge in Tennessee was closed on June 15 after a guest at SkyLift Park attempted to execute a baseball-style slide across the glass panels in the middle of the bridge and a piece of metal on the guest's clothing chipped and cracked the top layer of glass. According to WBIR, multiple signs warn against "running, jumping or bouncing" on the SkyBridge, the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America. Park spokesman Marcus Watson said the top layer of glass serves only as protection for the other two layers and the cracks didn't affect the span's structural integrity. Workers replaced the layer of glass with cedar planks and the bridge has been reopened.

• The U.S. Forest Service is investigating a photo posted by David Lesh, 35, on Instagram showing him walking on a log across Hanging Lake in Garfield County, Colorado, in defiance of clearly posted rules prohibiting people from entering the water there. The post blew up with criticisms, but Lesh fired back, challenging others to walk on the log and even defecate in the lake. KDVR reported Lesh has a history of run-ins with authorities, including being cited for harassing a moose with his car in 2014 and setting 25 grocery carts on fire in Boulder, Colorado. Earlier this year he was caught snowmobiling in the Keystone ski area when the slopes were shut down because of COVID-19. On June 16, he was ordered to pay $500 and do 50 hours of community service for another snowmobiling incident from 2019.

The Way the World Works
Saying that "extra precautions are justifiable and understandable where the president is concerned," Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that anyone meeting President Vladimir Putin at his house outside Moscow or in the Kremlin must pass through a disinfection tunnel that showers visitors with a "disinfecting aerosol" and a bath of ultraviolet light. The Guardian reported on June 17 the tunnels can also use facial recognition software and take the visitor's temperature. Peskov said, "They were installed when the epidemic was in full swing," but would not say whether Putin has used the tunnels himself.

The Hollywood Reporter announced on June 16 that puppeteer Pat Brymer, 70, passed away in April. As a puppet builder, Brymer worked with ventriloquist Shari Lewis on Lamb Chop's Play-Along and with Trey Parker and Matt Stone's Team America: World Police, but he is best remembered for bringing to life Bill Murray's pesky nemesis gopher in 1980's Caddyshack.

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