Showing posts with label offbeat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label offbeat. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Road-racing champion

Click the YouTube icon

As a child in South Grafton, I was often terrified by wild magpies that would attack me when I was riding my bike to and from school. In the case of this ostrich, I can't guess what it had in mind. Was the animal behaving aggressively? Or did it simply want to go for a training ride with that team of professionals? An observer made an interesting remark: If the animal can run so fast, all on its own, imagine the speed it might attain if it had a bicycle. I wonder if the organizers of the grand prix in Dubai would accept this competitor.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Where’s the stolen gold necklace ?

In India, a lady told policemen that her precious gold necklace had just been stolen by a fellow who was seen running away. When the police caught the alleged culprit, he denied the crime. The victim repeated her accusation so convincingly that the police had the impression that the robber might have swallowed the necklace. So, they took the alleged thief to a nearby hospital, and requested an x-ray of his stomach. Sure enough, the stolen necklace was there! But how coud the police get the necklace out of the fellow's intestines ?

Well, they made him consume an enormous quantity of ripe bananas. A little later, they gave him a powerful laxative, which soon produced the desired result. All they had to do then was to clean up the mess, extract the necklace and wash it with warm water and soap. Later, when the fellow was brought to trial, I would imagine that the sentence included the cost of all those bananas.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Philipino church should rent this fellow out, to earn money for the poor

Click here to see a spectacular priest who has the makings of what might be designated as an ecclesiastical sandwich board. The Church might look into the possibility of getting him canonized (in the future, of course, after he leaves his earthly skating rink) as Saint Hoverboard. Maybe his miracles can't cure cancer, but I'm convinced they can patch up broken bones.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Well preserved

In the German town of Schöppingen, near the Dutch border, three fellows used explosives to tear apart a metallic distributor of preservatives, in the hope of stealing money. After lighting the mesh, they dashed into their nearby vehicle, to protect themselves from the blast. But they left a door open, and one of the fellows was hit on the head by a fragment of metal. Instead of picking up 14 euros in small coins (the total contents of the distributor), they rushed to a nearby hospital, where they told the staff that their mate had fallen down the stairs. The poor fellow died soon after... and the police discovered the scene of their tragic operation.

The victim surely deserves a Darwin Award for this courageous method of ensuring that society would be well preserved from his procreation of a stupid offspring.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Even on the Internet, today’s Christmas messages are not always as stupid as some of yesterday’s

Look at the absurdly ugly drawing, and the utterly idiotic text:
A hearty Christmas greeting

Four jovial frogs a-skating would go
They had asked their mamma
But she'd sternly said no
And they all came to grief in a beautiful row
There’s a sweet Christmas moral for one not too slow
Must go!
The individuals who created such rubbish, not to mention the folk who sent and received such brain-damaged messages, must have been sick in an old-fashioned sense.

Are humans truly smarter today than they were yesterday? I'm an optimistic humanist, and I usually think so...

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Holy Savior Christmas Prize

In my recent blog post here entitled These people give me goose pimples, I was unkind, because the poor fellow I spoke about was actually killed, while playing a Father Christmas role, when he fell off an ancient stone edifice in Douai (France). This time, I intend to express myself charitably in a Christian spirit.

Accidents happen at all times of the year, but I would like to draw attention to those that happen during the Christmas season, and in what would appear to be a Christmas spirit. I'm thinking in particular of grave accidents that nevertheless avoid a mortal end, maybe because of a last-minute role played by a guardian angel or even thanks to the Holy Savior in person. I believe that a fortunate individual in this situation should be rewarded by a prize, to be known as the Holy Savior Christmas Prize.

In the Norman city of Caen, the town hall is located on a square called Holy Savior Place... which has inspired this seasonal blog post, of a most Christian motivation. On this square, the local municipality had installed their Christmas tree... composed of synthetic materials that I would have preferred not to mention.

For reasons that only the Holy Spirit understands, a 21-year-old local lad decided, during the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, to climb to the top of this giant artificial tree, to a height of about ten metres. Needless to say, the synthetic branches were not designed to support the weight of a sturdy youth, and the lad was gravely injured when he fell to the ground, alongside the Old Holy Savior church. Apparently he survived nevertheless. And that's why I would like to suggest that he be the recipient of an award. Maybe, to reduce the risks of injuries, this small Holy Savior Christmas Prize could be made out of colorful synthetic substances such as foam rubber and felt.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Nothing better than a pair of socks for a Christmas gift

The article doesn't make it clear, but I have the impression we're talking about socks for a gentleman, rather than a lady. And you want to take the piss out of him, OK?

If you're running away from the cops, it's unwise to jump into a swamp full of alligators

I would have imagined that, in the Everglades of Florida, most people were aware of that golden rule.

A local TV journalist concluded that 22-year-old Matthew Riggins, who dived into the swamp but never emerged from the waters, was clearly "at the wrong place, at the wrong time".  Yes, that sounds like an honest conclusion. Would the poor fellow be eligible for a Darwin Award?

Law-enforcement officers of this swamp area known as Barefoot Bay (apparently the reptiles don't like boots) captured the alligator and cut his belly apart. But Matthew Riggins was in a pretty bad state by then. To be honest, these swamp creatures (I'm talking of alligators, not humans swimming from the law) don't really cause a lot of damage: no more than 22 deaths since 1948. That's an average of one human swimmer every three years. So, the animals are not really what we might refer to as a Big Danger.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Darwin guy close to getting a Darwin Award

In this blog, here, I’ve already mentioned the prestigious annual Darwin Awards. They’re necessarily posthumous awards, because a winner has to have done something immensely stupid, to such an extent that he kills himself, whereby benefiting humanity through the removal of his ugly chromosomes from the human gene pool. The standards for receiving this award might appear to be excessively high, but the underlying idea is that, if a candidate doesn’t kill himself, then he wasn’t stupid enough to deserve a prize. You might say that such a failed candidate demonstrates, through his survival, that he wasn’t sufficiently altruistic or self-abnegating, with respect to his fellow men, to be a winner.

In the case of the following fellow, with a shirt hiding his face, all I can say is that he came bloody close to getting an award. The ATM [automated teller machine] that he succeeded in blowing up knocked him backwards onto the ground, but the explosion didn’t have quite enough force to blow his stupid head off. Pity.

I was most impressed by the way in which the guy got back up immediately onto his feet, tore the shirt off his face, and headed off away from the camera. When I was a kid in Australia, we had a nice expression that sums up this kind of sporting prowess:
He took off like a bat out of Hell.

This would have been a particularly poignant Darwin Award, because the fellow’s act took place in Winnellie, which happens to be a suburb of the Northern Territory town of Darwin. What a shame he failed.

Incidentally, among the comments of well-wishers who appreciated this fascinating video, I was really pissed off by an American who talked as if our hero were a citizen of God’s Own Country… and moreover a Republican. Bloody pretentious Yanks. It’s time they realized that, Down Under, we’ve got individuals who are just as brilliantly idiotic as the dumbest US specimens.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Next week: an earth-shaking TV moment

In less than a week, Australia has been invited to perform actively and directly in the Eurovision Song Contest… though not strictly as a contestant. Truly, this is the biggest planetary media happening since the marriage of our queen in 1947. History—as they say—is in the making.

Click here for an exciting article on Australia’s presence at these Olympic Games of song. Above all, there’s a great possibility for the victory of an outsider such as France. This year, for the first time since the Abba epoch, the odds are stacked against all those nasty ex-Communist nations who always get in the way of good music. No doubt for the first time ever, next week, Russia is unlikely to vote massively for Ukraine, and Ukraine is equally unlikely to vote massively for Russia. The world will be turned upside down, and victory in the contest is truly up for grabs.

One point, Australia!

And here, to get you in the right spirit: “Vutta Loe” (as the lovely lady in pink put it).

PS Maybe I’m weird, but whenever I see the tall blonde Agnetha Fältskog prancing around in her shiny blue kitsch costume, she reminds me immediately—at least from the knees down—of the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. Worse still, I have the disturbing feeling that the lower section of one of her slender silver legs might get disjointed and snap off. And how can I possibly enjoy their award-winning song when crazy thoughts like that are going through my mind?

Shame on me: I almost forgot to sign off with the great old Eurovision theme music from my former employer, ORTF [French Radio-Television Broadcasting System], the Te Deum of Marc-Antoine Charpentier [1643-1704].

Thursday, May 1, 2014

If you tease a monkey…

… you might get slapped in the face. I love the determined behavior of this smart little beast.

I can almost hear him saying: “Don’t fuck around with me, lady.”

PS It's nice to be fooled by an innocent little monkey act. Clearly, the trainer has taught cheeky Wilson to perform the face-slapping act. Outside of the world of movie cartoons, a monkey wouldn't normally bear a grudge against a human who had teased him by withholding a piece of food. Besides, if the monkey really wanted to "teach a lesson" to another creature, biting would be a more normal form of punishment than face-slapping. Wilson's act could be made better still (in an anthropomorphic sense) if he were to stick up his middle finger in the lady's face, or maybe even turn around, pull down his pants, and bare his bum.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How French are you?

Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin in the role of
Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, aka OSS 117,
a very French but less-than-brilliant spy
at the time of Président René Coty.

Click here to access a funny quiz… which was obviously made in the USA, where they cherish stereotypes, and seem to be totally incapable of moving on beyond their favorite simplistic visions of non-American people who happen to be “sharing” the planet Earth with them.

I was almost surprised to find that I ticked quite a few boxes… but I won’t tell you which ones, and how many.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bon voyage

I would have liked to publish this blog post yesterday... but (as Bill Shakespeare put it, so succinctly) better late than never. The last time I spoke about links between the French railway system and the city of Sydney in Australia was almost 7 years ago in a blog post entitled Silly sendup of Sydney by French railways [display]. Happily, things have evolved a lot since then. Yesterday morning—on April 1, 2014, a great date in links between France and Australia—the electronic departure board at the train station in Lille, France’s great northern capital near the Belgian border, announced the inauguration of the first-ever train service from France to Sydney, with its departure set for 11h40 (exactly 23 minutes after the departure of the regular train from Lille to Los Angeles).

As a former resident of Sydney, and now a naturalized French citizen, I must admit that I was totally shocked by the absence of our ambassador at Lille, to bid farewell and Bon voyage to the adventurous inaugural passengers. To understand the full meaning of “adventurous”, simply take a look at a map of the world. Fortunately, the trip is remarkably cheap: a mere $1000 for a return trip. If interested travellers care to send me that meagre amount (multiplied, of course, by the number of people in their group), I’ll make a point of obtaining tickets as soon as possible.

Friday, March 28, 2014

As dumb as they come

Lots of dumb folk, thinking themselves smart, send fake comments to my Antipodes blog, with links to their own dull blogs. In doing this, they hope that their comment will get published and bring traffic to their own blog. Here’s a nice example, which deserves a prize for stupidity:
Anonymous has left a new comment

Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is magnificent blog. A fantastic read. I'll definitely be back.

Feel free to surf to my homepage: buying nail clippers () 
It so happens that I did in fact write a book on the subject of my blog post, which is full of pictures. Fake comments of this kind get filtered and they end up rapidly, of course, in my trash can. So, my family-history research is not going to help this fuckwit to sell his nail clippers.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Two tickets for Gambais, one return

In my blog post of 22 March 2010 entitled First rural residence [display], I described a simple roadside house in the country to the west of Paris that Christine and I rented in 1968-9 for six months or so.

Our neighborhood had a funny name, Mocsouris, which seems to mean, nonsensically, “making fun of a mouse”. This place name, sometimes spelt Moque-Souris, surely has more obscure etymological and historic origins of which I’m unaware. In a cadastral document of 1825 from Brittany, for example, this name reappears with an even more curious spelling.

Our house was located on the edge of a neighborhood called Maulette, which lies between Mocsouris and the town of Houdan. Our baby daughter Emmanuelle decided immediately that, at a rhyming level, “Maulette” sounded a lot like “toilette” (body-washing in French). So, she started to refer to her towelling for washing, in the form of a glove, as a “gant de Maulette” (Maulette glove-washer).

Meanwhile, Christine and I imagined naively—as the renting agency had informed us—that our postal address was Houdan. Today, thanks to Google Maps, I realize that we were in fact residing in the commune of Gambais, which was associated with one of the most notorious serial killers in French criminal history: Henri Désiré Landru [1869-1922], who was guillotined for the murder of 11 women.

Our house in Mocsouris had a vast backyard, which was an ideal summer setting for our 2-year-old daughter. Today, thanks to Google and the curious demolition of a section of our former neighbor’s garden wall, Emmanuelle is offered a glimpse of her first backyard.

Click to enlarge

This neighbor was a prosperous farmer. Today, my primary recollection of this fellow is that he taught me a French noun: tâcheron. The word tâche means a task. So, a tâcheron is somebody who's employed to perform tasks. In reality, it’s a disparaging term, evoking the use of unskilled workers for a brief period, at a minimal cost, before their being cast aside.

Getting back to Landru, you can find out all about him through an excellent Wikipedia article [display]. The title of this blog post is a celebrated line attributed to the mass murderer. From his Paris apartment, he used newspaper ads to find lonely females, often widows, offering them marriage. Their first (and last) outing was a visit to his country house in Gambais. Landru had the habit, at the train station in Paris, of requesting two tickets for Gambais, but only one return. (I traveled daily on that line when we were living in Gambais.) As soon as a victim settled down in Landru's charming house in Gambais, she was strangled, chopped into pieces and burnt in a kitchen oven. Then Landru made arrangements for recuperating all the dead lady’s possessions.

I was reminded of this sinister individual through a series of astonishing old photos of Landru’s trial that Gallica (website of the Bibliothèque nationale de France) has just published on the Internet.

Some of the witty interventions of the “Bluebeard of Gambais” during his trial in Versailles have gone down in history.

— Denying that he had ever killed anybody at Gambais, Landru called upon the court to “show us the corpses”.

— Landru declared: “If the women I knew have anything to complain about, then let them step forward.

— When a woman in the crowded courtroom couldn't find an empty seat, Landru proposed gallantly to give her his place.

Police investigations into Landru’s crimes had been concentrated, understandably, upon his house in Gambais.

A dramatic exhibit during the trial was the actual cast-iron kitchen oven in which Landru had transformed his victims into ashes.

After Landru’s trial and beheading, this oven was auctioned. Its most recent owner is the popular French TV personality Laurent Ruquier, author of a play about Landru. The house in Gambais, too, was soon sold by auction. Its first owner transformed it into an elegant restaurant, with a delicately-chosen name: Au Grillon du Foyer (Homely Grill).

Later, it became, for all intents and purposes, an ordinary house. During the time that we spent at Gambais, Christine and I never went out of our way to locate the house in question. Consequently, it’s only today that I realize—thanks to Google—that we were in fact close neighbors. A few kilometers after our house in Mocsouris, you reach the village of Gambais.

On the right-hand side of the road, there’s a lugubrious church and cemetery.

A few hundred meters further down the road, Landru’s house is nested alongside a row of prim and proper modern dwellings.

Throughout his trial, Landru persisted in claiming—against tons of evidence—that he had never harmed anybody. At the foot of the scaffold, at dawn on 25 February 1922, in the grand avenue of Versailles, Landru's lawyer made a last-minute request. Would the condemned man finally admit, in the face of God, that he had indeed killed all those women? The artist replied politely, before stepping aboard his steel-blade jet for Eternity: "The answer to that question, dear lawyer, is part of my hand luggage." And the severed head of the Bluebeard of Gambais soon found its way (God only knows how) into a Hollywood museum.

If only I had known of this proximity, back at the time we were residing in Gambais, I might have delighted my dear mother Kath Skyvington with horror stories about Landru. Indeed, I was so ill-informed and absent-minded that I didn’t even think of taking my parents to Gambais when they visited us in Paris. In fact, I don’t believe that any of us have returned there as pilgrims over the last 46 years.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Photographic blues

The following image shows a group of women attending an electoral meeting in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

The name of the professional photographer who obtained the image that you see here, published by AFP, is Shah Marai. On the other hand, we know nothing of the identity of the attendee who was using a blue smartphone to take a photo of her surroundings, nor do we have a copy of the image she obtained. There’s no doubt about it: the blue tones create a soothing esthetic effect, disrupted strikingly by the lady’s bordeaux garments. Needless to say, it’s a huge challenge to reveal the essential human dimensions in the case of a refractory subject such as this, and few photographers can hope to succeed. Curiously, Shah Marai’s photo seems to be marred by a small but intrusive patch of blinding white light (no doubt a technical blunder, which could easily be Photoshoped out) near the right-hand-shoulder of the lady in blue. It would be interesting to know how the image might (or might not) have been enhanced by the use of a blue filter.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Prince Bonkers

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And when in Saudi Arabia, put on a costume that makes you look like a desert chief.

When my sister Jill and her family visited me recently, she told me she admires the behavior and style of the future British king. To my Cartesian mind, Charles Windsor has always been quaintly bonkers. And I have the impression that it’s getting worse as he grows older.

An idea that has just sprung into my mind. I think it would be nice if His Royal Highness were to go out to Australia (a land he knows well), strip down to his underpants and participate in a corroboree dance with Aborigines up in Arnhem Land.

He would simply have to take elementary jockstrap precautions to make sure that the royal jewels don’t bounce around too visibly in the red dust.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Ugly image

I’ve tweeted my disgust (a drop in the ocean) of this ugly depiction of the victims of an earthquake in the Philippines, which has just received a Picture of the Year award.

To obtain such an award, all you need (apart from a good camera and good lighting) is a bunch of miserable victims, with a long-haired muscly hulk in the foreground, and a mysterious assortment of primitive objects such as Christian crosses and statues. The cunning photographer is banking on the combined human tragedy of poverty, ignorance and naked disaster... with a carefully-chosen background and setting.

As I said in my tweet, this kind of superficial photo-journalism—totally fake and arty—makes me want to vomit. I despise the would-be talents of the arty arsehole who created this nauseating image.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Longest European train ever

I suggest that you start the following video immediately. 

Like many people, I love to watch trains go past. I hope you share with me this passion. The merit of the above video is that the pleasure of watching this train go by is made to last for over a quarter of an hour. Your first view of the approaching train is a tiny white dot at the far end of the empty line on the left-hand side of the video. It only appears after you're about a minute and 20 seconds into the video. So stay calm, and wait. You'll recognize it as soon as it appears. Then the dot turns into a whitish blob, and the blob starts to get bigger and bigger. It's terribly exciting, but you've got to be patient.

When the train was in full view, I even had time to go downstairs and make myself a coffee… and, when I got back to my computer screen, the train was still going past. It’s the longest train in French railroad history, or something like that. That’s a great kind of a record, n’est-ce pas ?

I bet that strongmen are already contacting the French railway authorities, hoping to get into the famous Guinness book by showing that they can drag this train with their bare hands and arms over a distance of so many metres. That would be another great kind of a record.

Aussies are always going on about the length of their road trains on Outback roads.

But I reckon they wouldn’t get anywhere near the length of the French train.

Now, if ever you were bored, you don’t have to watch the video right up until the end. If you’re thinking of hitting the stop button, I can tell you what happens later on in the video. Nothing at all ! The train simply keeps on moving past.

POST SCRIPTUM: My son François Skyvington phoned to express certain doubts concerning this train video. In particular, he felt that neither the train nor the products being hauled appeared to be French. So, I’m inserting a few items of information that I discovered on the excellent websites of French TV and Challenge Nouvel Observateur.

The train seen in the video was 1.5 kilometres long and it weighed 4000 tons. As such, it was the longest train that has ever existed up until now in Europe. The experimental excursion whose departure is presented in the video took place on January 18, 2014. The departure was Lyon (Rhône) and the destination Nîmes (Gard). The train was composed by linking together two normal trains, each of a length of 750 metres and with its own pair of locomotives. (This kind of linkage is a standard operation in the case of TGV trains.) For the experimental run seen in the video, this linkage was carried out in a railroad freight zone named Sibelin, on the outskirts of Lyon.

In my title, I've replaced the adjective "French" by "European". The project, named Marathon, is not purely French, but European, guided by the European Commission and involving 16 financial partners. In the experimental train shown in the video, you may have noticed the presence of two French-made Alstom electric locomotives and two German-made Vossloh diesel locomotives. For this first experiment, as my observant son noticed, the rolling stock (wagons and goods) was indeed German, made available by the Kombiverkehr company.

In normal operational circumstances, train-watchers won’t have the luxury of spending a quarter of an hour admiring such a long train, because their cruising speed will be about 100 km/hour. At level crossings, drivers will therefore be held up for an extra 30 seconds. So, make the most of your opportunity to admire the above video. Viewing conditions won’t always be so leisurely once these trains become operational in a few years’ time.

Meanwhile, I thank my son for his keen observations and feedback.

Must change my thinking

In a split second of intense revelation, I was stunned by an amazing video produced by Infinite Circularity Ministries. It convinced me that I must change my thinking.

It’s a fabulous package deal. Every New Believer gets a wonderful free gift: a lovely colorful image of Saraswati (hope I've got the name right).

The message reached me in the nick of time (thanks to a tweet from Richard Dawkins). Up until then, funnily enough, I had been thinking seriously about contacting my Canadian cousins to ask them how I might become a Freemason.

Click to enlarge

I’m still not quite sure about whether we’re allowed to mix together all of this stuff... but I would imagine that it's feasible, mystically speaking.