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

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Postman needs a vacation

This true story about a French thief is similar—on the surface—to the anecdote described in my recent blog post entitled Lovers lanes for an ex-husband [display].

In the city of Moselle (province of Lorraine), over the last ten years, a middle-aged postman has stolen 13,000 items that he was supposed to deliver. Amazingly, he stored all this stolen mail in his attic, where it was discovered in a more-or-less intact state. The most intriguing aspect of the thief's behavior was his predilection for simple postcards, of the trivial kind that tourists send back home to their loved ones.

Not surprisingly, psychiatrists concluded that the postman was a compulsive kleptomaniac, but he's thought to be totally responsible for his acts. In other words, he's by no means clinically crazy. The postman himself is incapable of explaining objectively why he committed all this theft, but he admits that he has always been fascinated by the kinds of simple family letters and postcards that he stole.

The poor guy is likely to be sent away on a three-year vacation for theft, accompanied by another three years for a fuzzy crime described as "violation of the secrecy of private correspondence". I would have imagined that, in our Internet age—where organizations and individuals are constantly sticking their noses into other people's business—the latter concept would have become somewhat obsolete.

I hope the authorities will give us the guy's address in jail, enabling well-wishers to send him friendly postcards.

This story has a happy ending. The postal authorities are in the process of forwarding all the stolen mail to its rightful receivers. Since we live in the best of all possible worlds, I'm sure that many people will be so thrilled to receive this long-overdue mail that they'll spontaneously dash off a thank-you postcard to the postman.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Jesus walked on the waters of Irene

I can't help loving Americans. [And I promise not to use a single swear-word in this blog post.] They're innocent childlike observers of the calamities of the universe, and they're especially skilled in Biblical stories concerning the Deluge. Jesus Christ is constantly just around the corner. Often, a delightful word seems to describe adequately the attitudes of certain descendants of the Founding Fathers: dumbfounded.

The journalist Jojo deserves deserves some kind of prize for perseverance. He should be sent off immediately to a front-line war zone in Libya. I have a gut feeling that Jojo would rapidly unearth Gaddafi, because Jojo wouldn't be deterred by side-effects and noise. Outstanding US media professionals like Jojo tend to talk well in front of a microphone, but we may not necessarily learn much from what they're saying.
Back to the studio for further last-minute news…

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lovers lanes for an ex-husband

This true story, in yesterday's French press, is sad but strangely beautiful. Late on Monday evening in the city of Albi (south-west France), police came upon a 67-year-old man perched on a stool by the roadside, busily unscrewing a sign bearing the name of a nearby locality. When they got around to inspecting the fellow's house, the police found a room in which a hundred or so local road signs were neatly stacked.

The man told the police that, since his recent divorce, which had been a particularly painful event in his life, he had been vainly attempting to recover the romantic sensations of his married days by collecting all the road signs indicating places associated with that happy epoch of his life. And, whenever he came upon a signpost indicating such a place, he had got into the habit of unscrewing it and taking it back to his house as a souvenir of those happy days. Since his married life had been full of joyful events (at least from the husband's viewpoint), his collection of signs had become quite large.

The police informed the fellow that he would be charged with unlawfully removing public property, then they let him return home. Before the trial, he'll be receiving a summons to spend a few hours with a court-appointed psychiatrist. Indeed, the police suspect that the poor fellow is crazily in love (literally)… with his ex-wife, or with road signs, or maybe with both.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ah, to be a glorious banker!

I was overcome emotionally by these spontaneous expressions of deep love towards Tan Sri Teh, the 81-year-old founder of a private bank in Malaysia, celebrating the bank's 45th birthday. The cherished old man, who is escorted into the arena in the style of a Roman emperor on a chariot, is described in an anthem as a "living legend" and a champion. This video is rather long (7.5 minutes), but I advise you to persevere to the end, to capture the mounting enthusiasm of the host of well-wishers.

Wicked European journalists described this charming gentleman and the glitzy happening as "megalomaniac" and "kitschissimo".

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

French cat on the booze

This photo (tidied up slightly with Photoshop), from the archives of the French national library, is a hundred years old.

[Click to enlarge slightly]

Alcoholism has been a problem in France for a long time. In a pathetic case such as this, I would say that the cat's owners (if indeed it is owned by anyone at all) are just as much to blame as the cat, if not more. When you acquire a cat or a dog, the least thing is that you instill sound moral principles in the animal, and keep it away from hard liquor.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Jingle cash bells

Regular readers of my Antipodes blog will have noticed that I often go out of my way to give a friendly helping hand to needy causes that appear to be worthy of my patronage.

So, that's why I've decided to throw in this small plug for a time-honored department store in London. In using the adjective "needy", I must admit that I'm merely judging the present state of this prestigious shop on the basis of a somewhat disturbing news item… although I must add that I haven't had time to drop across to the other side of the English Channel to verify personally this news. Apparently they've decided to install, at the height of summer, their Christmas 2011 displays. My only guess is that they're desperate for cash, and that their dire straits force them to adopt this incongruous marketing solution.

I'm particularly enticed by a delightful article that is indeed presented on their Christmas 2011 web pages [display]. I'm talking of a deluxe version (a little less than 80 quid sterling) of Freddie, the Harrods 2011 Christmas Bear. I'm thinking of ordering a specimen in the next few days—before the store runs out of bears—so that I'll be able to send it out to my Australian family in December. I reckon that a Christmas bear that can be acquired in the Old World at the start of a sultry month of August will be just right for transportation to Australia during the sweltering Antipodean celebrations of the birth of Jesus.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Religious breakthrough in Austria

Here's a photo of what appears to be an ordinary Austrian driver's license, issued to a young guy named Niko Alm:

When inspected closely, Niko's identity photo reveals a puzzling detail. On his head, he seems to be wearing some kind of curious helmet. In fact, it's a round-bottomed metal strainer of the kind used to extract spaghetti from the water in which it was cooked.

At this stage, you might be asking (I hope): How come that Austrian guy named Niko Alm has decided to give the authorities, for his driver's license, an identity portrait in which he's wearing an upside-down pasta strainer as if it were a hat? Now, that's an excellent question, and I'm glad you asked it. So, let me answer it.

Anybody who's ever tried to get a driver's license in Austria knows that the authorities are generally furious whenever they receive an identity photo in which the candidate is wearing any kind of hat. For example, if Princess Beatrice were to imagine that she could use this lovely portrait for her Austrian driver's license, then she would be in for a nasty surprise.

In Austrian law, there's only one possible loophole that allows you to use a photo in which you're wearing a hat. You have to make it clear that the thing you're wearing on your head is a religious headdress… like a Jewish hat, say, or a Sikh turban. And that is the ingenious method that enabled Niko Alm to use a portrait in which his head is adorned by a pasta strainer.

You might recall that, in a recent blog post, I evoked the existence of a spiritual entity known as the Flying Spaghetti Monster [display], who was responsible for the creation of the Cosmos and all the creatures in it, such as you and me.

The vast congregation of decent God-fearing folk who believe in this explanation of Creation are known as Pastafarians… and you can use Google to find out all about their fascinating theology, dogma, etc. Well, the Austrian driver Niko Alm wrote a letter to the authorities stating that his adherence to the Pastafarian religion made it obligatory for him to wear a pasta strainer on his head at all times. The authorities promptly got him examined by psychiatrists, to see if he was totally crazy. This was not the case. So, the authorities had no other choice but to allow Niko to be photographed while wearing his Pastafarian religious headdress.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Planning for emergencies

Thankfully, here in France, we don't have to worry too much about the end of the world, programmed for 2012, because we can simply drive down to the magic mountain alongside the village of Bugarach, which will be saved from the Apocalypse.

[Click the photo for an English version of the fairy tale.]

I still feel it's a little too early to release the news officially, but I have strong reasons to believe that there has been an error in the geographical calculations of the people who started to talk about Bugarach. The true magic mountain that will be saved from Armageddon next year is in fact the nearby Cournouze, just opposite my home at Gamone.

Be that as it may, there's another emergency situation that must be handled urgently. I'm talking of zombie invasions.

I've just heard that the city of Bristol in England—home of my pious ancestor John Harris [1722-1801], who may have dabbled in the notorious slave-trading industry—has announced a plan to deal with zombie contingencies.

[Click the image for an English article on this theme.]

With all these nasty threats looming on the horizon, it's a bloody shame that News of the World will no longer be available to provide our dear English cousins with reliable in-depth information.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Levitating Chinamen

We're all accustomed to incredible demonstrations from Chinese magicians of all kinds. So, we shouldn't be surprised, let alone annoyed, by the following photo:

Chinese officials have developed an extraordinary technique enabling them to inspect a newly-laid road while the macadam is still warm and sludgy. Like Jesus walking over the waters of the Sea of Galilee, these fellows are phloating fotoshopically over a new Oriental Highway of Truth. For God's sake, don't stick a pin in the image. It might burst, and the inspectors would fall onto the steaming macadam.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What's happening here?

I like this kind of photo. It forces you to think, to ask questions. What the hell is actually happening here? Maybe the police have just cornered a dangerous psychopath disguised as a Disneyland employee. Why are the two guys in blue shirts wielding simple wooden clubs, whereas the police officer appears to be equipped with a high-tech military weapon? Is the "creature" still alive? Is it about to be killed by the policeman taking aim? How come the people wandering around in the background don't seem to be particularly alarmed?

I don't think I could have guessed the true facts before they were revealed to me by the accompanying press article. They're employees of a Chinese zoo, and they're simply practicing an emergency drill involving the escape of one of their tigers. The weapon is designed to fire harmless anesthetic tranquilizer darts, capable of sending a tiger into a nice deep sleep. In the following photos, prior to the final standoff, we see the ferocious make-believe beast bounding across a road and hiding in the bushes, ready to pounce on zoo visitors:

And here's my favorite photo, showing a real tiger watching the show from his glass cage as the fake creature gets carted off on a stretcher, like a dazed rugby man being taken off the playing field:

I can imagine the authentic beast murmuring to itself: "OK, you bunch of silly buggers, one of these days we'll see if events in the real world are likely to turn out just as nicely as that!"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stray horse

This morning, when I woke up and switched on the computer, I found this stray horse racing across my blog:

It isn't branded, so I don't know where it comes from. But I suspect it belongs to Saltbush Bill.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Staircase is still standing

In an article entitled Awards, which I wrote nearly four years ago, I made fun of a dangerous-looking concrete staircase in the village of St-Jean-en-Royans [display]. A few days ago, I took this new photo of the staircase, which is clearly built to last. Maybe it incorporates extraordinary engineering principles that merit study in the great technological universities.

On the other hand, I should point out that, although I've been driving past this place for years, I've never seen anybody actually using this fine staircase… which is no doubt a pity.

Ireland stops the USA

The website where I found this hilarious clip said: "Obama's armored vehicle can protect him from everything except ridicule."

Apparently, embassy personnel made vain attempts to dislodge the vehicle, while leaving the president and his wife inside (for obvious security reasons). Finally, after some three-quarters of an hour (which is a huge delay in the case of a US president), Barack Obama and his wife were obliged to get out of the stuck vehicle and move into a more mobile automobile.

These days, observing happenings such as this ridiculous incident, coming a week after the DSK affair, the academic author Nassim Nicholas Taleb must be applauding with glee. The principles of his famous "black swan events" are outlined in my article of 15 March 2010 entitled Singular happenings [display].

Friday, May 20, 2011

Action will start in Australia

Here in France, it has just turned midnight. The time in my native land, Australia, is 8 hours in advance of France (since God decided—as explained with mathematical precision in the book of Genesis—that the Sun would rise in the east and set in the west, and that the International Date Line would pass through the middle of the Pacific Ocean). So, at this moment, it's just after 8 o'clock on the final morning: Saturday, May 21, 2001.

My lucky Aussie compatriots will be witnessing the return of King Jesus within roughly 10 hours… but nobody—neither religious leaders, government leaders nor journalists—seems to be in a position to indicate the exact place where the Savior will be making his initial appearance. There's a persistent rumor that this world-shaking event will be taking place in Sydney, maybe on top of the Harbour Bridge, or on the lawns of the Botanic Gardens. But a group of federal politicians has claimed that the only fit site for such a happening would be Canberra, the hub of the nation. Some people are even suggesting that the return of Jesus will be taking place in a country setting, at the easternmost tip of the continent, in the vicinity of Byron Bay.

Whatever the exact site, I'll be tuning into the Internet, first thing tomorrow morning, to dive into Australian media stories concerning the big event. Then we'll spend the day awaiting impatiently the arrival of Jesus in France. Nicolas Sarkozy has already announced that Christ will normally be alighting, as everybody hopes, on the upper platform of the Eiffel Tower, where his arrival will be highlighted by a flyover of air-force jet fighters, followed in the evening by a gigantic fireworks display. But, if ever the wind conditions were excessive, rendering this operation dangerous, it has been suggested that the Rapture will be taking place near the Place de la Concorde, at the lower extremity of the Champs Elysées, at exactly the same place where the final stage of the Tour de France terminates. If this were to be the case, then Jesus would be expected, as usual, to undergo a urine test for doping before being officially welcomed by the president of the République and the mayor of Paris. Accompanied by mounted horsemen of the Garde Républicaine, Jesus would then be driven in a cavalcade up to the Arc de Triomphe, where he would lay a wreath on the tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Finally, if any time remained (a big question mark, to say the least), the Son of God would be invited to a state dinner at the Elysées Palace.

BREAKING NEWS: This extraordinary image by Australian news photographer Mike Angelo reveals the scenes of chaos and panic this afternoon at 6 o'clock at Sydney Airport as heaven-bound Christians collided with tourists and angels in the turmoil of the Rapture.

For the moment, there are no ecclesiastic explanations as to why so many folk are getting around stark naked… which is not particularly pious behavior. Reported sightings of Jesus Christ are being checked by police, air traffic authorities and weather bureau officials.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hindu goddess between the buttocks

We all worship Lakshmi, because (as Wikipedia tells us) she's "the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity (both material and spiritual), light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity and courage; and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm". She's linked to so many nice things that I reckon you'd have to be crazy not to worship her.

In any case, even if you're an ungodly heathen who doesn't happen to be a devout worshiper of Lakshmi, that's not necessarily a sufficient reason for walking around on the beach with a picture of the goddess on your brown bum, in the blasphemous style of this Aussie female:

Consequently, in a world where fundamentalist fuckwits have got around to burning anything and everything—the Koran, the Bible, the Stars and Stripes, the Twin Towers, etc—we Australians will just have to accept the idea of seeing our cherished old flag going up in flames from time to time.

Personally, I quite like the idea of a colorful image of the Hindu goddess of light twitching around in the vicinity of the wearer's arse. It symbolizes the theological concept of solar radiation passing through the anal orifice and illuminating the world. What more could you ask for? Well, I can imagine much more: an entire swimsuit collection, for males as well as females, based upon religious icons and themes. For a Christian lady, the frontal areas of a swimsuit offer ideal image space for the Holy Trinity: white-bearded God on the left tit, Jesus and his crown of thorns on the right one, and a pictorial representation of the Holy Ghost (requires a bit of artistic imagination) in the pubic region. Judaism would be relatively easy to handle in swimwear, as long as you only referred to the Creator using the four-letter Tetragrammaton, without ever daring to pronounce his name. (Swimsuits generally don't attempt to pronounce anything at all.) In the Torah, there's a hell of a lot of good visual stuff that could be exhibited on biblical swimwear. For the moment, I'm stumped when it comes to Islamic swimwear themes, for there's little of an attractive iconic nature in their religious culture. When I try to imagine something of a visual nature, the only marine image that springs into my mind is that of Osama bin Laden taking a dive into the ocean... from the deck of a US warship. But, even if we were to be shown his bathing attire, I'm not sure that anybody would want to wear similar gear.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Quintessence of a silly old bugger

This charming 89-year-old American guy, Harold Camping, speaks slowly with a deep monotone voice, which might even lead naive folk to imagine that the old fellow knows what he's talking about. But that would be a big mistake. Harold Camping appears to me as a splendid anthropological specimen: the quintessence of a silly old bugger. An extraordinarily silly old bugger. And God knows, he's competing in a field where there are countless contenders for the title.

I don't intend to waste time mentioning the many stupidities that have come forth from Camping during his long and prolific existence. I'll merely describe the latest in date. The SOB [silly old bugger] is proclaiming, to all who wish to listen, that exceptional events will be taking place next May 21. There will be a great earthquake, of an intensity never known before on the planet. And truly Christian believers—including, if all goes well, the SOB himself—will be "raptured". That's fuckwit talk for flying upwards into the sky, headed for Heaven. Exactly 153 days after that initial happening, the entire universe will disappear.

Needless to say, the SOB has convinced countless followers to believe in his bullshit. Often, those who are prosperous are liquidating their properties and other assets, and sending the cash to the SOB, to provide him with financial resources enabling him to disseminate still further, urgently, his apocalyptic message.

If ever the SOB still happened to be hanging around unharmed on the morning of May 22, he would be the laughingstock of the entire nation. If this were the case, I propose that he should stack his dollars into a huge trunk and jump onto a plane to Pakistan, where he would be able to invest in a charming little property in Abbottabad, recently vacated and now up for sale. It's a perfect home away from home, with "live and let live" neighbors (reputed for keeping their noses out of other people's business), where Harold would be able to spend his remaining days (until the next-scheduled rapture) in peace and tranquility.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

More than just a black-and-white affair

This informative and moving evocation of the history of the production of crossword puzzles is a tribute to outstanding figures in that industry, some of whom might be thought of as great artists.

[animation by Michael A Charles]

The narrator, Garson Hampfield (a retired inker in a crossword design team), has given credit to most of the major creators in that vast and ancient domain. I'm a little disappointed, though, that he made no mention of the Phoenicians, who invented the alphabet. And he might have put in just a tiny word for the fundamental role of Euclid, too, who invented the straight line (defined as the shortest distance between two points). Try to produce a crossword puzzle without using straight lines, and you'll see exactly what I mean.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Do-it-yourself Golgotha

I was intrigued by a short news item in this morning's French media. In South Korea, police found the dead body of a 58-year-old taxi-driver, known for his extreme Christian piety. His hands and feet were nailed to a wooden cross. Police determined that the poor fellow had died during the Easter weekend. He was attired in a loincloth, with a crown of thorns on his head. Forensic examinations revealed that, prior to his death, he had been flogged with a whip. On his right-hand side, a deep stab wound had probably precipitated his death. The article states explicitly that "the police are trying to determine whether the man actually crucified himself". But they do not exclude the possibility that other individuals might have played a role in the man's death.

The aspect of the police approach that fascinates me is the idea that it might have been a do-it-yourself crucifixion. That raises an obvious question: How could a man, all alone, nail his own hands and feet to a cross? A possible answer to this enigma is provided by a video ad (amusing, but not particularly brilliant) promoting the use of condoms.

If my hypothesis were correct, and the police were to find a discarded hammer that might have been used to do the nailing, they should realize that there would be no point in examining the tool for fingerprints. Prickprints, maybe…

Friday, April 29, 2011

Weird woman in the wedding throng

I'm afraid I'm about to let a drop of pollution escape into my marriage-free zone. I'm a little ashamed, of course. Please forgive me.

The French photographer Olivier Corsan was no doubt happy to provide his employer, the serious Le Parisien newspaper, with this intriguing photo of a most peculiar lady among the wedding onlookers in London. No doubt an eccentric English woman, with mauve hair, bedecked in heavy jewelry, with ridiculously ornate glasses.

The French have always been convinced that the English are a funny lot. Even in the context of English wedding clothes, however, the flamboyant appearance of this lady was sufficiently spectacular to attract the attention of the French photographer. Besides, I love the puzzled expression of the lady in orange in the lower left corner.

I wondered whether it would be worthwhile contacting the Parisian newspaper to inform them that this strange lady is in fact an Aussie comedian, Barry Humphries. But would I succeed in explaining succinctly to Parisian media people an Antipodean phenomenon such as Barry's alter ego, Dame Edna Everage? No, they would probably consider me as a pathological story-teller, maybe a dangerous dingbat, incapable of distinguishing a lord from a lady.

Now that I've polluted my marriage-free zone once, it won't be a great sin to pollute it a second time… with this curious bridal photo, which has appeared in today's French media:

It appears to be Kate Moss. And she seems to have mislaid her wedding gown. But what the fuck is it all about?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Early prototype

This photo comes from the Gallica online service of the Bibliothèque nationale française (French national library):

It has been suggested that these two men might have been Apple employees field-testing an early iPhone prototype.