Muppets. Beloved children’s television puppets of the late 70’s, and slang for a grown up person who resembles one. Both definitions are true in Germany, where police have had the fur pulled over their eyes and their speed cameras—literally. Traffic police in Bayreuth, Bavaria have been made to look like muppets by the driver of a British registered Audi TT who, repeatedly caught speeding, has driven through a blind-spot in the Teutonic traffic control master plan—German speed cameras are calibrated for left-hand driving, and thus unable to capture his face. Precision engineered German technology has instead photographed a life-size muppet sitting in the passenger seat—out of control drummer Animal of The Muppet Show’s Dr Teeth and The Electric Mayhem band. A German police source said:
“The number plate is not enough. We need clear evidence of who is driving the vehicle too. “But because this is a British vehicle we can never get a decent picture. The driver has obviously worked this out because he has placed a large puppet in the passenger seat. “This may be an example of the famous British sense of humour but it is still dangerous driving. The driver has been caught on camera on several occasions and the puppet is on the passenger seat every time. We suspect he positions the toy deliberately before accelerating past the camera.”One suspects German police may well catch their suspect before they catch on to the British sense of humour.
While I certainly remember being so bored at High School that the imaginary was a sole relief, and really did once see a student running on the roof, convinced she was a cat and chased by teachers, students in Barnegat, New Jersey went completely off the page recently, confined to class after reporting a ninja running through the woods. With all public schools in the area locked down, and presumably guarded by clueless B-movie henchmen, the ninja was within half an hour revealed, mask torn climatically off, to be something else: a camp counselor dressed in karate uniform, carrying a plastic sword. Which is only marginally less disturbing than an actual ninja in the woods. By way of explanation, the counselor, apparently late to a costume day at a nearby middle school, entered fully into the spirit of a shinobi assassin and took a stealthy, speedy shortcut through the trees. It seems crying “crazy man dressed all in black!” really can get you off class. But don’t forget to mention that he ate your homework.With quite a lot to do with the previous story—ninjas, swords and being completely lost in the trees—Godfrey Ho’s seminally bad Ninja Dragon (1986) features a final fight scene somebody should have called the police on—twenty-three somersaults, two moustaches, a quite disturbing use of eyeliner and the following script:
Bruce Stallion (Paulo Tocha): You're so stupid—you killed Fox and my men Gordon the Ninja (Richard Harrison): And you, you started the war. Bruce: You were the winner, but I'm not going to give you that chance, this time. Gordon: You're on. You don't know an important Chinese principle. Bruce: My principle is to chop you down! Gordon: Hmm. You must use the Chinese against the Chinese. You're playing the game of death! Bruce: Nonsense! You're going to give me back every piece that you took. Gordon: Unless you die a ninja. Bruce: Ok...
Population approximately 33,000, importance approximately not much—a sleepy seaside town on the other side of nowhere is now the centre of world attention, and all because of its namesake: President Elect Barack Obama. Meaning “little beach” and literally located on one, the Japanese Obama lies due north of Kyoto and five hours by train from Tokyo, and until the junior Senator from Illinois entered national politics, was better known for not much at all—fishing and lacquered chopsticks in between. But Obama the President has changed everything for Obama the town, and the change is—to appropriate the campaign slogan—“change you can believe.” Change began in February when resident and president of the Obama for Obama Support Group Seiji Fujihara asked a friend and occasional graphic designer to draw an image of the then Senator. Sketched in ten minutes and only a partial likeness, the presidential seal style logo was none the less immediately liked, and soon appeared city-wide on t-shirts, chop-sticks and even steamed cakes—Obama’s head grilled onto the back of sweet adzuki bean cakes. Thousands of citizens have signed up for membership. Caught in the spirit of the moment, and possibly something even stronger, Support Group members have recorded a theme song truly hard to believe: Obama is Beautiful World—a catchy sing along part Village People, part Casiotone preset melody; every part uniquely Japanese (music video at bottom):
Obama is Beautiful World The sea spreading far out and the bright sunshine reflect the future of your country, America... La-la-la-la-la Obama! Obama is beautiful world! Obama is No. 1!What's next for the town that would be President and could be without precedent? With the Obama Girls hula troup still dancing in the streets, Obama Mayor Kouji Matsuzaki has announced a statue of the President Elect for City Hall—“a token of the great historical moment for the name Obama,” while November 4th will henceforth be an annual city holiday—presumably named “Obama Day.”
Obama Is Beautiful WorldThe Obama for Obama song, as performed by the Anyone Brothers Band. Yes, there actually is an album too...
Here in New Zealand, where real men eat meat and real men are all you meet, vegetarianism remains the practise of people “with a sheep loose in the top paddock.” Or to lose the colloquial, in a game of marbles, the vegetarian would be missing a few. Wooly in the head myself for the last thirteen years, I have lost count of the times carnivores have looked at me blank, uncomprehending; the queries of “but do you eat chicken, or fish?” constant. About vegetarianism in New Zealand, the penny has yet to drop, and ends are yet to meet. So it was about as surprising as a sausage wrapped in bread that the Christchurch Vegetarian Centre found themselves under the grill in trying to fire up a fund-raising sausage sizzle with non-meat sausages this week.
New Zealand needs meatThe selfless sizzle was booked several months in advance outside a large hardware store, a much sought after location, and management were told the sausages would be soy, yet on arrival a staff member informed the meat-free merchants of an unforeseen emergency—the public of New Zealand “needed meat.” Meatless and proud, the group were only allowed to stay on the proviso they erected large signs warning of their vegetable contamination. Frying up a storm in front of a sign proclaiming “Vegetarian Sausages Only,” Christchurch Vegetarian Centre co-ordinator Yolanda Soryl expressed her meat-free beef at their treatment:
“I was really shocked they (the hardware store) were so ‘anti’ trying something new. They told us customers would be really irate if they didn't get their meat but we've had no complaints from customers and some people told us they came down especially to try some.”
- The Lotus-Heart Vegetarian Restaurant, Christchurch, New Zealand
- The Blue Bird Vegetarian Café, Auckland, New Zealand
- Vegetarianism and the Sri Chinmoy Centre
- Christchurch Vegetarian Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand
- Vegge sausage sizzle hits a snag by Kim Thomas, The Press, 15 Sept 2008
Has this Burger King restaurant gone to the vege-dogs? It seems the hamburger giant and restaurant brand that promises to “have it your way” suddenly went away, and not a meat-burger on site. Perhaps minimum waged, barely aged staff were whimpering behind counters and under chairs, too afraid to “meet?” Or were they just out of meat?