Wednesday, June 01, 2005
wednesday weirdness version 4.0
Alas, "Popo Bawa" is NOT AT ALL like that...
In other odd news...
the murder of a cook; artists ''concerned'' that tattoos are losing their nonconformist lure; A "bun-snatching" ritual revived (NOT what you think) *lol*; A bartender's lipstick lawsuit; A silent 'Piano Man' poses quite the beach riddle (an amalgam of Billy Joel... and the Sphinx?) *lol*; A minister's wife seeking madonna...?!? Nothing wrong with it if it's the REAL Madonna - the Holy Virgin! I fear that it is NOT though... :(
plus ; a mafioso who eludes capture by dressing up as a bishop! Were he a mafia BOSS, I suppose he would have dressed as a Cardinal - fresh off the Conclave - nothing less... right? *lol* Oh - and fighting monks! Hollywood has them - but these are not Shaolin monks played by anyone from the Carradine family and these are actually BRAWLING monks - slight, ah, nuance there...! ;)
May 16, 10:42 AM (ET) By William Maclean
CHAKE CHAKE, Tanzania (Reuters) - Mohammed Juma starts to sweat and fidget as he recalls his rape by Popo Bawa, the most feared spirit-monster of the Zanzibar spice islands.
"We believe reading the Koran is our only defense, nothing else," says the 41-year-old driver and father of four. "But Popo Bawa is real, and well prepared."
Vacationers on the Indian Ocean islands tend to smile dismissively at accounts in guidebooks of the bat-like ogre said to prey on men, women and children. But for superstitious Zanzibaris a visit from the sodomizing gremlin is no joke.
Although no one ever has seen it, belief in the monster and his unnatural lust is so strong that entire villages will sleep out of doors for protection: Popo Bawa (Swahili for Bat's Wing) prefers to attack behind closed doors at night.
In huts set amid rustling groves of jackfruit and mangoes on Zanzibar's Pemba island, victims told Reuters in interviews that they detected a bad smell, became cold and went into a trance in the moments before they felt the creature's inhuman strength.
Some attacks were heralded by the sound of giant wings and claws rattling and scraping on huts' tin roofs. Others cringed in terror at what sounded like a car engine ticking over.
"We heard a rustling on the roof," recalls Asha Saleh, in her late 50s, in Machomanne village near Pemba's main town of Chake Chake. "I felt someone fondling me. I felt very cold. I felt weak," she said, recalling the attack some 35 years ago.
"I couldn't call out for help to my husband who was lying asleep beside me. Popo Bawa is strong: He really presses down on you. And it took such a long time: One hour! Eventually I lost consciousness. And I was one of many who were attacked."
Successive waves of colonizers and traders -- Arabs, Portuguese, Hindus, Chinese, Britons, Persians and Africans -- left behind a multinational array of legends on Zanzibar.
Accordingly, many dismiss Popo Bawa as another of the satanic stories swapped over the centuries by migratory Indian Ocean peoples as they moved back and forth on the tides from Indonesia to the Comoros, from Madagascar to the Maldives.
Zanzibar's distinctive past as an Arab-run slave market prompted some academics to speculate that the story of Popo Bawa emerged from a collective race memory of the horrors of slavery.
But Popo Bawa is unlike the many goblins believed by the islanders to populate the tall grasses that ring their huts.
Many on the islands are adept at exorcisms, placing charms at the base of fig trees or sacrificing goats to avert evil or draw favor from the spirit world.
So experienced are the isles' traditional healers that they draw visitors from the Gulf and east Africa, with the successful amassing riches and prestige.
But no placatory offering or witch doctor can deflect Popo Bawa when he has made his mind up to strike, islanders say.
The monster favors Pemba, the poorer and more backward of the archipelago's twin islands despite being home to the clove plantations that provide the mainstay of Zanzibar's economy.
He also becomes active at election time: a habit that is testing nerves ahead of polls due in October.
His last major visitation was during elections in 1995, when Juma says he endured his terrifying ordeal, although some reported his presence again in 2000 and in 2001.
Pemba's population are staunch opposition supporters. Many accuse the ruling party of Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa of neglecting the island since 1964, when Zanzibar merged with mainland Tanganyika to form the United Republic of Tanzania.
But Juma says Popo Bawa is apolitical even though electoral emotions seem to summon him from the beyond. "He can strike even if the opposition wins the elections," he said.
The driver vows to do his utmost to avoid what happened to him back in 1995 as he sat alone late one evening.
"Many were afraid and were sleeping outside. But I was confident and was alone in my room. I was reading the Koran for protection. After about 20 minutes I started feeling sleepy. I heard something falling on the roof. I continued reciting. I started feeling something in the room.
"I felt my mouth becoming bigger and bigger. I started losing my ability to form words. My feeling was that my lower lip had stretched to my lap. I felt weak in my body. I became very sweaty. My experience was like that of a neighbor of mine who said his head seemed to grow to an enormous size."
Popo Bawa gets annoyed if villagers deny his existence -- a fact to which Khamis Juma Hamad says he can testify.
Hamad, a retired village chief now aged 75, said that in 1971 Popo Bawa spoke to terrified villagers on Pemba through a girl possessed by the monster.
"I am Popo Bawa," said the girl, called Fatuma, speaking in the unnaturally deep voice of a man. "You have challenged my existence so I have come to prove I am here."
Seconds later, he says, the villagers heard the sound of a car revving and a rustle on a nearby roof -- signs of Popo Bawa. "The people felt cold, almost paralyzed. They were terrified."
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Pop star Madonna was at the center of a diplomatic tiff in Israel Sunday involving the foreign minister, his celebrity wife and the ambassador to Washington.
Channel Two TV said Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom's wife had an assistant to ambassador Danny Ayalon fired for failing to secure her an audience with Madonna when the singer, a follower of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, visited Israel last September.
Judy Shalom Nir Mozes denied the report, amid a flurry of headlines that rivalled the wall-to-wall coverage of Madonna's visit eight months ago.
"I don't meddle, that's not me," Shalom Nir Mozes, a popular television and radio host, told Channel Two.
The Foreign Ministry said diplomat Liron Petruzil's three-year tenure in Washington was not renewed for "professional reasons."
May 31, 9:30 AM (ET)
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Five Thai Buddhist monks have been defrocked and fined after a brawl with monks from a nearby temple, police and newspapers said Tuesday.
The street fight was the culmination of years of antagonism between monks from the two temples who had often exchanged curses, insults and rude gestures as they collected alms on different sides of a road, the Manager newspaper said.
"When an ordinary person is given a middle-finger sign, he will be mad. So am I," it quoted one of the defrocked monks, Boonlert Boonpan, as saying after the brawl in the northeastern state of Nong Khai Monday.
Boonlert said he usually carried a knuckle-duster in his shoulder bag during the morning collection of alms on which Bhuddist monks depend, it said.
Boonlert and the four other monks, all aged between 15 and 28, were each fined 1,000 baht ($25) by police for public brawling and were defrocked by senior monks, Wut Pomraksa, head of Nong Khai police station, told Reuters.
But Boonlert was unrepentant.
"If senators can fight in parliament, why can't monks?" he said.
PARIS (Reuters) - A cook at a Paris children's hospital was killed in a sword attack Saturday evening by a man he met on the Internet, police sources said Sunday.
The fatal attack took place inside the Necker hospital, after a disagreement between the 34 year-old victim, who has not yet been named, and his attacker.
"He stabbed him. The security team and one of his colleagues tried to intervene, but were unable to do anything," Isabelle Lesage, director of the hospital, told Reuters.
The attack was carried out with a short Japanese sword, known as a "katana," a police source said.
"The cook suffered one or more sword blows, particularly in the area of the carotid (artery), which caused a quick death," a police spokesman said.
A police source said the attacker, a male in his 50s, then went to a police station with the weapon, and told police he had just killed someone.
Police said he had been examined by psychiatrists but appeared to be of sound mind.
Of sound mind and quite methodical I'd say...
HONG KONG (Reuters) - A dozen people in Hong Kong scrambled up a steel tower covered in buns Monday, reviving a religious ritual banned 26 years ago when the former British colonial government declared it too dangerous.
A similar tower constructed out of bamboo collapsed in 1978, injuring over 100 climbers and onlookers, but the government allowed the tradition to be resurrected this year in a bid to lure visitors to Hong Kong's colorful islands.
The event on Hong Kong's fishing island of Cheung Chau commemorates islanders who died in a bubonic plague in the 19th century. The sweet buns were supposed to cure all illnesses.
The 14-meter (42 foot) tower was covered with more than 1,000 buns for Monday's contest.
The 12 climbers were given three minutes to collect as many as they could, with buns at the top earning more points than those lower down.
At the stroke of midnight, the 10 men and 2 women -- most of them rock climbing enthusiasts -- clambered up the tower, stuffing as many buns as they could into their backpacks.
It was the first time women had been allowed to take part in the tradition.
Unlike previous contests the climbers were made to wear safety harnesses.
More than 20,000 people flocked to the island during the day to catch the action, even though the government had warned that the small seafront venue could accommodate only 1,000.
The majority ended up watching the event on two giant screens in other parts of Cheung Chau, but they didn't seem to mind.
"This was banned even before I was born and I really want to see it," one schoolgirl told television reporters. The event was also shown live on television
LONDON (Reuters) - A smartly dressed man found wandering in a soaking wet suit near an English beach has baffled police and care workers after he refused to say a word and then gave a virtuoso piano performance.
The man, wearing a formal black suit and tie, was spotted by police in Kent on April 8 and taken to a psychiatric unit where it proved impossible to identify him because he stayed silent.
It was only after he was given a pen and paper that care-givers were given an intriguing clue to his possible background when he drew an intricate picture of a grand piano.
He was taken to the hospital's chapel where he played classical music on the piano for hours.
However, despite his picture being posted on the National Missing Persons Helpline's (NMPH) Web site, no one has come forward to identify him.
"Very little is known about him as he has not been speaking with staff at the hospital where he is being cared for, but he has a talent for playing classical piano," an NMPH spokesman said in a statement. Newspapers said members of the public had contacted authorities to say they may have seen the man giving concert performances around Europe.
The Daily Telegraph said the man, in his 20s or 30s, is believed to be English and may have suffered a mental breakdown.
His story echoes the 1996 Oscar-winning film "Shine," in which actor Geoffrey Rush played Australian pianist David Helfgott, who overcame a nervous breakdown to return to performing.
the only Shine I ever liked has always been ''Shine Jesus Shine''... ;)
Court to rehear bartender's lipstick lawsuit
May 16, 10:35 AM (ET)
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A federal appeals court agreed on Friday to reconsider the case of a bartender who was fired from her job at a Nevada casino for refusing to wear lipstick, blush and other make-up.
Alleging sex discrimination, Darlene Jespersen sued her employer, Harrah's Entertainment Inc., after it dismissed her in 2000 for refusing to comply with a policy that required women to wear makeup.
In December, Jespersen's case was dismissed by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the policy was legal. Without comment, the court reversed the ruling on Friday and ordered the case to be reheard by an 11-judge panel.
Jespersen's attorney said the case of the 20-year Harrah's veteran could determine the rights of women in service professions to choose how to present themselves.
"What makes it discriminatory is that it requires women to present themselves in a particularly feminine way," said the attorney, Jennifer Pizer of Lambda Legal in Los Angeles.
Jespersen started work at Harrah's in 1979 as a dishwasher before being promoted to work as a bartender helper and then as a full bartender. Jespersen felt deeply uncomfortable wearing the foundation, lip stick, blush and mascara that her employer required, her attorney said.
Harrah's implemented a mandatory policy that it called "Beverage Department Image Transformation," which required, among other things, that women wear makeup. After refusing to comply with the policy, Jespersen was fired in 2000.
By Walker Simon
NEW YORK (Reuters) - As models flaunted head-to-toe body art and hard rock pulsated in a cavernous ballroom, veteran tattoo artists at a New York convention on Saturday wondered if their once taboo artistry was losing its nonconformist lure.
Practitioners from 12 countries posted thousands of designs as crowds packed makeshift corridors and organizers created a carnival-like air with giant freak show canvases draping the walls.
Americans, especially women, are embracing a practice once considered seedy. A growing number of people are subjecting themselves to the whir of engine-driven needles spitting pigments into their body, tattoo artists said.
According to some published reports, around 20 percent of Americans aged 18 to 25 are getting tattooed. Skin motifs are increasingly shedding their subversive image, some tattoo artists said. And women, who were once scarce in tattoo parlors, now make up about half the clientele, they added.
"It used to be secret and underground," said a man who identified himself as R.J. "There's more tattoo shops than ever before ... anyone can order a kit and do it in his garage," said R.J., who owns the Tabu Tattoo shop in West Los Angeles.
The growing number of rockers, Hollywood celebrities and sports stars showing off tattoos spur young people to go under the needle, the artists and fans said.
"For a lot of younger people, tattooing has become part of life, like buying a pair of shoes," said Spider Webb, 60, who has published books on the art of tattooing since the 1970s. "It's like computers, no one used to have them, now everyone has; no one (they knew) had tattoos, now everyone has."
Webb said he no longer creates "artistic pieces," but instead tattoos to make money. Back in 1977, he tattooed 999 people with an outline of X on the thigh. The 1,000th person willing to have the tattoo got 1000 tiny x's creating the letter in a large shape.
Professionals were among the fans tattooed from neck to calf at the weekend convention. One was a 45-year-old nurse practitioner and another was a 44-year-old corporate securities lawyer who said he earned over $600,000 a year.
"No one will look at a large forearm (tattoo) piece and give it a second thought" in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the attorney said. He acknowledged he wore a long-sleeve shirt at the office to cloak his markings.
Henning Jorgensen, 44, of Denmark said his clients included dentists, lawyers and bankers. One man paid $15,000 over three years for a motif of a samurai with a frog, drawn down the back from neck to calf. Now he wants the front side of his body done.
Jorgensen said he met a U.S. attorney at the convention who was willing to fly to Denmark to be tattooed by him.
Long-time tattoo photographer Charles Gatewood of San Francisco said: "It (tattooing) is so popular that it has lost some of its magic. It was like a club, a secret society and family. Now it's gotten commercialized, co-opted and watered down ... in the opinion of some people."
Yep - tattoos are not cool.
I personally doubt they ever were actually...!
Nowadays, nothing is shocking anymore - therefore nothing is cool.
May weel be the result of being on such an uncool world.
Still has its moments of bliss now and then though... :)
May 17, 12:16 PM (ET)
ROME (Reuters) - It's no wonder Bernardo Provenzano, the Sicilian Mafia's "boss of bosses," has eluded capture for more than four decades.
According to a Mafia godmother-turned-superinformer, the 72-year-old mobster turned up at a summit of Cosa Nostra leaders in 1992 disguised in a bishop's purple vestments.
"At first I didn't recognize him. It seemed strange that someone would show up at a meeting dressed as a bishop," Giuseppina Vitale told a court Monday, according to Ansa news agency.
"He was even wearing a violet hat."
Provenzano has been on the run for 42 years. The most recent photograph police have of him was taken nearly three decades ago.
As a Luciano, I should know about LA COSA NOSTRA...
Not my thing.