Japan’s Pig Rodeo – Animal Cruelty or Just Plain Fun?

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Although pigs aren’t exactly known for their speed and stamina, the people of Mikame, in Japan’s Ehime Prefecture seem to think they’re the perfect animals to ride.

Ehime Prefecture has been known as Japan’s pork production capital for a long time, and 25 years ago someone thought it would be a great idea to celebrate by riding hogs in a unique event known as Pig Rodeo. Part of the annual Seiyo City Mikame Summer Festival, the crazy event has been a popular tourist attraction, but to most of the western world it remained a mystery until 2009, when a YouTube video was picked up by a number of media outlets. There was a lot of controversy surrounding pig rodeo, at the time, and someone even started an online petition to get it banned, but in the last two years there were hardly any stories written on the subject.

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World’s Biggest Carved Pumpkin Is a Tribute to Zombies

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Life-size zombies crawling out of a 1,800-pound giant pumpkin? You have to face it, Halloween carved pumpkins don’t get a lot cooler than that.

A crowd of Halloween fans gathered at the New York Botanical Garden, the other day, to see pumpkin-carving master Ray Villafane work his magic on the world’s biggest pumpkin. Ray, an established artist known also for his incredible toy and sand sculptor, had something special in mind for this year’s event, and it’s safe to say zombie fans were pleased with his idea. He used two of the largest pumpkins from this year’s harvest, one of them a record-holder, to create a creepy scene featuring zombies covered in pumpkin guts crawling out of a giant squash. Ray spent hours painstakingly carving his undead work of art, but his efforts were generously rewarded with cheering and clapping.

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French Chocolatier Organizes Chocolate Boat Regatta

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Thousands of people gathered on the banks of the Odet River, in Quimper, western France, to see seven chocolate boats competing in the sweetest regatta ever.

Georges Larnicol first made headlines last year, when he managed to sail in a 1.2-tonne-heavy chocolate boat, in Concarneau port. Now the 56-year-old master chocolatier, who owns a dozen shops throughout western France, has taken his passion to a whole new level by creating seven functional chocolate boats and showing them off to the world during a race. All of the boats were made of melted unsold chocolate, measured two-meters-long and weighed around 450 kilograms, each. The boats only had room for one sailor, who had to use chocolate oars to steer it to the finish line.

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The Tipat War of Bali Is What I Call a Real Food Fight

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Every year the men of Kapal Village, in Bali, celebrate the rice harvest by throwing rice cakes at each other in one of the largest traditional food fights in the world.

Also known as the Aci Rah Pengangon ritual, the Tipat War is preceded by a collective prayer in the inner court of Kapal Village’s Pura Desa (the village temple). Here local men give thanks for the bountiful rice harvest and relax before the upcoming food massacre. After praying, dozens of bare-chested men start the first rice cake fight right in the middle of the temple courtyard. They are divided into two groups and throw tipat (cooked rice wrapped in a square shaped woven coconut leaf) at each other. This fight lasts for only five minutes and is a preliminary event to the full-scale war that is about to take place in the village street outside the temple.

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Savika – Wrestling Angry Bulls in Madagascar

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Savika is a rodeo-like sport practiced by men of the Betsileo ethnic group in Madagascar. It’s considered a rite of passage, and any man who dares dance with the angry zebus is considered a hero of the community.

No one remembers exactly when savika was invented, but everyone agrees it has been practiced by Betsileo men for centuries. The traditional sport is enjoyed by all members of the community, be they men or women, young or old, rich or poor, and is considered a unifying factor that brings everyone together. Savika is also a rite of passage for young boys who want to prove their manhood, and one of the best forms of courtship for single men. Apparently nothing impresses Betsileo women more than seeing their men dance with a zebu – a kind of domesticated cattle with long horns and a distinctive hump.

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World Egg Throwing Championships – An Egg-centric Competition

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One of the wackiest competitions in the world, the annual World Egg Throwing Championships held in Swaton, England feature a variety of events, all having to do with smashed eggs.

According to the World Egg Throwing Federation website, egg throwing is a local tradition inspired by historic events that occurred in the 14th century. It’s believed the ancient village of Swaton has stood on theses very grounds since before Roman times, but it wasn’t until 1322 that it became forever linked to egg throwing. The newly appointed Abbot was assigned to the Parish of Swaton  by royal decree, and found a rather ingenious way of increasing church attendance. As the only person in the settlement to own chickens, he provided one egg for each attendee to his sermons. But when the waters of the River Eau flooded, cutting off the church from the village, monks started throwing the eggs to the waiting locals. Legend has it when the gap became even wider, the monks used small trebuchets to make sure the eggs traveled the required distance.

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Latvia’s Wacky Milk Carton Boat Race

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Every year, at the end of August, Latvians celebrate Milk, Bread and Honey Festival with a special race between boats made from thousands of empty milk cartons.

The milk carton boat regatta has become a very popular tradition since it first took place nine years ago. The wacky event always take place on the Lielupe River, in the Latvian town of Jelgava, and means to offer local audience a good time and popularize a healthy lifestyle through the consumption of organic dairy foods made in Latvia. Teams of locals eager of a good time, as well as some representing dairy processors and food producers enter the competition every year and fight for various titles, including the fastest boat, funniest crew and most original boat.

This year a record number of participants registered milk carton boat race – 36 teams showed up on the Lielupe River, on August 27, to prove their seafaring skills. There were only a few rules teams had to obey for this event: boats had to be made excursively of empty milk cartons and had to be guided to the finish line by human power alone. The size of the boat and number of rowers was not limited, provided the carton vessel remained afloat. The course was only 50 meters long, the shortest so far, but teams struggled to finish as they had to paddle against a strong wind. Some team members even jumped into the river to push their boats across the finish.

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The Magnificent Floating Puppets of Les Plasticiens Volants

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Les Plasticiens Volants is a world-renown theater group that stages monumental performances using giant inflatable puppets, some over 20 meters long.

Ever since it was established, in 1976, the unique group has been entertaining audiences world-wide withe their amazing shows. From just two members, the group has grown to a company of 30 enthusiasts who create the puppets and masterfully operate them over the heads of the audience, telling a story. According to the members of the Les Plasticiens Volants, the advantage and at the same time the biggest challenge is building a marionette without a solid or fixed structure. They bend in the air and turn their heads in a way that makes them seem alive. But, as you can imagine, they are lot harder to control from the ground.

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A Dream on Two Wheels – Man Rides Bicycle from Shanghai to London

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Zheng Sheng, a 23-year-old college graduate from Shanghai, has fulfilled his dream of cycling across Eurasia, traveling 14,000 kilometers all the way to London.

When Zheng tried to convince sponsors to finance his daring dream, they all thought he was crazy, but he wasn’t about to let something as meaningless as money stand before him and his goal. With the help of his sister and a few friends, he managed to raise 13,000 yuan ($2,000), which he used to buy all the necessary gear for a bike ride from his home city of Shanghai to London. Before setting out on March 5, he posted on his microblog: “A journey 14,000 kilometers is the goal – here I go!”. He went though all kinds of challenges throughout the 136 days he spent cycling across 11 countries, but believe it or not, this ambitious young man reached his destination on July 18.

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Run For Your Lives – A Zombie-Infested Obstacle Race

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If you’re a big fan of zombie movies and video games, and always wanted to experience a zombie apocalypse in real life, this is your big chance. Run For Your Lives is a unique 5k obstacle course race where contenders have to get passed man-made and natural obstacles while chased by brain-eating zombies.

This sounds like one of my biggest nightmares, and after seeing the presentation video, I’m definitely not signing up. But then again, I’m too scared to even participate in one of those harmless zombie parades, so…But anyway, back to the race. Unlike in a regular running competition, you’re not just running against the clock, but also against an army of bloody, virus infested zombies that want to kill you. Don’t worry though, they’re not really going to kill anyone, just steal all their flags, which represent life points. At the beginning of the race, runners will be equipped with a flag belt, representing their health. If they lose all their flags during the race, they “die” and the zombies win. Runners will still be able to complete the race if they so desire, but they will not be eligible for awards.

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Paris Museum Displays Skateboarders’ Dream House

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The PAS House, a skateboarding living environment concept thought up by French pro skater Pierre Andre Senizergues and designer Gil Le Bon Delapointe, has finally been brought to life at the La Gaite Museum, in Paris.

Pierre Andre Senizergues has been in love with his skateboard ever since he first discovered it, as a teenager, and has pretty much built his life around the board. He’s ridden it to five world skateboarding championships and built a successful skateboarding shoe line called etnies, so you can see why he felt a little reluctant to part with it every time he went inside his house. But then one day, he had this crazy idea: “I began imagining a city of the future where skateboards are used as the primary form of transportation and recreation — in and out of your home.” the skater told the Toronto Star. “A utopia city for skateboarders would mean that a skateable path, like a ribbon connecting everything together, links each building in an unending ability to keep in motion on your board.”

So, in the early 2000’s, Senizergues partnered with etnies designer and fellow skateboarding fanatic Gil Le Bon Delapointe to create a perfectly skateable house on Senizergues’ Malibu property. They came up with a few great ideas, and even managed to build a miniature model of this skateboarder’s dream house, but after 10 years and some run-ins with the Coastal Commission, it was still in the project phase. But, La Gaite Museum, in Paris, somehow learned about their original housing idea and presented them with the opportunity of building a prototype for their skate-culture exhibition, running this summer.

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Couple Get Married in Geeky Ceremony Conducted by Computer

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A couple who found each other through an online social network called “Sweet on Geeks”, decided to geek out their wedding by having a computer program called Reverend Bit perform the ceremony.

Miguel Hanson and Diana Wesley had one of the most unusual yet appropriate weddings in human history. Hanson, a Houston web developer and IT consultant, got the crazy idea after they couldn’t find a friend to serve as minister at their wedding. He decided he was going to write his own minister, and while she acknowledged it would make them the target of nerd jokes, Diana agreed because it just fit who they are – geeks. They met on Sweet on Geeks, they both love science fiction and fantasy, and since the maid of honor was going to make the bride’s cake with Nerds candy as icing, they agreed to geek out their wedding completely.

The unique wedding ceremony took place on Saturday, in Hanson’s house, where the 30 or so guests were greeted by a mechanical, robotic voice. It was Reverend Bit, a program created by Miguel Hanson himself, who treated the audience to a short story about how the couple met, before beginning the actual ceremony. His square animated face appeared on one side of the 30 inch monitor, while the other side showed the text of what he was saying. His voice came over a sound system.

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Pretend Guitarists Compete at US Air Guitar Championships

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22 of America’s best air-rockers gathered at Chicago’s legendary Metro, where they pulled out their best pretend-guitar-playing tricks, hoping to take home the title of US Air Guitar Champion.

Most people only practice air-guitar moves in the privacy of their own homes, away from prying eyes, while listening to their favorite rock song, but for the guys competing in the 2011 US Air Guitar Championships, it was all about putting on a show for others. And what they lacked in musical instruments they made up for in sheer craziness, performing the most outrageous air-guitar tricks, including the ever-popular drop to the knees, the behind-the-back and teeth picking.

The competition took place last weekend,and even though it featured air guitar legends like New York’s Airistotle, Washington’s Tommy Fretless or Tony Tapatio, from Portland, the title of US Air Guitar Champion went to local pretend musician Nordic Thunder. Also known as Justin Howard, the Chicago-based viking lookalike kick-started his air-guitar career five years ago, with a regional competition win. He suffered a ruptured disk in one of his hardcore performances, but has come back with a vengeance and has just proved he’s ready to take the pretend-guitar-playing world by storm.

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Italy Mixes World’s Largest Mojito Cocktail

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We all love Mojito, and the bigger the cocktail glass the better, right? Well they don’t come much bigger than the one prepared by Italian cocktail experts, near Lake Pusiano.

Thousands of liquor lovers gathered in Italy’s Lombardy region, near Lake Pusiano, to watch cocktail connoisseurs prepare the world’s largest glass of Mojito, and hoping to sample some of it. On July 14, during the historic event, bartenders mixed large quantities of rum, sugar cane juice and mint and managed to create a 1,300 liter version of the delicious Cuban drink.

Bartenders from Raptor Ltd and Cafe Eupili spent around 75 minutes adding and carefully mixing the ingredients in a giant glass, while a thirsty crowd of 4,000 cheered them on. A Guinness Records representative acknowledged the new world record, which beat the previous one of “only” 877 liters, set in 2010, in Italy. I guess Italians have a thing for Mojito cocktails.

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Daredevils Compete in Annual Bee-Wearing Competition

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Two brave Chinese beekeepers competed in the annual bee-wearing contest, yesterday, trying to attract as many bees on their bodies, in just 60 minutes.

42-year-old Wang Dalin and 20-year-old Lc Kongjiang were the only contestants registered for the event that took place in Shaoyang City, China. Wearing only shorts, goggles and nose plugs, the two bee enthusiasts competed by each standing on a scale and using queen bees to attract as many regular buzzers on their bodies, in one hour. The queen bees were locked in small cages and tied around their bodies, and it was only a matter of time until the swarming bees picked up their scent and formed living suits around the competitors.

In the end, Wang Dalin won the bee-wearing competition, by attracting 26 kilograms of bees onto his body, while his younger fellow beekeeper only manged to attract 22.9 kilograms of live bees. Despite their valiant efforts, the two weren’t able to break the world bee-wearing record, of 39.5 kg (350,000 bees), set by American Mark Biancaniello.

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