AutoWed – A Cheap Wedding Vending Machine

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One of the most bizarre concepts introduced this year, AutoWed is essentially a wedding vending machine that will get you and your loved one hitched in minutes, for just $1.

Sure, an automated wedding machine pretty much takes all the romance out of the whole deal, but with weddings getting more and more expensive every year, people seem to be welcoming any cheap alternative with open arms. Such was the case with Concept Shed’s latest project, AutoWed. The English company managed to create what can best be described as a wedding vending machine that will do the job quicker and cheaper than a priest, minister, rabbi, or any other religious figure.

It’s part parking meter, part pink Cadillac, part cathedral and part steampunk installation, and the ceremony isn’t exactly on par with what you’ve seen at conventional weddings, but it gets the job done and for just $1. The 8-feet-tall piece of machinery features wedding music and a weird robotic voice that prompts you to press a bunch of keys in order to keep the weeding going, after you’ve inserted the mandatory coins. You start by choosing between a straight, gay or lesbian marriage and a friends forever ceremony, then you input your names and can press 1 for “I do” or 2 for “Escape”. At the end, AutoWed lets you kiss the bride and even dispenses a receipt and two plastic rings to commemorate this special day.

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Cacao, the Bus-Riding Dog of Milan

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Cacao, a 16-year-old mixed-breed dog, from Milan, Italy, has become somewhat of a celebrity after he appeared in local papers for his weird habit of taking the bus to his favorite spot in the city.

A true “Milanese”, Cacao knows the city by heart, some would say even better than some of his fellow human inhabitants, and his weekend antics  are clear proof. Almost every day, for the last few years, Cacao leaves his master’s home and heads for the bus stop on Arrgone Bouleverd. There he sits on his backside, alongside the other human commuters, waiting for bus 54. As it approaches the station, he prickles his ears and takes a good look at who’s sitting in the driver’s seat. You see, this four-legged rascal only takes the bus when it’s driven by the driver he’s known since he first started his secret trips. After he makes sure he’s got the right driver, Cacao leaps on the bus and waits quietly until he reaches his destination – Lambrate Station, in north-eastern Milan. You’d think he has a certain reason for taking the bus here, but Cacao just loiters in the public garden for a few hours, then when he’s tired, takes the bus home. Luckily, his old friend the bus driver always ignores regulations, at his own risk, and allows to ride on the bus.

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Woman Hasn’t Used Money in 15 Years

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Heidemarie Schwermer, a 69-year-old woman from Germany, gave up using money 15 years ago and says she’s been much happier ever since.

Heidemarie’s incredible story began 22 years ago, when she, a middle-aged secondary school teacher emerging from a difficult marriage, took her two children and moved to the city of Dortmund, in Germany’s Ruhr area. One of the first things she noticed was the large number of homeless people, and this shocked her so much that she decided to actually do something about it. She had always believed the homeless didn’t need actual money to be accepted back into society, only a chance to empower themselves by making themselves useful, so she opened a Tauschring (swap shop), called “Gib und Nimm” (Give and Take).

Her small venture was a place where anyone could trade stuff and skills for other things and skills they needed, without a single coin or banknote changing hands. Old clothes could be traded in return for kitchen appliances, and car service rendered in return for plumbing services, and so on. The idea didn’t really attract many of Dortmund’s homeless, because, as some of them told her to her face, they didn’t feel an educated middle-class woman could relate to their situation. Instead, her small shop was assaulted by many of the city’s unemployed and retired folk eager to trade their skills and old stuff for something they needed. Heidemarie Schwermer’s Tauschring eventually became somewhat of a phenomenon in Dortmund and even prompted its creator to ask herself some questions about the life she was living.

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Baby Barbells Teaches Dads How to Use Babies as Gym Equipment

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Having a baby is a blessing, but taking care of a toddler is a full time job and hitting the gym on a regular basis gets pretty tough. Thankfully, Joshua Levitt’s book, Baby Barbells, teaches fathers how to spend time with their babies and stay fit at the same time.

Modern life makes it almost impossible for people to get everything done by doing one thing at a time, and for Joshua Levitt, a naturopathic physician, husband and father of three, going to the gym to do his works out was pretty much out of the question. Six months after his first baby was born, he realized that by trying to be a good father, husband and doctor,  he was neglecting his daily exercises; he was getting out of shape and he was feeling it. One day, after trying all the usual tricks to calm his baby daughter, he was lying down on his back and he began lifting her “baby up, baby down” and, apart from the fact that she appeared to enjoy it, Josh felt the burn in his triceps, and that’s when the idea for Baby Barbells was born.

It was multitasking at its finest, and thrilled, so thrilled by his discovery, Mr. Levitt began searching for other ways of incorporating fitness exercises in his fathering activities. He invented routines like Peek-a-boo Pop-ups, Lullaby Lunges or Tot Squats and included them all in a clever illustrated book called “Baby Barbells: The Dad’s Guide to Fitness and Fathering” that helps dads tone their muscles while interacting with their kids.

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Artificially Dyed Frogs Are the New Craze in China

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Just like tattooed gold fish and live turtles sealed in keychains, artificially dyed frogs have been sold in China for a few years now, despite complaints from animal activists and warnings from animal welfare experts.

It seems regular frogs weren’t cheerful-looking enough for some people, so they decided to add a bit more color to mother nature’s design, through modern technology. Using various devices and techniques, including lasers and bombarding the poor amphibians with large amounts of industrial chemicals which are absorbed by their skin, they create what is known as colored frogs. The colors are vibrant and apparently last for up to 4-5 years.

For some reason, many Chinese seem to like these radioactive-looking frogs, and they are in very high demand at aquariums and ponds across the country. Some even buy them as pets for their children, and vendors say people “like the bright colors because they are so cheerful”. Unfortunately, few of them understand that the high doses of chemicals are lethal as indicated by signs like “Not for human consumption” on the side of their tanks. Experts say thousands of tropical frogs could die as a result of this colored frog trend.

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The Food Illustrator – Man Draws His Every Meal for an Entire Year

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English graphic designer, David Meldrum, also known as The Food Illustrator, has kept a record of everything he has eaten and drunk for an entire year, by creating 365 illustrations.

Wanting to create a historical record not only of what he ate, but of today’s food related trends, packaging, design and typography, David Meldrum began his Food Illustrator project on June 15, 2010, and kept track of every little thing he consumed by drawing his every meal in a sketchbook he kept on him at all times. It was a pretty tough challenge, but he never missed a day, as that would have meant cheating himself and his work. David used acrylic, collage, watercolour, pen and ink to create his illustrations.

The Food Illustrator ended on June 14, 2011 and the result was a shockingly realistic food diary of an average person’s diet, with 1,360 consumed cups of coffee, 305 pints of Peroni lager, 122 Freddo chocolate bars, spaghetti, salads and McDonald’s fast food. All of his 365 colorful illustrations were on display through June 26, at the Arch 402 Gallery, in London, and art lovers could buy them.

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Giant Hamburger Sets New World Record

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The last “world’s largest hamburger” weighed a massive 590 pounds, but that didn’t stop Brett Enright from blowing it right out of the water with an even bigger calorie bomb.

Enright, CEO of Juicys traveling barbecue catering service, first thought about attempting to make the world’s largest hamburger last December, while on vacation. He looked up the Guinness Record for the world’s biggest burger, and after a talk with Nick Nicora, co-owner of Ovation Food Services, he decided to try and beat it, at this year’s Alameda County Fair.

On July 2, at 5 am, Brett and his helpers started working on their fast-food monster, by preparing 600 pounds of meat, which they expected would shrink to 400 pounds, after cooking. Then they molded 340 pounds of dough into two buns, which after baking were covered with 50 pounds of cheese, 20 pounds of onions, 30 pounds of lettuce, 13 pounds of pickles and 20 pounds of mustard and ketchup (10 of each). The burger itself was cooked on a giant, mobile barbecue called The Outlaw Grill. This mean contraption spends most of the year on the road, traveling from NASCAR events to concerts and fairs, cooking up a storm wherever it goes. This huge burger was its biggest challenge yet.

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LEGO Masters Recreate Middle-Earth, All of It!

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A group of LEGO and The Lord of the Rings fans have managed to create an awe-inspiring LEGO version of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, spanning over 200 square feet.

The idea for this amazing project was born at BrickWorld 2010, where Chris Phipson and Mark Kelso started talking about a collaboration. After going through some ideas, and concepts, Chris said “Hey, I got it… let’s do Lord of the Rings.” Obviously, Mark’s reply was along the lines of “You mean like… a few of us build Minas Tirith or Barad Dur?” But his LEGO loving friend had something much bigger in mind – he wanted to recreate ALL of Middle-Earth using LEGO.

When they first heard Chris’ monumental idea, most of the people involved in the project thought he was crazy, but after a bit of probing, the plan was put into action. As you can expect in a project of this magnitude, things didn’t exactly go smoothly from start to finish, but what’s important is many members of the LEGO building community helped out as much as they could. And, after a whole year of planning and building, the LEGO model of Middle-Earth was finally completed and showcased at BrickWorld 2011.

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Chinese Girl Allegedly Offers Her Virginity in Exchange for an iPhone 4

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It seems some people would do anything to get their hands on Apple’s gadgets – like this Chinese girl who, apparently, posted on Weibo (China;s version of Twitter) that she would trade her virginity for an iPhone 4.

The Korea Herald reports that the young unnamed teen, from Guangdong, China, resorted to such desperate measures because it is her “dream to own a iPhone4 but her father won’t let her get one.” So she just decided to trade the only thing valuable enough to guarantee her the coveted phone. The girl posted a photo of  herself along with some basic info, letting everyone know she would give her virginity to anyone that buys her an iPhone 4.

As you can expect, reactions to her message were pretty negative. Some posted that her virginity was a lot more valuable than an iPhone, while others advised her to at least wait for the newer, improved iPhone 5 to be launched. There are also those who believe someone is simply using her account to play a cruel prank. It does sound kind of hard to believe someone would go to such lengths just to get an iPhone 4, but just a few weeks ago a Chinese teen sold one of his kidneys to get the money for an Apple iPad 2. He suffered some complications during surgery and will faces serious lifelong health issues…

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Lullaby – A Theater Show Designed to Put Spectators to Sleep

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Usually, when members of the audience fall asleep during a play, it means the show was pretty boring, but at the Barbican Theater, in London, it’s considered a success.

Most plays are designed to excite and entertain spectators, but the Barbican’s “Lullaby” was conceived for a totally different purpose – it aims to put you to sleep long before the final act. Guests are asked to arrive at 10:00 pm sharp, and bring their pajamas and toothbrushes, as they’ll be spending the night in one of the beds crammed inside the theater’s hall. Single, double and triple beds are available, so you can enjoy the show by yourself or share the bed with someone you know.

Once spectators have put on their pajamas and taken their place in the pre-booked beds, lights are dimmed and the show is off to a slow, gentle start. It combines singing and storytelling designed to send you off to dreamland before proceedings come to an end, around 1 am. Instead of applause, actors are rewarded with occasional snores, as they take a bow before their sleeping audience, but that just means they did a good job. When lights are turned on, at 7:30 in the morning, spectators are treated to a classic English breakfast, to send them on their way.

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CosquilleArte – The World’s First Tickle Spa Opens in Spain

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Relaxing is probably one of the last words people use to describe tickling, but at the CosquilleArte Spa, in Madrid, Spain, they actually use delicate tickling techniques to relieve clients’ stress.

I’ve seen some pretty bizarre spas since I began writing for OC, from resorts treating guests to wine, tea and sake baths, to clinics that use crude oil as treatment, but I never imagined someone would get the outrageous idea of using tickling as a stress-relieving therapy. But what I found even more ridiculous was that the idea actually worked and CosquilleArte has become one of the most popular spa venues in the Spanish capital. It wasn’t until later, when I learned the tickling methods have nothing to do with the terrible torture we all had to face from childhood friends, that this unusual form of therapy started to make sense.

Instead of jabbing their fingers into clients’ sides and armpits, like I’m sure you and your friends/siblings used to torment each other, the massage therapists at CosquilleArte gently trace their fingertips and soft feathers down their backs and other sensible areas, and adjust their touches according to how ticklish every person is. Although most first time customers clench when they’re touched, they leave the wacky establishment a lot more relaxed than when they came in.

Photo by CosquilleArte

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Art Student Creates Hair Raising Necklaces from Human Hair

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Kerry Howley, a creative art student, from Cambridge, England, is creating quite a buzz in the art world, with her collection of delicate necklaces made from human hair.

The idea of creating jewelry from human hair was inspired by people’s aversion to cut hair. Hair is usually regarded as a very important part of the human body and is worn with pride, but once its connection to the body has been severed, it’s viewed as slightly disgusting. Through her art, the young Middlesex student “hoped to create a delicate balance between the viewer/wearer’s feelings of aversion and attraction.” She wanted to see if she could make cut hair attractive again.

The main material for Howley’s masterpieces was provided by one of her mother’s friends, a Japanese woman with hair down to her waist. She only cuts it once every five years, and when she had 30 cm cut off the bottom, she gave it all to Kerry. The 23-year-old art student used broken saw blades to cut and weave the strands of hair into abstract shapes inspired by wallpaper patterns, and spent over 60 hours working on each of the five hair necklaces she has created so far.

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Scottish Band Releases Single on Edible Chocolate Record

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A collaboration between a talented chocolatier and Scottish band FOUND, this chocolate record can be considered the sweetest release of all time.

Chocolatier Ben Milne met FOUND members, Ziggy and Tommy, a couple of years ago, and they’ve become good friends, so when Ben approached them about doing something together in the shape of a chocolate record, it’s safe to to say they were pretty excited. But while the idea sounded pretty good in theory, it turned out pretty difficult to accomplish. At first, the Fife-based chocolate master went off and bought a 7″ single vinyl and covered it with melted chocolate, but that didn’t turn out very well, and he soon realized he had actually created the opposite of a record. Then he tried making a mold of the record and casting the chocolate vinyl from that, but he still couldn’t get the desired audio quality.

By this time, FOUND’s record company got really excited about this chocolate record, and they got PR companies involved, and Ben was just thinking his idea wasn’t going to work and he was going to let everybody down. As a last resort, he decided to ask the label to provide him with a template they use to press the actual vinyl, only use chocolate instead. That idea proved a winner, and when he played the first one to FOUND, the two members looked pretty impressed.

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New Zealand Pub Serves Shots of Apple-Flavored Horse Semen

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A pub in Wellington, New Zealand, has caused quite a stir after it decided to serve apple-flavored horse semen shots to its customers.

Steven Drummond, co-owner of the Green Man Pub, in Wellington, was looking for a new drink as the entry for the nationwide 14th annual Monteith’s Beer & Wild Food Challenge, when he realized the sperm harvested from a nearby Christchurch stallion farm would make a fine choice. Add some apple flavor and voila, you have the most disgusting shot ever served in a bar. And the weirdest thing is people actually pay big money to try it. If someone paid you to drink horse semen, I’d (kind of) understand, but when you’re the one paying $20 for a shot of the stuff, you have a problem.

According to Green Man Pub chef, Jason Varley, the horse semen drink known as “Hoihoi tatea” is particularly preferred by the female clientele. Most ladies down the stuff and afterwards make jokes about going home and getting their husbands to eat grass, or about the possibility of their children being born with long faces. Varley admits he tried horse semen himself and claims it tastes “ok”, “like custard”, but says it’s not very popular with men, in general.

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Farmer Uses Sheep as Living Billboards

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English farmer, James Metcalfe, has brought a whole new meaning to the term “branding”, after using his sheep to advertise a business venture.

After authorities denied his request to erect billboards near the A1 highway, because they could distract drivers, Metcalfe, from Dalton, North Yorkshier, decided to advertise his turf company using 20 of his sheep as living banners. Sheep marker comes in spray cans so it was quite easy to write Tyas Turf on the oblivious animals, and since the fields they graze on are right next to the A1, they’re just as good as any billboards.

Asked if he considers expanding into the advertising business, and renting his sheep as advertising space for other companies, Metcalfe, who partly owns Tyas Turf, said he doesn’t reckon his shepherd will go along with the idea, since he barely convinced him to let him  spray-paint the 20 sheep.

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