Coolest Finds of the Week #24

7 Creepiest Abandoned Japanese Love Hotels (Environmental Graffiti)

The Cockiest Shrine Bangkok (Asia Obscura)

A Cheap Way to Turn Your Room into a Shrine to Star Trek (Facebook)

Woman Treats Pet Kangaroo Like Her Child (Huffington Post)

No Pants Subway Ride 2012  (Laughing Squid)

Unicorn Poop Cookies (Geekologie)

Braille Burgers for the Visually Impaired (Global Post)

Improbable Reptile-Insect Relationships (Environmental Graffiti)

Italian Photographer Launches Penis Calendar (Business World)

Animal Lover Keeps Horse in Living Room (Daily Record)

The Mind-Blowing Wood-Carved Paintings of Kronid Gogolev

Kronid Gogolev is a master wood-carver who creates incredibly detailed artworks inspired by the rural and provincial life of Russia’s northern regions.

For our artist of the day we chose to showcase Russian veteran wood-carver Kronid Gogolev, a man’s whose intricate wooden paintings are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Using simple tools, he is able to turn rough pieces of wood into masterpiece depicting the way of life and the traditions of the Russian northern village, capturing its original beauty. Each of his creations has its own unique features and characteristics, but they all manage to capture the attention of the viewer, transporting him to the real-life picturesque settings of the north.

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Girls Licking Doorknobs – More Madness from Japan

It seems like Japan is in the news, more often than not, for bizarre activities. The latest that’s making waves on the internet is a Tumblr blog with pictures of girls licking doorknobs.

The work belongs to illustrator Ryuko Azuma, who says the idea started as many good ones do – with a drunken tweet. Famous for his sexy, edgy drawings, one night he tweeted that a collection of photos of a girl licking a doorknob would be a big hit. Azuma says he wouldn’t have done anything about it if the tweet had gone unnoticed. But as luck would have it, it didn’t. A 21-year-old photographer, Ai Ehara, replied to the tweet and that was how the ‘Doorknob Girl’ was launched. Ehara herself posed as the first Doorknob Girl, but when the site went viral, they began to hire several other models for the job. According to Ehara the idea was ‘extraordinarily unusual’.

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Saudi Father Tries to Sell Son for $20 Million, on Facebook

A Saudi man was all over the news a few days ago for putting up his son for sale on Facebook – for a whopping $20 million. Now he says that he did it only to bring attention to his poverty, and he didn’t really intend to sell his son.

In a country where the male child is regarded precious, it came as a shock when Saud bin Nasser Al Shahry did the unthinkable. He was under serious attack and criticism, especially from religions leaders of the nation. A prominent Islamic scholar, Sheikh Mohammed Al Nujaimi said that Al Shahry had violated Islam by offering to sell his child despite his financial problems. Al Shahry responds that he never did want to sell his son. Facing bankruptcy, and with no one else willing to help him, he had to resort to such an extreme measure. “Of course I never intended to sell my son. I only made this announcement to attract the attention of decision makers in the country to my tragedy after I became jobless and started to beg for food and clothes,” he told local newspapers.

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Chinese Women Train Hard to Become Professional Bodyguards

While many men may find it odd to have a woman protect them, the Chinese have no such qualms. How else could you explain the huge demand for female bodyguards? In fact, they are paid much higher than their male counterparts.

Tianjiao Special Guard Consultant Ltd is perhaps the first firm to provide open group training in China for female bodyguards. Each trainee is put through 10 months of rigorous instruction during which time they gain skills in martial arts, anti-terrorism training, reconnaissance and business etiquette. The best student could be invited to study further at the International Security Academy in Israel.A four-week training program at the beach forms a part of the 10-month curriculum.

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Would You Believe These Goldfish Are Actually Painted?

Japanese artist Riusuke Fukahori paints incredibly realistic three-dimensional goldfish embedded in layers of transparent resin. His artworks look more like photos of actual fish swimming peacefully in their little tanks.

Riusuke Fukahori’s work could best be described as a a combination between painting and sculpture. The talented artist creates his “living masterpieces”using a complex process involving layers of cast resin and acrylic paint. He patiently builds up his fish, layer by layer, adding transparent resin to create a realistic three-dimensional effect. Despite the tedious and complex nature of the artistic process, the end results are highly dynamic, capturing the animated life of the fish.

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Amazing Indian Girl Is Friends with Six King Cobras

India has long been known as the land of the snake charmers. But here’s something very unusual. An 8-year-old Indian girl who plays all day  not with other girls, but with her pet King Cobras.

Kajol Khan lives in the village of Ghatampur in Uttar Pradesh, with her parents, six sisters, two brothers and six pet Cobras, her best friends. She comes from a family of snake catchers and hopes to carry on in her father’s footsteps someday. Her father, 55-year-old Taj Mohammad has been working as a snake catcher in Ghatampur for the past 45 years. While he has already passed on his skills to his son, he’s unexpectedly found himself a mentor to his daughter Kajol. The little girl has been used to snakes crawling around her since she was a baby, and hence feels nothing out of the ordinary in their presence. In fact, she prefers hanging out with her slithering buddies rather than go to school. She has been bitten – on her stomach, cheeks and hands – but this is hardly of any concern to her. Kajol has always been able to make a full recovery, thanks to her father’s herbal medicine, which has been a family secret for generations. “I have a lot of fun with the cobras. It hurts when they bite me but sometimes it’s my own fault because I tease them. It’s quite funny.”

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The Focara of Novoli – A Truly Epic Bonfire

Imagine a giant bonfire, 25 meters high, 20 meters in diameter, and viewed by over 60,000 people. This is exactly the spectacle that will meet your eyes if you happen to be in the town of Novoli, in south-eastern Italy, during this time of the year.

This ‘festival of fire’ is known as the Focara, held every year between the 7th and 18th of January. The actual Focara, or bonfire is lit on the 16th, when the festival reaches its crescendo. The tradition has its origins in the pre-Christian era, when it was celebrated to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Today, however, it is dedicated to the memory of St. Anthony, who is the Patron Saint and protector of Novoli. The preparations for the Focara begin as early as mid December. On the 7th of January, the construction of the fuel assembled for the bonfire commences. It consists of bundles of vines that have been set aside by farmers after cutting back vineyards, once the grape harvesting is done the previous autumn. About 90,000 bundles are used, each one consisting of 200 vines. The construction of the structure is supported by wooden beams, and it is erected in Novoli’s Piazza Tito Schipa.

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Couple Marry for the Second Time after Husband’s Sex Change

Barry and Anne Watson first married in 2002, as husband and wife. Now, nine years later, they renewed their wedding vows, except this time they were wife and wife, and Barry was a woman named Jayne. A photograph of the couple shows he/she is much happier this time around.

Of course, things were not always a bed of roses for Jayne and Anne. Their relationship went through several upheavals, especially when Anne learned of Barry’s desire to have a sex change. But things worked out just fine in the end. 53-year-old Anne recollects being furious when Barry told her about the sex change. The 43-year-old was a bus driver at the time. Anne believed that Barry was cheating on her with another woman. She had absolutely no idea that what he actually wanted was to be a woman himself. They have come a long way since then, and are a happy couple now.

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Talented Italian Artist Paints with Wine

Wine has been the inspiration of many famous painters throughout the centuries, but Florentine artist Elisabetta Rogai is taking the relationship between the drink of Dionysus and art to a whole new level, by using wine as paint.

Can a painting truly age? The concept was first explored English writer Oscar Wilde, in his book, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, and now, over a century later, it’s taking  a new meaning in the work of Elisabetta Rogai. The Italian painter uses only white and red wine, with no other chemical additives, to create beautiful paintings. This “allows the wine to reproduce on the canvas exactly the same process of ageing that normally takes place inside the bottle,” she explains, adding that “the wine aging, which normally occurs over the years, takes only a few months on the canvas.” The difference between a freshly painted artwork and a three-months-old one is clearly visible; the texture changes and the colors evolve from young purples and cherry reds to more mature tones of amber, orange and brown. Unlike the portrait of Dorian Gray, her works become more beautiful with time.

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Blind Tennis – Yet Another Amazing Sport from Japan

The Japanese really do seem to invent a lot of sports, especially for the disabled. Not long ago, we told you about Doglegs, a wrestling sport for the handicapped. Now, we’re going to introduce you to Blind Tennis, which is of course, tennis played by the blind.

The creation of the sport is largely credited to Miyoshi Takei, who in spite of his blindness, started to play tennis as a kid with the encouragement of his high school teacher. His only aim at the time was to hit a ball that was flying through the air as hard as he could, even though he couldn’t see it. After several trials, he finally invented a special kind of tennis ball that is spongy and light in weight. The ball rattles, so that blind players can track its movement with their ears. Miyoshi’s endeavors met with success and the first national blind tennis championships were held in Japan in the year 1990. Today, hundreds of Japanese players take part every year and a few from other countries too, such as China, Korea, Taiwan, Britain and the United States.

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Website Helps Icelandic Couples Avoid Incest

In a country with only 300,000 people, the risk of two people who like each other being related is quite high. Throw in the absence of last names, and the confusion only increases. This is precisely the case in Iceland today. Luckily, they have a website that keeps them from committing incest.

So when a man and a woman begin dating in Iceland, the first thing they ask each other is, “Hverra manna ert þú?” which means, “Who are your people?” Obviously, none of them want to end up marrying their cousin. Even so, widespread rumors do the rounds about someone who knows someone who found out too late that the object of their interest was in fact, a long-lost cousin. Fortunately,  a website called  Íslendingabók exists to help Icelanders with the situation that almost seems unique to the isolated country.  Íslendingabók, which means the Book of Icelanders, is a genealogical website that carries a huge database of the people of Iceland and has been around for almost over a decade. When it was first launched, it turned out to be an instant hit.

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World’s First Park and Pray Chapel to Open in Austria

With the launch of the new Park and Pray Worldwide Chapel Network, it is now possible for you to pray anywhere in the world, by simply stopping your car wherever you see  the Park+Pray sign.

The new concept is revolutionary in terms of making places of prayer available to all Christians, regardless of their confession. At places where the Park+Pray sign is displayed, one can find a chapel or church, a devotion or prayer room that all believers are welcome to make use of. Prayers will be provided with anonymity and privacy so you can comfortably make contact with God. The first chapel of the Park and Pray Network will open its doors to the public in August this year.

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Joe Black’s Amazing Badge Mosaics

We’ve featured some pretty awesome mosaics here on Oddity Central, from Oksana Mas’ wooden egg mosaics, to the sweet jelly bean mosaics of Peter and Roger Rocha. But there are plenty of other incredibly talented artists out there who use the most unusual materials to create their art. Joe Black is one of them.

Using thousands of handmade badges depicting various images and icons, from the Vietnam War to Elvis Presley, Black manages to piece together amazingly detailed portraits. And if having the patience to create such wonderful mosaics wan’t impressive enough, nearly every one of the badges used is made by Joe Black himself, and relates to the artwork in some way. For example, the portrait of Superman is made up of corporate and fast food logos to depict the notion of goodness defeated by our ever-growing need to consume. A mixed media artist by definition, Black also makes use of oil paints, acrylics and other mediums to complete his modern masterpieces.

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Mom Uses Year-Old Cheeseburger to Keep Kids Away from McDonalds

We’ve read several myths on the internet about the very questionable quality of food served at fast-food restaurants. A Canadian mom has actually gone on to prove some of these myths, in an attempt to discourage her teenage children from consuming ‘junk’ food.

Melanie Hesketh, from Windsor, Ontario, has a McDonald’s cheeseburger sitting on her kitchen counter. It looks as good as new, except that it’s been there for a year. That’s right, a whole year. Nope, no mould, no fungi, no maggots. Apparently, even bacteria won’t eat the food that millions of people around the world queue up for, each day. According to Melanie, who is a professional nutritionist at Windsor’s Lifetime Wellness Center, the meat patty has just shrunk a little but otherwise looks edible. It has a faint but lingering greasy, leathery odor, and still smells slightly like a burger. Her trick has worked pretty well. The sight of the burger in their kitchen every single day has helped her kids cut back on their intake of fast food. In fact, her oldest son has visited McDonald’s maybe only twice in the past year, in spite of growing peer pressure.

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