Sharp Music at New York’s Annual Musical Saw Festival

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Who would have thought that an ordinary carpenter’s handsaw could be used to produce music? But apparently it can, and has been for the past 300 hundred years. And in order to commemorate this bizarre yet unique tradition, the NYC Musical Saw Festival is held in July of every year, in Astoria (Queens), New York City. Ever since the festival was established by founder and director Natalia ‘Saw Lady’ Paruz in 2003, musical saw players from all over New York and the world have come together to preserve and honor this rare form of music. In fact, for saw players in far-flung countries like Germany, Sweden, India, China and Japan, Astoria has become a pilgrimage place of sorts. Every year, the sawist who travels the greatest distance in order to attend is awarded the title of ‘guest of honor’.

At the Musical Saw Festival, the players socialize and hear each other play. There are solo performances and jam sessions as well. They even take the opportunity to educate each other about the different types of saws and various techniques of playing. Overall, the atmosphere is said to be rather friendly and encouraging. But the festival is not limited to saw players. The event is open to the public, so people are welcome to come in and learn about the musical saw, or just enjoy a concert or two. An art exhibit and a workshop are also part of the festival.

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Controversial Riot Training Experience Teaches People How to Cause Havoc

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English company Wish.co.uk has sparked controversy for giving people as young as 16 the chance to take part in an actual riot, during a day-long activity called the  Riot Training Day Experience. Organizers promise noise, fire, smoke and fear as the main ingredients.

If the name Wish.co.uk sounds familiar, it’s probably because they’re the guys behind other unique experiences we’ve featured on Oddity Central in the past, like the Zombie Boot Camp and the Zombie Shopping Mall experience. After pitting people against zombies and werewolves, they decided it would be a good idea to offer them the opportunity to experience riots from both sides of the fence – the rioters and the baton wielding riot policemen. The adrenaline-packed staged riot takes place on an industrial estate, near the town Droitwich, Worcestershire, costs £79 ($127) per person, and has apparently been booked up every weekend for the next four months. Despite its commercial success, local authorities aren’t at all pleased a “riot training” is being allowed to take place. ’Not only are they showing people how to instigate a riot, they are showing them how to instigate a riot well. It is utterly irresponsible,’ local Member of Parliament Peter Luff told the Daily Mail.

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Japanese Self-Confessed Geeks Attend Masked Matchmaking Event

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Japanese geeks, commonly known as “otaku”, too shy to go out and meet a potential date face to face attended a special matchmaking event where everyone wore anime character masks to conceal their identities.

The event called “Ota-konkatsu” took place in Kuki City, north of Tokyo, a “holy place” among anime fans. The city is home to the Washinomiya Shrine, which was a location in the 2007 television adaptation of Kagami Yoshimizu’s manga Lucky Star, a very popular anime series, and since then Kuki City has become a sort-of otaku pilgrimage site. Data shows the direct economic effect of Lucky star on the city is estimated to be about 100 million yen (US$1.22 million) over the past five years. So it’s no wonder why this location was selected for an otaku-oriented matchmaking event. Ever since 2009, Japanese geeks have attended matchmaking events in Kuki City, hoping to find like-minded partners, but organizers thought they’d be more successful if participants could get over their excessive shyness. So at this latest even, everyone wore anime masks to conceal their identity.

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Violin Player Is Awarded the Title of World’s Fastest Human

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He might not have the superhuman running speed of The Flash, but violonist Ben Lee can play Flight of the Bumblebee note perfect on the electric violin in just 58.03 seconds, which makes him the fastest human alive.

Usain Bolt’s not going to like this, but a panel of judges and researchers working on the Discover Channel show Superhuman Showdown have unanimously declared 32-year-old violin player Ben Lee the fastest human on Earth. Ben and several other competitors were tested in a controlled environment and researchers used magnetic electrical pulses to measure their brain activity during their tasks. “It’s taken tens of thousands of hours of practice to reach this speed but it definitely helped that my parents were musical and encouraged me to play,” said Lee, who has been playing the violin since he was five. Now, he hits about 15 notes per second and says he can only get faster. The four-time world violin-speed record holder was the best of a handful of contestants specially selected from hundreds of fast performing humans around the world.Among Lee’s competitors were world base race champion Frode Johannessen, who can ‘fly’ unassisted at 170pm, and Jerry Miculek, a speed shooter who can fire eight rounds on four targets in 1.06 seconds.

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Liars Face Off in World’s Biggest Liar Competition

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Every year, experienced liars from all over the globe gather in Santon Bridge, a tiny village in Northwestern England, to compete for the coveted title of world’s biggest liar. Before you make any suggestions about who should participate in this wacky contest, you should know politicians and lawyers are barred from entry, as they are considered to have an unfair advantage.

The World’s Biggest Liar competition is held every year, in November, in honor of of 19th-century Bridge Inn landlord Will Ritson, who was famous for his incredible stories. He always claimed his tales were true, although most of them sounded like this: the turnips in Wasdale (a valley in Cumbria) are so big that after locals quarry into them for their Sunday lunch, they can be used as sheds for their sheep. In honor of this legendary liar, the Santon Bridge pub has been organizing a competition to crown the world’s biggest liar. Competitors have just five minutes to tell the biggest and most convincing lie they can think of, without using any props or scripts, or telling jokes. Over the years, people have won the contest with stories about World War II German submarines invading England to capture digital television decoders, or magical journeys to Scotland in trash cans that went under the sea. It’s reported that one year, a bishop went on stage and won the contest with a single line: “I have never told a lie in my life!”

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Indian Men Get Trampled by Cattle in Traditional Ritual

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In villages around the Ujain region, in India’s central state of Madhya Pradesh, men lay down on the ground and have their cattle trample all over them, as part of a bizarre centuries-old ritual.

There are a many things people will do in order to have their prayers answered by their gods, but until today, I didn’t know getting trampled by cattle was one of them. In a weird example of blind faith, dozens of villagers from Bhidawad village and neighboring settlements decorate their cattle with colours and henna in different patterns, then lay down on the ground and get trampled by the confused animals. The ritual takes place on the occasion of Ekadashi, a day after Diwali, the popular Hindu festival of lights, which was celebrated around the world on November 13. The whole village gathers in the streets to witness the painful event that they believe will make Hindu gods answer their prayers. ”This is a traditional festival observed during Ekadashi fast after which the entire village’s cows are made to run over men lying on the ground, ” local Rekha Dubey told reporters. ”We worship the cows before the ritual and also fast for five days and sing hymns during the festival.”

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Ultimate Trampoline Dodgeball Takes Gym Sport to New Heights

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The first trampoline dodgeball court was inaugurated in 2004, and the sport has been growing in popularity ever since. Now, the world’s first Ultimate Trampoline Dodgeball Championship might finally bring it into the spotlight.

There are a lot of popular sports played on giant trampolines these days, including basketball and volleyball, but trampoline dodgeball has to be the most exciting one yet. Created by Sky Zone Sports, this revolutionary game is played by the same rules as traditional dodgeball, with some slight differences. Instead of just trying to dodge and catch the balls by running around the court, in trampoline dodgeball the playing surface is made up of several trampolines, allowing the players to jump 10 feet in the air or bounce off the walls and “floor”, and making the experience even more fun. Two teams of five go against each other in 4-minute-long matches, with the one knocking out all opposition players being declared the winner. If at the end of four minutes, both teams have players on the court, the match goes into sudden death, until the first player is knocked out. In the upcoming championship, the team who wins two matches out of three will advance into the next stage of the competition.

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The Mind-Blowing Installations of Bloemencorso, an Annual Flower Parade in the Netherlands

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Held every year in the Dutch town of Zundert, Bloemencorso is the world’s largest flower parade made entirely by volunteers. Millions of flowers are used to decorate giant floats built from steel wire, cardboard and papier-maché.

The Netherlands is inextricably linked to tulips, but at the annual Bloemencorso flower parade, it’s all about dahlias, as these are the only flowers used to decorate giant floats made of steel wire, cardboard and papier-maché. Every year, members of 20 hamlets from the tiny town of Zundert (population 20,000) work hard to win the title of most beautiful flower float in show. Preparations begin months before the big event, as the older members of the hamlets are tasked with  planting and growing the colorful dahlias needed to cover the larger-than-life installations. Although Bloemencorso takes place on the first Sunday in September, tents are set up around town in May and June, and from then on, members of the competing hamlets start working on their masterpieces. They discuss design ideas and building techniques, but it’s the three days before the big event that are the most stressful. Because the flowers have to be fresh, contestants can only start applying the dahlias on the Thursday before Bloemencorso. If need be, hamlets will work night and day putting needles through the flowers, and sticking them in just the right spots on the cardboard body of their mobile installations. But all the effort pays off once these mind-blowing creations make their way through the streets of Zundert leaving crowds of spectators in awe.

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Muslim Walks 6,000 Kilometers from Bosnia to Mecca

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Senad Hadzic, a 47-year-old Muslim from northern Bosnia, has recently completed an epic 5,700 km journey, from his hometown to the to the Saudi city of Mecca, by foot.

Making the pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city in the religion of Islam, at least once in their lifetime is obligatory for all able Muslims. Each year, millions travel to the birthplace of Muhammad, but not many of them walk thousands of miles to get there. That’s what makes Senad Hadzic’s experience so impressive. The Bosnian departed from his town of Banovici, in December 2011 and has walked for 314 days through Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria and Jordan to reach the Muslim holy city in south-western Saudi Arabia. Despite experiencing severe weather conditions, like temperatures ranging from minus 35 Celsius in Bulgaria to plus 44 Celsius in Jordan, Senad managed to walk at a rate of between 20 to 30 kilometers per day, to reach Mecca after an unbelievable 5,700 km journey.

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Competitive Horseless Horse Jumping Is Just What the Name Suggests

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It’s run just like a regular horse jumping show, only in horseless horse jumping it’s the humans who have to make it through the obstacle course without knocking down too many hurdles.

If you’ve always dreamed of imitating a 1,000-pound horse in front of a live audience, there’s no better way to do it than signing up for a horseless horse jumping event. As wacky as it sounds, this kind of show is becoming increasingly popular, with numerous equestrian contests featuring the event on their schedule. Around 20 horseless shows are organized every year in Europe, Central America, USA and Canada, with the number of contestants ranging from 40 to 130. Some of the participants have been training for this kind of contests since early childhood, using a broom as a horse and jumping over sticks in an improvised course, and I guess they never got over it. Others are just looking to have some fun, and everyone of them agrees it’s a very pleasant activity to take part in. Impersonating a show jumping course is for a good cause, as JustWorld International, the nonprofit organization who stages these events, donates all the proceeds to fund projects for poor children around the world.

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Overnight Werewolf Hunting Experience – The Perfect Warm-Up for Halloween

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With the Halloween season fast approaching, there’s probably no better way to get into the holiday spirit than hunting a werewolf in the a pitch black forest of Droitwitch, near Birmingham, along with seven terrified friends.

In the last year or so, zombies have dominated the monster charts, but for this year’s Halloween, the folks at Chillisauce.co.uk have decided to give the all but forgotten werewolf a chance to strike fear into the hearts of men, in their Overnight Werewolf Hunting Experience. If you were watching movies like Underworld, and wondered what it would be like to hunt one of these furry creatures on their on turf, wonder no more, because now you ca experience it first hand, just by heading over to Droitwitch, England, for a real-life overnight event. Here’s the background story for the big night: “Deep in the heart of the countryside, near Birmingham, Farmers have reported unusual losses of livestock, and missing person reports are flooding the local papers. Rumors surfaced of a Special Ops team disappearing 24 months ago – the only clues left were a garbled radio message, and a mangled corpse.” It’s up to you and your teammates to succeed where other have failed – take on the cunning and fierce werewolf and try to outwit him.

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Human Meat Shop Opens in London to Promote Video Game Launch

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A creepy meat shop recently opened in London’s famous Smithfield meat market, offering all kinds of stomach-turning treats, like human hands, ears and even full torsos. Luckily, it was just a publicity stunt for the launch of Capcom’s Resident Evil 6 video game.

It looked like a scene from a sick horror film – human limbs packaged and put on display, human ribs hanging from meat hooks and full bodies placed on stainless steel morgue tables. Human hands were on sale for £5.99 while the feet were a bit pricier at £6.00, but that didn’t stop Resident Evil fans and zombie enthusiasts from indulging in what might be perceived as gross cannibalism. In fact, all the meat products on display at the Wesker & Son pop-up meat shop were made from animal meats, but made to look like authentic human parts. It was only open for two days, to promote the latest video game in the Resident Evil series, but it still managed to get a lot of attention.

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Fight Like a Handsome Man – Inside the Male Model Fight Club

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It’s called Friday Night Throwdown, but most know it as the male model fight club, an unlicensed underground event that puts pretty boys in the ring with street fighters and real boxers. As you can imagine, models almost never win.

“I think it’s hilarious that the whole point of their being is to make money off what they look like, yet they’ll come throw down for a couple of hundred bucks,” one of the Friday Night Throwdown organizers says about the pretty boys who sign up to get their asses kicked for around $150. But for the people doing the fighting in the ring, the event is no joke. “I definitely tell everybody, ‘This is no bullshit. You’re about to get in front of 800 people. Get ready—and if you don’t, it’s still going to be entertaining for you to get your ass beat,’” the organizer says. And most of the models involved in this underground phenomenon take that advice very seriously. They train hard, and the fights have gotten more intense during the last two years that Friday Night Throwdown has been taking place in various downtown New York warehouses. It’s in the models’ financial interest to put up a good fight, because if the crowd likes them, they might get invited back and paid double or triple what they earned the first time. Still, despite their best efforts, only one male model has actually won a fight against a hardened fighter.

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Girl Posts Birthday Invitation on Facebook, Gets Thousands of Unwanted Guests, Riot Ensues

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A 16-year-old girl from Haren, the Netherlands, forgot to set her Facebook birthday invitation to private and got a few thousand more guests than she was expecting. And if that wasn’t enough, the revelers also started a riot in the small Dutch town.

Why don’t these young school girls ever learn? Jut last year a similar event took place after a German girl forgot to make her Facebook birthday invitation private and got 1,500 unwanted guests. Police were able to contain the crowd back then, but on September 21st 2012, things really got out of control in Haren. After the young girl posted her public invite on Facebook, her friends started sharing it with their friends, sites started posting about it, and soon the whole thing grew out of proportion to the point where 30,000 users confirmed their presence to the event known as Project X Haren. This was turning into way more than the girl had planned for her big day, so the authorities were alerted. The party was cancelled, and the police appealed to Facebook revelers, asking them not to descend on Haren. Despite their best efforts, at least 3,000 people from all over the Netherlands turned up, and they were not the most peaceful bunch either.

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Chinese Festival Organizers Create Human Zoo for Beggars

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Beggars at a religious festival in Nanchang, southern China, have been ordered to either stay in specially-built metal cages or risk being removed from the city, in an attempt to stop them from harassing visitors.

Living in a country where begging is a very lucrative business, I know what it’s like to constantly be disturbed by various characters asking for money (not food, money), but what these Chinese festival organizers did is a bit extreme. According to a Nanchang official, in recent years the number of beggars turning up for the local religious festival has increased to a point where they’re actually making temple visitors uncomfortable with their lamenting and pleading for some pocket change. So this year, to make sure everyone attending the festivities will be left alone, they decided to separate the hundreds of beggars in small metal cages around the festival grounds, where people can still give donations if they wish, but without being followed around and nagged while they’re on a day out with their family. Organizers did point out that the beggars in this pop-up human zoo entered their cages voluntarily and that no one is actually forcing them to beg for a living…

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