NEWS OF THE WEIRD

OOPS!

Organizers of the Christmas Day caroling program at the Nelum Pokuna theater in Colombo, Sri Lanka, drawing thousands of devout celebrants, were apparently confused by one song title and innocently included it in the book for the carolers. (No, it wasn’t “Inna Gadda Da Vida” from a famous “Simpsons” episode.) It was “Hail Mary” by the late rapper Tupac Shakur — likely resulting in the very first appearance of certain words in any Christmas service publication anywhere. [The Independent (London), 12-25-2016]

PEE PROBLEMS

Officials of the Ulm Minster in Ulm, Germany, the world’s tallest church (530 feet high), said in October that they fear it might eventually be brought down — by visitors who make the long trek up with a full bladder and no place to relieve themselves except in dark alcoves, thus eroding the structure’s sandstone. A building preservation representative also cited vomit in the alcoves, perhaps as a result of the dizzying height of the view from the top. (News of the Weird has reported on erosion damage to a bridge, from spitting, in Mumbai, India, and at the Taj Mahal, from bug droppings.) [Washington Post, 10-25-2016]

Prosecutors in Darlington, England, obviously take child “cruelty” seriously because Gary McKenzie, 22, was hauled into court in October on four charges against a boy (whose name and age were not published), including passing gas in the boy’s face. The charge was described as “in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering or injury to health.” He was on trial for two other slightly harsher acts — and another gas-passing, against a different boy — but the judgment has not been reported. [The Northern Echo (Darlington), 10-20-2016]

UNDIGNIFIED DEATHS

(1) A 24-year-old woman who worked at a confectionary factory in Fedortsovo, Russia, was killed in December when she fell into a vat of chocolate. (Some witnesses said she was pouring flour when she fell; others say she fell while trying to retrieve her dropped cellphone.) (2) A 24-year-old man was decapitated in London in August when he leaned too far out the window of one train and struck an extension on a passing train. Next to the window he leaned from was a sign warning people not to stick their heads out. [The Independent (London), 12-16-2016] [Daily Mail, 9-1-2016]

CHESS AND CLEAVAGE

World-class chess players are famous for intense powers of concentration, but a chess journal reported in October that top-flight female players have actually been disqualified from matches for showing too much cleavage as they play, thus distracting their opponent (according to Ms. Sava Stoisavljevic, head of the European Chess Union). In fact, the Women’s World Chess Championship, scheduled for February, has decreed that, since the matches will be held in Tehran, all contestants must wear hijabs (leading a U.S. women’s champion to announce she is boycotting). [Metro News (London), 10-31-2016] [New York Times, 10-8-2016]

GAZING UPON NATURE AS NATURE CALLS

To serve restroom users in a public park in China’s Hunan Province’s picturesque Shiyan Lake area, architects gave users in toilet cubicles a view of the forest through ceiling-to-floor windows. To discourage sightseers who believe the better view is not from the cubicles but into them, the bottom portion, up to the level of the toilet, is frosted — though that stratagem probably blurs only a pair of legs, seated. (CNN reported in October that China has at least one other such restroom, in Guilin province, viewing distant mountains.) [CNN, 10-4-2016]