Offbeat: Baby Voldemort is here

Main cast are re-created including cute-as-a-button Harry who even has little lightning bolt across his forehead.

August 02, 2011
Offbeat: Baby Voldemort is here

Every inch covered

Dusting this lot must be a bit like painting the Forth Bridge: just as you reach the end it’s time to start all over again. But a little dust is nothing compared to the pleasure the collector gets from the thousands of knick-knacks on show in her home.

Every conceivable surface in the 1950s semi is covered with the treasures the 81-year-old owner has spent a lifetime foraging for at car boot and jumble sales. In the utility room, you can just make out the sink in the corner, surrounded by miniature bottles of coloured sand. More than 150 clocks tick tock away in the sitting room, watched by countless Toby jugs. Five hundred Chinese pandas are crammed on to a set of shelves. Another room is given over to plastic and ceramic pigs, cows, rabbits, deer and elephants — all neatly arranged in categories.

The collector, a widow from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, who asks to be known only as Hazel, has lived in the house since 1955 and says she lost count long ago of how many items she has in total. Her husband John, who made the shelves for her, died this year. She admits the dusting has become a problem now she has to do it all on her own but she still does it ‘without fail’. Changing the clocks is also ‘a bit of a nuisance’, she added.

Her collection may be precious but she is far from precious about its future. “When I go I’ve told my grandchildren to just get a large wheelbarrow, fill it with all these ornaments, wheel it down the slipway to the sea and get rid of them.”


Survival of the fittest or miracle?

Two goldfish have become the smallest and hardiest survivors of the devastating February earthquake in Christchurch, Newzealand that killed 181 people.

The fish, named Shaggy and Daphne after characters from the animated television show Scooby Doo, spent four and a half months — 134 days — trapped in their tank in the city’s off-limits downtown without anyone to feed them or even any electricity to power their tank filter before they were discovered this month and rescued. Luckily for the fish, they lived in a large 26-gallon tank and may have gleaned some nutrition from eating algae growing on the tank’s rocks and walls. “It’s certainly an incredible story. I wouldn’t have guessed that fish could survive on their own for four months,” said Paul Clarkson, curator at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. “Goldfish are very hardy critters.” He said naturally growing bacteria may have helped keep the water clean enough to sustain life.

The fish had been on display in the reception area of Quantum Chartered Accountants in Christchurch’s High Street. Company director Vicky Thornley said she was about to step into the elevator when the quake hit and she grabbed onto the wooden tank surround, both to steady herself and stop the tank from falling. “I was clinging on for dear life,” she said. Some of the water slopped over her. She and her three co-workers made it out of the building as masonry and bricks crashed through a skylight.

It wasn’t until July 6 that authorities finally allowed her back into the office, escorting her for an hour to collect belongings. Thornley said she didn’t want to look in the direction of the tank because she was sure the fish would be long dead. But then an earthquake-recovery worker shouted to her: “Hey, there are fish here, and they’re alive!” “I was astounded,” she said.

The fish looked dull in colour but otherwise appeared fine. She scooped them out and took them home in a bucket. They are now being looked after by her son.


Stop clowning around!

Every shop in town must have sold out of custard pies as this mob of street entertainers arrived. An estimated 200 clowns from across North and Central America as well as the Caribbean arrived in Guatemala City for a clown convention.

With their whacky footwear, red noses, painted faces and bright wigs, any local who stumbles across this lot will feel underdressed. The group paraded through the city in their colourful outfits. The street entertainers — who are popular across Latin America — swapped tips and tricks in workshops at the third annual convention.


The hippo hippo shake!

They may not be creatures known for their agility and grace, but baby hippo Adhama looks like he enjoys doing things his own way. The adorable creature has become a crowd-pleasing hit at San Diego Zoo thanks to his upside-down underwater japes.

The seven-month-old calf twists and turns in his underwater home while showing off an enviable array of flips and spins. His exploits are all carried out under the surface under the watchful eye of his mother Funani. Adhama’s hilarious dance moves and pirouettes have even seen watching visitors compare him to the ballet-dancing hippos in Disney’s Fantasia. The animated film sees tutu-wearing hippos spinning around a fountain, in a sequence which has been replicated in parts at San Diego Zoo.  Matt Akel, Animal care supervisor at the zoo, said Adhama — born weighing 100 pounds in January — has become more independent as he grows up. He said, “It’s interesting that Adhama’s personality has definitely blossomed. He’s playing around with his mum and mouthing his mum. You see her push him around, but she’s just playing. You see him stand up on the rock to take a breath, spin sideways and tumble in the water. He’s interesting to watch and we tend to get really big crowds.”

YouTube footage of Adhama’s exploits has already made the young hippo an internet star after generating tens of thousands of hits.


Repair hernia with butter knife

A 63-year-old California man has tried to operate on his own hernia by cutting open his stomach with a six-inch butter knife. The man was apparently frustrated with the painful medical condition, and took matters into his own hands — alarming his wife, who immediately called 911.

“She said her husband was trying to remove a hernia. He was frustrated,” said Sergeant Tom Lorenz of Glendale police, east of Los Angeles, after the incident.  “Pending arrival of paramedics, he removed the hernia himself,” he said.

The man was placed on a psychiatric hold — a legal term meaning confining a patient to prevent them from self-injury, and taken to hospital where he was reported to be in a stable condition. But doctors said he had probably only made his condition worse.  “It is absolutely impossible for someone to fix their own hernia,” said Sam Carvajal, a surgeon at Glendale Adventist Medical Centre.


Time machines won’t work!

Doc’s super fast car won’t do it. Neither will Bill and Ted’s magic telephone booth. Physicists at the Hong Kong University of Technology and Science have just proved that no machine will ever allow a person to travel through time because time travel is flat-out impossible. Not just unlikely, or we don’t have the technology yet, but, beyond the limits of the physical laws of the universe.

You might think time travel has always belonged in the world of fantasy, but 10 years ago some scientists began to believe time travel might actually be possible when superluminal — or faster-than-light — propagation of some specific medium were discovered. It was later found to be a visual effect, but the idea that a single photon could exceed the speed of light lingered, and with it, the possibility of time travel. But in a study published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Physical Review Letters, Shengwang Du and his team measured the ultimate speed of a single photon and showed that it cannot move faster than the speed of light.

Du said, “Personally, I’m disappointed that time travel has been shown to be impossible, but at the same time I’m invigorated that scientists were studying time travel as an actual possibility!”


Baby Voldemort is here!

Have you ever wanted to cradle little Lord Voldemort after he drank Wormtail’s re-birthing potion? Well, now you can. Artist Tracy Ann Lister is a master of creating lifelike babies and has recently crafted characters from Harry Potter.

All the main cast have been re-created, including cute-as-a-button Harry who even has a little lightning bolt across his forehead.  Dressed in miniature outfits, Hermoine Granger and little Ron Weasley will both make you coo, but it’s little Lord Voldemort who’s causing all the fuss.

Pale and with snake-like eyes, the ‘Voldemort baby’ has to be one of the creepiest figures to emerge — especially in the uber-cute and ultra expensive ‘reborn’ doll market. All dolls are made from various specialty materials and the Dark Lord features a doe suede skin and his veins and capillaries are all weirdly visible.  In a recent auction on Ebay, one Voldemort doll sold for £160 (Rs22, 630.5). However, Lister’s website lists prices for other works of art as high as £400 (Rs56, 576.4).


Is this the world’s most expensive hot dog?

With mushroom dust, caviar and creme fraiche topping, it has an ingredient list fit for a Michelin star restaurant. And at $80 (Rs6, 919.8), a Massachusetts baseball stadium’s new hot dog certainly has a price tag to match.

The new ‘McMullen Dog’ at Brockton Roxstadium is vying for the title of world’s most expensive hot dog. While box seats at the modest club go for a mere $15 (Rs1, 297.4), the monster dog is set to prove a hit with the punters according to food and beverage manager Sander Scotland.

Pointing to the hot dogs deep fried authenticity, he said that the fancy snack will still deliver that familiar ball park taste. He said, “It’s a cross of the redneck meets the rich and famous.”

According to Scotland, the McMullen Dog — named after Atlantic City chef Ryan McMullen who came up with the idea — features a half-pound all-beef sausage rolled in truffle oil, coated with the dust of pulverised porcini mushrooms and topped with white truffle shavings. Even the bread roll gets the rockstar treatment, with the hand-made buckwheat blini coming from one of Cape Cod’s most exclusive bakeries. And instead of the usual ketchup and mustard, the McMullen comes with caviar and creme fraiche dressing and salmon roe.

The hot dog should have no problem achieving world record status, as the previous holder — the Foot Long Haute Dog served at New York’s Serendipity 3 — costs a mere $69 (Rs5,968.3).


Unhappy snaps

A photographer has been quizzed by police after the crocodile he brought to a lake for happy snaps with holidaymakers escaped, terrifying hundreds of swimmers. The six-foot-long reptile at Lake Shira in Siberia, eastern Russia gave his owner the slip as he haggled with tourists over the price of a souvenir photo.

Horrified swimmer Anna Luneva said, “I was swimming and suddenly realised there was a crocodile in the water. I was so frightened I almost lost my mind. “Everyone was panicking.”

A special police wildlife unit eventually recovered the crocodile, which is recovering at a nearby aquatic centre. “It was quite a young crocodile and there is plenty of food in this lake — swimmers. We didn’t want him to escape and grow any bigger,” commented an officer.


Good hearty diet

It’s silly season for grocers after two market traders both claimed to have discovered perfect heart-shaped spuds on the same day.

Serbian farmer Srdjan Popovic from the southern village of Donja Konjusa used his heart shaped potato as a way to attract customers to his fruit and vegetable stall in the nearby town of Kursumlija. He said, “The heart is not on sale, it is just a good PR to show the customers how much love I put in growing my vegetables.”

And in China grocer Lin Qi found his heart shaped spud in a sack of potatoes and has now put it on display at an agriculture exhibition. He said, “I don’t want to sell it — I want to share its message of love with as many people as possible.”


Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2011.


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