Far From Home

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/26/john-daniel-gorilla-drank-tea-school-uley-gloucestershire?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Email

The English village of Uley had a remarkable citizen in 1917: a lowland gorilla, captured in Gabon by the French soldiers who had shot his parents. Uley resident Rupert Penny spotted him for sale in a London department store, paid £300, and named him John Daniel, and his sister Alyce raised him like a human boy.

“Until recently, we had people that remembered him walking around the village with the children,” said Margaret Groom, an archivist at the Uley Society, who unearthed a collection of old photographs. “He used to go into gardens and eat the roses. The children used to push him around in a wheelbarrow. He knew which house was good for cider, and would often go to that house to draw a mug of cider. He was also fascinated by the village cobbler, and would watch him repairing shoes. He had his own bedroom, he could use the light switch and toilet, he made his own bed and helped with the washing up.”

She had to sell him when he reached full size, and he passed into the hands of a circus. Eventually Alyce received an urgent message reading “John Daniel pining and grieving for you. Can you not come at once? Needless to say we will deem it a privilege to pay all your expense. Answer at once.”

She set out immediately, but he died of pneumonia before she arrived. His body was given to the American Museum of Natural History for preservation and remains on display there today.

(Thanks, Steve.)

Elevated Taste

Belgian novelty restaurant Dinner in the Sky is aptly named: A crane hoists the guests, their table, and the wait staff 180 feet into the air for a 90-minute meal aloft. Founded in 2007 by a marketer and a bungee-jumping impresario, the company has expanded into 47 countries. Most of the food is prepared on the ground, where up to 44 guests sign liability waivers before being strapped into seats around two tables for the duration of the meal; guests are encouraged to use the restroom first, and the foods are chosen to avoid choking hazards.

Ithaa (below) is the world’s first undersea restaurant, an acrylic bubble located 5 meters under the Arabian Sea in the Maldives. Guests enter via a spiral staircase; the 5-by-9-meter main dining room seats 14 and offers a 270-degree view of the surrounding sea (including some of the same seafood that’s on the menu). Lunch for two costs around $120; that’s cheaper than dinner, and the view is best when the sun is shining.

Inspiration

Many German beer brands combine a place name with the word Hell, which means “pale” and indicates a pale lager:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rennsteig_Hell_Vollbier,_VEB_GK_Rennsteig-Meiningen_Werk_Meiningen_Etikett_(DDR).jpg

Image: Wikimedia Commons

In 2010 German businessman Florian Krause recalled that he’d grown up near an Austrian village called Fucking:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fucking,_Austria,_street_sign_cropped.jpg

So he brewed a pale lager and named it for the town:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fucking-hell-original.png

The European Union trademark office initially balked at registering the name, but Krause explained his thinking and they accepted it. “The word combination claimed contains no semantic indication that could refer to a certain person or group of persons,” the office noted. “Nor does it incite a particular act.”

“It cannot even be understood as an instruction that the reader should go to hell.”

Monte Kaolino

When Hirschau, Bavaria starting mining kaolinite a century ago, it faced a problem — one of the byproducts of kaolinite is quartz sand, which began piling up in enormous quantities. Fortunately sand itself has multiple uses — in the early 1950s an enterprising skier tried slaloming down the mountain, and soon the dune had its own ski club.

Today the 35-million-tonne “Monte Kaolino” even hosts the Sandboarding World Championships. And, unlike other ski resorts, it’s open in summer.

Tommy

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pet-Squirrel-Grid-LIFE-1944.jpg

During World War II one of the most surprising advocates of war bonds was Tommy Tucker, an Eastern gray squirrel who toured the nation in a humiliating wardrobe of 30 dainty costumes. (“THOUGH TOMMY IS A MALE SQUIRREL HE HAS TO WEAR FEMININE CLOTHES BECAUSE TAIL INTERFERES WITH HIS WEARING PANTS,” Life reported defensively.)

Tommy had been adopted in 1942 by the Bullis family of Washington D.C., who took him on the road in their Packard automobile, where he performed for schoolchildren, visited hospitals, and gave uninspiring radio interviews. Between appearances Zaidee Bullis would bathe him and place him in a specially made bed. At the height of his fame his fan club numbered 30,000 members.

Tommy retired after the war but gamely endured further travels with the family. When he died in 1949 he was stuffed and mounted “with his arms out so you could pull the clothes over him,” and his nightmarish fate pursued him even into the grave. He stands today in a display case in a Maryland law office — in a pink satin dress and pearls.

Green Indeed

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Million_Bottle_Temple_(7447377506).jpg
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Thailand’s Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew has a unique distinction among Buddhist temples: It’s made of beer bottles. When the building was begun in the 1980s, the monks were seeking ways to encourage waste disposal and promote environmentalism. They had been collecting beer bottles since 1984 and decided to use them as a building material.

The main temple, completed in 1986, comprises about 1.5 million bottles. The monks say they provide good lighting, are easy to clean, and retain their color — the green bottles are Heineken and the brown ones are the Thai beer Chang. They even use the bottle caps to make mosaics of the Buddha.

The monks have gone on to build a complex of 20 buildings, everything from a water tower to a crematorium, from the same material. Abbot San Kataboonyo told the Telegraph: “The more bottles we get, the more buildings we make.”

Bad Cats

tiger statue

This has been a trying month for the Indonesian military. On March 11 a Twitter user uploaded this photo with the caption “What the hell is this tiger?” and it took off on social media. The statue, meant to represent the mascot of an army division, had stood for five years at the entrance of the Siliwangi Military Command base in Garut, West Java. But nothing can withstand social media: After two days of general hilarity the statue was taken down.

The army says that plans are being made to replace it. If they can’t find anything better, one good candidate might be the stuffed lion kept at Sweden’s Gripsholm Castle (below). It had been one of the first living lions in Scandinavia when the Bey of Algiers presented it to King Frederick I in 1731, but on its death it presented a strange problem to the taxidermist: No one could remember quite how a living lion looked. They did the best they could.

gripsholm lion