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The Odd Truth, July 6, 2004

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum.

'Tsunami' Sweeps Weiner Bid

NEW YORK - When it comes to eating hot dogs, "The Tsunami" may just be unstoppable.

For the fourth straight year the rail-thin Takeru Kobayashi swept over his competition at the Nathan's Famous hot dog eating competition, gulping down 53-and-a-half wieners in 12 minutes flat, and shattering his own world record along the way.

The closest competitor was newcomer Nobuyuki Shirota, of Tokyo, who made an impressive showing but was still left in his fellow countryman's dust with a mere 38.

Once again, the contest's coveted Mustard Yellow Belt will return to Japan. Since 1996, the Japanese have dominated the sport and only one American has captured the belt.

Yesterday, the 5-foot-7, 132-pound Kobayashi looked strong as he employed his trademark "Solomon method" - snapping the dogs in half before swallowing them - to destroy the 19 other contestants.

It's the second time Kobayashi has broken his own record since he shattered the mark in 2001 with 50. The following year he sucked down 50-and-a-half.

Afterward, Kobayashi said he could eat even more.

Car Crashes Through Roof

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. - When Scott Penney promised fireworks for a Fourth of July cookout - he wasn't kidding. But the bang didn't come from a mere firecracker. It was the sound of a Ford crashing through the roof of his home. Penney was getting ready to host a backyard barbecue Sunday, when a Taurus drove off an elevated parking lot and crashed into his house in Marlborough, Massachusetts. Penney said he heard the sound of the crash - but didn't see what happened until he went around the two-family house. Then he saw the car sticking out of his roof. No one was hurt in the bizarre accident. But when Penney's guests started to arrive for the cookout, the emergency crews were still working.

Rice Farmers Plow Naked To Appease Gods

KATMANDU, Nepal - Female rice farmers are plowing their fields at night in the nude to please the rain God during a dry spell in southwestern Nepal, a news report said Sunday.

A 35-year-old farmer, Ambika Tharu, said she and other women were daring to bare all for the rain God because of a delay in the annual monsoon season and the need for precipitation for their rice crops.

"My mother-in-law said the God would be pleased and make rainfall if women till the land naked," Tharu told the Himalayan Times newspaper.

The delay of the monsoon rains, which usually begin in the first week of June in Nepal, have prevented farmers from planting rice.

Weather forecasters in the capital Katmandu - 310 miles northeast of Baijapur village where the naked farmers are appealing for rain - said the situation is expected to improve in the next few days.

Naked, Drunk Swede Found Trapped Under Gate

OSLO, Norway - Getting stuck stark naked isn't the best way to impress a woman. Police, ambulance and fire crews had to rescue a drunken Swede who was trapped under a gate in downtown Oslo, Norway. He told officers he tried to visit a Norwegian woman at her apartment house early Monday morning. But she wouldn't let him in. When the 22-year-old man turned to leave, he found the gate leading to the street was locked. The guy figured he could squeeze underneath if he took off all of his clothes. He figured wrong. The man was discovered about four hours later. Fire crews had to use a hydraulic lift to jack up the gate and free the guy. He says at least the object of his affections was a real stunner.

Something Very Fishy

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Something fishy happened to Ray Bolanos' luggage.
Somewhere between Anchorage and Seattle, about 40 meticulously wrapped and packed one-pound pieces of fresh-caught halibut vanished from his checked bags.

"I really just feel violated," Bolanos said from his home in Kenmore, Wash.

Bolanos said his bags appeared on the luggage carousel at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport almost immediately after he arrived June 24. But one of the two coolers of fish was missing the rope he'd tied around it in Anchorage.

Inside, Bolanos found his rope and a few halibut scraps.

Bolanos complained to Continental Airlines and both airports, but so far there have been no clues to what happened to the fish he caught on Kachemak Bay.

A fish theft is unusual, said Brenee Davis, Continental's Anchorage general manager. "Usually when you hear about theft, it's electronic goods - cell phones ... things like that," she said. "Never fish."

Is There An Intermission?

BERLIN - In an abandoned church in the German town of Halberstadt, the world's longest concert moved two notes closer to its end Monday: Three years down, 636 to go.

The addition of an E and E-sharp complement the G-sharp, B and G-sharp that have been playing since February 2003 in composer John Cage's "Organ2/ASLSP" - or "Organ squared/As slow as possible."

The five notes are the initial sounds played on a specially built organ - one in which keys are held down by weights, and new organ pipes will be added as needed as the piece is stretched out to last generations.

The concert is more than just an avant-garde riff on Cage's already avant-garde oeuvre, which includes a piece consisting of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence and one for a piano rejiggered with screws and wood stuck between the strings.

"It has a philosophical background: in the hectic times in which we live, to find calm through this slowness," said Georg Bandarau, a businessman who helps run the private foundation behind the concert. "In 639 years, maybe they will only have peace."

The concert began Sept. 5, 2001 - the day Cage would have turned 89. The composition, originally written to last 20 minutes, starts with a silence, and the only sound for a first 1-and-a-half years was air. The first notes were played in February 2003. The two new notes rang out Monday evening.

After debates in Germany about what exactly "as slow as possible" could mean - anywhere from a day to stretching on infinitely - the group of German music experts and organ builder behind the project chose the concert's 639-year running time to commemorate to the creation of the city's historic Blockwerk organ in 1361.

The next change arrives in March 2006. The music then will become even simpler: Two notes are being taken away, Bandarau said.

The foundation is now seeking sponsors to fund the organ's estimated $246,000 cost.

World Record Bid Foiled By Faulty Clock

KHAYELITSHA, South Africa - A South African man's bid to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest 100-year-old to run 100 meters was foiled Sunday when a power failure stopped the electronic clocks.

Philip Rabinowitz, 100, made his run on Sunday at the Mandela Park Athletics stadium in Khayelitsha outside Cape Town. He said he did 100 meters in 28.7 seconds, beating a previous record of 36.1 seconds.

However, a power outage stopped the official electronic clock so the time cannot be recognized, the South African Broadcasting Corp. reported. And none of the figures could be confirmed independently.

But the man known as "Rabonoblitz" was not deterred.

"I feel absolutely wonderful. I never thought I'd be able to do it," said Rabinowitz, who already holds the record for world's oldest competitive walker.

He practices daily by walking nearly four miles and sticks to a healthy diet. Rabinowitz, who turned 100 in February, still works, handling accounts for his daughter's business.

He participated in the South African leg of the Olympic torch relay across the globe earlier this year.

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