Prowler – New York City’s Real-Life Female Superhero

It’s not the first time we’ve reported cases of real-life superheroes here on OC. But this sure is a first – a female superhero who has gladly shared her identity. And that’s not all. She’s also probably the first superhero to be concerned about her own safety. So she only patrols the streets of Brooklyn with fellow male superheroes. She is ‘Prowler’ by night, dressed in black spandex, red cat mask and clawed gloves, and Nicole Abramovici by day, a 32-year-old home-organizing businesswoman.

Abramovici is a part of the Big Apple chapter of a group called Superheroes Anonymous (only, she isn’t). She came to know about this group of male superheroes patrolling the city through a newspaper article and was inspired to join them. “I am one of the very few females active as a real-life superhero,” she said. “I wanted to help the homeless and the abandoned animals of New York, so pretty much immediately I decided on the name Prowler.” Abramovici admitted that the name Prowler isn’t always seen in a positive light, and is perceived as a person who creeps around at night, stealing. “But I wanted to make the prowler a force for good,” she said. On most nights, you can find her seeking out the needy with her superhero mentor, ‘Life’.

Photo: Canele Bernard/Rue89

Life said that he doesn’t think gender makes much of a difference for real-life superheroes. It’s all about helping people for him. Of his mentee, he said, “Prowler has always been very street savvy so my job was to show her the ropes as a superhero. She has been very helpful because she speaks Spanish and I don’t.” Abramovici’s own inspiration is from the classic female superheroes like Cat Woman and Bat Girl, who were “super hot and empowered.” She said that she feels like the same person under the costume, but what’s different is the attention, and the fact that she is able to make homeless people smile. Her enemies – poverty, destitution and cruelty against animals; her weapons – food, clean clothes and toiletries, which she distributes to the homeless to help them survive. During her nightly patrols on the streets of the Big Apple, she also gives homeless people advice on hygiene and takes time to just talk to them and maybe put a smile on their faces.

Photo: Canele Bernard/Rue89

Abramovici is quite unfazed about the fact that her identity is no secret. Both her parents know about her night-time routine, but prefer not to speak to her much about it. “I am daddy’s girl, so he worries the most, but they know I’m an adventurous person, and they trust me.” But when this news first broke out in the media, her two boyfriends were still in the dark. Abramovici had hoped that if they did find out, they would support her. “If the guys I’m dating see this I hope they’ll still treat me exactly the same. I’m still the same person,” she insisted. We do wonder how that turned out.

 

Strange Wedding Customs – The Crying Ritual of the Tujia People

Throughout history, various cultures have had strange requirements of their women. But none perhaps as strange as the custom of crying before marriage, as followed in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province. According to the custom, it is mandatory for a bride to cry at her own wedding, whether she likes it or not.

The crying marriage ritual was at its peak during the early 17th century and remained so until the end of the Qing dynasty in 1911. It is said to have originated during the Warring States Period (475 to 221 BC), when historical records reveal that the princess of the Zhao State was to be married into the Yan State. At the moment of the princess’ departure, her mother is said to have cried at her feet, asking her to return home as soon as possible. This is said to be the first crying marriage ever. Although the custom is not as popular now as it used to be, there are still a large number of families that practice it with gusto. In fact, it is a necessary procedure for marriage among the Tujia people, in China’s Sichuan Province. The ritual itself is pretty simple – the bride has got to shed tears. If she doesn’t or is unable to, her neighbors will look down upon her as one of poor breeding. Worse still, she could even become the laughing stock of her village. In one extreme case, the bride was beaten by her mother for not crying at the wedding. Perhaps the girl was too happy to be free from her mother?

Photo: Explore Zhangjiajie

The ritual is practiced differently in various regions of the Sichuan Province. In the west, for example, the custom is called ‘Zuo Tang’ (sitting in the hall). Literally, this means that the bride is required to sit in a hall and cry. For a whole month before the big day, the girl walks into a large hall each night and weeps for about an hour. After about 10 days, her mother joins her and the two cry together. Another 10 days later, the grandmother joins the party. A few days later, the bride’s sisters and aunts join in too, in what can only be called a cry-fest. But then the crying isn’t just a random shedding of tears. There’s a song involved as well. Aptly named the ‘Crying Marriage Song’, the exaggerated singing of the verses is said to set the wedding atmosphere quite nicely. Some of the other songs are centered on themes of diligence, etiquette and filial piety.

If you think this is bizarre, well there’s more. Some enthusiastic brides do not limit themselves to just crying. They even swear at the matchmaker. Since women of the olden days had no say in their marriage and were at the mercy of matchmakers, they had full liberty to give the matchmakers a sound piece of their mind. But this isn’t practiced as often as it used to be. The whole point behind the crying marriage ritual is to set off a mood of happiness by using sorrowful words that are false. However, so many brides are unhappy with their lives and choice of husband that they are said to cry for real.

A bunch of women crying at a wedding, the bride included, does sound a tad melodramatic. However, when you come to think of it, it does let all the boohoos out, so the bride can probably let go of the pains of her life up until that point. Perhaps it helps in making a fresh start in life. But then I do feel sorry for all those brides who are unable to cry. I can sympathize with them. If asked to cry, I would probably only laugh harder.

 

World’s Longest Word Has 189,819 Letters, Takes 3.5 Hours to Pronounce

The full chemical name of the world’s largest known protein has 189,819 letters and is considered the longest word in any language. If you’re one of those people who loves to watch paint dry, you can even watch a 3.5-hour video of a guy pronouncing the whole name.

Titin, also known as connectin, is a giant protein composed of 244 individually folded protein domains connected by unstructured peptide sequences. Also, the gene for titin contains the largest number of exons (363) discovered in any single gene. Titin is important in the contraction of striated muscle tissues, but it’s mostly known for its technical name, which is sometimes referred to as the longest known word in any language. The name “titin” is derived from the Greek “titan” (a giant deity, anything of great size), but it’s the full chemical name that really does it justice. I could just paste it in this post, but it would take you forever just to scroll through it, so I’m just going to say it starts with  methionyl and ends …isoleucine. You can fill in the middle part yourself. But if you’re really curious to hear someone pronounce the world’s longest word, there’s a boring cool video of some Russian-sounding guy who takes around 3.5 hours to go through all the letters, and even grows a beard in the process. After a while, it all starts to sound like mumbling, but you have to admire the poor guy for his effort.

For obvious reasons, the full chemical name of titin is not listed in dictionaries, as many lexicographers regard generic names of chemical compounds as verbal formulae, not English words. Well, call it what you will, a word, a formulae, a short story, this thing, whatever it is, is pretty darn long. Geekologie even has a text file with the name available for download, but just looking at it just makes my eyes hurt.

watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=NFR-ADakI-c

 

Patients Lie in Coffins to “Die” as Part of Chinese Psychological Treatment

Most people would consider lying in a coffin and having the lid shut over them to be a traumatic experience, a special psychotherapy service in Shenyang, China is using it as therapy to treat psychological problems and heavy stress.

The Shenyang Evening News reports over 1,000 patients have so far been”reborn” by simulating death with the help of psychologists. Tang Yulong, a consultant at this unique psychotherapy clinic in Shenyang, says people who suffer from psychological problems can be helped by simulating death. People go in a 5-square-meter ”death experience room”, write down their last words, lie down into a coffin in the floor and are covered with a white cloth. To make this “dying” experience even more realistic, the “deceased” can even hear a dirge being played in the room. After five minutes of “serene time”, the sound of a baby crying breaks the silence, and a consultant opens the coffin with a cheery tune playing in the background. This rebirth apparently helps people get a new outlook on life.

“In the past 35 years, I thought what I pursued were what I needed, such as money and a high position. However, after this special therapy, I find out that what I need is not a house, but a home,” said Huang, a 35-year-old manager, said after going through the unique therapy. He tried to commit suicide four times, in the past, but was stopped by family or colleagues. Now, after going through this treatment, he has asked for demotion and has become involved with various charities, to help those less fortunate. ”This therapy makes use of suggestion theory in psychology,” consultant Tang said. ”However, it’s only part of the psychotherapy and is not suitable for everyone. We will choose proper ones to receive this death-experience therapy,” he added.

 

72 Year Old Grandpa Finds Internet Fame after Modelling Teen Girl Outfits

Photos of a 72-year-old Chinese man modelling stylish clothes for young women have recently went viral online, after his granddaughter posted them on China’s largest retail website. What started out as a silly joke turned into a massive advertising campaign for her store.

We’ve had posts about successful elderly fashion models before, but Liu Xianping, a grandfather from China, is the first elderly male model who reached Internet stardom for modelling girls’ clothes. Liu, 72, has been posing for his granddaughter’s female fashion store on Tmall and although the garments are designed for sweet and cute teen girls, featuring rosy shades, laces and ribbons, he totally pulled it off. His confidence in front of the camera, his slim physique and pair of long skinny legs have apparently gained the admiration of millions and made some girls green with envy. And most importantly, his granddaughter’s store sales have increased 5 times since his pictures went viral.

Liu Xianping has been modelling clothes for Yuekou, a Tmall female fashion store started in May by 5 recent college graduates. One of the five is Liu’s granddaughter  Ms. Lv. Apparently, the whole thing started as a joke, one day when her grandfather came to help them with unpacking their creations. In an interview with Chinese media, the girl said: “He picked up one piece and tried to give some advice on how to mix and match. We thought it was fun so we started shooting.” Apparently many of the combinations in the fashion photos are her grandfather’s ideas. He put on short skirts, long stockings, dresses and sometimes even wore wigs to get that genuine teen girl look.

So how does Liu Xianping feel about his fashion exploits? “Why unacceptable (for someone like me to wear women’s clothes ? Modeling for the store is helping my granddaughter and I have nothing to lose. We were very happy on the day of the shooting. I’m very old and all that I care about is to be happy,” he told a journalist. Reactions from Chinese netizens have been overwhelmingly positive; many of them thought he was cool, open-minded, and some even compared him to Karl Lagerfeld.

 

 

 

Liars Face Off in World’s Biggest Liar Competition

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!”

The most celebrated liar in the history of the competition is local John Graham, a.k.a. Johnny Liar, who between 1994 and 2008 won seven world’s biggest liar titles. In 2011, first place went to Glen Boylan, who told a story about betting on a snail race with Prince Charles, who advised him to remove the shell to make it more aerodynamic.