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.

 

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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.

 

How to eat fufu in Ghana, Africa

When traveling, experiencing the food of a culture can be one of the most exciting parts of the journey. Not only can you learn a lot about a group of people by their dining etiquette, but eating itself is fun.

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Recently, I was lucky enough to take a trip toGhana in Western Africa where dining rules and the cuisine itself differ greatly from that of Western culture. One specialty that is a local favorite, as well as a dish on every visitor’s list of foods to try, is fufu.

At first glance, fufu looks just like a lump of mashed potatoes sitting in some kind of soup. In your head you may picture yourself picking up a spoon, dipping it into the soft, creamy mound, and putting it into your mouth without a care in the world. Possibly it will taste buttery, and maybe there will even be some onions or chives in there.

If this is what you’re thinking, then you have never actually experienced fufu.

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Fufu is a cassava-based dish. Basically, the root-based plant is boiled in water then pounded down with a mortar and pestle. What you have now is a thick dough-like mixture that needs to be ferociously stirred, which usually takes two people, one pounding the fufu with the long, wooden pestle and the other reaching in and moving it around in between the pounding. As an outsider, I always found this a bit hard to watch, as it always looked like the person moving the fufu around was moments away from losing their arm.

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Once the mixture is completely smooth you shape it into smaller balls, which are usually put into a soup and served with meat. Each time I had fufu, it was served with fried chicken in groundnut soup, a spicy broth made with a peanut base.

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As most people who travel to Ghana will have their fufu made for them at a restaurant or someone’s house, the real task is knowing how to eat it. It is important to realize that in Ghana, eating with the left hand is considered extremely disrespectful. In this country, and many other Africa countries, your left hand is used for cleaning yourself (i.e. when you use the toilet) and the right hand is used for eating and handing things to others. Moreover, while Western dining etiquette places an emphasis on silverware, fufu, like much of the cuisine in Ghana, is eaten with the hands (the right hand, to be specific).

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Before dining, two bowls filled with water will be placed in front of you, one for washing your hands before the meal, and one for washing your hands after. To eat this dish, break off a small piece of the fufu and make a small indentation in it. Use this indentation to scoop up some of the soup, then place it in your mouth, and, without chewing, swallow. Yes, I said without chewing. I found this concept very difficult to grasp for some reason, as instinct tells most of us to chew our food. However, my Ghanian companion would scold me, saying, “You don’t need to chew it, it’s already soft!”

The texture is a lot like gum, as there is a stretchiness too it, but also a bit more doughy. While a bit flavorless itself, dipping it into the soup gives it a spicy peanut flavor while adding some consistency to the meal. Once you remember the etiquette and get used to eating soup with your hands, it becomes quite simple to enjoy this local Ghanian favorite.

Bacon-Scented Shaving Cream Makes Men’s Mornings Smell Like Heaven

As if bacon perfume wasn’t enough to help people carry the smell of the tasty treat with them wherever they went, a Seattle-based food company has just launched a ’high end’ limited-edition Bacon Shaving Cream.

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Justin Esch and Dave Lefkow, the two man behind J&D Foods, have just released their newest idea – a bacon-scented shaving cream that will allegedly make users ’smell and feel like a champion’. Yup, the smell of bacon usually has that effect on people, but what I’d like to know is how does one restrain from having a taste of the heavenly-smelling shaving cream. After all, as inventor Justin Esch himself admits, “there is nothing more powerful than the smell of bacon, nothing.”  Company co-founder Dave Lefkow also wrote in a press release: ”Bacon Shaving Cream is a high end, luxurious bacon-scented shaving cream for all skin types. Our advanced heat-activated aromatic technology lasts for hours and delivers maximum bacon scent when you need it most.” He recommends using it after a hot shower or before an important date with a potential soul-mate. It will probably make them want to eat you up.

In the old days, people used bacon grease to shave their beards, and since the breakfast food is so hugely popular these days, a bacon-flavored shaving cream just made sense. And at $14.95 it’s a steal if you can’t get enough of that crispy treat smell. But you’d better act fast, as J&D have created just 2,500 jars of the delicious-smelling lather, and with the holidays just around the corner, they’re bound to sell like bacon hot cakes.

Even though Justin and Dave claim theirs is the world’s first bacon-scented shaving cream, there’s a Wisconsin-based shop called Mama Bears Shop that claims they’ve been selling a similar product since 2010.

The Most Expensive LEGO in the World

Hey, people of money, listen up. If taking nightly dives into your pool of gold coins (like Scrooge McDuck) hasn’t completely desensitized you to the appeal of all things golden, there’s a little something you could buy. Provided of course that you share the geek’s enchantment with all things LEGO.

This brick is 25.65g of 14K gold (0.8246 troy oz). The brick is the same size and shape as the original 2×4 LEGO brick.

This incedibly rare piece was given to LEGO employees that had 25 years of employement at the Hohenwestedt, Germany factory and was also given to couple of very special business partners of LEGO of the time. It was only given out from about 1979-1981, only one or 2 per year from my understanding.

This amazing brick comes in its original display box which features the LEGO logo of the time that it was given out. The box itself is plastic and has a minor amount of storage wear on it.

So yeah, you can buy it. This particular one was made in 1980, and the asking price is $15,000. That’s a roughly tenfold premium on regular gold, so there’s definitely some collector’s salivating going on.

Us, we’re gonna stick with spray painting our bricks with yellow paint and pretending we’re rich.

lego paling mahal di dunia

Casey Legler – The Woman Who Works as a Male Model

Casey Legler, 35, is a woman who exclusively models menswear. With her razor-sharp cheekbones and 6ft 2in height, it’s easy to see why she’s recently been signed to the men’s division at the prestigious Ford modelling agency

There’s something weird going on in the fashion industry these days. After we posted about guys like Andrej Pejic and Stanyslas Fedyanin, who have found success modeling women’s clothing, now it’s time we met the only woman in the world who models only men’s garments. French-born Casey Legler says her unlikely carer as a male model started after posing as a guy in photo shoot, as a favor for a friend. ’I am, in fact, buddies with a photographer, who had this story, who knows, in some ways my body of work, but also just knows what I look like and said, “You’re perfect for this. Are you in?” And I wasn’t doing anything on that particular Friday, and so I said yes!’ she said in an interview with TIME Magazine. After her friend showed the resulting photos to a booker at Ford, she was soon signed to the men’s division by the prestigious agency.

As weird as t may seem at first, it’s easy to see why Casey makes such a great male model. She’s got the perfect height (6ft 2in), razor-sharp cheekbones, flawless skin and boyish physique and fashion style. After she qualified for the swimming event at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, at age 18, she also cut her hair very short, to experience the sensation of swimming with a shaved head that her male teammates talked about, and now she wears her hair with a short quiff. ’Is it a stretch for me to get styled wearing men’s clothes?’ Legler asks. ‘Anyone can look at me for two seconds and know that that  part is not so complicated. I think the part that can feel complicated sometimes is that I also look really fierce in a dress.”

‘It would be a really beautiful thing if we could all just wear what we wanted, without it meaning something, ” Casey says. What I wish is that we all get to be exactly who we are. And sometimes that’s complicated. We have very specific ways in which we identify ourselves as man or woman and I think that sometimes those can be limiting… Seeing me on the men’s board… speaks to the notion of freedom, you know. There’s something really bold about that, and that it really is saying look, there is also this other way, and it’s really rad.”

So there you have it, folks, Casey Legler – a gorgeous woman modelling as a gorgeous man…