Monday, August 30, 2004

Jedi Academy opens in Romania

Jedi Academy opens in Romania

A Star Wars acedemy that teaches about the religion of the Jedi, use of the light sabre and speaking in Wookiee has opened its doors in Romania.

Adrian Pavel, who runs the country's Star Wars Club, decided to found the Jedi Academy after getting so many questions from fellow fans on how they can be more like their heroes in the Star Wars films.

He told local daily Libertatea: "We have meetings and lectures, and we dress like Jedis, but this is no longer enough. We'll soon learn how to handle the light sabres in academy classes.

"The academy is open to everybody. There is a quiz with 100 questions that will cover even the darkest aspects of the Star Wars phenomenon that needs to be done in 24 hours. Anyone who passes quiz will have a place in the Jedi Academy."

The academy is also offering special modules for true devotees, like cooking some of the dishes seen in the Star Wars films including Wookiee Cookies, Princess Leia Danish donughts, Sand Trooper sandwiches and Twin Sun toasts.

Skint student does record-breaking 30-mile wheelie

A penniless student who took the front wheel off his cycle after he got a puncture has broken the world wheelie record.

Martin Lasak, 21, who started riding on one wheel because he couldn't afford to fix the tyre, completed a 30-mile wheelie.

It took him two and a half hours to wheelie between Vradiste and Kopcany in western Slovakia.

He said the bike repair shop wanted too much money to fix the inner tube, and he did not have the time to do it himself, local daily Novy Cas reported.

He said: "I was going to a friend's house when I got a puncture. I got to his house, took the wheel off and when I found out the price of the repair I decided to leave it off until I could fix it myself.

"But it was so easy riding on one wheel, I never really got round to finding the time to sort it out. I've just been going around with the one wheel on the bike ever since."

Sexually frustrated chimp takes up smoking

BEIJING (Reuters) - Sexual frustration has turned a Chinese chimpanzee from a mild-mannered simian into a problem primate who smokes cigarettes and spits at visitors, the Xinhua news agency says.

Feili, a female chimp in the city of Zhengzhou in the central province of Henan, picked up her nasty habits by imitating visitors who behaved "improperly" around her, Xinhua quoted zoo director Liu Bing as saying on Sunday.

But, Liu said, the root cause of Feili's transformation from a "gentle girl" into a "shrew" lay with the inability to find her a satisfactory mate.

A male chimpanzee at the zoo has failed to live up to Feili's sexual demands, and she has snubbed other potential suitors.

Zoo officials said Feili was not addicted to nicotine, but the chimp has also demonstrated clever -- if not desperate -- behaviour to score a smoke.

"The chimp is spitting at tourists and smoking," Xinhua quoted a boy visiting the zoo. "Just now a tourist threw a cigarette butt to just outside the cage, she tried to get the butt with a stick."

Wanted: Family for lonely Italian pensioner

MILAN (Reuters) - "Elderly retired school teacher seeks family willing to adopt grandfather. Will pay."

Lonely Giorgio Angelozzi, 79, published his appeal in the classified pages of daily Corriere della Sera over the weekend, tugging on heart strings across family-loving Italy.

The classics teacher has lived alone outside Rome with seven cats since his wife died in 1992 but on Monday he had received dozens of replies from across the country.

"So many families want to adopt me as their grandfather," said Angelozzi who promised 500 euros a month to the family who took him in. "So many families answered my appeal and want me to teach their children and their grandchildren about Horace and Catullus."

Among those who responded -- from southern Catanzaro to northern Milan -- was much-loved Roman popular music singer Antonello Venditti, one of Angelozzi's former students.

"I was not expecting so much warmth, so much interest in my story," Angelozzi told Corriere on Monday. "But remember that my problem is one that affects so many elderly people in Italy."

Italy has long been famed for the central role of the family in society. But in recent years, as the divorce rate rises and families move more easily from city to city, elderly relatives are frequently left on their own.

In the record heat of summer 2003, 4,175 elderly people died. Many of them had been left to sweat out July and August in Italy's sweltering cities where many pharmacies and food stores close down and basic services are cut back.