No to 'Sesame Street' hustlers

A person dressed as the Sesame Street character Elmo walks through Times Square in New York.
A person dressed as the Sesame Street character Elmo walks through Times Square in New York.

For 45 years, Elmo and Cookie Monster have delighted young viewers on TV's Sesame Street.

Not anymore.

On the streets of New York, recent antics by street performers dressed as the beloved characters have drawn the ire of city officials.

Now, even the show's producers are angry at the dressed-up characters hustling tourists for tips.

A woman argues with costumed street performers over tips after posing for pictures in Times Square on July 28, 2014 in New York City. Photo: AFP

Sesame Workshop, which owns the rights to Big Bird, Ernie and assorted puppet monsters, said on Tuesday it was drafting plans to stop the unauthorized performers appearing in Times Square.

"We care about our fans and the image of our brand and, like everyone else, we care about public safety on our streets," said the nonprofit group.

The statement came days after "Spider-Man" (otherwise known as 25-year-old Junior Bishop) was arrested in Times Square for punching a police office.

The cop had scolded him for demanding money from tourists.


Junior Bishop (top) who was dressed as Spider-man was arrested for punching an officer. Screengrab: CBS New York/YouTube, NYPost/YouTube

New York Post reported that Officer Eduardo Molina confronted the superhero about the ridiculous prices — US$10(S$12.40) a picture — at least twice before he was cuffed.

The motley group of performers has also drawn increasing complaints from city leaders and law enforcement officials, who view them as a nuisance.

Last year, a man dressed as Cookie Monster was arrested on suspicion of shoving a 2-year-old child whose mother failed to tip him.

Sesame Workshop said it had been meeting with other "concerned" groups, including companies that own the licenses to some of the characters, on what to do.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday he was considering new licensing requirements and other rules to rein in the costumed performers.

"This has gone too far, and it's time to take some real steps to regulate this new reality," de Blasio said. "Once we have regulation, we'll be able to say very clearly to everyone who does that work: 'Play by the rules or you won't be working here anymore.'"

“It’s not appropriate for anyone to demand a certain amount of money from a passing tourist and harass them in that manner”.

 


Costumed street performers receive tips from the public after posing for pictures in Times Square on July 28, 2014 in New York City. Photos: AFP

- Reuters, AFP

Ok, Cupid: We'll still date her, for her looks

OkCupid users were more likely to date this account holder even if she did not have any text on her profile.
OkCupid users were more likely to date this account holder even if she did not have any text on her profile.

OkCupid's founder Christian Rudder yesterday revealed that their matchmaking website has indeed been experimenting on its users. While some people were outraged, we were more fascinated by what we learned about online dating.

1. Pictures are worth more words than the actual text on your profile

If you're racking your brain thinking of what to write in your online dating profile, maybe you shouldn't.

Instead, go all out looking for the best filters of your best holiday snaps.

Because photos matter, honey.

According to OkTrends, a data blog run by its founder Christian Rudder, looks and personality were basically the same thing. What does this mean?

If this account holder (below) had a profile with zero text, you are likely to rate her highly.

As Rudder hilariously writes on his blog: "(She) is just so obviously a really cool person to hang out and talk to and clutch driftwood with."

It's official: Pictures ARE worth a thousand words.

2. Love is blind

When the site decided to take down all photos for one day to celebrate "Love is blind" day, this is what happened.

-People tended to respond to more messages

- Conversations were deeper

- Contact details were exchanged more quickly 

Ah, we can have faith in humanity again... or not. 

When the photos came back up after seven hours, these "deep conversations" melted away.

3. The power of suggestion

When I watched Tree of Life that starred Brad Pitt, all the self-professed film critics came up out of the theater raving about it.

Never mind that the movie was more like a slideshow of potential screensavers.

He's hot, because we told you so.

They must have read the good reviews, I thought. Hmmm...

OkCupid, which relies on match percentages to predict relationships, found out something similar: People like each other because they think they're supposed to.

The threshold for having a real conversation (or exchanging FOUR messages, in Cupid-speak) showed the same results.

So here you go.

Proof that looks and "because-we-told-you-so" matter more than anything else.

Sources: OkCupid, Yahoo News

 

 

Tags: okcupid, online and dating

Kidnapped: Striker Carlos Tevez's dad freed after $60,600 ransom paid

The father of Juventus striker Carlos Tevez(above) was kidnapped in Buenos Aires on Tuesday before being released following the payment of a ransom.
The father of Juventus striker Carlos Tevez(above) was kidnapped in Buenos Aires on Tuesday before being released following the payment of a ransom.

Juventus striker Carlos Tevez's father was kidnapped in Buenos Aires on Tuesday.

Local media said Juan Alberto Cabral was released after receiving over $60,600 in ransom money.

The footballer was in Turin for pre-season training. Upon hearing news of the kidnapping, the worried son wanted to hop on a plane to his native Argentina. Thankfully, his father was soon released unharmed.

Tevez said on his Twitter account: “I thank everyone for their support always. I’m able to tell you my father is ok, safe and sound. That’s what’s most important.”

“I also thank... the Buenos Aires and Federal and Anti-kidnapping police (forces) for their support for my family.”


Police stand near the home of Juan Alberto Cabral, father of Juventus' soccer player Tevez, in Buenos Aires. Photo: Reuters


Argentine Security Secretary Berni leaves the home of Juan Alberto Cabral, Tevez's dad, in Buenos Aires. Cabral was kidnapped for about eight hours and later released after a ransom was paid. Photo: Reuters

The amount paid for Segundo Tevez’s release was not revealed but media reports said it was 400,000 Argentine pesos (S$60,682).

Tevez's brother Diego told local radio station La Red that at first, his father's vehicle was stolen and returned. Kidnappers went for him after discovering his link to fame.

"They realized he was the father (of Carlos Tevez). Because of the 'green card', they went back for him and asked for the ransom," Diego Tevez said.

We admire Tevez

The daily La Nacion, quoting sources close to the police operation, said kidnappers had told Tevez’s father: “We admire your son, but we have to do this to work."

Despite being in brilliant form in Serie A for Juventus last season, Tevez was not chosen by Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella for the World Cup finals in Brazil.

Argentina lost 1-0 to Germany in the Rio de Janeiro final two weeks ago.

"We're annoyed with Sabella because he didn’t call him up to the national team,” La Nacion also quoted the kidnappers as saying.

- Reuters

Tags: Tevez, dad and kidnapped

People, fist bumps are cleaner than handshakes

Researchers in Britain have found that fist bumps are more hygienic than handshakes.
Obama's onto something: Researchers in Britain have found that fist bumps are more hygienic than handshakes.

Next time, you meet someone new, try giving them a fist bump instead of a handshake.

The reason: They're more hygienic.

Researchers in Britain say that this type of casual greeting drastically reduces the risk of infectious diseases spreading.

Doctor Dave Whitworth, who led the research, said there will be a "genuine potential to reduce the spread of infectious diseases" if the public was encouraged to fist bump.

Cut the germs, people

Study results showed that handshakes passed on far more dangerous bacteria than fist bumps or high-fives.

The number of germs moving between people was reduced by 90 per cent in a fist bump. 

And for all you strong grippers out there, here's something to cling to: the study found that a firmer handshake increased the bacteria level shared between palms.

No wonder then, that US President Barack Obama is a strong believer in the fist bump.

Source: AFP

 

Australia: Priority on bringing MH17 dead home, not sanctions

 A woman takes a photograph of wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo)
A woman takes a photograph of wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo).

Australia’s priority was gaining access to the crash site of downed Flight MH17 in Ukraine, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Wednesday, not imposing sanctions on Russia.

Yesterday, the United States and Europe announced tough new sanctions targeting Russia’s key financial, arms and energy sectors. Their move was in response to Moscow’s intervention in the Ukraine crisis.

But Australia said it already had some sanctions, such as imposing travel bans and targeted financial sanctions, in place after tensions rose in March.

“I am not saying that we might not, at some point in the future, move further,” Abbott told reporters.

“But at the moment our focus is not on sanctions, our focus is on bringing home our dead as quickly as we humanly can.”

No-go again

Abbott’s comment came after fighting once again prevented international investigators from reaching the MH17 crash site for the third day.

More than 200 bodies have already been removed from the site. But a Dutch and Australian police mission wants to recover the remains of those victims still lying in the fields.

 Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry carry a body at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo

“We certainly want to have another go today to get access to the site,” Abbott said.

“If it doesn’t happen today we will try again tomorrow, if it doesn’t happen tomorrow we will try again the next day.”

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was apparently shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17.

The Netherlands and Australia were home to most of the citizens on the flight, which the West alleged was brought down by separatist rebels.

- AFP

Rap concert: 24 dead in stampede

Dozens dead after concert stampede
Dozens dead after concert stampede.

A stampede during a rap concert on a Conakry beach on Tuesday left at least 24 people dead, Guinean hospital officials said.

The government declared a week of national mourning after what it called a “tragic drama” on the beach in the capital city’s northern Ratoma suburb where popular Guinean rap group Instinct Killers was playing among other artists.

Medics took at least 24 bodies including 13 girls to a hospital morgue, a hospital official told AFP.

Tragic outcome: Dozens dead during concert stampede

“For the time being we have 24 bodies at the Donka hospital morgue and dozens of injured were rushed to various (Conakry) health centres after this deadly stampede,” said a police officer.

The president’s office said in a statement it was “shocked by the tragic drama caused by mass movements at a cultural event”.

It did not give a toll.

An investigation has been launched to determine what caused the tragedy. The official in charge of organising such events was suspended.

- AFP, BBC

Jamie Oliver's HK restaurant guests left starving?

Guests at Jamie Oliver's HK restaurant preview left hungry
Guests at Jamie Oliver's HK restaurant preview left hungry... for food.

What do preview guests at Jamie Oliver’s first Hong Kong restaurant have to chew on?

Nothing much, it seems.

The South China Morning Post reported that guests at last Friday's preview event were left hungry after the celebrity chef’s team provided miserly morsels.

Ge Er, who runs food and travel blog Coco the Sailor, described Jamie's Italian – which opened to the public yesterday – as an impressive space dressed with a wall painting, a high ceiling and a semi-open kitchen.

“But I was surprised that there was so little food,” she said.

Stunning interior, not so hot about the limited food

Her group of friends, standing by the kitchen door for half an hour, saw a grand total of two trays of appetisers being taken out.

Jamie’s Italian’s Hong Kong publicist said the event was to host friends and business associates to preview the restaurant space.

“It was never the intention for this to be a grand opening [or] red carpet event or a full service tasting experience,” the publicist said in an email.

Oliver, star of The Naked Chef television show, proposed setting up shop in Hong Kong in 2009.

But the plan fell through and his chain opened instead in Singapore last year.

Awkward

Oliver was in a reflective mood as he prepared for the opening.

“I’m a living brand: It’s quite an awkward thing to be,” the British chef told Bloomberg Television in an interview in London.

“Even Richard Branson -- It’s not called Richard Branson Airlines. He’s got Virgin in the middle.”

The Hong Kong restaurant, which seats 200, is a joint venture between Oliver and local partner Big Cat Group.

In June, fellow celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay announced that he will also be opening a restaurant in Hong Kong.

Sources: South China Morning Post, Bloomberg

Inmate's road to freedom: A basketball hoop

Wade Cole Dickinson, 28, remains at large more than two weeks after fleeing from the Yavapai County Detention Facility.
Wade Cole Dickinson, 28, remains at large more than two weeks after fleeing from the Yavapai County Detention Facility.

Here's one prisoner's ticket to freedom: A basketball hoop.

That's right. The sporting equipment was a physically-fit felon's escape tool of choice.

 He scaled a three-metre-tall basketball hoop in the yard of a detention facility in Arizona, then jumped from it onto a fence, authorities said on Monday.

Wade Cole Dickinson, 28, remains at large more than two weeks after fleeing from the Yavapai County Detention Facility.

Plenty of agile moves

Here's what investigators said he did on July 12: First, he climbed the 3-meter-tall hoop, then leapt to the fence. From there, he pulled apart a seam in the fencing, reached the center's roof and scaled another fence.

Dickinson, who listed his occupation as a personal trainer, was awaiting transfer to prison after being sentenced to 24 years on charges including fraud, trafficking in stolen property, drug possession and illegal possession of a firearm.

The report by the sheriff's office found that officials at the detention center knew he was an escape risk, but no one was watching him in the yard when he made his getaway.

A video camera monitoring the area had been broken, apparently with a basketball, prior to the escape, it said.

A US$5,000 (S$6,215) reward has been posted for information leading to Dickinson's arrest.

- Reuters

Don't tow my car! Watch me pole dance instead

A Russian woman was caught on camera giving an impromptu pole dance to keep her car from being towed.
A Russian woman was caught on camera giving an impromptu pole dance to keep her car from being towed.

Do NOT try this if your car is being towed.

In a desperate bid to keep her wheels after a traffic violation, a Russian woman stripped down to a skimpy top and some barely-there undies.

She was reported to be gyrating in front of her truck while begging police officers not to tow her car.

The woman then jumped onto one of the straps connected to the car and attempted a pole dance before jumping off. The action, outside of the Railway Workers' House of Culture in the Russian city of Tula, was caught on camera.

But alas! It appears her attempts were futile. The cops were unimpressed.

At least the move cheered onlookers and provided some entertainment for workers who were heard cheering her on.

 

AQOtJ1 on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs
 

 

Sources: New York Daily News, Mirror Online

Tags: pole dance

WATCH: Little girl is devastated that baby bro has to grow up

Sadie, a five-year-old girl, is devastated because she doesn't want her brother to grow up.
Sadie, a five-year-old girl, is devastated because she doesn't want her brother to grow up.

Now, this video can definitely be a cure for those pesky mid-week blues.

Sadie, an adorable five-year-old, starts bawling because she doesn't want her equally cute lil' brother, Carson, to grow up. 

Why doesn't she want him to grow up?

ATYcEI on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs
 

We understand Sadie's plight though. Carson's just so cute. Look at him!

FuZQhv on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs
 

We love his cute little smiles too, Sadie!

 

Sj0A1P on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs
 

 

They said growing up is hard. But they never said watching someone else grow up is this hard!

Sadie's father Ryan Miller said: “She’s cried about not wanting to get older herself in the past, but this was the first time she was upset about her brother.”

In an email statement provided by his brother Alex Miller, who uploaded the video to YouTube, dad added: “The funny thing is that this was totally out of the blue — we have no idea what prompted it.”

Sources: YouTube, Reddit, Time

Tags: cute, viral and brother

Pages