Alibi V.26 No.50 • Dec 14-20, 2017 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: Ireland

Despite a drug company's protests, the residents of an Irish town claim the fumes from a nearby Viagra plant are to thank for their allegedly amorous behavior. According to The Times of London, Ringaskiddy residents believe that Viagra fumes impregnate the air of their town thanks to the local Pfizer factory—which has been producing the drug. Viagra is the brand name of sildenafil citrate, which is used to treat erectile dysfunction. Residents of Ringaskiddy allegedly attribute a baby boom experienced after the factory's opening in 1998 to “love fumes”—or industrial drug waste. A spokesperson for Pfizer told The Times that the stories were patently untrue, and that the company's manufacturing process was heavily regulated, implying that leaks are impossible. Residents' attitudes toward the factory seemed quite different two decades ago, when it was first built. At the time, The Independent reported that the small population located there were concerned about air pollutants and their sudden notoriety as the “Viagra town.”

Dateline: England

Firefighters who were called out to help free a YouTube prankster who had cemented his head inside a microwave oven say they were “unimpressed.” As part of a stunt meant to be published on YouTube, a 22-year-old man and a group of his friends mixed seven bags of Polyfilla and poured it around his head, which was inside a microwave oven. They had intended to use the appliance as a mold, but after hardening, the concrete would not separate from it. After unsuccessfully attempting to free the man from the microwave for 90 minutes, emergency crews were called to the scene. The man was able to breathe through a straw his friends had inserted into the concrete. It took five emergency workers from the West Midlands fire service crew an hour to free him from the appliance. The job was made harder by the microwave's design, which incorporated welded metal. Working closely to the man's head also proved troublesome. Watch Commander Shaun Dakin, the officer in charge of the crew who responded, said the man could have suffocated or been seriously injured. He also pointed out that while the entire group was apologetic, their prank could have potentially prevented firefighters from responding to a legitimate, accidental emergency.

Dateline: Washington

A 6-year-old's skeptical letter to Santa has gone viral after being posted by his mother to social media. NPR reporter Sarah McCammon shared a photo of her son’s letter to Santa earlier this month on Twitter. The letter, which was a class assignment, was decorated with drawings of Christmas wreaths and skulls, and read: “Dear Santa, Santa Im only doing this for the class. I know your notty list is emty. And your good list is emty. and your life is emty. You dont know the trouble Ive had in my life. Good bye.” The letter was signed, “Im not telling you my name.” The post received thousands of comments and retweets from McCammon's followers. A number of users praised the boy's skepticism and some wondered if he would grow up to be a journalist like his mother. Some followers even posted abnormal letters to Santa written by their own children. McCammon later pointed out that the “trouble” her son referred to in the letter is innocuous sibling rivalry with his brother. McCammon was NPR's lead political reporter assigned to the Donald Trump campaign during the 2016 campaign.

Dateline: Pennsylvania

A mall Santa with “naughty” and “nice” tattoos has been told by employers to “tone it down” this year. According to The Inquirer, Scott Diethorne has worked as a mall Santa in Pennsylvania for 15 years. Diethorne has reportedly become well-known in the area over that time for taking non-tradtional photos with holiday shoppers upon request—including ones in which he flips children over his shoulder, poses with pets or uncovers tattoos on his forearms which read “naughty” and “nice.” This year, however, fans of Diethorne were told that the beloved Santa could only take “traditional photos.” According to reports, he was told by Cherry Hill Programs, the company that manages all the mall Santas in the area, that he could not show his tattoos or flip children upside down anymore. When contacted by local news agencies, a company spokesperson responded, stating that Cherry Hill Programs “remain dedicated to preserving the tradition and image of Santa with authentic holiday visits for every guest to our programs.” A number of Diethorne's fans have taken to social media to complain about the decision—some have even threatened to boycott, but the mall Santa's family members have asked that his admirers continue to visit him. They say he wants to continue being Santa, with or without tattoos.

Compiled by Joshua Lee. Email your weird news to josh@alibi.com.