Alibi V.29 No.27 • July 2-8, 2020 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: New York

Health officials in New York City are advising residents to utilize “glory holes” and hold online Zoom orgies as ways to practice social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Buzzfeed News reports that the New York City Health Department released an updated guide to “enjoy sex and avoid spreading COVID-19.” According to the new advisory “decisions about sex and sexuality need to be balanced with personal and public health.” But the agency isn’t calling for New Yorkers to practice abstinence by any means. The statement said, “people will and should have sex,” but advised that they should minimize contact when possible and find creative ways to practice social distancing. The agency even had a few suggestions. “Wear a face covering or mask,” said the advisory. “Maybe it’s your thing, maybe it’s not, but during COVID-19 wearing a face covering that covers your nose and mouth is a good way to add a layer of protection during sex. Heavy breathing and panting can spread the virus further, and if you or your partner have COVID-19 and don’t know it, a mask can help stop that spread.” It also appears to allude to using what is commonly known as a “glory hole.” “Make it a little kinky,” the advisory hints. “Be creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face to face contact.” The advisory also noted that the safest sexual partner during a pandemic is oneself. The second safest partner is a member of the same household. Officials suggest getting a swab or saliva test within five to seven days after having a “hookup” with someone who lives outside of your home.

Dateline: California

A special effects company has developed an animatronic dolphin that designers say could solve the animal captivity issue. According to Vice San Francisco-based special effects company Edge Innovations has teamed up with New Zealand-based augmented gaming expert Melanie Langlotz to develop an animatronic dolphin that is so similar to its living counterpart that many volunteers say they can’t tell the difference. “People just believed that it was real until they were told it was not. It was just absolutely incredible,” Langlotz told reporters. The robot was modeled after an adolescent bottlenose dolphin, using a nearly identical skeleton. Designers paid attention to the smallest detail, even giving its teeth a slight discoloration to simulate the real thing. The animatronic dolphin can swim for 10 hours on a single battery charge and is operated by remote control. The design team says artificial animals could be the next step in battling animal captivity. The animatronic dolphins will be priced between $40 and $60 million—depending on which pre-programmable abilities are purchased. Visual effects designer Walter Conti, the founder of Edge Innovations, told reporters that while the price tag might seem steep, animatronic dolphins can save money for zoos and aquariums in the long run by lowering upkeep fees and eliminating food and medical expenditures.

Dateline: Germany

As the COVID-19 pandemic limits fan engagement with sports teams, fans are now paying to have cardboard cutouts bearing their likenesses placed on display in empty sports arenas. According to The Hustle, German filmmaker and soccer aficionado Ingo Müller got the idea while sitting at home and complaining about not getting to see his favorite soccer team play. His wife suggested that he send his photo to the stadium in his stead, and he took the idea to heart. Müller contacted a local printer and developed an online portal where—for €19 (around $21)—fans could upload photos of themselves and have them printed on cardboard cutouts. The cutouts were then installed in the stadium with the permission of the club owners. Müller has reportedly received inquiries from teams looking to set up their own cardboard fan system in at least 15 countries—including Sweden, Colombia, China, Russia, Serbia and Austria. Sports teams in Taiwan, South Korea and all over Europe have also reportedly been using cardboard cutouts to take the place of missing fans during recent games.

Dateline: Spain

An opera house in Barcelona opened again for the first time since March. Instead of a packed audience, musicians performed for a full house of plants. According to NPR the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Spain, filled its 2,292 seats with plants for a performance by the UceLi Quartet. The string quartet performed Giacomo Puccini's “Crisantemi” for the all-plant audience last week while simultaneously livestreaming the performance for at-home human listeners. The plants were locally sourced and will be donated to health care professionals at the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona. Organizers said they wanted to acknowledge the sacrifices made by healthcare workers during the pandemic. “After a strange, painful period,” said a release on the Liceu's website, “the creator, the Liceu's artistic director and the curator Blanca de la Torre offer us a different perspective for our return to activity, a perspective that brings us closer to something as essential as our relationship with nature.” Spain ended its national state of emergency last week.

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